How to Make a Podcast: What We've Learned So Far
Real proof that we started a podcast! 😆

If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, this post is just for you. 

We started from scratch when we decided to start a podcast, meaning we did our research online and spoke to people who have done it before, and with this knowledge, we plowed forward and learned from other people’s mistakes… and also learned the hard way. 

It’s all about the bass… er… process.

This is what I’ve learned about podcasting (so far): it’s all about process. And I don’t know why, but that comes as a surprise to me. Everything in business is all about process, why would this be any different?

When we started out, we thought the process centered on how we were going to record the darn things and what type of topics we were going to talk about. And then we realized it’s more than that. It’s about the editing process, what we’re going to do with the episodes after we’ve recorded them, how we’re going to launch the podcast, how we’re going to learn to more effectively communicate our message, all kinds of stuff.

A lot of this isn’t stuff you can go out and discover by reading bulleted lists on other people’s blog posts. These are things I’m learning about myself: how I speak, how I interact with other people, and also my conception that even something as simple as flipping a recorded episode into a blog post is going to be super easy, while in fact, if we really, really want to do it well and make it professional, things like that take time.

So let’s start at the top….

Here’s what I’ve learned about podcasting:

1. Podcasting is easier than video, sort of.

Recording

When I’m on video, I try to deliver my message authentically without a script, like I’m giving a presentation to the camera without slides or an audience. This is really hard for me because I like to interact with my audience — I like seeing their eyes and understanding whether or not they’re grasping the concept. 

The thing is, I operate on a very audio level: I dictate all my blog posts, I talk through all of my projects before I do them. It’s like by hearing the words, I can see the project. It’s a lot easier for me to learn from a conversation than through watching something or reading it. That’s why I never skipped class in college — because that’s how I learned, by listening.

In that way, it’s easier for me to do a podcast than it is for me to be in front of a video camera. There’s still a little bit of that nervousness because I am speaking into a microphone and I know people will hear me someday, hopefully, but it’s not as bad as being in front of a camera. 

Editing

Now as far as editing goes — which I’ll talk more about next — it’s easier editing a podcast, and it’s not easier. You can splice together pieces of audio way seamlessly than I thought could ever be done. It actually kind of freaks me out, because if you have the right words, you can make anyone say anything. As you’re editing it, however, it’s hard to see where the words are, you’re just looking at sound waves. At this point, I can recognize the stupid words (#4) that I say in their sound waves because I’ve taken them out so many times. 

With video, it’s not as easy to splice together those moments of greatness because you have people that move, so it feels weird and jumpy. I get motion sickness from that crap. Albeit from a teaching perspective and a speaking perspective, it’s not always as easy to communicate what I want to say without a visual. It would be easier for me to explain some of the concepts that we’ve covered if my listeners could see the picture that I’ve made describing the topic. In that way, it’s not as easy to convey your message in a podcast as it is through video. 

Time Spent

I’m not sure right now of the overall time investment per podcast, but I know that it’s less than per video. It’s still a greater time investment than I thought it would be to get each one of these rolling. I thought about auditing the podcast project and seeing exactly how much time we have recorded per episode, but at this point, we’re so young in it that it’s not really accurate. So I’m going to let us settle in a little bit and then see how much time it actually takes us to make each one. 

2. Editing takes forever.

Speaking of time…

Software

I went through a few audio editing software options before deciding to edit our podcasts using Audacity. I started out in Adobe Audition because it’s such a robust software, and there’s so much documentation and support for it, especially on YouTube. I’m finding right now that I don’t know what can and can’t be done with it, so those resources are helping me push those limits to see how to make the editing process better. 

The user interface in Audition was not something that was very natural for me, so it took me a really long time to edit things in there. I also tried out a software on my cell phone, an app called Lexus Audio Editor. It works pretty well. The interface was easy to use, and it felt natural for me. It’s a little weird getting the files where they’re supposed to go, but I do use it to edit my podcasts while I’m waiting for my girls to get done with their dance class. So multitasking is great using Lexus.

Separate vs. Shared Tracks

We tried reeeeeal hard to figure out how to record on two tracks because we often have two speakers, and I don’t have a mixing board. We chose USB mics, which makes it really difficult to record on two tracks, and now after editing so many of these podcasts, I understand the value of recording on multiple tracks. 

