How to publish professional podcasts using WordPress (and a few other tools)

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A long Internet Time ago I wrote a tutorial that briefly explained how to publish a podcast with WordPress. Today I’d like to revisit the topic with a lot more information, and hopefully provide the perfect launchpad for those wanting to get rolling with a podcast of their own.

Since writing that last tutorial I’ve been a part of a handful of WordPress podcasts here on WPCandy with some great co-hosts, experimented with some others in my free time, and discovered answers to a lot of questions I had back then. In this post I will cover the WordPress side of things thoroughly, but I’ll also dig into everything else you will want to know to properly podcast professionally.

Enough foreplay. Let’s talk about podcasting.

First, be sure you really do want to podcast

Most podcasts just don’t last. It’s true. Odds are most of the podcasts you truly enjoy have been around for a couple of years and have over one hundred episodes under their belts.

You could say running a solid podcast is as hard as keeping up with regular blogging. I think it’s a bit harder, actually. It takes a lot of dedication to keep one going, particularly if it’s a show that you take halfway seriously and want to do well.

That is to say: make sure you really want to podcast before you get started. If you aren’t sure whether you’re into it, do a few practice runs first. The last thing you want to do is go through all the setup and preparation I’m about to recommend (particularly the purchases) and then end up walking away from the project entirely.[ref]Also, podcasting and improving your audio setup is just as enticing as improving your photography equipment or any other hobby. Consider this my fair warning that the rabbit hole can go pretty far down from this point on.[/ref]

From the forum:

WordPress podcasts you want to listen to

Started by Ryan Imel on June 11, 2012

Podcasting equipment you’ll need

If you really have to, technically you can use your computer’s default microphone to record your podcasts. And by technically I mean your voice will travel through the air, collide with your computer and be recorded into a file. In other words: don’t use your computer’s microphone.

Any microphone you pick up will be better than just talking into your computer screen.

If you use your computer’s built-in microphone, the audio will sound awful and your audience won’t enjoy listening to you. If one is interested in podcasting enough to read a post like this and spend some time working on it, it’s probably worth it to spend a few dollars on a basic setup. You don’t have to go crazy, either. Nearly any microphone you pick up will be better than just talking into your computer screen.

There are two basic kinds of microphones you can purchase for podcasting:

  1. An XLR microphone. These microphones have big round three pin connectors that don’t, by default, connect to any computer you have. They require a USB interface, which is an added cost. Unless you need to connect to a soundboard at some point, you can likely ignore these mics and instead look down to number two below.
  2. A USB microphone. That sounds a bit friendlier, right? USB microphones are simpler, and plugin directly into whatever computer you have.

In most cases you’ll want to stick to USB microphones. XLR microphones are great too, but likely overkill for the average podcaster.

Depending on your budget, I would recommend the following USB microphones:

  1. For $100 to $150 or so, the Blue Yeti microphone is worth taking a look. I don’t use it myself, but my Weekly Theme Show co-host Justin Jones uses it and likes it.
  2. The Rode Podcaster is a great microphone, but it will run you a little more than $200. I own the XLR sister mic, the Procaster, and have been really satisfied with the sound it produces.

Different mics will always have different sounds, so if you’re super picky than be ready to try a few different ones before you settle on what you like.

I’m not picky, really, and if I wasn’t using my Rode Procaster XLR mic (more on that below) I’d be using the Rode Podcaster USB mic.

Podcasting software you’ll want (aside from WordPress)

Your podcasting setup, both hardware and software, can get pretty complex if you aren’t careful. I’ll talk more about how I run my own podcasts below, but for now let’s assume a simpler setup. The software I’m recommending is best for those that:

  1. want to record their voice,
  2. a co-host’s voice, and
  3. pair it with system audio like music or their browser audio.

If that’s what you’re after, I can get you in business pretty quickly. (If you need or want more, then you can dig into my more complex setup further down the page.)

I podcast from a Mac, so the bulk of my first-hand experience is with that platform. I’ll try to highlight parallel PC options when I can.

Step zero: Recording your own audio

Before you jump into recording a multi-person podcast with sound effects and introduction music and the works, you should first grasp recording your own voice. There are a couple of ways to go about this.

