In a world that is filled with ambitious online entrepreneurs, it’s time to jump ahead and learn how to produce your own podcast.
Audio is a great way to create content, and something I had never done before. There was a mystery around it — almost taboo in my own mind — that intrigued me and made me want to do it.
So I taught myself the very basics of podcasting, and today I’ll share with you some of the things I’ve done wrong, and how I managed to get them right.
In this 14-minute episode I discuss:
- Choosing the right podcast format
- Choosing the right podcast equipment
- Choosing the right podcast process
The Show Notes
- Guitar Center
- Bluebird Microphone
- Instagram of my podcast studio
- My “that moment when…” tweet
The No Sidebar Guide to DIY Podcasting
Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, a digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform.
Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.
Brian Gardner: Hey everyone, welcome to the No Sidebar podcast. I’m your host, Brian Gardner, and I’m here help you identify the things that stand in the way of building your online business.
Together we’ll learn how to eliminate the unnecessary, increase conversion, design a better business, and build a more beautiful web.
Last week Allison and I talked about establishing online personas and how they can impact your business.
We asked ourselves, “What would you do if you only had one shot at writing your social media bio — if you were limited to saying all that you wanted to about yourself in 140 characters or less.”
Fortunately for us there’s an “edit” button that allows us to update the things we want to say about ourselves. It gives us the freedom to be “lots of things” and present that as we see fit.
Speaking of being lots of things, that brings me to today’s episode.
Podcasting is huge — way huge, like soon it might become a medium that online entrepreneurs *have* to do, or they fear getting left behind.
Podcasting is so big that our company built an entire network and betting quite a bit of our future on it.
So big that we built functionality into the Rainmaker Platform so that the world could have easy access to doing it and publishing episodes on their website in just a few clicks.
In other words, podcasting is now DIY. That’s do-it-yourself, for those of you keeping score at home.
You don’t have to be a world-renown disc jockey to pull this off. You have all of the tools you need to put your voice all over the internet for millions of people to hear at your fingertips.
Never before has the idea of podcasting been so fun.
Until you try.
It sounds easy. It sounds fun. And it sounds like everyone else and their brother are doing it. I mean, how hard can it be?
Well let me tell you something — as a person who’s never done it before, and as a person who dislikes being seen and heard onstage, podcasting is tougher than you think.
I thought that all I had to do is hit record, say some witty things and throw it up on iTunes and I’d be the next Ryan Seacrest.
Then you listen back to your voice — and you hate it.
You hear all of the “ums” and “you knows” among awkward pauses and silences that seems to endlessly fill your show.
This is me, once again — talking entrepreneur to entrepreneur.
And fittingly, talking once again about that dirty word — fear.
Welcome to the No Sidebar guide to DIY podcasting. This is Brian Gardner and I’m going to share the story of how I came to realize that podcasting is only as tough as you let it be.
But before I do, here’s something you should know.
No Sidebar is brought to you by Authority Rainmaker, a carefully designed live educational experience that presents a complete and effective online marketing strategy to help you immediately accelerate your business.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see Dan Pink, Sally Hogshead, punk legend Henry Rollins, and many other incredible speakers … not to mention the secret sauce of it all: building real-world relationships with other attendees.
Get all the details right now at rainmaker.fm/event, and we look forward to seeing you in Denver, Colorado this May. That’s rainmaker.fm/event.
My Experience So Far With Podcasting
Ok, so I decided to take a little bit of a break with the show to talk about my experience so far with podcasting.
I thought this was a great time to share the journey, and thought that would be a much more effective — no to mention a more believable — approach to all of this.
Audio is a great way to create content, and something I had never done before. And there was a mystery around it — almost taboo in my own mind — that intrigued me and made me want to do it.
Much the same as it was for me and bungee jumping, I saw other folks doing it and wanted to get in the game. But my fear of heights — or in this case my fear of public speaking — continually got in the way.
You see, everything “scary” is a great idea until you go to do it, right?
Here are 3 things I’ve done wrong with podcasting, and consequently 3 things I’ve done right (and to correct them) with podcasting.
#1: Choosing the Right Podcast Format
Early this year when I was told that I was doing a podcast the format of the show was the first thing I knew I had to figure out.
Social anxiety, stage fright, glossophobia — whatever you call it man, I had it and thought I needed a crutch on the show to lean on.
Naturally I thought the interview format was the right one for me, because the thought of doing a monologue was more than daunting.
I mean, all I had to do was write up a few questions, pull in some favors from some of my well-known friends and record away — right?
Eh, not so fast.
After just one — yes, I said one — interview I practically pivoted 180 degrees on the format of my show.
