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5 Lessons From Our First 6 months of Podcasting

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What a journey this has been! I’ve been a long-time podcast listener, but until I started recording my own podcasts, I had no idea how much effort, care, and fun goes into creating one, behind the scenes. There are 2 million shows out there. And now that we’ve completed our first season for both Dear Workplace and Curious Monica, I’m feeling even more reflective, humble, and grateful for all the podcasters who bring joy to a billion listeners each day by consistently creating new episodes.

We’ve learned a lot in our first 6 months, and we continue to learn more daily. While there’s always something new to discover, we wanted to put together five key lessons from our 6-months’ podcasting journey and share some of the insights we’ve learned along the way.

Monica: What trend do you see in podcast and audio development that you are excited for?

Sam Lehmert, Audio Engineer

It excites me that podcasts have continued to grow and gain interest, so it’s not something that’s just a passing fad, but a genuine opportunity for people to make their voices heard.

Ravi Lad, Audio Engineer

Audio post-production is becoming more accessible than ever before! All it takes is a decent PC and a download to get a DAW (digital audio workstation) from which you can record and edit. More accessibility = more creatives putting their work out into the world, which to me is a BEAUTIFUL thing! 🙂

And we’re not alone. 

As of April 2021, PodcastInsights found that over 48 million episodes were published and that this number continues to increase as more listeners engage and more podcastsers join. I am a testament to this trend. We joined the podcast club as of March 2021 and I know friends who have either started their show since then or plan to do so soon. But no matter what topic you cover, intention matters.

If downloads and awards were the only reason you’re here, you won’t last. That was what I was told before I started my podcast. Now I understand why, and I agree with it. Instead, it should be about growing your influence and contributing to a better world through audio storytelling.

So, what should you look out for? Here are a few things we discovered during our podcast journey that I hope can assist you in yours. In this blog, I’ll take you behind the scenes to show you how our weekly production works to save you time and effort. I’ll reflect and share the key lessons we learned that helped us succeed. And how you can do it too. If you’re also interested in how to budget and prioritize your objectives while bootstrapping, check out my previous blog here

First, let me share a few things about our shows so that you have context to who we are. 

Dear Workplace Curious Monica
Weekly, Tuesdays
Weekly, Thursdays
21 Total Episodes, incl. 3 bonus & 1 intro
21 Total Episodes, incl. 3 bonus & 1 intro
Total Downloads
Total Downloads
Studying trends, changes, challenges with people at work to reimagine how to thrive at work.
Studying how different people thrive at different jobs.
  • A Teaser episode launched at the end of February
  • Weekly episodes started in early March
  • We had a few weeks at times where we took a break when we were busy and completed both shows for Season 1 in August 2021.
  • We did think of sponsorship and ads but we did not end up taking on any as we were starting off and haven’t found the right partnership who’d be interested in working with us together for the shared mission.
  • And I’m doing all my recording on Zoom with guests and a mini microphone hiding in the closet. Thanks to our amazing audio editing team we were able to keep my equipment cost low-budget while keeping the audio high quality.
Monica Kang: What advice would you share with others who are doing podcasts for the first time on how they can make their audio better? 

Sam Lehmert, Audio Engineer

People often record themselves inside of closets, because the clothing helps absorb noisy reflections. Reflective surfaces, like tile walls or floors, cause your recording to have a bad echo, so it’s best to avoid places with these. It sounds funny, but many people will also hold a blanket behind their head to block out sound!

Monica: Looking back, what was a key skill that helped make this podcast unique and successful? 

Ravi Lad, Audio Engineer

Attention to detail. Many podcasts I’ve helped engineer are often interview-style, which tell the story of a single guest in a particular way. With our IB podcasts, the content was on a whole new level. We often heard from multiple guests with different backgrounds sharing their perspectives on a single topic at a time, and the addition of SFX and music took the whole thing up a notch.

Monica: What advice would you share with others who are doing podcasts for the first time on how they can make their project better? 