The simplest is to download a free copy of Audacity (though donating is nice if you do use it). Audacity is a cross-platform audio recording and editing application. Despite my slightly more complex system, I still use this for all recording and editing.

To get a feel for recording yourself, open up Audacity and pop open the Preferences: Devices screen (see below). Make sure that you set your “Recording Device” to your external USB (or other) microphone. Since I use an XLR microphone with a USB interface, that’s what you’ll see in the screenshot. You will also want to set the recording to mono (one channel), since that’s likely what your microphone will be recording anyway.

With that set, you can record tracks into Audacity without any problem. I would recommend spending some time doing just that, since you should have a basic understanding of the user interface and the recording experience before you get any further into podcasting.

Audacity will export in WAV format by default, which is fine up until the point you might want to share it with someone. WAV files are likely much larger than you need, so you’ll want to convert that to MP3 (or whatever format you prefer) before making it available to download anywhere.

Recording your computer audio

So that takes care of recording your own voice. But you also want to record your computer’s audio, right? I thought so. For that you will want to check out Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro. There’s a free demo, but you’ll want to buy it ($32) if you decide to use it.

(I hear that Total Recorder serves this purpose well on Windows.)

Audio Hijack will allow you to hijack the audio on your system. Makes sense, right? When you fire it up you’ll see the various applications and devices that you can hijack. If you select your browser, iTunes, and your microphone (app restarts might be needed) you can then record all three at the same time.

Now this will work, and you can do it this way, but it’s not quite elegant enough for my tastes. I don’t like recording audio in Audio Hijack if I can help it. So instead, you’ll also want to pick up Soundflower, a free Mac app that allows you to route audio into one source.

(Virtual Audio Cable is something to consider if you’re on a Windows machine.)

Now, you can visit the Effects tab for the devices/applications you have hijacked and add an Auxiliary Output Device effect (within the 4FX Effect drop down) pointing the “Device” to the two channel Soundflower option.

With that done, you can skip recording within Audio Hijack and hop back over to Audacity. Go back to your preferences and switch device to one of the Soundflower options (whichever one you pointed all of your hijacked devices and applications to).

Now you’ll be able to record as many sources as you can hijack, along with your own voice. That gets us a bit closer to our goal.

Recording co-hosts, along with your voice and your computer’s

Now we want to bring in a co-host’s voice. After all, podcasts with one person are pretty lame, aren’t they?

You’ll need to place an audio call with your co-host, of course. How you choose to do this depends entirely on your own preferences. Many applications will do it; I’ve chosen to use Skype for my own purposes. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, the steps I’ll outline here could work for any decent audio calling software.

We need to take a step back and review our setup. If we leave it how we have it, and then start our call, our co-host won’t hear what we have playing on our computer. That’s no good.

We’ll want to change our input device in Skype (or whatever) so it’s not just our microphone. Instead, we will use the Soundflower option we chose to record our various devices. As long as we have our microphone and any application audio already hijacked and pointed to Soundflower, the co-host will now be able to hear everything on our end.

But what about recording? You’ll want to also hijack Skype and use the same 4FX Effect (Auxiliary Output Device) and point it to the other Soundflower option. That’s what you’ll want to record in Audacity now, instead of the earlier Soundflower setting you used.

Now, to recap: we have local applications and our microphone all going to our co-host via Skype, our co-host’s voice coming in from Skype, and Audacity records all of it.

Above: A quick sketch of the setup, if it helps.

Pretty cool, right?

WordPress themes for podcasting

Now that you have a podcast file and you’re ready to start publishing it to the world, you’ll obviously need a WordPress website. So get that set up first.

Some niches that play well to specific WordPress themes. Podcasting, I would argue, isn’t one of them. Don’t over think it. Podcasting can fit just fine into the flow of normal blog posts on a standard blog theme. As long as you have the right plugins in place, which I’ll talk about next, you can use any old WordPress theme to publish your podcast. All you need is a special post category, a link to download the audio file, and space for show notes.

In other words: a plain ole’ WordPress blog is best. You might want to consider setting up a blog just for the podcast – ShopTalk and the Young Guns Show started their shows with this format, and I kind of like it. I run all the WordPress podcasts I publish right here from WPCandy, but that has more to do with reaching the right audience than anything else.

It’s easy to go overboard when it comes to starting up new websites (don’t we all know that?) but if the topic of the podcast wouldn’t fit well on one of the blogs you already run it might be a good idea to roll out a new site just for it.

