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So you’ve decided. It’s finally time to start that podcast. Congratulations! Whether you’re hoping to cover sports, finance, fashion, dating or books, you gotta get clear on your angle before hitting record. As comedian Ashley Hamilton says, creating captivating long-form audio means knowing what you’re talking about.
“What you want to do is find a niche,” Hamilton, co-host of the podcast “Celebrity Memoir Book Club,” told HuffPost. “No one really wants to hear random people just blab,” she added. “If you wanna attract an audience, there has to be an added value.”
For Hamilton, this “value” comes in the form of critique, analysis, hot takes, jokes, personal anecdotes and unedited feelings. It’s the stuff that got her into listening to podcasts and, eventually, what inspired her to launch her own.
Hamilton said that starting a podcast also requires finding a hosting platform like Libsyn, Buzzsprout or Anchor. These platforms create an “RSS feed” for your podcast or a digital file that automatically uploads to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or other places podcasts are streamed, containing the recording of the episode as well as the title and description. Hamilton said this process is how all podcasters get their latest episodes onto the air, from mega-famous stars with millions of streams to friends that record at home.
The next step is making sure you have all the gear you need to record. Huffpost spoke with Hamilton and Ada Enechi, head of culture at BuzzFeed UK and cohost of the “Seasoned Sessions” podcast, to figure the best equipment for a new home studio.
A Fifine recording microphone
Hamilton suggests stocking up on budget gear when you're just starting out. "I would recommend, honestly, staying on the cheaper end of microphones," she said. "Any single directional microphone for each of your guests or for each of the people who are gonna be on mic and recording into, that is probably the best option."
This single-direction desk mic from Fifine has 30,000 positive reviews and works to record someone speaking directly into it (rather than, say, recording an entire band playing).
A Blue Yeti USB microphone
If you're a sucker for fancy tech and are willing to drop more money on your mic, Enechi suggests the Blue Yeti USB microphone, which comes with a desktop stand, voice effects and four recording modes — from direct frontal to all-around. "This is what I was told is the best to start with, so that's what we use for home recording," Enechi told HuffPost. It comes in six colors.
Rode Procaster microphone
For a taste of the professional podcast life, Enechi says the Rode Procaster microphones are used in the BuzzFeed UK studio. These broadcasting mics are made for long-form audio recording.
Audio-Technica studio monitor headphones
To hear yourself, your cohost and everyone's levels — and to block out outside noise — you're going to want a pair of headphones. While Hamilton says you don't need to drop a bunch of money on a good pair, she does say you should ensure you're getting a pair that doesn't have a mic.
"I kind of think any headphones work. I would just warn against... using... any headphones with a built-in microphone," she said, because those will interfere with whatever you're trying to record.
These studio monitor headphones from Audio-Technica have a basic AUX jack and let you listen to your levels without amplifying your voice.
Some XLR microphone cables
For connecting your mic to your recorder, connecting your recording to a computer, and connecting all sorts of things to other things, you'll need XLR cables.
"We just use Amazon Basics XLR cables. I think they're like $8 and come in like a variety of lengths," Hamilton said.
They also make XLR to USB cords
that can go right into your computer.
A Zoom F6 multitrack field recorder
Where you want to splurge is a field recorder. It's a versatile device that captures and levels sounds, letting your record different microphones separately. Both Hamilton and Enechi suggested the Zoom F6 multitrack field recorder, and Hamilton pointed out you can often find them refurbished on Amazon.
"The Zoom F6 auto-levels, so if you don't have someone to watch you record and watch your sound, this is great at doing it automatically," Enechi said.
Hamilton added that a little sound quality goes a long way. "You definitely want some kind of recording device where you can control the levels on each mic," she said. "There are a lot of podcasts out there with treacherous quality. If you can make it even, ... so everyone sounds about the same level and there's minimal background noise, you're in a pretty good position to release a podcast."
A Sony Alpha 7 II
If you're planning on filming your podcast to release video along with your episodes, Enechi recommends the Sony Alpha 7 II.
"You want something that shoots in high-quality 4k, especially if you want to do cool things with edits," she said.
Finally, consider how you’ll build your audience. Because distribution is the same for everyone, Hamilton said that in the podcast world, there’s room for smaller and larger shows alike.
She suggested reaching out to like-minded shows or hosts and trying to collaborate or go as guests on their podcast. “Converting someone from a TikTok watcher to a podcast listener is a lot harder than converting someone from a podcast listener to a listener of another podcast,” she said.