To be honest, I don’t know a thing about podcasting here at Camille Outside The Box. I share extensive business highlights and tips, but now was the time to learn the first steps to starting a podcast in Podcasting 101 with Megan Sileo, the creator and producer of the So Today I Learned podcast.
As a bit of background, Megan is a proud native of New Jersey, who currently attends college at Ithaca College in New York. She is currently studying Television-Radio with a minor in Integrated Marketing Communications and Communication Studies at Ithaca College in New York.
She shared the following on her current path and what she loves about it:
Television-Radio sort of seems like a broad spectrum, which it is, and most people don’t seem to understand what it means when I tell them. I love my degree because I am able to take it and then take a few classes across the spectrum of what it means to be in the television (media) industry. One person can be completely focused on production while another student would be completely focused on the business end and not even touch the equipment. I love how versatile it is.Megan Sileo, So Today I Learned Pocast
As far as her passions and goals, Megan loves waking up early (mornings are her highly treasured time of day), working out, and creating content. Her podcast has been a key way to develop content, share her knowledge, and control the extent to which her personal life details are out in the world. Meagan is currently determining her goals personally and professionally but looks ahead to a position of leadership relating to influencer marketing, production, or creating her own business in the future.
How to Start A Podcast:
Megan provided us with the inside scoop on the podcast creation process, the origin of her podcast concept and niche, and how she does it all – from tried and tested equipment, tools, and podcast platforms, to her personal editing process that works for her weekly episodes and how she went about her podcast launch process.
Talking on the episode creative process, sponsors, and building her brand prior to launch.
Camille Outside The Box: Tell me a little more about your podcast. What are/is your topic(s) of focus and why?
Megan Sileo: My podcast sort of came to me right before I fell asleep. Sounds sort of random but I was struggling with the fact that I wanted to create content for people to consume, but I didn’t want to completely put myself out there since I wasn’t ready for that. It was around the beginning of May 2020 and school was ending soon and I needed something creative to put my hands into. The original name of my podcast was going to be “What They Don’t Tell You About…” but I found that the name ended up being too specific and I wanted something more broad. I valued my learning and education and knew that learning was one of my favorite things about school. Ending the school year and losing that for a few months definitely inspired the name, “So, Today I Learned…”. It felt like a good fit and I’ve stuck to it ever since. I focus mostly on learning from people and seeing what others can offer. One of the things I learned most from other people is that not everyone needs to have a big platform to offer something. You can literally learn from anyone about anything. It is all about the kinds of questions and how the direction of the episode goes. My episodes mostly revolve around different careers, internships, side hustles, etc. I definitely wanted to focus on more evergreen content that people can consume and I feel like I have been doing just that.
In being geared towards learning, do you feel there is a greater need to emphasize learning, given the pivotal movements and current events of 2020?
I definitely think there is always a need to emphasize learning. Whether that is professionally, personally, politically (the 3 P’s haha), or in any other topic, being knowledgeable and educated is never frowned upon. With 2020, this has definitely been a pivotal year and I have learned so much myself. It can be as simple as better hygiene (wear your masks!) or how to stand up for what you believe in. I like to think that besides change, learning is the one other constant in our lives. It never ends. I don’t think there are really any cons to learning more each day. It allows people to draw better conclusions and form better opinions and values. I think a lot of people just go by social media posts or one sentence and then quickly draw a conclusion from that, which isn’t good. I would rather think about something and research it from all incoming viewpoints and ideas, then draw my own opinion. This allows someone to make the most out of what they just read and they are able to articulate their thoughts when asked about it. This could go for anything: careers, networking, beliefs, daily life, etc.
Do you prefer creating conversational or interview episodes in terms of style? Did you create your podcast based on the podcasts you like to listen to?
Not going to lie, I get SO NERVOUS before each interview I do. Almost each time I always ask myself, “why did I do this to myself?” I am extremely introverted. I thrive off of being myself and sitting in silence while working. Talking to someone I don’t know is probably one of the most adrenaline boosting situations I could ever put myself into. Going back to the question of when I ask myself, “why?”. That is because I remember why I am doing this. I am doing this to learn. As much as I get nervous from doing interview episodes vs. conversational type of content, I prefer doing the interview ones. It’s because I can walk away from that meeting feeling accomplished and like I learned something new.
