Are you intimidated by the idea of putting audio on your author blog? I finally took the plunge, and it was easier than I expected. Here are my tips for how I did it.
This article refers to an interview I recorded with award-winning Australian author Kristina Olsson: see my previous article about her memoir-writing tips. I’ll also insert the audio again, below, for your convenience. It is 9.5 minutes/4.6MB.
Step 1. Prepare & plan
- If you’re not sure how to go about approaching someone for an interview, this is the process I followed — I hope it helps! 🙂
- I attended a masterclass on writing memoir presented by Kristina Olsson at the Brisbane Writers Festival. I was madly taking notes so I could write an article, and then it suddenly struck me: This person would make an excellent audio interview, and this might be the time when I finally overcome my fear of podcasting. 🙂
- It was all very sudden. That seems to help me, especially with doing something for the first time, because then I don’t have time to worry about it!
- As a former radio and television journalist, the prospect of a face-to-face interview is actually less intimidating to me than all this Skype malarkey. (I just needed to chisel some rust off the old interviewing technique. 😉 ) It’s different for everyone. You might find Skype easier than face-to-face. Go with what works for you.
- A lot of people do long podcasts, but I decided I would keep it short and pithy, as I think that’s a format that works well for me. Also, it’s much easier to get someone to commit to a 5-10 minute interview, compared to 30 or 60 minutes. It lowered the bar for me, and helped me get started.
- I was jotting down my questions while the masterclass was still underway. (I didn’t end up asking them all — I adapted as Kristina answered, and because I could see that other people were wanting to talk to her!)
- I approached Kristina after the class finished, and spoke quickly while she was packing up her books to be herded off to the next commitment in a crammed Festival day. I said, “Keep packing while we talk, but I’d love to interview you for my writing and publishing blog, sometime later today. It would take 5 minutes. What do you think?” She said yes, bless her, and we exchanged business cards so she could text me when she had 5 minutes free.
- It turned out to take 10 minutes, and next time I’ll specify 10 minutes when I ask someone. They need a clear idea of the size of the commitment. It was 10 minutes for 7 questions with an expert talker, if that helps you figure out possible duration.
- An author’s day at a book festival is bedlam, so I had to engage in some gentle stalking and intentional loitering in order to make the interview happen. Thankfully my subject was used to being interviewed, and disposed to be very helpful and friendly. (Thank you, Kristina!)
Step 2. Record the interview
- Rather than messing around with anything high-tech, I used the Voice Memo function on my iPhone. It’s easy to use, I always have it with me, it’s digital-ready, and while it’s not studio quality, it’s actually pretty good. As I mentioned previously on my article about making videos for your author blog, easy is important when you’re having trouble getting started with something!
- I’m actually quite satisfied with the quality of sound in the end-product, and will happily use the iPhone for this type of thing again. People don’t expect a podcast to sound like a big studio production anyway.
- I held the phone as though it was a microphone, pointing the microphone end of the phone back and forth between me and my interviewee.
- I held the phone close to both our mouths — no more than 2 inches away.
- My interviewee did tend to move away from the microphone a little, so next time I’ll take a moment to brief the person about how close it will be, so they are not thrown by that.
- It was a noisy environment, so when people started talking behind Kristina, I angled the phone round almost parallel to her face, so that the microphone would have a chance to pick up her voice while excluding the others.
- I tried to avoid making noises myself while Kristina was talking, just using smiling and nodding to communicate with her. (This is a trap to look out for if you are a very active listener who tends to go, “oh… yes… hmm” while people are talking to you — it comes up on the recording! 😉 )
Step 3. Record the intro and outro
- Back in my office, I wrote a short introduction mentioning my name, my website URL, and giving a short bio for my interviewee, and read it into my iPhone.
- I’ve got some “popping” of the letter P on this one, so I’m planning to hold the phone just slightly further from my mouth next time. I was holding it as close as you’d hold it to make a phone call, because I wanted to exclude as much ambient noise as possible (and potential snoring from the office dog). Next time I’ll try moving out to maybe 2 inches, to see if I can get rid of the popping.
