How to Start a Free Podcast

At the risk of stating the obvious, we absolutely adore podcasts. Not only do we have our own, we have so many favourite shows that we spend a lot of our spare time listening to. We really believe in the medium of radio, and think that so much quality content is broadcast across the airwaves to share great information and perspectives with people. We also believe that there is so much room in the podcast world for new voices.

Our podcast is 100% DIY. And while we have spent some money on the show over the years (details below), it’s totally possible to make a podcast without spending a dime. If you think you have something to say, it should be easy for you to get your voice out there, which is why we’re writing this post. Here’s what we know about how to start a free podcast today!

1. Record Your Show

How To Start a Podcast For Free >> Guinea Pigging Green
We use the Samson Go Mic

Microphone: This is where spending some money might come in, as your show should have the highest-quality audio that you can afford. But don’t let this stop you from starting a podcast! When we started, we used the built-in microphone on our computers.

If you have a smartphone, you probably have a built-in audio recorder – on an iPhone, this is in an app called Voice Memos. If you’re in a quiet place, the audio quality on these apps can be really good, and better than on your computer. Podcasters are notorious for recording in closets, where the audio environment is especially good.

If you want to invest in your show, there are a few great microphones on the market at very reasonable price points. We both use a Samson Go Mic and absolutely adore them. They’re tiny enough to bring anywhere and deliver an absolutely awesome audio file. The Blue Microphones Snowball mic is also a great option, though a little bulkier. Both these microphones are plug-and-play, so you just hook them up to a USB port on your computer and hit record.

Content: Generally, it’s a good strategy to have an idea of the structure of your episode before you start recording. We usually each have a notebook page filled out with notes, ideas and sources before we record, and we discuss the loose structure of the show beforehand. When things are rolling live, it’s easy to get tongue-tied or awkward, so having a plan is helpful, even if it’s a flexible one.

We also have one theme or major idea per episode. Not only does this make it easier to title the episodes, it also makes it easier to share them and build enthusiasm. If your podcast is going to be answering questions, group the questions together by theme or just answer one question per episode. You want to make it easy for your listeners to get interested in your show, and to be able to go back and re-listen to the episodes that resonated with them.

Length: This is totally your choice! We try to make our episodes 30 minutes long, give or take ten minutes. While we have a few favourite podcasts that make hour-long episodes, 30-40 minutes has always felt like the perfect amount of time for our show. Pay attention to the length of your favourite shows, as well as the content of your show. But remember, there’s no magic number of minutes for a successful podcast – currently the #1 show on iTunes, Question of the Day, is about 11 minutes a show.

Intro + Outro: It’s a good idea to have the same introduction for every episode of your show. The audio on this should be especially clean and the speech should be consistent. We start every episode with our tagline, and then introduce the specific episode. Most successful shows follow a similar format. As an example, The Lively Show has a particularly great intro.

We usually work our outro into the end of our interview or conversation by shouting out to our social media handles and asking for comments and feedback.

2. Edit Your Show

Program: We use Garageband, a built-in Mac application that came with Steph’s computer. If you don’t have a Mac, there are many other free programs you can download to edit audio files, some examples are here.

Theme Music: Laura’s brother Ian was kind enough to compose and record our music, which we use at the beginning and end of our show. We have it saved as a mp3 file, which can easily be dragged and dropped into our Garageband project for each episode. If you’re not lucky enough to have theme music written for your show, there are lots of free jingles built into Garageband itself or tons available as a free download online.

Editing: You can see a detailed video screencast tutorial of how to edit a podcast in Garageband, and how to export a podcast as an mp3 on Steph’s blog right here or by watching the video above.

3. Upload Your Episode

How To Start a Podcast For Free >> Guinea Pigging Green
This is the File Manager on Bluehost

Hosting: Our website is self-hosted, which means we don’t use a service like wordpress.com or Blogger to run our blog. This is another place where spending money might come into the picture, if you want to do the same and host your blog with a hosting service. We have always used Bluehost to host this website and Steph’s blog, and she pays about $10 per month for the service. But you can have your website hosted for as little as $4 per month! Without a doubt, Bluehost comes highly recommended by us: we get unlimited uploads, have never once had a problem with our hosting, and don’t foresee ever switching hosts.

