Today’s post is sort of two-fold. I get podcast related questions a lot. How to get started, what equipment to buy, the whole thing. So I’m going to talk about that today. But we also hired Carter to shoot the show, so I wanted to share those photos here as she did such an amazing job (as always!). I also want to talk a little bit about our podcast story – how we started it, our ups and downs, etc – as I think it’s a good one.
Last Monday night may have been the best night of my life. I still cannot believe that we managed to even do a live show, let alone sell it out. So a big THANK YOU to everyone who came out! It’s been a week and we are both still on a high from it!
Our podcast story!
Becca and I have been friends for a little over seven years – we met when we worked together at BaubleBar. She was running digital marketing and I was running social + influencer stuff. We said this in our first episode but I didn’t like her at first and I don’t think she liked me very much either. I thought she was bossy and a little mean. But within six months we were fast friends and actually had to have our seats moved because we were too loud and obnoxious. (Our two other best friends now joke that they were getting a Bad on Paper live show every day). Still loud, still obnoxious.
We both eventually left BaubleBar – me to blog full time; her to run marketing for Lola. But we stayed the best of friends and one of the things we had really bonded over was our love of dystopian fantasy novels (i.e. The Selection, The Thousandth Floor, etc.)
Last New Year’s Eve (so about 15 months ago) was when it really clicked for me that we needed to do a podcast together. My friends had all been telling me that podcasts were the next big thing and that I needed to do one but that felt so overwhelming to me. I couldn’t imagine talking by myself for an hour (or the pressure of lining up a new and interesting guest every week). Becca and I were going on and on about The Selection and I knew I needed to ask her to do one.
I casually mentioned it to her and she seemed pretty meh on the idea (but didn’t seem totallllllly opposed?) so I kept bringing it up.
Lucky for me, her goal for 2018 was to say YES to more things, so she said yes.
Figuring it out was pretty confusing. I remember we sat down at Seamore’s to brainstorm over fish tacos and tequila and feeling really overwhelmed. Lucky for us her friend Rachael also had a podcast and she offered to help us with logistics. In hindsight I am forever grateful to Rachael although I barely know hwer – we could not have done this without her as she set us straight with buying the right stuff and using the best platform. I’m going to detail that stuff down below, but it REALLY helped.
So we ordered the equipment, hired our old BaubleBar coworker to make us a logo and a website and then we were off! We launched in early April of last year. We watched a lot of Youtube videos to learn how to edit (we just use Garageband!) and taught ourselves along the way. Also, we made a lot of mistakes. At one point the audio had one of each of our voices going into each earphone. People got mad about that and left mean reviews.
And soon enough we had a little podcast!
Young Adulting (soon to be Bad on Paper) was born. It started to slowly grow but in all honesty, there were so many frustrations. Also, I felt like I just wasn’t very good at it, and that was frustrating. I was trying so hard but people kept complaining. I would even get emails about how bad my voice is.
How do you fix your voice!?
It’s funny to be criticized about something you’ve actually never even thought about. Mouth full of rocks, bored teenager, won’t stop saying “like,” I’ve heard it all. I think you have to learn to not read your reviews but I still read them all (mostly because most of them are really nice; and we’ve finally figured out our audio issues). It was energizing and exciting to learn something new. Blogging is old hat and Instagram is always changing. Learning a new set of skills was really fun.
Around November of this past Fall, I was actually feeling pretty over it. This is going to be whiny but here is my laundry list: I didn’t want to read two YA books a month, I was tired of working hard on a second project and not making much money from it, I was working so hard to try and properly enunciate/speak more clearly and was kind of just like WHY AM I DOING THIS.
It was also my busiest time of year for work and I was working around the clock for the blog – I felt like it was this uphill battle; I was tired of reading so much for the podcast (reading for the pod is different than reading for pleasure as we write these in depth outlines for the podcast and really plan out our discussion ahead of time – it was taking the fun out of it!!), and we were literally losing money doing it. (Fun fact: we are only just now, after our first live show, able to reimburse ourselves for those initial upfront costs.)
The only reason I kept doing it was Becca – she is one of my best friends and I didn’t want to let her down!
So, we decided to take a holiday hiatus. That way, Becca could focus on her new clients as she was newly self-employed, I would be able to just focus on the blog for my busiest time, we’d be able to enjoy our holiday travels without stressing about when we’d record (you may remember over the summer there was a lot of remote recording!)
During that hiatus we decided we would keep doing it, but we made a few big decisions. We would start paying Cassidy (my old intern who is also a songwriting major which is convenient as she is a whiz with Garageband) to edit the podcast. We’d go down to one book a month. And (most excitingly), we’d add guests.
Ever since January, I have been reinvigorated and (really, really) excited about it again.
I think for me, the most exciting part has been bringing on guests. It’s been a big mix of friends and people we admire and just reach out to (usually over DM). The cool thing is that everyone we asks says yes! And we’ve started to get a lot of interest – big names (like Indie Lee, whose ep drops on Wednesday) are actually reaching out to us to come on the show. The other thing is that the pod is really an excellent tool for making new friends. Everyone we’ve had on so far has become an actual IRL friend if they weren’t already and that is really fun!
When Caroline’s reached out about a live show we were both a little bit shocked. At the time I didn’t really “get” live shows or why someone would want to leave their couch and come see us on a stage to “perform.” We aren’t comedians, I didn’t think we were big enough, and definitely didn’t think we’d ever sell it out. We were very nervous about doing it but they told us that as long as we could get sixty people there they’d be happy.
