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Episode 18 - Starting Your Own Podcast

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Hello Scott Austin here.

One of my business goals for 2019 was to launch a podcast, which I have this I did as you're now listening to that podcast. So in this episode I'm going to walk you through how to create your own podcast. If that's a goal for you, I'll get into some details and make recommendations on hardware and software. Let's start by looking at some numbers about podcasts. You can see the opportunity that's available for you there. There are over 700,000 active podcast today, so there's no shortage of content and competition out there. There's podcasts on a wide, wide, wide variety of topics, and the quality bar for them is going up every day. Over half of Americans have listened to a podcast and one third of Americans listen regularly. So the reach of podcast isn't as broad as other mediums. Well, one third of the population is a significant number of people.

80% of listeners listen to an entire episode or most of the episode. So these are engaged users and not skimmers. So that gives you the time to tell a longer story to build a deeper relationship. Before I talk about the how of a podcast, I first want to talk about the why and my why is an air quotes there. And you should definitely have a why for your podcast. And one of the big reasons for this is that podcasts take a lot of work. Sure, podcasts are easier than some mediums like television, but podcasts are still a lot of work across a variety of different skills that you may have not mastered yet. It's not as easy as recording a clever conversation and posting it to the web. There's a lot more involved. So in talking about the why of your podcasts, let me give you the why of my podcast.

As an example, my Shopify agency, Jade Puma is a one person shop. It's just me. My reason for creating the Shopify solutions podcast was to be a marketing tool for my agency. There's now 1 million Shopify stores out there that you services from agencies like mine, but there are many, many agencies for store owners to choose from. So I wanted to create a podcast that potential clients become aware of my agency and learn more about me. So the goals of my podcast are to show my knowledge of eCommerce and Shopify to explain how I approach projects, to let the audience get to know me a bit and to give back to the community by sharing my learnings. Now your why will probably be different, but I highly recommend that you have a clear what you want from your podcast. Jeff, you keep focus as it grows and evolves.

Let's shift gears now and talk about the how of your podcast. The work you do on your podcast will fall into one of four buckets, content, quality, production, and marketing. Here's an overview of each of these buckets. Content is the first on the list. As content is King, your podcast will need great content to succeed. Most podcasts are centered around a topic like news, politics, sports, etc. And as my podcast is designed for Shopify store owners, let's talk about what types of content a Shopify store owner might have in their podcast. Obviously your podcast can't just be an ad for your products. It needs to be broader and provide more value. So let's say that you're a store that sells lacrosse gear. Then your podcast may be all about lacrosse, or if your store sells a unique bottle opener, then your podcast may review new craft beers that they come out that you open with your bottle opener.

Whatever your content focus, you want to make sure there's enough there to discuss to keep you going through dozens and hundreds of episodes. The next thing to think about with your podcast is the format of the podcast. Here's three popular formats. The first one is interview. This is where the podcast host interviews a guest. In each episode you invite a different guest on and interview them. The second is a panel discussion. This is when two or more regular podcasts hosts get on and talk to one another about a topic or a series of topics. This is common for news podcasts to get multiple points of view on the news, and the third format is solo. This is when the podcast host comes on and expounds. On a topic for the entire episode and of course a podcast can use more than one of these formats. Each of the formats has their own pros and cons.

For example, an interview podcast doesn't require a script as the guests will be doing most of the talking, but it does require the host to do extensive research beforehand to prep for an interesting interview and the solo format means there's no time spent finding and scheduling interviews, but it also means that the host has to create all of the content. I use the solo format and I've found it goes best for me when I type out a script beforehand, which adds to the time investment. Let's move on to the quality bucket. Quality here means the audio quality of the podcast. While your first podcast episode can be recorded on your phone microphone, you'll quickly want to improve your hardware and software. So let's talk about the microphone. I started out with a microphone plugged straight into my computer, a windows desktop and the microphone was mounted on a boom arm.

I'll provide links in the show notes to all the hardware I use and discuss in this episode, but that initial setup did not provide great sound quality. It sounded echoey or hollow to me. So then I added a pop filter, which is basically a screen that goes over the mic to reduce the harshness or popping of some sounds in my words. And I also added a shock mount. This protects the mic from any vibrations in the sound boom by supporting the mic on elastics. But my sound was still too hollow. The problem was my office, it's not ideal for recording sound. It has a lot of hard surfaces like windows and concrete floors that the sound bounced off of and I didn't want the foam tile mounted on the wall. Look in my office, so I made a mini sound booth instead. And this is a do it yourself project that cost around 20 bucks.

I'll include a link to the YouTube video that I used as the guide in the show notes. Basically the mini sound booth is a plastic tub like you'd get at home Depot for storage, and then it has a foam lining that I got from a mattress pad. I just put my microphone inside of it on a mini tripod and there was an immediate noticeable improvement in the sound quality, but I was still having problems with my sound cutting out because of USB issues between my microphone and my computer and I'm not an electrical engineer. I couldn't get that fixed, so I got an audio interface to work between the two of them. The audio interface is an external box that connects to the microphone through an XLR cable instead of a USB cable and then connects to my computer with a USB cable. The audio interface that I got allows for two inputs so it can support two microphones for a panel or interview format.

