Becoming the Voice of a Generation: Podcasting for Brave Creators

This post wasn't supposed to be titled this. It was going to be something like “Create a Podcast You Love”, “What Makes a Good Podcast” or “Five Easy Steps to Creating a Podcast”. But those posts are probably already out there floating on the internet, and I wanted to give you so much more. 

When it really comes down to it, whether you want to start a podcast, create an amazing album of incredible music or write that book you've been talking about for years, it's all about the story.

Stories are how we communicate.

It's the glue for relationships and understanding. 

I have never been one for the technical side of things, but oh goodness, do I love to create. In high school, I would spend whole Saturdays in the spare bedroom on the computer writing short stories. We didn't have internet at the house, so there wasn't really a chance for distractions.

So, I would sit and write and think and write some more, and when I was done, I had written a story that I had been waiting to read. It was a twist on a story or something that I felt like I needed. 

There are boxes and boxes of old notebooks and journals filled and half-filled with poems or stories that I felt should be accounted for somewhere. I believed that even if no one ever read them; they existed and that may be enough.   

But how incredibly selfish of me.

To create in the darkness and not share those things with the world. As artists and creators, it can be so seductive to keep our work hidden from criticism and ridicule.

However, in doing so, we are also holding it back from discovery and open hearts. There is no way to know if what we are creating by ourselves will ever be loved, but we take that chance, anyway. 

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At least, we're doing something. We're taking risks to be vulnerable. We're shouting from the rooftops that we may fail, but it was worth it.

We're showing up.    

The world needs your voice. It aches for the story only you can tell. So, what are you waiting for?

Part One: You Already Have Everything You Need

Since I was about three years old, I wanted to be a creator. Writer. Actress. Director. TV Host. Radio personality. I wanted to do it all, and to be honest, I still do. 

I was the girl who was sitting on the floor of the bookstore devouring whatever books struck me that day. There was always something to learn, and I felt like to create, I needed to prepare. 

With acting, I wanted to take every class and read every book I could to truly understand the craft. Writing was more or less the same — I even got an English degree with a concentration in Creative Writing. That makes me a real writer, right?    

The truth is that I had everything I needed within me already. If we're honest, we all have the power — the magic — inside of us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. The desires of our hearts are there for a reason. We just have to trust them.            

Yes, education is important, and I believe that we should always be a rookie at something, but we've all met those people who are just good at things with no training at all. Those jerks. And believe it or not, we are all those people.

There is a story only we know. One only we can tell. I've heard people say that they don't think they have a story worth telling.

False.

The greatest novels, short stories or films are often about the ordinary events that happen every day — the hurt, pain, tears, joy, falling in love — they are our stories. 

When I started the Babe Cave podcast, I was ready to create something that was my own. Besides reading about how to set up and create a podcast, I didn't feel like I needed to sit on a bookstore floor trying to study up on how to make this thing come alive. I trusted myself.  

While I will give you some advice on how to start your own podcast or even how to take action on that project of your dreams, let me be very clear: everything you need is already inside of you. I'm just here to guide you along and get you moving. So, shall we?

Part Two: Figuring Out What You Want to Talk About

At any given time throughout my life, I have about a dozen stories or ideas that I want to bring to life. Sometimes, I have this fear that I'll never be able to tell all of them, and how that would really suck. So, I started telling them, but also not knowing where to begin.   

Often when trying to figure out what our next project will be, we're stuck in the world of everything is important, so we want to tell everything.

We want to be everything to everyone, but we end up being nothing to no one. 

Years ago, I had a conversation with one of my bosses when I lived in Los Angeles about casting and types. My boss had wanted to be the sassy best friend, but casting directors kept telling her that she would be a great goth or badass biker-ish lady character. She was pissed. 

No way was she going to do that. They didn't see her full capabilities. I mean, she's an actor for goodness sake — she can play any character and doing anything you want. 

That's where she messed up, and she knew it. Looking back, she said that she wishes she would have embraced what people saw in her because she could have booked so many gigs if she would have given up her idea of herself.

I'm not saying that you have to give into what other people think about you. However, I believe that sometimes we have to acknowledge what other people see in us and examine whether that's worth looking into.

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When I was trying to find a new solo project, I knew that I would have to do something that required little technical skill.

I had previously co-created a web series that required a studio set-up, travel, dedicated camera operator, and multiple editors. As amazing as it was to have that team, it was also a little exhausting. 

And then it hit me: podcasting.  I wasn't too familiar with how to actually do it, but I figured that I probably only needed a microphone and same basic knowledge of Garage Band.

Since I knew it was hard to get other people on board sometimes, I would need a show that I could do by myself when I needed to, while also allowing space for people to participate and be guests. 

It was probably about a month or so of me trying to figure out what I wanted my show to be about. 

The climate at the time was a particularly hostile one, and I felt like sometimes, we just needed to sit down and have a conversation with each other. We needed to hear the other side or at the very least, consider the other side.

The more exposed we are to different thoughts and stories, the more open we become and that openness shows up in creating opportunities of collaboration with people we may have never considered before. 

That's when it hit me: Babe Cave. Inspired by a random sign I bought at a street fair, the idea of creating a space for women to come together and talk about things that are uniquely theirs and Virginia Woolf's "Room of One's Own, Babe Cave became a place that exists to connect, support, and create a collaborative community of dope women who inspire one another.

The name solidified so many things for me, and I had long loved Woolf's call that a woman needs money and a room of her own to write. So, with a little bit of money and a room of my own (really just my closet), I began to create.

