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I woke up this morning a little worried that I’ve been flooding you with far too many great ideas about podcasting for you to possibly implement.
Even though I am very much not doing a “how-to” show, I do surface a lot of ideas that working podcasters like you can implement right away to make your podcast better, and thereby all of podcasting better. And that’s exactly what I want to happen!
But I also don’t want to overload your already busy life. And with me producing four episodes a week, that’s a possibility. So I turned to the one podcaster I’m closest with to see if it’s too much and if that podcaster has been successful at implementing any changes in their podcast over the last year.
The podcaster I chose? Me!
Practicing What I Pontificate
Using me as a test subject is rarely a good idea for a plethora of reasons, but in this case, I think it’s fine. I’m a big fan of change, but I balance that with my pragmatic side.
So I reflected back on the 123 episodes of Season 3 of Podcast Pontifications I’ve produced thus far, examining the changes I’ve put in place for myself. Because if I’m not taking my own advice, how much is that advice worth?
I came up with nine changes I’ve made, with most of them implemented in the last few months. There are probably more, but I’ve a daily recording schedule to keep! Here’s a non-exhaustive list:
1. Inside-out episode planning
I’m an outliner from way back. With the exception of the first few episodes I did on the spur of the moment before I knew this would be a regular thing, I create an outline for every episode of Podcast Pontifications. I used to employ a top-down, linear approach. But last year, I switched that completely, working on the “meaty middle” first, then the ending comments, then working up to the lead, and then finally the subtitle and title.
It takes me a little longer to assemble the outline, but it makes for much more concise episodes when I don’t have to hunt for the connecting thread.
2. New branding
If you haven't looked at your podcast listening app in a while, you might have missed the nifty new logo and color scheme for Podcast Pontifications. That new design forced me to update the episode-level artwork I produce for each episode, which prior to this looked rather amateurish. Because I made the template, and I’m no designer! But Nik Gill is an excellent graphic designer who came up with a great new look reminiscent of a zen garden that matches the intent I’m going for.
3. New website design
With a great brand kit in hand, it was time to update the website, so I engaged UX designer Steve Yong to give it a fresh look and fix some of the barely-functional functionality of PodcastPontifications.com, and it’s rockin!
4. Corrected transcriptions
I’ve been generating transcripts for a couple of seasons now, but a few months ago I decided to stop half-assing them. Auto-generated transcripts are better than nothing, but I didn’t want to treat my audience with hearing loss any differently than I treat everyone else. So I got together with my amazing production assistant Allie Press to develop a new workflow that would allow her to correct the transcript prior to publishing. Given the incredibly tight turnaround for these daily episodes, that was no small feat. But we did it, and now every episode is accompanied by a corrected transcript at the time of publishing.
5. New PPIYI provider
PPIYI is Podcast Pontifications In Your Inbox, a free service that a few hundred people use to get each episode’s audio file and the corresponding article emailed to them every single day, has been overhauled. If you were subscribed, you may not have noticed much of a change. But the process is quite a bit different, and it works better for the overall experience.
(Side note: There’s a signup form for PPIYI at the bottom of every page of PodcastPontifications.com if you want it.)
6. I switched to S̶a̶n̶k̶a̶ tea
I get up very early and used to power through coffee and/or yerba mate every morning. But on the advice of a few SLTs—Speech-Language Pathologists—I know, I’ve switched to drinking tea before I go on-mic. (Purists will note it’s actually a tisane, not a tea, as some of my vocal issues could be caffeine-related.) Though I switch to mate post-recording else I fall asleep by 11a!
7. I hired a vocal coach
Because I use my voice professionally (not just for this show), I decided to hire a vocal coach so that I can keep using my voice professionally for as long as possible. I’m working with vocal coach Ruchi Kapila, with regular lessons and sessions to keep the pipes nice and strong. On their advice, I recently had a scope ran down my nose by an otolaryngologist to make sure my vocal folds are structurally sound. They are. And that procedure is gross. No, you don’t want to see the pictures.
8. Audio engineering skills up-leveling
I’ve been making audio professionally since 1987, so I’m no slouch. But I’m a massive short-cut taker and I’m lazy. Even though I’ve invested a small fortune to make my home office an exceptional recording studio, I knew I could do better. So I worked with audio engineer Marcus dePaula who helped me craft an all-new post-production workflow for my episodes. This episode is only the 2nd episode that’s gone through the new process he developed. Though the difference is subtle, I have much more confidence about the way my episodes sound, which is important.
9. Re-worked episode details
Truth be told, I’m always making small tweaks to how I handle in-app episode details. But now that Apple is doing all sorts of dumb things with their rapidly-slipping market leader position, I’ve had to make more drastic changes. The good news is that the in-app details now look better in other podcast listening apps and directories as well. The bad news is that I’ll have to keep adjusting things as Apple (and others) keep shifting the goalposts. Good thing I like change, huh?
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Changes Gonna Keep Changing
So yes, it does appear that I’m practicing what I'm preaching. For me, that’s fairly easy, as changing things up from time to time is part of who I am. Which is a good thing, because changes in podcasting aren’t going to stop. Ever.
And even though all of the changes listed above make my podcast (and me as a podcaster) better, I can always make the show better still. And I can get better. You can too!
I have even bigger changes planned for Season 4 coming up in a few months. Many of them will be implemented as soon as the new season starts, and some will be in conjunction with other podcasters and podcast service providers.
Soon I’m going to start communicating those coming changes to the people and companies that have supported me thus far. So if you haven’t yet, please go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and sign up for a membership, as members will get first crack at some of these new ideas I have cooking. And I’ll also have some interesting opportunities for one-off coffee supporters and PPIYI subscribers if a recurring membership isn’t in the cards for you right now.
Enjoy your weekend. And Happy Mother’s Day to moms in the US of A. Or anywhere, really.
I shall be back on Monday with yet another Podcast Pontifications.