Your Podcast Creation Guide
Creating your own podcast can be a creative, fun, and challenging process. Teachers who provide podcasts see a 20% increase in lesson requests after publishing. We want to empower all our teachers in creating great podcasts, below are some tips, considerations, and rules for creating podcasts.
Content, Content, Content… Content is King!
Bill Gates said it in 1996, and it is still true today, Content is King! Your italki podcast is no exception. Your content should reflect your interests and personality as a teacher, while also being entertaining and engaging to your listeners. Here are a few considerations:
Educational Podcasts are usually divided into three main genres:
- The Quick Burst: Short podcasts commonly below 5 minutes in length, delivering a single learning tip, key idea, or point.
- The Narrative: A storytelling format to entertain and educate with a central story on a learning topic.
- The Chat Show: A host and guest/host discuss ideas and concepts within a learning area, interesting conversations are the focus here.
Plan and Source Content:
One of the biggest challenges in creating a podcast is continuing to think of content and ideas for your episodes. Where do you find ideas? How do you keep it fresh and engaging? These questions are important but don’t let them stop you from creating. Here are some tips:
- If you’re new, you’re going to make bad content. And that’s okay. Just keep making content. Practice makes perfect.
- Make a plan! Not just how often will you post, what day, what time, and what content, but where will you look for content ideas? When will you set aside time for planning?
- What do you like? Are you into art, science, history, comic books, anime? Following your passions makes making a podcast 10 times more enjoyable. How about podcast episodes learning idioms and slang from Anime?
- Listen to others and get inspired. Have a favorite podcast, youtube channel, radio station, or TV show? What ideas can you borrow or adapt to your own content?
- Remember to be inspired, borrow concepts, but DON’T STEAL content. Having sources that you include excerpts from is okay, as long as you cite the creator, but don’t just reproduce someone else’s work.
The type of podcast you choose will determine the length of the episode, but in general shorter is better, and language podcasts really shouldn’t exceed 20 minutes. Consider the following when thinking about the timing of your podcast:
- How proficient is my audience? The lower the listening level of my audience the shorter my podcast should be.
- Is my podcast “rambling”? Often podcasts run long with unnecessary content or speech. Keep your entertaining and to the point.
- How long would I listen to this podcast? If you wouldn’t want to listen to a long podcast why would your audience? Consider breaking longer stories or episodes into different parts i.e. The History of Chocolate Part 1
Should your content be in the language you teach, in the listener’s native language, or a mutual communication language? There is no one formula but the goals of your podcast play a big role:
- Are you wanting to create materials for listening practice? Then lots of your teaching language will be needed with little to no mutual language.
- Do you want to explain language points to the uninitiated? Then a mutual communication language will be key to the explanations.
- Are you just trying to entertain with language content? Then a mix of both the teaching language and a communication language can be used.
Recording and Editing
Proper recording and editing can take an amateur basement chat session to an award-winning podcast, and it is a lot easier to do than many think.
First, don’t buy fancy recording equipment or editing software unless you like it, and it motivates you to make podcasts. Simple steps and equipment can take you a long way. Here are some tips for equipment:
- You don’t need a sound stage. A closet or small room with a few blankets on the wall can be just as effective. Even a desk or a table with a blanket hung over it can serve the purpose.
- Should you use a microphone or not? Should you use a microphone to record? That can be nice, but not entirely necessary. Even a smartphone or built-in computer microphone can suffice.
- Keep it simple. As we said, podcasts don’t need to be a financial drain.
The biggest mistake people make with recording is not reviewing their recording and honestly evaluating how it sounds. Still, here are some tips for recording:
- Keep your recording device steady and not too close to you. What you do need to make sure of is that your recording device is stable and 5-20cm away from your mouth, and try not to move around too much.
- Beware of background noise. You may not notice your neighbors dog barking, but your listeners will.
- Relax and take as much time and takes as you need. People will often unnecessarily put pressure on themselves to make the perfect recording, don’t. Record and re-record as you need.
