3 Lessons from the First 10 Episodes


1. Podcasting Really isn’t that Difficult or Expensive

So at this point, if you’re in the business world, the concept of starting a podcast has probably entered your orbit in some form or another. The benefits speak for themselves, content produced in an easily digestible format perfectly suited to the multitasking listener. One of the reasons why many prospective podcasters fail to launch, however, comes down to a perceived operational entry barrier that, having now gone through it, I’d like to take a moment to debunk.

To frame this for you, I often reference PodCamp Toronto as the place that first planted the seeds for my podcast, Toronto Story Archive; and while that’s true, it’s also the place that raised the first in a series of concerns that very nearly resulted in not starting the podcast at all: cost.

Podcasting sounds expensive, and this is a myth in part perpetuated by some of the more tenured podcasters themselves. If I took the information that I got from some of the PodCamp speakers on its face I would assume that to start a podcast I would at minimum need:

  • High quality mic
  • Mixer/soundboard
  • Complicated editing program
  • High quality hosting service
  • Studio access

The only part of that list that I found to be accurate was the hosting, and even then you can get by with free or very cheap hosting services assuming that you only plan to podcast infrequently.

The accessibility of technology, apps, and technology services means that a lot of the things that in the past, you’d need tons of equipment for you can now do on the fly. For example, I have a friend who hosts their podcast on improving your public speaking skills in the morning on Facebook Live.

For myself, I was lucky enough to have some of the equipment already purchased. But top-to-bottom my spend for Toronto Story Archive looks something like:

  • Apurture Lav Mic – ~$50.00
  • H1 Zoom Recorder – ~$130.00
  • Lexar Media 64GB microSD Card – ~$50.00

That’s for equipment, not nearly as expensive as one might imagine. When it comes to hosting, you have options. Personally, I recommend Libsyn. My current plan is $20.00/month, for which I get approximately 400MB of space, recycling monthly – more than enough for a weekly podcast running 40-50 minutes, with some room to spare for special episodes. I also pay for the professional version of UberConference, but that’s for the added benefit of a local call-in number for my radio style podcast.

You will need something to edit your podcast, but here iMovie or Windows Movie Maker are both serviceable (if likely poor) options. Otherwise there are free applications out there both for your laptop and your smartphone that can get the job done. Personally, I use Adobe Premiere – but that’s a preference rather than a necessity.  

My point here is that podcasting can be as expensive or inexpensive as the budget you’re willing to apply to it. Especially if you’re just getting into podcasting – as I consider myself to be – you may not want to invest a lot of capital into an idea that might or might not tank. But with the technology available today, a high spend isn’t necessary. It is even perfectly feasible to create and execute your podcast entirely from your smartphone.

2. Organization is Everything

This seems obvious, but organization becomes way more important when you’re trying to synchronize interviewee acquisition, post production, audio review, your marketing calendar, and podcast distribution. This is especially true when, like me, you’re doing most of this yourself.

What this means is that you need to have your organization on lock; and as someone who avoided agendas like the plague during my university days, this was something that I struggled with. My suggestion is to try a number of different tools until you find one that is the least onerous for you to incorporate into your daily life.

If you end up running an interview based podcast like I do, you’ll need a system that takes prospective interviewees and moves them along the path through outreach, scheduling, recording, post production, review, to be released, and released – at least, that’s how I chose to organize it. For this, I would suggest the free tool Trello. Trello allows you to set up work streams that align upcoming, current, and completed tasks in easily digestible and aesthetically appealing columns. You can even set up alerts to tell you when a task is coming up, if you so choose.

When it comes to podcasting, my Episode WIP (work in progress) board is my bible. For marketing and distribution, I use it in concert with my Google Calendar to let me know when items need to be uploaded and posted to social media.

3. Throw Away the Script

The concept of recording your voice can be intimidating, especially knowing that it will be distributed and subject to the judgment of your future listeners. The truth is, if they don’t like your voice they may not come back – and that scares people.

One of the ways to overcome this is to record and listen to your voice beforehand. The acoustics are different hearing a voice that is emanating from us versus another source, so your voice will sound strange to you the first few times you hear it. Grow comfortable with recorded you, and that should take a good portion of the nerves away.

After that, it comes down to styling your interactions with your guests and/or co-hosts to suit what your audience is looking for. While that will vary depending on your target market, there is one thing that is ubiquitous: nobody likes scripted interaction.

The problem with scripted interaction is that it’s very obvious. It’s like the uncanny valley in robotics. Scripted conversation, either learned by rote or read in the moment, just doesn’t sound natural. The cadence of natural conversation appeals to the audience, this is part of the attraction of the interactions we see on late night talk shows where the host has brought a guest onto their set. The best way to achieve the cadence of natural conversation is to simply ‘throw away the script’ and have a natural conversation.

This may be challenging for the first few episodes, but soon you’ll find yourself growing more comfortable with the process. Like everything else, public speaking comes with practice. The best part is, the more you practice this ‘impromptu’ style of interviewing, the more you’ll find that practice augmenting your public speaking across the board.

Mo Waja is a professional speaker, marketer, entrepreneur, the author of presentIMPACT: The Speaker's Guide, and the Host of Toronto Story Archive. To date, Mo has spent tens of thousands of hours coaching business professionals, entrepreneurs, non-profits, campaign advocates, post-secondary students, politicians, motivational speakers, and medical practitioners in the art of professional speaking and communication.