If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, I’m going to tell you right now that it’s no easy task. Think Master’s Degree but not nearly as enjoyable. That’s not to say you shouldn’t start one because it can (and better be) fun but it takes a LOT more time than you think it will.
What not to expect: This is not a step-by-step guide on how to create a podcast. I have no interest in working that hard….
So here we go. A weekly journal of all the fun and ugliness that only creating the Podcast Gumbo podcast can bring. I want you to know the good and the bad. This show, especially when starting, will have plenty of warts. Hopefully reading about them will help you.
I take no responsibility for any psychiatric help you may require for this peek into my cerebral cortex.
Note: I will update this article on a weekly basis, usually on Tuesdays. So bookmark this page if you think this is even remotely helpful as you consider creating your own podcast.
Table of Contents
- Podweek 1 (1/7/20) – And So It Begins
- Podweek 2 (1/14/20) – ‘Launch to Learn’
- Podweek 3 (1/21/20) – K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sh*thead
- Podweek 4 (1/28/20) – “Your show is great. I love it.”
- Podweek 5 (2/4/20) – Dressed For (Un)Success
- Podweek 6 (2/11/20) – It’s YOUR Podcast
- Podweek 7 (2/18/20) – My Gear
- Podweek 8 (2/25/20) – News and Not-worthy
- Podweek 9 (3/3/20) – Tempura or Templates
- Podweek 10 (3/10/20) – The Rant
- Podweek 11 (3/17/20) – Parade-less
- Podweek 12 (3/24/20) – What Did I Say?
- Podweek 13 (3/31/20) – Showin’ You The Money
- Podweek 14 (4/7/20) – Hissy Fits and Chapter Markers
- Podweek 15 (4/14/20) – Note Aggravation
- Podweek 16 (4/21/20) – Chapter Marker Madness
- Podweek 17 (4/28/20) – The Break
- Podweek 18 (5/5/20) – Read It Later
- Podweek 19 (5/12/20) – Google Is Finally My Friend
- Podweek 20 (5/19/20) – Friends With Benefits
- Podweek 21 (5/26/20) – Show Swapping
Podweek 1 (1/7/20)
And So It Begins
Way back in mid-2018, I was lucky enough to have met Julie Shapiro, Executive Producer of Radiotopia at the Podcast Garage. I had a bunch of podcast ideas spinning around my addled brain and she simply told me that I needed to choose an idea that I loved. Honestly, I expected something more valuable and thought-provoking from someone so important in the podcast community. It took a long time for it to seep through the deaf stonewall known as my skull that it was the best piece of advice I have ever gotten. At least podcasting-wise. Nothing really can top this life-changing tip.
Those two things are too essential to bundle with other information so that’s all you’re getting this week.
This Week’s Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Fruitcake Toss Day
Podweek 2 (1/14/20)
‘Launch to Learn’
It’s only week two and I’m giving you an inspirational quote. I promise to minimize them throughout the year.
I read that quote somewhere recently and it hit home. You see, I spent a year and a half learning all about podcasts. I’ve even given feedback to podcasters starting their podcasts. (You can ask them whether I had anything valuable to say.) My over-confidence was stunning.
As I prepared to drop the trailer, complete panic set in as I went through the process.
- Do I need a trailer?
- Do I want/need a tracking feed like Chartable or Podtrac?
- Who do I tell beside my dog?
- Do I need to own my RSS feed?
- How long will it take for my show to show up in Apple, Google, Spotify, and other platforms?
- What’s the best color to use for my show art?
- Who is going to cook for me while I spend endless amounts of time scratching my head figuring out answers?
The worst part was that those are just 7 questions that I hadn’t thought much about or didn’t even know to worry about. So many others came up. Technical. Marketing. Website. Social Media. It felt like I was picking a 2005 health insurance plan but way worse.
As a solo creator, you realize that you can’t possibly know everything at launch but more importantly, the only true way to learn is to launch. Your podcast won’t be perfect but then again, it never will be – you will always be wanting to make it better. At least I hope you do. So launch it and just plug away.
Lastly, DM if you want to know what legal substances I take for helping my imposter syndrome. It’s bad.
Improvements – a) Added audio cues this week (starting with National Popcorn Day). Even though the podcast is short, I felt the need to give listeners little cues that a new segment was starting. b) Thanks to RadioPublic advice, I’ve added a How to Listen page on this website.
Helpful Resource of the Week – Want to start a podcast? Read this first.
This Week’s Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Rubber Ducky Day
Podweek 3 (1/21/20)
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sh*thead)
As I’ve mentioned previously, my show was languishing in my head for over a year. And then it all came together quickly and in a semi-unexpected way.
I was at the 2019 Third Coast Conference and not knowing what particular session I wanted to go to, I took a flyer on a mentoring session. Not the first thing I thought I would be attending at an audio festival.
As it turned out, I sat next to Brad Turner, a senior producer for the On Something podcast. Brad and I had met a couple of times previously but on this occasion, the facilitators made us tell the person next to us some goals we had and that person would mentor us. As I explained my convoluted idea to Brad, he said to keep it simple. (He kindly left off the sh*thead part.)
