How To: Start A Podcast

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Last week, we had the pleasure of speaking with Katie Philo. She’s a Londoner living in New York and her day job is working as the social and content manager at Britbox. But on the side, she also hosts her own podcast, When I Grow Up. We’re big fans of the podcast ourselves, so for her how-to, we wanted to ask all about the nitty gritty behind launching it. If you’ve ever thought about starting your own podcast, check out Katie’s 10 steps below!

1. Have an idea. “I think the first part is really just the idea, the motivation to commit to making something. You don’t need it to be 100% set in stone and if that idea starts to change as you get going that’s ok. But you’ve got to have an idea that, at its core, you’re fully behind.”

2. Choose a name. “I think everyone gets really tripped up coming up with a name. My best advice is do a big brainstorm and put everything down on a page. Then give yourself a few weeks to ruminate on this list. Make it snappy and memorable. You should be able to read it and get a general gist of the idea of the podcast.”

3. If it’s a guest-based podcast, start reaching out. “I have three lists on the go at any given time: ‘Dream List’ (unlikely, but a girl’s gotta dream),  ‘Wishful Thinking List’ ( (people who are slightly more accessible but still ambitious), and then a ‘Hopeful List’ (people I know personally or through friends). Then you have to start emailing. Always try and go directly where you can. If you can’t find an email address, try Twitter or Instagram. My biggest advice is do your research on the guest. Don’t just send an impersonal email. Be thoughtful and take the time to articulate why this would be of interest to them.”

4. Get your equipment sorted out. “I use the Yeti USB Mic, and I also use a pop shield, which gives the sound a little bit more depth. I use a Skype audio recorder and I always tell the person on the other end to put in headphones with a mic. Then [for]in-person [interviews], I have a Zoomrecorder.  You don’t really need expensive equipment though. You could even record straight onto your phone or GarageBand. Never let equipment stop you from getting started, it doesn’t need to cost you a thing.”

5. Design your artwork. “You want it to sell the podcast and also give a feel for what it’s about. I think having a simple, distinctive color palette is a good idea, not over-complicating it. When audiences see your cover on mobile,  the smallest it will be is the size of a postage stamp. So you need to consider: Is the text legible? Does it stand out? I commissioned an illustrator to make my artwork, but don’t be afraid to make it yourself.”

6. Choose a format. “There are a few things to think about here: do you want it to be really kind of clear format where you have the same questions or parts every time or is it just free flowing conversation? Have a think about how you want it to play out and be consistent.  Do lots of research. If you’re prepared, you will feel less nervous.”

7. After recording, edit. “Once you’ve recorded,, the next step is editing the audio. I use Adobe Audition, but there are loads of free tools like Audacity online. Your decided format will determine the level of editing required. For example, if your podcast is a long-form interview, you might only need a bit of tweaking. If you’ve never edited before, take your time and use online tutorials. The Internet is your friend when it comes to learning this stuff. You’ll get faster over time, trust me.”

8. Choose a title and description. “Make sure your episode title is clear and punchy. Think of it like a headline. Does it reflect the episode well? Will someone want to click on it? A good description is like a film synopsis explaining what audiences can expect and gives them a reason to listen. From an SEO perspective, make sure you include key words, search terms and people.

9. Distribute it. “In terms of distribution, there are lots of different platforms to host your podcast.  I use Audioboom. I upload my audio directly and the platform makes it easy to syndicate to the places people get their podcasts such as Stitcher, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. There are lots of other podcast hosts, including Podbean, Buzzsprout and Soundcloud. Do you research and figure out which will work best for you. Remember, there are requirements for audio, such as file type and volume levels. I’d recommend checking out the FAQs on iTunes Connect as it has some easy to follow explainers.  Whichever platform you chose will have listening stats. Keep an eye on them as you’ll be able to see which episodes particularly engaged audiences.

10. Keep going and have fun! “Be open to feedback and take it on board. When you’re doing everything on a project, it’s easy to miss areas you can improve on. Never feel pressured to stick to an unrealistic release schedule and find a format that works for you. Don’t worry about the listener numbers at the beginning. The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself and have fun with it.”

Thank you for the great advice, Katie! We love your podcast, and appreciate all these tips. Readers, when you’re done getting started on Step #1, come back next week for an interview with a woman who is great with money.


How To: Expand Your Venture

Last week we spoke to Babs Szabo, and it’s an understatement to say we were incredibly impressed by her uncanny ability to capitalize on the momentum gathered from Emo Nite to then co-found her own creative agency, Ride or Cry. This week we wanted to learn from the master herself, so we asked her to teach us. Read on to learn how to expand a venture.

