Tim Lewis: I haven’t really done this particular show before, where I talk about what I actually do to create the podcast. There’s a lot more work that goes into creating a regular podcast than maybe people appreciate. But it’s one these things where you can do it to varying standards. Just like you can self-publish an e-book without having read it through at all. You can also create a podcast where you don’t spend any time editing or planning or doing anything whatsoever.
Tim Lewis: Now I actually prefer, from an effort point of view, doing interviews rather than these solo shows. Even though I can just now sit in front of a microphone and more or less do a continuous twenty minute or thirty minute or sometimes very short shows where I talk about something in just one take. Now obviously I make mistakes and fluff some things and I can edit those out when I’m going through editing the show afterwards.
Tim Lewis: But for the interview shows, most of the effort is actually on the guest. So I do like to do the interview shows. The only trouble with interview shows is, that you are very vulnerable to the whims of the guest in terms of their timings and whether they’re available. So there is a large organisational element to booking guests on the show, which is why I haven’t had them on for a few weeks. I’ve had one recently who I booked while I was away at Social Media Market World, but I’m now getting back into the swing of booking guests in again. So there will be a guest on, will be a panel of guests on next week.
Tim Lewis: So, what would happen with a typical guest show is that I will reach out to a guest, or somebody I’m interested in being on the show. Sometimes I do get pitches from people, which are interesting and I’ll say to them, “well do you want to come on the show?”
Tim Lewis: But generally speaking, it’s somebody I’ve reached out to on social media or I’ve met at a conference. And I will send them a link to this service called Schedule Once, which I’ve mentioned before. And what that does it, it syncs up to my Apple and Google calendars and it has a certain period of time when I take podcast guests. For example, I won’t interview people Saturdays and Sundays, generally. And I won’t interview people too early in the morning. They don’t want to come at 8 o’clock in the morning slot with me because I don’t want to do that. Though I might do an interview at eight at night.
Tim Lewis: So, I shall give them the link, and on that link, when they book it, it does ask them their Skype name and for a picture. And those pictures are the ones that I use in the show graphics that you’ll see if you go to the BeginSelfPublishing.com website and also on the Player and on the Apple Podcast app. And then at the scheduled time both me and the guest will get an alert email saying like, “oh half an hour’s time you’re going to be interviewing so-and-so.”
Before the Show:
Tim Lewis: And at that time I will go through and I will turn off my phone, take my keys out of my pocket, put the house phone in do not disturb mode and basically I will run some test calls on Skype. Because, I always do the interview on Skype. I don’t do in-person interviews. I haven’t actually go the equipment to do in-person interviews. So that’s interesting in itself.
Tim Lewis: I’ll do a test call on Skype to make sure that all the audio and everything is set up correctly. Because I root the sound through a mixer and into a digital recorder. So it’s quite a complicated setup, if you knock a cable out, you can suddenly find to your horror it’s five minutes before an interview that you can’t do the interview because you can’t record properly. So I have to go through this process, I do a test Skype call. And at a designated time I’ll ring the guest and I talk to them for about five, ten sometimes quarter of an hour, depending on how long they’ve got and how long I think the topic’s going to go.
Tim Lewis: Before the actual interview starts, so this is like the pre-chat. Now the reason for doing the pre-chat is that they say that microphones take awhile to kind of respond to your voice. So and it also makes the guest more comfortable because I mean sometimes you do get a guest who will be, “Oh I just want to get on with this.” So you just have to go straight through to the interview. But most of the time I like to talk to the person for a few minutes before hand. Kind of put them and me at ease. And to kind of get a quick glimpse of what the guest is like, personality wise. How much jocularity can I involve in the interview and how responsive are they to maybe totally unusual questions that might come to my mind. And I’m famous for having unusual questions something come to my mind in the middle of interviews, most of which I don’t ask.
Tim Lewis: For a solo show like this one, obviously I don’t have to do all the arrangements for the guest, but I do generally write out some notes beforehand and it can take me days to think of a topic for a solo show. This is why in many ways it’s easier to do interviews, because the subject matter is created by somebody else. So this was almost going to be a “How to use and manage money” episode but I started recording that episode and then about 25 minutes later I thought, this is just too big a topic to cover. That may be one that I do in a future episode. But I think it needs a bit more attention than maybe recording it the day before which is what I’m doing with this show.
Tim Lewis: I’ll sit down and I’ll say, “Begin Self-Publishing” episode whatever and then the title. At this point the music isn’t included. I’ll add in the music in post-production. So you get that nice fade effect. Now I could actually root the music through the mixer and do it all live so to speak, all in one take. I don’t do that because I actually have a stereo podcast, which I kind of regret in hindsight. But the music to this show isn’t actually in stereo, and it just doesn’t really sound the same in mono in my opinion. And I can’t root in stereo music into my mixer, so that’s that. So I have to edit it in post-production. So there’s just a gap. So I’ll say, “Begin Self-Publishing” something then leave a gap, and then I’ll start talking.
Tim Lewis: And on terms of what equipment I use to actually record the interview, I’ve got a Shure 55 SH series 2 mic. Which kind of like looks like one of those old fashioned 1950’s Elvis mics, as they say. It’s designed to look like that. Now the great thing about this mic and with any good podcasting mics is they basically a unidirectional mic, so what this means is has a very narrow range in terms of where it receives sound from. With those podcasts I listen to and they have generally terrible audio, a large factor of the reason why they have terrible audio is that they’ve got the wrong kind of microphone. And you’ll hear people who are talking about how they’re sitting in a room with polystyrene soundproof tiles and all the rest of it. And I’m like, “well I haven’t got any soundproof tiles. I don’t have any soundproofing in this room at all.” But that’s because I’ve bought a decent microphone that is unidirectional.