Maybe, you haven't had your Virginia Woolf moment yet, and that's okay. Some of these things take time, and trial and error. And what makes a good podcast for you, may not be what works for someone else.

But here are a few things to think about to get you started:

1. Why do you want to do this? Who do you want to reach and be for? Stay simple. It's easy to go off wildly and say that you're for everyone, but you're not. Be specific. I added the word dope in my mission statement to signify that while it is for women, it's a little sassy and may not be the flavor for every woman.

2. What do you want to exist for? What's the largest reason you want to create something? This combined with number one will be your mission statement.

3. Name it. Even if you hate it. Put a name on it, so it's real. Say it out loud. Use it and your mission statement in practice and see how it feels to put the two together. You don't have to tell anyone about it yet, but say it out loud to yourself and sit on it. Naming it gives it power, and that will start to make it real for you.  

Part Three: The Nitty Gritty of What Makes a Good Podcast

So, you've figured out what you want to say and now, you have to make this thing actually happen. This is the point when some people stop. The real work is coming. No more dreaming of what your podcast will be. It's time to create it.

Here are the five things to get your podcast started:

1. Brand It

As soon as you start your show, you're a brand, so you might as well think like a brand before you even start. Whether it's yourself, a friend, or websites like LogoMaker, LogoJoy or TailorBrands, making a logo for your brand has never been simpler. 

That's not to say that it won't take time, but you can create something this very moment to get you started. Plus, when you submit your show to iTunes, you will need art with your submission. Social media tools like Canva, BeFunky and Stencil enable you to create art quickly, so you can upload your logo and start making branded material.

It's also a good idea to make sure that your name is available on social platforms. You don't have to use the social account for each platform, but if you really want to make this a real thing, it can't hurt to grab the name. It's also a good idea to see if that name exists on iTunes already as they don't allow two shows with the same name. 

2. Testing, Testing

A good microphone, headphones and basic knowledge of editing will get you a long way in the beginning. Microphones like Audio Technica and Blue are fantastic options with a variety of price points. If you're going to be doing a lot of in-person interviews, having a microphone that can open up on both sides will be key.

GarageBand, LMMS and Reaper are solid programs for editing your show. In the beginning, you will likely spend a lot of time editing.  Just be patient with yourself. If you don't take the extra time to learn some things up front, you'll just become frustrated when you're in the thick of it. People will forgive a lot of things. It's more important that you're putting out great content, but we'll get to that later.

3. Getting to the People

Once you've figured out how to make the equipment work, decide how you want your show hosted. Your RSS feed hosts your show and allows you to share it in multiple places. 

Example: You use a third-party hosting site like Anchor, Libsyn and Soundcloud. An RSS Feed is created for your show. That feed is then used when you submit your show to be on iTunes. Every time you release a new episode through your hosted site, it will automatically (or within a few hours) be available on iTunes.   

Some people decide to host their own feed, and WordPress and Squarespace have easy options for this. Whatever you decide to do, spend some time before hand figuring out the advantages and then make a plan for your worst case scenario. And save everything. Never delete an episode from your records, computer, Dropbox because it's already been released. You can only control so much on the internet, so it's a good idea to have a contingency plan if a website is down, your episode goes missing etc.    

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4. Content is Queen

You could have the coolest name and an awesome idea for a show, but what makes a good podcast is the content. A lot of people get hung up when it comes to making something because the thought is so overwhelming.

First, schedule time to create. Include writing, interviews and recording in your schedule, so that you can rest easy knowing you've already blocked out time. If it's not on your schedule, it's not real.

Second, use who and what you know. Start with yourself or your co-host(s) if you have them, and brainstorm about a dozen episode ideas. You can also record some extra episodes in case of emergency. 

If you would like to have some guests on to interview, begin with the people who you know. It will be better practice for you as you're finding your groove with your show, and it will also be easier to secure interviews with people you know. You can use those examples to send to people in the future who you may not know so well. Ecamm, Zoom and Zencastr are great options for recording guests as capturing audio will be most stressful part about an interview, and those platforms make it fairly simple for both parties. 

Third, don't get married to a format in the beginning. I knew early on that I wanted to set-up a format that could enable me to do the show by myself if someone was suddenly unavailable for that week's interview. Set yourself up for the best possible outcome.      

5. Don't Be Precious

You have content, a logo, good equipment for recording and a place for your show to live. So, the next step, the hardest step, is to release your show. The worst thing you could do is to be so protective. It will take some time to develop your voice and figure out how you want your show to unfold. Be gentle with yourself. Audiences will forgive a lot. Despite what people think, audiences, whether it's in person or through their headphones, want performers to succeed. You will be harder on yourself than anyone listening ever will — except trolls and maybe your mom. 

You will never know if what you're making works if no one ever hears it. Chances are that you won't have a million downloads in your first month, so you can find some relief in that. There is time to grow and get better, but you have to start to get there.

Just Launch It

Ultimately, you don't need any of this or most of it.

You could start without a microphone and use your computer's internal microphone. There's no hard and fast rule that you need a logo, you could go for a solid few months or even a year without one. Don't let some trivial things in the beginning stop you.

The perfect time will never appear. You have to decide that the time is now. Excuses are the death of dreams.

There are experiences and points of view that only you have.

You could be the voice that people have been waiting for.

Don't keep saying that you dream of starting that show or writing that book. You only get one chance at this life. There will be a day when you won't be able to do half of the things that you can do right now.  

Most people talk about doing things for so long that they forget people do things sometimes. In the end, you have nothing to lose. The world needs more examples of people following through. And most importantly, the world needs you.