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Podcast Production Tips

August 5, 2015 Comments off

 Image Credit: Getty ImagesIf your spend some time now making decisions about how you plan to format your podcast, it will only make your show more enjoyable for your listeners, but it will also save you a lot of time and frustration in the future.

Spend a little time deciding how long your podcast will be, how often you will post new show, and what your typical show outline will be, and your boiler plate messaging, links and call to action messages.  These are important decisions that will affect your time commitment and enjoyment making your show. They will also determine what kind of web hosting you will need. Now onto a some tips for planning and producing a podcast.

Preliminary Podcast Production Planning Steps:

  1. Research & Planning

  2. Messaging & Talking Points

  3. Actual Interview

  4. Recording, Production, Editing

  5. Publishing/ Supporting Blog Content

  6. Hosting, Listing, SEO/SEM/RSS

  7. Distribution

  8. Promotion

Research & Planning Your Podcast

We know you are probably anxious to record and get your voice out to your community. But a little planning will help you focus. In the end you will produce a better podcast that will attract and keep more listeners. This will also make your job a lot easier, or we can help. In the planning session we will ask a few questions for you to consider and help you make some important decisions about:

  1. Podcast Topic

  2. Podcast Format

  3. Choosing a location to record your podcast

We’ll also talk about how to outline and plan each episode of your podcast before you record. And, we want to help you make a quality podcast that will attract and keep more listeners. Here are a few things you need to decide for your podcast:

  1. What’s the topic of your podcast?

  2. What’s the format of your podcast?

  3. How long will each episode be?

  4. How often are you going to release new shows?

If you take just a little time to think about these things now, then your podcast will turn out much better. A well planned podcast will get more listeners. Here are the questions to consider when it comes to choosing a format for your podcast:

  1. Will you be doing a solo podcast or will you include other hosts?

  2. What segments do you want to produce (e.g. tip of the day, reviews, breaking news, interviews etc.)?

  3. How long will your podcast be?

  4. How often will you release new  podcast episodes?

  5. Will you just be talking or will you play music and sound effects as well?

  6. Maybe you’ll come up with something completely different?

NOTE: If you plan to insert music in your podcast that you did not produce, then you need to get permission to use it. We can help with this as well. It’s not legal to use copyrighted material in your podcast, without permission. You should form a basic idea of how you want to structure your podcast.

Also, just because we are talking about a “plan” and a “format” does not mean that this stuff is set in stone. You will certainly change your mind as time goes on. You will add things and drop things. Eventually you will find your groove and settle into what works well for you.

But it’s good to start out with an outline so that  you have an idea of where you’re headed. We can guide you on this. It will make the process easier and also help make your podcast better. A better podcast means more listeners and more fun for you!

Let’s talk about a few things to consider when you choose a format for your podcast.

Should You Have A Co-Host

It’s up to you. There are a lot of solo podcasts out there. Some podcasts have two or more hosts. There are also podcasts with several participants discussing a topic at the same time, like the fairly new entertainment podcast

You can even co-host a show with someone who lives in another state or another country. This is often done using Skype or a similar platform.

There are advantages to having a co-host:

  • Listeners find the discussion between multiple hosts more interesting than just one person talking for 20 minutes
  • With multiple hosts you can split the work required to produce the podcast
  • There are more people to come up with creative ideas and content

This comes with the added complication, though, of coordinating the schedules of multiple people, maybe even across time zones. The advantage of doing it solo is that you’re totally in control.

What Kind of Segments Will Your Podcast Have?

What do we mean by segments? Well, back before podcasting, we drove to work in the city and we listened to the local radio drive shows. They had certain segments that they did every morning. We always knew that they would do the serious news, then later the silly news, then the “funny” people awards, then an interview or two and so on.  These were the segments that they always did. If you watch the morning shows on the TV or radio shows on NPR it’s the same. There are certain segments that they do on each show.

So, what segments will your podcast have?  Your listeners will want to know what to expect. Familiarity and structure are comfortable. And, it make your job easier. Having a planned structure, maybe even an “editorial topic calendar” will also make producing your podcast easier for you. The point is that a little thought and planning is helpful at this stage.