So I went back to the drawing board. How could I keep my podcast simple? I honestly don’t remember all the bad ideas I flushed away. One half-baked idea that I half-executed as a test was to have non-podcasting friends suggest National Days for me to research. And then I thought I would allow random people call a voicemail number and leave me audio. These ideas are not as simple as you would expect.
Then it hit me. Have my podcasting friends challenge me and send me audio. They had the ability to send me good audio and they would instantly get over a million new listeners to their show within 1Q20 because my show would be that popular. They help me. I help them. Win-win.
Improvements – I never thought I would add music to my short show but after playing around with audio cues, I realized there is a need. So while you won’t hear this improvement for a couple of weeks, it’s something I’m working on.
Helpful Resource of the Week – Podcasting 101 from PRX and Google
This Week’s Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Popcorn Day
Podweek 4 (1/28/20)
“Your show is great. I love it.”
You would think that’s kinda nice to hear, right? Don’t we all want people making us feel all warm and fuzzy? Not always.
As my friend Lori was excitedly creating the trailer for her Mementos podcast, she was asking various people for feedback. Of course, I jumped at the chance to tell her that it was subpar and make her cry. Somehow, it makes me feel superior when I can do that.
But she shoved that right back in my face and thanked me. You see, she had asked some co-workers and they all told her how great it was. But that wasn’t what she needed. Her trailer (at that point), needed to get better. Two weeks later, she came out with her fantastic trailer. I’m not saying that it was all because of me but coincidence? I think not.
There’s probably going to be a running theme in all of these diary entries. If you haven’t figured it out, it’s that you need people to succeed. (And no, not just those faceless downloaders.) I have been lucky to have met and ultimately lean on so many great people for help that I respect. This is not to say that you don’t ask your friends who are going to be nice and supportive. Just make sure you know what you need and ask for feedback from people that are best suited to give it to you to make your podcast better.
Improvements – I’ve got my intro music nailed down. Now working on updating the audio cues and the outro. I’m going to release them all at the same time so you won’t hear them yet.
Helpful Resource of the Week – How to do loudness: the LUFS and LKFS FAQ for podcasters
This Week’s Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Opposite Day
Podweek 5 (2/4/20)
Dressed For (Un)Success
For many podcasters, we have a limited budget. Some have no budget. So a nice sound studio is umm, not an option. Luckily, many of us have a decent free option – a clothes closet. The reason is that if you’re in a room filled with cute, cuddly soft clothes and a decent door, you can a) minimize the amount of ambient noise your mic will pick up and b) your voice won’t be bouncing all over the place.
For the first five episodes of Podcast Gumbo, I’ve recorded in the closet you see pictured above. I’m pretty happy with the results. I haven’t had to do any fixing in post-production because I’ve been able to control the sound exceptionally well. It also sounds reasonably warm using an inexpensive mic. (Important note – right outside the closet, I have two sketchily-sealed windows that face a busy highway. Trucks and cars are not my friends. )
But as you can see, it’s no walk-in closet. I’m jammed in there. I can barely close the door. And that, I’m beginning to realize, is a problem.
In my quest to improve my delivery, mainly to make me sound more natural, I’m hindered by being crammed into a tiny closet. As a podcaster, you are always trying to improve your delivery. For me, it’s unnatural and I’m a long way from feeling comfortable behind a mic. I don’t flail my arms around like a crazy person while I talk, but I also don’t usually sit in a closet talking to myself either. (At least on most days.)
So there’s the problem. I’ve got to figure out how to get good sounding audio that also sounds natural. On the cheap.
I’ve talked to multiple people about this. I’ve heard lots of interesting tips and tricks. Stand up. Practice numerous times before hitting the record button. Put a picture of someone in front of me so it seems like I am talking to them.
As I continue to put out my weekly episodes, this will always be at the forefront of issues. I hope this gets better sooner than later.
All that said, another huge issue I’m committed to this month is my marketing. Sure, 13 downloads per episode are nice but that’s not going to cut it much longer.
So much to learn and do.
Improvements – a) There’s been a lot of talk about podcast privacy issues lately. In my show notes, I’ve added information about my use of Chartable and a link to their privacy statement. b) There’s a good chance I will have my music done by the February 11th episode. YES!
Helpful Resource of the Week – Most shows ask for ratings and reviews to help increase exposure. This is an informative and entertaining Darknet Diaries episode that explains whether it helps or not.
This Week’s Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Create a Vacuum Day
Podweek 6 (2/11/20)
It’s YOUR Podcast
I never thought I would be writing about this topic. Call me ignorant.
Because national days are pretty much set in stone, if I’m not lazy, I can get way ahead of my episodes. I don’t have to wait to plan out a year’s worth of episodes. In a future post, I’m going to share my planning schedule with you. (I can sense the excitement already!)
One of the key issues I thought about when creating my show was how I could make it sustainable. How could I keep friction to a minimum? Keeping it short was critical. Not having to rely on a co-host’s schedule was also important.
