Podcasting 101

So, you’re considering podcasting. Now what?

If you’re reading this post, you very well might be one of the people who took my Podcasting 101 workshop at When Words Collide. If you’re not, welcome anyways! The goal of this post is to replace a bullet point PowerPoint presentation and be a resource that you can go back to at any time.

podcasting 101

First of all, who am I and why should you bother listening? I’m a podcaster! One of the millions out there. Since March 2017, I’ve hosted the Girl Tries Life podcast where we interview women who are doing fascinating things, providing both inspiration and tangible, actionable tips to help you lead your best life. Then, for my job, launching November 15th is the Transform Your Story podcast which is about bringing nonprofit subject matter experts to the microphone to share their knowledge.

Essentially, in a short period of time I’ve learned a LOT about podcasting.

1. Why do you want to podcast?

As Simon Sinek says – and I love to quote Simon Sinek, start with why. What’s your why? Why do you want to podcast? Is it to share your point of view? As a fun side hobby? To create a platform? To educate yourself on a topic? Combination thereof?

There’s no wrong answer to the ‘why’ question, there’s only your why. The reason why is so important is that it will really inform how you proceed from here. If you’re wanting to build a platform, to monetize your podcast and become a subject matter expert, you’re going to approach your podcasting journey with a bit more rigour. You’ll want to create a content plan, perhaps invest in some mid-range equipment, and define your branding early on.

podcasting 101

2. What’s Your Style?

Are you skinny jeans or baggy jeans? Just kidding. What I mean by your style, is how do you want to format your shows? Are they going to be interview formats? Are you going to have regular, different segments? Are these serial fiction episodes? Are you going to be the sole speaker? 30 minutes vs. 5 minutes? Go deep on a topic or leave the audience wanting more? Inspirational or action-focused?

It can be really hard to figure out what it is you want your style to be. My advice is to start noticing your favourite podcasts or radio shows that you listen to. Is there a trend in there? I like listening to interviews, so it’s perhaps not surprising that I chose to go the interview route in both podcasts that I’m producing.

Are you more of a serial listener, and you like one episode to lead to the next? If so, that’ll create a whole new spin to your content planning and creation.

There’s no wrong answer here. Figure out what style you like, try it out, experiment, and I guarantee that you’ll soon find your groove.

podcasting 101

3. Getting Tech-y With It!

Word to the wise, if I can learn the technology of podcasting, you can as well. Technology and I are opposite magnets. I melt down when things don’t work. So, the idea of learning to record, edit and upload a podcast was definitely intimidating for me, and may be for you as well.

FEAR NOT!

First, in terms of recording software, my number one recommendation is Audacity. Whether you’re a PC or a Mac user, it’s free. Mac users can also use Garage Band, but I find Audacity to be much simpler to use.

Next step? YouTube! Honestly, YouTube is my go-to for learning all things tech these days. I found this YouTube video fantastic for learning the basics of Audacity, and you can add on more complicated steps as you go.

What to record with? You have a zillion options out there. I’m going to give you a few that I’ve personally used.

Recording as a single user:

Whenever I’ve been recording my intros, solo pieces, or if I were on a Skype call with an interviewee, my Blue Snowball ICE was a fantastic option. It’s cost effective and has decent quality for the price.

podcasting 101

Now, when recording interviews in person… the Snowball didn’t hold up so well. It was fine. I mean… I’ve done quite a few interviews with it, but myself and the interviewee were never at even audio levels. And, given that it recorded in a single track, there wasn’t a lot I could do to even them out.

So… if you’re willing to invest a little into this, here’s what I suggest, and what we’re using for the Transform Your Story Podcast.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Gen2

What the Focusrite does is it allows me to plug in different microphones (2 max) during an interview and adjust the levels at the beginning, so that in recording it is smooth from the get-go, plus I can adjust as we go if needed.

Next up is a bit like being a sportscaster, but the audio is incredible and guests can move around without too much interference. I’d been coveting the Audio Technica BPHS1 for a while, so was pumped to use it through work. 

