What We Learned Podcasting with Jackie D’Elia (Part 1)

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It’s the end of Season 1! In this 2-part episode, Jackie and I cover everything we’ve learned while starting a new podcast. In this part (part 1), we go over the ideas for each podcast, some early trial and error, pre- and post-production, tricks of the trade, and more.

Show Notes



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Before we get into the show, I want to say thank you, or at the end of Season One. And this week’s episode and next week’s episode are a little bit different than the previous format. I talked to my good friend, Jackie D’Elia, who also started a podcast in the fall. Hers is called Rethink.fm, and we’re in a mastermind group together. We’ve traded notes, exchanged ideas, and learned from each other. And that’s what the next two episodes are going to be about. So I want you to sit back, relax, or maybe take some notes if you want to start a podcast in 2017. See we’re going to cover everything from what tools do I use, and what microphone do I need, to how do I get guests, and sponsors, and a whole lot more. There was so much great stuff packed into this interview that I divided it up into two episodes for us. And that’s how we’re going to close out Season One. So once again, Thank you so much for listening. 

And now, on with the show.

Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks “How did you build that?” We are at the end of season one. It’s been a great time. I’ve had a lot of fun. And I’m here today with my guest, my good friend, and somebody from the mastermind group I’m part of, Jackie D’Elia. Jackie, how are you doing?

Jackie D’Elia: Hi Joe, I’m great. Thanks for having me on. This is super exciting for me.

Joe Casabona: Oh, so no problem. Thanks for it. Thanks for being on the show. Today, we are going to…  The format’s a little bit different from our previous shows. Jackie and I both have podcasts that we recently started. And we are going to go through and talk about kind of how we both built our podcasts to what they are today, the decisions we made, the equipment we bought, and just getting down to the nitty-gritty. So if you want to start a podcast in 2017, this is a great episode to listen to. Sounds good, Jackie?

Jackie D’Elia: Awesome.

Joe Casabona: All right. So, let’s start. People listening to this show, obviously know what this show’s about. But you have a podcast called Rethink.fm. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Jackie D’Elia: Sure. I started Rethink.fm probably last June, June of 2016. It came about as just an idea that I had for, I’d like to ask questions. So that’s the premise of this is, to do a podcast where you can ask questions and it’s a forward-thinking podcast about how you should approach things in the future, and how to look for ways to improve your processes and improve the way that you write code, the way that you design, the way that you work with clients. So the whole life, the whole idea was to talk with folks that were doing things in a different way and exploring new ways to do things.

Joe Casabona: That’s awesome. And that’s mostly the impetus for why I started how I built it too. I like asking, I was asking a lot of people how they did things and I was like, “Man, this is good content. I shouldn’t be the only one privy to this”. So, awesome. So that’s great. So you started in junior, the first episode was officially…

Jackie D’Elia: I think it was about the end of July that I had recorded. I recorded episode zero with Tonya Mork, and we were talking about a lot of the ideas that we had both shared about where things are heading and kind of the different challenges that were ahead for everybody.

Joe Casabona: Nice. So actually that’s a great first thing to talk about, right? Is, episodes pre-recording them, doing them live. And then, episode zero, right? A lot of podcasts do episode zero. I was not going to do that. But, it was a year recommendation that I did. So maybe you could talk a little bit about why you would do an episode zero?

Jackie D’Elia: Yeah. An episode zero for me was kind of like a trailer, you know, for the podcast and kind of just to lay the foundation of what season one was going to be like, make a commitment to how many episodes I was going to do for season one, whether they sank or swam, you know, just go and do it. And I had lined up some guests but didn’t have all the guests lined up yet for the season. I decided to do 12 episodes and I decided to do it every other week. And that was just based on my own schedule and my availability of how much time I could devote to doing the podcast. And I know we can both probably talk a lot about the time commitment that’s involved in doing a podcast. But for me, it was to do it every other week and it was to commit to doing 12 episodes and just kind of lay the foundation of the reason for creating the podcast. The why of it, and then just sharing that, keeping that pretty short, but a good prelude to what was going to come. And it was a way to kind of get some buzz and to get some information out before you were actually ready to launch the podcast.

