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Switch and Board

Consistency is Key

Many podcasters wonder what the most important part of podcasting is. It is the equipment? The pre-production? The post production? Your guests? Social media marketing? Even though they are all important, the most important part is consistency.

Consistency is key. You can get help with everything else, but only you, as the creative, can produce the content required for each episode. Let’s jump into the basics first.

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Inter-Generational Storytelling

Two years ago I flew across the country to take a little road trip with my mother. It was summer, it was beautiful, and we had a great time. We talked a little about the trips she’d taken with her own mother who was sitting this one out at home. 

I love spending time with my mom and not just because she’s my mom and I love her. I love spending time with her because she has stories. She has a life of stories behind her belt and many more to come.

Look, I’m a big TV fan and I tend to view the world through that lens. With that in mind, her story is a spin-off of her parents’ stories, and my story is a spin off of hers. Her stories are a part of my origin story, so I feel connected to them. I can listen to an old story and ask new questions about it to get new levels of insight into history, culture, and even my own psyche. They’re infinitely “re-watch-able” just like my favorite TV shows. 

On our trip, I mentioned that I wished Grams was with us to I could ask some new questions about her stories. She grew up in a tiny farming community in Saskatchewan. Her mom died when she was quite young and she got her very own, real-life, *evil stepmother. The shit really hit the fan when her dad died too. 

*For the record, I have my doubts about how “evil” this woman was since everyone knows being a stepmom is hard. It was a hard time for my grandmother, but, no doubt if we could get the other side of the story, we’d learn that her stepmother was having a hard time too.

She came home one day to find herself locked out. Her stepmother didn’t want her around anymore.

She has one of those stories that includes her trekking to a one-room school house in the snow before sunrise to light the fire before the other students arrived. She came home one day from school to find herself locked out of her house. Her stepmother didn’t want her around anymore. She had to walk to the next village over and live with her two wacky spinster aunts instead. 

This epic story has always enthralled me. How could this woman drinking wine and baking bread before me have once led such an unstable and tumultuous life?

That summer with my mother I remember saying “I want to talk to Grams more. I don’t want these stories to disappear.”

Seniors aren’t known for their tech skills and if they’re anything like my Grams, they don’t necessarily see their stories as special. That is probably why I’m seeing more and more companies aimed at helping Gen Xers and Millennials record their loved ones’ stories. There are picture services, memoir services, and there’s even a non-profit helping Canadian seniors start podcasts. 

This makes a ton of sense to me. I would love more than anything to record a podcast with my grandmother. I want to ask her about her stoicism, about why she never complained, and about how she went from living on a rural farm with an outhouse to working the switch boards at a telephone company. Even if the show didn’t hit #1 on the charts, it would always be there for future generations. I wish my grandparents had recorded their parents so I could try to understand what it was like to emigrate to North America from Scandinavia in the early 20th century. Or what it was like to escape poverty in Ireland, get married on the boat ride over, change your name, and drown yourself in whiskey in Toronto. But, alas, I will never hear their stories.

In these times of quarantine and separation when we’re all Zooming our loved ones anyway, why not hit record? We’re perfectly poised to document inter-generational stories and instead we’re busy photographing newly baked bread and cocktails.

For my part, the moment is gone. The night I got home from my trip with my mother, she gave me a call. My Grams was gone. She’d died in her sleep peacefully taking all her stories with her. I am very grateful for all the time I got with her and for the stories she shared with me. I wouldn’t change a thing, but I will encourage everyone to share their stories sooner rather than later.

Common creativity

I’m notorious in my home for something that I’m sure a lot of you can relate to: starting up creative projects. Yep. Just starting them. The last time I can remember finishing one was when I had an extended period of fun-employment (that is unemployment that you try to spin to keep your spirits up). Do you think it was related to me not having a Netflix account at the time?