Do you need to edit your podcasts? Mostly definitely yes! But you don’t have to be a sound engineer to get high-quality podcasts, and you don’t have to spend money on expensive software. Here are some tips:
- Get some open source/free editing software. Software like audacity and others is free and will serve the basic purposes most people need in editing audio. There are even nice tutorials on how to use this software on YouTube.
- Record and keep some simple introduction and sign-off clips. Most podcast creators will have a simple but catchy 15-20 second introduction and sign-off that they use for each podcast, this can save you a lot of time down the road.
- When in doubt cut it out. Not sure a section is good or useful to listeners? Then get it out of your podcast. Sometimes less really is more.
The final step is uploading your podcast to italki. There is an FAQ for the actual mechanics of that, but here we will cover some dos and don’ts of uploading.
- Upload a channel image and an episode image. italki will default to the italki logo if you don’t upload an image, but to make your podcast really shine you should stand out visually too!
Here are some basic rules:
- Use pictures with a 1:1 ratio of at least 200x 200pixel, higher quality is recommended but file size should not be larger than 2 MB.
- Keep it simple, remember your episode title will be right next to it.
Use pictures without adjusting the aspect ratio or distorting the picture:
Use original images that support your theme and avoid adding too many words or titles, your Episode name, channel title, and description will be right next to the picture.
Try using stylized graphics and images unique to your personality and Podcast.
Timing and content can be everything when it comes to engaging with your listeners. Setting a schedule and keeping to it can be key. Consider the following:
- How often do you want to publish? That depends, the more you publish the listeners you will eventually get, but the more work your podcast becomes.
- What day and time do you want to publish? Who are your listeners, and when do they listen? The golden rule is to be consistent.
If you want to increase your listenership you need to engage with your listeners. Some will simply listen, some will like it, and a few will comment. Here are some tips for engaging with commenters:
- Acknowledge their comments. That means responding when they comment on your podcast post. Try to do this with as many as you can unless someone is being negative, which happens, after all this is still the internet.
- Appreciate their comments. People who comment will often praise your podcast, it is good to thank them for their kind words of encouragement.
- Converse with them. If someone asks a question or leaves a comment open for a response, it is a great chance to converse with them potentially getting them to sign up for classes or listen to more podcasts.
Policies and Terms of Service
Creating content that violates italki’s policies or Terms of Service can get your podcast and you hidden, banned, and even blacklisted from the site. So make sure you know what you can and can not put in your podcast:
- Avoid Sensitive Topics: Religion, Politics, Sex/Gender/Race
- Be Culturally Sensitive: Be aware that your listeners may react differently to topics based on their culture.
- Be Globally Minded: Know that your podcast has the potential to reach listeners across the globe.
- Do not post or link to pages outside of italki in your channel or descriptions
- Review italki’s term of service: https://www.italki.com/tos
- You can also learn more about our teacher code of conduct here: https://support.italki.com/hc/en-us/articles/215325898-italki-Teacher-Code-of-Conduct
Without any monetization options, this is yet another way to work for free.
The argument will be "you'll get more students with the exposure." However, over the years, I've answered many questions for users on this platform, often with genuine "I didn't know that!" and "Thank you!" answers, but never has it led to a paid gig.
This is my job. I need to pay my bills. These forms of teaching need monetization.
It is an insufficiently thought out idea at present, whose deep roots lie in the Protestant Work Ethic. There is a curious idea that teaching a foreign language should be a quasi-charitable activity... No, no. It can be win-win. But not just yet. These are encouraging growing pains of something new, I hope!
Free work, pure and simple. No guarantee a teacher can control the influx of students - since italki never lets teachers know what they can do to attract students other than esoteric recommendations ("participate in the forum! Be active in the community! Do your own marketing on social media!"). A teacher gets no student, italki gets more promotion and gives students more reasons to stay on the platform. Doing a podcast is intense, hard work. If not paid directly, it should give the teacher a clear way to measure its effectiveness - numbers, hard data a teacher can act upon. It should give the teachers a way to gather leads. A teacher who posts podcast episodes here regularly should be well aware that this is free work, unpaid work, and that there are better platforms where teachers can post their podcasts and get more control, if they so choose.
