How to podcast?

I have been listening to podcasts since 2012. However, latecomer or not (podcasting was developed in 2004), listening to podcasts does not make you a podcaster. So! How to become one? Where to begin? What is the procedure? Is there any procedure?

Manual not included

I might be the last of my kind, but I do read Instruction Manuals. Always! Unfortunately, there was no User Manual in my podcasting box. Actually, there was not even a box to begin with. This might explain why the O’Reilly’s Missing Manual series were empty handed on that matter.

No official podcasting manual

There is no official guide; yet, it doesn’t mean that there is no book about podcasting. On the contrary, there are plenty of books to guide you step by step. A simple search on for the word podcast (in Books) returned over 4000 results; I didn’t check whether all were actual books on podcasting, though. There are also myriads of blog posts and online articles on how to start your own podcast. There are even podcasts on how to podcast! So what is the problem?

Simply put, at that point, my initial concern (the absence of an official manual) made place to a new difficulty: the paralyzing problem of too many choices. Actually, this is not an accurate description of the issue, which was of a different nature. Let me explain. CogitActive’s modus operandi is to consider every aspect of a problem before to take the most informed decision possible. This thorough approach involves gathering and reading all possible information on the subject matter. If you believe this is far-fetched, remember that I do read Instruction Manuals. Anyway, how to be comprehensive with so many sources? One can only do what is humanly possible. I had to accept that I could not go through them all; otherwise, I would still be reading and would not have accomplished much.

Evaluation of sources

Luckily, I quickly realized that this compromise was not so detrimental. Each source of information is worth a look, granted, but not every single one is worthy of further consideration. How can I rephrase this? No source should be overlooked, however, they can have various degrees of reliability, credibility and relevance.

Outdated information

The recency of an information is an important factor to determine its reliability. This is particularly applicable to podcasting, which, like any technology, is evolving rapidly. Thus, what was state-of-the art yesterday may be obsolete in a year or so. Now, it takes years to write and publish books, therefore, they may not be the best source of up-to-date information. However, given their authoritative nature, I show partiality toward them and didn’t restrict my readings to those published within the past few years. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that many of the not so-recently-published books suggested services, software and tools that were either discontinued, obsolete or deprecated. On the other hand, it was also quite amusing or interesting to read things like this wish from Todd Cochrane1:

Hopefully, we will soon have MP3 players with built-in WiFi and onboard software to automatically grab new podcasts.Todd Cochrane

The book, from where I took this quotation, was published in 2005; before the advent of smartphones. It doesn’t look like it was a long time ago, but technology-wise this was definitively another era. Anyway, would I recommend this, or any other, not so-recently-published work? Not really. However, don’t get me wrong, those books remain valuable sources of information, and I have no regret reading them.

Lack of information

As touched upon, I have learned several things from books, even from those outdated ones. I believe that there is no book so bad (or so old) that you can’t find something of interest in it. Definitely, this doesn’t hold true for the information available online, irrespectively of its recency. Anyone can publish anything on the web. This is not a bad thing, but often the information about the author’s credentials or field of expertise is missing. Further, online content is not peer reviewed and may be inaccurate. However, the problem goes beyond credibility and reliability. As discussed in my previous post (Why a podcast?), there is a lot of crap on the web. There are so many blog posts with no added content, whatsoever. So many time the same information just packed in a different way; or even worst: those copy-paste bloggers or plagiarizers. Besides, online information can also be outdated.

Online information should not be disregarded, but finding informative articles is like finding a needle in a haystack. Google algorithm’s recommendations, namely the few first pages of your search, are not always the best advices.

Biased information

There are several businesses out there offering services for podcasting. In order to bring traffic to their websites, they create high quality content in the form of blogs or web articles. In fact, they provide valuable and relevant information, as it is in their own interest to do so. However, talking about interest, is the information provided non-biased? Obviously not; they want you to use their products or services. This isn’t to say that authors from these websites can’t write unbiased articles. However, they tend to over-represent some aspects of podcasting; in particular, the why you should podcast and the how simple it is to create a podcast (with their services).

The problem of biased content generalizes to affiliate marketing as well. There is nothing wrong with affiliate marketing or website reviews. Should you trust them, though? Conflict of interest will often lead to bias, but not necessarily. Online reviews are a powerful tool for sharing information, but many are fake, paid, or from people who just promote things coming with a generous affiliated program. It is not always easy, especially if you are not an expert on the subject matter, to figure out which ones are trustworthy.

Biases, hidden agendas, distorted perspectives, commercial promotions, and so on are some of the issues to deal with any sources, but this concern is particularly pertinent with information found on the web. It is important not to believe everything and to stay critical.

The infamous quick and easy

Here we are again. As previously touched upon2, there are countless online guides on how to create a podcast – Simple. Quick. Easy. After going through few of them, I reinforced my convictions: not for me, thanks! I have chosen the path of most resistance, and the information provided by these sources is de facto irrelevant.

Now what?

To sum up, not all sources were (or are) worth reading and, admittedly, I may have wasted my time with some of them. Further, there is the problem of reinventing the wheel, or more specifically, the issue of finding the same information repeatedly. Nonetheless, I will not provide you with a to-read or to-avoid list; that will be too time-consuming and not that efficient anyway. Besides, some people3 have already tackled a similar task. Instead, I will keep referencing the sources in which I have found something of interest – the informative ones – and keep not mentioning the other ones; it is better to ignore them than to draw any kind attention to them, bad advertisement included.

Before to go back to my readings – there are still so many to-read on my own list – let me ironically finish on this quotation from Buzzsprout4:

You can read a lot about how this is done, but the best way to learn how to record, edit, and publish a podcast is to just do it.

PS: If you want to know how to podcast as in everything you need to do to launch a podcast, namely a guide or a tutorial, you will have to go through all the (future) episodes of The CogitActive saga. Just keep in mind that The CogitActive saga is not a step-by-step tutorial, but a long, involved story.

1 Todd Cochrane (2005) Podcasting – The Do-It-Yourself Guide. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing. ^
2 See The CogitActive saga ^
3 Ross Kaplan-Winn (2017) Podcast Guides: 26 of the Best Podcasting Resources. Buzzsprout. ^
4 Buzzsprout (2017) How to make a podcast – Podcasting 101 guide. ^

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