Software

Five tools for producing quality podcasts

Podcasting offers a golden marketing opportunity for your company--but where do you start? Here are five tools to get you up and running.

Podcasting is the new blogging. Your business could greatly benefit from adding podcasts to your promotional and marketing efforts. With podcasts, you can bring a new dimension to your company/client relationship, train employees, advertise your products, and even cross-promote with others in your industry.

But how do you podcast? Where do you start? If you've already planned out your podcast (you know the content and audience, you have a host, etc.), you start with apps. You can't just record a podcast on your phone and upload it to your server or iTunes—there are a number of steps between conception and publication. For those steps, you need apps. Here are five good ones that will help you hit the ground running with your podcast.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: Audacity

I've been using Audacity (Figure A) since 2011 to record all my podcasts (as well as audiobooks). It provides everything you need to record professional quality audio suited for podcasts. Record, edit, normalize—everything.

Figure A

Figure A

Audacity features plenty of filters, special effects, cleaning tools, conversion tools, and much more. What's best, Audacity is free, cross-platform (Linux, Windows, Mac), and open source. You will be hard-pressed to find a better production tool for your podcast than this.

Audacity supports just about every conceivable audio file format and can even support multiple formats in a single project. For a complete rundown of features, check out this official list. All these features are housed in one of the easiest-to-use interfaces in all of audio recording.

2: PodPress

PodPress (Figure B) is what you need if you host your podcast on a WordPress site and want to get the podcast onto iTunes. Once you've set this up, your podcast will automatically be added to your iTunes feed. You will need to initially submit your feed to the iTunes store and then set up PodPress with your iTunes account information. Once it has been accepted, you create a post on WordPress and then add the media to the post. Once published, it will automatically add to your iTunes podcast entry.

Figure B

Figure B

One word of warning: Setting up PodPress is an exercise in patience. If you find yourself lost in the mire of setup, check out this PodPress support forum. But trust me on this; working through the complexity of PodPress setup is worth the time and effort. PodPress is free and works with WordPress 1.5 and up

3: Skype

Skype (Figure C) is actually a necessity for some podcasters. Who? Anyone who plans to record interviews or co-host a podcast when distance is an issue. Yes, there are other means. But the recording quality of Skype far exceeds that of Google Hangouts and the ease of use is hard to beat.

Figure C

Figure C

Oddly enough, Skype doesn't have the built-in capacity to record calls. For that, you will need to install third-party plugins. This matrix offers a full list of supported third-party tools. If you use Linux, you'll need to install an app called Skype Call Recorder. Once you have the necessary third-party tool installed, the process of recording a call is simple.

4: SoundCloud

SoundCloud (Figure D) is a popular location for hosting audio. Although it's primarily dedicated to music, it is also an outstanding location for housing podcasts. I've often used my SoundCloud account as a testing ground for podcasts in development.

Figure D

Figure D

SoundCloud offers free RSS feeds, so you can make it easier for listeners to follow your casts. The free account limits the amount of space, upload times, and reporting. But SoundCloud also offers a built-in recording tool that allows you to quickly record a file.

There are also two paid accounts: Pro ($6.00/month) and Pro Unlimited ($15.00/month). Check out the features for each here.

5: Podcast Addict

Podcast Addict (Figure E) is a great mobile app to use for checking your podcast. It's one thing to listen to the production file on your PC. But hearing the cast through the same means your listeners use will clue you into possible issues—especially if the podcast isn't seeding properly (as in, the latest episodes aren't available). Never assume that just because you've uploaded the file and it's automatically submitted to iTunes (and you've added the file to SoundCloud and other sources) that all is well. Your last step should be to check on the feed with the likes of this free podcast aggregation tool.

Figure E

Figure E

Happy podcasting!

If you're about to embark on the development, production, and publication of a podcast, these tools will be a great way to start. In fact, once you work these into your process, you'll most likely find yourself wanting for nothing else.

Have you found a podcasting tool you can't work without? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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