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30 Lessons Learned from Recording 30 Podcasts
If you're making a podcast, here's all my lessons learned.
Random Observation/Comment #705: Life is a journey of constant improvement.
Why this List?
I've done it! I've officially created a podcast and recorded 30 episodes!
Available on your pod-catcher of choice:
Pocketcasts - Search for “Life in Lists of 30”
Because I'm an over-achiever, I've embedded the task to put in 30 suggested improvements throughout the podcasting journey. The goal was to make this podcast be an improvement evolution so I could just get started.
If you're making a podcast, I started here. After completing 30 episodes, I learned quite a bit and has a few lessons along the way:
Make it easy for yourself to focus on content creation than on logistics. As with any entrepreneurship, the logistics will get in the way of the fun part, so take care of all the boring operational pieces first.
Setup your schedule and be flexible with changing it
For scheduling, consider your own sanity as well as your listener's ability to keep up with your content creation. At first started with 3 times a week and reduced to twice a week. It really kept me less stressed about sticking to the schedule
Learn to use your tools and watch some youtube videos or webinars for tips and tricks
Canva - Making logos and splash screens for sharing
SimpleMind Pro - Making mindmaps on mobile (able to paste my lists into the import function and just makes it)
Camtasia - Get comfortable with editing video and audio
Audacity (Added after I started) - Additional audio enhancements added afterwards
Yeti Microphone setup - Software and tools
Setup your content and do all of the annoying work with templates and images first
Scheduled posts for all my lists of 30 - Picked my favorite 30 lists and exported them with full scheduling on dates following the spreadsheet. Takes about 2 hours.
Created and exported from Canva all of the episode names ahead of time. Takes about 2 hours.
Created templates and base posts for all the podcast episodes with these uploaded images ahead of time. The standard text for finding where the podcast is posted and credit to music is all copy and pasted. Takes about 3 hours.
Created YouTube templates with the above text so uploading videos are easy to edit. Automatically added to the YouTube Playlist.
Created all of the Mindmaps and exported as images so they can posted on Instagram when posts go live. Takes about 4 hours.
Copied all of the previous posts into the Running Log so I can slowly write the additional context for each of the lists of 30. My podcast recordings are different from the post themselves.
Setup your microphone and equipment properly - Here's the amazon buy list
Blue Yeti - $129.99 - Worth the money! Such a great mic and features
Sony MDR7506 Headphones - $99.95 - I personally love these over the ear and plugs directly into the mic
Pop Filter Cover - $7.99 - Good for the "p" sounds so the mic doesn't pick up the sharp tones
Tripod Mic Stand - $34.95 - Get that mic off the table. The swivel of this arm looks super dramatic.
Definitely get a mic stand - The mic will pick up all the vibrations from the table if it's just sitting there. I even heard the scrolling of my mouse when I was moving my script when reading. It may seem like an extra purchase, but I think it improved the audio quality.
Setup your recording and editing flow
Record on Camtasia with video and screen share - My videos are just of me reading the scripts
Import the 3 tracks (audio, camera, and screen share) and move the camera recording so it takes up more screen real estate
Listen through the recording and do a split of all 3 tracks.
Delete any mess-ups and touch-up as needed. Since I'm low production value, I don't try to splice sounds from different recording tracks to get it perfect.
Save the Camtasia file. Open up a previous recording and copy the Beginning and End audio track. Paste this into the new track.
Move the whole track around to fit the audio flow. I chose a 3 second intro music with an overlap on the talking side. I've also seen direct talking and then the soundtrack to split up the intro
Export to mp4 from Camtasia
Import into Audacity and run a macro for the audio enhancements (more on this later)
Export to mp3 and fill out track metadata
Upload to substack post (already created)
Set publishing time to 5AM on Tuesday or Friday
Remember that you can edit so don't feel stressed to get it perfect. If you mess up, pause and then go back to the beginning of the list/paragraph.
Make sure to check for dead air time. My first 10 episodes or so had like 3 minutes of dead air at the end because my export kept the sound from the video track that I didn't edit. Since I was doing the video cutting as well, it lead me to create the youtube channel.
Remember to edit the dialogue first and make sure it's good before adding on any other layers.
If this were more professional, I'd record yourself talking multiple times in the same line. This gives more content for the production person to splice in different sounds. I personally opted out from doing this so I can make my editing process more streamlined.
Setup your channels of communication and optimize your publishing flow
Direct publishing only on listsof30.com
Created a modal that would pop-up so people can sign-up to the listsof30.com subscriptions from the seelemons.com site
Instagram posts specifically for days when new content is published. Created the mindmap for the blogpost day and the logo with podcast number for the podcast day. This wound up being a lot of work, so I just did one post of the mindmap.
Try publishing at different times. I published at 5AM because I wanted the email to be in someone's inbox when they first wake up. I tried 5PM and 10PM as well. Substack provides stats on the open % rate and click through to the site.
Setup Audacity so it can read MP4 files and create a base macro - The MP4 file setup is just downloading a library. The macro I created was a mix of multiple guides. I do compressor, bass/treble, and Limiter. There are so many tools there to play around with, but these helped most for me without making it too loud and piercing.
Talk to your friends about podcasting - I was able to make a few connections and get a lot of great recommendations. Special shoutout to Stu Stanley who basically helped me with most of my setup and operational plans. It's no Blue Bloods sound mixing, but I think what I've created is pretty good.
Get feedback from your listeners - Ask them what they like and on't like. Try to incorporate their feedback.
Give your listeners a shoutout to get them involved - Ask them for ideas for lists of 30 or make sure their suggestions are pointed out within the podcast.
Try different intro and outro songs - Your podcast can have its own vibe and it could be fun listening to all the royalty free music out there
When picking your song, consider that most people listen to podcasts at 1.5x or 2x speed. I personally listen at 1.3x. I actually slowed down my music because the beats were too fast.
Test recording in different environments - I tried in a closet, basement, room, under a blanket. Clothes will prevent any echos and make post-production editing a lot easier.
Instead of purely reading the list items, add additional sentences on context. I still wind up writing these up in the script, but I thought it was valuable having different content between the blogpost and the podcast.
Set a target length for your podcast. There's short form that's under 10 minutes. The comedy ones are around 30 minutes. The conversation ones are 60-70 minutes. The long winded ones try not to go over 90 minutes.
Try making a bonus episode if your podcast goes over your target time.
Involve other people! - I did a podcasting setup for my wife and hopefully we'll do a collab episode.
Consider a guest - Most podcasts are interviews and leverage the network of networks effect of guests sharing it with their own communities. The only reason for not having a guest is removing the variable of scheduling talks and working on dependencies that would ruin my personal schedule.
Go off script - I think conversational comes out better than script reading. It's such a hard skill to master, but going off script has come up with some of the best personal reflections.
Consider a collaboration with other like-minded shared audience podcasts - I think a lot of what I write about aligns nicely to LifeKit from NPR. Maybe I'll reach out to them at some point.
Have fun - I am very good at discipline and scheduling, but it's always important to enjoy the process and celebrate the success
~See Lemons Finish a Podcast