Kelly Gravo

I think being transparent and vulnerable is so important. I think dedicated listeners will eventually find their way to podcasts that spark joy in them when the content reflects who they are and becoming as people. And that starts with honest conversations about the things going on with our culture.

Lesson One

Set your goals for the long-run not short-term return.

I share this in earnestly to help you ask the first question when setting your podcast – what is your goal and intention for your show. What are your ROI goals? What does it mean for your show to be a success? Is it getting a thousand downloads an episode? Landing a major sponsorship? Yes, we did get some award recognition which was amazing such as: 

  • The best business and technology show of the year by Indy PopCon (Dear Workplace)
  • Best “Together Forward” podcast shows by an AAPI host by Apple Podcast (Curious Monica)
  • The best workplace trend podcast by PlayerFM (Dear Workplace)

Having more downloads, evaluations, and income are all wonderful. The more the better! However, seeing things like this warms our hearts to know that each episode we produce is having a positive impact on someone’s life. That is what motivates us to work even harder. Knowing that this message may provide someone else with a fresh perspective, hope, bravery, and confidence. So, what are your podcast’s objectives?

Monica: What advice would you share with others who are doing podcasts for the first time? 

Lea Orsini, Graphic Designer

I don’t have experience creating podcasts, as I was more behind the scenes on the graphics end, but I would imagine the best advice for anyone starting ANYTHING would be to watch what lots and lots of other people are doing and learn from them - use their experience to decide what will work for you.

Monica: Why is music helpful in telling the story in the podcast?

Luke Helder, Head Music Composer

Music is fundamentally a language like any other, albeit one that has an exceptional strength in communicating emotion. This is why we find music playing the role of accompanist in so many art forms, from poetry to cinema, because it allows us to receive messages with greater emotional depth and resonance. This is just as true with the art of podcasts!

Monica: What was your highlight working on these podcasts?

Kree Pandey, Website and Digital Marketing

Beyond having the pleasure of building a digital space for the podcasts, I’d have to say listening to them! All the episodes are very insightful. And as me and my team listened to each episode intently and worked on producing the reflection blogs each month, often on repeat, the process was like binge-watching your favorite Netflix show. Except it wasn’t just another Netflix show - it was better! 

Lesson Two

Build a team that you could thrive together with and build a workflow process that builds on everyone’s strengths.

No matter how great your concept or podcast objectives are, it will be nothing more than a fantastic notion unless you have the team and resources to implement it. The key is finding all the appropriate talent as well as determining how you want to create the process based on everyone’s abilities.

Who will work with you to build your podcast and how will they work together? We want a project manager for any task who will assist in the planning and creation of the workflow. In our case, that was me – I’m an arranger by StrengthFinder and love arranging and tapping into each person’s strengths. So, as I dug deeper to figure out what we needed – audio editing, graphics, branding, scripting, uploading, marketing and so on – I began seeing who the individuals were and what talents we required to create a successful show.

Who you bring on the team is determined by what you want your show to focus on. These topics are discussed in more detail in this previous blog. In our case, I wanted to create the same sense of storytelling as NPR. I wanted unique music, thought-provoking visuals, and compelling tales with voiceover. This meant my focus was going to be in branding, audio quality, storytelling, marketing, and as a result, to make sure that the experience for guests felt like being part of the show.

That’s how our team of ten was formed for this project. Each person offered their own viewpoints, creativity, and abilities to the work we completed together, allowing us to develop what you listen to and enjoy now! This meant that throughout this process, we must understand each other thoroughly. Learn about each other’s talents, flaws, schedules, communication methods, and development objectives. It also meant being sensitive to what they’re going through and inquisitive about it.

Reflecting back on the past 6+ months working on the podcast, I asked my team members a few questions This is what they shared:

Monica: What were your highlights working on these podcasts? 

