In the beginning of 2023, I started getting interested in defining what a minimally viable podcast (MVP) might entail. I wanted to learn the mechanics of podcasting and I know the easiest and most fun way to learn anything is by doing. I came across tons of articles with advice for starting a podcast, but most were focused on podcast content — how to choose a topic, what to talk about, planning episodes, etc. My interest however was with the technical mechanics of podcasting so I did what I normally do when I’m learning something new: turn to twitter.
Several podcasting friends immediately reached out and offered to help. I got on calls, took copious notes, and made a commitment to myself that one way or another, I would launch an MVP podcast this year.
Tech Stack for MVP
One friend suggested an MVP is just recording a zoom and uploading to youtube. Not a bad suggestion, and definitely nails the MVP concept, especially for someone who is more interested in the art of content. But since I was more interested in learning the technical art of podcasting, I wanted to do a little more than that.
The two simple questions I wanted to answer were:
- How do you create an audio file that becomes the podcast episode?
- How do you get that audio file to show up in podcasting platforms like Apple Podcasts or Spotify?
I took all the advice I got, recorded an episode, and went live with it on August 2. Here’s a summary of the tech stack I went with:
- Zencastr for recording: https://zencastr.com/. Unlike cloud recording options like Zoom, Zencastr records your audio locally so is less susceptible to bandwidth disruptions and should be able to create better quality audio. Zencastr supports multiple speakers in different locations — all recording locally. There were 4 speakers in my podcast, so I ended up with 4 separate audio files that can then get merged together into one. This is also helpful in case there are disruptions (traffic, pets, kids) in the background of one of the speakers.
- Audacity for light editing: https://www.audacityteam.org/. Free and open source audio editing tool. I think this was the only recommendation that was common across every single person I spoke to.
- Fiverr for hiring a freelance editor: https://www.fiverr.com/. I could have done all the editing myself if I spent more time learning audacity, but I had limited time so ended up hiring a freelance editor for our first episode. Prices start at about $15, but I went with someone more expensive who had a lot of good reviews. I think I paid about $70 to get 45 minutes of audio edited down to 30 minutes, including creating an intro/outro.
- Dalle-2 and Canva for graphics: https://openai.com/dall-e-2 and https://www.canva.com/. When you create the final MP3 you have an option to embed a square photo that will show up with your show. I used Dalle-2 and Canva to create our show graphic in all of about 15 minutes for $0.
- Spotify (formerly Anchor.fm) for hosting and RSS creation: https://podcasters.spotify.com/. This is the final step once you have the MP3 ready to go. This is where you create your show and provide all the meta data — show name, description, etc. Spotify hosts the MP3, makes it available on its platform for listeners, but also provides the RSS feed so you can submit your show to other platforms. I manually added it to Apple but for now I haven’t added to any other platforms.
The MVP podcast I created is called Four Old College Friends and is available on Apple podcasts and spotify. The format is conversation style: just me and my old college friends talking. Unlike the rest of my public work and writing, the subject of the podcast is not about tech, finance, business or science. I’d love to hear your honest and candid feedback and critique if you listen to it — you can leave a comment here or send an email.
I want to give a shout out to my podcasting friends for all the advice and mentorship that made this process so much easier. Check out their work:
- Zach French, creator and host of Web3 with Me
- Conor Bronsdon, host of Dev Interupted
- Ivan Krnic, host of 0800 DevOps
- John Schreiner, cohost of The Phoenix Cast
Here are some other tech options that came up in my research:
- I went with Zencaster, but other options for recording that were recommended include: Riverside.fm, Zoom, Streamyard
- I went with Audacity, but descript was also recommended for editing
- I went with Anchor/Spotify for hosting but other options included buzzsprout, simplecast and podbean
- Basic audacity tutorial video
I set out to learn the technical mechanics of podcasting. Mission accomplished. And since I chose to do a podcast with my college besties, I’m having loads of fun as well. Win win!