Joe Casabona: Gotcha. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. My episode zero was very similar in that, it was, well, it was just me talking about kind of why I ask how did you build that, and why I started the podcast again, like a trailer.

There’s also a technical aspect to it though. And that is your first episode on iTunes needs to get manually approved, right? So you need to have one episode under your belt to submit your podcast to iTunes, and then some person manually approves that podcast, right? So if you want to have a launch day of January 01 and you submit your podcast, or you submit the first episode on January 01, there’s going to be a lag time there. So, aside from the trailer to lay it out to kind of hold yourself accountable, it’s also that your podcast is making it into iTunes before your launch date so that your actual launch date goes off without a hitch.

Jackie D’Elia: You’re absolutely correct. And I did the same thing. It was probably about three weeks before episode one aired. I had already got it set up in iTunes, was approved, had my logo, the artwork done, everything was ready to go. So when episode one rolled out, it was already in iTunes right there on that first day. 

Joe Casabona: Nice. Yeah. And we’ll talk about submitting to iTunes in a little bit. But as far as choosing your schedule, choosing the episodes, right? I was also going to do like every other week, I was, and then, but mostly it was because I didn’t think that I would be able to get the guests. But I had like an overwhelmingly positive response. So I decided that I was going to do it weekly and then just kind of pre-record everything. So that was the decision I made. The big decisions with my episodes where I was switching it to weekly. I was going to like almost a hard stop at a half-hour, definitely less than 40 minutes to keep the conversations short and focused. And then, so prerecorded weekly and, unless around a half hour. 

So I know that people do live shows.  I wanted to have a little bit, I want it to be able to schedule several in advance because we both do have pretty busy schedules. So you know, what was the decision? What was kind of the decision-making process for you as far as that goes?

Jackie D’Elia: Well, originally, I had started off doing a video and audio podcast. So definitely the time commitment for doing that was going to make it difficult to do it weekly for me. And I was also wondering, was I going to get enough people to be on the podcast? And, you know, I wasn’t really aware of how much time it was going to take. And I ultimately learned it takes a lot more time than you think it does. If you want to do it,  you know if you have a standard as far as how you want to deliver your podcast. And it does take quite a bit of time. I later switched in season one to audio-only, which I’m much happier I did. I was having challenges with Google Hangouts and recording them, and getting them to be the way I wanted them to be and doing some editing for them. So switching to audio has definitely helped.

And at the end of season one which should end, I think the first week of January is for my schedule would be Season one is going to end with episode 12. I’ll reassess kind of what I want to do going forward for season two. I may move to a weekly podcast, and I may not. So I’m going to explore that and kind of just map it out, see what I can get lined up. But I agree with you, you know, that time commitment and the effort in there. And then planning that out takes a considerable amount of time. 

And then of course, if you want to line up sponsors and things, well, then it even gets more complicated as far as advanced planning for lining up guests, lining up sponsors for those guests, and those types of things.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, definitely. And I remember that we talked a bit about this in our mastermind group. It was kind of your decision to move away from the video, which was something that I decided against just because I like to talk a lot, but I don’t like being on camera. And, you know, as far as podcasting goes, I figure if somebody wants to, you know, listen to what my guests and I had to say, that’s one thing, but we weren’t really doing anything that warranted using a camera, which is, and then there was all that extra editing on top of it, right? You had to figure out Google Hangouts on air or record your Skype call or what have you…So I know that we talked a lot about kind of your decision to dump that for those kinds of reasons as well. 

Jackie D’Elia: Yeah. And to me, that was the best decision to let that go. I find that I listen to podcasts, I’m not watching them. Even if I’m at work here at my desk and I want to put a podcast on, I’m typically just listening to it or I’m listening to it on my iPad, something like that. Like you said, two people talking and having a conversation there isn’t a lot more that you’re going to get out of that audio version compared to the amount of time and work it’s going to take to produce it. 

