Emily Prokop Live in Your Sacred Craft: Magical Tools for the Action Ready Entrepreneur

Notes on Podcasting

Hi, I’m Emily Prokop, I am a podcast editor and producer. Thank you Steph for inviting me to talk about podcasting and adding it to your business and hopefully in a magical way.

When she put up a poll a few weeks ago, there were some questions about how it’ll help your business, how to start and some technical setup questions, and then finding your voice. So, hopefully I can answer those questions, and if you have any others, I can answer them as they come in.

I’ve made an outline for what I wanted to cover in this Facebook Live, so if you’re watching later or coming in and out, I’ve put it on my website so you can go to EPodcastProductions.com/Magic and there will be the outline and the links to anything I talk about.

Why Start a Podcast?

  • More than 57 million Americans listen to podcasts, which is the same number of people who use Twitter, by the way. 
  • If you are a blogger already, you may know how saturated the the blogging space is, but one statistic I wanted to point out was that there is one podcast for every 2,000 blogs, so it’s another way for you to post your content to the masses and in a little less crowded space. 
  • Now, if you’re already a blogger, you know how important it is to put your own voice into your writing to help readers connect with you. If you think about reading words on a page, you might still not be able to connect with the voice on the other side of that keyboard, but with a podcast, you’re adding your voice to what you’re saying. It takes it a step even further with video when people can see AND hear you.
  • In a podcast, people are looking for content that will help them. In fact, that should be in your elevator pitch for your podcast - how the show will help someone. 
    • Even though it’s for your business, no one would want to tune in to a 30-minute infomercial. 
    • But that’s where the call to action comes in. 
      • And I tell my clients to add them to the end of their episodes, which is the spot where someone has listened to the content and are hanging on every word. So if they’ve gotten some great content, either from you or a guest, at the end of the episode and in the show notes, which are also important, that’s where you would say, “If you’d like more information or if you’d like to work with me personally, you can go to my website or find me on social media.”
      • It’s all part of funnel. For a few people, it might instantly convert listeners to clients, but for the most part, it’s a way of getting your voice and your brand out there.

Getting Started

  • So, starting a podcast is relatively easy and I’ll talk about the tools in a bit, but before you do anything or spend any money on equipment or software, the first thing to do is think about what you want to talk about and what kind of show you want to have.
    • There are three main formats: Interview, Solo show or Co-hosted show, and then you can do a mix of just two or just three.
      • An interview show would be bringing in others in your field or area of interest to talk to that you think your audience would get value from.
      • A solo show would just be you talking about different topics in your subject.
      • A co-hosted show would be maybe you and a business partner or even you and someone else in your niche bringing different perspectives to topics. And you would both be bringing your unique perspectives.
  • There isn’t one format that’s better than another, however, I personally like podcasts that mix it up where there are interview shows so I can learn from different guests, while promoting their brand, but the solo shows would be more for promoting your own content and brand.
  • One way of combining these two together would be doing half and half, which some people do. They have an introduction that’s solo, talking about the topic covered in the interview, but giving your own spin on it, then going into the interview, and then having an outro segment wrapping everything up. 
    • Now, while having guests on your show may bring their audience to your show, you also want to make sure you’re getting enough of yourself into the show so people get to know, like and trust you, even though you’re using the podcast as a platform for someone else.
  • Once you decide on your format, I would say the second thing you should do is get out a piece of paper and brainstorm episode ideas. 
    • So, there’s a statistic out there that 50 percent of podcasts don’t last through seven episodes.
      • Now, some of this is because of unrealistic time expectations or giving up too early, but a lot of the time, people have an idea, they’re really excited, they record episode one, episode two, episode three, but then start to lose steam. Or realize they might have gone too broad and just the overwhelm of ideas make it hard to focus on just one idea at a time.
    • What I tell people is before they even press record, make a list of at least 15-20 topics or guests they can easily reach out to to have one their show right away.
      • You may not even get to all these topics or get all these guests on, but if you’re able to make this list quickly and easily, you probably have a sustainable podcast on your hands.
      • When I made my initial list - I do a history podcast - I actually still have original ideas on that list I’ve never gotten to, but they’re there for when I may hit a slump or a busy week and realize, “Oh, it’s time to record my podcast, what am I going to talk about?

