Podcasting has been getting some press recently, more so than normal. I first noticed it back in September when The Washington Post declared that podcasts are back and making money. I never knew they had left and the making money part wasn’t much of a surprise either. Roll forward a few months and we seem to be in the middle of a popular podcast storm.

Top Shelf from The Verge did a great video on why podcasts are so popular just now. Serial Podcast is one of the biggest podcasts in years and has succeeded in reaching new audiences. It’s also set the record for fastest podcast to 5 million downloads. It seems more and more people are not only listening to podcasts but actually producing their own. That’s not much of a surprise either as it’s fairly easy to record and publish your own podcast. I know as I’ve been podcasting since 2009.

What was more surprising was the posts recently from a few of the more notable tech podcasters and also the heat it generated on twitter. Firstly Jason Snell posted on not being intimidated to do a podcast. A lot of what Jason wrote resonated with me but unfortunately there was some heat on twitter from a few sources on technology and what gear you should be using. A sort of follow up from Marco Arment tried to move the debate on so that it focussed on the listener. I agreed with some of his points but felt it strayed into gadget snobbery again.

So after 230 episodes of DigitalOutbox what have I learned:

  • To get started you don’t need much, especially if you aren’t sure if podcasting is for you and you want to give it a go.
  • Me and Shak started with a headset with mic built in. Quality wasn’t great but it got us off and running. Use an iPhone headset as it’s good enough to get you going.
  • If you are enjoying podcasting and want to keep going after a few episodes then invest in a better mic. I use a Rode Podcaster, Chris uses a Blue Yeti and I think our audio quality is good. You can go a lot higher quality if you want but I do think it’s diminishing returns. To keep it easier, both of these are USB mic’s.
  • Get a decent set of headphones that don’t leak audio – if they do then your mic, especially the better quality ones, will pick up on the audio from your headphones.
  • Each podcaster should record audio at their end. Recording Skype and using that for the audio source causes more issues than the hardware in my opinion. Share the audio with the editor over Dropbox. Nice and easy.
  • If you’ve got a Mac then use Garageband for editing, at least to get started. Audacity is another option.
  • Editing should focus on getting everyone’s levels even and also cutting out mistakes, drop outs, phone calls – whatever gets in the way of the listener enjoying your Podcast.
  • You can also edit to remove silence, mmmm’s, eh’s and all the other little annoyances. I’ve done this a few times but must admit that I find it a bit of a chore to do so don’t often bother. It’s not a show stopper but it will be for the better if you remove them.
  • Put chapters into your podcasts. I wish more podcasters would do this so you can skip a topic that isn’t interesting you but very few do. A shame.
  • You don’t need to spend loads on hosting your podcasts if you are doing audio only. I use Dreamhost and the speeds are good enough for our podcast and there are no limits on bandwidth.
  • A 30-40 minute audio podcast will take around 2-4 hours each week to record, edit and publish not including any research time you need. A video podcast will require a lot more. Do not underestimate the step up in bandwidth, production and hosting a video podcast requires.
  • Something I’ve not done too much off is room treatment but you do want a quiet room and ideally with not too many hard surfaces around. The better the audio quality the less you need to to edit so try and make sure you don’t pick up phones, clocks and other voices while you are recording.
  • Enjoy it.

Dan Benjamin, founder of the 5by5 network has put together a great site on podcast hardware and software recommendations at The Podcast Method. Well worth a read. He also has published a really useful video on mic technique which features some great tips.

The main thing to remember is not to let the gear or the software become a barrier to entry. Give it a go and if you enjoy it you can invest at a later date once you know if it’s for you.

Now…about podcasts making money. Any tips?


I’ve been fairly quiet on the blog recently and for a change it’s not work or gaming taking up my time – it’s a new hobby. I’ve been cooking up something with Shakeel for a few weeks now and finally we got it launched this week. DigitalOutbox.

DigitalOutbox is a weekly podcast where myself, Shakeel and some weekly guests (eventually!) will discuss computing, gadgets and gaming. A mixture of news and topic discussion with a bit of humour thrown in while keeping it relevant to the UK. Our first episode is now out and available from iTunes or the website feed.

Over the coming weeks and months we want to expand into screencast and video download’s (and if you think I don’t have the face for video, wait until you hear the voice) but that is more dependant on time and also our own skills. This is all very new for us and is certainly out of our comfort zone but it’s something we’ve wanted to do for quite a while so it’s good to see it finally up and running. We’ll also be blogging our more tech related posts on DigitalOutbox rather than our personal blogs. Hopefully if you follow this site and/or the RSS feed you’ll want to do the same for DigitalOutbox. If you want to keep up to date on our goings on then follow us on Twitter.

We have a lot to learn and our first few attempts have been quite ropey but hopefully with time we’ll improve and build up quite a nice podcast series. I’d love to hear any comments, suggestions or feedback either on iand.net or the DigitalOutbox website. Wish us luck!

Now this is podcasting

And like that….they were gone. All podcast software writers must be jumping with joy now that iTunes 4.9 is out with podcast support – not. No need for iPodder or Odeo (nice knowing you) when iTunes supports it all from within the one package for free. Speaking of free I notice that all the podcasts have the word ‘Free’ text to the subscribe button – I can see some podcasts costing a few pennies in the not too distant future but for the majority to keep a fan base and charge the quality will need to increase. then again with the BBC and other broadcasters looking at podcasting, web technologies and alternative revenue streams it seems only a matter of time before a charging model is introduced. If thousands are willing to pay for ringtones who knows how big the podcasting market could grow to. Podcasts in iTunes also support chapters with pictures for each chapter and clickable links in iTunes. All sounds like a step to a new format of audible books and makes more sense when you think how easy it is to buy from the iTunes Music Store?

There’s some nice features for managing podcast transfers to the iPod – all episodes of a podcast, latest episodes only etc. I can’t see a feature I’m missing right now that I’ve seen in other software so this looks to be a good update to iTunes and a reduction in the amount of apps I need on the pc which is officially a good thing.

Also new is the iPod. No more iPod photo, the 20Gb and 60Gb iPod’s both have colour screens and support for bookmarking podcasts and displaying album and podcast art as well as photo’s. £299 for a 60Gb iPod is very tempting. Nice updates from Apple – again.


I’ve been using iPodder for a few weeks now with mixed results. iPodder allows you to download podcasts of your choosing to your iPod. Podcasts, in case you didn’t know, are audio files (like normal radio broadcasts) that can be easily downloaded from the net and stored on your iPod, or any digital player for that matter – pc, Xbox etc.

While the software works well and integrates nicely with iTunes, it’s the quality of the content I’ve been most disappointed with. Out of the popular top 10, Reel Reviews, IT Conversations and Engadget have been the only ones that perked my interest with the rest being fairly poor. Adam Curry (who started off the concept of podcasting) was just irritating – if I want to listen to someone coughing in my ear I’ll just listen to the guys in the office whose banter is far more entertaining. The others I have tried have been fairly poor. I guess it’s no surprise really as like blogging, some things should be left to the professionals. Still worth a try even for the two shows above although it goes without saying that this is for broadband users only – the IT Conversations shows can run over an hour…but they can at least be fast forwarded for when they get a little dry.