Starting a podcast is easy. Making a successful podcast is hard.
Listen to Podcast Gym for bite sized, big impact ideas to better create, promote, and monetize a podcast.
Use a Teleprompter to Make Eye Contact in Zoom
Although the pandemic induced WFH (work from home) has had its share of WTF, there have been silver linings. I’ve enjoyed hiking with my family at nearby trails that I didn’t even know were there previously. The kids and I bike around the neighborhood regularly. We get to eat lunch together.
As podcasters, we’re constantly striving for incremental improvements so, it’s not surprising that over the last few months, my home office has evolved in a big way. If you do a lot of virtual Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings like me, I want to share my new toy — a teleprompter used as a monitor so I can look people in the eye on video calls.
A hat tip and thank you to my friend Junaid who is a Jedi Master of home studios and guided me. Visit his website https://www.homestudiomastery.com/ (www.homestudiomastery.com) to see what excellence looks like and if you want an expert to do it for you.
Using a teleprompter at home
One thing I never realized I wanted was a teleprompter. In the photo above, you’ll see that my right monitor is duplicated in the teleprompter above it. There is a 10.1″ monitor that displays the same image as my monitor, reverses the image, so that it reflects in the beamsplitter glass, also referred to as a semi-transparent mirror. Behind that mirror sits a Canon DSLR camera.
Voila! I can look at the participants of a virtual meeting AND look directly at the camera. If needed, I can even reference simple notes in the teleprompter. It is magic.
When the monitor is turned off, you can see the camera.
The teleprompter serves as a small monitor.
List of Gear:
https://amzn.to/3kXwKsY (Glide Gear TMP100 Teleprompter)
https://amzn.to/3rmzjqB (LILLIPUT 10.1″ FA1016/C monitor)
https://amzn.to/2OnA04y (HDMI Splitter)
If you think the work-at-home will stay in play long after the pandemic recedes, this is a purchase that will be used regularly for the foreseeable future. If you’re on the fence about buying more gear, see if this tweet speaks to you as loudly as it did to me.
That’s the story of how I pimped my ride, er… home studio. With a little decorating and some paint, here’s my before and after.
Indeed, today’s $1,000 suit is a home studio upgrade paired with a jacket and tie. Of course, pants are optional.
Never Hesitate to Imitate
Episode 12: Want a shortcut to creating a great podcast? Never hesitate to imitate another podcaster. Imitation is part of the creative process for anyone learning an art or craft. Whether it's painting, music, or podcasting, all find inspiration in looking up to others.
In his book, https://amzn.to/393Ta63 (Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative), Austin Kleon writes:
What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.Whether you're a newbie or seasoned showrunner, never forget that you are an artist. Find the best podcasters in your category. Listen to them. Especially make it a point to listen to shows outside of your category. Do they do interviews or have different show segments? How do they use music or sound effects? What are they doing differently from you? Get their shows and voices into your head because you can copy programming and personality.
Don’t worry that imitating them will cause you to lose your own voice and identity. Soon enough you will become who you are supposed to be.
By listening to other podcasters, you'll plug yourself into a depth of experience that enriches you. Inspiration through imitation can help you raise the level of your podcast. Tap into greatness and you may soon find that your show is improving and sparking increased engagement.
Don't just be a podcaster.
Listen. Imitate. Make it yours.
Be an artist.
Who are podcasters who have inspired you?
You Know You're a Podcaster When...
You own more podcast t-shirts than dress shirts
Bad audio upsets you
You’ve forgotten to hit record, more than once
You’ve asked more than one person to subscribe, rate, and review
You’ve debated whether there’s a discoverability problem
You know what a double-ender is
You know Podchaser is the IMDb for podcasts
You can report your downloads stats, as of three minutes ago
You consider podcast conferences as reunions
You’ve recorded under a blanket, in a closet, or both at the same time
If you have one to add, please leave a comment.
Every Podcast Needs an Audience
Episode 10: Why do you podcast? Is your podcast intended to educate, inspire, or entertain? We all have different motivations. Maybe your goal is to grow your personal brand and build authority? Perhaps you want to monetize your show by building an audience and selling ads to sponsors. Or you might podcast for the simple joy of creating something with friends. Art needs no justification.
I’ve listened to many podcasts, and I do believe that podcasting is an art. The phrase “art for art’s sake” (from the French l’art pour l’art) condenses the notion that art has its own value and should be judged separately from themes such as morality, religion, history, or politics.