And if you do, I’d hold off on anything beyond a custom header image in Twenty Ten/Eleven, at least until you have a few episodes under your belt. Finding and sticking with a podcast format is more important than all the bells and whistles you can create for it.

Hosting podcast files

The last thing you want to do is host your podcast files on your own server. It’s less a matter of running out of space (besides, space is pretty cheap really) and more that it will take ages longer for your listeners to download your show if you host it yourself.

I made this mistake at one point, when offering a podcast on the now-merged-into-WPCandy Theme Playground blog. I posted a link serving up the podcast file from my own (shared) host and then saw comments complaining that the download time was crazy long. I was pretty dumb.

Now I offer all of my podcast files via Amazon S3, and it’s what I would recommend to you as well. S3 provides the best download times for larger files, and is really worth the somewhat overwhelming setup and configuration experience. Bite the bullet, sign up for Amazon S3, and get yourself an application that will connect to your S3 buckets so you can upload your files.

Above: I find Panic’s Transmit is the simplest way to access my S3 buckets.

Be sure to keep podcast files as reasonably small as you can. Audacity, for instance, will record to a WAV file by default. I convert the uploaded versions of my podcasts to MP3 to make the file size more portable (typically 10% of the WAV version, or even smaller). I’ve found MP3 the most welcome format for most of my listeners, though ultimately what your own audience prefers should dictate what file formats you offer.

If you’re going to use Amazon S3 to serve up your podcast files (and again, you should) then I would also highly recommend S3Stat.com. It’s helpful no matter what you’re using S3 for, but it’s even better for podcasts because it gives an exact download count for your episodes. If you’re interested in statistics for your shows (for reporting to show sponsors, or just for your own jollies) then you’re going to want those numbers.

WordPress plugins for podcasting

There are only two plugins I use specifically for podcasting:

  1. Blubrry Powerpress
  2. Audio Player

There are a few podcasting plugins out there, but there’s only one that I trust and recommend. Blubrry Powerpress Podcasting plugin is the best podcasting plugin I’m aware of, not only for its full support of iTunes podcasting settings but also for its support of multiple podcasts. That’s how I’m able to start new podcasts on WPCandy every few weeks like a crazy person.

Now, that’s not to say I don’t have my own little complaints about Blubrry’s plugin here and there. I think the user interface and various options leave a lot to be desired; as a first time user of the plugin I was very overwhelmed, and only after using it for a while have I ventured into some of its more obscure options screens.

Setting up a podcast with Blubrry Powerpress

You’ll likely want to specify a category just for podcasting, though that isn’t necessary unless you want to have multiple podcasts on one blog. Once you install the plugin you’ll have just a bit of setup before you can post away.

(To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with podcasting using default WordPress feeds. But plugins like Powerpress make it simpler to control various aspects of your podcast feeds.)

The Powerpress settings page has a few tabs on it. If you’re curious about what settings to use (and because I don’t want to walk through every single one) you can view the settings I’d recommend here:

Once you have those settings configured (or before, depending how hands-on you are with your podcast feeds) you’ll want to actually post using the Powerpress meta box (see below). Along with linking up the podcast file in your post, you will want to paste the URL into the meta box, verify that the file exists, and update any of the information before you hit publish.

That’s really all you need to do, technically speaking of course. I have a few other thoughts on improving podcast posts, but I’ll talk about that further down the page.

Audio playback via the Audio Player plugin

There are a couple of players available within Powerpress that you could opt to use. For whatever reason I like sticking to a dedicated audio playing plugin like Audio Player.

There’s really no right or wrong player to use here. Find what you like, and use what you like. I like Audio Player, because the result is clean (where many players are not) and a simple shortcode embeds the player into the WYSIWYG editor.

That said, I’m not crazy about the player not having fallback support for non-flash browsers (like iOS or other mobile platforms). In the long run I’ll want to improve this.

Setting up Feedburner and iTunes

There’s nothing wrong with offering your plain WordPress RSS feeds to your visitors. However if you are fond of statistics, as I am, you might want to run your feed through Feedburner first.