And I actually found that I’m getting a much better audio quality now that I’m focused on that. And being able to clean that up and work with that in Audacity, which is what I’m using for my editing of the audio, that I’m able to really improve the quality of that. And then I can focus more time on things like transcriptions too, which is another topic that we talked about.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. So, we’ve talked a bit about production at this point. Why don’t we move to the post-production? Because we’re not doing things live, we’re both kind of fixing a few things in post. I know for at least my show, I’m not sure if you, I should know this, right? Because I was on your show. But I have my guests record their audio as well and I combine them in a post so that we have, you know, kind of the highest quality possible which takes a little bit of extra work. But I think that sound quality, I’ve talked about this with a few people, right? Sound quality doesn’t have to be amazing. Amazing like, you know, it doesn’t have to sound like it’s been recorded at like I just picked NBC because of 30 rock. I don’t know. It doesn’t need to sound like it’s in a professional recording studio, but they’re definitely is a bottom, right? Like if your audio hits a certain low quality, then people aren’t going to want to listen because it’s distracting. 

The other reason that I have my guests record their audio is because, if there is a spotty internet connection and, you know, if something drops or, you know, you start to sound weird, the compression gets bad, that doesn’t have to show up later in post-production. I’ll have your uncompressed audio that wasn’t sent over the internet so it’s in full. I’ll have my uncompressed audio that wasn’t set over the internet. So I have it in full and I can combine them. What do you do? What’s the kind of your process for that?

Jackie D’Elia:  I’m doing it the exact same way now. So I’m asking people to record their side of it as well and send it to me, and I’m mixing that together with my audio that I’m recording on Skype. So I’ve moved over to using Skype for the recordings and that seems to be working a lot better for me. You know, it’s nice to, when you’re recording, you do have visuals. So you and I are looking at each other right now, we’re seeing each other on camera when we’re recording this. So that facilitates a really nice conversation, a more natural conversation where you have with somebody, you can all, you know, you can sense when somebody wants to ask a question by their body language and you can pause. And you know, when you’re doing it blindly in just audio-only that can make a lot of issues with over-talking each other in the podcast. So I really like having the video in there. 

But I like having the audio recorded separately so that it isn’t subject, like you said, to the issues with bandwidth and Spotty internet connections, and how that can garble the speech sometimes. And that’s not something you’re going to be able to fix without, you know, if it’s your end, yeah. Maybe you could re-record and dub it over. But if it’s your guest, you’re not going to go back to your guests and say, “Hey, can you record these three sentences? They were all garbled. No one could hear it.” So definitely doing the separate recordings I think really improves the audio quality.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. And that’s a great point about the video, right? where we’re talking to each other. I absolutely prefer that in my guest notes for my next season. I’m going to include that because that’s taken time for my guests by surprise. Like we’re not doing video, right. I’m not camera-ready.  But, it’s true you know, we’re a lot more engaged because we’re looking at each other. If this was just audio, I’d probably be clicking around the internet while you’re talking. And it’s nothing against you. It’s just, there are less distractions when I’m actually looking at you talking, right. Because we’re actually having a conversation.

So that’s a great point is that both of us do video recordings. There are video calls. We don’t record the video, but it’s a lot more conversational and I like that a lot.

As far as editing goes, I’ve been editing my episodes a lot myself lately. I’ve been, I used to send them off to somebody in Fiverr. I’ll probably continue doing that for Season Two. But like the last few episodes I’ve recorded, I’ve been pretty rock solid as far as quality goes. I know some of my early episodes, I personally would over edit them. I would take out ‘ums’ and pauses. And I got some feedback from our mastermind group that actually, it didn’t sound natural. And I think that’s important, right?

Jackie D’Elia: I agree with you. I’ve edited mine as well, taking out the ‘um’s and the ‘like’, you know, like, and all of those and trying to do those initially just cutting those out can make it seem unnatural. Especially when one sentence collides into another too quickly. And there’s not a natural pause where somebody’s thinking about what they’re going to say. So I have found that if you want to remove them, you can just silence it in Audacity is what I’m using. So you can just grab that little piece and hover over that,  highlight it, and then just replace it with silence, which gives you the pause, which is more natural but doesn’t give you the ums all the time. And leaving some ‘in’ I think is natural. We all say that if I’ve got a guest that says it a lot where I’m noticing it. 