- I waited a couple of seconds between pressing Record and beginning to speak — it makes it easier and cleaner to edit.
- I wrote an outro giving directions to Kristina’s website, and finishing with my name and website name again.
- I did a take on the intro/outro, listened to it and realised I’d left some important information out, added that into my little script, and recorded it again.
- I was tempted to do more “takes”, but decided to just go with Take 2, instead of being paralysed by perfectionism again! 😉
Step 4. Import the audio into the computer
- This happens automatically when I synchronise my iPhone with my Mac. It pops up in the Voice Memos playlist, organised by time and date.
- You’ll need to check where your phone and computer file this type of audio, if you do it this way.
Step 5. Import the audio into editing software
- Garageband is the audio editing software that comes with Mac. So if you’ve got a recent Mac, you’ll have it. That’s what I used.
- If you’re on Windows, you’ll need to check which audio editing software either comes with it, or can be downloaded for free or cheap.
Step 6. Edit the audio
- In Garageband there is a project type called Podcast, and I selected that one.
- I found my interview audio on my hard drive under Music > iTunes > iTunes Music > Voice Memos and recognised the files by date. I dragged the appropriate files from there, one at a time, into the editing window in Garageband.
- I had never used Garageband before and found this tutorial from the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism really handy in getting up and running quickly: http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/garageband-basic-editing/
- I cut the intro/outro audio into two, so that including the interview audio, I now had three pieces of audio that I could slide around into position.
- I trimmed the beginning and ending rubbish from all of them so I had only the pieces of sound that I wanted to retain in my final product.
- I left around half a second of space between the pieces, so that they weren’t following too hard on each other.
Step 7. Overlay the intro and outro with music
- I overlaid the intro and outro with some of the free music that comes with Garageband. I searched “sound effects” in Apple help on my computer, to find that they were stored under the Loop Browser which is one of 3 icons at the bottom right hand corner of the Garageband window.
- I chose one called “Glide”, using the long version for the intro and the medium version for the outro. I wanted something pleasant that wouldn’t dominate too much.
- I chose it partly because the length of the pieces matched my durations really well, giving me a little overlap where the intro edits into the start of the interview, and the end of the interview edits into the outro.
- I gave the music 3 seconds to get established at the start of the podcast, before I cut in my voice introduction. I’m undecided as to whether that was a little long, so I’ll reconsider next time rather than just assuming I should do that again.
- I wound down the volume on the music, so that it wasn’t competing with the voice. I could have had it higher for the start, and then wound it down once the voice started, but that was all too hard for a Garageband newbie. 😉 Plus, 3 seconds isn’t really long enough for a piece of music to need to be louder. So I just kept it the same low level all the way through.
- If you are not on Mac or you want different music, check out this article by Blog Talk Radio about places to find free music.
- If I end up doing a lot of podcasts, I might get a composer to write special music for my intros and outros. It doesn’t necessarily cost that much, and means you don’t sound like everybody else who used the free stuff! 😉
Step 8. Export the audio file
- I exported the interview as mp3, since that seems to be a widely-supported format. Hope you can hear it on your device!
- From Garageband, I went to Share > Export Podcast to Disk and chose “MP3 Encoder” and “Spoken Podcast” in the drop-down options. (Spoken as opposed to music gave me a much smaller file size.)
Step 9. Upload to the web
- I chose to simply upload the audio to my WordPress website, following these instructions from the WordPress codex. (Because my site is self-hosted, ie not a free blog, I didn’t need to purchase the “space upgrade” mentioned.)
- Next time I’m going to check out these instructions from Joanna Penn on how to submit it to iTunes, as I suspect that would have some advantages. But for this first time, it was just easier to take the simplest route. Again, easy is important when you’re trying something new and finding it intimidating! 🙂
So, what do you think? Are you already a podcasting ninja? Or are you standing on the edges wondering, like I was? This was easier than I thought. Let me know what you’ve discovered. And if you decide to have a crack at uploading audio to your own blog, post me a link in the comments. Happy podcasting! 🙂
Featured image via Bigstock/kbuntu