This box eliminated all of my connection issues. So let's talk about hardware price. Many people recommend the blue Yeti mic, which is a great mic, but it was over $100 so I did some research and found an audio Technica Mike for around $70 that was also well-reviewed, which is the one that I'm still currently using. The shock Mount was $30 the pop filter was $15 my boom arm was only $12 but I replaced that for a mini tripod that I already had. So let's just say that costs $12 too. The most expensive piece was the audio interface, which was $160 for the two inputs. A one input one costs $110 so the current setup that I'm using today totals out at $307 the minimum I'd recommend for starting setup is a good microphone, a Stan and the mini recording booth, and that would come to $102 so that's enough discussion on the quality bucket.

Let's move on to the production bucket. My average podcast episode is 20 minutes long and that takes me six to eight hours end to end to create. And I do 100% of the workforce, so I don't outsource or share any of the tasks with anybody else. Here's my end to end process. The first thing I need to do is come up with a topic. I also keep a list of potential topics so when it's time for a new podcast episode, I go to the list and pick the one that seems the most relevant or interesting to me right now. The next step is to research and create a script. Remember I said earlier because I'm doing a solo podcast, I prefer to have a script so that things flow more smoothly. I've ad-libbed them a couple of times, but only on topics that I know really, really well and I do the research and creating the script tasks in parallel.

I use one note for writing the script and I'm constantly editing the script based on the research that I'm doing and one-note allows me to easily have different content and move it around as the script comes together. Once I've got the script to the point that I like it, it's time to record so I pull out my mini sound booth and set my equipment up. Limiting background noise is important so I only record at night as daytime is noisier where I live and they have my for two hours out of my office and into my house is they can easily snore or bark at something they see. I also turn my phone off. Then it's recording time. I read my script into the microphone. I may reword things or ad-lib as I go. I also read you sentences on the fly if my tongue gets Tod while talking, which unfortunately happens often once I've got the full audio done, it's time for editing.

I use audacity, which is a free app for PC and Mac. Mac users can also use GarageBand but that's not available for PC. I spend a lot of time editing and part of the reason is that I think the quality bar for the solo format is higher. Then for the interview or panel discussion formats in solo slips of the tongue or phrases that don't quite make sense are less acceptable at least to me. So the first thing I do in audacity is remove the background noise of the room using the noise reduction filter. Then I listened through the entire recording and eliminate big pauses, which are a part of my thinking process and he restated phrases or sentences that I had to say twice or three or four times. I'll also remove them and I also take out my breathing, which can be loud, especially after long sentences.

Then I add my intro and outro to the audio and export the whole thing as a wave file. I have background music tracks in my intro and outro and you can get royalty free music at YouTube, audio library, ABO, link for that in the show notes also and then add that local file to my iTunes where I can then edit the meta information like artists in name and put in the name of the podcast, the episode name. My name is the podcast host and that type of information. I also create show notes which includes a short summary of the episode and links to all the things that I mentioned. Then the podcast wave file gets uploaded to my podcast host and I add the show notes for that episode. I didn't schedule a podcast from my normal release time, which for me is [inaudible] Wednesday morning at 1:00 AM and then that's it.

I'm done for that episode's production. One thing to note here as we are talking about the production needed for each episode is the frequency of episodes. As I mentioned earlier, each episode six be 68 hours to make and I'm a one person agency so I chose to publish episodes every two weeks instead of the normal. Once a week just because every week would be too much work for me so you can control how much work your podcast takes by limiting the frequency of your episodes and let's move on to the fourth bucket for your podcast, and that is marketing. As with anything making it is not enough, you must market your podcast. I won't go over the traditional marketing channels that you probably already know like advertising and social. Let's talk about the channels that are unique to podcast. The first one is your hosting provider.

Hosting solutions are awesome. You pick a host, create an account and upload your files to them. Then they publish it out to a multitude of podcast apps like iTunes, [inaudible], Google, iHeartRadio, and more. You'll need to create accounts for those other apps, but your hosting provider should walk you through that. I use Buzzsprout as my hosting provider as I saw them recommended quite a bit on the research that I was doing when trying to figure out how to create my first podcast. I've had no issues with them and they allow me to host my podcast on its own domain.

And I must say it's pretty cool how broadly your podcast will be available. I can now walk up to the digital assistant at a friend's house and have my podcast playing with one simple command. And each of my episodes gets played across the world with listeners from every continent. When getting your podcast first started, I recommend you launch with at least three episodes so your potential listeners, no that you're serious or at least more serious and podcasts with only one or two episodes. In another unique marketing channel is your podcast guests. If you're using the interview format, most interview guests will promote their episodes to their communities for their own reasons, which is then promoting your podcast to their communities. And this makes it a big advantage for the interview format because all of your production effort will be applied to your guest marketing efforts and your reach will be extended farther out. So that's a quick summary on how to pull together your very own podcast. It's a lot of hard work. I recommend that you only try if you are clear on why you're doing it and are committed to regularly creating content. If you do create a podcast, you'll find that it's a great way to develop a meaningful relationship with your audience and create a community.

Thanks for listening.

JadePuma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.