Ultimately, find out what works for you, your goals and your budget. Do I wish I’d invested a little bit more up front? Yes, BUT, I also wasn’t sure if I was going to love podcasting, so starting with a more cost efficient option was right for me. That said, make sure you are NOT using the microphone from your computer or iPhone headphones. That is a 100% no-no as the audio will be terrible.

Other tools/resources that I use:

Ecamm Call Recorder for Skype – record interviews then import them to Audacity.

Pond5 Royalty free music from which to choose your intro / outro music.

She Podcasts – a FREE course on podcasting that will walk you through it.

4. Finding a Host

For those of you that have a website, you know that you need a host. Maybe you use the free Blogger or WordPress, but there really isn’t a free host for a podcast. You’re uploading large files to the internet – that’s going to have a fee involved. Such is life.

I could send you down the rabbit hole of comparing one host to another. Everyone is going to have their favourite. My preference is Podbean, so I’ll leave it at that 🙂

What’s important to consider when picking a host are the following:

  • limit to the amount you can upload per month
  • price
  • support

There are many other things that you could compare, but to be honest these are the most important. How much are you going to publish and how long will the episodes be? That will determine the size limit per month. Price will obviously depend on your personal budget. Support – this was something that was super important to me, and Podbean had good reviews for their support online. Being a tech-phone and new to podcasting, support was important.

5. Getting it on iTunes

To be fair, you also want to get it on non-Apple platforms as well, otherwise you’re losing out on potential audience, but the process is pretty much the same for all of them. Whoever your host is will have a step-by-step guide for creating an RSS feed (think of it as a redirect link) that sends your uploads from your host to iTunes/Stitcher/Soundcloud/Google Play, etc.

So, not only will you need the files to upload, but you’ll also need to get it approved by iTunes. Usually this takes less than 24 hours, so just keep that in mind if you’re promoting the first episode on social media. I’d wait until it’s live to formally promote it, but that’s just me.

podcasting 101

6. Promotion

Part of this is required in getting your podcast up in the first place. You need a killer logo. Killer doesn’t mean it has to cost a fortune, but it has to be appealing to the eye and you have to imagine how it will show as a very small square on a relatively small screen.

I created my logo on Canva, and it cost me $1. Technically you can create most things for free on Canva, but I coveted this little microphone, which came at the cost of $1. If graphics isn’t your jam, find a friend or a friend of a friend for whom it is and buy them a bottle of wine.

Once you have your graphics, you’re going to need to put some thought into your description which will feed into iTunes and all other players. Think of it as the elevator pitch or the book cover. How can you grab someone’s attention in ten seconds? This is where your why comes back in. WHY should they listen? What will they get out of it? How will it impact them? Test your description with your target audience (find some friends!) and ask for some constructive feedback.

7. Share. Get Social. Keep Creating Content

It’s really that simple at this stage. Continue promoting it through your social media platforms, friends, family, etc. Tell everyone you know about your podcast! Be proud, sing it!

Going hand in hand with that is that you have to continue creating great content. Keep a schedule. Plan in advance, don’t miss a date. How do you feel when your favourite podcast is late on their posting date? Awful, right? So don’t do that to new listeners so early on.

Additionally, you can make the ask of your listeners to rate and review the podcast, as that’s part of the iTunes algorithm to get a podcast in New and Noteworthy, but to be honest, even some amazing podcasts have very few ratings.

podcasting 101

8. What Are My Stats?

So… fun fact – iTunes don’t tell you how many subscribers you have. I found this out the hard way after an interviewee asked me. Turns out, they don’t provide this info, so you kind of have to estimate it based on the number of downloads the first day an episode goes out (BEFORE you’ve promoted it). That number should roughly be the same as those who are immediately getting it into their feed.

At the end of the day, success doesn’t happen overnight. Slow and steady wins the race. Make great content. Promote it. Constantly improve and evolve.

That’s the key.

If you have any lingering questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you. In the meantime, I’m going to link to some of my favourite podcasts below! Feel free to share yours in the comments.

School of Greatness

Dear Sugars

Bryony Gordon’s Mad World

The Marie Forleo Podcast

Girl Tries Life – hey, gotta be a fan of my own podcast, don’t I?

DAIS

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