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CCATP #655 – Jill (from the North Woods) McKinley on Starting a Podcast

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Start with Small Steps Podcast

This week our guest is Jill McKinley of the Start with Small Steps Podcast at smallstepspod.com. Those of you who listen to the NosillaCast may already know her from her many fantastic tech reviews for the show as Jill from the North Woods.

I’m a fan of the Start With Small Steps podcast thought it would be fun to have Jill to come on to talk about what it’s like to start a podcast in 2020. All of my experience and knowledge about starting is 15 years old so I was curious what it’s like now. We talked about why she wanted to do a podcast in the first place, what kind of hardware and software she’s using for her recordings, and how she makes her podcast feed. We get into the style of reading vs. bullet points and even into editing a little bit. We talked about community engagement and whether to obsess on download statistics. We learn from Jill how important it is to her to always give attribution to her sources.

Jill mentioned that she uses her iPad with an app as a teleprompter. It’s called PromptSmart Pro and is available in the App Store for $20. There’s also a lite version of PromptSmart in the App Store.

mp3 download

Outline of our discussion:

  • What made you want to do a podcast in the first place?
    • Are you pursuing fame and fortune or is there another
      motivation?

      • I do a bit of public speaking for my job and
        joined Toastmasters for a bit. I learned I really loved speaking
        and teaching. Without travel, right now, I wanted to keep doing
        it. I wanted to start with a topic I knew very well. I read a
        lot of books primarily in the productivity area. I personally
        strive to become better at all the things I do. I had success in
        a few areas that were large hurdles to me. I attribute, in part,
        my ability to come out of my childhood intact to the books I
        read back then. I thought of a technical podcast, but I worried
        about the cost and time. But I love podcasts and started
        listening in 2008. I now subscribe to 145 podcasts and monitor
        another 128 for interesting topics. I really love the medium and
        I am listening almost of my time. It works for me at home and
        works for me when I travel for works. Starting my own is a great
        thing for someone who has technical skills and a desire to speak
        so it feels that podcasting is the perfect cross between being a
        ham and being a geek and being a learner. I also had more time
        and money lately because of Covid, so this was a great time to
        do this. I hope by the time I retire this is a great place for
        me to spend my efforts and it can be a small business for me to
        help others with.
  • How did you decide what to use to recording?
    • Recording software
      • I started with Audacity which is fantastic
        in so many ways and free which is amazing. However, because I
        have a job and other obligations I needed a way to speed up the
        process of producing a podcast but retaining the quality. The
        features in Hindenburg allows me to set up enough of the podcast
        and shortcuts to speed up the process. That is most important
        right now. For video editing, I use Corel Video Studio which
        allows multiple cameras and I can record off the same mic as
        Hindenburg at the same time.
    • Recording hardware
      • I built a recording area in my guest
        bedroom. From there I have a dedicated recording PC and use the
        Shure58 microphone. I started with the Audio Technica ATR 2100.
        Which is a great microphone for a great price. I felt like I had
        more lower tones in my voice the ARS mic was missing and went to
        the Shure58. But the different is small and they are both great
        microphones. I use a Gator Frameworks Short Weighted Base
        Microphone Stand. I will use the other microphone for interviews
        or future podcasts with my friend. I also have two Logitech 925e
        cameras for the future YouTube work. It really is amazing that
        you can put together a very professional sounding system for
        under 1000

      • when a decade ago it would cost 10s of thousands.
        We live in an era where most people have the ability of
        Hollywood or radio in their houses.

  • Can you talk to learning about what a feed is, and how to make one?

    • Probably good to explain what a feed is. You would be better at
      explaining this. It uses an old technology of RSS feeds that
      people used and use now to follow blogs and website updates.
      Because it can be flexible enough, it can be re-used for
      podcasting. I think it has upsides and downsides. With a feed it
      is hard to tell who is downloading and using the feed. But it is
      egalitarian and cannot be messed with algorithms. The feed is
      uploaded to a website and services are informed there is a
      podcast feed at this location. Anyone can subscribe through
      services or directly. That ability to have a feed without being
      messed with by modern tech companies appeals to me. Its re-use
      is ingenious, and it means podcasting is one thing that is not
      tinkered with by social media. Right now, it is a very open
      system, but I suspect that is about to change with services
      claiming podcasts and putting them behind a fee structure.
  • Did you test a bunch of tools to make the Feed?
    • This
      area is the aspect of podcasting I knew nothing about. I have
      built rss feeds by hands in the past for blogs and updates. I
      had no idea how people created the feeds podcasting. Advice you
      gave to me and felt strongly about is to own your own feed. Once
      I made that decision I searched for software. There are a few
      plugins that seem ok. But you suggested Feeder 3 and there is
      just nothing like it out there that has so many advantages. I
      can set up the podcasts, have them look nice and get ahead on
      episodes and push the button to publish on time. I am primarily
      in the Windows world but do have a MacBook and so I can use
      Feeder 3. Once you helped me set it up properly, it is so nice
      and easy. I can’t imagine anything better.