I think I definitely created my podcast based on ones that I currently listen to. It wasn’t something I did on purpose, but I do find myself listening to a lot of podcasts where it is more of an interview/learning type of style.
How did you get started, and what made you take the leap to get your podcast out into the world?
I mentioned earlier how I got started with the topic of my podcast, but making it come to life was probably one of the more crazier things. I think I recorded about six episodes before I even launched. I needed to know for myself that this was something I liked and would want to keep doing. I am not much of a quitter so this was something I did not want to abandon. One of the biggest motivating factors for me was the fact I had reached out to quite a few people before I even had a launch date and most of the guests were interested and wanted to be on the podcast. Knowing that people wanted to talk to me gave me the confidence that people wanted to listen to me. I created the Instagram page, uploaded to Anchor and the rest is history.
For creating a podcast, what are the top tools you use and recommend to successfully create, edit, and post podcast episodes?
Before I talk about the tools I use, not everything is free and not everything is completely on the cheaper end. I think for me, definitely being a communications major, gave me a leg up in the equipment department. I am well versed with industry standards when it comes to photography and videography, so audio isn’t that much different. I started out using the Rode Podcaster mic that I have had literally since sixth grade (vivid flashbacks to doing my 6th grade Spanish class voiceovers for homework LOL). Then, for a few episodes my dad let me borrow his Apogee microphone that I connected to my phone and recorded through voice memos. And finally, I transitioned over to the Blue Yeti Nano microphone. I have had guests use no microphone, earbuds, microphones, so for starting, don’t feel the pressure to buy an expensive microphone right off the bat.
As for editing, I have the entire Adobe Creative Cloud on my laptop because I use it actually more than I sleep in a week. I currently edit my podcasts on Adobe Premiere Pro because that is what I know best and it is such an easy and quick way to edit them. One day I would love to use Adobe Audition but that will be one day.
As for posting podcast episodes, I use Anchor as my distribution provider. All I do is upload the episode to my account, fill in all the necessary information and then I schedule it! It distributes it to all the major platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts. I would recommend using Anchor because it is so simple and easy but there are many other distribution platforms out there. It really is up to the creator and what they feel comfortable using.
Would you say there’s a major time commitment to recording and editing a podcast episode?
I wouldn’t say it is a major time commitment, but it is definitely a commitment. I would break down each “phase” of creating an episode like this:
- Planning the episode – 30 – 45 minutes
- Recording – 30 minutes to 1 hour
- Editing – 1 – 1.5 hours
- Re-listening after exporting the file – duration of the podcast episode
- Creating show notes, social media posts, scheduling – 30 minutes
Now, not all of this happens in one day. I would say the whole process for one episode takes about a week because I will work on each phase one at a time. The best thing I would suggest is to pre-record and pre-plan. This reduces a lot of stress and I don’t feel pressure to keep posting and finding guests because I have so many episodes prepared and ready to go. If I am really busy with school one week, no big deal. I can find the guests and schedule times with them the following week. There are times when my week is podcast heavy and there are times when I would work on it one day that week. It really depends how you plan to structure your time.
I’ve always wondered, how do you go back and edit for voiceovers from your “future self” or the sponsor messages within the podcast episode?
The nice thing about Anchor is that once you upload your episode file to the website, you can actually split it into segments. It is like it’s own editing software for podcasts, as well. My sponsored messages are recorded at an earlier date and then stored in Anchor for whenever I pull in a sponsored segment into split segments of my specific episode I am working on. I can edit my episode any time of the day, even after it is already scheduled on Anchor.
Speaking of sponsors, what’s the process like for connecting and working with sponsors for your podcast episodes?
As of right now, I am not really looking into sponsors for the podcast besides the ones that Anchor provides. Since I am still new and not a huge podcast yet, I only have one sponsorship directly for Anchor. It’s nice because it is a little money here and there. I am not exactly sure what the sponsorship market is like for podcasts but that will definitely be something I look into for the future.
What were the two biggest challenges that stood in the way of you and making your podcast a reality?
I think the biggest challenge for me was to be able to get started. Once I got started, the ball started rolling. People are so supportive and I was really surprised at how nice and responsive people are. All you have to do is just reach out and begin asking questions to someone. If they answer, that’s great! If not, move onto the next person you are interested in talking to.