Since you’ve listened to an episode of my show (don’t dare say you haven’t!), you’ll know that I include a 15ish-second piece of audio from my friend asking me about a national day. They also recommend one of their favorite podcast episodes. It’s not a big ask. At least not in my mind.
This week, my guest never sent me their audio. Given that I am always in the mindset of being consistent, I was left scrambling to find another guest. Trust me when I say that due to other unforeseen circumstances, I seriously thought of bailing on this week’s episode. Nobody would really care. Except me.
So I scrambled. Thanks to my friend Jenna Spinelle, one of the hosts of the Democracy Works podcast, I was bailed out of a tough spot.
So what is this entry about? When I think about it, it’s about two things.
- Your podcast is YOUR podcast. You can’t expect any guest to put as much importance on it as you do, no matter how small their role is. Your schedule is not their schedule. A friend of mine interviews people and the gripe is that scheduling guests is the worst part of creating the show.
- Have a backup plan. I know what Mr. Kim says but your sanity needs one. I didn’t have one and it was miserable even though it worked out well in the end.
For transparency’s sake, I now have all my guests confirmed through 3/25 AND I have most of their audio as well. If you’re a guest and reading this post, SEND ME YOUR AUDIO OR NO MORE CUTE EMOJI’S FROM ME.
As sucky as it was to have to scramble, this was a great lesson learned.
On a side note, I went down a LUFS rabbit hole this past week. Stay tuned. I also had a dream last night that people were giving me feedback on my show and it was hurtful. I have never been so happy to wake up at 4am.
Improvements – Listen to that music! It’s 98% done but in the spirit of progress over perfection, I wanted to release it now. I’ll make minor tweaks in the future. Make #JimMakesAwesomeMusic go viral.
Helpful Resource of the Week – I’ve been a part of the Bello Collective community for about a year and I love it. This is their Podcasting 101 resource.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Make a Friend Day
Podweek 7 (2/18/20)
I purposely held back on this information as it is so secondary to everything else I’ve talked about. It’s about gear. Specifically, my gear.
It’s honestly cringeworthy to join some Facebook groups or subreddits and have to sift through all the SAME questions. What mic should I use? What’s the best hosting plan? What editing software should I edit with? I had to stop visiting most of those resources because it was so painful.
I refuse to add yet another answer that is going to confuse you. All I can tell you is what I use. The whole point of this is for you to know what I use and if you listen to my podcast, knowing what the results are.
Microphone: Samson Q2U. When I started to consider making a podcast, I knew I needed a mic. (Say, duh!) I had borrowed a friend’s Blue Yeti. I tried Apple Earbuds. After doing some research, I bought this Samson because it was low-cost and had gotten decent reviews. It was comparable to the Audio-Technica ATR2100 that so many people like. I got mine on sale for $40 which is about half the price of the ATR2100. It has a foam filter and a mini-stand in the kit. Weirdly, I’m trying not to drool over the soon to be released Samson Q9U.
Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M30x. First of all, get yourself a real set of headphones. They don’t have to be super-expensive. These are about $70 but someone gave them to me. This is a story I will share at a later time.
Audio Production Facility: My closet. Is it perfect? No. Is it sufficient? You tell me. I wrote about it in Podweek 5.
Podcast Hosting: Captivate. Is it the best? I have no idea. It’s relatively new so there’s a risk. The price is decent but certainly far from the cheapest. I could take the safe way out and go with one of the big names. The reason why I chose Captivate? Mark Asquith. End of story. It would take a lengthy post to help you understand why it was important for me to support Mark and his company. Maybe one day I will write that post.
Editing Software: Hindenburg. I trialed so many pieces of software. When I was dabbling a year ago, I even tried using Final Cut Pro 7, which I used as a video editor many years ago. I have looked at Audacity, Reaper, GarageBand. I didn’t trial Adobe Audition because I didn’t want that ongoing monthly cost. Pro Tools and Logic were scratched due to cost. I continued to come back to Hindenburg because, for me, it has a very simple interface that belies its power.
Post Production Plugins iZotope RX 7 Standard. I have it but I haven’t learned it so I have yet to use it on my files yet. But that may be coming soon. (See Issues below.)
Other Post Production: Auphonic. Due to some things that have just cropped up, I may stop using Auphonic. If your audio is lengthy and the levels are all over the place, I would recommend trialing this software.
ID Tagging: – ID Tag Editor. I am anal and want my files to be tagged appropriately. It’s very debatable on whether it matters but it only takes 5 minutes for me to do it so I do it. If it took longer, I would probably not bother. There’s a chance I can do this in Hindenburg so this may be going away as well.
Issues – Someone I trust said that he could hear a hiss through my audio. I don’t hear it so I have to do some digging. I also felt like last week’s episode had a lot of mouth clicks. I just loaded iZotope RX 7 on my laptop and need to do some research.
Improvements – a) It was very smartly suggested that I have an easy way to read this ever-lengthening article so I put in a table of contents. Not everything is about the technical aspect of the podcast. b) I’ve set up a template in Hindenburg to save a little time creating my podcast. Every little bit helps.