    • Did you look at other automated options like Blubrry or Libsyn?
      I did not. I had a website space already with Bluehost. I
      decided to keep working with them.

    • We might talk here about my strong opinion that you should own
      your own feed

    • These companies that host for you do a lot for you but they also
      cost per podcast. When you mentioned the downside of not owning
      your own feed for purposes of changing in the future. The cost
      aspects appealed to me. I think I would like to start several
      podcasts and they would each cost on a hosting solution. Since I
      had the technical ability to start a website, I felt like I
      could do this only by self-hosting. The different in cost is
      paying 13 dollars a month per podcast for limited abilities. I
      could spend 200 for 2 years and have as many as I want. Between
      the advice you gave me to own your own feed. My technical
      abilities to do that and the cost of other solutions, I
      self-hosted.

  • What’s your recording process?

    • I have a OneNote notebook full of
      ideas that is growing all the time. I have Blinkist too. I also
      organized all my productivity and self-help books I have in Audible
      and Kindle to gather my resources. I have a few hundred! I write the
      podcast in Word and then store them in OneNote. I have a pc in my
      recording guest bedroom. I start talking and reading. I place the
      files in my synology drive where I can edit them on my main pc which
      is in a noisy part of the house. I usually need a file where I
      change words or rephrase a few things. Put in some additional points
      in. I edit them into a file. And then edit them back into the main
      recording. I finish the transcript either by hand or now trying
      Otter.ai. I have yet to determine which saves the most time. I use
      Hindenburg to add the ID3 or metatag fields and chapter marks. I
      like podcasts with shortcuts in the segments, so I felt like I
      needed them despite the shorter format. The I upload the podcast. I
      create the WordPress post and make it a bit prettier. I then finish
      the Feeder 3 entry. I create the social media posts and graphics
      with quotes. Monday night late, I post the podcast. That’s a lot!
  • Off the cuff? Scripted? bullet points?
    • I started working on segments for your podcast which gave me the knowledge that I really do love
      podcasting and enjoy it. I watch you do it live every Sunday for fun
      but also to learn. I started by scripting it entirely and doing some
      additional comments and changes to make it sound more
      conversational. But I noticed that even as I get a few episodes in,
      I am more confidently saying my own words and less reading. I would
      rather start with an outline and freely talk. When I train for my
      job I can do it 5 days 8 hours or training and never use notes or
      outlines. Same thing when I present at conferences. I would rather
      get to that point with podcasting as well. I think it would sound
      more free flowing. This next episode I am trying the outline and use
      Otter.ai for the transcript.
  • Do you end up doing a lot of editing at this point?
    • It will get easier
      • I am doing too much editing right now. I
        recorded 23 tries at my trailer. About the same for the first
        episode. I spent the first dozen saying the wrong name of my
        podcast! The first episode put the sausage in making the
        sausage. But even on episode 2 and 3 it got marginally better. I
        am doing better, and I am learning how to fix mistakes while
        recording instead of later in editing. It must get easier. It
        really can’t get harder I have a real tendency to complicate
        things, so I fight that battle inside me of all the time. Right
        now, I have a curious Hindenburg issue I need to sort out.
  • Did you create a website?
    • Believe it or not many people don\’t I did create a website
      using WordPress. I started that process in July and looked
      through so many WordPress templates and finally found a nice one
      that is flexible with a lot of features. Then all the graphics
      and colors took a long while too. I use CorelDraw for graphics
      and colors I used https://coolors.co/ to find a palette I
      liked. What I loved about your podcast is the information but
      also the website. I refer to it a few times a week and prob 20
      times a week while creating the podcast. I decide to buy a
      gadget, I look to see what you recommended because you have such
      high standards. So, I wanted my own website for reference.
      Nothing disappoints me more than hearing something in a podcast
      and not being able to find information or the books used. For
      graphics and sound files I use Envato Elements which owns Audio
      Jungle and graphics content.

