I’ve been running my podcast, The Ambitious Freelancer, since June 2019. It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve grown more in love with it as time has passed. When I first started my podcast, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I had a bit of podcast production experience because I started and quit a podcast earlier in 2019 (RIP to The Happiness Looks Like Me Podcast.)
I am so in love with The Ambitious Freelancer, it’s honestly my baby. I’m moving into another phase in my podcast life––having guests on my podcast. I did my first interview ever in 2020. I’m planning to have way more guests this year.
If you have been thinking about creating your own podcast, I’m sharing the twelve tools I use to run mine.
Audacity is a free program that you can use to record and edit audio. Lately, I’ve been using it to edit my solo shows. I do a ton of specific editing with my solo shows. I'm a brutal editor. I edit out ums, deep breaths, coughs, everything. Many podcasters leave a ton of that in, though. Also, learning how to control your breathing and moving away from filler words is something you can do to cut down on editing time.
I love Audacity because it’s easy to learn and use. I think most people could pick it up in a day or so if they practiced with it a bit.
2. Adobe Auditon
Along with Audacity, I also use Adobe Audition. I am definitely trying to get better at using Adobe Auditon alone, but I am not there quite yet. Baby steps. I mainly use Adobe Audition to line up the pieces of my episode (I usually record my intro, outro, and main episode content separately.) I also use Audition to make sure that my episode has a similar sound throughout. You don’t want your intro to be significantly louder than the rest of your episode.
I’ve also been using Auditon to record my episode lately. At first, I was doing this in Audacity, but one day it just stopped working? I could probably reinstall it and get it working again, but I haven’t done that yet. I’ve found that recording in Adobe Audition isn’t as bad as I thought it was.
I’ve used Audition for a bit of extra editing, but I don’t like doing my significant editing in Auditon just yet. I do like it for editing interviews because I don’t overedit those. When it comes to my solo shows, though, I am an editing junkie, so I use Audacity for that.
3. Blue Snowball Microphone
You can’t have a podcast without a microphone. Your guests don’t need to have a fantastic microphone, but you should have one if you’d like to host a podcast. The Blue Snowball microphone is not the fanciest one on the market. It’s rather cheap. You can find a Blue Snowball on Amazon for less than $50. I think they are amazing beginner microphones, though. I still use my Blue Snowball to record.
Eventually, I want to upgrade to a Blue Yeti microphone, though. I think it’s important to start small. The Blue Snowball would fit most of your needs unless you are a total audio snob.
Editor's Note: I Recently Got A Samson Q2U Microphone
After writing this post, I decided to upgrade my microphone. I looked at a bunch of microphones, and after reading an article on Buzzsprout about podcast microphones, I went with the Samson Q2U instead of another Blue product. I've only recorded a few episodes with this microphone so far, but I am loving it. The sound on this headphone is so much better than my Blue Snowball. Honestly, they are around the same price too. I can't tell you what microphone to get, but I am loving my choice right now!
4. Beats By Dr. Dre Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones
Headphones are an excellent investment for any podcast, especially if you intend to do podcast interviews. When recording solo episodes, I usually skip wearing my headphones. I use my headphones when editing because they make the editing process 100 times better.
I’m a big believer in wireless headphones that can also be wired headphones. When I asked my sister for headphones this Christmas, I specifically asked for wireless headphones I could plug into my computer through a headphone jack. I find that being plugged in helps me a ton during the editing process. When I am wirelessly connected, I usually get a ton of unnecessary noise in the background. It’s not a part of the show, it’s just a part of the editing process. When I am plugged in, that noise goes away, and I can focus on getting an amazing show together.
There are certainly cheaper headphones to get than Beats Solo3 headphones. I also love the COWIN E7 headphones I have. I like having over the ear headphones over in-ear headphones. For me, over the ear headphones create a better editing experience. I feel like I can edit for longer if my headphones aren’t directly in my ears.
Recently I started accepting guests on my podcast. I wanted a simple platform I could use to record those interviews. I looked at a few different options but landed on Zoom. Zoom is terrific because it makes it exceptionally easy to record podcast interviews.
I don’t pay for Zoom, because you get unlimited one-on-one meetings with Zoom’s free plan along with local recording. Instead of recording to the cloud, your recordings are saved directly to your computer.
With Zoom, you host your meetings like usual, but make sure to hit record before you get into the podcast interview. From there, your conversations are recorded. As soon as you end your call, you get your recordings saved to your computer. Zoom can even record your interview on separate tracks, which makes editing way easier.
Of all the podcast recording setups I looked into, Zoom seemed to work best for me. The files aren’t huge, which is excellent for my slow AF internet. Overall, I am just so excited I found a free tool I could use to record quality episodes with.
6. Calendly Premium
When I started accepting guests on The Ambitious Freelancer, I knew right away that I wouldn’t want to go back and forth with podcast guests when scheduling. I wanted to be able to set up meetings and integrate with Zoom, so I don’t have to think about any of the scheduling or reminders. I do send questions to guests, so that’s something I have to ponder.
When a guest wants to be on The Ambitious Freelancer, I send them to my podcast interview event (it’s a private event that’s not on my public Calendly account.) From there, my podcast guests can see the times I am available to chat for 60 days. I set my availability so that they can only book during certain times Monday-Friday. They book a time that works for them, enter their contact info, answer a few preliminary questions, and then they are done.
Since I have Calendly integrated with Zoom, I can save time on creating Zoom meetings too. As soon as they schedule their meeting, Zoom gets notified and creates a meeting for me. Calendly shares the meeting information with my guest.