Sara Piedrahita, Virtual Assistant

I had never worked with content such as podcasts, and I was surprised to realize how powerful and versatile they are as a communication tool, and as content for social media networks. Not only are they an easy and entertaining way for followers to consume your content, but also from a single podcast you can get several posts and audiovisual content, which is very strategic when looking for growth in the reach of a brand.

Ravi Lad, Audio Engineer

Naturally, working on podcast audio means a lot of LISTENING! Of course, critical listening of the sound quality, but also listening to the content. I’ve heard from all of Monica’s guests and picked up SO MANY valuable pieces of advice and inspiration along the way- this was my highlight.

Lea Orsini, Graphic Designer

I’d say it was a tie between reading the quotes from the guests and seeing all of the different perspectives, and being able to create the artwork for the graphics by interpreting the episode title and figuring out what would best represent each one.

Sam Lehmert, Audio Engineer

I loved finding ways to use sound effects and music to highlight the stories and grab people’s attention.

 

 

 

Daniel

Daniel Osterstock, Video Editor

The incredibly unique and diverse perspectives on creativity and innovation! So many different voices and gems from all of the

Kelly Gravo, Creative Intern

My highlight was definitely sitting in on the live interviews with Monica, and listening to the advice and stories of our Season One guests. There’s something really magical in hearing these individualistic stories and then interweaving these commonalities with other guest stories. Goes to show how connected we are no matter the workplace or profession.

Monica: What advice would you share with others in what music would work best for podcasts and why is this different to note when they create other music?

Luke Helder, Head Music Composer

One of the most important things to consider when composing for Podcasts is structure - this is because the music in podcasts will often be looped for varying lengths, so designing the cues with this in mind allows it to flow better.

Lesson Three

Be hungry to listen to improve. Take input, feedback, and insights from your team and from your listeners to find ways to improve.

There is always room for improvement in everything we do. No matter how much planning and thinking I do for the show, there is always room for improvement. But I may miss those insights if I’m not constantly seeking out those inputs, feedback, and insights. How do you do that? You proactively design in your workflow how and where you collect those insights.

  • At the beginning of the show, I brought together the team to do an open ideation session to explore what are all the topics and challenges that our listeners would want us to cover and why. This helped us to connect the dots but also find clarity about how we want to position and present our audios as well as what topics we’d want to cover.
  • Throughout the process, we’d communicate with each other to exchange comments and insights. If I made a mistake, they were not afraid to correct me. They also assisted with the script by reviewing it with me every week, tying in extra sound effects when required, and getting the storytelling and editing to come together. In addition, looking for the rhythm in social media and visual settings, Sara was able to develop a method for planning and uploading messages.
  • To allow everyone to be aware of the different workflows and see the projects in more holistic view, we set up Slack account. This allowed everyone to anticipate what the next phases of the podcast would be, allowing them to support it.

The key to all of this is that we were all willing to learn, change, and adapt.

Monica: Looking back, what was a key skill that helps you manage all the different communications and workflow for this podcast project? 

Kelly Gravo, Creative Intern

For me, it was timeline flexibility. With the other InnovatorsBox projects our Studios team is working on, we often have to be open-minded about being 2-3 weeks ahead of our deadlines, or working 1-2 days in advance of an episode release. Being mindful of those things helped me better communicate on the micro-scale (like with Lea on graphics and Sara on quotes) to best meet our macro objectives!

Monica: What were your highlights working on the branding for these podcasts?

Monica Escobar, Graphic Brand Designer

Discovering how to represent each podcast visually with it’s own voice. I worked with my team at Set Sail Studio to come up with unique concepts that would make the visual identity stand out. I knew that for the Curious Monica podcast I wanted to have an illustration of the host, Monica Kang, to give it that personal touch. For Dear Workplace we brainstormed on ways to showcase the technology we often utilize while working.

Lesson Four

Make the journey fun. Delight your team members and your listeners by making the podcast journey fun.

Everything is more enjoyable when it’s fun. So why not make your podcast production, development, and any process more enjoyable and fun? We were intrigued to discover new methods to keep everyone delighted in all ways possible.

