S1 E11: SEASON 1 RECAP
We started this podcast with two major goals: 1.) Share the stories and methods of a broad range of talented creative professionals, and 2.) Have fun with a new creative outlet. The first goal is what we believe will make this podcast valuable to a massive audience, and the second goal is kind of selfish. But they’re both very motivating, and we believe we’ve achieved them with Season 1 of Creative How.
This recap episode gave us the opportunity to share what we’ve learned throughout the process of bringing the podcast to life. It’s the creative how of Creative How. This falls right in line with the spirit of giving you real, concrete insights that can help you. In this case, maybe they’ll help you start a podcast. More broadly, the lessons can apply to anyone who creates…making something out of nothing.
For us, every aspect of the podcast has been rewarding and nerve-wracking at the same time. Coming from advertising, we are both fully accustomed to putting ourselves and our ideas out there for others to evaluate. It literally IS the job. Our confidence level is generally very high in terms of what we do for work day-to-day. In the case of starting the podcast, much of what we’ve been doing is new to us, and the audience who actually sees us is potentially (hopefully) much bigger. Putting our voices, words, blogs, pictures, and thoughts out there for everyone to see/hear has been exciting but, candidly, even hearing one of our kids say something critical cuts deep. That’s something we had to get over very quickly in order to stay genuine and nimble during conversations.
Having finished a full season, we’re both feeling great. We believe the episodes are all rich with insights and entertainment. They might not be perfect, but we’re getting there.
THREE BIG HOW’S
Much like a business or a brand, we started this whole thing with a purpose/promise/point of differentiation in mind: to teach curious creative people new ways of thinking (HOW!) by sharing stories of other creatives. We believed that the lessons could apply to a big audience, and we also believed people with specific dreams in mind (ex., “I want to be a photographer.”) could really use some sage advice from the pros. This purpose has been the driving force behind the majority of our decisions. From branding to selecting potential guests to shaping episode outlines to editing interviews to blogging, everything is intended to give creative people valuable insights. Without a purpose in mind, you will likely have a hard time focusing your own efforts and giving your potential audience something to sink its teeth into.
LET IT FLOW
Let go of any self-criticism. You’re going to hate what you sound like sometimes…and often. You have to get rid of that mindset and stop judging yourself. Kiko said that even at his level, it’s great to come up with two good ideas out of a hundred. That won’t happen unless you let yourself explore.
Let’s break this down into a few segments:
Pretty obvious here, but research will help you in every aspect of your podcast, starting with equipment. The equipment we bought to create our mobile studio was really important. You’ll find quite a few recommendations online, and then you’ll have to pick something that’s in your price range.
Regarding microphones, we had the chance to try one brand because of some leftover equipment we had on hand, and we didn’t like it. So we went with the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone instead, which was highly recommended specifically for podcasts, and we’ve been very happy. Whenever we see podcasts that we respect using other mics that are more expensive, we take notice…but we’re good with what we got.
Another big thing is the headphones you use. It’s as much about comfort and listening quality as it is about how they work with the other equipment you use. We found that wireless headphones, which both of us own, didn’t work as well. This might not be everyone’s experience, but it was ours. So we transitioned to models that are not the most state-of-the-art. We’ve tried Beats, JBL, and Bose…and we’re not making a recommendation until we get a contract offer from one of those brands. If you can, try multiple headphones so you’re as comfortable as possible and never distracted during your actual podcast recording sessions.
Speaking of headphones, wear them! You’ll hear the story in this episode about how one of us was initially resistant to wearing them. The bottom line is that anyone who has a podcast worth its salt wears headphones. It’s a best practice.
We found even more info out there than we expected in terms of best practices, and you should heed the experience of others. One example is having an outline for every single episode, breaking down the topics you’ll discuss and even prioritizing them based on the general duration goal for your podcast. Ultimately, you might not get to every topic, so spend your time on the ones you think will be most worthwhile. We also send our outlines to our guests in advance of the sessions so that they can prepare. We’ve seen guests arrive with their own notes and others simply gave the topics some thought. Either way, we believe you’ll be better at discussing topics and your guests will be more ready with the advantage of the outlines.
Polish Gets Noticed
We went into this thing wanting to make it look as polished as possible. We both have jobs that we devote A LOT of time to, but we didn’t want Creative How to look like an afterthought. We created a website to house all of the important information about us and the show (along with our blogs) because that would give us somewhere to point people to before we got the actual podcast up on the various platforms. It also allowed us to show guests that we were taking this and them seriously. From the auto-signature on our emails to the care we took in writing the blogs to the consistent way we introduce each podcast, we want everything to be excellent. Don’t cut corners, and hopefully the work will pay off.
MISTAKES ARE GOOD (AND HORRIBLE)
We made quite a few mistakes along the way during Season 1. In retrospect, as with most mistakes, they were all avoidable. The best thing you can do once a mistake happens is to learn from it and put solutions into place right away. Here are just a few examples:
-We scheduled our first episode at a hotel that was central to ourselves and the guest, Matthew Norman. We had all the equipment ready to go, we had thoroughly outlined the interview, Matthew had all of the info, we had practiced repeatedly, we tested everything, etc., etc. When we got to the hotel room, we started putting the mobile studio together, and we found that the clamps that attach the microphone arms to the table didn’t loosen wide enough to fit the hotel room tables. None of them. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the whole point is to be able to position the mics comfortably and perfectly to achieve flawless sound and ensure the guest (and hosts) don’t have to move the mics around. We tried everything. Ultimately, we used the somewhat lame tripods that the mics came with. It worked…but all we had to do was scout the location to find out what the tables were like. We do that now (or we ask our guests about their location if we’re traveling to them).
-In bigger news…we lost an entire episode because of a technical mistake we made. The full story is in the episode, and it’s somewhat brutal. Long story short, it was stressful, unbelievable, and extremely embarrassing. At that time, we were not using a back-up recording device. We are now.
-We neglected to tell one of our guests that we planned to shoot some pictures to use to promote the episode. We found out quickly that people sometimes like to know when they’re coming to a photo shoot before getting to the photo shoot. This is a slight exaggeration, but not much. It’s simply a detail that makes everyone feel better and makes the resulting content better.
So, that’s a lot of info and it doesn’t really scratch the surface of the episode itself…so be sure to listen. Starting this podcast has been an extremely positive experience for us. We’ve learned a lot, we’ve met people who are brave, inspiring, and unbelievably talented, and we’ve been humbled in many ways. We hope you are enjoying and growing with us. Thanks for being part of the journey.
Jed & Sean