When you produce your own podcast there’s a lot to think about. Over time, as you use the same setup more and more you’ll start to form habits that will make the process quick and easy.
However, getting to that point takes time and the reality is that you’ll encounter different situations and problems to solve the more episodes you produce.
Being able to chat with your guest as you’re setting up in the background will allow you to make them feel at ease and build rapport before you hit the record button. This is so important in being able to capture the interview your listeners will want to hear.
If you’re struggling to work out which cable goes where though or forever trying out different setups, you’re not going to be able to build this rapport and you’ll end up creating unnecessary stress for yourself.
This is where a simple checklist comes in. If you can tick off things as you go, with a quick glance you’ll know exactly what’s been done and what still needs to be done. It doesn’t matter if you break off for a minute to chat with your guest, as soon as you go back to setting up you’ll know exactly where you are.
The same principle can be applied to different parts of the podcast production process. Take editing for example, in this scenario, there isn’t a guest to build rapport with as the interview has already taken place but you are looking to achieve the best possible audio quality so having a checklist of things to look out for in your audio, and also what filters and tweaks work well with your setup can make you more time-efficient therefore giving you a better sounding podcast.
Read on to learn about the different checklists we use and some of the detail about why certain things are on there. We’ve just included a list of things you could include for inspiration and we’ve done this on purpose. Why? Well, it would have probably been less work for us to just share the exact checklists we use, but we didn’t feel that it would have helped you. Instead, we encourage you to look at some of the things we include in ours and then put your own together. This way, it’s centered around your equipment and workflow. This is important as each setup has its unique nuances.
That being said, we’re sure that you’ll find a few things on the lists below that you didn’t think of and that will complement your checklist. In terms of how to put your sheet together, something simple in Excel will do the job fine – see the example below for inspiration. If you can, laminate each sheet, and then you can tick each item off as you do them with a dry wipe pen and reuse it time and time again.
In-Person Podcast Interview Checklist
Because all setups are different and will contain different types of equipment, we’ve kept the lists below fairly generic and not specific to any one setup.
As mentioned above, this can be used to supplement your own checklist which details the specifics of your particular setup.
Prior to Arriving
- Charge all rechargeable batteries
- Ensure that you pack a sufficient amount of spare batteries
- Ensure all previously recorded files you wish to keep are transferred to your computer and backed up appropriately
- Insert media cards (SD, micro-SD, etc) into each device and format in the device itself ready for a new recording
- Pack spare, formatted media cards in case they’re needed
- At home, set up the gear as you would want to set it up for the interview (this allows you to take plenty of time and tweak the settings – doing this will make setup on the day quicker)
- Ensure that all cables and spares are packed
- Ensure that all other equipment such as microphones, digital recorders, headphones, etc… are packed (top tip: make a separate sheet just for these things – a packing checklist)
- Set up to replicate what you did at home before arriving
- Mic up each person and individually set levels, and check the sound quality
- Check all battery levels
- Check that media cards are in each device and formatted ready to go
- Ensure the backup recorder is in place and receiving the correct signal
- Take a minute to focus on the background noise
- Are there any excessive unwanted sounds?
- Is there anything that can be turned down/off and/or could you move to another part of the room/establishment to minimize them?
- Pay close attention to noise like fans, air conditioning units, etc…
- Ensure that no excessive noises are coming from the people with mics – heavy breathing, the rustling of clothing, etc…
- Explain to those being recorded how it works and if it’s OK to pause or repeat anything they say if it could be said better
- Ensure that you hit the record button on the main recorder and all backup recorders!
Remote Interview Checklist
A lot of the above also applies in this scenario so we won’t repeat it. However, detailed below is a list of some additional things you will want to do when setting up a remote interview.
A lot of remote podcast interviews are conducted via Skype but increasingly other software solutions such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are also being used.
The list below applies to any of these programs. We conduct interviews across all of these platforms depending on the preference of our guests. Because we record using a digital recorder as opposed to onto the computer directly, the program used is largely irrelevant as long as we can take a feed from it into the digital recorder. On that point, it’s worth keeping in mind that the following list does assume that you’re recording in the same way we do.