There are times when Katie’s saying something super inspirational, and I’m over in my chair just making loud noises and want to tell myself to be quiet. But I can’t edit myself out because we’re in the same audio track.

For the time being, we’re just recording on two different devices that feed into the same track until we get a mixing board. 

Time Spent

A trick for cutting down on editing time is to edit the podcast as you go. If you hate what you just said, delete it right then and there. It’s so satisfying. The caveat: it takes an awareness of listening to yourself speak and asking yourself, “Is this clearly represented? Is this how I want to say it?” That’s not always easy. 

In the long run, it takes longer to edit than it does to re-record. Some people clap before and after parts they want to edit later, and I could see how that would be really helpful — especially as we start recording on two different tracks. However, right now with the one track, I just delete as we go. And that saves me a lot of time. In the long run. It makes the editing process more efficient because I’m working with a better quality recording from a content perspective. 

3. Like blog posts, podcasts make great recyclable content once they’re transcribed and edited.

I feel like podcasting makes recycling content easy, because I can take old blog posts that I spent a lot of time researching and writing and make them into podcasts, and I can also make a podcast, then transcribe it and edit it into a blog post.

I’m not sure which way is actually better. I like the authenticity of the conversation in a podcast; the information comes across more naturally. On the other hand, I love the organization that a pre-written piece brings to a podcast — it’s all about the planning, right? So even if you’re going to have this authentic conversation with your audience through your podcast, it’s important to plan it.

Regardless, a blog a great spot to start recycling content and sharing with a broader audience because not everybody listens to podcasts. Not everybody is on social media. Not everybody is searching for the content you have to offer right now. When you recycle content, you spread it across more mediums and allow more people to find what they need when they need it. 

4. I use stupid words. 

Like, all the time… when maybe I should just be quiet. 

So much self awareness built through this podcasting process. I discovered I say things like “actually,” “literally,” “basically,” “yes,” “exactly.” And so does Katie, we both realized how often we say the same words on repeat.

I’d also really like to work on this other thing I do: when I podcast with other people and they say something amazing, I always give a  loud, enthusiastic, affirmative noise. I don’t have to do that. I don’t have to say “Exactly!” or “Yes,” or “I agree with you.” In conversation, that is totally normal, but when it comes through recorded, it sounds like I’m interrupting them, and it’s hard to hear what they have to say when I’m talking at the same time. 

I am going to learn to be more quiet.

5. If you read well, reading a script is not always a bad idea. 

Especially if you use all those weird words I outlined in #4…

As I said before, when we’re recycling our content, sometimes we’re recycling it from blog posts that have already been published or from presentations I’ve already given. Other times, we’re starting a podcast completely from scratch with topics we haven’t presented on through any other platform. And of course the plan is to recycle the content in the podcast into other mediums, so why not make it as clean as possible from the get go?

I was really hesitant at first to “read my lines,” so to speak, for a podcast. I didn’t want the podcast to sound overly scripted or boring. Then I read an article we had recently written and recorded it as a podcast. I was nervous. I didn’t even listen to it because I was concerned it was gonna sound like I was just reading a terrible book in this awful monotone voice. 

My staff members edited it for me, and they said they didn’t even know I was reading it. They couldn’t tell. What that means is all those books I’ve been reading to my children, and all the audiobooks I’ve been listening to may actually be wearing off on me, and I might be able to read aloud successfully. 

Now, if you are a person who can read aloud well, or you’re like me in that you can’t help but speak all those weird words I highlighted earlier, reading a script is not a bad idea. I don’t know how many other podcasters read scripts or previously-written material regularly, but I think I would be surprised by how many do.

6. Trying to authentically act out a script is really hard.

Speaking of scripts, trying to authentically act out a script is hard — mad props to actors. 

When we were recording our intro and outro for the podcast, I asked one of my friends to do it who is an actor. It was the most bizarre art directing experience I’ve ever had. I’ve art directed all kinds of things, from videos to photo shoots, websites, banner ads, tradeshow, booths, you name it. But I haven’t art directed delivery of audio, except for on video — and on video, you have the visual aspect of filming to help keep you focused. Despite the lack of ease I experienced in guiding him toward the end result I was after, I was so proud of my friend for sticking with it and finding our voice. It wasn’t easy for him to just channel the voice we’ve spent over a decade establishing and magically insert it into this script he had no hand in writing. But he did such a great job. So thank you so much, Dave, for your hard work on this.

