What is podcasting
Podcasting is basically a home made radio or TV Show that you can listen to whenever you like. Well that is how it started anyway. Now you will find podcasts produced by the BBC and other high profile communications companies trying to be hip and ride the new media wave. You don't have to have an iPod to listen to a podcast, you can consume them in almost any MP3 player and with most podcasts you can listen to them on your computer, off the web page.
What to Podcast about?
The subject matter can be anything, from bee keeping to talking about the latest TV show like Lost. You might want to be serious or go for the comedy angle. It is up to you, it is your podcast for your niche. It should be something that you are passionate about, otherwise you will find yourself overcome with podfade by the forth episode and the podcast will be no more.
Doing the recording
You can record your audio on most computers, some even have built in microphones. I do not recommend using the built on mic though because the quality of the audio will be poor. Much better to buy even a cheap headset or a small inexpensive stand alone microphone. If you are not sure about whether you will continue you podcasting experiment, then start with the no money option and buy better gear later.
Windows or Mac
On Windows you could use Audacity a cross platform audio editor which is free. Many podcasters prefer the Mac because it comes with Garageband as part of iLife when you buy the computer, all ready to go. It seems to be a smother experience for making a podcast when you do it on a Mac. The multi track audio editor I recommend is AmadeusPro, which is less than $50 and is great when you have a track for voice and another track for music or other sounds.
Using the microphone properly
Do have the mic close to your mouth and keep the same distance from it when you are speaking. That way you will get a richer, fuller sound that has less echo and sounds more intimate. Do record in a place where there is soft furnishings around and fewer hard surfaces to reduce echo. You may want to record inside a wardrobe or make a small tent out of a blanket. There are podcasters that have done that. Talk across the top of the microphone and not directly in to it to minimise popping with words containing P's and B's.
Getting the Podcast to the masses.
You will want to get your podcast in iTunes, it is the major venue for podcasts for your audience to find you. There are other podcast directories or you could just rely on your web site, if you have a lot of traffic there. To do it properly you will want to go for publishing with an RSS feed and have it in iTunes. The easiest way to do that will be to set up a Wordpress hosted website and use a plug in that allows you to present your podcast. I recommend using feed burner as a buffer in between your web site and iTunes. You send your feed to Feedburner and then submit the feed from it to iTunes. This is because if you want to move your website later, it is far easier to change the feed going into Feedburner than messing about with iTunes.
Promoting your Podcast
Same as with any content on the internet, you have to let people know it is there. ITunes is one avenue but you will have to do the SEO thing with your web site to get some traffic in also. You will encourage people to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or which ever podcatcher they like to use. That way their computer will download the latest episode each time you make a new one.
More about choosing a microphone.