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I recently tried out something that I’ve been putting off for months.
Something I made countless excuses to avoid, out of my own personal fears and insecurities – recording an hour long podcast episode, on the spot, without much preparation.
It was incredibly eye-opening, and I learned a lot. Seeing as this was a type of content that I had never really created before, I wasn’t entirely sure how things would pan out.
Podcasting is going to continue to rise in the coming years, and as entrepreneurs I think it’s important that we take advantage of audio content. Because of that, I wanted to share the personal lessons I learned – both to help you get off the ground faster, and avoid some of the mistakes I made during this first recording.
1. If Possible, Try This With A Friend First
I was pushed forward with this because of a friend and student of mine, Mark Newsome from YouCanMarketOnlineNow.com.
This was Mark’s idea, and I owe him all the credit for actually pushing me to go through with it.
And to be quite honest with you, there’s a good chance I’d still be delaying if the opportunity wasn’t so perfect.
Podcasting with a guest, unlike writing or doing audio / video by yourself, can make you feel a lot of pressure. My biggest fear wasn’t the time investment needed to get this done, it was things like the following:
- Embarrassing myself in front of someone that I respect.
- Wasting Mark’s time, and potentially losing the ability to collaborate with him in the future.
- Setting a poor impression of myself.
It sounds pathetic, but I was practically shaking when it came time to start recording. Throughout the process, I had to stop several times and recollect my thoughts before continuing on.
Working with a friend makes this possible. If you’re nervous about starting audio like I was, try it out with somebody that you can trust. Mark allowed me all the time I needed to reorganize myself and push on. After the first 15 minutes of recording, I already felt so much better.
It also helped that he was a wonderful speaker. (P.S: If you’re running a podcast in the business space, I’m sure he’d love to be on it.)
2. It Really Doesn’t Take That Much Time
Another huge fear I had about running a podcast was the time commitment.
I am working 100-hour weeks right now. Any new time commitment usually means that I have to cut attention somewhere else. Running 3 companies, I understand that I’m spreading myself dangerously thin.
I was pleasantly surprised how quickly the entire process of producing this episode took.
Overall, the hour-long episode took about an hour and a half to record (due to pausing mid-way, along with preparation beforehand.
Editing took about another two hours, and this is something I will certainly pass off to an assistant once I’m doing this regularly.
Lastly, I’ve taken some segments I’ve particularly liked and repurposed them for social posts and YouTube videos. This took about another hour.
So all-in-all, about 4 and a half hours for 1 hours worth of content. 3 hours of that will eventually be outsourced.
Am I willing to give up an hour and a half per week to run a podcast, with all of the benefits that podcasting provides? You bet!
3. Podcasting Is Completely Different Than Writing
If this episode was any indication of what’s to come, than I can say with certainty that podcasting requires a completely different skill set than writing.
The fact that everything is on-the-spot makes things challenging. Not to mention, you need to deliver your message in a clear, understandable manner, and speak with confidence.
This is certainly a skill that can be developed over time with practice.
I can’t wait to listen back to this first episode a year or two from now, after I’ve had much more practice. I’m sure the difference will be night and day.
One thing that helped me was to think back to the first time I ever published written content online.
Chances are, your first piece of content wasn’t world-class. The same will likely be true with audio. While some people probably are naturally gifted speakers, this is a skill that must be built over time.
Embrace the idea that your first episode won’t be that great. As long as you keep practicing, things will surely get better in time.
For a fun little exercise, take some of your favorite podcasters and scroll back to their very first episode. It will be clear how far they’ve come!
4. Run An Audio Test Beforehand
I screwed up.
It wasn’t until I began the editing process that I realized my microphone was suffering from pretty bad electrical interference. You can understand everything I’m saying, but there is static in the background that was very difficult to remove without also damaging the parts where I actually spoke.
I thought that I was fine, because I was monitoring my audio as I was recording it. I couldn’t hear any electrical interference while I was talking.
