What I’ve Learned After 50 Podcast Episodes
After my top-rated morning show was canceled during radio’s “Pandemic Panic Downsizing,” I decided to launch a hyper-local interview podcast. It’s been a great way to stay in touch with former listeners and the many community leaders and friends who visited my studio over 24 years.
Here’s what I have learned during the creation of over 50 podcast episodes (including those for InterPrep.com).
Plan for consistency
There are something like 2.4 million podcasts out there, but less than 10 percent have been updated in the past month.
If you’re planning a hobby podcast set a realistic publishing schedule that encourages consistentcy. My podcast launched as a weekly and kept me hopping. It’s on break now but when it returns I’m thinking of releasing a new episode every two weeks.
It takes six hours to create an episode
Yes, you can record, edit and upload an episode in a couple of hours, but my six hour estimate includes everything.
Most of my local podcast episodes begin as a 60 minute interview. After the episode is recorded there is editing, previewing, re-editing, creating show notes, creating social media posts and images, etc. In between each of these steps I’m lining up guests for future episodes.
Have six episodes ready before you release the first
This is especially important if you’re doing a weekly podcast. After episode one uploaded the clock is ticking.
Having six ready to go helps you get ahead and stay ahead in case something unexpected comes up and you can’t do anything podcast related for a week or more.
Don’t overthink the audio
The reason phone interviews on radio are acceptable is simple: our brains adapt to so-so sound quality. Put more time into interesting and engaging content than into creating some near-perfect audio environment that’s of little importance to the person out for a run on a busy street.
For example, while there are a number of high-quality options remote guest audio, Zoom is good enough. And because half the planet has used Zoom during the pandemic it’s an app your guests are familiar with.
By the way, for recording on my Macbook I use Audio Hijack , which records my mic in one file and the guest audio in another. When I bring the tracks into my DAW (digital audio workstation) I’m able to tweak them individually.
Guests don’t know anything about interview audio
Even guests who claim they are experienced at remote interviews rarely know how to set everything up properly, so it’s always a good idea to talk by phone with your guest a few days before your interview to learn what setup they have. For example, sometimes corded earbuds with a built-in mic are better than the mic built into a USB webcam.
One of my guests had no mic, no earbuds, no headset — but her laptop’s mic was quite good, and because we weren’t using Zoom video (see below) I had her set the computer on a short stack of books so that it was closer to her mouth.
Turn off video
Without the distraction of having to look at a camera I can focus on the conversation, take edit notes, and jot down additional questions on the fly.
Make it easy for your guests
What works best for them: In-person? Zoom? On the phone in the front seat of their car?
None of my guests are authors or musicians promoting a project — they’re doing me a favor, so I make it easy for them.
Don’t build on rented land
You’ll need a podcast host but you don’t want to put your hosted URL in your show notes and on social media because if you change hosts all of your links in all of your older episodes will be wrong.
Register a web domain and set up a basic website with WordPress, Squarespace or Wix. This will be your forever home for show notes, contact info, podcast episodes, etc.
By the way, for my podcasts I use Buzzsprout and I’m very happy with them.
Get a Shure microphone
Radio has always trusted the Shure SM7 microphone and it’s now used by many podcast and YouTube creators. But the SM7 is XLR only, which means you’ll need an interface or a podcast recorder.
My podcast setup is simpler and cheaper. The Shure MV7 has both USB and XLR outputs. To record I simply plug the provided USB cord directly into my computer.
By the way, the MV7 comes with software that you probably won’t need because your digital audio workstation will have all the tools necessary for tweaking the raw file.
You don’t need a top-of-the-line DAW
In the beginning I used Adobe Audition because it was the only thing I knew — but it’s not cheap, especially for a hobbiest podcaster. I tried Audacity, which is free, but it felt clunky.
Currently I use Hindenberg Pro. It has most of the features I need and the monthly fee is reasonable.
No one cares about your podcast
It’s true. Telling friends, family and your social media followers you’re doing a podcast doesn’t mean they’ll listen — at least not beyond the first episode.
It can be discouraging, but stay focused on your niche and if you’re consistent, word will get out and people will tune in.
What have YOU learned?
If you have a podcast, let me know what you’ve learned by recording a voice memo here, or sending an email here.
I’m Steve Holstein, the Publisher and Chief Content Creator at InterPrep.com. If you have comment about this post or a question about what we do I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me here.