Podcasts often fizzle out or fail to get started entirely because the process of putting out regular episodes just feels too hard. Well, here are nine ways to bring ease into your podcasting workflow.
Hiya. This is Mark, your podcast producer, consultant and coach, and you are listening to the Podcast Owner's Manual, your handy guide to looking after your podcast and yourself.
Now, the number one thing that I wish. I had learned. In 13 plus years, I think nearly 14 years. Of podcasting. I feel like I've only learned it today. It's taken me a long time. It takes me a long time, too. Learn certain lessons, but it's taken me a long time to learn this one. Podcasting, any kind of iterative creativity, whether it's blogging. Uh, newsletter, anything like that, a YouTube channel where you've got to show up on a regular basis, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
And that's that sounds like such a cliche. I know. And people say these things all the time. But I want to kind of get into what's behind that cliche. And it is simply that you can't put all. It's it's fair enough. Someone like me saying. You've got to have all these different things perfect, and perfectly right. To make this episode. And we, we, you know, we talk about serving the listener and all that kind of stuff, and that's all valid. And that's great. If you've got a team behind you. But we also have things that we have to do. We have lives, you know, I've talked a lot about putting things in place for when life gets in the way.
And I think one of the things that we can put in our ways, not necessarily perfectionism, but putting standards in place perhaps a little bit before we need to. There's an aspect here of the imperfect action versus perfect inaction, right? There's there's a little bit of, of that as well.
So with all of that in mind, I'm really into ways that we can create more ease in what we do. And the benefit that is, that means that we can show up more frequently. It means that we're not going to burn out. It means that we're not going to have times where it just feels too tricky, or we're not going to have quite some many checks and balances and roadblocks in our way for when we need to get an episode out.
Now, the best way to mitigate that kind of stuff. Is to make as many ahead of time. And we'll, we'll talk about that as well. Okay. So here are nine things that occurred to me, and there may be more, but we're going to get into why, perhaps this isn't a complete list of maybe that'll become apparent, but here's number one.
Editing with less precision. Now, there are certain things that are really important when we talk about podcast editing. And they are. Removing the irrelevant bits, removing the really boring bits we want to maximize the time that we have with our listener, absolutely. But does that mean. Cutting out every, um, uh, repeated fragment of a sentence, long pause?
My take on that is we want to edit to make ourselves sound the smartest version of us as possible. But if we have limited time, then perhaps there are some gains here that we can make, A little bit easier and actually make it okay that we don't edit an episode to within an inch of its life.
Now, quick points of order here is I'm a podcast editor by trade. I'm not describing what I would do for a client. That's a different thing, right? My job is not to make my job easier. My, you know, You know what I mean? Like my job is not to make it easier for me to do the thing that a client pays me for in a way that compromises the work, right? That's for me to figure out. So this isn't me sort of sat here as a, as a professional podcast editor saying, you know, from now on, I'm just, I'm just not going to, uh, put quite so much effort in because it's not my show. It's not my call. But if it is your show and it is your call, and you are the person either who edits or you are, you sort of, you have the effect of how long it takes for someone to edit, then have a think about some, some gains that, that we can make here.
Now, there are some essential things that I think we have to do. We want to remove as much small talk as possible. We want to remove the bits at the beginning and the end where we're sort of fiddling around and getting the mic set up and all that kind of stuff. If someone rings, the, uh, rings rings the phone or a doorbell halfway through. Yeah. We want to get rid of that.
Now a way for us to, to think about this is a way that, uh, quite a few podcasts are edited that are recorded live. Is that rather than. Record the whole thing and then meticulously edit it, what they do is they hit record and then they make notes. When things need to be cut when there's a bit of crosstalk or when someone did a swear and they want to bleep it out or something like that. And then rather than listen back and edit out each little stumble, they go, okay. We know at seven minutes and 14 seconds, someone had to stop and clear their throat. And then we carried on. And the podcasts that I listened to the directed, edited in that way are made by smart people. They're also made by experienced podcasters who are doing it live effectively. They sit in front of a, a chat room who are listening live. So there are different constraints there, but I think that's a technique that we can borrow.