And I think the other thing is, once you start editing, you do start to notice it. And you start to notice when you’re saying it. Whether you’re even recording or like, if I’m just having a conversation with somebody, I’ll start to notice it. And I’ll start to notice when they’re saying it. And I think it’s just focusing on it. So I think leaving some ‘in’ is natural. But if you do have, ultimately, we want to provide a really good audio experience for the listeners, right? So you want to make this enjoyable for them to listen to. And I don’t want them focusing on every ‘um’ that is being said and go, ”Wow! That’s like 12 times this person has just said it in 30 seconds.” So you definitely want to clean it up to some degree.

But I agree with you. If you just start cutting things out and bumping them all up against each other, it’s going to sound like very unnatural conversation. And that can be distracting as well.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, definitely. And, that’s a great point about the pauses.

The other thing is that when we’re editing the episodes ourselves, we’re listening to the conversation at least three times, right? We’re listening to it when we record it. We’re listening to it as we edit it. And certain parts, we probably listen to a bunch. I’ll bring down the levels on certain things. If I’m like, if I make this like sound into the microphone, that’s like the grossest sound in the world to me. So I need to take that out. II’s just going to be blank. You know, when this episode goes live, now they’re going to be like, what sound does he mean? But, and then I listened to it again once it’s fully edited just to make sure everything sounds right. So we are going, you know, it’s like watching a movie over and over again. You’re going to notice new things every time.

So, you know, one thing to keep in mind, you know, everybody listening out there, if you start your own podcast, you’re going to notice a lot of things that your listeners probably won’t notice because they’re going to be listening to it. Most likely once, maybe in the car, maybe while they’re doing something else kind of passively grabbing the good information.

So, you know, something I’ve learned over Season One is not to sweat every little detail. And that’s going to make, I think for a more natural conversation and ultimately, people prefer that.

Jackie D’Elia: I agree. I think that’s a really good approach.

Joe Casabona: Cool. All right. So let’s see, checking off the list here, we’ve got scheduling. We’ve got post-production. We haven’t talked about our equipment yet though. So, you know, kind of our tools of the trade. I put out a blog post about that. I’ll include it in the show notes.

But, I, you know, I’m using a Blue Yeti microphone. I’ve got like the arm and the pop filter here. And, I said in the blog post that I was using a Wiretap studio to record. I have since changed to that because I was only getting my side of the audio.

I’m using Camtasia now, which I use for my video editing for WP in One Month. But I can get two-channel recordings now. So in the event of something like my guests can’t record, or, you know, it gets deleted or something like that, I still have both sides of the audio that I can use. So,  I’m using that. 

And then I’m using GarageBand to edit, which I’ll probably switch. Cause I don’t really like, I mean, I like it well enough, but I don’t know how to silence parts of the audio in GarageBand’s except for like cutting it out and then like not bumping the audio up against it. But, so, you know, I’ve covered extensively kind of what I’m using in the blog post that I’ll link. But what are you using over for Rethink.fm?

Jackie D’Elia: I am using a Rode podcaster mic with the arm, and I also have a pop filter. Although this mic doesn’t necessarily need one, it says, but I just, I had one from a previous mic that I had so I just kept that.

I’m using when I’m on Skype, I’m recording with eCam, which is a program that Kim Doyle told me about when we were recording her episode which will be airing on November 30th that, she told me about that tool and that does record both sides separately. So that’s great. I have two tracks so that if one is a little louder than the other, I can make those adjustments as well.

That, and I’m using Audacity. And I watched a couple of videos about Audacity. And I realized it was very easy to use. I originally did the intro music, and the intro to Rethink in GarageBand while I recorded it all in there. But since then, I really like working in Audacity and there’s like a couple of keystrokes that you can set up. Like I use like command G and I can just replace it with silence, whatever I’ve highlighted and it doesn’t move anything. So it keeps both my tracks in order. And I’m finding that I’m able to edit that a lot faster. And for me, with my limited budget that I’ve got for the show because of where we are with sponsors, right? So I would rather spend that money on the transcription part, which is going to be a lot more time-consuming for me. 