Equipment & Tech

  • The first thing you’ll need is a microphone. First rule, your computer microphone won’t really cut it. So there are three I recommend right off the bat if you’ve don’t already have one.
    • The Audio Technica ATR2100
    • The Audio Technica AT2005
    • The Samson Q2U
  • The reasons I love these microphones is that they have both XLR and USB connectivity, which means if you decide to upgrade to a mixer, you can use them or if you’re using a portable recorder at some point, it’s easy to plug them in with the XLR cable, but if you’re looking for a quick setup, they can plug right into your computer using the USB cable.
    • They’re all under $100, usually about $60-$70
    • I recommend the ATR2100 the most because it comes with a Lifetime Warranty. I’ve had mine for three years with no problem at all.
    • They’re Dynamic, which is better for recording in places that aren’t sound treated.
    • You might see a lot of recommendations for a Blue Yeti or a Blue Snowball mic, these can be good. But, they are USB only, and they are condenser mics, which means they are more sensitive to room noise and other outside sounds you might not want in your recordings.
      • If you already have these microphones or planning on buying one, read the instruction manual to make sure you’re using the correct settings for a solo voice.
    • But if you plan on having two people in the same room, even though there is a setting for it on the Blue Yeti, you’re going to get much better sound and have an easier time editing and cutting out cross talk if every person has their own microphone.
  • Once you decide on a microphone, you’ll want a recording and editing software.
    • The easiest one I’ve found for people to be able to pick up quickly is also free and is called Audacity. There’s a record button, a play button, some effects on it like noise reduction, and tons of tutorial videos on YouTube.
    • If you’re going to be doing interviews, there are a few different ways to do that, which I don’t go into too much detail about, but here’s a general overview
      • There’s recording a double-ender, where each participant records their own side, and you can take the files and sync them up for the final episode
      • There are different call recorders, so if you’re using Skype, there’s a list on the Skype website of what they recommend and they’re in the beginning stages of rolling out Skype for Content Creators, as well, for recording the audio
      • There are standalone apps and websites like Ringr, Squadcast, and Zencastr that can record each participant and send you the finished files, already synced up.
  • Once your recording is in place and you’ve edited in things like intro and outro music if you want, you can then turn that files into an MP3, which is something you’re able to do in your editing software using something called a LAME encoder, which is also free.
  • And then you’re going to upload that to your media host.
    • The media host is what builds your RSS feed, which is where your podcast lives and where podcast apps and players grab episodes from whenever you update it.
    • The hosts I recommend are Libsyn, Podbean and Blubrry and Pinecast is starting to look really good, as well.
      • The reason I recommend these are because they are the most reliable, they’ve been in the business the longest, and their stats are the most accurate.
        • If you’re working with Wordpress for your website, Libsyn and Blubrry both have plug-ins that will turn your episodes and show notes into blog posts automatically.
    • There are some other hosting companies out there, many of which might be free, like Anchor, which is becoming more and more popular.
      • The free thing, though, hasn’t worked out well for hosting companies since podcast files can get pretty large and in my three years of podcasting, I’ve seen probably a half-dozen of them fail within a year because of the free model.
      • I also don’t recommend Soundcloud because they aren’t really optimized for podcasting and there is a lot you can do with a dedicated podcast host that you can’t do on Soundcloud.
      • Now, Anchor is becoming more popular, and if you’re still unsure if you want to podcast, it can be a great place to start. 
        • However, in their terms of service, they OWN your content, which means while you’re using your show to sell your product or service, they have the right to put ads in wherever they want.
        • They don’t, as of yet, but I believe you should be the one to own your podcast.
        • They also put their branding on your cover art and in your author tag.
        • They also offer the option to submit your show for you to different podcast apps like Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Google Play Music, Overcast, and Spotify.
          • The problem with this is they are submitting it under their name, which means in your RSS feed, when people go looking for your website, it will direct them to the Anchor website instead of yours.
          • If you go with Anchor, make sure you check the option to submit your own feed to podcast apps.

Other things you’ll need

  • Cover Art
    • Make sure any wording is big enough to be seen even when it’s super tiny on a cell phone.
    • Make sure you know the specs most podcast players want for it
      • 1400x1400px (minimum)
      • 3000x3000px (maximum)
      • Under 500kb
      • RBG color space
      • .JPG, .JPEG., or .PNG file
  • Title
    • You want a title with someone searching in mind
      • If you sell coffee, you might think Coffeepreneur is a good title. If someone looked at it, they’d know what it’s about.
      • However, someone searching wouldn’t know this made up word, Coffeepreneur.
        • They may search Coffee, Business, Marketing
      • Make sure you have keywords in your podcast title, author tag and your episode titles, since that’s what the majority of podcast apps search for when someone uses their search function.
        • If you are absolutely married to a cute name but it doesn’t work well for searching, you could have a subtitle
        • Example: Coffeepreneur | Marketing and Business Strategies for Coffee Entrepreneurs
    • Same rules applies for episode titles
      • Think of episode titles as you would for a blog post
      • What will people be putting into their search engines?
      • What will give people a general idea what the episode is about?
      • Right now, Apple Podcasts/iTunes advocates against using episode numbers in your titles, but if you are referring back to previous episodes a lot, some listeners prefer the numbers be listed.
        • Make sure it’s not taking up a lot of space in the beginning of episode titles. (i.e. Season 1, Episode 42 would take up most of the space in a preview screen of the episode titles. But 42. How Facebook Ads can Help Your Coffee Business would be much better.)
  • Author Tag
    • Since this is another thing used in search results, you can have your name, your business, and maybe a title of some sort.
      • Going back to the Coffeepreneur example: Joe Smith - Gourmet Coffee Expert - Atlantic Coffee Company

