So You Wanna Do a Podcast?

Podcasting is one of the hottest topics around. More and more people are getting hooked on their iPods and downloading music, video, and other broadcasts – known as a podcast.

You may have downloaded music or videos to your own iPod. You may even be ready to take the next step – creating your own podcast.

Creating a podcast is simple. The hardest part is probably figuring out what you want to broadcast. Using these simple steps you can be podcasting in under an hour.

Here’s how to get started âÂ?¦

Step One. Find a Good Web Server

Podcast files are accessible on the Internet when they are stored on a web server. That means you may want to look in to opening an account with a web host. For a small monthly fee, you can host your podcast files as well as your own website – which you may want to do to help you promote your podcasts. Some web hosts provide other features such as email addresses and database support.

You’ll need to have direct access to the server to be able to upload files. That means that you might not be able to use your blog or a free web hosting service to create and distribute your podcast.

You’ll also want to check into a web host very carefully. Some charge you extra when your bandwidth capacity goes over a certain limit. Bandwidth is used every time someone downloads or uploads a file from your web host.

Since multimedia files (and podcasts) can use a lot of bandwidth, you’ll want to make sure you have enough bandwidth initially and check into how much extra bandwidth will cost as you as more people find out about your podcasts.

The web hosting service I use and highly recommend is www.best-value-web-hosting.com. They have all the features you’ll need at a really reasonable price – less than $5.00 a month. They have support for podcasting and streaming media.

Step Two. Register Your Domain Name

Once you have your own web hosting account, you’ll probably want to register your own domain name. The cheapest domain names run around $4.00 for a year. Some companies charge $15.00 or more. You’ll need to do some comparison shopping. (Best-Value-Web-Hosting provides you with free domain name registration.)

Pick a name that reflects your personality or what your podcasts will be about. That way it will be more memorable to your visitors.

Step Three. Setup Your Podcast Feed

You’ll need to make your multimedia files accessible as a podcast feed. There’s a handy little script that will make this step extremely easy for you. It’s called “dirCaster.php” and you can download it at: http://www.fwbf.info/code/dircaster_0_4b.zip

This is a PHP script that lives in the same web folder as your podcast files. It creates am RSS feed from all the files in the directory. Don’t worry about all the technical stuff. All you need to know is that you’ll upload this script in the same folder as your files.

Note: You will need a web host that supports PHP scripting to use this file. Fortunately, Best-Value-Web-Hosting can do this for you without any effort on your part.

This PHP script is simple to set up (just follow the directions in the read_me file, but if you haven’t worked with PHP files before, there are programmers who will set up your script for you for a small fee. You can check e-lance.com for programmers.

Step Four. Create Your Podcast

If you plan on recording your own voice, you will need a microphone for your computer and a sound card capable of handling recording. Most newer computers have a good sound card already installed, but you may need to buy a microphone.

You’ll also need a program that will allow you to edit and record mp3 files. I recommend Audacity. It’s free and it works on Microsoft windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. You can download it from http://audacity.sourceforge.net.

You’ll want to use Audacity if you plan on editing any sound files – music or voice recording. Of course, there are other programs out there and you may want to do a search at www.download.com or at Google.

Once you have your microphone and software, it’s a simple matter of recording your program. Make sure you save the file in mp3 format because that takes less room than many of the other common formats.

Step Five. Upload your Podcast Files

Once you have your PHP script set up, you need to upload your mp3 files to your web server.

If you are using dirCaster, this process is very simple. Just upload your files to the same directory as your dircaster.php script. The script will know what files you have and generate the code that allows your listeners to download or subscribe to the podcast.

These steps may sound like a lot of technical work, but just about anyone can get started using this method in under an hour. If you don’t know a bit from a byte, you might want to get some technical help. Check with e-lance or you could try contacting your local high school or community college for a computer geek looking for a project.

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