Why do you create art? Is it a noble pursuit or an exercise in vanity? As podcasters, we have a tendency to look too closely at downloads to validate our hard work. This is not a criticism. What artist, writer, or musician wants to be irrelevant or ignored? Who wants to create in a vacuum? Not me. Every podcaster who I know wants to make an impact. But don’t let the numbers discourage you and stop you from doing what you’re doing.
What’s not clear is how many listeners do we need? Consider these words from Glenn “The Geek” Hebert who has been podcasting since 2008. He founded https://www.horseradionetwork.com/ (Horse Radio Network), one of the largest independent podcast networks in the world, with over 8,000 episodes and 11,000 guests interviewed.
Glenn is currently recovering from surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed. Here’s an excerpt from a post that he wrote at the https://www.facebook.com/groups/podfest/ (Podfest Multimedia Expo Facebook group).
I have always preached that you shouldn’t get hung up on numbers, downloads, views. The truth is you don’t know who is listening and how you might be affecting them. Even if it is one person, you might be saving their life or making that terrible day they are having a little better. I knew we had built a community at HRN, but the love and support I received through this from listeners has been incredible and extremely humbling. The listeners got together and sent a large Amazon Gift Card so I could shop while healing. I have hundreds of emails from listeners going through the most God awful stuff that say listening to us has helped them get through to live another day.
Bottom line: Whether you have 10 downloads or 10,000 downloads. Be the best podcaster and messenger you can be for that one listener. The one listener who really needs you that day. You just might save their life.While it’s common to question if your downloads are tracking well or not, having only a handful of listeners is enough to make a difference. You’re fine just where you are. And until you reach your goal of however many listeners you desire to have, remember this:
Art for art’s sake means for the pursuit of beauty – without any other preoccupation.
Keep hitting publish. And keep making art that matters.
Are you overly focused on the number of downloads your podcast gets? What do you think?
Choosing the Best Podcast Host
Episode 9: If you’re ready start a podcast, you’re probably asking, “Where should I host my podcast?” The good news is that you’ve got choices. The bad news is that you’ve got choices!
Don’t get overwhelmed though. A dedicated podcast host is a specialized service that offers to store and deliver media files associated with a podcast. While you could host your media files (MP3 or AAC / M4A) yourself, either on your own server or wherever you host your website, this is not recommended for most. If your podcast begins to grow, your podcast downloads could affect your bandwidth and quickly get expensive. Also, your web host specializes in delivering web pages, not media files. And if there are ever issues with your website, listeners might not be able to download your episodes.
Your dedicated podcast host should serve your media files quickly and take the load off of your website. You should also get industry-standard statistics, distribution across podcast directories/platforms, and support. You might also consider factors like an embedded player, monetization features, sponsorship opportunities, automations, and education.
When choosing your podcast host, you want one that will grow with you and meets your needs in terms of price, reliability, and support. You want to find a long-term partner because if you need to change hosts in the future, you probably won’t be able to seamlessly port your downloads and analytics. It’s not the end of the world, but choosing the right host today will save you from headaches tomorrow.
Here are three hosts that I use:
https://podcastgym.com/link/libsyn/ (LIBSYN)Established in 2004, Libsyn (Liberated Syndication) launched as the first podcast service provider offering storage, bandwidth, and RSS creation tools. Libsyn hosts over 67,000 podcasts worldwide, delivers over 111 million unique downloads every month, and accounts for 28.2% of Apple Podcasts downloads for the top 400 US Podcasts.
I’ve hosted http://inspiredmoney.fm/ (Inspired Money) at Libsyn since launching it in September 2017. The hosting has been reliable, and Libsyn helped distribute my podcast early to Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Amazon Music/Audible, and other services. It’s great to be supported by long-time podcasters like Rob Walch, Elsie Escobar, Dave Jackson, Rob Greenlee, and others.
Pros: Strong brand reputation, host of many of the top downloaded podcasts, frequently first to market for integrations with platforms and directories, advertising and monetization (for shows with 5,000+ monthly downloads), custom app for iOS and Android (extra $10/month + other fees), https://thefeed.libsyn.com/ (The Feed The Official Libsyn Podcast).
Cons: Dated web interface, cost, one RSS per account.