Dropbox: An alternative to paying for hosting is to get a free Dropbox account and upload your finished episode as an mp3 to your Dropbox folder. We have never used this method, but it’s free and this blog explains how to do it successfully right here.

Podcast Photo: You’ll also need to create a square image or graphic. Steph made ours in Photoshop Elements, but you could also just crop down a photo. Just make sure it’s the right dimensions and upload it to your preferred location, ie. your website or Dropbox. Try to make your photo bright and colourful, and make sure your podcast’s name is readable in the photo.

4. Make Your Podcast Feed

How To Start a Podcast For Free >> Guinea Pigging Green

Feed: The best, easiest way to actually make your mp3 files into a podcast feed is to use Podcast Blaster Feed Generator. It’s free and incredible simple to use, with a lot of customization options. Just create an account, fill in each of the fields, and once you’re finished you can download a custom RSS feed with all your podcast’s information. Upload the feed, called podcastblaster.xml by default, either to your Dropbox folder or on your self-hosted site’s file manager.

How To Start a Podcast For Free >> Guinea Pigging Green
Our iTunes photo and our podcast feed links

Tracking: Using FeedBurner is a great way to have statistics of your show for free. Make an account and enter the link of the feed you uploaded to your site (the link will end in /podcastblaster.xml), and Feedburner will give you another feed link that will look something like this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/GuineapiggingGreen/. For more information on this process, check out this article. This will be the link that you submit to iTunes, and you’ll be able to see statistics for your show.

5. Submit Your Show to iTunes

This is the easy part! When you want to add a new podcast to iTunes, the only thing they need is the link to your XML file (RSS feed). If you’ve done it properly, all the information the database needs is in that file, so it only requires the one link, which will be the link Feedburner gave you.

Just go onto the iTunes store and click the Podcasts link at the top of the page. On the right hand side of the podcast page, there is a small menu called Podcast Quick Links, just click on Submit a Podcast. Once you’ve entered your feed link, it’ll process the application for a couple of days, and then your show will be live and people can subscribe! 

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This is a lot of information, and it might seem complicated at first glance. But let us assure you, creating a podcast is not hard, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to do it. Of course, there are also great and inexpensive services like Libsyn that will take care of all the feed creation and statistics for you, so you have lots of options!

Do you have any questions? If so, leave them in the comments below or ask away on Twitter or even on Instagram! We would love to help in any way we can. #podcastersunite!

-Steph

How to Maintain Your Veg*n Diet While Travelling

For me, one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of travelling is getting to try the local cuisines wherever I am. I sometimes joke that I’m a foodie tourist: my favourite tourist activity is Googling restaurants and then seeking out amazing food! Some of my favourite experiences on my travels have been food-related: eating sweet onion beignets at an outdoor street fest in Montpellier while listening to Celtic music, passing the afternoon reading and eating fresh, homemade food on a shady terrace in Lisbon, lining up with locals in Paris in the drizzling rain for American-style burgers and fries, picnicking everywhere from on the lawn of a castle to the shores of Venice’s Grand Canal. Food is such an important part of life, both for survival (obviously) but also for quality of life, joy, it’s good for your soul!

But if you’re a vegetarian/vegan/whole foods eater, you’ll be familiar with that sense of disappointment or frustration that comes with having just one not-so-appetizing menu option to choose from. Sometimes when you’re travelling (especially if you’re on the move a lot), you don’t always have the luxury of a lot of healthy choices: train stations and airports, for example, are notoriously bad. So how to stay healthy if you’re plant-based and travelling?

Always carry snacks. Get yourself to a local grocery store and pick up some snacks to keep on hand. That way, in a pinch, you’ll have something to snack on. My go-to choice is nuts (cashews, almonds or walnuts), but also good are dried or fresh fruit, whole-grain crackers or granola/energy bars. I’ve bought plain chips before from a train vending machine, which works in a hunger emergency but isn’t ideal.