Helpful Resource of the Week – Tweet: If you were given $1000 to spend on your podcast, what would you get? That second answer by Martha Lawton is the only answer. It’s costly to attend events but the benefit of meeting people in the industry is invaluable. The seminars are secondary.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Make a Friend Day
Podweek 8 (2/25/20)
News and Not-worthy
I try not to worry about podcast stats because, as a new show, it’s super counter-productive. But it’s hard not to peek at them since I have to go into my hosting dashboard to post a new episode every week.
As it turns out, I hit a milestone this week. February 20th, to be exact.
The funny thing? I don’t know what to think about that number. Is it good? Is it bad? How many of those downloads were from me and foreign bots? For a point of reference, I launched my trailer on December 14th, and my first real episode came out on January 3rd. By February 20th, I had dropped seven real episodes.
I also found it interesting that my show has the most listens on the Castbox app and that I have an audience in Iran.
This morning, while procrastinating on doing PAID work, I logged into my Apple Dashboard for the first time since I created it. I was surprised at how little information it gave me. However, I did find it oddly amusing to see the Average Consumption numbers. Not quite sure what those mean and how National Fruitcake Toss Day can be at 130%.
Lastly, I jumped over to my Chartable dashboard. Just in case I was starting to feel cocky about my 1,003 downloads, I was greeted by this:
At least it had a smiley face.
Issues – I now hear the hiss on my audio. It’s not terrible and I don’t think most people would hear it. But now that I know that it exists, I’m trying to fix it.
Improvements – a) I’ve tweaked my show notes some more. b) More importantly, I’ve reached out to people to find ways to collaborate which I think is one way to help market my show. I can chip away at making my show sound better but it doesn’t do any good if nobody is listening to it. c) I have reached out to friends and I now have my guests booked through early-June!
Helpful Resource of the Week – Not three. Not four. Count ‘em. Five quick tips to improve your podcast audio.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National California Day
Podweek 9 (3/3/30)
Tempura vs Templates
Given that I am 100% Japanese, that makes my parents 100% Japanese. As such, I was lucky enough to have gochiso growing up and still have it whenever my mom cooks. Tempura is undoubtedly a favorite.
Know what else I love? Templates. I loathe inefficiency so I’m always looking for ways to minimize time on repetitive tasks. Creating and using templates is a huge step in that direction.
In my podcasting process, there are several templates I have set up and I’m always looking for more. We all know that podcasting takes a lot of time, even for a 5-minute podcast. And there’s a lot of sh*t work that we all hate doing.
Honestly, if I had to choose between tempura and templates, I might have to pull out a sword instead.
So here are a few ways I help myself by using templates.
- Emails to guests. I write two emails when I engage a guest. I copy/paste 95% of the email content.
- Email asking them if they want to be a guest
- If they agree, I send a follow-up email with very detailed instructions. I know it seems like my ask is simple given what is heard on my show but it’s not. It’s been a learning process to see where guests get tripped up and how I can be more explicit.
- Task management. I currently have 30 very specific tasks to complete an episode. It starts by asking and getting sign-off from a guest and ends with tweeting about the episode. I use Omnifocus as my task management software so I created a template I copy for each episode and make minor edits based on the person and the national day they chose.
- Writing. I use Ulysses to write. I created a document structure that includes the following pre-formatted ‘sheets.’ Note – I will be working on a way to make this better by automating some of the common text (i.e., I type the name of the national day in multiple places so it’s silly to have to type it out more than once.)
- Recording script
- Episode notes (All the information that I need to populate into my hosting provider)
- Episode website content text (title, meta description, transcription)
- Other resources (mainly comments from guests and links)
- Mac Finder folder structure. I have an individual folder on my Apple laptop for each episode. The subfolders are:
- Audio files from guests
- Captivate Upload (the final file that gets uploaded to my host)
- The Hindenburg files are created from a template (see next bullet)
- Hindenburg template. Hindenburg is my editing software and I know that there are three common files I need for every episode. I have created a template that includes the following:
- Intro with music
- Out with music
- Audio cues
- Common metadata like show name, my name, copyright, and artwork are included in the project file.
- I also have created a publish setting so it’s a one-click export.
Issues – As mentioned in Podweek 8, I try not to look at stats but I couldn’t help see that this week was a bit of a downer.
Improvements – a) New audio cues. b) Used iZotope to minimize mouth clicks and all those esses. c) Made a big change to my episode notes. This will be discussed next week.
Helpful Resource of the Week – RadioPublic’s new twelve-part video series on creating and implementing an adaptable digital strategy for audience growth and development.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National I Want You To Be Happy Day
Podweek 10 (3/10/20)
I lied. Last week, I said I would talk about Show/Episode Notes. I even have it written but I couldn’t help but throw in this rant first.
As I’ve alluded to, I’ve been figuring out ways to market my podcast. There are a lot of things one can do but one thing that confounds me that some podcasters do is chase listeners.
I see this tweet scenario all the time.
I can’t prove it but I suspect many of these accounts are bots or some person that wants to be an influencer and they think having tons of podcasters replying to their tweet gets them cred.
