Master Podcasting Practices: Q&A With Kerry O’Shea Gorgone
With a loyal, engaged listener base, podcasting proves audio content is worth getting into, especially if your target audience is always on the move. But where do you start if you’ve never had experience recording episodes or editing audio?
At her recent webinar, Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, host of MarketingProfs’ Marketing Smarts podcast, discussed the benefits of various software and tools, dished out tips for setting up your podcast and explored how to successfully grow your listener base.
With such a detailed webinar, many attendees wanted to know more about the podcasting process. Fortunately, Kerry answered many of the questions that weren’t covered during “How to Become a Podcasting Master.”
Q: What kind of software do you need to make a podcast?
A: I use Camtasia editing software (for video and audio), but you could use Audacity, a free audio-only editing tool. If you plan to interview people who aren’t sitting next to you, you’ll also need Skype or other VoiP to conduct phone interviews.
Q: What is the best site for podcasting using a desktop?
A: Best really depends on your personal preference. I host my podcast through Libsyn, but a lot of podcasters like Blubrry or Soundcloud.
You can read all about the tools I use and the ones other podcasters prefer in this RazorSocial article, “Best Podcast Software and Tools for A Great Podcast.”
Q: Since most listeners will use earbuds, wouldn’t it be best to edit using earbuds so you can get levels/mix the way they’ll hear it?
A: Definitely not, because you will have some listening in their car over a high-quality sound system, and some will listen using headphones. Produce the best quality audio you can by editing with noise-cancelling headphones.
Q: How rich are the analytics on other podcast hosts like SoundCloud, Bluberry, etc.?
A: Analytics across podcast hosting services are fairly similar (downloads by episode). The difference is which plan you need to get access to the richest data. On Libsyn, the analytics get really in-depth with the $20/month plan, but you can get “basic statistics” (downloads by day, month and year) for less.
Plans that come with “advanced statistics” break down your downloads by geographic area, application used and web referrals. You can also export your data as CSV files. Here are Libsyn’s pricing plans.
By contrast, Blubrry has a $5/month add-on that gets you access to analytics regardless of which plan you’re on. I recommend trying the free plan for whichever service appeals to you based on its other features, and see if the analytics you get at that level are enough for you.
Q: I’ll be doing a podcast with someone who is several states away. Are there services other than Skype for recording podcasts?
A: You could try Google, Adobe Connect or GoToMeeting—really anything that enables you to talk via the computer.
You’ll need to make sure you can capture system audio (their half of the conversation) using Audio Hijack or by installing something like Soundflower to use with with audio recording software (like Audacity). Camtasia has its own plug-in.
Q: Do you happen to know whether the well-known podcasts you mentioned are recorded in a studio?
A: Mack Collier’s Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show is recorded on a Dell laptop using the very same mic I use (Rode Podcaster), and Nick Westergaard’s set-up for On Brand is very similar to mine, as well.
Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster connect via Skype to record each episode of The Marketing Companion, and they each use a computer and mic. Tom does have a portable “isolation booth” (a case with soundproofing in it that you open and set in front of you to minimize echo and background noise).
You could get a similar soundproofing set-up for less than $100 on Amazon.
Q: How many of podcast episodes have you completed?
A: Counting just the Marketing Smarts podcast episodes, I’ve published 116 episodes so far.
I do have a few already recorded, but not posted yet, and I’m not counting the dozens of episodes I did for Baby Time back in the day, because I had production help on those.
Q: How much prep/research time do you spend for each interview? And, how much editing time does each podcast typically require?
A: Prep time varies depending on how well I know the person and their work already, whether they’ve published a book I need to read before we talk, etc. I typically spend a couple of hours preparing for each episode.
Recording takes 30 to 40 minutes per episode, with another 10 to 15 minutes recording an intro and outro. (You could elect to do record this while you capture the interview: I just find it cleaner to have separate files.)
Editing, by far, takes the most time, but you could skip this altogether and take a “vérité” approach to podcasting. I prefer to polish it up. Depending on how polished the speaker is, whether there were any connection issues or background noise, etc., this could take anywhere from two to three hours.
I will say that I am incredibly picky, and fix instances in which someone misspeaks or excessively says “um/ah.” You could certainly do it in less time. I sometimes use a service to edit if I’m short on time.
I also spend about 30 minutes writing a post to accompany the podcast, featuring a few call-outs from the episode.
Again, you could publish a podcast in much less time than it takes me. For example, you could ask every guest the same questions (many podcasts do this), do a shorter show and skip post-production.
Q: How do you choose your guests. What’s the criteria?
A: MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley forwards me any pitches she likes. I also run any pitches I receive by her to see which she’d like me to pursue.
Some guests I select based on their specific area of expertise (such as Tim Hayden for mobile marketing or Ian Cleary for tools), and some are to change things up a bit and have some fun (like when I talked with Ernie Capobianco about Mad Men or Chris Cornyn about the reality show Supermarket Superstar.)
The one criterion is that they have to provide value to my audience. That’s it!
Q: Is there a recommended frequency for podcasts? Could they be quarterly, or is that too long?
A: How often you podcast depends on your audience’s preferences and how much time you want to devote to podcasting. Once a week is the most common, but there are podcasts that go up daily and others that go up once a month.