Quarantine is a dangerous time for someone of my tendencies. There is a lot of inspiration-porn on social media and we are being inundated by messaging that it’s the perfect time to get a new skill. It’s hard to resist that heady rush of starting a new project, but I am trying to hold firm. It may be a good time to get into something new, but for people like me, it’s also a good time to be still. If I do decide to jump into something, I want it to be sustainable. My pandemic goal is this: start a finish-able project.

A lot of this is about setting reasonable expectations. I’m seeing a lot of posts on social media about the inventions, novel business ideas, and creative pursuits that were born out of dark times. Did you know that a lot of businesses that are now mainstays of the millennial economy, like WeWork and Uber, were born out of the 2008 financial crisis? Did you know that Edison worked on his light bulb idea over the course of another recession? Did you know that Isaac Newton developed his theory of gravity while in quarantine?

That’s fantastic. Really- it’s quite remarkable. It’s remarkable that these men of privilege were able to make the most of a difficult situation. It must have been difficult for them to lose their status quo, their earnings or savings, or, in Newton’s case, their contact with the outside world. But let’s not forget that these are achievements by men of privilege.

I don’t relate to those stories. While it’s great to remember that there are positive things that can come out of hard times, I’m more interested in what creativity looks like for everyone else. The commoners. To that point, what is common creativity in difficult times? It’s probably not inventing the light bulb or building the Empire State Building (constructed during the Great Depression).

If you’re at home, cleaning, cooking, and children may occupy all of your time and your space. If not that then trying stay ahead of the financial stress of this brand new recession may be all that’s on your mind. The image of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree watching apples fall or Adam Nuemann’s pot-fueled dreams of co-working spaces is unhelpful.

Common creativity is smaller scale. It can serve to distract for a moment or it can focus one’s mind for an extended period of time. It can be a form of escapism or an overarching goal. I do a lot of the smallest type of creative pursuits:

I cooked a meal I hadn’t tired before. I tried a shirt with a pair of pants that it had never been paired with before. I rearranged the furniture in a part of my apartment. That was creative. I had to re-imagine the space for a new purpose, consider shapes and light, and figure out the purpose of a drawer full of things with no home. This is not a beautiful space. It wouldn’t look good on Instagram. There’s not a single piece of mid-century modern furniture, macrame, or monstera deliciosa to be seen, but I did it and I’m proud.

I don’t care what anyone says- these are creative pursuits. Is this the kind of creativity that will sustain me for the duration of the pandemic? Doubtful, but I think micro-creativity deserves as much respect and consideration as the big stuff. I consider them completed projects and for some people, it’s all there is. These activities provide a small sense of accomplishment and, more importantly, something to think about that’s not the infinite scream of the pandemic, the world on fire, the elections, or any of the other troubling news headlines.

These are all small projects that I am proud to have finished, but there are bigger picture activities within the realm of the common creative too. You can try keeping a journal, dusting off the instrument under your bed, or even inflating that exercise ball. If you can do it for 3 whole days in a row before the chaos takes over, that’s good. If you can do it once a week, great! Maybe it’s something that can bring you some peace of mind into this new world we’re entering.

These types of activities are safer for people like me because they don’t have finish lines. The goal is merely to exercise your creative side for a few minutes, if a good habit is formed along the way it’s just a bonus. I’ve learned that this is the way I need to fame my creative projects- not as something with a finish line, but as a creative project to ease and exercise my mind.

Writing the next great American novel, painting your abstract oil masterpiece, or creating the next great podcast docu-series involve concrete goals, but they also need to be savored on the regular for they are. They are creative pursuits that distract you from the complicated world and help you focus on your interests. My next great project will be something that I wake up and want to work on for a while almost every day. That is what a finish-able project. If it’s not something I can look forward to carving out time for, it will go the way of all the other odds and ends in my craft closet of shame.

Let us know what you’re working on in the comments below. If it’s a podcast, we can help!

Podcasting in a Pandemic

What a year! 2020 got weird fast and now we’re all living in some strange and uncertain times.

What Equipment Do I Need to Start a Podcast?

