In March of 2020, I, like many others around the globe I was furloughed from my job. When it happened I had no idea if I was ever going back to that position or if I would be looking for something new during the worst job market in decades. Before I was hired on in my now furloughed position as video editor/producer, I worked as a showrunner in non-fiction (aka reality TV) where I learned quickly to always plan for a worst-case scenario.
So in my mind, my furlough was paramount to being let go. I can’t just assume I will be back working because I was furloughed, not let go, or fired. No matter what you call it I was not working or being paid. I started reaching out to friends about possible remote editing gigs, but I still needed something else to keep me busy. That’s when I thought, “What if I made a podcast?” I found myself listening to more and more podcasts and from what I knew the industry seemed to be fascinating.
For those of you who are part of the approximately 45% of Americans who have not listened to at least one podcast, a podcast is simply an episodic series of spoken word digital audio files that you can download to a computer, phone, or personal device for easy listening. Forbes recently reported that in 2020 an estimated 100 million people listened to a podcast each month with an expectation that this number will jump to 125 million in 2022. While according to Apple Podcasts, as of January 2021, there are 1,750,000 shows and 43 million episodes in the podcast universe.
These numbers may seem like this is a pretty big tech industry, but just think YouTube has 31 million channels and its viewership watches roughly five billion videos and one billion hours per day. Yes, that is billion with “b” and “per day.” Ironically, podcasting (2004) has been around longer than YouTubing (2005), but in terms of societal trends, I think podcasting is in its adolescence tech-wise.
Anyway, the fact that podcasting was growing so fast, had less competition than most video platforms, less dancing than Tik Tok, and I could do it from the comfort of my own home meant this was a space I would attempt to take a deep dive into.
The only problem was I didn’t a single thing about actually making a podcast. This fact was taken care of by taking a few Udemy classes, watching YouTube-how-to-videos, and listening to more and more podcasts.
Step one in the process was to figure out what my podcast was going to be about. The endless options quickly dwindled to doing a podcast on dating and relationships. The reasoning being that my wife Amie is a Master Certified Relationship Coach and I sometimes help her with video and/or writing content in her business so it was a world I was very familiar with. Then I thought what if we do a show together.
A friend of ours chimed in and offered up maybe we could incorporate my TV background into this too and build the structure of our podcast around a TV dating show as many do for ‘The Bachelor.’ The Netflix show “Love is Blind” was a monster hit at the time so we decided we would watch and an episode of that, then talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the show and the dating skills of the contestants. We would add some of our own dating and relationship stories and some important dating takeaways for good measure.
So we had our concept, now it was time to build a mini-studio in the spare bedroom/turned office. Fortunately, my wife makes a lot of video content for her job as a coach so we had some quality microphones and some stans, but we did have to buy an audio mixer (Behringer Xenyx X1202FX), and a 3’x 6’ folding table that separated us and the mics. We recorded all audio using the macOS digital audio workstation Garage Band and I edited the episodes on Adobe Premiere Pro. Yes, I could have edited in Garage Band and Premiere is mainly a video editing platform, but Premiere is something I already own, am very familiar with, and works great for podcast editing. For those interested, Adobe Audition is the pro audio platform I would recommend if you happen to be considering editing your own podcast.
After completing the first three episodes, we were ready to bring it out into the world. FYI make sure you record and edit at least three episodes before you launch as you want new listeners to have more than one episode to dive into to get them hooked.
Then it was time to place the episodes on a hosting site. There are many good ones to choose from, but we decided on PodBean as it had some good reviews and had a reasonable price for unlimited audio at about $10 a month.
Once uploaded to PodBean, you need to add some episode titles, show, and episode descriptions, and show artwork. For that, we created the required 3000×3000 pixels artwork by using the graphic design platform Canva.com.
Finally, it’s time to upload it and the episodes and connect them to the listening platforms Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Audible, iheart Radio, and with that the podcast Sex, Love & Mindful Dating is thrust out into cyberspace!
One really fun thing about podcasting is that PodBean and all the other hosting sites allow you to track how many people are downloading each of your episodes, what time slots they downloaded it, and even the countries they are from. Most of the people in ours are from the U.S., but there are even listeners from Ireland, India, Australia, Romania, and many others. It’s exciting to track this and a perfect way to remind yourself that what you made is out there in the world… even if you’re only talking hundreds of downloads per month, not thousands or millions.
