Podcast House Keeping: How to Craft the Perfect Podcast Episode

Welcome, welcome to part four of our podcast housekeeping, how to craft the perfect podcast episode. I am most excited for this episode because I think this is a place that is most impactful to how you feel about your podcast. Everything else has been very public-facing, it’s been very much so about the listener on the other end, and absolutely this is too, because we’re obviously crafting episodes for listeners, for people, but this one’s a little more process. This one’s a little more inside you, what you want, and how you go about putting things together.

Let’s kick off by starting at, you guessed it, at the beginning. 

Prepping your perfect podcast episode.

I want to talk about this in two ways, I want to talk about the strategy side of it and I want to talk about the logistical side of it, implementation if you will. 

The strategy side of it is I’m sitting down once a quarter and I’m mapping out episodes. 

I’m planning one quarter at a time. This is what we do in our quarterly calls with our production clients. This is what we do in our Podcast Strategy Intensives. We are planning one quarter at a time because that is a big enough window for us to know exactly what we’re selling and really get us ahead. But it’s also a small enough window that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It doesn’t feel like I have to know everything I’m going to say for the next 10 years of my life, although, arguably we’re all saying the same thing over and over again so we do know that.

For this quarter, what do I want to focus on? 

The reason I like to do that is it allows us to really connect it with what we are selling that quarter. What launches do you have coming up? What promo periods do you have coming up? Are you doing any JV partnerships, or affiliate stuff? What is it you need to be talking about on your podcast? What are the places we’re going to put people? Because that’s how we identify what the questions are that they’re going to have.

The way I like to find those questions, and this is a truly unique and outrageous way to do this, I just look at my client conversations. This isn’t hard. This isn’t complicated. There are piles of tools, podcast episodes, blog posts, Pinterest, TikToks, and YouTube videos, endless ways to find content, and there will never be a better way than listening to your clients.

If you already have a place where your clients give you questions, maybe you have a membership site and you’ve got office hours, maybe you have quarterly strategy calls with your clients like me, maybe you are a coach and you’re in session with your clients week in and week out, because that’s what you do, when they ask you questions, write them down, put them someplace.

I am frequently on client calls and there’s a little corner of my notes in my iPad where I’m taking notes from the call where I’m writing down things I need to be talking about in content, either here on the show, in some other content form on social, or in guest podcast interviews, wherever that may be.

I personally, as you know because you listen to this show, we once a quarter sit down with our clients all at once. One month a quarter, I am really in it with our production clients talking to all of them and so I will literally write them down and I’ll just put ticks next to repeat questions, which happens every month.

Guess how I prioritize that? I start with the one where the most people said it and then I go to the second most, so on and so forth. That generally gets me quite a bit of content. It’s not always the whole month or the whole quarter, but it’ll get me there. I can generally break down those questions into other things because if maybe it’s a new client, and I’m like, “Cool, if they had known this before we started, that actually would have really helped onboard them. I’m going to get that.”

Then I look at my second favorite place to get content ideas, that’s sales calls. 

This is where we really get into the magic of making our podcasts part of our sales team. We start looking at the questions people ask when they’re ready to buy, when they are making their buying decision, and they’re sitting with me on a call, what are the questions they’re asking?

Because those are the episodes, that’s the content, that’s how I now have an episode called What Working With Uncommonly More Looks Like because the most common question I got on sales calls was, “Cool, what is involved in production? What’s expected of me?” It’s not even so much out of fear that I’m going to rip it off. It’s out of like, “How do I need to show up for this?” That’s always my question when I get in a relationship with a service provider as well, like, “Cool. You’re incredible. You’re going to do these amazing things that I’m so excited, what do you need me to do? Because I don’t know what to do or I would have already been doing it.”

Look at those sales call questions. Figure out what the questions are that they’re considering when deciding whether they’re going to purchase or not. Not hard to find when they’re asking them to you on sales calls, be making a note of them, bring those into episodes.

The other reason I like to do this is now I’ll get some of those questions in an email or DM, or I’ll see something specific in an application that comes through for production services and I’ll send a podcast episode over. I’ll go, “Hey, I know we’re not meeting until XYZ date, but I saw you mentioned this on the form. Here’s a great episode to listen to before we talk.” Easy breezy, easy, breezy. I’m able to build in the sales assets into my process.

This is something that we’re actually working on doing an even better job integrating some follow up emails with some of the content we’ve created, so that they’re being nurtured between that application and our actual sales conversation with content built to help them make a decision because it’s based on conversations I’ve had in previous sales calls.

That’s where we’re getting this content from. Then we’re just laying it out. We’re making decisions on timing, we’re making decisions on when these episodes need to go out based on deadlines, if we have programs closing, etc. We’ve just mapped out a quarter of content without a whole lot of lift. Again, this is what we’re doing in those strategy intensives should you be interested in having this work with me happen like this. This is what we do in our quarterly strategy calls with our production clients if you will be interested in having this will be what your content strategy time looks like.

The actual logistics of recording your perfect podcast. 

There are a lot of ways to record, there are a lot of ways to do this. You can script it, you can outline it, arguably you can wing it. Personally, I do all of those things depending on the episode, so an episode like What Working With Uncommonly More Looks Like, is practically scripted.