It was probably a bit premature, but when I sat down and listened to the 47 minute interview that I had recorded I wanted to throw in the towel immediately.
When you hear yourself up against someone who actually knows how to talk, you feel completely and totally inadequate. It’s like bench-pressing the bar next to a guy who’s got four plates on each side.
So the day I heard my first interview was also the day I was supposed to get on a call with Chris Brogan to go over what I wanted to discuss in the interview I had scheduled with him.
With my tail between my legs, I confided immediately in him and shared my fears and what I was literally going through as we were speaking.
Chris is such a chill guy — and someone I always enjoy working with. He’s got a way of calming you, and making you realize that everything is going to be okay. Like a mom soothing a baby or something.
He did that with me, and gave me a few ideas and pieces of advice that I followed and will be sharing in a later episode of the show.
After I got off that call, I dialled up Robert Bruce from our team and talked through some things with him. He has the golden voice, and you might know him from the New Rainmaker podcast that he does with Brian Clark.
Anyway, Robert and I talked through a number of different scenarios — ones that felt much safer than the long, epic interview style that I had taken refuge in when this whole thing got started.
I decided to keep the format of the show flexible as that seemed to be the best solution for me. Since then I’ve been able to mix in some monologues, interviews and back-and-forth riffing.
So how’s that going to far? In my opinion, it’s going really well because it allows me to be all over the place and do what works for me, and also what works for my schedule.
#2: Choosing the Right Podcast Equipment
So this meltdown I had a month or so ago was caused by many things. As I mentioned earlier, it was the format of the show — but one aspect of that recording that I hadn’t mentioned yet was the audio.
I had purchased a relatively low-end microphone, and just sat at my desk during the interview.
Well, my desk is in an office that has 14 foot ceilings and my microphone was placed a measly 12 inches in front of a 27” LED. That would be a flat surface, and totally ripe for echo..
I was naive, and didn’t really understand just how important equipment and proper sound handling are to podcasting.
I’m talking severely important. Like night and day important.
Anyway, I hated the way my voice sounded in the interview. I hated how much better the other person’s sounded.
So I took matters into my own hands — much the same way as I’ll talk about in point #3.
You see, I’m a doer and a fixer. If things ain’t working, I make ‘em work.
Sometimes to a fault, but I’m the guy who rolls up his sleeves and lifts the hood of the car to see why it’s broke.
Yes, there are times I cut wires that shouldn’t be cut and and pull at things that shouldn’t be pulled.
But once in a while this self-taught mechanic gets it right. I’m a firm believer in trusting your intuition. And in Googling.
If I don’t know how to do something, or why something’s not working — I’ll search “how the heck to do X” until I find the answer.
When it came to podcasting equipment, pretty much every article or resource I found said the same thing.
Blah blah blah … followed by I highly recommend going to Guitar Center.
So I went in full armor of humility, to the back of the store where the sound guy was, and said “Hey, I’m Brian. My company is making me do a podcast and I sound like crap. Hook a brother up, will ya?”
What our conversation ultimately came down to was this:
“Hey, I’m a DIY podcaster and I want to sound better. Can you teach me a few things about equipment, audio and acoustics please?”
The guy I spoke with — not once, not twice, but four times — was so amazingly compassionate with me. We spent well over two hours as a whole talking about podcasting. And it was great.
A few hundred bucks later, I brought home a Bluebird microphone from Blue, an entry level pre-amp and box of acoustic panels that I used to transform my closet into a bonafide podcasting studio.
I’ll provide a link down in the show notes to an Instagram I posted a few weeks ago so you can see what it looks like.
Obviously I went for the upscale jugular here with what I built, and I’m sure there are much cheaper, and possible better-sounding ways to pull this off.
In fact, a cardboard box and styrofoam egg carton probably would have sufficed, but I’m an over-achiever by nature.
Anyway, after recording myself a few times for fun and getting over the awkwardness of claustrophobia in a 5×6 foot closet, things began to look up. In fact I tweeted this a few weeks ago:
“That moment when you hear your voice on a podcast for the first time and don’t hate it. #hammertime”
#3: Choosing the Right Podcast Process
So I had things somewhat in control — the format of the show, the equipment, but one thing stood in the way.
And it’s something that — yes once again — reared it’s ugly face to me as I was going through that 47 minute interview.
Um. You know. Um. You know. Um. Um.
Yes, all of those wonderful transition words that make your podcast episodes sound amateurish and unprofessional.
There I was, sitting on my couch with headphones on, stopping the episode umpteen times to jot down notes for our producer to edit.
