Happy weekend, Hurdlers. I’ve been getting a lot of emails and DMs on Instagram lately that require longer answers. And as a journalist, my gut instinct is to get back to blogging more regularly in this neck of the woods over here on the Hurdle hub (fun fact: I had a blog for years called Making Life Fit when I moved to the city, and have since archived all the content). This way, multiple people can reap the benefits instead of one-offs on messages. First up: how to start a podcast.
If you have yet to listen to my story in episode one, I recommend you do. In there, I detail that Hurdle was something that I wanted to create for quite some time, but it always felt like there was so much unknown on how. After a year of thinking about it, I finally put my efforts into it after a tough break-up at the end of last year. I was sitting on my couch with a girlfriend of mine, and so dead-honest said “I just want to get over the hurdle, you know?”
In that moment, it clicked. Hurdle was born. I shifted a lot of that frustration into a passion project. Instead of sitting around wondering where I went wrong in that relationship, I started spending my weekends researching what I needed to do to start this podcast. And now, I’m passing on this wisdom to you—my enthusiastic friends.
1. Reach out to someone who has a podcast. Hey, that’s me! When I was trying to navigate this whole shebang, I reached out to Kelly Roberts, the creator of the Run, Selfie, Repeat and She Can & She Did podcasts. Kelly and I met up one afternoon at my WeWork space, which was pretty gracious of her because I was—for the most part—a total stranger. She gave me her best-practice tips, and really ignited the flame inside of me that this concept wasn’t totally outlandish and definitely doable.
2. Get yourself a Blue Yeti microphone. Would I like Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations-worthy audio on Hurdle? Yes, definitely. I’ve found that the Blue Yeti Mic (per Roberts’ suggestion) gives me pretty stellar quality without needing to invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars into equipment. One thing to know about the Yeti, it’s what’s commonly referred to as as snowball microphone, meaning that it’s capable of picking up audio in all directions. On episode nine, I spoke with Danielle and Whitney from Sakara Life, and I was astounded at the really great quality I could get from three people on one microphone.
I know what you’re wondering: Why wouldn’t you just get two microphones? Great question! So, as-is, the Blue Yeti microphones all have the exact same serial number. That means if you want to plug in two microphones to the same computer—you have to send one back to Blue to get it reformatted (they charge a small fee for this). I worked with their team on doing this, and I do now have two microphones that can work together. I’d be lying if I told you that I have the whole using multiple microphones simultaneously thing figured out. However, I’ve been so fortunate with the outstanding audio quality using one that I’ve put off learning more (bad Emily).
Another point worth making: the microphone picks up everything. So, say I’m sitting in my apartment and I have the window open and a truck drives down Second Avenue. The microphone will pick that up. There are some fixes for that (they’re called plug-ins, or audio filters of sorts that you can purchase to amp up your quality). I’ll talk about those later.
I also love the Blue because you don’t need a lot of fancy accessories to go with them. The only other accessory I needed (tech-wise) was a USB-C to UDB adaptor to plug it in to my MacBook. Also a big fan of Blue’s Compass Boom Arm, which easily attached to a desk or other surface and hangs the microphone at a more ideal positioning.
Putting aside my Blue fandom for a seconds: Another great option is the Rode Podcaster, which retails for around $229 (still well-priced). The kit, which comes with a few other bells and whistles you’ll need to use it (It includes the mic + RODE Microphones’ AI-1 audio interface, SMR shock mount with pop shield, a 20-foot XLR cable, and a USB cable) retails for $349. I can’t speak a lot about this one, but did notice the guys on the Omnia Fitness Podcast use it. I recorded with them last week, and was pretty impressed by how great the audio sounded as we sat in a typical conference room.
3. Get yourself some plug-ins. OK. So I’m not a total tech wizard, but I am a learner. When I first recorded with Y7 Studio founder Sarah Levey (episode 10), I did it in a small WeWork conference room. The acoustics sounded fine to me at the time. Rookie mistake. I sat down at home, and realized the echo and background noise on the track were awful. In an effort to try and salvage the audio, I did some research and discovered CrumplePop.
CrumplePop makes audio plug-ins that you can drag into your GarageBand (that’s the super simple Apple software I used to do all my editing and recording). I purchased Echo Remover and Audio Denoise, both which do exactly what they say they do. Although Levey’s initial recording was just way too far beyond fixing (we eventually re-recorded because she’s a saint), these plug-ins have made the overall quality of the podcast so much better. These plug-ins cost a one-time fee of $100 each. Kind of feels like you’re just throwing money at the internet, but they’re definitely an essential investment for podcasters.
4. You’re going to need somewhere for your audio to live on the internet. Your podcast is something called an RSS feed. You upload the audio files onto an RSS feed, and then once they are published, they are live in the iTunes store. Again, not a total web RSS whiz, but I’m a huge, huge fan of Squarespace. My podcast is a blog essentially (called The Vault). I upload the audio files there on Sunday nights and schedule them to go live every other Monday morning. On the site, you fill in essential details like season number, length of episode, episode description, and have the opportunity to check it as “explicit content” or not. From what I’ve been told, the iTunes gods will take down your content if you are swearing up a storm and don’t mark it as so. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. So about this editing thing. That’s totally your call. Again, I use GarageBand, which makes it super simple to edit. I decided I like having music padding the intro and outro (shoutout to my old friend Mike Horn on the beats). I also will go through the episodes and edit out things like an excessive amount of the word “um” or “like,” simple things like that. I’d say on average, if I record about 50 minutes with a guest, the episode ends up being 50 minutes once I add in any intro (this I record after the session separately), sponsorship details, and music.
6. About those sponsorships. I was approached early on by a lot of brands that wanted to work with me, and I have mixed feeling about it. I’ll only showcase brands that really feel true to who I am and what Hurdle’s about on the podcast, and on that note, I’ll only do it with reads that feel true to me. I’m not about to read an advertisement on the show that someone else wrote. Sponsorships for podcasts can make you a lot of money … if you have a high-trafficked podcast. Most shows sell them as a pre-roll and mid-roll combination, 15-second mention at the beginning of an episode, and 45 seconds in the middle.
7. Have fun with it. Your podcast is just that, yours. Don’t overcomplicate things. Have fun with it. Be true to who you are. Authentic. And then the rest? Well, trust me. It will fall into place.