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How to Simplify Your Podcasting Process and Workflow Using Organization

04/22/21 | Dana LaRieal Morales

Over the past year, I have received so many questions regarding my podcasting process to include how I was able to create such a seamless workflow.  I understand how learning how to do something new can be scary and frustrating, so I want to help ease your mind and demystify the podcasting process. 

Now, if you are listening to this episode using the player above, I want you to know that it was recorded towards the end of my first year in podcasting, so my process has changed a little since then, but the content still rings true today.  That being said, I want you to remember that your podcasting journey will continue to evolve over time.  You are never 100% done, mainly because technology changes and your needs change along the way as well.

I hope you enjoy this episode and receive a ton of value from it.  Make sure to read the lessons learned section below for more details regarding the changes in my process and the tech used throughout.

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My Podcasting Journey and Why I Wanted to Share

My podcasting journey started towards the end of 2019.  I had been really struggling with the idea of continuing to blog due to the time it required.  I had come to the realization that I knew the content and what I was trying to say, but many times I couldn't find the right words to use.  This misalignment was causing my blog writing process to take way too long.  After months of researching information online, listening to podcast gurus and so much more I decided to jump into the podcasting world to see if I liked it.  My goal was to dip my big toe in to test the waters if you will.

Well, the beginning of my podcasting journey was extremely rocky because I didn't really know what I was doing and was totally not consistent at all.  I purposely didn't advertise or market the podcast because I was so scared, which in hindsight was somewhat of a blessing for me as I didn't feel the pressure to produce in this rocky atmosphere.

This is one of the reasons I wanted to share my journey as well as my lessons learned with you because I don't want you to be discouraged or mislead by misinformation or confusing information out there on the internet.  The truth is many of the gurus like Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas are awesome and they provided a lot of key information that I needed to start, but there was one important piece that I feel was missing in not only their content but the content of many others   Their perspective and systems were developed from the mindset of a full-time podcaster.  Now they may not have started their journey that way, but at the time they were sharing the information, they were full-time podcasters so the information in it's delivery took on a little bit of that mindset.

So, I will say this.  Listen/read this information and process it, then listen/read information specifically from them as well as Amy Porterfield on the topic of podcasting.  I think that will then put it all into perspective so you understand how the information may need to shift or vary for you as a side-hustler and/or a solopreneur. 

The Rebirth of My Podcast

So, when the pandemic of 2020 hit, I was what I'd like to call a part-time podcaster.  I was not consistent at all and truth be told my delivery was a little janky.  My insecurity and confusion was ringing true and through my podcast episodes, well the ones that actually were aired.  I was also during this time going through a little bit of an epiphany in my business and realizing that I was attracting the wrong type of people.  

During this time, I was working from home like most of the rest of the world and I found that my networking community had all gone online to zoom calls.  This was a true blessing because I realized I could take advantage of all this extra non-commuting time by scheduling interviews with other side-hustlers and entrepreneurs who were also at home with a little extra time.  The other thing is that they were really motivated to find new ways to get information out about their business and what they do.  This was seriously a huge win/win.

So, I took advantage of the opportunity and decided I was going to try and book guests for lessons learned conversations every third week.  Now, let me break this down a little bit for you because by nature I am extremely analytical when it comes to developing new processes.  So looking at the fact that it was March, I counted the number of weeks through to the end of the year.  

Lessons Learned Moment:  I realized that I needed to determine the start and end date of my podcast.  Towards the end of the year, I was really burnt out and needed a break.  So, at the onset, you should really consider how long your season will run.

So, after counting out the time and picking the third week all the way through, that helped me determine how many guests I wanted to try and get recorded.  Now, because I didn't really think it through I realized in hindsight that I should have anticipated an end to my podcast season.  By the time I got to October, I was so burnt out and realized I could have crushed (reduced) the podcasting schedule and not felt overwhelmed by creating episodes and developing for Organized Academy at the same time.

Lessons Learned Moment:  Remember your podcast isn't the only thing you need to work on in your business.  The assumption is that you are using this as a catalyst to your side-hustle or business, so you need to have time to actually work on and in your business as well.

So for season 2 of Organized Holistically, I have set a clear season much like playbills do when running a new season of plays.  The season runs from March 4th through September 23rd of 2021.  This gives me most of the first quarter to gear up for the launch and the fourth quarter to get a break and also plan for the upcoming season.

The Evolution of my Podcasting Format

Alright, so now that you know about my mental state and how Organized Holistically was born, now lets talk about how my scheduling process evolved.

So as you know, in the beginning, my podcast was a solo podcast meaning it was just me on the episodes sharing knowledge.  As a side-hustler, I found that I was struggling to gather and produce the content that I wanted to share.  First, it was because I was trying to script out what I was going to say which eventually turned into a blog post for the episode.  Well, the main reason I went into podcasting was to eliminate the struggles with blogging, but my actions were not doing that.  Remember, we have to stay in alignment with our overall goals, so this was a clear issue.  

