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