Podcasts continue to show their prowess in this digital communication era. The episodic audio series has changed the way people share their thoughts and content. Podcasts continue to attract listeners from all over the world seeking educational and entertainment value.
Podcasting goes beyond setting up a microphone and a laptop. The first step to successfully starting a podcast is understanding some of the digital podcast tools available to you. Different podcast tools provide different benefits and can be very simple or very in-depth. Your decision on which tools to use should depend on the extent of your own needs.
Here are 5 digital tools to research before launching your first podcast.
Recording and Editing Software
Optimizing your audio is one of the first steps to increasing your podcast value. Even professional podcast shows need a bit of editing here and there. Recording and editing software, otherwise known as digital audio workstations (DAWs), allows you to record and edit your audio files.
When starting a podcast, you don’t need to spend a lot on DAWs. There are several free DAWs that provide the basic tools you’ll need when getting started. A good rule of thumb is to choose a software that is conducive to your particular podcast. Remember, podcasts are spoken audio, not music productions. However, some folks like to include an opening and/or closing musical note or special effects in their episodes so choose a DAW that works best for you.
A very important piece of technology that powers all podcasts is an RSS feed, otherwise known as, Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. A podcast RSS feed holds information about every show and its episodes, and then passes that information to different podcast directories and platforms. This allows your listeners to be able to tune in to new episodes as they’re uploaded, and allows them access the rest of your content. It is essentially the gateway between creation and distribution, or in other words, creator and audience.
Usually, the easiest way to create and manage your RSS feed is through a hosting provider (more on these later). A hosting provider can act as a warehouse for holding your audio files and podcast information in a secure location. It can also manage the gateways to outside platforms and players for distribution each time a new episode or audio file is uploaded.
The reason a lot of podcasters use hosting providers for their RSS feeds is that an RSS feed is, at its core, an XML-formatted document, meaning you have to be a coder to understand how to create and manage it. So if you pull up a standard RSS feed, all you’ll see is lots of lines of code.
To combat the complexities, Backtracks has developed a tool in Backtracks Switchboard that simplifies an RSS feed by transforming all of the code into a customizable and aesthetically pleasing “landing page” that is built for ease of use by humans. It allows you to control your brand with a podcast RSS feed that is customized to fit your style guidelines.
As mentioned above, a podcast hosting provider is a very useful, and essential, tool for managing your podcasts. It acts as a warehouse for your content as well as the distributor for directories, and players (such as Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts) to access your content. A podcast host will be the bridge between you and your audience.
Choosing a hosting provider depends on the services and offerings you’re looking for. Some of the variables to think about when deciding on a hosting provider is storage capacity, sharing and embed features, third party plugins or integrations, and podcast analytics.
Once you’ve decided on how to create, where to host, and where to distribute your podcast, you then have to start thinking about how to promote your podcast. This is where a podcast player becomes valuable. Many apps and platforms, such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, have their own players. Your content is morphed into their streamlined aesthetics and distributed through their in-app players. Although it’s beneficial to distribute to those apps for increased visibility and listener convenience, it is also important to consider your own player.
Alternative podcast players are great for gaining more control over your branding. They allow you to embed a more customized aesthetic into your own website or blog, and take advantage of social sharing options while keeping your branding consistent. Different players provide different benefits. Things to consider when choosing a player include compatibility with your hosting provider, flexibility in customization, player features such as a shopping cart or social sharing, and transcription options.
The Backtracks Player is an example of a feature-rich player that is compatible with any hosting provider. The embedded audio player works on any device, application, browser, and more. It even has time synchronized transcription options, the ability to offer private and secure content, social sharing options and much more.
Once your content is out there, it’s important to understand how it’s being received. The best way to know your audience is to understand their listening habits. You need to know what time your podcast is being played, where it’s being played, which sections are being skipped over, which content is more resonating, and much more.
All this leads to one thing- verified podcast analytics. Reliable and in-depth data allows you to improve your content and continue to grow your audience and audience engagement. Backtracks Switchboard is the most advanced analytics platform on the market today and is free to use for beginner podcasters. It provides accurate and in-depth podcast analytics no matter where you host or how you deliver your audio content.