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    Starting a Podcast with Limited Tech Knowledge

    A client of mine called me up and swore that they were 100% sure they would never be able to podcast. They felt technology was not their friend. I explained that they could do it, and I’m saying the same thing to you. You’ve got this. Here is why.

    For decades I worked in the corporate world as a technical trainer. I remember holding classes on e-mail (believe it or not) as people didn’t understand it. It was voodoo: “What do you mean I don’t have to buy a stamp? How can it be delivered in seconds?” Yet we took the knowledge we had (writing letters on paper, taking it to the post office, and having it arrive to the sender) and transferred it to new technology. We can do the same thing with podcasting. 

    Mixing Audio

    When I hear someone say, “I don’t know anything about mixing audio,” I ask, “Have you ever been in the car and “your jam” comes on, and you crank up the volume — only to have the phone ring?”

    We’ve all been there. What do you do? You turn the radio down (not off — 'cause, you know, it’s your jam) so we can hear the person on the phone. 

    To this, I say “AH-HA!” You do know how to mix audio. With this in mind, adjusting the volume of your podcast intro so that you can hear both the voiceover and the music is very similar. 

    Recording Your Voice

    One of the first cassette recorder/players I owned had four black keys and one red ‘record' key. When I wanted to record a television show on my VCR, I pressed the red record button. When I heard my jam come on my boombox in the 1980s, I pressed the key labeled REC to record it on to my favorite mixtape. You know how to press ‘record.’ You’ve been doing it for years. Do you want to guess what color the record button is in Audacity? You guessed it: red. 

    You got this.

    Building Websites

    You might say, “I don’t know anything about websites.” When you’ve never done anything on the web, the internet is the ultimate fear of the unknown. Then you created a Facebook account and made a post by typing some words and pressing ‘enter.’ If you can make a basic social media post, you have the skills to make a website. If you’ve ever worked in Microsoft Word, you would be amazed at how similar WordPress (free software you can use to manage a website) and Microsoft Word can be. Microsoft Word creates documents. WordPress creates websites. 

    Podcasting Gear

    You might say, “I have no idea what kind of gear I need.” You would be right in saying that, but that shouldn’t stop you from starting a podcast. 

    Do you have any children who wanted to learn to play an instrument? You had no idea what to buy. You didn’t want something that would break, but you didn’t want to have to take out a second mortgage to afford the equipment. What did you do? You asked someone. You went to a music store to see if they provided lessons. You meet the instructor, explaining that your child wants to start playing. The instructor won’t suggest something too expensive, because he needs you to have money left for lessons. He won’t recommend something too cheap, as he needs the instrument to last, so there is something to play. 

    When you don’t know what equipment to buy, find someone you trust, and ask for help. Be careful about getting too many opinions, or you may end up confused. I feel for people who ask “What kind of microphone do I need?” in the Podcast Movement Facebook group as they will get 500 suggestions and leave dazed. Find a podcast you listen to (and that sounds good) and ask them. Unless they're extremely busy, any host worth their weight will be happy to answer a few questions about gear. 

    Recording Remote Interviews

    You say, “Most of my interviews are going to be remote. People say I can use Skype, but I’ve never used Skype before.”

    I hear from you, “This is new software,” and it can be intimidating. 

    For those of us that remember phone books, you would look up someone’s information and dial the phone, and they would answer. This hasn’t changed. You look up someone’s name in Skype (known as a “Skype handle”), and when the software finds it, you press the green button to go, and the red button to stop. What about recording it? You guessed it: the big red button in Ecamm recorder or the free Skype recorder software.

    Uploading Media

    You might say, “I don’t know anything about uploading media to media hosts.” 

    First off, have you ever heard the phrase “You get what you pay for?” That is very true with media hosts. If you hear someone say, “Just upload the media to your media host,” but you've never done that before, you start to sweat. To this, I ask, “Have you ever uploaded a picture to Facebook? Ever attached an Excel spreadsheet to an email?” Then you have the skills to upload a media file to your media host. If you have questions, reach out to their support team (not social media) as they are equipped with the best knowledge to help you.

    Editing Audio

    You say, “I don’t know anything about editing.” 

    Have you ever been in an argument and said something you shouldn’t have? Moving forward, did you say those words again? No, you learned which words to use and which to avoid. It’s not any different in Audacity (free software you can use to record and edit your episode). When, um, you, um, say a sentence, that, um seems to have a bunch of, um, words that, um, you didn’t mean to say, you can delete them as easily as you delete unwanted words in Microsoft Word. You highlight them and press delete. A bonus of editing your audio (instead of hiring it out) is there is a good chance that those “um”s become less frequent. You know the more you “um,” the more time you’ll spend editing.

    There IS a Learning Curve

    I’m not here peddling some nonsense that there is no learning curve — there is. Any time you do something for the first time, there is a learning curve. I’m just here to let you know it’s not a mountain that you can’t climb. You can, as you’ve already got most of the skills needed.

    Don’t let the fear of technology stop you from sharing your message with the world. The world is quickly changing, and technology is changing even faster. My grandmother was born in 1899 (I know, what?!) and in her 92-year lifetime she saw things go from horse-and-buggy to the space shuttle. (Wait, let’s slow down. Stop and think about that for a second. She went from horse-and-buggy to the SPACE SHUTTLE in one lifetime.)

    One night I was talking to her about this (as I couldn’t get over that she was born in 1899). She explained that back in the day she would sit on her front fence next to the road, and when a car would drive by they would scream, “Shoo, devil!” as people believed cars were evil. Don’t scream “Shoo, podcast!” I’ve seen podcasts bring people together from all over the world. Podcasting is changing the world one download at a time.

    What about my client who assured me there was NO WAY they could ever launch a podcast? They called me two months later saying, “I’m in iTunes!” They didn’t think they could do it, but I “baby stepped” them all the way. 

    You got this. 

    Dave Jackson
    Dave Jacksonhttps://www.theschoolofpodcasting.com/
    Dave Jackson is a 2018 Podcasters Hall of Fame inductee and the founder of the School of Podcasting, where he’s helped thousands of new and experienced podcasters launch their shows and become better hosts. He is a member of the tech support team at Libsyn. He is also the author of the book More Podcast Money, and a featured speaker at podcasting events.

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