Many of us are overloaded. If you don’t have an active social life, at least one side-hustle, and/or regular family obligations, then you might just be struggling to consume all the premium streaming content you love so much.

10 Reasons To Start A Podcast

Unless you live under a rock, you have wondered if you should start a podcast. With their huge rise in popularity over the last several years, it seems like everyone and their dog has a podcast. If you’re on the fence or wondering why everyone is doing it check out Switch and Board’s 10 Reasons to Start a Podcast.

1. To increase your reach by generating content on a platform used by more than 50% of the population

According to Podcastinsights.com, around 51% of people have listened to a podcast and that number is steadily growing every year. Those listeners listen to an average of 7 podcasts per week. If you’re not putting your content into podcast form, you are missing out on over 50% of the population. 

 2. To build an audience 

If you’re a content-creator of any kind, podcasting can be a great way to build your audience. Someone out there is interested in your specific brand. The best thing about podcasting is that it allows each content-creator to dive deep into their specific interest. Much like when we first got the internet, this brings people with unique interests together from all over the world. 

“ If you’re not putting your content into podcast form, you are missing out on over 50% of the population. “

3. To test out content and get feedback as you go 

Recording a podcast is a great way to work through material you’re working on as you go. If you are compiling a blog, a website, or a book, trying out your ideas in the audio format first is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t. You can solicit feedback from your listeners to figure out which direction to take your work or to figure out what they’d like to see more of.

4. To fill a need in a specific area

You’re weird! We all are. You have a unique approach to an otherwise well-known topic. Your specific combination of experience and interest makes you uniquely qualified to elaborate on something. Start searching for podcasts in your interest area. You may find some, but you’ll notice that many are discontinued or cover things from an angle you disagree with. Find what’s lacking and correct it by filling a need. Chances are if you’ve noticed a gap, others have too.

5. To join the club

Is there someone who covers a similar subject matter who you admire? Starting a podcast is a great way to introduce yourself. After you’ve recording some episodes, reach out. Ask them to be a guest on your podcast or to do a phone interview. Afterwards, you can guest on their show. This is a great way to share your ideas with like-minded people.

6. To develop a deeper relationship with your audience or clients

Listeners are loyal and there’s an intimacy that comes with hearing someone’s voice in your ear. Whether you prefer to do a scripted show or something off-the-cuff, your personality will shine through. Personally, I’ve listened to my favorite podcasters as they’ve experienced lose, success, disappointment, and everything else. Even the scripted podcasts will address their successes, their goals, and their struggles keeping up in a way that feels like a personal connection. 

7. To give your brand a voice and to stay on the forefront of your clients’ minds

Dropping a podcast weekly is a great way to remind people you exist. When your listeners subscribe they will see your new episodes every week. This keeps you fresh in their minds and up-to-date with your content. Since people find listening easier and more convenient than reading, they are more likely to stay on top of weekly audio content than written content.

8. To breathe new life into old content

If you’ve been creating content for a while, there’s no need to start again from scratch. You can repurpose old content into the audio format. This will give your audience a new modality to enjoy your content and reach more people who may have missed it the first go around.

9. To showcase your expertise and passion

With great expertise comes great responsibility. Share it! Let everyone know just how much you know in a podcast. Podcasting is the perfect medium to expound your preferred subject matter since there are no set formats, rules, or barriers to entry. You don’t need an agent or a publicist to get started. If you have something to say, podcasting is the easiest way to do it. 

10. To support your partners and supporters by shouting them out

If you have collaborators, sponsors, or advertisers starting a podcast is just one more way to give back. You can either sell them air time and give them another way to reach their clients, or shout them out for their support. They will appreciate the exposure and it will strengthen your relationship.

4 Reasons to Rent a Studio for Your Podcast

Many of us are overloaded. If you don’t have an active social life, at least one side-hustle, and/or regular family obligations, then you might just be struggling to consume all the premium streaming content you love so much.