  • How can we make the weekly working routine for our team members more pleasurable?
  • How can we offer a more discovery-like listening experience to our listeners by incorporating innovative, unexpected elements?
  • How can we delight our guests for being on our show? Customized email follow-up, graphics, and hosting a VIP Podcast Party with Live cooking and networking events!
  • How can I add humor and storytelling to each week’s writing and scripting so that it is enjoyable?

Bringing play and enjoyment into the process is critical since it affects not just the quality of your work, but also how you feel about it. The things you see, hear, and think have an enormous impact on what you create and the things you feel and believe have an influence over what you produce.

So, we’re all actively listening and exploring to discover new ways to be creative and brighten the day of more individuals around us! This also entails spending time for self-care when required!

Monica: What trend do you see in podcast development that you are excited for? 

Kelly Gravo, Creative Intern

I’m excited to see Monica’s curiosity expand. This season we explored the more pending workplace trends and interesting jobs - but I’m excited to talk about more deeply rooted topics. Taking a moment to talk about the realities of entering the job market as a Gen Z adult. Exploring workplace myths and debunking them. There’s so much to talk about!

Lesson Five

Build in recharge and rest time. 

We intended to do two weekly shows, but we quickly discovered how extensive editing and development time it was taking. It became more difficult to devote every weekend to working on podcast, for months on end, while also maintaining the client projects and workshops. So certain weeks, we’d take the liberty to skip, and then in May 2021, we paused for a full month to focus on other projects before we returned to weekly shows in June. 

Now, as we take a break before Season 2, I can see why more podcast hosts are pausing between seasons. It is to focus on providing quality over quantity. Was it bad to break the weekly timeline? No. Was I worried if people would not listen if we stopped the weekly rhythm? Maybe. But the fact is because we focused on what would bring us joy, it permitted us to create quality content consistently. So yes, while at times, we did break the weekly rhythm, we also understood that taking time to recharge, rest and pause when needed is essential. If you need to take a break or your team really needs it, listen, and take that break. And be intentional about it. 

Monica: Looking back, what was a key skill that helped make this podcast unique and successful?

Sam Lehmert, Audio Engineer

The quality of the writing and the use of different voices/stories helped create a lot of movement and variety that keeps listeners engaged.

So, there you have it! Five lessons that I wanted to share as you work on your own podcast. Yes, there is some tactical advice on audio, graphics, and branding that you’d want to incorporate, which I share below, but I hope these themes overall will help you think more holistically about planning your podcast. 

Your voice is needed. And the more you prepare and plan intentionally, the more effective you will be. Of course, you don’t have to go through this journey alone. We offer podcast support services at InnovatorsBox Studios and we’d love to help you in this process too. Email us at [email protected]

The key is to bring fun and have fun. Podcast hosting and developing is a special journey and we need more unique voices and intentional hosts like you out there. So, keep working, building, and sharing your voice. There is room for us all. 

Happy Podcasting! 

But that’s not all! Continue reading to learn what advice our team has to share with you that will help you in your podcasting journey, as well as learn a bit more about the team behind the scene.

Monica: What advice would you share with others who are doing podcasts for the first time in how they prioritize and manage all the different projects and workstreams? 

Sara Piedrahita, Virtual Assistant

I would tell them to choose a topic that really resonates with them and also to record really authentic and organic conversations in order to build a podcast that feels fresh and that their audience will connect with. I’ll also advise them to establish an initial structure or questions to follow during the conversation, but not to be rigid while chatting with the guests. For the promotion of the show they should Try to create as many audiovisual clips as previews of the full chapter of the podcast to share over social media.

Monica: What can they do better about their graphic positioning to make it stand out?

Lea Orsini, Graphic Designer

They should use the opportunity of a cover graphic to visually describe their podcast in a way that’s interesting and meaningful. You only get a small space to say everything you want to say, and it’s even better when you can do it with visuals instead of words. People are bombarded with words all day - sometimes a simple, intriguing graphic is what will draw them in!