What baffles me is that podcasters fall all over themselves asking for their show to be listened to. What is the best-case scenario? One new person listening to your show?
Worst case scenario? You’ve just wasted your time. But if you’re doing it once, you’re probably doing it multiple times.
I don’t know why it bothers me so much. I should find it comical but in truth, I find it sad. That feeling was accentuated when this happened recently.
This Week in Podcasts, a newsletter that recommends sh*t tons of podcasts every week, asked for recommendations to mention in its newsletter. This is a well-respected industry newsletter that I’m sure has a substantial subscriber base. If you get listed there, your upside is much higher than any account that has hot bikini pics.
Where were all those podcasters then? The difference in numbers doesn’t make sense.
Do yourself a favor and save your limited time. (If you’re a podcaster, you have LIMITED time.) Market smarter. Contact people that CAN help you but do it the right way. See my helpful resources below.
Improvements – Due to an upcoming week of limited time, I pushed hard and finalized my next three episodes and have them queued up. I’ve never been that far ahead.
Helpful Resource of the Week – For relevancy’s sake, I’ll give you two resources. A) Perfecting your Podcast’s PR Pitch and b) A Guide to Unleashing Your Podcast’s Press Release
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Be Heard Day
Podweek 11 (3/17/20)
Important Note: Please note that I know that I am in a fortunate position to write this entry. I know for a lot of people, this pandemic is causing immense hardship. I am dealing with significant concerns due to having extremely elderly parents that I can’t visit as frequently as I usually do.
Plot Twist: I wrote this on Saturday, March 15th. At the bottom, I have an update written three days later.
So like everyone else in this world, our social and entertainment lives have been turned a bit upside down. Last week, my plans were to go to the Thursday session of the Big East basketball tournament, a tradition that my friends and I have had for many years. For us, we call it ‘the best day of the year (TM).’
I was devastated when I made the call to cancel my trip and ultimately, the BE canceled the tournament at halftime of the first game that day. (Why they waited that long is absurd but I already ranted last week so I’ll stop myself right now.)
As that day went on, many U.S. sporting events got canceled for the foreseeable future. For a sports junkie like me, I couldn’t help thinking about how many hours of sports watching just went away. Quadrupled with a hectic period of work that just ended, finishing my taxes, and many podcast events getting postponed or canceled, I was left staring at the wall. My social life just got obliterated by five letters, a hyphen, and two numbers.
I did not change my plans last Thursday. I kept it as a vacation day and virtually partied with my friends and watched a re-run of the Villanova-UNC championship game from 2016. I logged off Twitter for the day which was extremely beneficial to my well-being. Maybe this will get me to minimize my time on that time-sucking service.
The following day, I vowed to begin strategizing the future and how I could make the best use of this unexpected abundance of time. That got somewhat pleasantly derailed by having three hour-long phone calls that were not planned. Two were podcast-related and one was with a close friend that I needed to catch up with.
So that leaves me here, as I write this post on Saturday morning. On this National Day of Pi, I will continue brainstorming and strategizing where my podcast and newsletter go from here. How will I improve them? Where is all this going? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-roll pop?
Today, I will bust out Mindnode and mind map all these things that have been scattered around my computer and my brain. In due time, you’ll all know how it panned out because you’ll be back reading this journal every week until the end. Or not.
I’ll leave you with a few links that I found valuable over the last couple of days.
- At the Third Coast festival last November, I was at Jen Chien’s fantastic session and she talked about her process as an editor. One of the tools she mentioned was Miro, a collaborative online whiteboarding solution. Last night, in one of my least enjoyable Friday nights ever, my friend forced me to test it with him. He needed to find such a tool to work remotely with his clients. In our limited time with it, we found it pretty compelling. (A couple of days later, we trialed Mural which was not nearly as intuitive.)
- An Instagram post from Sean McCabe about some ways to make use of free time.
- A tweet from Adela Mizrachi of Podcast Brunch Club about connecting with friends.
- An Instagram post from Narragansett Beer about a way to help out smaller businesses that are going through an extremely tough time.
Tuesday, March 17th Update
This pandemic situation has definitely taken its toll. I thought it would be easy to take a day or two off and then start cranking away. Mainly, I’ve struggled to focus. Luckily, I had gotten ahead of my podcast episodes but I’m behind on this week’s newsletter. I’ve completed about 10% of what I had planned.
I realize now that I need to balance out my initial thought of how to maximize all this extra time versus needing time to relax and breathe.
I also realize that I have struggled to start which made me think of an article I wrote a couple of years ago about a 5-minute hack. Old-self is giving present-self some advice. Maybe I should heed it.
If any of you can relate, I hope these thoughts are helpful.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Everything You Think Is Wrong Day
Podweek 12 (3/24/20)
What Did I Say?
So back to a little normalcy. In truth, things weren’t normal at all. I struggled a lot to get back on track. Luckily, I had a few episodes already in the can so I had the luxury of being a basket-case for the last week. There’s something to be said about being ahead of schedule. Go figure.
