Podcasting: A Full-time Job

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By Jeremy Collier

*Re-printed with permission

That’s right, Podcasting is more than sitting down for an hour and recording, it takes time to both plan and edit!  No matter what you’re talking about on your podcast, you’ll need to do at least a little research, even if it only involves sitting down and picking your own brain.

If you haven’t already done so, check out my other post on podcasting, “How To Be A Good Podcaster“.  I talk about what it takes to make something of your podcast and keep people coming back.  This post, however, is a bit different in that it’s more about what the main host has to go through.

In some cases a main host may not have all of these responsibilities, but they should at least know how to do these things.  If you find yourself with the responsibility of every thing below, as I generally am, you’ll understand how a single one hour podcast really takes a full day of work.

1. The Research

As I said above, no matter what subject you’re podcasting about, you need to make sure to do your research.  Even more than that, expect to need to search something on the fly, which is why having a laptop in front of you is always good.  As the host, it’s your job to keep things going and any dead air reflects on you badly.

The research you do depends on how in-depth you plan to go on your subject.  In my case, Video Games don’t take too much research per story, but generally I have ten or more stories per episode.  Even more than that, we often have special segments, such as our Vs. where we pit two video game characters against each other.  This takes a lot more time.

Make sure you cover all your basis.  The best way to think is ‘what would I want to know if I was listening to this podcast?’ and you’ll most likely cover all your bases.  For example, a new video game has been released.  What’s it about?  is there any other games in the series?  What about similar games?  Release date?  What systems will it be released on?  These are all important questions and should be answered for each and every game you talk about.

Can’t find the information?  That’s fine too!  Just make sure you let your listeners know the information isn’t available, or maybe that you’ll be sure to look something up and include it in the show notes.

For an average episode, I spend 2-4 hours doing my research, more if it’s a busy week.

2. Recording

I covered a lot about this in my other post, but remember to keep it aimed towards your audience.  Try not to let tangents get away from you, but also don’t stop them before seeing their value.  This is a tricky balance and takes time to get the hang of.  But in all honesty, if you have good co-hosts, this won’t be much of a problem.  Once in a while you’ll have to reel it back in, but if it’s happening too much, you might want to look at the quality of your co-hosts.

Most importantly, don’t overload the podcast!  There is no ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to the number of hosts you should have.  Much like the research, this is more dependent on the subject.  As a rule of thumb, I’ll never have more than 3 full time hosts at any one time.  This isn’t to say I won’t sometimes have 4 or more people on a single episode, but I find that 3 people gives just enough chatter to keep things going, but not too much where your listeners will get confused at who’s talking about what.

Speaking of which, guest hosts are good!  If you can bring someone in who knows more about the subject than you, then do it!  They can help you look better and help promote your show, while you give them a chance to get their voice out there.  On the other side of that, don’t forget about your friends.  If you have a friend who’s interested in joining you, by all means let them!  Just make sure they follow your rules.

And that brings me to my last point with recording, set your rules, but remember it’s all in fun.  Assuming you’re not being paid to podcast in a certain way, remember that your co-hosts are most likely doing it for the love of the subject, or their respect for you. So if you have a clean podcast (i.e. no dirty jokes or cussing) and a co-host cusses once in a while, just bleep it out and remind them off the air that you don’t want that.  They’ll eventually get the point!  While arguments can be good about your subject, getting into it with a co-host about them cussing or saying something you didn’t approve of just makes you look petty.

Bottom line is a host needs to take charge and lead their co-hosts.  With the right co-hosts, this is easy and pretty much works itself out, which I have been very lucky with.

3. Editing and Beyond

This is something that most hosts don’t think about when they’re first starting out.  I know before my first episode, I figured we’d record and however it turned out, we’d just put it up!  Sure, that worked for an episode or two, but soon you realize there’s a lot more to it than that.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you either know or have a co-host who knows about sound editing.  If not, download Audacity and get learning!  It’s not hard once you get started, but takes a lot to master.  I’d say it took me about 15 episodes before I understood exactly what I was doing, besides copy/paste/delete.  It took another 40+ episodes before I started adjusting individual tracks to sound better, and it was only a few episodes ago (we’re on 108) that I started to Normalize and such!

It takes time and people will understand that.  Don’t be afraid to get your podcast out there, even if something went wrong with recording or editing.  There was a point during Knights of the Video Game Table Podcast’s time that any segment over about 30 minutes started to echo, resulting in the last 15+ minutes of certain episodes that some would find unlistenable.

But I still got the episodes out and people still downloaded them.  Don’t delay an episode too long to try to “work things out”.  I learned this the hard way!  Just do the best you can and move to the next episode.  Sometimes, technology happens!  In episode 106 or 107 of our podcast, we saw the echo resurface in the last 5-10 minutes.  It’s a problem we haven’t had in over 50 episodes!

As for the uploading and your website, it’s really all preference.  Some people pay for a large amount of server space and bandwidth to store their episodes on while others pay a dedicated podcast service, such as Libsyn.  I’ve even seen someone use a cloud service, I believe it was DropBox, to upload their episodes to!  I recommend Libsyn, as you can get a podcast up and running in only a few minutes and for under $10 a month.  You can even use their site as your main site, although it leaves a lot to desired.  It’s great for starting out, as you don’t even need your own website!

Despite that, you really should have your own site.  Relying on iTunes and a very generic layout often times turns people off.  Personally, if a podcast doesn’t have it’s own website, I don’t listen to it!  Something like blogspot.com orwordpress.com (Recommended) can work for a while, but if you ever want to getmore than a few downloads a month, you’re going to need your very own URL.  But that’s a topic for another post.


 

Bottom line is remember that Podcasting takes time and effort if you want something worth listening to, but it should also be FUN.  Some weeks I don’t feel like doing an episode, but pushing through that week and getting to the next is the only way to keep things going.  It’s just like TV, your listeners won’t find every episode great and enthralling, but as long as they like enough to keep coming back, that’s all that matters.

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