Episode 021: What I Learned After 6 Months of Podcasting
In the Fall of 2018 I had the crazy idea of rebranding The E-Design Experience and creating The Design Influence podcast. By the end of October, I’d secured nearly a dozen guests for the show and shortly after began batch recording the first season of solo episodes, guest conversations, and Q & A sessions.
While I had a general idea of what I wanted for the show and had sought some counsel from more seasoned podcasters, I really and truly had no idea what I’d gotten myself into. Sound familiar? If you read my post from almost a year ago on the 10 lessons I learned hosting a conference then you already know that this isn’t new for me — I get a big idea, I do the research, I come up with a plan, and then I quickly take action!
I’ve always been wired this way — dream, plan, act. Sometimes things turn out amazing. Sometimes they completely flop. But every time I learn and the podcast was certainly no different.
So what have I learned after 6 months, 21 episodes, 9 guests, and countless sleepless nights of podcasting?
Lesson #1 — podcasting is hard as hell
I don’t say this because I thought it was going to be easy — I’m not that naive — but as someone who’d only consumed podcasts, I did not truly understand (or appreciate) all the work that goes into producing a decent, much less amazing, show.
I think about some of my favorite podcasts to listen to, be it in business or entertainment, and I hear them completely differently now after being on the other side.
The outlining, the planning, the recording, the scheduling, the editing, the pitching, the promoting… ALL of it that as listeners we may or may not think about, is probably some of the most arduous work I’ve taken on.
Lesson #2 — batching saves lives…and it save this show
There is absolutely no way this show would’ve happened had I not pre-recorded episodes, and more specifically batch recorded. Alongside that, batch outlined, batch edited, and batch scheduled.
Point is: batching saved me!
I don’t imagine too many shows record in real-time, unless they need to — i.e. one of my favorite podcasts is all about current events and airs weekly so they can’t really record ahead of time. Even even something as simple as templating the format of the show notes, had I not got the bulk of my outlining and/or recording done ahead of time there are many times the show would not have aired.
Out of town trips.
Plain ol depression.
So many times I was not at even 50% much less 100% to produce a show but in most instances, an episode went out to you because of all the work I’d put in ahead of time.
Lesson #3 — things aren’t always as people make them seem
I don’t want to minimize anyone else’s experience but so many of the things I was “warned” about when it came to podcasting did not come to pass.
Maybe it was divine intervention.
Maybe it was timing.
Maybe it was skill.
Whatever it was, there was pitfalls that I braced myself for that weren’t even a factor.
One of the biggest things everyone — literally everyone I asked — warned me about was how terribly show the approval process is for Apple podcasts. I was given all kinds of anecdotes of how unpredictable the process can be for a new show and that often people have had to push back their release date by days or even weeks because things would not work out on the Apple podcasts side. Add to that, because I was launching in January, I was told to expect an even longer wait time.
So I applied in November, anticipating this glacial approval process. I applied at 1:15am on a Saturday morning and received my approval e-mail Sunday afternoon! Not even 48 hours had passed and I had a live podcast, with no content to share!
Fun fact: there’s a chance, if you’ve searched the podcast on Apple, Google, or Spotify, you’ll end up with two results — definitely on Apple. This is because in fear of what everyone told me would happened, I published locally as well as via anchor.fm. All were approved in apparently “record” time and so now I have 2 podcasts of the same show. I’ll probably reconcile the two over the Summer but talk about a win!
Had I let everyone’s experiences deter me, there’d be no show. Like at all. Instead, I let their concerns and warnings be my guide for setting up contingencies.
Lesson #4 — perfection is truly paralyzing
There are quite a number of episodes that I recorded and ended up re-recording and/or never airing at all — because I said “um” too often or I sounded to pitchy or some other thing in my head that ultimately completely crippled me mentally.
Getting out of my own head — hi, I’m a recovering perfectionist — is hard work but so worth it. Once I was able to get over those perceived imperfections, confident in the message instead of vanity metrics, the show took off. I’m not topping any charts, but every week I get one or two messages from some of you about how much you enjoyed or learned from an episode.
Will I continue to strive to be better — of course, duh!
But in the meantime, as the saying goes, “done is better than perfect” and the fact that so many of you return week after week is a testament to that.
Lesson #5 — always have a back up that is familiar and reliable
If you were around during last year’s virtual conference, then you know that there were a few hiccups with our hosting platform, Zoom. What you may not know is that since then, I’ve been super weary about using Zoom, for fear of what may happen, but it is a platform that I still have. That said, when it came time to plan for the podcast, after a buttload of research, I chose Zencastr to conduct my guest recordings.
As a primarily solo show, I could record on just about anything, but for guest episodes, I needed to know that I had a platform that would be reliable and easy to use for everyone on the call. Zencastr checked off all my requirements, and for about 80% of the recordings that’s what I used. But that other 20-ish percent — I had to use Zoom! Ironically, both instances had the same issue.
While I won’t actually tell you which episodes they are — feel free to guess tho! — I will tell you they rank amongst my top most played episodes. Imagine what a tragedy it would’ve been if those 2 guest episodes never made it on air because I couldn’t come out with a workaround to whatever what going on?!
Lesson #6 — the women in this industry are phenomenal
Spoiler alert: in case you haven’t listened to all of the guest episodes — they’re all women. Every. Single. One. Sorry but not sorry.
This isn’t to say I haven’t met some phenomenal men in this industry — because I have — but whether it was over 1 thing or 10 things, I was able to always extract something from each and every guest that resonated with me personally; to me that connection was invaluable for having a truly great conversation.
