Updated: Mar 2
Many listeners have been asking me lately what it's like to have a podcast, what that entails. I'd already shared some insights in a solo episode, but here's a behind-the-scenes blog post to explain it all.
The Creativity for All Podcast is a one-woman band. From finding guests to creating each thumbnail, I do it all and I love it!
So far I've found my guests reading articles online, through friends, or simply meeting them (at a party, following their guided tour, taking their lessons, taking part in their meditation classes, etc).
There are several factors that make me want to reach out to people and invite them on the podcast. First and foremost, it's their take on, and attitude toward, creativity which gets me curious. I also want to know what it feels like to use their creativity while speed painting, teaching maths, acting/directing other actors, inventing something entirely new, or engraving glass. I have a healthy imagination, but that's clearly not enough!
What I look for in an ideal guest is eloquence, a passion for what they do, and the ability to share that passion with listeners to show that we are all creative beings.
I send invitations to potential future guests explaining what the podcast is all about and we have a chat ahead of the recording, so I can ask questions, answer theirs, and get a feel for the person. It usually doesn't take me a long time to gauge if they're the right fit.
Of course, I've sent many more invitations than I've had guests! That's part of the process. And for those who may be wondering why they're more female guests than male guests on my podcast, the answer is simple: women tend to respond more to my invitations! I would love to have more male guests in the future, but I'm equally happy, as a woman myself, to give a platform to many a gifted, creative woman.
Once we've agreed to record the conversation, I prepare a list of questions I send ahead of the recording to give my guests time to think about their answers. This, together with research, takes on average 3 hours. The point, here, is to create the best conditions, both in the prep and during the recording, so my guests can explore their own creativity and share it with listeners.
As we're recording our conversation, other questions come to mind, giving it, I hope, the right balance of considered and spontaneous answers. Time and time again, I'm amazed at how willing my guests are to dive into a topic they've hardly ever discussed before and, in the process, to often challenge their own relationship with creativity.
Creating solo episodes
This is an opportunity for me to reflect on creativity and explore themes I'm interested in, such as creativity and perfectionism, failure and creativity, the pressure to be creative, among many others, hoping that listeners will find them useful and engaging. Being a linguist, I usually start my exploration of a theme with the dictionary definition of the word, which often tells us a lot about social conditioning and clichés to do with creativity.
Lately, I've included exercises so that listeners can practise meditation, reflect on their own creative potential and stimulate their imagination. Season 2 is about nurturing our creativity, so I'm always racking my brain to offer listeners new opportunities to do so.
I record my solo episodes in one go, imagining a friendly audience listening to me. It does help to have been teaching online, staring at a lens for more than five years! I write notes, which are more or less written as a complete text depending on the topic or my mood. If I'm very tired, or have less time to devote to the episode, I tend to write the script more. What I try to do, as much as possible though, is to treat each solo episode as a private conversation I'm having with listeners.
It takes me on average 9 hours to edit a one-hour conversation and about 2 hours to edit each solo episode. The process involves removing unwanted 'hums' (if you're curious to know what a hum "looks like", take a look at the first picture below) or verbal tics, on all parts, as well as any random noises which might plague the recording, such as a sharp clapping sound (see second picture below), which can appear out of nowhere.
My aim is to make sure my guests sound their best and to hopefully make my questions and comments sound less garbled! I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to editing (and pretty much everything else!), therefore I curate each episode to offer every time the best listening experience possible.
Finalising an episode
Once the editing is done, I listen to the whole conversation one last time to check everything is OK and to list its key points, so I can then write and record the introduction. Once this is done, I put together four files for conversations (the musical introduction, my introduction, the conversation, and my conclusion) and two files for solo episodes (the musical introduction and my recording) and turn those files into an mp3.
Once the episode is done, I write the blog page, using the intro copy previously written and the pictures sent by my guest for conversations and my own intro copy for solo episodes. I then create thumbnails for the podcast page and the blog. Whether it's the design of this website, the advert on the left or the logo, I create everything myself.
In order to publish each episode to multiple platforms, I need to upload it to a platform, adding all the relevant information for each (links, copy, summary, etc.). I always schedule the publication in advance and, when I wake up on the day of publication, the first thing I do after getting ready and having breakfast, is to add the links to the main broadcasting platforms - Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Amazon Music - to my draft blog post, the podcast page and the email I prepared for my guest (if it's a conversation). Then I'm done and I keep my fingers crossed, hoping that listeners will enjoy their new episode!