Calendly also automates the follow-up, so I don’t get guest ghosted. I know how challenging it can be to remember when stuff happens. I set my follow-ups to go out 24 hours in advance and one hour before our interview.
Thanks to Calendly, I don’t have to think about anything but creating podcast questions. Huzzah!
7. Google Drive
I’m a massive lover of all things Google Drive. I know that Google Drive was recently down for a few hours this week, but for the most part, it’s a steady website. I do a ton of stuff inside Google Drive, like brainstorming podcast ideas and writing out guest questions. Since most people have access to Google Drive, it makes the entire process of sending out guest questions so easy.
Google Drive is also fantastic for sharing things like podcast soundbites and podcast art for each episode. The best part? Using Google Drive is free if you have a Google account. Plus, you can set it up so your guests have access even if they don’t currently have an account (set your permissions to anyone with a link can edit.)
8. Adobe Photoshop
I used to hate Adobe Photoshop. I always thought it would take forever to learn or that it was slow. I’m 100% sure it was just my computer that was slow. I love using Adobe Photoshop to create podcast art, Pinterest images that direct to the podcast, etc.
You can do so much with Adobe Photoshop, and I am still learning new things every day. I love that I can create so many unique things with Photoshop, things I could never do with something like Canva (even though I love that tool as well.)
Adobe products can be expensive, but if you are just looking for Photoshop, get the photography plan. It’s super cheap, and it comes with Photoshop and Lightroom, which are two terrific Adobe products.
Speaking of Canva, it is a pretty amazing tool for what it is. It still has a long way to go, but it has morphed so much over the years. In the past, I used to be a Canva only type of girl. I loved the platform, and I got Canva Pro for a long time. I’m moving away from it now because Photoshop is so easy for me, but I don’t want you to think that it’s not one of my favorites. It’s amazing, especially when I am on the go. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a great Photoshop tool for designing on the go. I feel like the Canva app is an amazing tool for last-minute designs.
If you are unsure if Photoshop or Canva will be what you need, I say try both to see which one resonates with you.
Once you have a podcast, you need a place to keep all of your shows. There are a variety of podcast hosts out there, but I use and adore Buzzsprout. My friend Samantha introduced me to Buzzsprout because that’s where she hosts her podcasts Offbeat Grad and Unrecommended. When I created my failed podcast, I asked her where to host my show, and she recommended Buzzsprout. I don’t regret my decision to go with them at all.
Buzzsprout is an amazing and straightforward podcast host. They have a free plan, but I encourage you to go for a paid plan so you can host your podcast episodes longer. Right now, I do a weekly show, so I pay for their three hours a month plan. For just $12 a month, I can upload three hours of audio content to my Buzzsprout account. If you need to take a hiatus, they also have a cheaper plan with no upload time so you can keep your podcast up while you take a break.
What I love about Buzzsprout is the community they’ve built and their customer service. There is a thriving Buzzsprout community on Facebook that you can join to learn from other podcasters. Some of these podcasters are doing remarkable work! I love learning from others who use their platform. Buzzsprout also does a ton of educational live streams and threads within the Facebook group, which makes it even more informative. Buzzsprout customer service is also fantastic. Whenever I contacted Buzzsprout about anything, they always got back to me quickly.
The work Buzzsprout does to support their podcasters is fantastic. You don’t feel like a number with them, you feel like a part of their podcast family.
Do you want to get started with your podcast, and get a $20 Amazon gift card after your second month of podcast hosting? Check out my link with Buzzsprout.
11. Be Focused
Another tool I use, especially when editing, is Be Focused. Be Focused is a Pomodoro timer you can get for your iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices. Podcasting editing can be hard on you, especially if you are an over-editor like I am. Listening to the sound of your own voice for a few hours can grate on anyone’s last nerve. Be Focused helps me take focused action and strategic breaks. Instead of being in my zone for hours and having a massive headache at the end of it all, I can take it 25 minutes at a time. Those five-minute breaks between editing sessions do a lot for my soul. During those breaks, I usually stand up, stretch, grab something to eat, go to the bathroom, and try to center myself.
Using the Pomodoro technique is also great because it refocuses me. If I had a 25-minute session that wasn’t productive, I can start over. Sometimes it’s easy to let an entire day pass you by before you realize you are doing nothing. Using the Pomodoro technique allows me to check in every half hour or so. Instead of wasting my entire day, I have to check-in with myself and get back on track if I’ve strayed.
12. Blue Light Glasses
Last, but not least, I love blue light glasses. If you are a podcaster, you are staring at a screen for hours whether you are recording or editing an episode. All that blue light can really damage your eyes. Before I found out about blue light glasses, I was beginning to deal with a ton of eye strain and headaches from being on the computer. At the time I had become a freelancer/blogger and I basically lived online. My eyes are not as young as they used to be. I couldn’t go on internet binges like I did in the past. Blue light glasses were the amazing invention I needed in my life.
I get most of my blue light glasses from Klassy Network, but I’ve also gotten some from Amazon in the past. I’m always looking for a pair of glasses that are cute and functional. Search for blue light glasses, and you are sure to find a cute pair that helps you see better.
Podcasting has become one of my favorite parts of the week. I started my podcast to find another way to express myself, and it has certainly given me that. I am a work in progress, and I am not perfect, but I’ve grown so much over the last few months. These are the tools that I have come to love as I build my podcast.