I’ve said this before, but often what you’d hear on the show was maybe a fraction of our entire conversation, as we related on everything from motherhood to our faith to struggling as entrepreneurs.
Have I crossed paths with a few “mean girls” in the design industry? Yep!
But the number of supportive, intelligent, inspiring, kind-hearted, and just all around dope AF women I’ve met far exceeds those other experiences.
These women have all become unofficial mentors and cheerleaders, and that’s worth its weight in gold.
Lesson #7 — I hate the sound of my own voice but I love talking to you
Hating the sound of my own voice isn’t new — this is why I will seldom ever leave a voicemail; and neither is knowing that I’m talkative when in the right kind of conversation. But it really surprised me how much of a rabbit-hole I could fall into…talking to myself.
Because let’s be real here — yes, I’m talking to you with the show, but in the moment no one is in the recording booth (aka my closet) with me but me.
What made the show so conversational and easy to record and get lost in was feeling like I was really talking to each and every one of you — helping out a friend with some information I’ve unearthed to hopefully make their day, life, business, or whatever easier.
I’m sure every podcaster says this but man, is it the God honest truth!
Lesson #8 — consistency is personal and mental
The hardest lesson for me with this show was consistency.
And I don’t just mean in terms of producing the show but is how I produced the show, my marketing, my ideas… all of it. Sticking to a very well laid out road map can sometimes be the hardest thing for a creative to do — our brains are wired to create, all the time!
While I am as technical as I am creative, consistently staying on task was a mental game that I was not equipped to play because I had had to first define what that would even look like for me. Not what was consistent for you the listener but for me the creator.
It starts with me.
While there is still work to be done on my part for you, had I not had those hard mental checks with myself, I would definitely never be able to show up.
There were so many other lessons learned in the past few months, many of which I learned directly from my guests and/or overlapped with the 10 lessons I learned hosting a conference — which I suggest you read so that you truly understand — but one of the most valuable for sure has been, and continues to be, to always bet on myself.
No one asked me for a podcast — well actually a handful of people did inquire but I think that was just to be polite. No one was demanding a show from me — with so many other resources out there, I could’ve simply resolved to share recommendations. But I wanted to do more. I needed a space to talk to you and share with you, and podcasting was a perfect way for me to do that, while still allowing for a two-sided conversation, if you wanted one.
I’m not a live video kinda gal.
I forget to send out e-mail marketing way more than I want to admit.
And I’ll be damned if I ever have another Facebook group.
But I believed that I had a perspective that was worth sharing and couldn’t wait for another conference or be shoved into a caption.
The first time someone messaged me saying that they loved my show and were excited for more episodes, I had a major “oh shit!” moment, while also choking back tears. This made taking the chance to pitch sponsors and guests, to learn the tech, and to just do the work worth every second and every dime (P.S. podcasting costs money!).
I don’t say any of this to tell you to run out and start a podcast — because I do believe it isn’t for everyone! — but I do believe that we all have passions and dreams and big ideas that deserve to be explored.
Bet on yourself.
Start the blog.
Buy the course.
Record the podcast.
Write the book.
Take the trip.
Whatever it is that’ll take your dream from dream to reality, bet on yourself and make it happen. I did. And I have a lifetime of lessons with zero regrets to show for it.
You were also a part of this major bet I made on myself.
When the show hit 1,000 downloads it was another major “oh shit!” moment but really that was all you! I didn’t download the show 1,000 times — trust me, I tried. You are the ones that trusted me enough to make me part of your day, your routine, and you came back every week for more. There aren’t enough words for me to repay my gratitude so I’ll have to settle for two:
While this may be the final episode of the season, this isn’t the end of the road for us — not even close!
This summer The Influence Directory will be opening up with two new courses. While there will be more in the pipeline, going with these two made sense — they answer what I get asked the MOST about via email and DMs, and they match up to the most listened to episodes on the show — better using your presentation tools and decoding affiliate marketing.
Unlocking Your Presentation Tools is all about using your native platforms — Keynote and PowerPoint — to wow clients with custom animated and dynamic mood boards. Whether it’s for a mood board or a video, with a few new tricks, you’ll be able to take your design presentations from basic to breathtaking.
Affiliate Marketing Decoded is for you if you’re ready to add another revenue stream to your business, without sacrificing your time. While I had always known there was an interest in the topic, it astounded me that Episode 5 on Creating Content & Getting Paid With Affiliate Marketing and Sponsored Content was and is the number one listened to episode from the entire season. Noted. In the course, we’ll explore the different platforms and strategies for monetizing your expertise with design and content.
Pre-enrollment for the courses have begun and the courses will open during the summer in leu of a conference or a Facebook group — another major lesson learned in how we produce and digest information — allowing you to follow along with an easy to consume, self-paced curriculum.
For more information and enrollment you can head over to www.thedesigninfluence.com/directory. There, you’ll also be able to see what else is coming plus make course suggestions!
Everything I do is an opportunity to help you, of course, but I walk away full of these new lessons, inspired to continue creating and collaborating. At the end of every guest episode, I asked them what’s been influencing them lately. Here’s my answer to that question — you. Every email, DM, request, comment, and review influences that next step in my own designpreneur journey.
Thank you for being my influencers.
For more on everything I’ve mentioned and even the things I haven’t, head over to www.thedesigninfluence.com/podcast — show notes, resources, and everything in between. And now go forth and create more of your influence!