Subjective and unreferenced reaction. There could be a way to make them pay. Let's find it! To be fair, Italki has no idea of the results. But first we need the data about who sees where and how!
I've been thinking about starting a podcast for a long time, I got a lot of useful ideas here, but I don’t think I want to share the episodes on Italki.
While I'm intrigued by the possibility of using italki to host my podcasts (so I don't have to figure out how to host them somewhere else), about 5 minutes of reflection is enough to really scare me away from the idea. The bit about "code of conduct" is especially scary. A little comment like "I made a YouTube video to talk about this related topic" might be considered promoting a competitor ... and get you banned.
No monetization AND no final editorial control? Who would want that?
Or am I missing something?
Hello all, thank you for your feedback. We have been working on developing content monetization for features on our platform, including podcasts. Similar to other sites, often here at italki, we test new ideas to see our teachers’ and students’ interests and concerns in new developments. One such feature is offering podcasts on italki. As we continue to develop this product and other content features for monetization we welcome your feedback and concerns.
Hello, as someone who already has a podcast I don't mind having it on italki as well, however, I don't have the time to upload each episode to yet another directory. It would be better if I could set up an RSS feed and italki would fetch the new episodes when they release on Spotify or iTunes.
There needs to be AT LEAST a way to schedule the episode's release time and date if you want me to upload it manually. But that's an extra time I'd rather spend more productively.
Well noted, thanks Michal
As some others have posted already, it would be better to post your podcasts on YouTube with a link to your iTalki profile. If you join Google Adsense you will get paid for advertising (not a great deal, but better than nothing), and Google is far more transparent with their data than iTalki is. Also, Google is far less likely than iTalki to go bankrupt or just disappear, and they have market reach.
How long does it take for our podcast to be approved once we create our channel and upload the first episode (which I did yesterday)? Also, once approved, do new episodes get published immediately after we upload them, or do we have to wait for italki to do something? It would be nice if a teacher’s podcast was featured on their profile page.
I agree with previous concerns about the lack of monetization and the ban on linking to outside pages. Any of us who are doing this for a living very likely have other content/websites/etc. that we can pull from and would not mind sharing here on italki, but if I have to choose between providing my efforts for free on italki with little to no definite return, or working on building my promotion efforts outside of italki, I'm going to choose the latter. I don't believe it is a conflict of interest to direct students to additional resources that the teachers have outside of italki since I value italki as a teacher resource. It would be self-defeating to be here with the sole purpose of trying to direct students elsewhere. I think a compromise can be met. For example, I could teach via italki (the purpose of this platform, right?) and provide additional materials/events/etc. on my own site. I would not be opposed to sharing some of these supplemental resources via italki's options, as long as I am permitted to let the students know I have other resources elsewhere. The students are under no obligation to move away from italki this way, but are aware of additional materials available to them.
It looks like some pro-podcast voters came through and downvoted various concerns. It would be nice if these downvoters could post their own thoughts about what is great about this or what people with concerns are overlooking.
Please explain -- what is the appeal to creating content for free which -- according to the article above -- can get you "hidden, banned, and even blacklisted from the site"?
What is the point of teachers using italki if we are supposed to maintain social media accounts, create podcasts, quizzes, answer student questions in the community page, and now create podcasts without receiving any compensation? italki should invest less in creating new ways to exploit teachers for free content and spend more time promoting teachers to potential students. The whole point of teachers using italki as a platform is the understanding that italki will provide teachers with a steady flow of students. Judging from the majority of posts on the teacher's forum, that certainly hasn't been the case. If you're going to exert this much time and energy into content creation, you may as well create your own website and teach independently and own the rights to all of it. It astounds me that simple things like restoring Instant Lessons (not only for Trial Lessons) cannot be done, yet every month there is a rollout of some new gimmick or webinar that tells teachers to work harder for nothing in return.
