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Foundation for change works with people who have experienced addiction and are in the latter stages of their recovery journey. It provides de-stigmatising services in the space between education and therapy.

If you’re thinking about making a podcast - what do you need to think about? This Guide has lots of ideas about how to combine Zoom, Spotify for Podcasters and GarageBand.

Steps to creating and publishing a podcast

How much do the people you support listen to podcasts? If they do, then it’s worth considering producing one.

Often, podcasts are:

  • informative - giving people information about a topic

  • responsive - covering topics that podcast audiences want to hear about right now

  • educational but with an entertaining vibe

  • informal - often using a discussion or interviews to give information and different viewpoints

Podcasts are easy to make (at entry level standard). You can use any call recording software, and a free distribution platform. But they can be harder to market. People are unlikely to just find your podcast unless you promote it well.

Foundation for Change tackle addiction in a way that lends itself to the podcast format. Their approach is evidence based, grounded in lots of different academic research. It's also focused on destigmatising addiction and highlighting social inequality. These kind of topics feature in some of the best known podcasts (such as Freakonomics).

Foundation for Change considered podcasts as a good way to reach people, as they need less data than video. Also people can listen to podcasts while doing other things. They could fit well into their day.

They also had staff on their team who were already familiar with sound editing programmes. They could produce a podcast relatively easily.

Their target audience were the graduates from their training courses. They discussed the idea of a podcast with them during regular telephone support calls and found a lot of interest. 

They also realised that there could be a wider, secondary audience for the podcast which meant that it could be marketed through their regular channels too.

It can take time to build an audience for your podcast. So it’s worth having a series of topics ready to cover during your first few podcasts. This can help you grow listeners over time.

Foundation for Change produced their first podcasts at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. They were responsive to emerging topics. They tackled themes like grief, loss and anger. As the series progressed, the podcasts began to focus more on Foundation for Change themselves and how they work.

Because you are trying to build up an audience, it is useful to have a static format for your podcast that will be the same whatever topic you are covering.

You should consider what elements you are going to use, and in what order. This could include:

  • Interviews

  • Group discussions

  • List segments

  • Interludes/Clips from other things

Decide whether you need any other documentation to go with the podcast.

Foundation for Change decided that to be of most help, their podcast would use a handout that listeners could download.

They wrote each handout while writing each podcast plan podcast. Handouts covered:

  • defining the topic

  • summarising the different things to discuss

  • critiquing different elements

  • practical applications of the topic

This approach to podcast design is quite unusual, but it suited the situation of Foundation for Change’s listeners. As the core listeners were course graduates, they were used to receiving handouts from Foundation for Change, and so the podcast met their expectations.

Foundation for Change hoped that other listeners might find the handouts interesting too. They haven’t been able to measure this.

Working on a podcast can feel daunting if you have never done it before.

It’s actually very similar to delivering training or webinars - but its not exactly the same either.

Talk to your team and find out how confident they feel, and whether they would like training.

Foundation for Change asked a local podcast specialist to run a training session. This helped them understand how podcast marketing is designed to draw people in. They learned to use a particular format:

  • start with a hook or lure in the title

  • create a short description that teases more but doesn’t overload people

  • share the podcast or accompanying materials

They also did their own thinking about how to make podcasts accessible.

Whatever tool you are using, you need to think about some practical elements when recording. Remember to:

  • Make sure everyone nearby knows you are recording (especially if you are using video call software and you don’t often record)

  • Let people involved know they need to be in an environment without interruptions

  • Encourage people to use the best microphone they have access to - and to keep at a constant distance from it during the call

  • If the software you are using allows, calibrate everyone’s voice levels at the beginning of the call - people may need to turn their mic levels up or down.

You also want to check what format your software records in. You will want MP3 format for the final podcast. There are plenty of programmes that will help you convert other formats to MP3.

Foundation for Change use Zoom, because they already use it for meetings. People are comfortable on it.

Zoom also has a setting which allows you to record the voice of each person on a call as a separate audio file. It can be turned on in the recording tab in settings. This can make editing out things like background noise or unwanted chat easier at the next stage.

One of their team is responsible for hosting each call. They also handle the recording.

After the call they convert the recording/s to MP3.

People are used to podcasts being slick. To keep your listeners happy, you should edit your recording.

As a minimum:

  • Remove any preamble before the session starts

  • Remove any things that should not have been made public that came up in discussions

  • Remove any background noise if you can 

  • Edit content out to reach a suitable length for your listeners (if you know how long they will listen for).

The editing tool you choose will depend on whether you:

  • use MAC, PC or Phone

  • want to do add music samples or combine different voice tracks and sound effects

  • want to use a free or paid tool

There are lots of free or low-cost tools. Some free versions have limits on recording length. Others only allow single tracks or certain cuts.

Some tools you could consider are: GarageBand, Cakewalk, Akai NPC Beats and Ohm Studio.

Foundation for Change use GarageBand. They did not do research on which tool to use, because a staff member already knew how to use it and it had all the simple functions they needed.

It can be helpful to use a podcast publishing platform to do this. These platforms send your podcast to multiple podcast listening apps.

Many podcast listening apps offer both free and pay-for subscriptions. People either pay to listen, or have their listening interrupted by adverts. Think about inclusivity. 

Make sure that you make your podcast available to people who don’t have these subscriptions. Consider that some people might have limited access to data or wifi as well.

Can you find a method to easily send the recording to people you support so they can listen to it when it works best for them? Can you add it to your website too?

Foundation for Change use a service called Spotify for Podcasters.
It distributes the podcast to other podcast listening apps.

The publishing process is relatively simple. First they created a free account. Each time they have a podcast to release they follow these steps:

  • Log in

  • Click new episode

  • Click upload and upload the pre-recorded audio file

  • Save episode

  • Add the episode title and description

  • Click publish.

You can also create podcasts directly within Spotify for Podcasters, but Foundation for Change don’t use that feature.

There is one small risk to consider with uploading via the Spotify for Podcasters service. Terms and conditions of use aren’t entirely clear. It’s possible that signing up gives Spotify rights to the recording. As they don’t intend to make money from their content Foundation for Change decided they didn’t mind this risk. 

To share their podcast on their website, Foundation for Change use Spotify. It produces a piece of code that they can add to a webpage via their content management system. People can then reach the Spotify version of the podcast direct from the website.

They promote the podcast by sharing links to it on their social media channels.

They also upload a video version to their own YouTube channel. They don’t share the video recording of the Zoom call. Instead they use a still image and add the audio file to it. This helps people who don’t use Spotify or other podcast listening apps to access the podcast.

You can get analytics for how often people are listening to your podcast from most podcast channels. You will also want to arrange other ways of getting feedback about what people think.

Foundation for Change started out using the analytics that Spotify for Podcasters provide. This includes:

  • Number of listeners

  • How much of the podcast people listen to

  • What country listeners are from

Further information

Podcasting guides written with charities in mind 

The Guide is based on content provided by Digital Lifelines Scotland. This is an initiative led by Scottish Government's Digital Health & Care Directorate with Connecting Scotland.