Tom Merritt, who I interviewed back in 2018 and who is a stalwart podcaster, uh, of he's been doing it since, as long as they were podcasts. Uh, one of his, his things is that he does most of his shows, but in fact, possibly all of his shows, Bob one or two, and he makes quite a few different podcasts, he records them either live or as live. Because when that's done, he's not falling into the trap of going right. I'm going to take another go at that. I'm going to have another run-up at that. I'm going to edit that bit down now. He's he's moving forward. Whatever happens on the tape happens on the tape. And again, obviously, if something really egregious happens, that's really that we really need to remove. You can remove it, make a note of it and then remove it. But otherwise, maybe it's okay to just get the recorded, uh, get the recording trimmed, make sure it's sounds as good as it can do. Make sure everybody's level do all those things that we would normally do, but instead of worrying about those little ums nurse and carving every last second, then maybe we can give ourselves a little bit of time.
Now I think one of the things that's important about bringing this up. Is, I'm not really, I'm not talking about degrading the quality of your output for the sake of it, or just simply to save you time. I'm really thinking more hear about us, uh, those of us who were at early stages of podcasts, where the habit isn't ingrained yet. Again, I'm sort of going back to James Clear's atomic habits where those habits aren't yet fully. Ingrained. It can be useful to bring as much ease into the process as possible. So that's number one.
Uh, number two. Is there a part of the process that you can drop? Um, do you need such detailed show notes? Do you need a list of timestamped highlights of episodes, of, of, uh, episode highlights, you know, bits of the episode that you want the listener to focus on?
Now, people do this. And that's fine if they do. I nothing wrong with that, but I've never really, it's not something I see the value in, because if I'm going into an episode I'm going in. And if I'm bored, they've lost me. I'm not thinking well, this bit's boring. I'm going to have a look to see if there's a better bet. I'm going well, you've lost my attention. And I don't know, but I it's one of those, again, in sort of thought leader spaces it's quite popular to have timestamped highlights. I don't know how, if we actually canvas people, how many people would actually use them? I'm not sure. But it's, you know, it's, it's an optional thing that can be dropped. I'm not saying you should, but like, you know, if you're looking for, for ways that you can, uh, make, make the process a little bit easier, then things like that may be, can be jettisoned.
Do the show notes need to be quite as meticulously detailed? Or can you get away with, I. I have a formula for making show notes pretty easy. There's a, an opening sentence that sets a bit of tension. We then try and resolve that scent, uhm that tension in the second sentence. And then if it's an interview based podcast at the, um, the next paragraph is a little bit of a bio that's relevant to the episode, and then it's just a list of links. Lots of shows have much more detailed show notes and that's great. But that's what I do because that's what is manageable for me. And it tends to work for my clients, as well.
What can you hit? Number three, what can you delegate? What can you, what, what parts of the process can you pass on to someone else? Obviously, you know, I do, I do the editing. I do the. Uh, show notes. I do the uploading of, of most. Clients episodes and all of them, most. If you're doing most of this yourself or all of this yourself, is there something that you can pass on to someone else? Not doesn't have to be me, you know, that you can pass on something to a VA. Are there little jobs that you can do? You know, I think if I had my druthers I might take things like the show notes for my own shows, uh, and, and maybe get someone else to write them because they'd probably write something very different, uh, which would be good, you know, because writing your own notes for the show that you've just made it, you know.
But that might be a job. I would certainly, if I could. Certainly hand off the promotion type stuff to someone else and say, you write the LinkedIn posts, you write the Twitter threads because I don't want to. Those, you know, that that would easily be a job that I would pass to someone else.
Number four, what can you automate? Last week's episode, we Uh, with, with, uh, with Lo, talked about automating the outreach process with guests, and still sort of retaining some of that natural feel so it still feels like you're actually in touch with individual and you've got those touch points with individual guests, but also automating it so that things don't go missing or get forgotten or go wrong. So what things can you automate in your process? Can you set up, uh, for example, the Zapier integration that goes from your podcast, uh, you'll feed into Twitter. Facebook, Instagram may be, um. Are there things you can do there. Could you pay someone?