So that coupled with my initial fears and me not truly releasing the blogging mentality I had created a recipe for disaster.  Now, I really believe that God places things in your path at just the right time and the "thing" that came into my path is that during one of my networking meetings one of the participants mentioned they had started this new video series that was more like conversations.  He was a videographer and by basically having a conversation with the person he is able to really capture a natural sales video for them.  I immediately was intrigued and went out to his website to check out his videos.  I absolutely loved them because they were so natural and the people seemed so comfortable.  The information relayed was so clear and concise too.  This really made me think about the struggles I was having in my business, with the blog and with the podcast and a lightbulb went off.

When I speak to people the conversation just flows because I'm comfortable, I love meeting new people and the information I have within me just flows out naturally.  If I approached it in the same way that this gentleman did could I have the same results?  So, this is when the idea of Lessons Learned Conversations was born.  I really just took that concept and applied it to my podcast.  It was the best thing I could ever have done!

Building My Podcast Guest Process

Now, I'm cooking with grease right...uh no.  Now I need to build the process around getting guests.  The truth is I work a full-time job so how can I get guests identified and scheduled in a seamless fashion where my absence is not the roadblock.  Enter the need for some industry research.  I looked at podcasters and bloggers who have guests to see what they were doing and how they did it.  The reason I looked at both podcasters and bloggers is because the concept is the same.  You have something that you want someone to contribute to, what are common things that are asked for, what are some questions you would have as a guest and how do they get that information for consideration.

This is how my guest speaker registration was born.  I wanted a one-stop-shop that told people about the podcast and how I work with guests, that gathered information about the potential guests and handled the clearance that is needed to use their recorded information.  This helped me gather interested people for the sessions without them needing to email me directly.

I then had to think about what the next steps were, which was to inform the person regarding whether they were accepted or not and then if they were accepted what they needed to do next.  Again, the goal was to eliminate me as the roadblock.  I was able to create a workflow that addressed each of these and provided my guests with more detailed information regarding the process of recording their session, a booking link and gathering some additional information that would be used for finalizing the episode.

Lessons Learned Moment:  I used to have the ability for people to book a quick 15-minute session with me if they had questions about the podcast.  Mainly because I had the inquiry so I built it into my process.  I later removed this option and just addressed why I don't do it on my registration page.  Ultimately, I don't do them based on my philosophy of not talking about the episode before we were on the air so it stays conversational.  So the lesson here is to remember that the podcast is yours and you can create whatever rules you want for it.  Ultimately remember your goals and stay in alignment with them.  I realized that a person who doesn't like the fact that I don't allow meet and greet sessions beforehand probably isn't a good candidate as a guest for me. 

The other thing about developing your overall process is that you want to anticipate the questions and needs of your guests beforehand.  Think about the things you need as well as the things your guests need and make sure they are in alignment with your goals.  Once you determine they are, build those needs into your process in a seamless way.  That is what makes a process great. 

The Technical Side of My Podcasting Process - Then and Now

The Importance of an External Microphone

Listen, if you only take one thing from this information, please take the importance of your sound to your podcast.  Remember, people are listening to your voice and the voice of your guests, so make their experience great.  The way you can do that is by having awesome sound.  Now, this doesn't have to come at a high price tag, but if there is any place where you want to spend the money it's on the sound.

When I first started recording videos (pre-podcast days), I was using my apple earphones.  You know the ones you used to get free with your apple device.  That served me for a long time and is a good option for those who want to get started and make sure they are serious before investing money.  I think any earphones with a built-in mic will work. 

Another option is to get a lavalier or corded microphone.  You know the ones that clip to your clothing.  This again was purchased originally for my use with video but worked for podcasting as well.  The one thing you have to be mindful of is that you don't allow your clothing or earrings to come into contact with the microphone.  It will create this irritating sound during your recording and in some cases will muffle the sound in such a way that you can't hear the person talking.

A final option for your microphone is the ATR2100 or something along those lines.  Microphones in this category usually run between $50 - $100. Again, the ATR2100 was purchased way before I started podcasting, but it has been an awesome investment.  I am not sure what the price is now of this mic, but I know there are other comparable microphones to this one.  I'm saying all this to say that you need an external microphone that allows you to talk without interference.  The cost doesn't really matter, especially to get started.  Just make sure the sound is coming out clear.

Currently, I actually alternate between the ATR2100 microphone and my lavalier mic for my podcasts and videos now.  It usually just depends on where I am and what I am trying to do. 

Identifying Your Recording Environment

This is another important thing to consider, because as a side-hustler often times there are other people around you most of the time.  Finding a quiet spot to record is really key to ensuring the sound is coming through without random background noise.  You hear about people recording in their closet or in their car and it's because it is the most soundproof area they have to record in.  

The first thing you need to do is to identify the best time for you to record based on your schedule and the activities of the space where you are recording.  For example, I know I have to record either while I'm at lunch, on the weekends or in the evenings based on my schedule.  I wouldn't dare book a session between 6 pm and 8:30 pm on the days my daughter is here because the noise levels in my house are unpredictable.