Finding Your Voice

  • Unless you’re used to your voice by now or going live, the first time you hear a recording of yourself back when you’re editing, you’re probably going to say, “Is that my voice?”
    • When we hear ourselves as we’re talking, we’re hearing it not only coming out of our mouths, but through the vibrations in our vocal chords, so there’s a bit of a filter.
  • My way of dealing with it is once you’re comfortable with your editing software, I actually speed up my audio a bit so I have more of a chipmunk voice so it’s not as jarring to hear my own voice.
  • But just to get a better, clearer voice, and to cut down on mouth noises, get plenty of water, before you record and while you’re recording.
  • Warm water with lemon can help you warm up your voice, as well.
  • Do some vocal exercises, as well.
    • Move your voice up and down while trilling your lips - like a horse.
    • Move your mouth like a cow to stretch it out.
    • Do some tongue twisters.
    • Practice enunciating using theater warm-ups to help with a clearer voice:
      • One of my favorites: Eleven benevolent elephants met Lily and Lucy in Philadelphia and went to see Camelot in unique New York with guns and drums and drums and guns which they kept in a bodega bodega bodega. They walked for miles and miles and miles until they saw Manny and Nancy, who walked hand in hand as they sang "Many a moon, many a moon, many a moon." They came across brilliant Italian William from Topeka, who kept murmuring, "Mommala Poppala Mommala Poppala." They asked him to join them. Will you William will you William will you William? Can't you won't you don't you William? Did you would you could you William? But William simply said Lilli Lolli Lilli Lolli. Then round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran, to be among Culligan and calla lilies, to let his tone hum down as easily as a sigh.
  • Think of who you’re speaking to, have your ideal client in mind or your ideal listener.
    • Think of your listeners as a friend you can talk to easily.
    • Be aware if you’re starting to feel stiff or out of breath.
      • You can always pause and take a breath and edit it out later.
    • If you’re by yourself, I find it easier to record while standing up or by using hand gestures so loosen up.
  • I always like a show that acknowledges the listeners, either by greeting them and thanking them for listening or at the end with the call to action, again thanks them for taking the time to make your show a part of their day.
  • Make it seem like you are talking to just one person directly. Always think in terms of “you” and not “the listeners.” They have your voice in their ears, it’s a very intimate relationship when you think of it.
  • The more you do it, the more comfortable it will be.
  • Always ask for feedback and ask people what they like hearing and what has helped them.
  • So, in podcast apps, especially Apple Podcasts, there are podcast reviews. These don’t mean anything when it comes to ranking, by the way. Ranking is based on the number of subscriptions in a certain time frame.
    • However, ratings and reviews do help with social proof and getting feedback.
  • Get some feedback on your first few episodes, see what people like, what might not work as well, and tweek along the way. 
    • A lot of people want to record a bunch of episodes all at once and release them, but I would say do no more than three to start off with so there are enough episodes for people to do a little binge on and give feedback on.
    • And you don’t always have to take the feedback. It’s your show. 
  • What some people do is repurpose content, so they might read old blog posts or do a Facebook live and strip the audio for a podcast, and use the video on YouTube.
    • If you do that, though, be aware of your live audience versus your listening-later audience. So if you’re interacting with the chat, keep that in mind.
      • Instead of saying, “Oh, good question, Bob …” you could say, “Bob in the chatroom asks …” and proceed to answer the question.
      • You can even turn that into a call to action like, “If you are listening later and would like to join the Facebook group, you can ask your questions the next time I’m live.”
  • And have fun. If you’re not having fun, if it becomes just another thing, if you realize you don’t have time or the energy, don’t feel like you have to continue.
    • While I advocate for setting a schedule and sticking to it because people will make your podcast part of their routine, rather than put out a less-than-spectacular episode because you have to, your audience will be more grateful for an episode full of great content when you do release them.

If you have any other questions, or would like to talk with me further about starting a podcast, you can schedule a Strategy Session with me for your podcast planning or work with me one-on-one to get your show started. Unfortunately, I'm not taking anymore editing or show notes clients at the moment, but I'd be glad to refer you to other editors and companies who do that.

Thanks for having me in the group! And let me know any other questions you might have. :)