As my wife and I were making Sex, Love & Mindful Dating together, I had another idea for a podcast that I thought might have some legs too. I noticed there wasn’t a definitive podcast on the greatest love stories ever told. Sure, there were a couple of podcasts that kind of hit the topic, but their format and production value were far from what I was thinking. Maybe I could do that.
I would research, write, and record the audio for a series focusing on the love stories that I thought were really worthy of telling. The ones that teach us something and inspire us. I began to google the top love stories of all time and came up with a list of about 25 or so. I whittled that list down to my top 10 trying to find a balance between all couples based on their professions, ethnicities, historical significance, and era.
Because I was fortunate enough to get my job back after a six-week furlough and would have less time to work on this podcast, I thought I would make the episodes bite-size, so five minutes or so. As a began to script them, I realized it was just too hard to make an impact with such a short running time. I began to target a 20-minute running time instead.
Back in my TV days, we made what are called “pilots”, which means shooting and editing one single episode as a test of the content and format. Then once you view that you can tweak the subsequent episodes in pre-production based on what you learned from making the pilot.
That seems like a reasonable thing to do with my podcast, but I decided not to go that route. I was going to make all 10 of them at the same time. My reasoning being since I was pulling from all kinds of source material and telling many different types of stories I wanted to compare and contrast the stories against each other. I needed to create my podcast scripts from a lot of different source material (books, documentaries, websites, etc.) so I needed to develop a structure that would work for every episode no matter how much or how little was available to me. Plus, I wasn’t sure which of the love stories I chose were going to be the best to launch first so let’s throw them all against a wall and see which one’s stick. I mean, I had to figure out a way to create a format and style that could work for modern couples like Tom Hanks/Rita Wilson and Elton John/David Furnish as well as more historical figures like John & Abigail Adams and King Edward VIII/Wallis Simpson.
Unlike the Sex, Love & Mindful Dating podcast where we could turn around a podcast in a week or two at the most, The World’s Greatest Love Stories took a total of nine months to get all 10 episodes ready for listening. This may be way too long for any reasonable person to spend on what amounts to about 300 minutes of content, but to me, this process was super informative, creative, and a lot of fun.
Once I completed all 10 episodes I shared them with some family and friends who gave me some notes and ranked the episodes from favorite to least favorite. The biggest overall notes I received were to slow down the pacing of my read/editing and that the running time of 20 minutes was too short. They wanted the stories to be flushed out more. These two notes meant I would have to go back and re-edit them all and write and record more content. So an episode running time of 20 minutes shot up to around 30 minutes per. But since I had the favorites ranked, I would focus on the three best episodes which would allow me to release those first. Then I would have time to work on the others as I released each episode every 2 weeks. Though I am now moving to a monthly release.
On February 4th, 2021 The World’s Greatest Love Stories podcast was born.
Before I go there are a few other important things I should mention about making podcasts. First, there’s no real money-making in this per se. Sure, the big fish like The Joe Rogan Experience, Crime Junkies, and the famous actors and actresses who podcast might make some coin, but for regular people just starting out monetizing your hard work, it is not a realistic option.
That is unless you’re selling something else within your podcast. For me, that meant both the podcasts were ways to market my wife’s dating coaching business since I inserted her commercials into both of them. This allows these podcasts to have the ability to bring in some income, residual as it may be.
I did also sign up for PodBean’s Advertising Marketplace that will pay you for the privilege of dropping ads into your podcast, but I don’t have enough downloads yet for that to kick in. Even if it does kick in someday the money is not great. Still, I am learning and honing my craft and feel that as my podcasts and the platform grow the ability to bring in money will happen.
My advice to you is if you ever consider making a podcast to either have a product or service to sell within it or plan to just do it for the fun of it and worry about the money part later.
Yes, podcasting lot of work with no guarantee of any financial windfall, but I assure you, once you complete your first podcast, upload it, and watch as people from all over the world are downloading and listening to your creation, it casts no doubt about one thing… you made it!