This week, I’m going to ease you back into making a podcast. I have always wanted to have transcriptions on my site for accessibility reasons. One nice thing about having a short show is that transcriptions are reasonably quick. In truth, I do them manually since I script out my show. Any changes I make while recording are easy to edit in. It’s not worth the time to use a service to do this.
However, I have edited a longer show with multiple speakers recorded over Google Hangouts. The quality is much different than my show. We struggled to get a decent transcription using Temi. This is more related to the file we were putting in than the Temi service.
Since then, I’ve looked into other options. I’m not saying these are the best but if you have a short show, they are options to consider since you do get free minutes.
The two I’ll compare with my latest episode are Otter.ai and Descript. Instead of telling you how they fared, I’m going to let you see it. Here is a PDF that includes a transcription from both services. I have highlighted where it was not exact.
Obviously, these services will work differently on your recordings. Still, at least it gives you some understanding of how well it worked for me.
Issues – Getting back on track through this crappy period known as COVID-19.
Helpful Resource of the Week – See transcription links above.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Awkward Moments Day
Podweek 13 (3/31/20)
Showin’ You The Money
This marks the end of the first quarter of the year. Crazy.
In Podweek 7, I talked about my equipment. As I stated, I wanted you to know what I use since you can hear the results. I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as best. There are also as many podcasting setups as there are National Days. And without question, there is a point of diminishing returns and I believe it’s a lot lower than one would expect.
Personally, if I had more money, I would find a sound-proof studio to record in. (I would also eat better.) I don’t believe my equipment is an issue.
You can find a lot of so-called experts touting specific gear. More power to you if you have the financial wherewithal to buy what you want.
You can go cheaper than what I have. Not everything I have is critical.
Microphone: Samson Q2U Kit. $40. This was a sale price but and I’ve seen it at that price from time to time.
Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M30x. $70.
Editing Software: Hindenburg Journalist Pro. $79. I bought a one year license on World Radio Day when they discount their software substantially.
Post Production Repair: iZotope RX7 Standard. $279. I got a good deal on this software but I haven’t used it much yet. But I plan to!
ID Tagging: ID3 Editor. $15. I use it to insert ID tags onto my podcast files although I think just this week, I’ve figured out how I can do the same within Hindenburg.
Podcast Hosting: Captivate. $9.99/month. I signed up at an introductory rate. The cost now is $19.99. Please note this is a tiered cost based on downloads. It will be an excellent problem to have if I have to pay for a higher tier.
Email: Google. $6/month. This gets me one podcastgumbo.com email address.
Website Hosting: Dreamhost. $75/year. To be clear, I started the Podcast Gumbo newsletter in April of 2018. That was hosted over at my personal domain. In October 2019, I created a new domain but I didn’t incur any extra costs to host another domain on that account.
Website Domain Name: Dreamhost. $60/year. I purchased the PodcastGumbo.com, .net, .org, and .co domains. For branding purposes, I bought it for my newsletter but I knew that a podcast was probably soon to follow.
Branding: Logo creation. $300. I used 99Designs to have a logo created for my newsletter. I then paid $50 for podcast artwork based on that logo.
Business cards: $52. I got 250 business cards. I’m a firm believer that you should have a business card. I’m always stunned when I meet people at an event and they don’t have anything for me to remember them by.
Stickers: $30. The easiest and most common swag to give away is a sticker. I got 250 of them.
- For my podcasts, I don’t interview guests so I don’t have any of those associated costs.
- My podcast is short so I can transcribe manually but there are some ways to transcribe freely. See Podweek 12.
- I have not included any costs to events and conferences but if you have the financial ability to attend one or more, I highly recommend them.
- I have also not included the cost of a computer. I know people that create their podcasts using just an iPad.
Improvements – I’m working on cleaning up some hiss. I also may have figured out how to create chapter markers. I’ll find out this week.
Helpful Resource of the Week – Lynda.com. This doesn’t have to be specific to podcasting although there are various relevant classes. You may be able to get free access through your local library.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Manatee Appreciation Day
Podweek 14 (4/7/20)
Hissy Fits and Chapter Markers
Some technical advancement this week!
One thing that has been nagging at me for a while is a hiss in my episodes. I have a hard time with it unless I’m intently listening. And let’s be honest, who in their right mind is intently listening to my show? Well, one person is my friend Kevin O’Connell, the Studio & Operations Manager at the PRX Podcast Garage.
Due to COVID-19, the Podcast Garage has been having some virtual studio hours and I was fortunate enough to have him take a listen and figure out how to fix my hiss. Thanks to Kevin, we were able to fix it using the Spectral De-noise filter in iZotope RX7. If that sounds techy, it is. Now I can throw that term around and appear a lot more impressive going forward.
Secondly, I wanted to figure out how to include chapter markers. For my podcast, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have them for the listener since my episodes are typically less than five minutes. But this is one of those things that I wanted to learn how to do for the future and for other podcasters.