There's a little, little out of left field here. But could you pay a developer to build you a thing that automatically creates a little video out of the first, so many seconds of your podcast audio and then posts that to YouTube shorts? I actually did, this is the thing I actually did. Um, so very quickly last year it was experimenting with doing news bulletins, um, podcast news bulletins effectively. And I would record these and then I had a little robot. I spent a day writing this, this thing that made these little videos. And it was the text of the new, the, the, uh, title of the new story. And then a, an animated background, which I just, I animated somewhere and saved it as a video file and then combined that with the text, put my audio in it, little top and tail, a little animation at the beginning of the end, and used a script to make that video file, upload it to YouTube and post it as a YouTube short video.
And they, they got, they got a few views. Cause YouTube shorts is like YouTube's equivalent of TikTok. And then not the most engaging videos they weren't. Um, because it's, it's effectively static text. There's a little bit of animation, but not enough to make it really captivating, but. You know, it was, it was worth a shot. Um, You could pay a developer to make something like that for you. So that whenever you post a new episode, that if that's a script that just runs from Zapier. And I say it's a little out of left field, but think about those kinds of things, you might be surprised that there are things you can automate the process of making things like videos. That's how audio grams work. Audio grams are just That's how it was someone at WNYC I think it was back in 2016, 2017? Started working on this script that could make these little wave forms and thought, oh, you know, if I combine that with a background image, put audio in, that's the process we can automate. And then we got a little bit more advanced as transcription services came in and they could animate the text, uh, of the transcription and that kind of stuff, but it's all code. It's all stuff that you can pay a developer on Fiverr to build you a template or build you a script so that when you uh, post a new episode that goes out to your feed, zapier can say, oh, there's a new episode in this feed. Let's go run this script. There's lots of more simple automations that you can do as well. Just, you know, like I said, posting to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Here's the title of the episode or here's the description of the episode.
Number five, what can you repurpose? So I have this thing, which we talked about before, which is the idea of calmer content marketing, C A L M E R content marketing, using your voice as the root of your content for a week or two weeks. So recording a podcast conversation and using the notes that you create there, uh, repurposing creating blog, post content, creating all sorts. If you recording video, you can create it all video pieces. Um, there's one of the dragons at the moment. It's Steven Bartlett. I think he's all over the internet. His face is everywhere. Because he's clearly, he's got it. He's got a team that are very good at repurposing his content. His diary of a CEO thing is everywhere. Because that, that team has mastered re purposing. So what bits can you repurpose?
Uh, people. They repurpose and can get a good and a bad rap. Um, No one at nothing ever has a good rap, does it anyway? It can, it can get a bad rap because often what it sort of means is you're creating content that doesn't really fit any social network. Because each social network likes its content in its own form right? Uh, Twitter wants to be pithy. They've got to be, if you want to expound on something, you need to do it in sort of listicle format because the tweets have to be short and you can connect them via thread. There are ways that we can think about this. But maybe ways that you can get the bulk of that content shaped up and kind of ready, and then there's just a little bit of finesse that has to be done to make it fit each social network. And again, this doesn't have to be forever. This is about us getting going and making this process easy. So that may be later on when we're successful, um, Or as, as we, as we are more successful as, as the podcast is achieving what we want it to achieve, we might then be ready to invest a little bit more time in upping the quality. So rather than taking on all the jobs and then figuring out how to delegate them, it's actually saying, well, let's strip down the jobs that we do, and then we can always get people to do stuff for us that then makes that podcast, just that sort of five, 10% better.
Number What can you do or plan in bulk? So can you sit down and plan a whole. Like if planning is the thing that you really dislike sitting down and, and, uh, as the Americans say, ideating, you know, coming up with ideas for episodes. If that's something that you, you really don't enjoy, then, then maybe knock it out in a day and just plan your whole season's worth of content.