Either way, you’ll want to drop that feed into the iTunes podcast submission form (heads up, iTunes link). Keep in mind that your podcast is tied to the Apple account you’re signed in with when you submit the link. Then just wait for your approval email from iTunes and you’re up and running.

You can update the information that displays in iTunes by tweaking the iTunes settings in Powerpress (see above). Any changes in iTunes, whether adding an episode or tweaking your podcast description, will take a few hours to take effect.

Tips for publishing better podcasts

Your podcast’s quality can only improve over time as you gain more experience. As long as you prepare properly beforehand and try to avoid excessive “um”s you’ll be in good shape. Get comfortable with silent pauses so you don’t fill it with nervous talking, and remember you can always edit your episode to make it more listenable.

And as I said above, there’s no need for any special theme for a podcast. You should approach the podcast blog posts themselves a bit deliberately, though. There are a few things every one of your podcast posts should include.

Include download links to your podcast; link up both the MP3 file, relevant RSS feeds, and your iTunes podcast page. I always include the RSS as well since not everyone uses iTunes to listen to podcasts.

Post your episode show notes. Odds are, if you’re talking about anything halfway interesting during your podcast, you’ll have additional links and notes to offer up to your listeners afterward. Show notes can sometimes, in my experience, be the most useful byproduct of a podcast.

Above: I keep track of show notes using Byword, a simple text editor that supports Markdown formatting. I like using Markdown because I can get the show note links and lists put together while the show is happening, and I don’t have to hunt down titles for every link we mention after the show’s over.

Depending on your podcast, it might be worth breaking down your discussions by time code. If there’s a segment they aren’t particularly interested in, they can skip right by it and on to what they want to hear about. Some hosts also like to put together clips based on specific discussions, either as a way to jump to interesting discussions or introduce new listeners to the show.

It also wouldn’t hurt to include a brief introduction to your podcast, as well as links to your earlier episodes for new listeners. In the same vein, I like to create and use consistent branding on a podcast by podcast basis. Each show has a logo and a post graphic that I include at the top of each podcast post. Beyond the basics feel free to get a bit creative with your production and publishing.

Dare to stream your podcasts live

Streaming your podcast recordings may not be worth it, but it can also be a lot of a fun if you have the right audience. There are a number of ways to set up a live audio stream, but here’s the simplest way I discovered to do it for WPCandy (and what I use on the Stream).

I’ve chosen to maintain a constant stream rather than an intermittent one. So even when we aren’t live you can visit the WPCandy Stream and listen to one of the podcasts recorded in the last week. I’ll describe exactly how I set up what I did, but keep in mind you could just as simply use my setup but skip the pre-recorded stream and only broadcast live.

If you want to cut straight to the quick, these are the tools I recommend you use to stream:

No matter how you setup your audio stream[ref]Video streaming has come up a couple of times, but we haven’t really discovered a great solution. We use Spreecast as a simultaneous stream for WP Late Night, but it’s not really ideal. Personally I don’t think live video streaming is worth the trouble, for now.[/ref] you will need a streaming server. Put simply, if you were to try to stream directly from your computer to your listeners you would only be able to support ten or twenty of them before your internet connection would be stretched to the limit. By streaming to a server first, and letting it distribute that to listeners, you can support as many listeners as your server can. (This is also why there’s a necessary delay, if even a few seconds, between when you broadcast and when your listeners hear them.)

When I first set up the streaming page I was using my own local server as the streaming server, since it was the cheapest and easiest way to test it out. That limited the live listener count to about twenty or so, since that is as many simultaneous MP3 streams as my bandwidth could take along with everything else.

After trying a couple of different options I settled on Shoutcast as my streaming server software. Rather than set the Shoutcast software up on my server (which you can certainly do if you so choose) I went with a provider called Wavestreaming. Their plans are affordable and they offer statistics for those listening (not to mention support for well over twenty listeners at a time). Plus, there’s one less server thing I’m responsible for.

I also paid the yearly upgrade for their custom audio player, which is customizable to an extent and has fallbacks for mobile platforms. Just grab the upgrade and drop the embed code on your stream page.