If you know my show, you know there are multiple segments:
- First recommendation
- Second recommendation
- Third recommendation
- Extra Hot Sauce
I toyed around in my DAW, Hindenburg, to figure out how to create and export chapter markers. If your podcast app can show chapter markers, you’ll see the chapter markers in this week’s episode, National Walk Around Things Day.
If it makes sense for your show, I think you should consider inserting chapter markers to help out your listeners. Let them quickly jump to any section of your episode. Shows that cover a lot of different topics would be well wise to heed my advice. One of my favorite use-cases is the Mac Power Users podcast.
Issues – Now that I’ve fixed the hiss issue, I want to redo my intro and outro because they sound different than the rest of my main content. There’s a good chance that my mic was positioned very differently than where I place it now.
Improvements – Chapter markers and NO HISS!
Helpful Resource of the Week – Hindenburg Facebook group
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Walk Around Things Day
Podweek 15 (4/14/20)
Please apps, be better!
About a month ago, there was a lot of web chatter about podcast show descriptions and episode notes. I fiddled with my episode notes since those articles came out and felt good about the change. At least until I took a longer look at them in different apps. On one hand, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be but on the other, I saw one crappy rendition in a major player.
These are all screenshots using the apps on Apple iOS.
Here is the input field I use in Captivate, which is my podcast host. Note that I can use HTML formatting.
Google Podcasts (new) – My podcast doesn’t even show up as an option in the new Google Podcast apps. This is a problem!
Apple – No bolding. No separation between paragraphs.
Spotify – The worst rendering of all the apps. Text is not linked – the URLs are shown separately. No bolding. No line breaks.
Overcast – Renders the notes exactly as I would expect them to be.
Castro – Renders the notes exactly as I would expect them to be.
Castbox – Renders the notes exactly as I would expect them to be.
Downcast – Renders the notes exactly as I would expect them to be.
Stitcher – No bolding but links and line spacing are good.
RadioPublic – No bolding but links and line spacing are good.
Pocket Casts – No bolding but links and line spacing are good.
Issues – I was so proud of my chapter markers last week. But I noticed a hiccup in the Apple Podcasts app. I think one has to have a marker at the beginning of the episode or else the first marker links back to the beginning of the episode.
Improvements – Thanks to a suggestion by Alex Birch from the Podcast Garage, I updated my RSS feed to include guest names in the episode titles. Sooo much better! (This is why I hang out with people smarter than me.)
Helpful Resource of the Week – This is one article about episode notes that I reference above from Pacific Content.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Zoo Lovers Day
Podweek 16 (4/21/20)
Chapter Marker Madness
I was all proud of myself a few weeks back when I figured out how to include chapter markers in my episodes. The first episode I had them in was National Walk Around Things Day.
The following episode, I discovered a problem though. I hadn’t accounted for the fact that multiple apps treat chapter markers differently, along with a lot of things like episode notes (see Podweek 15).
My app of choice is Overcast which is iOS only. I love the intuitive interface and a few of the features it provides. However, because it does things that other apps don’t, my judgement gets a little clouded.
The Problem with Chapter Markers
Regarding chapter markers, here is the problem I ran into. I’ll show two examples to explain. Here are two episodes and the chapter markers I added manually.
National Walk Around Things Day
- 1st Rec
- 2nd Rec
- 3rd Rec
National Zoo Lovers Day
- 1st Rec
- 2nd Rec
- 3rd Rec
First, the inconsistency.
- Overcast adds a chapter marker at the beginning of the episode by default called Introduction.
- Apple Podcasts does not add an introduction marker.
- At the bottom of this journal entry, I’ll lay out which apps make use of chapter markers.
Second, the bigger problem.
- If you click on the first manually added chapter, Apple Podcasts takes you to the beginning of the piece, not to where the chapter starts. So in the Walk Around Things Day example, if you click on the Guest chapter, you get sent to the beginning of the podcast. That makes no sense.
Below are the chapter markers I added manually to my latest episode.
National Hanging Out Day
- 1st Rec
- 2nd Rec
- 3rd Rec
- Extra Hot Sauce
Manually adding the Introduction chapter marker at the very beginning of the episode allows it to work properly on Apple Podcasts (and doesn’t mess up Overcast).
Here are how some of the more popular apps treat chapter markers. These are all on iOS unless noted otherwise:
Spotify – I don’t see any chapter marker functionality.
Google Podcasts – I don’t see any chapter marker functionality.
Castro – I don’t see any chapter marker functionality.
Castbox – I don’t see any chapter marker functionality.
Downcast – Has chapter marker functionality. However, if you use the skip back button to go to a previous chapter and there isn’t one set at the beginning, it jumps you to the previous EPISODE you were listening to.
Stitcher – I don’t see any chapter marker functionality.
RadioPublic – I don’t see any chapter marker functionality.
Pocket Casts – Has chapter marker functionality but no way to jump easily to the beginning of an episode.
This was not the intended purpose of writing this journal entry but it gets clearer all the time that Overcast is so much better than most other apps.
Note: I don’t go back and edit/fix previous episodes so you can see all this for yourself in your app of choice.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Hanging Out Day with Eugene Leventhal
Podweek 17 (4/28/20)
This week, you get a break. Why? Because I took one myself.