Find veg-friendly restaurants! This is one of my favourite things to do. I’ll use HappyCow or just Google it and read through some blog reviews. Then I’ll mark it on my map and go in search of healthy food! It’s always such a relief to get to one of these places, sit down, and realize you can choose from every single thing on the menu and you’ll get something healthy and delicious. This is also such a fun activity because seeking out the restaurants themselves usually takes you on an adventure to a new, interesting neighbourhood. Also, you’d be surprised: I’ve found a veggie restaurant pretty much everywhere I’ve been, even in some of the most meat-loving countries!

Get street food. I’ve had some really awesome meals from fun food trucks and market stalls. It’s been great to discover that most places offer a vegetarian option – I even found a great meal at a food truck specializing in hot dogs, for heavens sake. Even the most meat-loving döner/shawarma shop can make you a version featuring halloumi cheese or falafel instead of meat and you can just pile up on their delicious salads, sauces and veggie toppings. While this kind of meal usually isn’t vegan (of course, you can always ask them to omit the cheese and add some extra veggies!) or necessarily healthy, it’s always awesome to get some cheap, delicious food that fits your lifestyle.

Little picnic in Venice
Make a picnic. Another great option is to go to the grocery store or local market and pick up bread, veggies, fruit, cheese, nuts, avocado, other proteins, and some goodies like local beverages or chocolates and take it all down to a scenic spot! I’ve had some of my favourite meals on my whole trip this way. Try to seek out large grocery stores because they are more likely to have more choices. This is also a really cheap way to eat, especially if your hostel/hotel has a fridge for you to keep food overnight. It’s also an awesome way to experience the culture: you get to mingle with locals, see how they shop, and discover what kinds of food are typical of the region.

Stay somewhere with a kitchen! I’ve been a bit hit-or-miss with this on my trip, especially because most days I go out *all day* and only come back to the hostel to sleep. I know, I know, that’s not ideal, especially if I end up eating junk for dinner. But I find that travelling alone means that I’m reluctant to buy whole boxes of pasta or jars of pasta sauce or veggies because I know I won’t eat them all and it seems like a waste. If I’m staying somewhere for a few days, I like to buy some breakfast foods and maybe salad fixings too, especially since the kitchen at a hostel is usually an awesome place to meet people! But since for me, eating local food is one of my favourite larts of travelling, I make a concerted effort to find healthy, fresh food whenever possible if I’m not going to cook.

Typical tapas in Spain..

Plan your travels. Okay, this one is a bit of a cop-out. Of course you’re not going to avoid going to a certain country or region because they’re not veg-friendly! You want to go where you want to go, and nothing should hold you back. But the local cuisine is definitely something to keep in mind. Spain, for example, I found to be very veg-unfriendly. You gotta be prepared to eat a lot of bread and cheese in Spain! Almost all tapas (even the lovely free ones that come with drinks at some bars) are piles of meat and cheese sandwiches and French fries. Carb-central. On the other hand, Italy, while also featuring lots of carbs, is much more veg-friendly by nature. All Italian menus have lots of vegetarian options. The Italian people also don’t seem fazed by vegetarians – at one very Italian sandwich shop in Florence, I said I was vegetarian and the man immediately asked “vegetarian or vegan?” – he had lots of options for both diets. Yeah, you’ll get sick of alternating between pasta and pizza, but at least you have choices. I recently met a fellow vegetarian who explained she ate seafood while she was spending a month in Brazil because she couldn’t find enough healthy options to eat. So while the cuisine of a culture shouldn’t be reason alone to visit it or not, it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Enjoy. It might be a challenge to stick to your lifestyle choices while on the road, but it definitely can be done. I’ve yet to encounter a city or even a restaurant where I couldn’t find something to eat. You might not always feel the healthiest (its hard being away from your favourite types of produce or grocery store products – it’s not always the same in other countries!) but with a little foresight and preparation you can eat delicious food while on the road.

Okay, so that’s my two cents! Are any of you vegan? What kinds of steps do you take to stay healthy on the road? Please let us know your tips and tricks in the comments or on Twitter @greenguineapigs.

Happy travels!

Xo, Steph