How to start a podcast with The Third Wheel

We’ve all been there. We want to start something new. We have all these great ideas. But actually starting, getting up and running on something completely alien can be overwhelming. Daunting. To the point where we give up before overcoming the first hurdle.

Well, here at TMI we don’t want you to give up. If your great idea involves starting a podcast but you have no idea how to begin, then read on. With a little help (quite a large help) from Aaron and Hamish at The Third Wheel podcast, we’re going to give you a brief overview of how to get up and running: the essential equipment, software and also handy tips from the guys who have been there, done it, and discovered what works and what doesn’t.

(If you’re interested in starting a YouTube channel, please read ‘Retro Crunch – how to turn a problem into a solution’. Scott Hurst provides some very handy tips.)

Aaron and Hamish in action

Budget

Money – the barrier to all life’s solutions. Or is it?

Looking at recording equipment can be scary. Some can cost thousands of pounds. But don’t worry, The Third Wheel insist that money shouldn’t be a barrier. “Really, you can start a podcast under any budget from just recording episodes using the microphone on your phone”.

The Third Wheel are very proud of the quality of their podcasts, but openly admit that some of the most successful podcasts have poorer sound quality. So ultimately it is up to you. As Aaron and Hamish say, “you can manage on a lot cheaper”.

 

Equipment

So you have an idea of your budget, but have no idea what to buy, or what’s good or what’s a waste of money. Luckily, the Third Wheel have helpfully listed out a range of products which are must haves for starting a podcast. The equipment in bold is what they themselves use.

Microphone

XLR vs USB microphones. USB is more user friendly and reduces the need for an audio interface (interfaces covered below). However, XLR produces better sound quality but more equipment is required to run it.

Aaron and Hamish recommend having one mic per person. This isolates each person’s voice, producing separate audio files which are clearer and easier to edit. So decide beforehand how many hosts and guests your podcast will have.

A RØDE Procaster microphone

XLR Cable and Audio Interface

If you chose an XLR mic, then you’ll need an XLR cable and an audio interface. This is so the recorded sounds can be transferred onto a PC. An audio interface also allows for finer tuning of the sound whilst recording, such as altering the pitch, tone and volume.

For cables, The Third Wheel recommend a Stagg XLR Microphone Cable.  The list of recommended audio interfaces are listed below. These all support up to 4 mics at the same time. If you’re only using one or two mics, then cheaper interfaces are available:

A Behringer UMC404HD audio interface

Stands and Boom Arms

What’s best to support your mic – a stand or boom arm?

A boom arm provides greater control and flexibility for a person. The position of the mic can be adjusted easily at almost any angle and height, for the comfort and ease of the host/ guest.

However, if you are travelling to record your podcast, then a stand will be better. Stands are lighter and do not require a clamp. As Aaron and Hamish explain, when visiting guests’ houses they have to be considerate; “the clamp the boom arm comes with can damage glass tables, and the arm itself is hard to transport”.

An example of a mic stand (left) and boom arm (right)

Pop Filter and Shock Mounts

To get the clearest sounds with the least amount of interference, filters and mounts are a must have.

Pop filters reduce ‘popping’ sounds which are created when pronouncing words such as ‘platypus’ or ‘babblative’ (i.e. your P’s and B’s).

A shock mount reduces interference created from mechanically transmitted noise, such as bangs on the table.

An example of a pop filter (left) and shock mount (right)

Headphones

Headphones are handy to keep track of audio levels and sound quality during the recording. Not essential, but nice to have. You could use your current ones, but The Third Wheel recommend the following cans:

 

Recording and Editing

Now, we are only recommending good software to use. We won’t be instructing you on how to use it. But don’t get disheartened, all podcasters and YouTubers were beginners at some point. The great thing about influencers is that they’re here to help. Just jump onto YouTube and there will be a million and one videos helping to guide you through the programmes. Almost all podcasters, YouTubers and influencers are self-taught. Be patient, but it is doable!

A commonly used platform to record and edit audio is Audacity. It’s free to use on both Mac and PC. However, Aaron and Hamish found the interface a bit too basic. However, they conceded that it is a very usable platform and produces good quality podcasts.

They currently use Adobe Audition for recording and editing. “It can be a bit intimidating at first, but after getting used to it I find it a lot quicker to do the most common actions”.

Once editing is complete, the audio files are compiled into one and processed in an online tool called Auphonic. This ensures the final product meets podcast standards, by levelling out the audio.

 

Publishing

Okay – you’ve got your first episode. It’s great, revolutionary even. The sound quality is second to none. But what do you do with it?

You need it published. To be able to publish your podcast across all the platforms (Apple, Spotify etc), you need a podcast host. Hosts store your audio and distribute it to the platforms.

The Third Wheel say setting up an account with a host is fairly easy. Provide them with your podcast name, a description and some artwork. Once an account is created, just upload your finished product to the host and they will take it from there. Aaron and Hamish warn that the first episode can take “potentially weeks to get approved. Just be careful of that if you have a planned release date”.

Commonly used podcast hosts are:

  • Anchor
  • Libsyn
  • Buzzsprout

 

Words of Wisdom

The Third Wheel have published nearly 40 podcasts, producing one every week for the last 38 weeks! When queried on top tips for wannabe podcasters, their answer is hardly surprising.

“Consistency! At the end of the day people want to find podcasts that they can trust to consistently put out content they will like. The first part of doing that is consistently putting out content. Our audience can be confident that there will be a new podcast available every Sunday and our numbers show that people are coming back week in week out. ”

Consistently putting out content can be very daunting, however, don’t be perturbed. Creating a podcast can take a lot of time and energy but you don’t have to put out an episode every week. Aaron and Hamish suggest starting off with a lower frequency, maybe one podcast every two or three weeks. Do what is manageable for your own needs and time constraints.

Hopefully this article has given you a push in the right direction to get started on your brand new podcast. A massive thank you to Aaron and Hamish at The Third Wheel podcast for providing all the handy tips and lists of equipment. For more resources, listen to episode 18 of their podcast, as they discuss in detail what is needed to create a podcast from scratch (around 50mins onwards).

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