Since I knew I wanted to maintain a constant stream for WPCandy, I briefly looked into Wavestreaming’s Cloud DJ service. Cloud DJ allows you to maintain a library of audio files and schedule them, effectively creating a “cloud based” playlist for when you weren’t streaming live. It ended up not being what I wanted, since it defaulted to a queue-based system that seemed to rely on individual audio files being only a couple of minutes in length (like most radio stations). Since most of our podcasts are over thirty minutes in length, scheduling and controlling the stream was touchy at best.[ref]Anyone remember that one live podcast recording when the delay was way worse than it normally is? Like two or three minutes delayed? That was the Cloud DJ experiment.[/ref]

Since that didn’t work out, I decided to stick with streaming constantly to the Shoutcast server at all times, managing the playlists myself via iTunes. As I’ll explain below (when I dive further into my own podcasting setup), I already planned on using a dedicated computer for broadcasting the live podcasts.

Streaming to Shoutcast is as simple as grabbing Rogue Amoeba’s Nicecast and entering the Wavestreaming server details when broadcasting. Niceast works similarly to Audio Hijack, in that the app will hijack an audio source and broadcast it. Simply choose your desired audio source (system audio, a Soundflower channel, or even just your own microphone) and you’re broadcasting to your audience in no time.

(I hear that there’s a plugin for Winamp on Windows that allows for broadcasting to Shoutcast servers. If you’re on a Windows machine, look to the Shoutcast website for more information.)

While not necessary, I would recommend using a dedicated chatroom of some sort to give your live listeners somewhere to talk to each other and you during broadcasts. I prefer IRC, since it’s pretty ubiquitous and not terribly difficult if you provide proper instructions.

Follow podcasters that do it well

I’ve heard that if you want to write better, read writers who are better than you, or that write the way you want to write. In the same vein, if you want to podcast better than listen to other podcasts you enjoy.

Personally I enjoy the podcasts that Dan Benjamin produces at 5by5 the most. He has put together a very impressive network of shows there. It was Benjamin’s podcast last December that first clued me in to the hardware I would need to produce the kinds of podcasts I wanted to (which I describe further down the page).

I’ve always enjoyed 5by5’s Back to Work and Hypercritical podcasts the most.

The various versions of the Joystiq Podcast over the years have been interesting to watch as well. Their jump not long ago over to a slightly more professional, quicker podcast impressed me.

You Look Nice Today is a fantastically funny podcast, though the production quality is as noteworthy. Some of the editing that goes on in a few of the episodes really is artfully done.

Speaking of comedy podcasts, My Brother, My Brother and Me defines chemistry between co-hosts. The titular hosts are indeed brothers, and their own attempts to get each other laughing come across as both funny and genuine. True chemistry between co-hosts is really more valuable than all the podcasting equipment you can buy.

If you have a specific podcast or two that you draw inspiration from, or that you think others should check out, be sure to let us know in the comments below.

My podcasting setup, in case you’re curious

My setup used to be a lot simpler than it is now. I relied solely on a Rode Procaster XLR microphone (same one I still use now) and the MobilePre USB interface. That worked just fine for a while, particularly since my podcasting setup was never more complicated than recording a single Skype conversation.

My setup used to be a lot simpler than it is now.

But over time I began to see weaknesses in my workflow. For one thing, I wanted to bring on more than one guest at a time. Technically I could accomplish this, but in doing so I would lose individual control over each of the other people on the call. I would only be able to control the whole group’s master volume, since I ran (and still run) all calls through Skype. I was also interested in bringing guests into the call while in the same room, though this was a lesser priority.

I asked around, experimented a lot, but couldn’t find the ideal setup. I live in city that is headquarters to Sweetwater, one of the top audio equipment companies in the world; even they couldn’t think up a solution in my various trips there.

I mean, I understood why there wasn’t much out there on the topic. How many people could be interested in a setup to serve the issues I described?

Then, around the beginning of this year I stumbled across Dan Benjamin’s podcast breaking down the setup he uses at 5by5. Just like that, I had answers to my questions, and arranging a new podcasting workflow became a big project toward the beginning of 2012.

Photos speak louder than words, right?

Above: Rode Procaster microphone on a basic shock mount and mic arm.

The crux of the setup is the sound board. All of the audio sources at my desk (my microphone, iMac, and any other devices I might want to capture from) go directly into a Mackie Onyx 1620 sound board. The board has sixteen channels, though I’m only actively using seven of them.