Because I procrastinated with my episodes AND I pumped out a bonus episode, I did nothing with my podcast except to get those out the door.
Maybe that’s the lesson for this week. If you’re on a schedule and you have time, do a bonus episode. Or not.
Issues – I’m still having issues with Google which sucks.
Improvements – I cleaned up some episode show notes. It’s like whack-a-mole.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – International Parent Alienation Awareness Day with Helen Zaltzman and National Pretzel Day with Nathan Jones
Podweek 18 (5/5/20)
Read It Later
If you are a podcaster, hopefully, you are reading industry sources. Sure, you can bury your head in the sand and just make your show. If people like it, more power to you.
But if you are serious about creating something worthwhile, even if it’s just a hobby, you should be following industry people that can lead you to sources of excellent information.
For me, I like to keep up to date by getting various newsletters. The only issue is that I can fall way behind and then I don’t want to catch up because it’s too overwhelming. My podcast inbox needs to be purged but I also don’t want to digitally circle-file everything because I know there’s quality stuff in there.
This week, I started skimmed individual industry emails and noted one compelling article from each one (if one exists) and put it into a list that I can then look at.
Sure, that pushes out stuff further but at least I’ve made a first pass at it to cull it down.
The newsletters I have found consistently valuable are as follows (no particular order):
Please note that these are industry newsletters, not podcast recommendation newsletters. We all know there is only one podcast recommendation newsletter that you need to subscribe to…
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Shrimp Scampi Day with Merk Nguyen
Podweek 19 (5/12/20)
Google Is Finally My Friend
Here’s something that has been making me sad. I’ve mentioned this before but I finally have good news.
The Google Podcasts app came out for iOS recently. Whenever I did a search for ‘Podcast Gumbo’, I would get random results. Most of the time, it would NOT return my podcast which is silly because that’s the exact name of my podcast.
Other times, the main thing it would show is my Listen Notes Podcast Gumbo Newsletter playlist which I’ve had up for two years to make it easy for listeners to easily download all the good recommendations from my newsletter. This is confusing to searchers.
After doing some sleuthing, I wrote to Listen Notes letting them know my problem. Oddly, this playlist only appeared in Google – not in any other platform like Apple that I’m aware of.
Wenbin, the founder of Listen Notes got right back to me and did some digging himself. He had to add a line of code that made Google not index the playlists from his site. He had done that for Apple which is why Apple never indexed it. A few days later, all was working properly.
At the same time that was happening, Google launched its Google Podcasts Manager where you can easily submit your new podcast and see listening data. Through my hosting provider statistics, I knew that not many people were using the Google Podcast app to listen to my show. With this new Podcasts Manager site, that fact has been confirmed!
Nonetheless, it’s one headache out of the way.
Helpful Resource of the Week – Google Podcasts Manager
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Sleepover Day with Kate Evans
Podweek 20 (5/19/20)
Friends With Benefits
During this pandemic, I am extremely cautious about protecting myself and others. Unfortunately, as someone that lives alone, this can really suck. So, like a lot of people, I am constantly on video calls to feel some sense of community.
I met the Squadcast people at Podcast Movement 2019 and shortly thereafter, I got a short demo of their product. However, since Scott uses Squadcast for his interviews, I asked him if we could have our call using the service and he kindly agreed.
From a guest perspective, it couldn’t have been any easier. He didn’t have to walk me through anything. I just sat back and yapped in his ear. After it was over, Scott sent me the audio files so I could hear what we sounded like and it was solid. I also recorded half of it in my kitchen and the other half in my closet so I could hear how I sound in both environments.
If/when I need to do a remote interview, I would strongly consider Squadcast. Zencastr is another well-known option. I played with Zencastr two years ago and I’m sure their product has improved so I can’t say which one I would ultimately pick.
Note: During the pandemic, Zencastr has kindly loosened their restrictions on their free plan so if you have an immediate need for remote recording, it’s worth looking into.
Helpful Resource of the Week – After I wrote the above, my friend wrote this great guide to Zencastr.
Podweek 21 (5/26/20)
Last week, I mentioned having a call with Scott Johnson, my friend and host of What Was That Like. I said last week I wouldn’t bore you with details about our conversation but I wanted to share this with you (with Scott’s permission).
One strategy to gain more listeners to your show is to do a cross-promotion with another similar show. Any good marketing person (podcast-related or not) will tell you that you need to find where your potential audience is. You don’t just blast out your thing into the world with the hope that tons of people will find it.
Jack Rhysider, host of the popular Darknet Diaries podcast (and one of my favorite shows) has talked about his experiment with cross-promotion with large success.
Scott told me he recently did an episode swap with the This Is Actually Happening podcast and it was a great success. The specifics he allowed me to share are that April was a record month for downloads and he hit April’s number in the first eight days of May.
If I were to do the same, I would look for a show that does podcast recommendations or maybe a show that revolves around National Days or maybe a show with a host that similarly acts like a child.
Podcast Gumbo Episode – National Harvey Milk Day with Cherie Louise Turner