- Check audio settings inside the software and make a test call which they all allow you to do
- Although your main microphone will be plugged directly into your digital recorder, it’s important that your guest can hear you clearly, whether that be through the in-built mic on your laptop or a second mic plugged into your PC for this purpose. You could also create a mix-minus setup but that’s for another article
- Use a test call to get your levels right in both your main recorder and also your backup recorder(s) before going live with your guest
- The audio from your computer should go into your digital recorder – listen to this carefully to ensure there is no excess noise
- Ensure that the feed from the computer is being put onto a separate channel from your microphone to make editing easier later
- Close down any programs which could make a noise during the recording, for example, email software which alerts you to all new email or a web browser which has notifications enabled
- On this point, also try to avoid having to change the computer’s volume whilst recording as it can make a ‘ping’ noise to demonstrate the level – you want to, of course, avoid having this in your final recording
- If you are taking a software backup either by using the record feature directly in the meeting software or with third-party software, ensure that you have enough disk space for it to save and that you press record!
- On a similar note, remember to press record on all hardware-based recording devices
The below image shows our remote interview setup. We take a feed from the laptop’s headphone socket and plug it into the 3.5mm input of the Tascam DR-60Dii (Amazon). The backup recorder is a Zoom H1.
Podcast Editing Checklist
Once you’ve done the recording, the first thing to do is to transfer the files to your computer and back them up appropriately. The adage that “Three is two, two is one and one is none” should always be remembered. One in the cloud, one on an external hard drive, and one on your computer should suffice.
Once the files are backed up, it’s time to open your DAW and get editing. The following list is more focussed on some of the enhancements you could apply to your audio. The focus of it is editing voice as opposed to adding in music or any other effects.
- If the recording was multitrack, open each track and ensure correct synchronization
- On most digital recorders, there is only one record button so all tracks should have started recording at the same time and therefore will be synced properly but it’s worth checking
- Ensure that each microphone track is panned to the center
- Start editing the discussion and consider removing the following elements:
- Lip smacks
- Loud and sharp intakes of breath
- Coughs/sneezes etc…
- Any noticeable external noises (bangs, dog barks, etc…)
- You will also want to remove the things people say which you don’t want as part of the final edit
- Apply voice enhancements. The following things are probably the most basic yet are effective when used in combination with each other:
- Noise reduction (spending more time during the EQ process can avoid having to use noise reduction but in some cases, it’s necessary)
- Save and back up the project file so that if any amends need making at a later date, you have the raw edit to work with
- Exporting in WAV format is recommended for the highest quality. Let mp3 compression happen at the point of converting the final production
- Once all individual edits have been done and exported (eg guest interview, co-host chat, news features etc…), it’s time to put them all together along with your intro/outro, music and effects, etc…
- Again, we recommend saving the project file of the main edit for the reason mentioned above. From here you can export as either an mp3 or as a WAV file depending on the next step
- If your next step is to upload the episode directly to the host then exporting as an mp3 file makes the most sense. However, if like us you use a service like Auphonic for adding metadata and additional enhancements, export the edit as a WAV file and let Auphonic convert it to mp3
Uploading and Publishing Your Podcast
Once you have your production file complete with metadata, it’s time to upload it to your podcast hosting platform (see our recommended platforms on the resources page).
We haven’t put a checklist together for this as the steps required are platform-specific so we’d recommend building your own list which corresponds to your workflow.
There are however a few things detailed below which you might want to consider adding to it which are relevant regardless of which podcast hosting platform you use.
- Create episode-specific cover art
- Create a featured image for your website (if you create a post about each episode and/or use something like Blubrry PowerPress to manage your feed)
- Create social media imagery to promote the episode
- Schedule social posts about the episode, tagging your guest(s) to increase the chances of it being shared by them
- Create clips of the episode, again for social media promotion purposes
- Write an email about the episode for your email subscribers
Hopefully, we’ve given you plenty of material to start putting together your own checklists. These lists will help you to be more efficient, get more out of each episode and ultimately, help you to grow your podcast over time.