Sixteen channels would be a bit excessive, except that it takes a board this size to also have four auxiliary sends which allow four channels to also have the board’s audio sent back to them (minus their own channel audio). Those four channels, the first four channels, are receiving audio from four simple PCs that do nothing but place and receive Skype calls. This way I can control each caller individually and they can also hear everyone else on the call.

It’s important that the audio they hear removes their own audio, since if they heard it there would be a bothersome delay. Hearing a monitor of your own voice is no problem when it’s instantaneous, but hearing it in a slight delay would throw most people off whenever they spoke.

My own microphone is going through a preamp that’s tweaked to make me sound as awesome as possible (believe me, it takes a lot of work). Preamps can run a bit expensive, so this piece of hardware is just experimental until it makes sense to equip each guest channel with one too.

I used to use a MobilePre USB box to interface my microphone with my computer to record it. Now I use that same box to interface the entire sound board with my iMac and record it using Audacity.

Now, ideally I would be recording the sound board via firewire to record each individual channel on its own. Right now that’s not possible, since the sound board itself is missing the firewire card and the right cards for this model are hard to track down.[ref]That’s a fun fact to discover after picking up a sound board on eBay. It happens.[/ref]

For now, at least, Audacity records all the audio into a single track, which just means that (for now) I’m learning to mix audio on the fly. This board will be replaced in the long run, likely by the newer 1620i with the included firewire card, but it will do for now.

Above: I can take up to four channels’ worth of guests. That doesn’t necessarily mean only four people, but four instances of Skype whose volumes are controlled together.

Four very basic PCs sit on a rack and do nothing but receive Skype calls from podcast hosts and guests. They aren’t fancy, but they’re functional. Their audio output goes into the first four channels on the soundboard (the ones that have auxiliary sends) and the auxiliary output comes back into the PC mic inputs.

The Mac Mini’s default input is the combined output from the soundboard. So, basically, it receives whatever comes through any of the computers or mics attached to the soundboard. Once into the Mini, there are a couple of apps in play to send the sound where it needs to go.

Above: The aforementioned (and admittedly dusty) MobilePre USB interface and Mac Mini sit next to each other on their rack mount just above a couple of the dedicated-to-Skype PC boxes.

The four PCs and the Mac Mini are all connected to a single monitor and keyboard and mouse set via a standard KVM switch (see below). When I’m not recording a podcast I’ll use the spare monitor to keep an eye on various statistics.

Above: The rack is directly next to my desk in my office. Top to bottom you can see the monitor for managing the setup, the KVM switch to swap between the five computers, the DBX 286s preamp I’m testing out, and then an external hard drive next to the USB interface and Mac Mini. There’s also a label printer that I’ve stashed on the rack, though it’s obviously not necessary for this workflow.

The streaming setup I described a few sections above is running on the Mac Mini itself, but there’s a bit more to it with my setup. My iMac is already handling recording the core audio in Audacity, so that doesn’t have to happen on the Mini.

On the Mini, iTunes is always running through a playlist of recent podcasts, which itself Nicecast hijacks and broadcasts out.

The Mini is also receiving the sound board’s audio via its microphone input. When we’re ready to broadcast live, I need to switch between the off-air playlist and the on-air sound board. If I wanted to, I could tell Nicecast to stop broadcasting and then start it again after hijacking the direct line in. However this isn’t ideal for two reasons:

  1. Anyone already listening (which is common right before we start a live broadcast) is booted and must refresh to reconnect to the stream.
  2. Shoutcast is expecting iTunes meta data so it can display what’s currently playing along with the player.

So that’s no good. After fooling around for a bit, I discovered a way to make it work. I use another Rogue Amoeba application called LineIn (free) which simply allows the microphone input audio to run through it. That alone isn’t a big deal, but I needed the microphone input audio coming through an application so I could hijack it using Nicecast’s application mixer effect.

Nicecast always has LineIn hijacked, which itself is always playing through the sound board’s audio. When I’m broadcasting a playlist of pre-recorded audio the application mixer crossfade allows zero of the live audio through. Then, when we are ready to go live, I slide the application’s crossfade over and we’re seamlessly live. This little trick is also handy because it means I can keep iTunes technically broadcasting via Nicecast (though with no sound) so I can still pass meta data through.