The second biggest challenge was definitely being more open about my podcast in my personal life. I love being creative and letting my passions take me, but it gets hard for me to actually share my content with people I know. I’ve always been like this but it’s just something I have to work on. I think it is because I treat my content like a child and it’s something that I work on a lot when I am alone that it is almost weird for me to see people I know consume that content. Eventually I just said to myself that it is ridiculous and I can’t let myself hold back because of what people might think. I have a desire and passion to create and I can’t hold that back.
Is there a “best channel” where you see a majority of your listeners engaging with your episodes?
As of right now, 50% of my listenership comes from Apple Podcasts, 24% comes from Spotify, 23% comes from Anchor and 1% comes from Other. I think the two biggest things that surprised me was that I thought Apple Podcasts would be much higher and Anchor would be much lower. I think it might be because I always just promote my Anchor link so people can choose the platform they prefer but some may not do that.
How important are reviews and listener feedback in the podcast world?
I definitely think giving stars and ratings on Apple Podcasts helps. Leaving reviews, I am not so sure. It’s not like YouTube where comments are so prevalent on the platform. I think that it is also because so many people consume their podcasts in different forms that it ends up being a lot to sort through. People probably only really leave reviews if they have something very positive or very negative to say. I love getting feedback and hearing what my listeners have to say. Podcasting is definitely one of the more “silent” mediums between the listeners and the creators because the platforms vary so much.
What are your future high-level goals for your podcast?
I haven’t really thought about my future goals for the podcast. I know it seems weird and I really should create some. I definitely think having a bigger, consistent audience would be a great goal. Having a couple hundred or couple thousand consistent listeners would definitely be a goal of mine. One of my constant goals will always be to keep on learning. If I can help just one or two people learn something new about any topic, that’s all the motivation I need to keep going.
How do you create a balance between your podcast goals and your future personal goals?
I don’t think this necessarily applies to goals, but in terms of balance, I time-block my day. Without that, I would be so lost. This summer, I am taking one summer course and then I am also focusing on my podcast. I usually have a to-do list made the day before so I know what to expect the next day. The morning is usually focused on my class and then the afternoon is focused on whatever podcast stuff I may need to do. I think giving myself these chunks really helps balance my life and it helps me figure out how to manage myself.
What are two actionable tips that would recommend to others thinking of starting a podcast?
The first thing I would suggest is go find your favorite content creator or influencer, and I can almost (maybe like 70%) guarantee you that they have been on a podcast episode or have their own podcast. Search their name and listen to the episode. See how the host interacts with them or how they speak on their own (if it is a solo podcast). Understand the format of the podcast and see if that is something you would want to style yours off of.
The second thing I would suggest is to take out a piece of paper and write “why” on it. Learning why you would want to start a podcast. Once you create your podcast, state why each time before you sit down and record. A book I would suggest reading is Start with Why by Simon Sineck. This book has stuck with me and has helped me stick to my roots from the beginning of my podcast.
Where can people listen to your episodes and best get in contact with you or share feedback on your podcast episodes? What social media are you on?
Anyone can listen to my podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts and RadioPublic. Just search either “Megan Sileo” or “So, Today I Learned…” and it should pop up! The best way to get in contact with me is either firstname.lastname@example.org or on my Instagram: @todayilearnedpodcast. Feedback is always welcomed – either on the actual listening platform or in the ways to contact me.
Finally, what are your top 3 tips for helping others take action and launch their ideas into reality?
My first tip would be figure out what you want to do and why you want to do it. If you want to create content, why? If you want to open your own bakery, why? If you want to create your own business, why? Once you know the what and the why, the how just comes naturally.
My second tip is that you need to know that things will constantly change. The name of my podcast changed before I even started it and I have changed my social media promotional posts at least four times. Change is okay and change helps improve your idea as you learn more.
The last thing I would say is that you need to treat each day like day one. Keep that same motivation as you did the first day you walked into work and sat down at your desk (or whatever it may be!). There is never going to be a day two. Each day is different and each day is day one. Make it count and throw your heart and soul into your idea. If you believe that you can do it, it may take time, but others will start to believe right alongside you.
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