Tim Lewis: If you imagine there’s basically a cone coming out of the front of every microphone that’s used. And that’s where it receives the sound from. Now if your just one person doing a podcast or an audiobook recording, then you want that cone to be as narrow as possible, just in front of the microphone. You don’t want something that’s going to be basically encompassing all of the room. And lots and lots of people who do podcasts are using their mic where it’s designed to take sound from the whole room. And that’s not a fault of the microphone, that’s what it’s designed to do. Certain situations, if there’s two or three of you, you’d want that. If you’re in a group setting and people are talking, you want sound from all around.
Tim Lewis: But for a podcast, or an audiobook with only one of you, you want it just to be narrow towards just you. So you are not picking up noises from the computer or the dog barking downstairs or anything like that. Just makes podcast production so much easier to have the right kind of microphone.
Tim Lewis: Now the next bit of my audio equipment is a totally superfluous device that I bought, called a Roland voice transformer. Now what this does is, and I’ll demonstrate it, I have done this on a previous show, is it puts basically like a radio effect on my voice. So if I increase it you’ll see that it goes into proper radio compressed voice. Now I don’t actually have it on very much and a lot of the time in interviews I disable this device completely. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And I actually do think it can for live broadcasts, it can help with the tone of my … make me sounds a bit more radio-y but in general it’s a total and utter waste of money.
Tim Lewis: Now that device has an output which plugs into a mixer, which is a Mackie 1402 VL 24 Mixer, which again is massively over specified for what I need. The advantage though of using that hardware as opposed to just buying a USB mic and plugging it into a computer, is that obviously these devices are designed for audio purposes. They’re usually pretty reliable, it’s not going to crash because some Windows updated had decided to run in the background or Mac Yosemite version 752 has decided it’s going to crash your computer at that time. So there’s a lot to be said for hardware. Though what I’ve got is, I’ve got a seven channel mixer. When I only use two. Which is me, and the Skype solid person. So there are a lot that I’ve actually seen a lot cheaper mixers which will work just as well.
Tim Lewis: The other great down point to use in a hardware mixer is that you need to basically get the right cables to take the input from the computer and then set up your mixing in such a way which is called Mix Minus to not send back that input into the computer. So for example if we didn’t have that what would happen was that I would send the Skype input into the mixer, and then it would have a connection back into the computer with my voice and your voice back again. So you would hear the dreadful echo. So you need to, if you’re using a mixer setup because my voice is going into the mixer and the Skype call is going into the mixer, I need to mix out the other persons voice. Now with just two of us, this doesn’t seem to be like “oh why would you bother why not just plug yourself straight into a computer.” And that’s one option. But obviously because it’s a mixer, if I was playing music or sound effects on another channel, then you can do all sorts of things if you get this Mix Minus set up correctly.
Tim Lewis: Finally, I plug everything into a Roland R26 voice recorder, which I could actually take out with me to do portable interviews, it’s like a sort of hand held very rugged digital recorder. I’ve never done this, because I’m always worried I’m going to drop it or lose it or break it in some way. But again, you could do this on a computer, thought not a lot of people do. But it’s a dedicated hardware device and it means that actually, like with this episode, I’m not using the computer at all. Which saves on a little bit of background noise and electrical interference and all the rest of it.
Tim Lewis: Yeah if you’ve got Skype running and you’ve got a call recorder software like Pamela running on your PC, and your PC’s not very good. Then you’ve got a real potential for things slowing down and this is why I think a lot of podcasters blame Skype, when actually it’s not Skype that’s the problem, it’s their PC. They need to get a higher spec PC or start using hardware. So that’s that’s the kind of recording process.
Tim Lewis: Then I basically if it’s an interview show or a longer show, and I’ve got a bit of time, I’ll send it off to a guy who edits my shows, who’s based in the Philippines. Actually got his contact details through Madalyn Sklar who’s a previous guest on the show. And he does a fairly good job doing the basic editing of the show in terms of like adding the music and cutting it. For a solo show like this when I’m quite pressed for time, I’ll do that all myself.
Tim Lewis: The next thing I do is I go through and I look for particular quotes in the show that are relevant and take the audio and I’ll also send off the show to be transcribed. So what that means is somebody, Rev.com, will go and listen to it, and type out exactly what happens. It’s not that cheap to have done, but it makes a fantastic difference for Google in terms of finding the website in search and also I just feel that there are some people who don’t want to sit and listen to a podcast, they’d rather read it. So that’s why I do transcripts.
Tim Lewis: On the morning of release, so when this show is released tomorrow. I have a checklist of things to promote in podcast. Now if it’s an interview based show, there are a few extra steps, so I like to pay back to the guests who’ve been on my show. So I like to write them a LinkedIn recommendation, if I can find them on LinkedIn and add them. I like to add them to a Twitter group, or Twitter list even. And I’ll try to remember to monitor that list regularly. I was doing a very good job of that for awhile, but been a bit slack lately. Because I feel like you have to pay back to people who’ve been on your show and give them a little bit of love in the longer term.
Tim Lewis: I’ll also schedule out link to that show in Smarter queue which is a social media scheduling programme I use. I pin a link to Pinterest, and I’ll share it on my on Facebook and LinkedIn pages. I pin the latest episode tweet to the top of my Twitter profiles and also on Facebook on the Begin Self-Publishing Facebook page, which is a little bit on the dead side. I pin the latest episode there as a short video.
Tim Lewis: so that’s basically more or less what I do for the show. And it actually takes quite a while to do an episode. I’m a lot more efficient than I was in the past. But that’s kind of behind the scenes, and I’ll try and include in the actual show notes for this, a few pictures of what my microphone looks like for anybody who’s interested in that. So I’ll talk to you guys next week.
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