1.     Listen to your people.
When you find people with whom your project (an event, a company, a website) is resonating, make sure to stay in touch with them. They might be the ones that help you find places to expand. As Babs notes, “I think with an event you have to listen to what your audience is saying. Obviously, there’s a lot of negative things that are not constructive, but in the beginning, when we did Emo Nite in LA, we saw a lot of people saying, ‘Come to San Francisco! Come to San Diego!’ It was because of that that we started touring [Emo Nite]. If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t even have thought of it. So, listening to your audience is really, really important.”

2.     Step out of the safe zone.
Babs says a key part is “Not being afraid to take risks. That’s what really sets you apart from other people. If you’re just going to do it the way other people have been doing it for years, then it’s not going to stand out, and no one’s going to want to be a part of that.” That’s not to say it won’t be scary, but in the eternal words of Chrisley’s son from the evergreen reality show Chrisley Knows Best, “You gotta risk it to get the biscuit.”

3.     Remember to be a good person.
We’ve all experienced working with someone inconsiderate, and the stress and frustration that came with that, be it at an actual job or even a school project. But hopefully, we’ve also all lived through the opposite—that wonderful feeling you get when you feel respected and listened to by your superiors. That’s why we’re so happy Babs included niceness as a cornerstone of her expansion philosophy: “I think that no matter what you’re doing, it’s really important to be genuine and nice to the people you’re working with and the people that you meet, because that’s the only important thing in any venture.”

Thank you so much Babs! Once you have the foundation of your hard work to build upon, we’re confident that Babs’ tips will help you extend the reach of your success. Good luck to you all! See you next week : )
(Photo credit: Cade Werner)

How To: Get Representation

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Last week we spoke to Lori Evans Taylor, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, about the realities of writing scripts for a living and needless to say, we were very impressed by the life she’s crafted for herself. But what if you’re at the start of your own career as a screenwriter and are itching to go pro? There’s one great asset to have in your arsenal: an agent. Getting an agent might sound like an impossible task, but  Lori’s come to our rescue and demystified the process with her five tips on how to make a move to finding representation.

1. There’s no set path
“There’s no set way to do it,” says Lori. Now, on the surface level, hearing that there’s no standard way of getting representation might be stressful, but don’t fret just yet. Because there’s no standardized procedure, it removes the pressure of looking at your peers and worrying that since your careers are moving forward in different ways, it won’t happen for you. Just cause someone took the highway and you took the backroads doesn’t mean you won’t both make it to the same place. So don’t waste your energy comparing yourself to others, but instead…

2. Focus on creating content
The only recurring theme in getting an agent? Make sure you’ve got good work to show when you start looking for reps. Lori recommends “Having a body of material that you can show at the drop of a hat. Building up that body of material is important.” That means putting in the effort now to attract the agents and managers you’d love to be repped by later on. And making sure you’re writing leads right into point number 3…

3. Create your network
Join a writing group. So many benefits come from being a part of one—not only will it help you work on your body of work to show agents, but it will expose your writing to other writers who might have representation themselves. About her experience in a writing group (hers had 14 members), Lori says: “Through these conversations with other members of the writing group, I’d say ‘Well, I’m trying to look for a manager, I’m trying to look for an agent.’ A couple of the members who knew my work said, ‘Here, why don’t I pass your script or your pilot (first episode of a TV show) off to my agent or my manager.’ [My material] got passed around from there and luckily it landed on a few desks. I got some meetings, and I was able to find my reps.”

4. Enter contests
Once you’ve written up some of your ideas (and maybe they’ve been honed by your writing group…!) it’s time to get your work out there. Contests are a good way to share your work because, as Lori explains, “Reps are always looking at that material as well. I know a lot of people have found agents or managers that way.” Don’t shy away from submitting your work. You’ve put the effort in, now it’s time to let it shine so that others can appreciate your hard work and creativity, too.

5. Trust your work
Writing is a creative enterprise, but it’s easy to feel like creativity and good ideas take a back seat to the business side of the industry. Lori, instead, has some comforting thoughts: “Idea is king here in Hollywood. If you have a really good script, people are going to notice for sure. It’s just trying to get it into the right hands.”

Thank you so much, Lori! Well—I don’t know about you guys, but we feel ready to get back out there and make it happen for ourselves! So we’ll keep it short: come back next week to hear all about following your instincts and acting on your passion, regardless of what the rule-book says.