Content Writing

Selected articles I've written for the podcast services firm Backyard Media, primarily focused on explaining podcasting and podcast advertising to creators and sponsors. All articles at backyardmedia.us

How to Use Compression for a Better Podcast Sound

A lot of the work of finishing your podcast once you’ve recorded it is making it sound better without the audience ever realizing you’ve changed anything. Natural-sounding podcast audio from outlets like NPR and Gimlet Media is anything but natural. To get a great podcast sound, you need to use processing tools like compressors. Today we’re explaining what compression is, why it’s important for creators to use it in every podcast episode, and how to apply it to your podcast.

How to Make Your Podcast Sound Better with Simple EQ Techniques

With podcasts and any kind of audio, the raw sound you record is rarely going to be the end product that people hear. There are a number of post production effects, also known as FX, that can help you craft a more pleasing sound for your podcast. Today we’re explaining one of the most basic types of processing: equalization, or EQ. We’ll cover the EQ steps that every podcast creator should be taking with their vocal tracks in order to achieve a better and more professional sound.

How to Normalize Your Podcast Audio, and Why You Need To Do It

New podcast creators often find that making a podcast involves a lot of steps. Some are expected, like using an audio editor to cut your podcast together. Some are less obvious, like normalizing your podcast’s audio. What does normalizing a podcast's levels, also called Loudness normalization, actually mean? Why should creators care about this process, and how exactly do they do it? Today, we’ll give a short explanation of what Loudness is, as well as a step-by-step guide for how to normalize your podcast.

Running Out of Podcast Ideas? Here's How to Find More

It happens to every podcast creator eventually. You have an off week. The ideas aren’t flowing like they usually do. You’re thinking about what to make your next podcast episode about, and you’re drawing a blank. You’re out of podcast ideas! So what should you do? Today we’re going to recommend a strategy that may seem unorthodox: steal ideas from other places. In the latest in our “Thoughts from Third Coast” series, we’re talking about how you can generate new ideas for your podcast through the art of (ethical) stealing. In talking about how stealing ideas can improve your development of new podcast ideas, we’ll be drawing upon a Third Coast session by This American Life producer Chana Joffe-Walt.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Making a Podcast

There are a lot of resources on the Internet for making a podcast (we even have our own list of podcast production tools you can use). But how do you actually put all these tools together to get a finished podcast episode? When it comes to the nitty-gritty of making podcast episodes, production studios start to get vague about their process. Today, Backyard Media is going to show you how to make a podcast, using our own in-house production process as an example. We’ll walk through how we make our local politics podcast, Backyard Cambridge, and demonstrate how we’re using the tools we mentioned in our “ultimate tools” guide.

The Ultimate List of Tools for Podcast Production

Anyone who gets into podcasting knows that audio takes a long time to edit and make. Creating a podcast is an involved process that takes a lot of organization, as we talked about in our last guide. To make your podcast production easier, we’ve gathered lots of different tools that creators can use to improve their production cycle. Below is our running list of some of the best resources - free and paid - that will make podcast production less of a hassle and hopefully more enjoyable.

How Solid Organization Can Make The Difference In Your Podcast Production

Any creator who’s started a podcast knows that they have many moving parts to them. Making a podcast means brainstorming topics, conducting research, contacting guests and interviewees, setting up recording equipment, and then editing and mixing the audio until it’s perfect. It can be a lot to keep track of, and the reality is that the way you organize your podcast’s production cycle can have an impact on your finished product.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started My Podcast

Backyard Media is always trying to think of new ways to help independent podcast creators. As a writer for Backyard Media and a podcaster myself, I’m always trying to improve my craft and learn from others in this space. To that end, I recently attended the Third Coast International Audio Festival in Chicago. Third Coast is the premiere gathering of audio professionals in the US. A three-day event full of technical sessions, social events, and networking opportunities, Third Coast is a great place for like-minded radio professionals and independent podcast creators to meet and exchange ideas about their craft.

Should Sponsors Advertise on Podcast Networks?

Companies new to podcast sponsorship often find out about podcast networks pretty early on. These groups of podcasts that operate together offer some opportunities for companies wanting to advertise, but it’s important that podcast sponsors know what they’re about and the pros and cons of working with them. So what are podcast networks, what do sponsors need to know about them, and why should (or shouldn’t) sponsors consider working with them?