And then the editing part, I think I’ve got the editing down pretty well that I’m comfortable with what I’m doing with that. And I found Audacity. It’s free. I’m using a Mac so, I just downloaded that and that’s been a great program to work with.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. That’s great. So I’m sure there is a way in GarageBand to do the same thing. I just don’t know how to do it. I haven’t taken the time to do it, but you just told me how to do it in Audacity. So Audacity is free and open source for all platforms, which makes it very popular, right? GarageBand is free, but it’s only for Mac. 

Camtasia is more of a video editing program and that’s a hundred or $200 or something like that. I got that kind for the other side of my business where I needed some good video editing software.

Jackie D’Elia: I‘m using ScreenFlow when I want to do a screencast. If I’m doing that for instructional videos for clients that come in really handy ScreenFlow. ScreenFlow, though, doesn’t record both sides of the conversation in separate tracks when I was using it with Skype. So that was the downside to that. I mentioned that to Kim and she’s like, “Oh no! Just get eCam. That’ll solve your problem with using Skype.” And she was right. That was perfect. That solved my whole problem.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. I’ll have to check that out. But you know, Camtasia does record both sides, which is really nice in two separate tracks. That’s the big differentiator, right? Is that I’m getting my microphone as one track, and then the computer audio as another track. So some more advanced programs will allow you to get like just the audio from a single program. I don’t know if that’s what eCam does, if it just grabs the audio from Skype or from your computer.

Jackie D’Elia: That I’m not sure of. I’d have to check that. I basically just did the basic setup that would record both tracks for Skype calls.

Joe Casabona: Nice. So, yeah. So that’s something to watch out for too. If you’re kind of evaluating software that if you have a lot of noises that pop up on your computer, you might want to look to just record a single application. Wiretap studio used to do that.  But I don’t think it’s been updated in years, so it doesn’t do that anymore.

The other thing, another kind of hot tip is making sure that all of your devices are in do not disturb mode. So like, my phone went off right at the beginning of this episode. I don’t know if it’s edited out or if it’s got picked up by the microphone or what, but, it’s because I forgot to put my phone on do not disturb mode,  which I promptly did. And then the same thing for my computer. I put it on do not disturb. So, the noises that are kind of flying around from notifications, don’t get picked up. 

Jackie D’Elia: Yeah. The other thing too is to remember that in our case, we’re both recording for airing later, right? So we’re not doing the live recording. So if something goes wrong in the middle of it, I can, when I recorded Diane Kenny’s episode, right in the middle of that episode, she got a text about the LoopUp conference being canceled because of the hurricane. So she got very distracted with that and, but we edited that part out and we were able to just pick up and carry on with our conversation. 

So, remember that, don’t freak out and go, “Oh my gosh!” You know, the whole thing is not going to work. You can just pick it up in like an Audacity. It’s very easy to find that spot and block it out and cut it out. So no problems there.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. That’s a great point. And, you know, what I will do is, if I’m sending it off to somebody to edit it, I’ll just say like, “edit here.” And I’ll make a note of that. Or if I’m editing it myself, I’ll kind of do this as a demonstration, but I’ll ‘clap’ into the microphone and that makes the audio spike, just like a thin line on the audio timeline. And that makes it very easy for me to see right before this, I need to edit something out. So, it’s kind of, it’s a nice visual cue for me. And I stole that from, like a professional production, like, you know, that clapper thing that they like, that they use, like when they’re recording. Yeah. So,  I’ll include a screenshot or something like this in the show notes.

But, you know, when you’re recording a movie, they had that black thing with the black and white stripe crappy thing. And they go like, all right, like recording, like star wars episode eight, take seven. And then that serves the same exact purpose so that people in post-production see, “Okay, this is where the new take starts.” So, pretty cool. Just kind of a tool of the trade.

All right. That will do it for part one of the season finale of Season One. I hope you enjoyed the episode.

Thanks so much again, to our sponsors, Anchor hosting and hover.com. Make sure to check both of them out.

Tune in next week for the last episode of Season One where we talk about getting guests, finding sponsors, and a whole lot more.

And until then. Get out there, and build something. Thanks for listening.

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