The time it took to hear a word I wanted omitted, document and then go on seemed endless.
Like … the … green … freaking … mile.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but it look me 3 hours go through the entire thing. 3 freaking hours, friends.
It was so bad that afterwards I immediately taught myself how to work with Garage Band — again, for better or for worse.
As a total control freak, I really don’t think I was left with any other option. I’m a perfectionist and THAT was the bane of my existence during this whole process.
I suppose if I was carefree — which I assure you I am not — things would have gone much differently. And if you happen to fall into this camp, you can go wash dishes and bypass the next part of the episode.
Now to those of you who insist on doing things “your” way — thanks for sticking around and making me feel like I’m not the only nut job who does.
I’ll admit that the first time I opened Garage Band — which by the way turned out to be an elementary audio editing program — I was overwhelmed. If you’re a new podcaster, stay away from Adobe Audition — unless you have a degree in rocket science.
Anyway Garage Band seemed complex — that wasn’t so much to do with the fact that it actually is — but more to do with me never having used it before.
About an hour into Googling and learning the gist of how things worked, Garage Band was very easy to learn.
Once you understand the basic elements like tracks, cutting and volume you’re off to the races on producing your very first show.
I’m a firm believer in trying to do things on your own — but I’m a realist and understand that for some folks, it just makes sense to pay and have someone else do it for you.
It really boils down to what kind of person you are — how much you can learn on your own — or more importantly the tolerance you have to go through what sometimes feels like a painful process.
For me, it worked out to just roll my sleeves up and get dirty as I much prefer to work that way and like to control my own destiny.
Again — different strokes for different folks.
The bottom line here is this:
I nearly threw in the towel on something that might bring me a lot of joy as the days go by.
Because of fear — or frustration, I guess — I potentially deprived myself of entering a new phase of life and working with a medium that has honestly been really fun so far.
I’m only 6 weeks in, but I’ve already learned an important lesson:
The moment you have a love for something is the moment you’re able to start owning the craft and work through the obstacles.
Once I realized that my voice isn’t “horrendous” and that I had a shot at actually building an audience with — while having a good time, mind you — was the moment I decided not to give up.
Sure it took some time, some money and some shaken fists, but isn’t that what life is all about?
Aren’t we supposed to be challenged and stretched as we build our online businesses?
I gotta tell you, I honestly wouldn’t want to have it any other way.
Four months ago, the thought of creating a podcast would have been paralyzing to me — to say the least.
I had absolutely zero knowledge on how to do any of this, but every episode of the show so far has been written, recorded and produced by me.
I’m not telling you this to flex my muscles, but to show you that it’s possible for any average Joe off the street to pull this off.
Consider me the poster child of a “learning as I go” DIY podcaster.
Now I realize that building an audience is another part of this whole thing and I have the privilege of leveraging the audience I’ve built over the years. Pair that with being on Rainmaker.FM and it seems unfair.
I’ll give you that, but today’s episode is not about that.
It’s about what gets in the way of someone even starting a podcast, and what gets in the way of them producing a single episode.
So how about it friends? Are you ready to podcast?
It really is funner (and easier) than you think.
If you’re on the fence thinking about it and my story doesn’t convince you, chew on this.
Jordan Harbinger launched his popular show The Art of Charm in 2007, making him an elder in the rapidly-expanding podcast community. He says:
“In the future, everyone will have a podcast. So start yours now. If you’re thinking about launching a podcast, you’d better do it soon — because the competition is only going to get more intense.”
And if you’re ready to pull the trigger, here’s some encouraging words before you kick things off:
“Go niche. Because of the heightened competition. Stop trying to think about ways to get more listeners and think about trying to crush it in your niche.”
Whether it be podcasting, or simply starting a blog — that is sound advice regardless of the medium.
So just do it — start that podcast you’ve been thinking of.
And if you do, repeat after me:
“I promise to use Google when I need it, to go to Guitar Center and ask what seems to be silly questions and to listen to this episode a hundred times if I’m still scared.”
Just remember these 3 things along the way:
- Choose the right format
- Choose the right equipment
- Choose the right process
And when you’re done, hit me up on Twitter @bgardner to link me to your very first episode. Or hit me up if you have any questions or want to talk podcasting in general.
If you like what you’re hearing hear at No Sidebar, the best way to show your support is to head over to iTunes to leave a comment and/or a rating.
Don’t wait for someone else to do it — you need to. It’ll help boost the exposure of my show, to which I’ll forever be grateful.
Until next week, this has been Brian Gardner — a true (and shining) example of a DIY podcaster who’s committed to it and only wants to get better as he goes.