Podcasts vs Radio: What's the Difference?

If you've been on the Internet much in the past few years, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about podcasts. Since Serial debuted in 2014, the podcast industry has seen a huge amount of growth in terms of investment, the number of industry players, and the quality of content produced. Many people getting acquainted with podcasts often ask us what differentiates podcasts from other media. The confusion makes some sense: podcasts sound almost identical to what we hear on NPR, Sirius XM, and even some TV news channels. So, what makes podcasts so special? What are the differences between podcasts and radio, and what do these differences mean for companies that want to advertise on podcasts? In this guide, we'll break down the most important differences for advertisers: the technology underlying podcasts, how the industry is set up, the differences in content and audience, and the overall takeaways for sponsors.

Want to Monetize Your Podcast? First, You've Got to Track Your Downloads

If you're a podcast creator, you need to know how many people are listening to your show. Otherwise known as tracking your podcast's downloads, this process is essential for any creator who wants to monetize their podcast and building a self-sustaining show. But podcast tracking and download statistics can be confusing, and there isn't a single Google-like service for tracking podcasts. So here's a guide on tracking your podcast downloads: why you need to do it, the services you can use, and how to set your service up.

How to Create Your Podcast Listener Survey

For podcast creators who are looking at how to get sponsored and make their show a self-sustaining business, a listener’s survey is essential. As we noted in our last guide, a survey is useful for a number of different reasons, from understanding demographics and buying preferences to serving as a test case for listener engagement. Maybe you've read that guide and are ready to take the next step and actually make a listener survey. So, what should it actually consist of?

Why Podcasts Need to Do a Listener Survey

Podcasters are always asking us, "How do I present my work and my audience so that I get the attention of really great podcast sponsors?" If you have an audience in the tens of thousands or more, doing a listener survey to understand who's tuning in should be one of the first steps you take toward podcast sponsorship. In this guide, we discuss why it's so crucial to do a survey, how easy it is to set one up, and what podcast creators should be asking their audiences.

A Podcaster's Guide to Podcast Sponsorship Rates

So you've started a podcast, and maybe it's going pretty well so far. You have a number of episodes under your belt, and you're seeing your audience grow. Listeners are recommending the show to their friends and new people are finding you on your social media channels. But there's one problem: your podcast still isn't generating revenue, and you would like it to become self-sustaining. The obvious answer is podcast sponsorship. But where do you even begin? Let's first get into podcast sponsorship rates. What do podcasters need to know, and what prices can they expect to sell their ads at?

Podcast Advertising Will Be Worth More Than $600M by 2020

We've got fresh data on the state of podcast advertising. Every year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) surveys the biggest podcast studios and gathers data about how much the industry is worth, who's buying podcast ads, and how they're structuring their ad campaigns. We spoke previously about the state of podcast advertising. What are the top line numbers from the study's 2017 data? Below, we dive into the four main takeaways from this year's study that sponsors need to know before jumping into their next ad buy.

Even Newer Listeners are Super Dedicated to Podcasts

We talk a lot about podcast listeners on this blog - for instance who they are, why they listen to podcasts, and what in particular they like about their favorite shows. Today we're going look at some recent data and examine trends around podcast adoption and increases in podcast listening over time. Specifically, how long does it take people who are new to podcasts to become monthly or weekly listeners? And how do their listening habits change over time? We'll take a look at a new Edison Research survey to see what we can conclude about these trends, and discuss the important takeaways for podcast sponsors.

Podcasting Has a Discovery Problem. How Can We Fix It?

Podcasts, while growing at historic rates for the past few years, still have issues with discovery. That is, people want to listen to more podcasts, but finding new podcasts is still not as intuitive as finding a video online or discovering new music. When you speak with podcast listeners, they often mention the same shows from Apple Podcasts' Top 100 Charts - Serial, Missing Richard Simmons, Reply All, This American Life. Why is it so hard to find the great podcast content we know is out there? What technologies are companies developing that might solve this problem? And what benefits are to there to be had, for both podcasters and advertisers, in solving this problem?
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