Now I've, I've written about this before. I like the idea of planning around the seasons. Because the seasons of the year affect our thinking. You know, we get to the end of the air and we're thinking quite reflectively, we get to the beginning of the year, we're thinking about, well, we're sort of recovering really from, from the end of the previous year. But when we start to get into spring, we think about renewal and things becoming fresh and the the, the new year's resolutions that we started or that we've the ones that we've actually kept with, they're still sort of powering us through. And, you know, we've got out of the dark days of February. So we're, you know, we're, we're, we're thinking these, I think often in, we can get that again in kind of September, because we are ingrained with the school year, that's when we start back in school, certainly, uh, where I'm from anyway. And that can affect our thinking. We get back into a sense of right, it's back to work. You know, we've had six weeks off and they weren't. Yeah. So the seasons affect our thinking. And so you can write a little map content around those each need and plan 52 episodes for a year, but you could plan a month's worth, or you could plan what those months are going to be. And then once a month you go, well, I know that January is content is all about making promises, making commitments to ourselves. So all I've got to do today over an hour. If, if that is brainstorm a few ideas uh, to do with commitments and then you pick the best four or five, however many weeks there are in January, and then there you go. And then you get to February and you do the same kind of thing now. So thinking about what, what you can, what you can do, uh, in bulk so that you don't have that transition energy of oh, it's got to that time again. And I've got to do the thing. You're actually, you're still doing that, but you're only, you know, you're, you're having to do that 12 times a year, as opposed to 52 times a year.
Similarly, similarly, along those lines, number seven is what can you do in what I'm going to call context batches? What can you do in different contexts? So let's say you've done all the planning. What would happen if you recorded? If you took like a Sunday or Saturday or a Sunday or whatever, and you recorded a month's worth of episodes that day? You know, it wouldn't take your whole day take you, you know, maybe an afternoon. Let's say you've already done the planning. I'm not talking about editing. I'm not talking about show notes, nothing, just sitting, recording, saving the files, putting in, putting them somewhere where it's easy and they're organized and you can find them when it comes to editing, right? What would happen if you just sat? And recorded, you know, if that's a bit that you enjoy. You could sit there and just say today, Sunday. I'm going to sit and I'm going to re, but to knock out four episodes. Or due to tennis off a long break, have a drink, come back, do another two. So that's one context.
And these contexts can change depending on your mood, depending on, you know, what you're feeling like. If you're feeling particularly talky. And you've got those things planned, you might say, you know what? Yeah. I'm good to go. Let's record a few episodes. I've got the energy. And on other days you might be thinking I want to do something that is maybe not too mentally taxing, you know, depending on how you find editing and depending on your approach to editing. Again, if we're not necessarily. Going meticulously word by word, you could probably sit there and go, right. Let's trim these episodes. Have I got any notes about when I needed to cut these nerves I can look through the wave form. There there's no big pauses. There's no sudden noises. That all seems good. Have a quick listen. Maybe even sitting casually, listen back or do that in another context. Get those episodes kind of roughly edited. And, and do all the sound treatment that you need to do, export them out as MP3s, dropbox them over to or airplay them. Uh, as whatever the thing is a copy of the over to your phone. I can't remember the name of the Apple technology for copying things over the wi-fi. But copy them over to your phone, and then have a listen later on and go. Right. Oh, okay. Yes, that bit there I could probably tighten up. You know, make a quick note of it and then you can come back and edit, edit those bits again. But again, when you're sort of, when you're in that mindset.
Now, of course, this only really works. If you can work a few weeks, plenty of weeks ahead. And so again, if we're thinking of ease, cause I'm not a fan of doing a whole bunch of really hard work so that later on, we can have an easier life, right? That, that doesn't feel like the the, the best way to there. So it might be that you take a season break and you say, Right, we're going to take a, we're going to take a break now because we are retooling and we're getting ready to make a whole new batch of content. Then you're, you're, you're off the treadmill for a bit, and then you can sit and think, okay, well, here's, here's a bunch of episodes we can plan. Uh, and uh, now when I'm in editing mode, I can sit there and edit, you know, just knock through and edit these, all of them at once.
And then there might be another time when you maybe you're in general writing context. You know, especially if you're writing a book where you have a regular blog, anytime that you're in or a, you know, a sort of a longer form newsletter, anytime you're in that writing context. Maybe sit there and think, oh, you know, what, could I get an episode? Could I get the show notes written for it for an episode?