Monica: What advice would you share with others who are doing podcasts for the first time on how they can make their audio better?

Ravi Lad, Audio Engineer

Everything begins with the recording. Recording with a good microphone in a relatively sound-proofed environment will pay dividends down the road for audio quality.

Monica: What message do you hope they will feel from the video?
Daniel

Daniel Osterstock, Video Editor

Inspiration, appreciation of self worth, desire for positive change

Monica What inspired you to create the music we have for the podcasts? 

Luke Helder, Head Music Composer

I drew from a lot of different musical sources for these cues, as I wanted the Podcast to have a versatile catalogue to build from. Some major inspirations were the music of Alexandre Desplat, Bon Iver’s self-titled album and Michael Giacchino’s score for The Incredibles.

Monica: What advice would you share with others who are doing podcast visuals for the first time? 

Monica Escobar, Graphic Brand Designer

Focus on showing your audience what you are all about with a unique visual that describes the type of vibe you will bring to your show. You want to connect with your audience as soon as they see your podcast image while they scroll looking for something to listen to.

Monica: What advice would you share with others who are doing podcasts for the first time on how they can make their project better in regards to digital positioning?

Kree Pandey, Website and Digital Marketing

Making it as accessible as you can.

1) Make it easy to subscribe to your podcast; provide a bunch of point-and-click options at the bottom of your site. People listen on a variety of different apps and if you're not on those outlets then sign up!

2) Integrate it with your website so people can hear the episodes without downloading an app - embedding directly on your pages helps with SEO too.

P.S. So who were the people on my team?

Let me do a proper introduction to our InnovatorsBox Podcast Team – aka, the dream team you’d want to have in any amazing show you develop! (And you can hire us!! We’d love to help with your show too.)

Me, Monica H. Kang 

Your host, director, producer. 

I do all the narration, script writing, research, interview, project managing, brand development, and overseeing everyone’s workflow – including putting together this blog with everyone! 🙂 

Monica H. Kang

Favorite Episode of all?

I’m biased and I loved all the shows and episodes and how they turned out with everyone’s effort, care, and hard work. 

Sam Lehmert – Audio engineer. 

All the sound effects and music transitions and smooth editing is thanks to his magical work and helping amplify the show to feel like NPR or radio like.

Sam Lehmert

Favorite Episode of all?

The Dear Workplace episode “Inclusion Dilemma”, which talked about the idea of ‘psychological safety’ in the workplace. I hadn’t heard of that term before, and I think it’s an important idea to understand; the more people do, the better position we’ll all be in to improve our workplaces.

Ravi Lad – Audio engineer. 

He makes all the audio files we have into clean formatting which is an art of hearing and sorting out all the noise and echoes. It’s probably due to his ear of music that helps him find a way to magically make any bad audio into a clean fix for everyone to enjoy. That’s true magic.

Ravi Lad

Favorite Episode of all?

CM8- Working in Entertainment. This episode featured guests who were chasing career paths similar to mine. All of IB’s podcasts feature incredible guests, but those in this episode inspired and connected with me on one extra level!

Monica Escobar – Graphic Brand Designer.

She took my idea of what I wanted in the show, visualized the brand, and created the logo and color identities. Without her how would we communicate what Dear Workplace and Curious Monica is?! 

Monica Escobar

Favorite Episode of all?

For Dear Workplace I enjoyed listening to “Why Relationships Really Matter.” The workplace is not just a place to earn your wages, it’s a place where we spend most of our time and build meaningful relationships during that time really matters. 

For Curious Monica I liked listening to “Hustling with Purpose: Founders.” It was interesting to hear the perspectives of other part-time founders as I’ve always taken on passion projects and now building a side business that I’m proud about.

Lea Orsini – Graphic Designer.

All the beautiful social media custom graphics and design that you see for each show is done by Lea who took the brand identity Monica Escobar made into episode specific identities. Thanks for all the weekly customized graphics!

Lea Orsini

Favorite Episode of all?

