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How to produce a financial podcast

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One of the most popular pages on Tradestreaming is our Best Investing Podcasts page. When I encounter a valuable resource, I continue to add it to that page.  Slowly, I’m beginning to see more and more financial professionals producing their own podcasts.  That’s awesome — for those of you contemplating how to create a financial podcast, I put together a how-to piece to help.

Step 1: Get your Equipmentequipment for financial podcasts

Microphone: Believe it or not, you require very little hardware to produce your own investing radio show.  The most important piece — and this is crucial — is that you purchase a good sounding microphone.  The typical headset you use for Skype isn’t going to sound professional enough to begin building a serious audience.  The good news is that you don’t really need to break the bank to get a good mic.  I use the Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone (affiliate) — it plugs directly into my computer’s USB port and does the trick.  I chose the Yeti because I felt that it was a great value for the money (around $100 on Amazon) — others I checked out and heard good things about included the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser USB Microphone, another good value for the money.  With a good condenser USB microphone, you won’t really need any other audio hardware.  You’ll sound good enough.

Headphones: If you’re recording remote interviews and using your boss mic (see above), you’re going to want to use some headphones.  Otherwise, if you’re your conversations off Skype (see below) and using your computer’s speakers, you’ll get some funky reverb.  Just plug a cheap pair of headphones in to solve that problem.

Camera (optional): I personally think audio is the better form factor to produce podcasts (versus video) but if you’re interested in using video of yourself as well, many built-in computer cameras do a good quality job of recording video. If you want to buy an external camera, you can get a pretty good one for less than $100.  The top 2 podcasting cameras are the Microsoft LifeCam Cinema 720p HD Webcam (Black)and the Logitech 1080p Webcam Pro C910. Both are highly rated and are HD.

Step 2: Softwareaudio podcast software

Audio editing software: I went open-source and downloaded free Audacity — it’s pretty easy to use, has a lot of literature about it, and since many podcasters are using it, you can get a lot of advice on how to use it.  You can click record and just pull the audio off your mic and record it into Audacity. When I finish editing my shows, I export my file into mp3.

Software to record remote interviews: Most of the episodes of Tradestreaming Radio involve an interview with an expert investor.  I conduct these remotely over Skype.  I use a premium Skype plugin for the Mac, Call Recorder that automatically saves my conversations on Skype. I then import these into Audacity when I’m ready to produce the show. Call Recorder comes with some other programs you’ll find helpful to convert from .mov to .mp3 and to split your conversation into separate tracks (useful if you are cutting/pasting).  There are some free plugins for Skype on the PC including MP3 Skype Recorder, which I’ve used without a hitch.

Video editing software (optional): If you’re going the video route, you can use something like Camtasia (PC/Mac) or Screenflow (Mac) to record and edit both audio and video.  Both these allow you to stream your desktop, so if you want to use charts or presentations as part of your podcast, it’s pretty easy to do.  A real barebones solution is Screenr , which allows you to stream your desktop with audio directly to the web (you won’t own the resulting files or be able to edit them once published).

Step 3: Hosting

Audio Podcast host: It may not sound like an important decision but choosing a host for your audio files is an important decision in this process.  You can certainly use wordpress to manage your podcasts, using something like podpress.org.  You can even find a way to configure a free host, archive.org, to host your files.  Getting the setting right requires some set up time and learning.  I chose to use a professional hosting company and am participating in the SoundCloud Podcasting Beta.  It’s very easy to use, to embed the episode in my website and to get some measure of traffic/audience.  I’ve also used a popular service called PodBean.  My thought process is like this: if you’re serious about growing your podcast and making a business out of it, it’s worth paying a company dedicated to making sure your audio is safe and streaming.

Video Podcast Host: Wistia is getting a lot of buzz recently.  Their metrics on who’s watching, how much they’re watching, how much they’re paying attention are unrivaled.  There are a variety of video hosts including YouTube (15 minutes of video max), so it’s worth looking around.

Feed hosting: Wherever you decide to host your audio files, your host will have a feed associated with it which you’ll give to iTunes to distribute your podcast.  It makes A LOT of sense to *burn* this feed with Feedburner.  Feedburner acts as an intermediary and will reproduce its own feed associated with your podcast.  This will come in very handy if you decide to change your podcast host.  You’ll be able to switch hosts and still maintain your integration into iTunes.  Without Feedburner, you’d have to do some redirecting of your host’s feed or abandon your original podcast all together.  Use it (or something like it).

Step 4: Ancillary Stuff:

There are a couple small things you’ll most likely want to do as well.

Podcast image: Along with your podcast’s feed, you’ll be able to distribute an image along with your feed.  iTunes suggests an image size of 300*300 pixels.  You can have this designed for you by a professional designer on something like Elance or I used Fiverr and had one made for $5. Or to get something really good, try 99Designs and have designers collaborate on your image.

Music intro: I like to use music as an intro and I can’t say that I’m doing it fully legally: -).  You can go to Elance (or fiverr, for that matter) to have a professionally made jingle cut for your podcast.  That’s total class.

Getting a podcast up and running takes some thinking and planning but it’s totally doable and is the right channel for many investors looking to get their ideas out, develop prospects, and just interact with their audience.

So, did I miss anything?  Do you find this useful?

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