I’d say quarterly is probably too long between sessions: people will forget about you, and people will “discover” your podcast at a much slower rate than they would if you published more often.
The key is not to burn yourself out, so start by recording a few episodes, then releasing them on whichever schedule you choose. That way, you’ll always be a few episodes ahead!
Q: Podcasting sometimes feels like an echo chamber, since it’s a broadcast rather than a conversation. Any ideas for getting feedback from your audience?
A: Read your reviews on iTunes (and Stitcher and anywhere else you publish). Read and reply to comments on your website if you publish the podcast there, as well.
You could also keep an eye on Twitter and other social networks for any mentions of you or your podcast, and thank people who share the episodes. Mack Collier uses the hashtag #FanDamnShow and asks people during each episode to reach out on Twitter. You could try that, or you could just use a hashtag each time you share an episode.
The most important thing is to reply to any comments or mentions you do receive: people won’t comment if they don’t think you’re listening!
Q: How do you feel about doing different formats each week (start interview, next week one woman show, next week two person show, etc.)?
A: It’s your show, as they say. You can change it as often as you like, but I’d advise choosing a format and sticking with it. People like to know what to expect.
Q: What are some good ways to avoid spam on feedback?
A: If you post on your website, the same plug-ins that filter spam on other kinds of posts will work on your podcast post, as well.
Q: Who do you use to transcribe?
A: I use Loretta Oliver from Teleseminars Transcribed. You can also try Speechpad. I know a lot of podcasters who use that one!
Q: Do you think it’s best to call your podcast a radio show? Or a podcast?
A: This is a subject of some debate. In fact, Tom Webster recently covered this on his blog, Brand Savant.
At this point, 49 percent of people are familiar with the term “podcast,” according to Edison Research. The issue is that awareness of podcasts themselves is vastly outstripping awareness of the term: people listen to them, but might not call them “podcasts.”
It’s really up to you: call it a show, an on-demand radio show or video series—whatever you want. Or just call it a podcast, because people will eventually catch on.
Q: On Camtasia, you mentioned that your voice and the guest voice came up as separate tracks. If there are two people in the room, and one via Skype, would that pop up as two tracks or three?
A: If you have a mixer on-site when you’re recording, you could plug two mics into it and capture a separate track for each person in the room.
If you share a mic (much more common, since a single USB mic plugs directly into your laptop), you and anyone in the room with you will share a single track. (Anyone in the room with you should also sit as close to the one mic as possible when speaking!) The person on Skype would be captured as system audio (separate track).
Q: Has the code for RSS feeds gotten easier?
A: I’m not a developer, but I can tell you that I find it easy. Libsyn renders code for me!
Q: May I mention the name of my book as the author or have my website on the thumbnail?
A: No one wants to listen to a podcast about products and services, features and benefits. As long as the podcast addresses a topic that’s relevant to your audience’s needs rather than yours, it’s fine to mention your website and book at the beginning or end, or even to have a spot in the middle.
And brand the podcast, as well, so the name of the show and the thumbnail image for each episode can relate to your brand.
Q: Tips or tricks if you want to do a guest panel discussion in a cast? Like 4-5 people with host?
A: Oh boy, this is a tough one. If you want to do a panel discussion, I highly recommend recording in person, using a mixer to feed individual mics. It’s higher-end in terms of production, but the end result is much better. You won’t have someone breathing over another guest’s answer, for instance.
It will also make it much easier for you to control the flow of the conversation, and make sure everyone gets heard. It’s easy for people to cut in when everyone calls in from a different location to record.
In person, for instance, you could subtly hold your hand up to stop someone who’s been going on too long, then verbally prompt someone else to jump in. That’s not an option remotely!
Keep the numbers low (like two plus you), record in-person if you want to do more, or be prepared to edit out some awkward pauses and some instances in which one guest talks over another.
Q: Do you provide the questions to your guest before you begin the podcast?
A: I typically do not provide questions in advance, mostly because I don’t know for sure which direction the conversation will take. I’d rather listen intently to what the guest says, then follow up with a relevant question than say “interesting point about analytics, but what about mobile marketing?”
If you plan to ask every guest the same questions, like Tim Burrows does for The Police Podcast, then you could set up a page on your site where guests can get a sense of the format and what’s expected, or email them a program in advance.
Q: Sponsors, product placements, shout-outs? Yes, no or maybe?
A: It depends. If the podcast is content marketing for your company or agency, you probably won’t want outside sponsors mucking up your call to action.
On the other hand, if you want to monetize your podcast on its own, then sponsorships, on-air mentions and the like might be appropriate. It really depends on the role the podcast plays in your overall business plan.
Q: Can you speak more on interviewing people over the phone?
A: There are technical considerations and interpersonal considerations when recording over the phone. First, make sure people are ready to begin recording. Guests typically appreciate a heads up that they’re not “on the record.”
Also, try not to interrupt, if you can avoid it. Recording software will sometimes quiet the other person’s track if you burst in, making it difficult to edit later. Finally, choose a quiet place to record. Any background noise will be distracting for the person on the other end.
Q: What equipment/software do you need to do “Live Podcasting”?
A: For live podcasting, you’ll need a portable recorder or a smartphone with an external mic attached. The on-board mic is typically not good enough. I use the iRig microphone with an iPhone 6.
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