Uh, this is all really handy if when you're recording, you can, you can make some brief notes because there may be, you don't have to listen back, but maybe you just sit there and casually listen back, uh, and, and sit there and make some notes. You know, I wrote a newsletter issue. At least the first draft of it, um, on my, with my iPad, um, on its I'm on my knees last night. Uh, because I didn't want to sit at my desk anymore. I wanted a different context. It was in the evening and I thought, oh, this will be fun, cause this is a not really a work project since you know, so much. So I'm going to sit here, it's, you know, eight o'clock. Um, I could have a nice pot of tea on the go if I wanted, and just like.
Something else I've talked about before is making these environments as sort of pleasant as possible so that you don't so that you, you can enjoy various aspects of the process. You know, if there's parts of the process that feel difficult or feel like they lack ease, what can you do to, to make them a little bit easier? And again, to go back to Atomic Habits, I'm now at the section of the book where he, one of the things that was a little bit of a breakthrough for me, is the two minute rule. If any of these things feel a little bit tricky, or not easy, or you're dreading them, then just tell yourself, just do them for two minutes. And if that feels like a brain trick, then only do it for two minutes and insist that you stop. And then after a while, you'll start to go, oh, well, I'm here already. I may as well crack on, right? I've because all you've used all of that energy to transition from one state of affairs to the other. To in my case, like haul us over to the, into the office and get everything, you know, get all the applications started up and do all those things. If you're, if you're just going to do it for two minutes, at that point, you've sort of done the hardest thing, which is that getting, getting out of that, uh, energy and actually getting into doing the thing. So only do it for two minutes. And then see what happens. You know, you probably find yourself actually doing it for longer and actually being okay with it. And then when it stops feeling okay, stop, you know, because you've still made more progress. You've made infinitely more progress in your show notes in your editing, in whatever than you would have done if you hadn't at all. So it's always a win. That's one of the things I like about that technique.
Uh, and you know, and another quick one today is writing promo copy, you know, Uh, like I said, it's not something I enjoy, but perhaps I could sit there and go here's a month's worth of episodes have already been recorded, um, and so what are the big takeaways or what are we gonna sit there and, and, and tell people about or, you know, maybe this is a quick, a quick tweet to, uh, tee up the episode. Get it written. Get it in, you know, scheduled in, in Buffer or whatever, and then it's done. You know, and do those in a batch. So there you go, Batching your process. And then number eight is a quick, simple one. Do you need to post your episode on social media? That's something I'm going to be exploring more and it's, I something that I'm kind of thinking more and more about at the moment is whether Valley's something, especially with the likes of Twitter being the mess that it is right now. Do we want to be adding noise? I think there's still a lot more to be, to be said about that, but, you know, if I About this podcast, this has made for you. This has made for the people that I already talked to, and if you recommend it, then that's wonderful. You know, and I, I hope that you, I hope that you would. But only if people stumble across it, that's great. You know, it's got an easily Googleable name, all that kind of stuff. That's, that's all lovely. So that means I'm not really thinking about how we market each episode on social media. I'm not thinking about pithy tweets, because I want to do the marketing I'm prepared. To do the marketing in a slower way. That's not going to be the case for everyone, I know. But I'm prepared to go about this at a slightly slower way and hopefully build an audience over time by showing up and providing value, rather than trying to keep filling people's timelines with, Hey, here's the, here's a call to action for the latest episode that no one's really gonna click because they're not in that context.
So a quick experiment might be, what would happen if you stopped posting your latest episode posts on Twitter? Now I know I've already talked about automating the process, but what happened if you What would happen if you didn't post? Especially if you were handcrafting these, these tweets and Facebook things and Instagram audio reels and all sorts of. What would happen if you didn't do that for a month and then took a look at your numbers? I don't think that they would, I don't think that the needle would move all that appreciably. I'm prepared to be wrong, but, um, I have a sense that that would be the case.