There could be some value in podcasts if they were managed in a way that rewarded the creators.
italki could easily incentivize podcast creation by doing things like rewarding the most visited podcasts each day/week with an appropriate amount of credits that reflects the work that goes into producing a quality podcast;
another thing that might incentivize content contributors is that the more popular your content is, the more you feature as a promoted teacher, getting your profile in front of more students, with actual potential to increase revenue.
Hester - I once had a gf called Hester - that is a bit ante bellum of you. But what do you think about Language Platforms as a way to erode propaganda and by stealth build up a climate susceptible to welcoming more egalitarian and democratic communities, behind the back - as it were, of the student concerned (with their connivance, obviously) ?
I strongly agree with your second suggestion, Hester. It would incentivize me a lot! When they sent out the survey to podcast creators I asked them to please reward us by featuring our profiles, or at least giving us a boost in the algorithm. Also, potential students should have a way to access our podcasts directly from our teacher profile, so when someone is searching for a new teacher they would see that they have a podcast. That would totally make the effort of creating a podcast worth it because it would enable us to fill our teaching schedule, which would most likely be much more monetarily rewarding than italki paying us for the actual podcast.
Only makes sense if all the podcasts are e.g. on the subject of peace-making. And podcasts = advanced level. And let us never say, 'them'. We need flat structures. Italki is no-one's boss. Nor ever should they be. We are joint colleagues, joint searchers for truth in an equal world or potentially so:) - never, even for a second, accept untested some other person's idea. It may be, like that yoghourt in your fridge, past its sell-by date!
How about MY suggestion, MaryLynn? The whole thing must NEVER be ad hominem/ ad feminam. Education is wider, wider, wider!
Hi MaryLynn, great idea to link our podcasts to our profiles to connect with potential new clients. It's win-win.
We live in a different world now. These platforms could be such a force for good - but only so long as people stop blocking out all original, heartfelt and creative ideas for innovation. We are in the stone age of transforming the planet via humanistic technology; and the war gives an opportunity to contribute. But Platforms will not listen or allow themselves to be transformed. The very profit/competition/corporate model is part of the problem, not the solution. The millennial generation can see that. We need to support them and be equal to their skill, daring and idealism.
Hi Martin, I am a bit behind the curve, being an italki fledgling, however I agree with your "never say 'them'" comment. A platform that furthers reasoned communication can be a force for good. We are all in it together - those who provide the infrastructure and those who provide the content. It is a symbiotic relationship and hopefully together we can all make it better. I'm for exploring what podcasts can bring if properly incentivised.
What Bill Gates says is definitely not what should be guiding anyone in the world. What an idea to quote him here! Did he pay you guys something too, or what?
I want to thank you for your article, but I still have a question if someone can answer me, I uploaded a podcast and it's good, but I think I wrote a wrong title for the podcast, can I change the title ? Or remove the podcast ?
thank you :)
I would love to see a "how to" (tutorial) video on the podcast creation process.
How do I find the URL for my podcast channel? I need to give this link to my existing students. A few of them are having trouble downloading my readings directly from my other cloud storage folder. Where should I direct them so they can see all my podcasts?
I wouldn't mind creating podcasts to reinforce content or share cultural aspects of my country (among other things), especially for my students, but why do language teachers need to be podcast hosts or Instagram/tik tok influencers nowadays??
I understand the benefits of it, but language teaching is already a competitive field as it is, so if italki starts benefiting podcasters by featuring and boosting their profile views, it's gonna be unfair to teachers who don't wish to work that way. Some teachers couldn't care less about algorithms and social media interaction on that level, so I think it's important to think very carefully about this. We all know how unhealthy this social media lifestyle can be for people, and many teachers don't need to add this extra workload to their agendas, and they certainly don't need to worry if they're likeable enough, trendy enough, or feel unworthy when they put a lot of effort into something that goes unnoticed. I understand podcasts are not the same as social media, but it feels like that's where we're headed here.
I would still choose monetizing podcasts and maybe allowing teachers to have a newsfeed where they can post updates and allow students and prospects to interact directly with our profiles, keeping things simple but interactive and accessible for all those who choose to use those features.
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