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3 free steps to start your podcast today

By Jeremy Steele

Gone are the days of the tape duplicator, and though you may have just gotten your CD ministry up to par, it's time to tackle the online equivalent: the podcast. Don't worry, you are not going to have to purchase thousands of dollars of new equipment. The internet has democratized the distribution as well as the recording of the content. With just a computer and a connection to the internet, you can broadcast your audio content to the world.

While you can go as in-depth in each of these steps as you would like, we want to get you up and running. Here are three easy steps to podcasting today:

1. Collect good audio

If you are currently recording to CDs, all you have to do is "rip" the audio from the CD into a sound file by using your computer's CD-ROM drive and a free tool like HandBrake (make sure that you are not including copyrighted content like music without obtaining the appropriate license). If you want to take it to the next level and try to capture the file directly to your computer or edit the file you rip from the CD, you can get the necessary cables and try another free tool called Audacity to record and edit. Alternatively, you might decide the easiest way is for you to use a smartphone or iPod to capture the audio. When you are all done, make sure you have it saved as an mp3 and you are good to go to the next step.

2. Upload it to the internet

Your website provider is key in the next step. Many companies like SquareSpace offer simple tools that upload your file and make the all-important RSS file that turns it into a podcast without you having to do anything but click a couple of buttons. Before you take this step, it is worth contacting your provider or looking through their help files to see if they will do this for you (many do). If so, upload the file, get the RSS link and move on to the next step.

If your provider doesn't do that, here is a list of free tools to create RSS for any website along with a tutorial from Feedity on how to create a podcast RSS feed.

3. Link it and list it

The RSS link is how the tech-savvy might choose to subscribe to your podcast, but most people use iTunes to find and subscribe to these offerings. Listing your podcast there couldn't be easier. Simply submit your podcast to the iTunes store using their form and wait (about 24 hours) for the approval email to let you know it's live. Then, list the link to the podcast on your website and tell the world!