Listen to our intro now!

And then when Katie and I were recording our promo for our launch giveaway, we had to record it a thousand times before we got it to a spot where we thought it was good. And what’s crazy is, when we finally said, “Yes, this is good,” it was good because we threw away the script once we knew what we were supposed to say. We’d had it memorized and just talked back and forth the way we normally would, and it came out much closer to what we wanted it to be.

It was hard stuff, guys. Just sayin’.

7. Starting with energy is a challenge. 

Sometimes starting is difficult in general if you haven’t planned enough before you begin, and we just talked about how scripting is not always super easy. However, one of the things that bugs me about some podcasts is it takes them forever to get into the meat of the conversation. 

The information I’m after sometimes doesn’t come until 7,10, or 15 minutes into the episode, and that bugs the crap out of me. However, now I understand how it happens. You get started, and you might not be following a script right in front of you, or you might need to tell people things that they really need to know before they start listening. And so now, I forgive those podcasts for keeping me waiting. Though I have to say, I feel like with planning, I can do better. 

8. Launching a podcast correctly has lots of moving parts. 

Way more moving parts than I ever imagined.

I thought we were gonna record stuff, have fun doing it, and then give it to people to listen to. And put extremely simply, that is how it’s working so far, but I hadn’t even considered the amount of work that needed to happen to launch a podcast correctly. To even include the word “correctly” never occurred to me to begin with.

I read a lot of articles and sat in on a couple of talks about it. One of my online marketing staffers, Isabella, did a metric ton of research (she has a whole multi page document about everything that she considered). And I tasked Isabella and Jason, another one of my online marketing staffers, with developing a strategy that we could discuss and review because there were so many pieces I knew I’d never get done on my own.

Our giveaway ran from our launch date of March 30th through April 13th.

We had to set up our website, we had to design the main podcast page as well as the individual podcast page, we had to code it all and get it all to work together. Then there was the podcast hosting and all the RSS feeds set up stuff (don’t even get me started!). And then we decided to do a launch giveaway, which meant we had to establish a budget for prizes and then choose said prizes and figure out how to deliver them and record all of the promos for it and then add the promos into these already finished podcasts and… *gasp* The list goes on. It’s basically launching an entire marketing campaign. I was in my optimistic world of uneducated oblivion and just didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Luckily, I have team members who are willing to put in the work to make sure that we got started off on the right foot. 

9. Because I love podcasts so much, I felt more nervous about launching my podcast than many other types of media we’ve endeavored in.

I think it’s because I want it to be good. I mean, duh. I love the podcasts I listen to, I feel like I learn so much from them, and I want to give back in the same way to my audience. 

I’m also sharing my opinions, and people might not agree with me. There could be other marketers listening to my podcasts who are just shaking their heads, and I really want people to like me and agree with me, I know this about myself. However, I also feel like there’re a lot of people who aren’t marketers who have maybe never heard what I’m saying before, or maybe heard it the way I’m saying it. I can help them by sharing the things I’ve learned over the past 20 years about marketing. 

It’s from a position of servitude that we launched this podcast, and because of that servitude, I also felt very nervous about making sure that the end product was as good as it could be. I fully realized this podcast is nowhere near perfect and not nearly as professional as it will be someday. I know as we continue to record episode after episode, we’ll learn how to get this thing as good as it can possibly be. 

About a week before we launched, I looked at Isabella and said, “Having recorded so many more episodes now, I need to go back to the ones I initially recorded and do them over again.” Know what she said? “Monica, no, stop, you’re being a perfectionist. These are going to go out people are going to love them. And really, you’ve got no place to go but up, you can get better with every episode. And we don’t need to beat ourselves up for everything that we didn’t know at the very beginning.” (She said a lot.) 

And that’s why I made this podcast: because you can learn from my own revelations and mistakes. 

Once again, the thing I learned is that it’s all about process.

It’s in the planning. The more you plan, the better it’s going to be in the end.

It’s difficult to know what all that planning is from the beginning. Just like Isabella did for me, give yourself a pep talk and forgive yourself for the things you didn’t know to begin with, and just resolve to make them better on the other end.

More about the Author

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Monica Pitts

Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.

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