Classic 50 Starts at $5/month for 50 MB monthly storage
Classic 250 at $15/month for 250 MB monthly storage
Advanced 400 at $20/month for 400 MB monthly storage and Advanced IAB v2.0 Stats
Advanced 800 at $40/month for 800 MB monthly storage and Advanced IAB v2.0 Stats
Libsyn: https://libsyn.com/ (Sign up) and be sure to use promo code “andy” to get one month free. If you sign up on the second day of the initial month of your trial, you’ll get the rest of that current month and the following month free.
https://podcastgym.com/link/captivate/ (CAPTIVATE)Self-proclaimed as “The World’s Only Growth-Oriented Podcast Host™”, Captivate was created in 2019 for independent podcasters. Captivate is the podcast hosting company of UK-based Rebel Based Media that offers a suite of podcast tools including Poductivity, Podcast Success Academy, and Podcast Websites.
The https://podcastgym.captivate.fm/ (Podcast Gym podcast) is happily hosted here. Founded in 2019, Captivate is a newcomer but it feels like a veteran. https://www.markasquith.com/ (Mark Asquith), CEO of Rebel Base Media, has been helping podcaste
Best Podcast Microphones
Episode 8: A great microphone is an important tool of the trade so choose yours wisely. Type “Best podcast microphone” into Google, YouTube, or Pinterest, and you’re likely to find the Blue Yeti atop many lists. Before impulsively adding it to your shopping cart though, you should learn about different types of microphones and how they differ. Do your homework, because you should pick the microphone that is the best for your voice and your room.
CONDENSER VS DYNAMIC
As a podcaster, you don’t have to be a professional sound engineer, but you should know the differences between a condenser mic and a dynamic mic.
When you see a singer in a recording studio, odds are good that she’s singing into a condenser microphone. Your first clue: you’ll notice that it’s a side-address microphone. In the photo in the blog, the podcaster is correctly speaking or singing into the side of the mic — not into the top. If you take a closer look inside the head basket, you can see a diaphragm or membrane inside. Because condenser mics tend to be sensitive, they’re better suited in a sound-treated studio that doesn’t have a lot of room noise or echo.
Characteristics of studio condenser mics:
Greater frequency response
Sensitive to louder sounds
Requires phantom power, a.k.a. 48V
Cleaner and truer to reality
Best in a sound controlled environment
When you see musicians on stage, you’re likely to find dynamic microphones being used. These mics are better when there are several musicians, for example, when you’ve got vocals and instruments (guitar, bass guitar, drums.) As pictured above, the singer is correctly singing into the top of the microphone. With a dynamic microphone, sound waves hit a thin metallic diaphragm that is attached to a coil of wire. A magnetic field is part of the energy conversion. In podcasting and radio, dynamic microphones can be ideal because of durability and price. When your mouth is close to the microphone, dynamic mics sound good for spoken word while picking up less room sound.
Characteristics of dynamic mics:
Do not require power
Good in noisy environments
Lack depth and color
Now that you know the differences between condenser and dynamic microphones, evaluate your space to see which type might serve you best. I encourage you to try both, if you can, to see which type sounds best for your voice and recording environment. In lieu of sound treating a room, many podcasters improve their audio quality by recording in a closet full of clothes or underneath a blanket with both types of microphones but especially to tame sensitive condenser microphones.
XLR VS USB
As you shop for a microphone, take note of the connections. Generally, XLR connections require an external interface to connect the microphone to your computer. External interfaces often have better preamps and analog to digital converters.
USB microphones can plug directly into your computer resulting in a more straight forward setup with less expense (because you don’t need to buy an interface.) Microphones like the Audio-Technica ATR-2100 and Samson Q2U have both XLR and USB connections. Interestingly, I’m told that these conbo microphones actually sound better when plugged in via USB over XLR. It’s worth noting that quite a few very popular podcasts use budget mics like the ATR-2100 or Q2U, and they sound great.
MICS THE EXPERTS USE
Because audio is so subjective, selecting the best podcast microphone can be challenging. Rather than going by the advice of random Bloggers and YouTubers, I scanned 196 episodes of the https://podcastengineeringschool.com/category/show/ (Podcast Engineering Show) and ranked the top 29 microphones by mentions by guests. In full disclosure, I had the pleasure of being a guest on https://podcastengineeringschool.com/andy-wang-host-and-producer-of-inspir
Love the podcast workout tips
Excited to learn in this quick, short, format. In 3 mins I have learned take away ACTION tips to make my podcast better.
Short and sweet
This short form podcast shares tips to help podcasters create, promote, and monetize their shows. Good stuff. 💯💪🏼🎧🏋🏻