The thought of starting a podcast can be intimidating. San Antonio’s own Jennifer Navarrete tells everyone not to let fear hold you back. She created the National Podcast Post Month or NaPodPoMo in 2007 to encourage people to dive into podcasting.
“I’m still not tired of it,” Navarrete said. “For entrepreneurs, you can tell your story in a way that a business card can not—it’s the intimate act of sharing your story.”
Plunging into the deep end of the podcasting pool by committing to create and upload one podcast each day in November might be more than most new to podcasting would take on.
“Don’t let lack of experience stop you,” Navarrete added. “If you do NaPodPoMo, by Dec. 1 you’ll have created 30 shows and gained lots of experience in a short time.”
In other words, the NaPodPoMo commitment is an effective way to hack the podcasting learning curve, according to Navarrete. Many think you need to spend big money on complicated equipment. Navarrete stresses anyone can start a podcast with beginner-level tools and do just fine.
“Start with your mobile phone and an app, and maybe get a mic that plugs into your cellphone or clips on your lapel,” Navarrete said. “You’d be surprised by the quality of audio and video you’ll get using your cellphone.”
The key for beginners is to record your podcast in a quiet place. Navarrete recommends sitting in your closet where the clothes will help muffle background noise. Do some sound tests using your phone to gauge what works best. And if you cannot screen out background noise, make that an element of your recording.
“Listeners are forgiving of ambient noise, plus it adds a gritty reality to your podcast,” Navarrete said. “If you want to go up to level two, try podcasting software, a mixer, and an XLR or USB mic.”
Upgrading from your closet “studio” to something mobile but still low-cost can be done with moving blankets, thumbtacks, and a sturdy but portable backdrop. Navarrete said you can get a package of four moving blankets and tack it up on the wall with thumbtacks. For live events, simply bring a portable backdrop and drape it with the blankets.
Navarrete still uses level one technology and her closet to record a podcast on her cellphone. For those recording on the road, a hotel room has everything you need.
“Put a towel on the desk and put your laptop on it,” she suggested. “Then build a pillow fort around you and drape a blanket over you at the desk to create a mini sound booth.”
It was first in 2005 when Navarrete first heard about podcasting and thought, “Holy smokes, you mean I can record something and put it on the web, and no one can stop me?”
She hasn’t stopped podcasting since then.
Navarrete founded the Podcasters in San Antonio Meetup group in 2005, which sprouted the first ever user-generated conference in San Antonio, PodCamp San Antonio. You can also find her in multiple Facebook groups about podcasting in San Antonio. While she is well known in podcasting circles, what many may not know about Navarrete’s social media handle is that the “e” in “@epodcaster” stands for entrepreneurial.“I recognized the entrepreneurial benefits of podcasting the moment I figured out what it was,” NaPodPoMo founder @epodcaster said. “A podcast allows you to whisper in the listener’s ear.” Click To Tweet
If you’re interested in whispering in the ear of your listeners, Navarrete shared some suggestions to get you started in time for National Podcast Post Month which starts Nov. 1.
EPodcaster’s Podcasting Levels
For Level 1, all you need is your cellphone. Record in a closet or blanket fort and use your mobile phone and a recording app such as Anchor, Spreaker Studio, or BossJock Studio.
Add your computer for Level 2 podcasting. Add in headphones, a USB mic, and software (free ones like Garageband or Audacity, or buy Reaper for $60, Hindenburg Journalist at $95, or Adobe Audition for $21/month) to create your podcast.
Create your home studio for Level 3. You’ll need your computer and headphones (try a gamer headset), plus a mixer or audio interface with an XLR microphone mounted on a boom arm or a microphone stand with a shock mount.
There’s always Level 4 expertise available. Bring your talent to a professional studio and work with a production team that handles everything for you, including equipment, recording, editing, post-production, upload and posting to website, plus podcast submission to iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and other platforms.
Some EPodcaster Equipment Recommendations
On the go, Navarrete uses a wired lapel Movo clip-on interview microphone when using her cellphone to record a podcast.
For podcasting at Level 2 and above, try using a better quality mic. USB and XLR refer to the way a microphone connects to the device that’s recording your podcast. A USB mic works when plugged into the USB port of your computer, allowing you to record into software like Abode Audition or into a device like a Zoom portable digital audio recorder. An XLR mic (which usually captures better quality sound) connects via an XLR cable, so you will need an audio interface like the Zoom recorder which works both as a recording device and an audio interface.
Bottom line: If you want to plug your mic straight into your computer you need to buy a USB mic. If you are buying an XLR mic (they’re usually the higher quality ones) you’ll need some kind of audio interface so it will connect to your computer.
For a USB mic, Navarrete recommends the Blue Yeti USB microphone as a good Level 2 mic for its ease of use.
A versatile entry-level mic is the Audio-Technica ATR2100 which is both a USB and XLR mic that costs about $70-80. Navarrete still uses this mic even though she owns more expensive ones.
Of the Zoom models, Navarrete likes the Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder. She said it gives you the most options when you’re on the go and you can use up to four of its XLR mic ports.
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Featured image is of NaPodPoMo founder Jennifer Navarrete, ready to record a podcast. Photo credit: Startups San Antonio.