Jun 12, 2018
Welcome back to Podcastification - on this episode I’m walking you through the step by step details of what I do to carry out MY successful podcast production workflow every single week. It doesn’t matter if you publish episodes every week, every other week, or once a month - organizationally you’ve GOT to have an effective podcast workflow to ensure two things:
Quality AND Consistency
What I demonstrate and describe on this episode is not the ONLY way to do this - but it’s the best way I’ve found after 5 years of podcasting. And if you scroll down, you’ll also notice that I ALSO recorded this one as a video - with the workflow mapped out on my whiteboard. The visuals help on this one - honest.
[1:18] The vital importance of having a well-considered podcast workflow: consistency & quality
[3:12] Write down every step of your process - one per sticky note: here’s why
[4:01] Beginning the process, one step at a time
[17:41] Do you see how the workflow enables you to be professional and consistent?
[21:45] Resuming the steps to your podcast workflow
[44:15] Why process equals success
The list I send to guests about how to best prepare for the recording
The form I use to ask my guests to confirm their participation here
Keyword Finder (affiliate link)
My previous episode about using Auphonic
Libsyn - use the code “PFT” to get up to 1 ½ months off
Episode: Using virtual services/assistants
Nothing successful happens by accident. Here are a couple of real-life examples…
Your wrist watch or smartphone didn’t just “happen.” Somebody thought it up, designed it, and made it to do exactly what it does. And you get to enjoy the benefits of their detailed, systematic approach to creating a solution you need.
Your podcast is the same type of thing.
You’re trying to reach a particular audience to teach them particular things or focus on particular topics. And it’s not just going to happen…
You need to learn how to be systematic about it so you can be effective at it.
Process = Success: and in Podcasting the process that makes it happen is a powerful podcast production workflow.
When you have a podcast workflow that is well-considered and smart, you’ll avoid two fo the biggest problems that plague any content creator: inconsistency and lack of quality.
Said another way - getting down a great podcast workflow is likely the ONE THING that will enable you to stand apart from all your competitors. The very people you want to attract and benefit will be drawn to you because something about you is very obvious: YOU CARE about the content you’re producing and the people you’re producing it for.
This audio/video episode is aimed at showing you, step by step, how to create a podcast production workflow that is unique to you and your show - and how to keep it running episode after episode to ensure you provide the value to your listeners that you really want to provide.
What I’m about to describe to you is MY WAY of going about this process. You may have a different way that works for you - mindmaps, pencil and paper, computer software - whatever.
I don’t care HOW you do it, I just care THAT you do it. Process equals success: remember that!
My system involves the use of my whiteboard and a handful of sticky notes. I use this system because it’s easy to see in one glance and it’s easy to modify as I go by moving the sticky notes around on the board.
And to clarify, understand this: I don’t LEAVE it in this format. I’m going to transfer what I create onto a checklist that I use for every episode, but for now - as I’m creating it, I’ll ues this systems.
So, it’s time to get into the steps.
It may be helpful to do this the next time you work on your podcast episodes. It will require some additional time so make sure you set aside a chunk so you can do it. And let me warn you, you’ll want to shortcut this step because of impatience or eagerness. But don’t.
This is an example of doing something laborious now that will save you laborious steps later - and in an exponentially multiplying way - so stick with it and get it done.
Be as detailed about these steps as you need to be to ensure that you don’t forget anything about what goes into it. If you’ve never detailed the exact steps that you do by rote memory that go into each of these sticky note steps, I’d suggest you bullet-point those steps on the sticky note so you can actually see them and understand them visually.
Who knows, you may be handing a lot of this work to a VA or assistant in the future, so the more you have written down ahead of time, the more easily you’ll be able to do that.
Don’t worry about getting the steps in order at this point - just get them out of your head and onto the sticky notes. You’ll have time in the next step to arrange them in sequence. You’ll also find that you likely forgot some - that’s OK too. You’ll just record them on your own sticky note as they come to mind.
When I first started podcasting I shot from the hip WAY too much. That means…
Do you see where I’m going with this? How can you create amazing value to stand out in the crowd if you don’t plan to do so?
I had to learn that lesson the hard way and hope you don’t have to. That’s why I’m focusing on this right at this point.
Your audience deserves the very best from you - so give it to them through planning out your episodes.
Once you choose the topic for an episode, you’ve only done the FIRST thing. The next step is even more important.
Very few of us are accomplished enough or talented enough at public speaking to think of a topic and then effectively ad-lib as we record an episode. So don’t try it - not for a very long time.
You need to develop the discipline of researching, learning, growing, knowing your topics backwards and forwards - THAT is what will get you to the point that ad-libs are acceptable and possible.
People like John Maxwell do it all the time - but hey, he’s John - which only means he’s paid his dues over the years THROUGH the kind of diligent work I’m talking about.
So… what goes into good research? For me, it’s a combination of things, depending on whether I’ll have a guest on the episode or not...
It’s not enough to know what I think about something. I need to know what’s being said by others who are knowledgeable on the topic. If I don’t take the time to do this I can come across as a naive know-it-all. I don’t want that.