When I played it back however, it was clear as day.
A simple 30 second recording before I got on the call with Mark would have prevented all of this. Now, the audio quality will suffer due to my mistake.
Even if you’ve used your microphone hundreds of times before, run a brief test before you actually begin your call. If it saves you even one time, it’s worth it.
5. Your Guest’s Audio Won’t Be Ideal – Invest In Tools
Mark’s audio wasn’t perfect either – and this isn’t his fault. As a host, you need to be prepared for whatever audio setup your guest is currently running.
A while back I invested in iZotope’s suite of audio processing software. While I’m not suggesting you need to go out and drop $1000 on audio processing tools right now, don’t be afraid to make the investment if the right deal comes up. These tools saved me literally hours of working on both of our audio, and boosted the quality as much as it reasonably could.
I asked Mark to record his audio separately, and it allowed me to do so much more to each of our individual recordings. Some of the tools I used included…
- Adobe Audition, for general editing. Also used their Amplify effect so our audio levels would match.
- iZotope RX7. The tools I used were Mouth de-click to remove mouth noises, Voice de-noise to remove background noise, Breath control to remove loud breaths, and their de-esser to remove the harsh ‘s’ sounds from the audio.
- iZotope Neutron 3 – EQ, compression, and sculptor.
Again, you do not need professional software to go very far with a recording. Just remember, your guest will not have the same overall audio setup that you’re used to – and this is something you have to account for.
6. You Can Truly Learn A Lot
One of the reasons I’m so excited to launch a podcast isn’t for the business benefits it will bring me, but the value that I’ll be able to provide to my audience – and the value I will gain personally as well.
When you bring in a guest, you have an incredible opportunity to tap into all of their experience and expertise that they’ve gained over the years. You get to ask important questions in real-time, and shape your episode to extract the most amount of value from a potential guest.
The episode that I recorded with Mark was so valuable for me personally because he specializes in areas that I do not have much experience with. The content was centered primarily around viral, word-of-mouth marketing strategies for brick and mortar retailers. This is a topic I had very little personal experience in. Because of the hour and a half I spent with Mark, I now consider myself to be much more knowledgeable in this area, and will be able to pass that knowledge forward to others because of it.
When starting a podcast, do not focus solely on sponsorships or product sales. Remember that there is an immense amount of value in building a network, and learning new information through your podcast.
7. There Is Little To Fear
I’m not normally a person to make excuses, but I gave myself plenty for delaying the production of this episode.
15 minutes in, and I began to realize that I really had nothing to worry about. Like most fears, my hesitation was completely irrational. Most of the things I had told myself simply weren’t true.
As entrepreneurs, we like to hold ourselves to standards, and we try not deviate away from them. However, it is doing what makes us uncomfortable that actually allows us to grow. If we continue to accept where we are now, we can never truly make it to wherever we want to be.
You’ve got to stop and ask yourself – what’s the worst that could happen if you tried starting a podcast? Maybe you embarrass yourself, or you waste a few hours of your time and have to scrap your episode entirely.
In the meantime, you will continue to get better. Mistakes will become fewer and fewer. One day, just like any other skill, you’ll look back and realize how far you’ve came.
Considering the benefits that podcasting can provide, I would say that’s certainly a risk worth taking.
If you want to practice, I’m sure both Mark and I would love to appear on your show. As mentioned in point number one, working with someone who’s willing to let you stop and do things over takes so much pressure off of actually getting started.
I believe in you!
Recording this first episode wasn’t easy, but few things worth doing are.
I’ve learned a lot in this one experience alone, and I have no doubt that I will have many other lessons to share as I continue to practice with this.
I’d love to hear what concerns and fears are holding you back from starting a podcast. I’d love to see more of my readers launch one this year, and I hope you’ll get in touch with me than that happens. I’d be delighted to become one of your first listeners.
And as always, if there’s anything that I can help with, you’ve only got to ask.
To your success,
– James McAllister