I then have a zero decibel soundtrack, about thirty seconds in length, that I play on repeat when we’re streaming a podcast recording. Depending on what show we’re recording I’ll change the meta data for that one track (something like “LIVE: WP Late Night with so and so”), and Shoutcast will display the information as long as we’re broadcasting live. When we’re done broadcasting a slide the crossfade back over so iTunes can play through, and switch back to the off-air playlist.

Phew.

And if you couldn’t tell, figuring this out (again, entirely due to Dan Benjamin’s awesome explanation) was eye-opening for me. This is a killer podcasting setup for me, and one I’ll use for a long time to come.

Conclusion

WordPress is an integral tool in my podcasting setup, but it really is just one of the tools I need. Hopefully you picked up a useful tip or two above, and will be on your way to successfully podcasting in no time.

There are many other topics to consider when podcasting, of course: whether to include sponsors or advertising (as I tend to do), creating and producing jingles, and of course ideal length. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, and perhaps we can revisit some of these topics in a future post.

Big thanks to Justin Jones and Nicholas Weaver in helping me think through and get my own podcasting setup put together, and Jones as well for taking a look at this post while I was still drafting it.

18 thoughts on “How to publish professional podcasts using WordPress (and a few other tools)

  1. Incredible post Ryan! Just bookmarked this!

    I’ve been really struggling to find the ideal setup/workflow as well and this really helped (although mine won’t be nearly as sophisticated as yours). I too use Skype. Still figuring out how to use SoundFlower though.

    I’ve been using GarageBand for editing.

    Would you still recommend Audacity over GB?

  2. Wow! I’m so amazed! Straight to Readability. I’m a hundred percent sure I’ll make a use of this walk-through in the near future. Thanks Ryan!

  3. Ryan,

    This is a great article. Thank you so much for it. One question…being on a Mac, why do you use Audacity over Garageband?

    Thanks!

  4. What a fantastically in-depth post, thanks; lots of tips for novices and those fo us with a bit of experience under the belt. Personally, we started recording http://www.technophiliapodcast.com in November last year, and now at episode 24 and a fairly regular once a week. I use the Blue Snowball mic with a pop filter; for recording skype, the Skype Call Recorder from eCamm is the easiest way to do it – I find messing around with soundflower to be far too much effort and sometimes unreliable. I’m also curious why you dont use Garageband?

  5. Awesome writeup!

    The only thing I have to add is that I do like the default players included with Blubrry Powerpress. You lose the choice of there to put it in the post, with options to put it at the top or bottom of content, but has a nice fallback for iOS devices. It’s also very easy to train someone to post the podcasts and have them “show up” without having to explain how to find the direct path to the file, etc…

    I would also suggest using a site like http://feedvalidator.org/ or http://castfeedvalidator.com/ before submitting to the iTunes directory. iTunes is a frustrating process on a good day, let alone if it were to get kicked after waiting 2 days because of a typo in the URL, problem with Feed Burner, or plugin adding junk to the RSS feed, etc…

  6. Also, for those asking about Garage Band, I think we ran into a technical limitation with Garage Band. If memory serves, there was no way to turn off “software monitoring” and was creating an infinite feedback loop. Audacity has many more controls that work with the USB interface, and this may have just been a problem with the driver setup of this particular USB interface. Audacity is also free, open-source, and cross platform. Keeping to open-source was kind of a plus since we’re talking about WordPress. It’s also pretty light weight and runs on a MacBook Air just fine, which opens up for on-location possibilities like a WordCamp.

    I think the long term plan will be to record with Logic Pro, since the final product is begging to get hit with some compression and normalization. I’m dying to be able to use some plugins to tweak at a channel level and also for the final product.

    As Ryan said above, this rabbit hole is pretty deep. To upgrade the sound board and get the preamps for each channel will double the current investment. Have to keep plugging away for now…

  7. Now that’s a lengthy tut! I love using Audacity, its very comprehensive and does everything you need for free.

    I was thinking of using Podomatic. Have anyone had some good/ bad experiences with it?

    • Hi Robin,

      I use Podomatic for one reason, and one reason only. They have the slickest looking player out there. It just looks awesome. I find myself just staring at it while listening to a podcast.

    • Sorry I’m just now seeing this comment. The podcast image in the iTunes Store can take a full day to refresh. I just experienced this last week. The image on listeners’ devices should update almost immediately if they refresh the feed though.

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