Here’s an example segment structure for a localized podcast:

  1. Intro & Welcome, Date

  2. Announcements

  3. Shout Out for the Top 10 in the Community

  4. Mid Roll Ad Spot

  5. Commentary

  6. Quick Tips & Resources

  7. Outroll Theme Music

This is just one example. Find a structure that works best for you and your intended local listeners and don’t be afraid to mix it up. You can be spontaneous.

Music in Your Podcast?

Even if you don’t have a music podcast, you may still want to use music in your podcast. Music is a great way to change things up and drive the show forward. You can use music to transition between segments. This adds variety and keeps things moving. It also serves as a cue that you are moving into something new or changing gears. Music makes a good intro. Having an intro theme song is useful for a couple reasons:

  • When your listener hears your theme song, it instantly cues them in that they are listening to your show.

  • An intro song raises the energy level and gives you some momentum going into the show.

If you think you’ll want to use music in your podcast, there are some legal and copyright considerations.

How Long Should Your Podcast Be?

The beauty of podcasting is you’re not limited to the typical broadcast radio timing. If you listen to a talk show on the radio, everything is timed to the commercials and the “top of the hour”.

But now you’re in control. Your podcast can be five minutes or it can be 45 minutes. We suggest between 10 and 20 minutes. When you decide how long your podcast is going to be, you should think about what’s going to work for your audience. How long of a podcast will your audience will actually listen to? If the purpose of your podcast is to cover the latest community information on a certain topic, then you probably want to keep it to 10-20 minutes.

Your Podcast Should Be As Long As It NEEDS To Be

Too general?  What we mean is, make it long enough to serve its purpose, but not so long that you will bore listeners. There is a point where it’s just right and then wrap things up. With time, you will find the happy medium. We suggest being consistent in how long your shows are so your listeners know what to expect.

In GENERAL, our personal opinion is that a 10-20 minute show is a good length. Your listeners might listen to a lot of podcasts. If you want your podcast to be one that they listen to regularly, then you don’t want to take up more of their time than you need to.

In the end, you know what’s best for you, your show and your audience.

How Much Time Will It Take to Make A Podcast

Just because you do a 10- 20-minute show doesn’t mean that you will only spend 20 minutes a week creating your podcast. Your time and our time commitment will vary depending on how much preparation you need and your experience and the amount of technical help we provide.

Keep in mind that the longer your show is, the longer is it will take to produce it. Many podcasters spend 2-4 times the length of their show just on preparation before and publishing afterwards.

How the Length of Your Show Affects Your Web Hosting

We will talk more about podcast web hosting later, but for now you need to know that the longer your shows are, the more storage you will need. The longer the show, the larger the MP3 file.

Also, a larger show means you need more bandwidth for your web site. Bandwidth is the amount of information transferred to and from your web site each month. There is a limit to how much you can transfer. With most web sites this is not a problem, but with podcasts it can be a problem because of the size of the MP3 files. We will talk more about bandwidth later, and where you can host your podcast. For now just know that the longer your podcast, the larger the MP3 file and the more bandwidth you will need for your hosting.

How Often Will You Post Your Podcast?

Will you do your show daily, weekly, monthly or just whenever you feel like it? This will depend largely on how busy your life is. How much time does your job, family or other obligations take up? Take an inventory of your life and estimate how much time you will have to work on your podcast.

Stay in Regular Contact with Your Listeners

It’s important, if possible, to have a regular schedule for posting your show. If you have a regular schedule it will help with listener loyalty. They will know when to expect from you and look forward to your new shows.

With our busy schedules, we don’t always get our podcasts out when we plan to. But do your best. we’re working on getting better at this.

If you’re podcasting for an organization or fund raising promotion, then we would suggest doing at least one podcast a week. Bi-weekly may work, but it’s important to have regular contact with your listeners. Every day that goes by your listeners can easily forget about you a little more.

People have short attention spans and short-term memory. You want to stay in the minds of your listeners on a regular basis. Bandwidth is an issue here, too. The more often you post your podcast, the more people will be downloading from your site which requires more bandwidth from your hosting.

How Often Can You Get Fresh Content for Your Podcast

How much fresh content is available for your show and how often can you get it? For example, if your podcast is women sports-based, how often does interesting news on your topic come along? How often can you create the content for your show?

