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The Indie Podcaster with Kieran MacRae

How To Make Your Podcast Appear More Professional

Published about 2 months ago • 6 min read

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Hey Reader! - Welcome to Spring! Winter has passed and the sun is shining. It's still cold, but that's Scotland for you. I updated my recommended tools list this week. Feel free to check it out here.


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How To Make Your Podcast Appear More Professional

Today, I’m going to share how to create a professional-sounding podcast even if you record from your kitchen table.

I sent out this Tweet asking people for their podcasting Pet Peeves.

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Kieran MacRae
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@KieranMacRae
8:46 PM • Mar 15, 2024
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Many people responded by saying that lousy audio or mouth noises were their biggest turn-off. Let’s rectify this.

I’m not a sound engineer, and I don’t want to pretend to be one on the internet. The good news is that means you don’t have to be either.

Here is the six-step process I used to make Generally Spooky History sound as professional as possible from day 1.

Professional Podcast in 6 Steps

1. Get everyone the same microphone

2. Level and Boost the audio

3. Sound treat the room

4. Practice speaking and presenting

5. Edit tightly

6. Include an ad read at the start

Step 1. Use the Same Microphones

Whether you have multiple hosts in one room or you’re doing it all online, make sure everyone has the same microphone. There is nothing worse than hearing great audio from three guests while one person sounds like they’re using an Xbox headset from 2010.

I was a guest on The Side Hustle Show back in 2018, and one of the requirements was that I buy the suggested microphone (Samson Q2)

This was a big show, with 40,000 downloads a month, and the host, Nick, understood that a podcast requires a minimum level of quality.

Step 2. Balance and Level the Audio

You don’t need a crazy expensive microphone. But we want to hear you and your guests clearly, without having to crank the volume to max.

If listeners can’t hear you, they won’t listen.

Adobe has a free AI speech enhancer, or Auphonic (afiliate link)has 2 hours free per month, which has been my go-to for many years.

People won’t work to listen to your podcast. Make it easy for them.

Step 3. Sound Treat Your Room

We all dream of a dedicated recording space we can fill with big curtains. But most of us record where we can, usually at the kitchen table. That’s fine. Work with what you have, but put in effort to maximize the sound quality.

  • Throw a blanket over the table.
  • Cover other hard surfaces with blankets.
  • Put down a rug.
  • Don’t face a wall.
  • Get some free standing sound panels for your table.
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Tim Ferriss
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@tferriss
11:28 PM • Oct 19, 2020
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If this is what Tim Ferris’s pop-up studio looks like, it can be what yours looks like too.

These three steps will make your podcast sound better than 90% of the rest. Care a little, and your results will surprise you.

Step 4. Practice Speaking and Presenting

Everything can be practiced, and by making your podcast, you’ll get more and more practice over time. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for putting in extra effort.

Try to play with the rhythm of your speech, especially if you’re reading a script.

I’m usually unscripted when recording my podcast, but when we recorded the Ad for our Patreon, I was stilted and boring.

The same happened with our Trailer. I read the script and turned into my 8-year-old self, who was asked to read aloud in school.

So I came up with a game. I’d record my 30-second read, then increase my excitement by 20% and read it again. And I kept going until I sounded like a maniac who’d had a few too many happy pills.

But I found my rhythm and the enthusiasm I was looking for. I dialed it back from the madness at the top, and suddenly my voice sounded much more compelling and interesting.

Your ideal tone will depend on your content. True Crime doesn’t need to be read by Mr. Happy-go-lucky, but take some time to try out different cadences and rhythms.

Listen to them back and you can pick your favourite. Next time you record, you’ll sound that much more professional.

Step 5. Edit As Tightly as You Can

Ums, ahs, but, yeah, like, they don’t add anything. And if it doesn’t add anything, you can cut it. As James Clear says, you don’t need the build-up to the question, you just need the question.

Things to edit out:

  • Mouth noises - try a noise gate
  • Clutch words - um, ah, like, yeah,
  • Lead up to the question
  • Big pauses

Yes, pauses for dramatic effect are fine. And yes, if a clutch word is mid-sentence and it sounds worse to remove it, that’s fine, too. But don’t get lazy.

Pay attention to the start. I spend most of my time editing the first third of the podcast, and I want people to get hooked on the story and the podcast then.

Professional podcasters will have big pauses and retakes of questions, you just don’t hear it in the final cut. So don’t let your podcast show it either, and you can sit amongst the big leagues and not be noticed.

Step 6. Include an Ad Read

When we first got an affiliate partner and included an ad at the start of an episode a couple of friends told us they went nuts. “You're officially a proper podcast!”.

Most people who don’t routinely seek out indie podcasts are accustomed to hearing ads in the shows they listen to. So get an ad, and you’ll seem much bigger than you are.

How do you get an ad partner? I’ll tell you. Affiliate partners.

That’s a company you work with where you send people to their show through a link or a promo code, and when someone purchases, you get a commission on the sale price.

Amazon has the biggest affiliate program, but it is not necessarily the best. I’ll have a more detailed guide on this in the future, but searching “your niche affiliate program” on Google is a good place to start.

That’s how you make a professional-sounding podcast from home. If you take it seriously, other people will too.

Follow each of these steps and embrace being the best podcaster you can be.


Community Wins

Better Call Daddy just crossed 85 videos and 500 subs.
Colony 4 | Semi-Animated Sci-fi Audio-Drama is about to pass 500 views on it's first episode.
YXE Underground celebrated 60,000 downloads in their sixth season.
Decoding Success with Matt Lebris has crossed 300 episodes in 5 years.
The Sound Of Money got over 2,000 veiws on episode 8 of season two.

Good work everyone! And thank you for participating in the Twitter thread where I asked for wins. If you have a win you want to share, hit reply!


How I Can Help You

1) I can add you to my best podcast lists. Just email your podcast, description, and category

2) I have a page of ​Recommended Tools​. These are the tools I use to grow my podcast. I focus on tools that save you time and can improve your podcast.

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