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Once you’ve settled on a name and concept for your podcast, it’s time to establish a workflow that sets you up for success with your publishing efforts. The workload is considerable, and you need a system you can rely on week after week.
Here I cover the key items every podcaster should be aware of to ensure each, and every episode of their show comes out sounding smooth and polished every single time.
Podcast Workflow Checklist
❏ Prepare your notes. What is the episode going to be about? If it’s going to be a solo episode, you’ll either want to prepare point-form notes, or type out a full transcript (blog post) before hitting that record button. If you’re going to have a guest on your show, research them thoroughly. Look at their website and social profiles, search for articles and press releases, listen to other interviews they’ve done, and so on. If you want to go the extra mile, prepare questions they’ve never been asked before.
❏ Prepare your equipment. The minimum viable setup should include a USB mic (like the Rode Podcaster), and earbuds or headphones. If you’re going to be recording with a co-host, guest, or anyone else, encourage them to use earbuds or headphones as well. This eliminates unwanted “bleed” – delay, feedback, and other audio artifacts that are harder to edit out. You’ll want to prepare and familiarize yourself with recording software as well, whether Zencastr, Zoom, or otherwise. If you’re going to be recording solo, you can take advantage of Audacity or Waveform Free as well.
❏ Schedule a time to record. If you’re recording a solo episode, you might be able to fly by the seat of your pants. But if you have a co-host, guest, or other participants, you’ll need to coordinate with them. Take advantage of a tool like Calendly to cut down on back-and-forth emails and let your participant pick a time in your schedule that works for them. If you have multiple participants, you may need to coordinate via email though.
❏ Check your levels. So, you (and your co-host and / or guest) are all online, and you’re ready to start recording. Before you hit that “record” button, though, you’ll want to check your microphone levels. Can you be heard (are you too quiet or too loud)? Can you hear your co-host or guests? Are they distorting? Is their audio quality good enough for the recording? If not, though it might be the “long way around,” you should encourage your participants to pick up a USB mic (even an affordable one like the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB – we have experience with it and it’s quite good for the price) and to wear earbuds or headphones during the recording. If you need to reschedule to accommodate, reschedule.
❏ Hit record. If you are adequately prepared, you should now be ready to hit “record” and start your show. Intros, themes, bumpers, midrolls, call to actions, sound effects and other flourishes are typically added in post-production (editing), but if you have a mixer (like the Rode RODECaster Pro Integrated), some or most of this can be done on the fly.
❏ Last call. Before you conclude recording, ensure that you’ve captured everything you need for the episode. If your guest is online with you, ensure you’ve asked all questions you were planning to ask them. If you plan to record any kind of bonus content with your guest, do it now. You can also record intros and outros now and drag them into place during the editing phase.
❏ Edit. Editing usually happens in multiple phases. The first phase is to cut out “uh,” “um,” dead air, and anything else that might be bothersome or unusable. The second phase is to sweeten the audio. We recommend using The Levelator (no longer supported by the developer, but it still works) or Auphonic to do most of the heavy lifting. Generally, these solutions should only be applied to the talking portions of your podcast, and not the music. The third and final phase of editing is adding introductions, themes, bumpers, call to actions, and so forth. Load them into your DAW and drag them into position, along with all other elements.
❏ Create a header graphic. Regardless of where you’re publishing your episode(s), a header graphic is a great tool for drawing attention to your content and letting users know what it’s about. These can be designed in Canva or Adobe Photoshop.
❏ Create your show notes. Show notes can take many forms. We create four items per episode – 1) an introduction (usually two to three paragraphs to draw the user into the episode), 2) media highlights (also known as timestamps), 3) links to resources mentioned in the show, and 4) a summary or full transcript of the episode. If YouTube is your publishing platform, you would put all this in the video description (normally, you would not add a full transcript to a video description though).
❏ Upload. Before you can publish your episode, you’ll need to upload it. Depending on the hosting solution you’re using, you’ll be able to use the same platform to upload and publish. We upload our episodes to Amazon S3, which is very cost efficient (you only pay for what you use). Podcast files should not be uploaded to your webhost, as the server load will be too heavy, especially as your listenership grows.
❏ Format. Now we take the assets we’ve created (graphical header, show notes, etc.) and add them to a new post inside WordPress. We also add the podcast to the appropriate category and add five relevant tags. This process will vary based on where you’re ultimately publishing. It never hurts to add additional media – graphics, pictures, and images, videos, tweetables, and so forth to your show notes, as it gives your visitors a reason to stay on your website for longer and explore the content.
❏ Schedule. Schedule the podcast episode for publishing. Programmatic publishing is recommended (e.g., every Sunday at 6:00 PM).
❏ Distribute. Share your new podcast episode on social media. We use the Jetpack plugin, which automatically distributes new WordPress posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Photos, Mailchimp, and Instagram. This isn’t to suggest you should rely on automation alone to grow your listenership, but it is helpful.
❏ Promote. The exact steps you take to promote your podcast will probably vary based on niche, budget, and resources available. Creating video and / or audio clips, setting up retargeting ads, and guesting on other people’s podcasts are all common ways to spread the word.
Several years ago, I published an episode on how to be an awesome podcast host with Using Your Power co-host, Maveen Kaura. What we covered there is still relevant today. Have a listen!
From preparing your notes to promoting your podcast, the sheer amount of time and effort that can go into producing and publishing one episode can be significant (10 hours or more).
We don’t recommend doing everything yourself. At the very least, editing and writing transcripts should be left to the capable hands of freelancers. Take advantage of solutions like Fiverr to find your perfect candidate.
And if you’re looking for more help with podcasting, don’t hesitate to get in touch.