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Podcasting tools and practicesAs more and more people have access to smartphones, iPods, and other mobile devices, the opportunity for reaching out to connect quickly and effectively with others has never been greater. One of the most popular and powerful means of communication is, undoubtedly, podcasts.

Podcasts are no longer limited to the tech savvy. Creating one is easier than you might think, and they’re a great way to share helpful information and ideas, build meaningful relationships, and ultimately help your law firm grow. See: 10 Legal Podcasts Worth Listening To.

So you have useful information to share, an idea to spread, or a worthy endeavor to promote, but how does a person with little technical knowledge or experience begin? What are the best resources for a novice, and how do you use them? Here is a list of must-have tools and best practices to help you get a strong start in podcasting. Best of all, they are all free or inexpensive solutions.

Brainstorming Ideas 

When you are just getting started with your podcasts, Evernote is an effective way to brainstorm and organize ideas. As you jot down topics in your Evernote notebook, it can help you find related ideas from previous entries and keep all of your thoughts organized.

It is also possible to share your notebook with others, such as colleagues or podcast guests. This gives you the opportunity to edit and collaborate on topics together, ensuring that you will all be up to date and on the same page when the time comes to start recording. 

Scheduling Guests

You have your content ideas, you have your podcast guests, and now you need to find a time that works for everyone. Doodle is the app for you. This is yet another easy-to-use (and free) app that simplifies scheduling and syncs automatically with all your devices.

It’s especially useful if your podcast is going to involve more than just you and one guest. Doodle allows you to poll everyone involved and pinpoint a time that will work for everyone. It will even update other calendar apps automatically so everything is always in sync.

Recording the Show

When you schedule your guests, you’ll want to include information about the communication tool you’re using to do the interview. Two popular options for podcast interviews are Skype and Zoom. Check out: Recording a Skype Calls for a Podcast: The Definitive Guide.

Using your earbuds to start is OK but as you get more episodes under your belt, audio quality – or the lack of it – stands out and becomes a concern. You’ll need to invest in a quality microphone. They can range widely in cost but you don’t need to break the bank. Top podcasting experts promote microphones that run in the hundreds of dollars but you can get a quality one for under $100, such as the widely recommended Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone.

Editing the Audio Recording 

This full featured digital audio app comes pre-downloaded (and free!) on all up to date Apple products (iOS 7 or higher). With GarageBand, you have the ability to create your own music or sound effects from an ample selection of instruments and samples. It’s a great tool for adding some professional touches to your finished audio.

While PC’s answer to GarageBand is not free, at just $9.99, Stagelight is well worth the investment considering what comes with it. You get a very straightforward and easy to use app that also supports VST (Virtual Studio Technology) and VSTi plugins. These plugins allow you to extend the functionality of the app easily. Again, this is a great tool for adding finishing touches to spice up your audio.

Audacity is another tool for audio editing and recording. It’s fully supported on both Mac and PC, and has features that are professional, yet still relatively user friendly. Since it’s free, it also gives you the chance to experiment and learn the ropes without spending any money up front.

A Reliable Hosting Platform

Be it Podomatic, Soundcloud, Libsyn, or any other, choosing the right platform for your your podcast is crucial. This will be your personal workspace to produce, edit, communicate, and share your recordings. There are a number of platforms out there to suit a wide range of needs. The platforms provide a unique URL for your podcast feed that you use to submit your show to iTunes and Stitcher

You’ll find different options for bandwidth, storage, and even tech support availability. Prices can range from around $20 per month for basic plans to upwards of $200 for some of the most elaborate. Don’t be afraid to send an email and ask questions to be sure the hosting package you’re considering will work for you.

A Home for Your Podcast

You’ll need a home for your podcast that you can point people to – preferably your website or blog. You embed the podcast episode on a web page using a link provided by your podcast host and do a writeup. The writeup is commonly referred to as “shownotes.” Think of shownotes as a blog post. You can include a transcription of the entire podcast episode or a summary with information about the guest and links referenced in the interview.

It’s a good practice to do your podcast writeup before uploading to your hosting platform so you can include the text making your podcast more discoverable on iTunes, Stitcher, and other platforms. 

Start Planning Your First Podcast

It may seem a little bit intimidating at first, but learning to put together your own podcasts for your law firm will pay off in the end. A podcast, quite literally, allows you to put a voice to your law firm’s brand. They have the potential to educate, inspire, inform, entertain, and reach people from all over the world.

Of course, these tools are just a few of the many that are out there, but they’ll give you a good base to work from. They should help you to get a quality podcast out to your audience quickly and with a minimal learning curve. From there, you’re only limited by your imagination.

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