Technically Producing, Editing and Hosting Your Podcast

This is where we help you to open the mic and just start talking (or whatever else you plan on doing in your podcast). We can coach you on this!

But, there’s a lot of back end production work that goes into the final polished podcast.  And, this is where we come into play with our technical expertise. Once you’ve created your first podcast, we need to prepare it for editing, publishing and then hosting it on the Internet. This involves some of the following:

  • Editing for sound quality
  • Taking out umms, ahhs and pauses, coughs and sniffles
  • Inserting music
  • Inserting ad spots ( if appropriate)
  • Creating an MP3 Files
  • ID3 Tags for Podcasts
  • Podcast Hosting (blogs, web hosting, RSS feeds)
  • Free Podcast Hosting
  • Naming Your Podcast File ( 3-4 words)
  • Uploading Your Podcast
  • Writing Podcast Show Notes
  • Posting Show Notes

NEXT STEPS & SUMMARY

With all this in mind, remember, you know what’s best for you, your show and your potential audience when it comes to the length and frequency of your show.

One final suggestion, is spend some time listening to other podcasts. My previous post has a list of some women podcasters.  Pay attention to how long they are. How long of a podcast do you like as a listener? Take note of their structure and the segments used in each show. What segments do you find enjoyable? Brainstorm on some ideas. Now we need to determine a location for us to record your podcast.

Our Brief Suggestions for Promoting Your Podcast

Of course you’ll want more listeners for your podcast. We will work with you during a special planning session and talk a bit more about how to find and build listeners for your podcast.

Email me at alice@flatlandsavellc.com for more information on how we can help get you started with coaching, planning and helping your host a podcast.

Communicating Change – Spring Contest

May 5, 2015 Comments off

Alice's Seed Box for Essay ContestThe recent events in Baltimore and other cities have brought about more communication questions than answers, and these questions often do not produce the results or signigicant changes that citizens need.

I believe we can start a dialog for change through collaborative community projects.

Therefore, I and my colleaques at Flatlands Avenue LLC  though their Patriot Made Audio project are offering free garden seeds for spring planting, as part of our celebration of Mother’s Day and spring.

Therefore would like to inspire some of our own “seeds of hope and seeds of change” through a spring garden essay contest about how you would propose to help create hope and change.

Send your essay to patmadeaudio@gmail.com  and please put Spring Garden Contest in the subject line. The deadline is Sunday, May 10th on Mother’s Day (before midnight).  We look forward to awarding three individual seed boxes filled with a variety of seeds, to three lucky winners.

All you need to do is send us an original short essay proposing how you would best use the seeds by growing food for yourself and for others, and how you’ll further save and share new seeds with other family members, an organization. or as a joint collaborative project in your community.

The best ideas or most creative plans win!  

Potentially, in time, hundreds of people could be fed, at little to no cost through our seeds of hope and seeds of change spring contest. Such a project could feed change and better communication in communities.

The essay must be 500 words, or less.

The seed boxes are original pieces of art created by me (Alice Fisher).  This past weekend, I refurbished a few cigar boxes (hand sanded, painted and varnished them) and then packaged up a selection of her own heirloom, non-genetically modified (NGMO) seeds which I grew, dried and hand saved by myself on my small farm in Frederick County, Maryland.

The essay deadline date is Sunday, May 10th at midnight, and if you need some ideas for your essay, try a quick visit to Garden.org for more information and inspiration about gardening.

Rita Rich at Flatlands Avenue would like to follow-up with the winners in about three or four months with a special podcast interview, once your seeds of hope seeds of change projects have been implemented, and with any pictures you’d like to share as well.

We have three handcrafted seed boxes, filled with 10 – 14 different seed varieties which we’ll send out FREE to our three winners.

These simple hand painted boxes would possibly make a great Mother’s Day garden gift, or some kind of project for all the senior moms in a community, city or for a school to feed children.

The seeds, will keep for up to 25 years, if they stored in a freezer, and can be used for many years to come.

Please share with us your gardening dreams and creative community ideas, and we’ll share with you our seeds of hope and change from my very own garden.

It’s our way of saying, Happy Mother’s Day and happy gardening to you and yours, as you build memories together.

Seeds hold the promise of hope and change, maybe even better communication. Email us your essay at patmadeaudio@gmail.com.   Please write Spring Garden Contest in the subject line.

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