Now finally, number nine. is how can constraints create ease? Now I was going to do this, um, because as you are getting a sense, um, I can tend towards the verbose. Uh, and we've been talking now for 27 minutes. I'm not going to lie. I'm quite impressed. I thought it'd be a lot longer. So I'm quite pleased. Now, I haven't done. Any editing to this episode apart from the basic trimming and adding the music and stuff. I could have come up with a constraint which I did, I did think about, of sticking to a particular timeframe and saying either I'm only going to do 20 minutes. And then when it's 20 minutes, I'm going to stop, which I've done before, or I'm going to talk about each subject for X number of seconds, which I've also done before. That's a technique I borrowed from talks like Ignite and PechaKucha.
So both work in similar ways where. You produce a slideshow and you go and present it, but the slides automatically advance after a given number of seconds. So with Ignite, uh, I think actually we've both it's it's 30 seconds. And then Ignite it's, I can't remember how many slides actually it's, it's slightly different. I think, uh, one of them is 15 seconds, the other one is 20 seconds. That's how long the slides are up there. The next 30 seconds is actually quite a long time. Um, so I think. Ignite is 15 seconds per slide and you get 20 slides. And so when those 15 seconds are up, bam, you're onto the next slide.
That's really, I've found that really helpful. So I recorded a batch of YouTube videos a few years, a couple of years back now. It's about, um, September 2020. And I wanted to keep them short and because they were meant for YouTube, now, this was a lot of content repurposing. I had written. Full text guides, uh, the, the sort of went along with these videos, but then I sort of condensed them down. And what I did is I made PowerPoint presentations, Keynote presentations, where each slide advanced after so many, I think it, again, it was, it was 15 seconds. And what that stopped me from doing was going off on one basically, and, uh, chasing a tangent down a dark alley. It meant that all right. Okay. I've got time for , . So move on to the next bit. And so there was much less editing that needed to be done because I was being snappy. I was imposing that constraint on myself.
Now, like I said, the other constraint is just saying when it's, when 20 minutes are up, 20 minutes are up, there's a podcast. Again, it's something I've talked about. This a podcast called Under the Radar, which is never longer than 30 minutes and that's actually part of their opening spiel. Uh, I think it is welcome to Under the Radar, a show about independent iOS app development. I'm Marco Arment, I'm David Smith Under the Radar is never longer than 30 seconds, so 30 minutes, so let's get started. That's from memory. I think that's accurate. I haven't listened to that show at about 18 months. Um, but that's, right, that they've built that constraint in and actually made it part of the, of the show.
I did a show in March 2019 called 15 Minutes to Save the World. And it was a little exploration around, um, uh, sort of mano, uh, solo podcasting. And I, yeah, I said, I'm going to look at a topic. I get 45 minutes to research the topic and 15 minutes to deliver a sort of semi improvised lecture with some notes and stuff. But 15 minutes, not a second later. Uh, I've done five minute variations of the same thing. So you can find your constraint. Because what that will really help you do if you are someone like me who can sort of enjoy, uh, enjoy chasing the, the, uh, white bob tail of a rabbit tangent, or a tangent rabbit, um, then it means it keeps you a little bit more on the straight and narrow.
Like I said, I'm not too disappointed in the length of death of this episode, um, having, uh, you know, with, with, without the editing. So that's okay. I seem to have done a good job and I'm happy with it, but you've heard the other episodes. Uh, I, I assume. Um, how do you feel. In terms of quality? Do you feel an appreciable lack of quality? This episode is maybe a little bit longer. Maybe it's a little less sort of wippy, wippy and pacy. Maybe there's a bit more breath and a bit more pausing and a bit more of me being a bit goofy. And maybe there's a little bit more of my personality in there.
That's not necessarily the intent, but what do you think? The reason I ask that is I'm not like asking for you to feed back on my, on my process. What instead, I'm sort of inviting you to think about did you listen to that, to this episode and go. Uh, it was sort of nice. There were some useful things in there, but man, it was a flabby episode. Or did you sort of think, yeah, some good stuff in there. I mean, you know, if it were shorter, fine, but like, you know, it was good stuff. And I, I, I don't know. And I don't know you, but I would tend just based on the other shows that I've listened to, a little bit towards the latter there. I'd love your thoughts anyway.
As ever if you do have um, uh, I'm always happy to hear um. firstname.lastname@example.org is where you can get in touch with me, Um, until next week, take very good care of yourself and your podcast, and, uh, we will chat again very soon.