So I typically collect links to articles, etc. in my Pocket account and then link them to the card in my Trello board where that idea is recorded (I created a video about how I do that once upon a time). That way I can easily go to the topic > click on each link > read articles without having to search for them > and begin my own bullet point outline for the episode, all in the same spot on my Trello board.
As I just mentioned, the next thing I do is begin my own outline of the topic. I want to include things I’ve discovered/ learned, things I believe from my experience, and what others who are experts on the subject have to say.
I want to leave no stone unturned - because it’s that kind of comprehensive quality that will get the attention of my listeners/readers AND get the attention of Google. Honestly, it does work that way.
Once I’ve created my bullet-point outline, I’ll go through it slowly to ensure it makes sense from a sequential standpoint. If I need to reorder or reorganize it, I will.
It’s got to make sense the moment a reader/listeners glances over it. If it doesn’t they’ll probably click off to something else.
I don’t always do this, but if I’m dealing with a complicated subject, or one that is easily confused (in my own mind, especially), I’ll add this step - I journal my thoughts and understanding about the topic.
Why do I do this? Because as Dawson Trotman once said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they flow from lips or fingertips.”
Typing/writing things out helps ME understand it. When I finally record the episode I want to be speaking about the subject matter naturally, as one who has studied and understood the topic for myself (because I have).
If I shortcut this step, it will show up in the quality of my episode content - and I believe that costs listeners/fans/followers in the long run. I can’t have that.
I won’t have that. :)
If the topic I’m interested in would benefit from a conversation with an expert guest, I start thinking through who that guest should be. Nobody is out of the realm of possibility. My philosophy is to ask because the worst they could do is ignore my outreach or say “No.”
That’s not so bad, is it?
In a future point I’ll tell you how I go about reaching out to these experts.
Are there any special graphics, audio clips, sound effects, or other resources that would make this episode ultra special?
If I can come up with good ideas, I jot them down. I’m going to do everything I can to up the value of the audio and the show notes to make them stand out - to my listeners and to Google. My philosophy on that is that if it pleases my listeners, it will likely please Google too.
But be careful here - don’t overdo it. I went through a season on my podcast where I did lots of cutesy sound effects just for the sake of doing them. I thought they were fun and gave the show a unique sound.
My audience told me they were annoying. (Listen to your listeners when they give you feedback).
If you don’t have a VA or assistant who helps you with this kind of thing, you’re making a list for yourself - and you have another set of things to do in order to publish the show as you have planned.
It’s a lot of stuff, but it’s worth it to do things right. I’d rather have an episode publish late and be phenomenal than to publish on time and be so-so. I believe my audience knows the difference - and is glad when I don’t shortcut the process.
So… passing these things to my VA puts a new task on her plate, which is the next step in this process - reaching out to the guest I have in mind.
If I’ve decided to approach the guest through a contact or friend, I do that legwork before I pass this info to my VA. I want her to have as easy a time as possible connecting with the person I have in mind.
She’ll also start collecting the resources I need, whatever they are, and place them in a predetermined Dropbox or Google Drive location. That way when I or my editor are ready to produce the episode or show notes, the resources are available.
Once I’m ready for my VA to reach out - I have her do so using a template I’ve written and provided to her that she customizes to the person I have in mind, the topic I want to chat with them about, and the timeframe in which I’d like to record the episode.
I thought about providing a copy of my template here but decided against it, simply because any template you create needs to be in your voice and reflect the unique characteristics of your podcast and brand. I can’t write that for you.
So, spend quality time on this. It’s important. The first impression you give to potential guests is powerful for them and could make or break their willingness to be a guest on your podcast.
Some items you might want to include…
And even though you need to include all that - keep it short. Busy people don’t have time for long emails. Short and sweet is key.
I’m being entirely optimistic here, assuming that your email request was well-received and the person you reached out to is enthusiastic about being on your show. If so, you should receive a response of some kind from them - they’ve filled out your intake form or have scheduled on your calendar to record a conversation.
This isn’t really a step where you need to do something, I just include to remind you that your next action points depend on this happening first. So be patient and remember that busy people are busy. It may take them a while to respond (if they do at all).
Possibly the worst thing you could do is to receive a favorable reply from a guest and then not respond in kind.
That person needs to know that you received their information and are planning on recording at the time they chose.
So reply to them - some way - any way. Just let them know you got their information and are looking forward to the conversation at the particular date and time they selected.
If you have a list of interview best-practices you can send their way, include that with your response. You want to help your guests be good guests.
The day of your recording has come. You’re ready to get a great conversation or solo recording into digital form.
But you won’t be able to if your equipment/setup isn’t working properly.
So test everything. You don’t want the audio coming out less than professional. It will reflect badly on you and on your guest. So take the extra time you need to ensure everything is working as expected.
I’ve had instances where I had to switch my recording method simply because I couldn’t get things worked out. I’ve also had to ask guests to switch the microphone on their end to get a better sound.