So we agreed and were just as surprised as everyone else when it sold out. I will say that we did do a lot of work to get it there – we promoted it pretty hard and also did a LOT of prep work in advance! So it wasn’t like this big happy accident; we worked really hard!
So that’s kind of where we are today.
I am excited about it; the growth has been amazing (we’ve almost doubled our traffic/downloads per episode in the past 3 months), our live show was the best night ever, and having guests is just the best as we are making all sorts of new friends.
But now that I’ve gone through that I did want to get into the more technical stuff.
How we split up the work.
It’s pretty even EXCEPT on social media. In all honesty, I barely touch the Bad on Paper social channels. I can’t; I’d go crazy. My blog instagram account is pretty all consuming. I get about 300 DM’s a day which is a lot. I respond to them all personally. But this takes me a couple of hours every day. I had DM’s off for a while to encourage people to email me instead but ended up just giving in.
A friend who has a lot more followers than I do sort of reframed things for me, telling me how lucky I was to have such good engagement. It’s awesome; it’s just overwhelming. So I literally can not physically do DM’s etc on another account. Becca does that. But a lot of my DM’s are about BoP so it evens out; and as of now I’m the only account with swipe up so my stories are the most important.
Becca generally manages the money side and our ad networks (right now we work with Performance Bridge) and I typically manage the other inbound advertisers who usually find us through my blog. Becca made our media kit as she is pretty much a Powerpoint/Keynote dynamo.
It is SO PRETTY.
I (again, generally not always) manage our guests as a lot of our guests were already my friends through blogging and strangers typically respond better to someone with a large following than a random podcast when we send DM’s. I also (generally) collect all the questions for the podcast outlines, write the outlines and intros and do most of the correspondence with our guests.
The rest of it (writing our outlines, proofreading Cassidy’s work, etc) we take turns on – either every other week or who is busier! My job is more flexible than Becca’s so I’m usually able to respond to email more quickly. We have very complementary skills. I joke that she’s smart and I’m connected but we are both smart in different ways and while I have a big network; she’s connected in different ways.
How we book our guests.
I have gotten a ton of questions about this as well! First of all, no – we don’t pay our guests! I don’t know any podcasts that do that but maybe some do? I’ve been blogging for nine years and have a pretty big network of fellow influencers, brands, and authors whose books I’ve loved and supported. But what I usually do is send a DM (or an email – I prefer email!) to the person. No one has said no – yet!!!
In terms of how we choose our guests, it really varies. We both have to agree that the person is a fit, we want a diverse mix of people (both professions and backgrounds). We didn’t want it to become another influencer podcast (I love those, there are just so many!) and we want it to always feel different and exciting.
How to Start a Podcast
I will just say that I know a lot of people who have been successful doing less than we do (you can use Anchor and actually record a podcast right into your phone!!!) and I also know people doing WAY more than us (always recording in a professional studio, for example). So this is definitely not the only way to do it – I’m just sharing what we have done.
Pick a Partner
Okay so you can totally do it on your own but I think it’s really hard for just one person. I personally don’t want to listen to just one person talk, and the pressure to secure a great guest every single week would also be really hard. I also personally most enjoy a podcast when it’s two friends talking. It feels more natural. I would NOT be successful at this without Becca; and and as I mentioned above I probably wouldn’t still be doing it if it weren’t for her!
Figure out your Branding
We worked with our old designer from BaubleBar (keeping it in the family!) You will need a logo for iTunes but also assets for Facebook, email, Instagram, etc. Go through every social media platform you plan on using and grab the dimensions so that you have a thorough list for your designer.
We were very purposeful with our logo – we wanted our cover art to be something bright that would really stand out. Think about the iTunes experience when designing (or having someone else design) your logo. We also wanted to make sure the colors were different from what was already out there/the podcasts we thought of as our “competition…” we wanted something that would stand out while scrolling through iTunes. (That being said, we already want to change it!!!)
I will say that when we chose our name we were not very smart. We chose “Young Adulting” in the beginning. There was another podcast with that name but it didn’t have very many reviews and it looked like more of a hobby podcast. Well, those girls came after us, iTunes threatened to delete our content, and it was a big mess… we had to pay to rebrand and it was a ton of work changing everything over. There are a LOT of podcasts out there with the same name so we didn’t think it was a huge deal. Well, it is. So I definitely recommend making sure you are the only podcast with that name as you just never know!
Order Your Equipment!
We bought this recorder and these microphones to start. We later (only as of a couple weeks ago) upgraded our recorder to this one as it accommodates four microphones which is important as we bring on more guests. (Originally we were using a splitter which caused a lot of audio issues!) We also got a headphone splitter so that we can both listen along; we just use our regular old headphones – nothing fancy! You will also need a memory card and a card reader if you don’t already have those two things.
Record and Edit!
I’m not going to go into the specifics here (Youtube was an amazing resource for us!) but recording is pretty straightforward. From there, you import the files into your computer and edit them in Garageband. Garageband is also pretty easy but again definitely recommend watching tutorials on Youtube. If you’ve edited videos in iMovie it is very similar to that. This is a good tutorial to watch.
Upload to your Hosting Platform.
(Well, I guess you have to sign up first!) We use Libsyn, and most every other podcaster I talk to uses that too. There are a lot of other podcast hosting services out there but from what I’ve gathered (in my very limited experience and in talking to others, Libsyn is the best one. Libsyn will automatically distribute your podcast to all of the important channels (Spotify, iTunes, etc. etc) They have a great getting started video that you should probably watch. You will also need to submit your podcast to iTunes, which you can do here.
photos by Carter Fish.