It’s one of the more laborious episodes as far as me getting it together, and not because it’s labor intensive or I don’t want to do it, I just don’t want to miss anything. I want that episode to be such an asset. It’s such an important part of our sales process. It’s such a valuable tool for our listeners. I don’t want to screw it up. I don’t want to miss something. I don’t want to leave something important out. That one’s practically scripted.

An episode like this one, like this series that we’ve been doing this month, outline, outline, outline, outline/wing it. I’m getting in, I’ve got the points I need to cover on my iPad in front of me and I’m filling in the gaps. That’s it. Most episodes are that. I would say 90-ish percent of my episodes are like that.

Every once in a while I will just have a title and I will wing it. I don’t do that very often. I’m honestly trying to think of an example right now where I have done that and one is not coming to mind, but I do know they exist. When I come in here and I rant a little bit, that’s what’s happening, that was me winging it. That was absolutely me winging it.

There are not as many of those because that format doesn’t tend to support the goal of the show. The example I always use on the show is if I had a podcast about Schitt’s Creek, I would wing it, which is honestly probably a lie. If I had a show about something that specific, I probably wouldn’t wing it.

But if I had a show where I was just like, “Thoughts with Stacey,” I used to have this blog way back in the day before I started my business, I was an actual blogger, I made money as a blogger, that was my first business but I didn’t treat it as such. It was called to Say Something, Stacey and that was all about me winging it. It was just winging it left and right. It can work. It can function. It can be really supportive if you do it well.

I personally need to partner it with bullet points or I do what I’m doing right now which is I’m talking too much about nothing really. Be conscientious about your ability to wing it towards the destination, wing it towards a point. That’s where my outline comes in, make sure I keep the points, it’s my navigational buoy if you will.

The takeaway I want you to have here is that it can look like any of these things. 

It can look like all of these things, depending on the episode, and that’s more likely is some episodes are going to be easy and some won’t. Whatever works best for you is what works. Whatever works best for you won’t always work. Sometimes you got to change the mojo, sometimes you’ve got to change the energy.

We’ve talked about it on episodes before where we’re talking about standing up if you’re normally sitting down or changing up your flow, your structure, your time of recording, or your pre-recording habits, whatever it is, change your energy. For me that’s often changing literally how it’s getting out of my brain and into this microphone.

What I want to, as we’re wrapping up, be mindful of is that it fits into a larger system you have. 

Be conscientious, if you are DIYing your show, of strategizing, planning, recording, editing, producing show notes, and creating marketing assets all in one go. This has to fit into a larger system for you that is not you doing everything start to front for each episode or it will kill your momentum because you are trying to wear a lot of hats. I can say that confidently because literally, each of those steps is a different person on my team.

You do strategy with me, our editor will edit, our transcriptionist will transcribe, our shownotes writer will create the show notes, and our production assistant will create audiograms, graphics, and get everything uploaded where it goes. Those are different jobs because they are different skill sets, they take different attention perspectives, I won’t say level of attention because I believe they all take the same level of attention, but the perspective is different at each point.

It’s also really nice because frequently, someone further down the process timeline will catch something that got missed earlier in the production timeline. It’s fantastic. That’s increasingly difficult to do when you are the only person or when you’re working with multiple service providers and you’re having to manage that flow. Be mindful of creating times where you’re batching things.

I batch planning and strategizing. I’m batch recording, I’m batch editing, I’m batch producing, I’m batch marketing and releasing. I’m doing one of those things at a time. This was really critical when I was DIYing my show still, before I, and this is embarrassing to admit, but the team was actually producing podcasts for several clients for, I don’t know, like a year before the team started producing my show.

Let me tell you, I had no idea how great it was until I let the teams take over this show. It’s better guys. It’s better. You should do it too. It’s better. Now it gets even easier for me to stay in that part that I’m supposed to be in which is the strategy and the hosting. That’s it. Those are my only two hats, those are the only hats I should be wearing. Arguably, they’re the only hats you should be wearing too but we can talk more about that.

Whatever process you have has to fit into your larger system. It’s worth noting that if your larger system changes, the way you get episodes done may also need to change. This is something that we notice a lot when clients on board with us is they’re suddenly recording in a way they hadn’t before because they’re thinking about their show differently, they’re thinking about the purpose differently, and they’re thinking about their process and system differently.

There’s not a good or bad here. There’s not a pro, con, negative, positive whatever. It just is. It’s just different. Be flexible as you move into new processes of what needs to change and hold on to what you need for the show to function for you inside of your larger system. I hope that makes sense. If it doesn’t, this is a really important thing we talk about in our Podcast Strategy Intensives because our  Podcast Strategy Intensives clients are generally not working with a production company.

Maybe they have an editor, maybe they’re DIYing, but they’re not working with someone like us or we would be producing their shows, because literally, the Intensive is the strategy part of our production process along with the ongoing support during production, strategic direction during production, but it’s those strategy calls, that’s what the Intensive is. It’s our strategy call lifted out of production so that you can have access to that.

As we’re talking about your process in that Intensive, as we’re talking about your content plan in that Intensive, we’ll talk about, “Cool, well, what does your production process look like?” So that we can maximize your value and minimize your stress inside of this. What does it feel like to come in and just know what you’re saying and be able to just roll? You’d be amazed at how much it helps editing when you have a strategy and you know what you’re going to say. It’s amazing. Be aware of that.

If you would like to sit down with me for one of those Strategy Intensives, book them now.

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