As you do these things, be sure to reiterate to your guests that it’s all for the sake of making them sound as great as possible. They’ll usually be OK with the hassle in that case.
This one is pretty simple - just do the recording.
Use the great outline you created in the prep and research stage.
Enjoy the conversation with your guest. Mine the gold nuggets out of them with good questions.
You’re more than halfway done at this point - I think.
I label this step the way I do because it’s what I have to record for my podcast production workflow. Yours will vary.
But the point is this - and I can’t say it enough… well, maybe a story will help…
I have clients all the time who toss their main content into Dropbox for my team the minute they are done recording it. Check. Good job.
But then when it comes time for my team to put together their audio and produce it, we have no intro or outro (or other needed elements).
When I talk to the client about it they say, “Yeah, I always forget to do that.” Or another, even better version goes something like this… “I wish I could do this a better way. By the time I get around to recording the intro and outro I’ve forgotten everything we talked about.”
BINGO! This approach solves those problems.
You don’t have to remember to record anything because it’s already recorded.
You don’t have to rack your brain to remember the details of a conversation you had weeks ago, because you recorded the intro and outro fresh on the heels of that great conversation in the first place.
Get it all done at one time, while it’s still fresh on your mind - and save yourself a bunch of hassle later.
In my case, Dropbox is the destination for all my recorded files - and we structure the files and name them in a way that everyone one the team knows what they are looking at and what do do with what they see there.
The more detailed you can be with these systems when you’re working with others, the less communication you’ll have to have week to week.
Just set it up in a way that works and leave it alone.
If you’re doing the editing work yourself you still need to be organized. I can’t tell you how many times at the beginning of my podcasting journey I couldn’t find the audio file I recorded.
Clean up your system. A place for everything and everything in its place.
Once my files land in Dropbox, my editor receives a notification that the audio is ready for him and he gets to work.
If I were doing the editing myself, I’d arrange my schedule so I could do it immediately following the steps I’ve just outlined.
I don’t want to have to come back to it later. I don’t want to have to remember where I left off. I want it out of my hair, scheduled, and ready to go - all in one swoop.
This one is HUGEly important. I can’t stress it enough. In fact, I want to say it again!
OPTIMIZE YOUR TITLE. If you don’t know why this is so important, you must not have heard the incredible results I got from doing so - on this episode.
And what you hear in that amazing case-study doesn’t only apply to show titles - it applies to episode titles too.
So I take the time to do some effective long-tail keyword research using this tool (this is my affiliate link) to make sure I’m crafting a title that people out there in Google-land are actually searching for.
Then, once the title is honed in just like I want it - I pass it on to my VA. Why?
Because of this…
Using Canva templates I’ve set up ahead of time, my VA drags images into the display, changes titles and episode numbers, and cranks out new artwork for every episode of my show.
She does that with the title I provide to her.
But she also produces social media artwork aimed at making the episode appealing to social media users. These may include quotes from the episode, the optimized title I passed her way, or even audiograms (coming to my workflow in the near future).
Then she’ll schedule out the social media elements using a social media management tool of some sort (we haven’t settled on one at this point, though I have used eClincher in the past and didn’t have any trouble with it). And she makes sure to include a short link to the episode show notes page as part of the social media posts.
As of right now, this is still on my plate. I write these show notes for every episode of my podcast (as of June 2018).
Yes, they are long. Yes, I’ve spent half the day on this set of notes already. YES! It’s worth it.
The value of exhaustive content like this will grow over time as the internet rolls on. And it will bring great value to my listeners again and again.
If you want your show notes to be a certain way, it’s up to you to ensure they ARE that way.
Either you have to refine your process and create a video or checklist to show someone else how to do it, or you have to write them yourself.
OR - I almost forgot this one - you can outsource your podcast show notes to a team of professionals like mine.
Nothing hard about this - just a lot of detail. And I’m responsible to make sure my VA understands the details, knows how to implement them, and is able to do it without fail.
I recommend checklists. HIGHLY.
You can’t expect quality or consistency from anyone if you don’t enable them to know what that level of quality looks like.
This goes double or triple for the people working for you.
So figure out the steps involved in your posting process - write it down - tweak it - make sure nothing is missing.
Then pass it on to someone else. Nathan and I talked about that on this episode.
This is another task my VA has been instructed to do - and she only does it if my episode included a guest - OR if I mentioned someone in the episode that I’d like to let know about the mention.
She simply sends another form letter, modified to the person and episode, that provides resources to my guest for sharing the episode with their network.
I want to borrow from my guest’s network to get momentum for the episode. The more it is seen in their network, the more likelihood there is that I’ll gain some new subscribers to my podcast.
It’s that simple.
Going step by step through my podcast production workflow like this is a bit exhausting, isn’t it? My brain is tired - as are my hands (from the typing).
But it’s an example of how a bit of hard work now will reap huge rewards in the future that are ongoing and compounding over time.
I’d love to hear your best practices when it comes to your podcast workflow. Please let me know what YOU do to make your workflow smooth and simple.