Many people suggest getting the noise cancelling foam panels and putting them on the walls or getting a rug and laying them around.  Here is what I say to that, everyone's environment is different, so you need to determine your needs.  Don't go getting this stuff unless it is necessary.  I record in my home office, which is on one end of the house, is carpeted and has a door.  I don't need those things to get great sound on my episodes.  For others if you have hardwood floors you may need it to eliminate the echo in the room.  I wouldn't dare record an episode in my living room which has high ceilings and hardwood floors.  Ultimately, the solution is not a one size fits all.  Determine your needs and act accordingly.

Gathering Your Recording Tools

Now the information you read/hear on the internet is going to be all over the place.  I will tell you that you can record using anything as long as it is stable.  You can even use your phone if that is all you have.  The point is to record the high-quality sound and get it out to the world. 

When I first started recording audio by myself, I used audacity (it provided a way for me to record and edit in the same platform) or OBS, which is Open Broadcasting System Studio.  When I first started recording episodes with guests I used Freeconferencecall.com.  Although all of the above tools are free to use, I'd lean towards either audacity (audio only) or towards what I now use which is Zoom (audio and video) because of the ease of use and overall audio and video quality.  Note: OBS has great quality, but the learning curve is a lot for some people.

Lessons Learned Moment:  I recommend you use a system that records both video with audio (MP4) and audio by itself.  This allows you to easily repurpose the content.

Now my current process is to use the free account of Zoom.  I am also testing out Zoho Meetings and Zoho Showtime to see if the quality is the same, but I've heard the recording isn't quite there yet. I also record my intros and outros using Anchors native recorder, as I do those after the main recorded session.  Basically, if the recording is less than 5 minutes and is for the podcast that is what I use.

Simplifying Your Editing Process

As mentioned earlier, the one key thing I learned regarding the editing process is to use a method that allows your words to flow and be more fluid.  I found that scripting my episodes caused me to make more mistakes and deliver the material in a choppy fashion.  I realized that my interviews were much more fluid and natural, so I began just outlining my topics and speaking naturally about them.  Ultimately, I knew the content so there was no need to script it.  This not only helped in the delivery of the content, but it also helped to cut down on the editing required for each episode.  Now, I pretty much only have to edit the beginning and end to cut out extra space on the recording.

Lessons Learned Moment:  While recording a solo episode, if you make a mistake either take a long break and restate it correctly or make a loud noise so when you are in the editing process you can easily find that spot on the recording and can easily edit it out.

Currently, because of the simplification of my editing process, I am able to use anchors native editor, but I also use audacity from time to time if the edits needed are in the middle of the episode or are much more complicated.  I don't try to remove all the umms and humms because with a natural conversation to remove those would cause the audio to sound strange.  

For those of you who have a hybrid podcast, meaning you have it both in audio and video, you can also use YouTube's native editor or have an external editing program.  There are many free ones on the market, but most have a bit of a learning curve to them as well.  The one I am using currently is Shotcut, but I'm still learning how to master it.  If you are a mac user you have many other free options available to you.

Determining Where Your Podcast Should Live

This is another one of those areas where the details out on the internet will have you spending money unnecessarily.  I heard all kinds of horror stories about anchor but decided I'd give them a try since I wasn't sure I was going to like podcasting.  I haven't had any problems with the platform.  Spotify has since bought the platform, but things have just gotten better in my opinion.  I haven't had any major issues, but again I'm not trying to do major editing on the platform either.

Anchor also distributes your podcasts to other major podcasting platforms, even apple.  Now for some, they want to see their analytics from the native apps.  You can apply for access to yours through apple and anchor has information on how to do that on their website.  The main thing I want you to understand is the distribution of your podcast to other platforms is a huge and important piece in helping your podcast get found.  You want people to be able to find it in the podcast player of their choice, so I cut out the work of self-distribution by using Anchor.

Now truth be told, I didn't investigate too many other podcasting platforms in detail.  I mainly looked at the storage and the prices around them.  So, definitely research this for yourself.  Determine the needs you have and compare them to what each platform offers in comparison.

Defining the Other Parts of Your Process

As you can see there are a lot of moving pieces that go along with creating your own podcast.  The items previously mentioned aren't the only parts of a podcast you need to consider and plan for. When are you going to do all of these things?  How should you use your buckets of time to ensure you are using your time in the most efficient way? 

What I want you to remember is that your process doesn't end once the episode is recorded, so you need a routine to finish the episodes out and get them scheduled and publicized.  Are you going to create an accompanying blog post or just have the show notes on the podcast player?  What do you want the podcast to do for your business?  You need to determine what the end gain is and ensure you have those parts of your process clearly defined so you can lead people to it in a seamless way.

Ultimately, everyone's process is going to be unique to them, so I definitely recommend that you set up a strategy session with me if you need help creating a workflow and process that will work with your lifestyle and schedule.  Don't assume you need a VA's help, it could be you just need a better workflow.  Don't assume it is too complicated, it may be that you just need to simplify and streamline what you are trying to do.