Note from Timothy Hyde
I was working on an article for VANISH Magazine on Podcasting and contacted Scott Wells from the long-running MagicWord Podcast. Not only did he provide some excellent tips for anyone thinking of producing one, he provided more than I could possible use in my Ten Little Secrets column. So here is the full article. If you don’t already know Scott’s podcast, check it out here – http://themagicwordpodcast.com/
Guest Post. Scott Wells – The MagicWord Podcast
They say that writing comedy isn’t pretty. I would add to that axiom that podcasting isn’t sexy. You have to put on a lot of make-up to look good. As a journalism major with a minor in radio and television, I enjoy writing and producing. I thought that recording a podcast would be far easier than writing. I was wrong. To produce one hour of content in a podcast takes dedication, a willingness to work with deadlines, and approximately 6 to 8 hours of additional work. It is not only the time taken to record the podcast but also the time required to arrange time with the other party/parties to record. After the recording is done you must listen to it yet again and edit as necessary for time or extraneous words in order to produce a quality show. Then there is the additional time taken to add royalty-free music along with a lead-in and a tag out at the end to wrap up the podcast. It then takes quite a bit of time to process the recording to make it ready for posting. Then the podcast must be uploaded to your server, which also takes additional time. During this time, I also have to prepare the blog which holds the podcast. That means working with my graphic design department (me) to prepare an original graphic for the banner and the avatar plus add any additional photos and videos to the blog. I must also write a brief description in the blog for people to read and learn more about the subject. In addition, I put the timestamps of the podcast so people can scan through the audio to locate the material that might interest them.
All of this preparation means nothing if no one knows that you have a podcast. That is where marketing comes in. My MBA in business focused on marketing so I understand the importance of letting people know about my product. And with social media today, it is cheaper and easier to notify the masses; however, it still takes time to post in all of the available social apps, forums, blogs and newsletters. So there goes another few hours after the podcast gets posted. Like any other profession, one must love the process or it becomes a job. I really enjoy talking with friends, and I want that enjoyment to come across in my podcasts. I want people to know my Megician friends on a personal level which is why I have the friendly, conversational format rather than a 20 questions type of podcast that asks the same questions. There are other podcasts out there that talk about Magician’s history, how they got into Magic, their favorite Magician, etc. Over the years I have learned to try to keep my podcast to around one hour in order to accommodate those who are listening in their car during drive time to and from work plus those who are doing a one hour work out. It is difficult to do a podcast with any regularity but you can’t be successful without it. Listeners want to have that regularity which is why I always release my Podcasts at the same time each week. When I am recording podcasts at magic conventions, I want them to be available each morning in order to get a freshness to the podcast and for people to feel as if they were there with me.
Although podcasts are free to the listener, there are financial costs to the producer and Podcaster. In order to have a quality podcast that can be heard across multiple platforms and podcast apps such as iTunes and others, you need to have a good server like SquareSpace, WordPress, or other hosting service with monthly charges. Then there is the cost of microphones and hardware like laptops, wires, cables etc. And then you have to have and understand how to use the editing software. All of these things cost the Podcaster. But guess what? There is no money in podcasting. If you think you want to get into the podcast world to make “big money”, you’re better off working at Starbucks. Some podcasts have advertisers, but getting those companies takes more time and effort for little gain. It’s a “chicken or egg” thing. Advertisers want to see your listener numbers before investing. But you have to create content that people want to hear, then generate enough subscribers to attract those advertisers. You can rely on patrons to support you. But from my experience after hundreds of podcasts and tens of thousands of downloads and reaching thousands of listeners around the world every week, I have only had 54 people donate anything since the very beginning. It is not a complaint…just an observation of reality. I’m certain NPR and PBS has similar experiences in their fundraising efforts. After performing magic for over 40 years and working with and knowing some of those who have become some of the top professionals in our business, I have a broad background of people I can call on to chat with on the podcast. There is no vacuum or lack of supply for friends. And for that, I am eternally thankful. But I also receive requests from listeners from time to time who suggest people for subjects they would like to hear on the podcast. For the most part, however, all of the original podcast ideas have been mine.
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