I like the #Reimagine edition of Curious Monica a lot! I especially like the question, “What are you great at, what do you love doing, and what do you want to do more of and get better at?” I like the way the questions makes you think about more than just what you’re already doing, but also introduces the thought of what you’d like to learn in the future.

Kelly Gravo – Creative Intern.

All the guest correspondent and initial podcast marketing ideas were generated from Kelly. With 90+ interviews completed in Season 1, I needed more help overseeing all the conversations, follow ups as we wanted to share with guests which episodes they were on. Kelly was able to find the quotes to highlight per episode, share that with the guests, and more. 

Kelly Gravo

Favorite Episode of all?

It’s Curious Monica Ep. 3, Food with a Purpose. Being a good enthusiast myself, it’s so refreshing to hear about those pursuing one of your hobbies as a full-time job! Also, I love being reminded that food can be healing and that it’s one of few common “love languages” that every person can communicate appreciation through. There’s so much practical wisdom in that episode – check it out!!

Sara Piedrahita and Paula Montana – Virtual Assistance 

Both of them have played a key role in helping me out with all sorts of backend work. From editing the videos that you see on Youtube, social media, to helping scheduling social media graphics and overseeing any details that are missing. Thanks to them, you have more content posted regularly because doing that for a few weeks alone was really a lot of hours on the screen!

Sara Piedrahita

Favorite Episode of all?

Sara: I think one of my favorites is Redefining Success, because it is about something that I’m constantly reflecting on, and to hear all these different perspectives led me to feel more comfortable with my own understanding of what success means to me. 

Kree Pandey – Website and Digital Marketing

Kree always wears many hats. For the podcast she helped create the beautiful websites that you can see here and helped schedule each episode so that we could make sure listeners could receive the show every week at a particular time.  

Kree Pandey

Favorite Episode of all?

I like them all. No, I LOVE them all. But if I have to pick one, I’d choose ep 14 of Dear Workplace, “The Skill For The Future”. I loved how it made me think more deeply about how fast the definition of a ‘job’ is evolving and how fast WE, as the workforce of the future, need to stay nimble, agile, ever evolving, and eager to learn!

Luke Helder – Head Music Composer

All the original music that we produced at InnovatorsBox Studios for this show was created by Luke! I first shared the vision of wanting to have custom music earlier in the year as we were still developing the name of the show and Luke helped take my ideas to a music piece that others would love and understand. 

Luke Helder

Favorite Episode of all?

Episode 12 of Curious Monica Season 1, as it goes deep into the process of innovation – and nothing encapsulates the spirit of IB better!

Daniel Osterstock – Video Editor

He created a wonderful special video episode with all our guests. He went through all the interviews I did to find the pattern to help tell the narrative and best advice from the podcast. Both his editing and thoughtful storytelling really brought things to life.

Daniel

Daniel Osterstock

Favorite Episode of all?

  • Episode 8! (Working in Entertainment) – The entertainment industry is huge and full of niches, and it was interesting to hear advice, issues, and more about my home turf.

So, there you have it! All of the knowledge we acquired, all of the insights we gained, and all of the instructive recommendations and behind-the-scenes tales from the crew that makes it happen! We hope this will provide you inspiration, ideas, and motivation to begin your podcasting journey.

Got any other questions on what you want to learn more? Ask me at Twitter @monicahkang or @InnovatorsBox and I’ll answer your questions in another blog and episode!

About the Author

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang, Founder, and CEO of InnovatorsBox® and Author of Rethink Creativity is transforming today’s workforce through the power of creativity. She helps companies rethink culture, leadership, and team development by making creativity practical and relatable regardless of industry or job title. She has worked with clients worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher education, government, and nonprofits. Monica’s work has been recognized by The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Prior to InnovatorsBox®, Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation policy expert. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International Economics and a B.A. from Boston University.
At InnovatorsBox®, Kree's main focus is augmenting its digital presences, the SEO, and some content strategy.

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