    • How do you decide what to put up on your website? I based my
      website on some blogs I liked. I find photos interesting, so
      each podcast has a photo which is from various photo services
      online. I really wanted a place to put the transcript of the
      podcast in case people wanted to go back. Something you said
      about people reading your information vs listening to it and I
      feel the same way. I don’t care how they hear it. I know there
      are people who are not technical and have no podcast app, so I
      wanted to have a built-in audio player for them. I want to help
      people in whatever way that is.

  • I social engagement with your audience important to you?

    • How would you like to see that happen? You have such a strong
      community and I love that about your podcast. I have been in
      other podcasters communities where they don’t interact or take
      questions. I found it a bit of a disconnect with their podcasts
      where they say, “I want to hear from you!!!” Most of them mean
      “I do coaching once you pay, I want to hear from the listeners”.
      Sometimes it isn’t quite it is a busy life running a podcast and
      having a job and doing something else from time to time. I am
      sure it has a lot to do with priorities. But I wanted people to
      ask question and talk about their own experiments. I think we
      should not listen to other people but instead take good advice
      and try it. put your own take on it. I want to have a Slack
      community like you do where we can talk about that. Ask each
      other questions. Building a new internet community is a bit like
      making a brand-new hotel. You wait there behind the desk hoping
      people show up. I also have Pinterest and Instagram quotes. I
      have a digital picture frame that I like to put quotes and
      reminders in. I have put graphics in from other podcasts, so I
      wanted to offer this to my people. I also Facebook twitter. I
      hope to someday do Zoom calls with my community.

    • Honestly, this is not my strength. I am not much into social
      media nor like it that much, but it seems instrumental in
      getting people to hear about you. Marketing is also something I
      am not interested in maybe only because I know the least about
      it. I think right now the challenge is figure out what not to
      do. When you started, you were a pioneer without much help or
      software. Right now, the challenge is opposite. There is so much
      out there in terms of advice and what you can get involved with.
      Dozens of social media sites, marketing, personal brand,
      newsletters, hosting options, ads, affiliates. It is dizzying.
      Keeping your goal in mind is key and not getting distracted by
      everything else. I have seen podcasters become selling machines
      and hire business managers and lose the very charm or aspect I
      subscribed to in the first place. There is a balance in there.

  • Are you obsessing on download statistics? I am but am trying not to.
    Honestly, I am glad anyone is listening at all. I know that podcasts
    are a long game. I know that you must like what you are talking
    about and enjoying it. I think in the end the numbers can only be
    demotivating. It’s like weighing yourself on a scale. If you gained
    weight you are sad. If you stayed the same then you are sad. If you
    lose weight, it is never enough. I think you must come up with other
    goals. Right now, I am just trying to get ahead a bit. Thinking
    about future podcasts. I really want to make this efficient. I know
    there will come a time when I don’t have as much time on my hands as
    I do now. It must be streamlined before that happens.

  • Are you having fun yet? It has been fun since I started this in July
    but also a lot of work and I have been very busy doing this. I had
    months to work on this and hopefully get it right. It is taking over
    my life right now. I wake up in the middle of the night with podcast
    ideas, so I am also sleepy! I also have very little time to listen
    to podcasts. It was a bit harrowing the first weeks after it was
    released, and I was stressed out. After that I started getting
    slightly ahead. I have an outline for the first half year. I am also
    open to change. I have seen quite a few people who started with
    something and realized it should be something else. I am open and
    flexible about the future. I would like to get into video for
    YouTube someday. I might want to write books or booklets that come
    from the topics in the podcast. I would like to do more public
    speaking since that is what I really love the most and I think
    podcasting can help me get there. I am trying to find that fine line
    between enjoyable and burdensome. Also, this all must work out after
    travel and life returns to normal. I

  • The best advice I have ever received came from you “the hardest
    thing is to actually start. the best thing you can do for your
    future self is to do a bad job of the first episode so you can see
    how far you’ve come.” I tend to be risk adverse and this was exactly
    what I needed to hear.

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