Launching a successful podcast doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating. With the right tools and guidance, anyone can break through tech hurdles and share their voice with the world. In this episode, Jennifer Francis of Tools of the Podcast Trade discusses how you can break through tech hurdles to launch your podcast. As an experienced host and podcast producer, Jennifer knows the challenges that come with a successful podcast, and she’s here to help you get over them. She shares her personal experience of launching her podcast and covers the essential steps you need to take to get your show off the ground. Jennifer breaks down complex technical jargon and explains everything in simple, easy-to-understand terms, so you don’t have to worry about feeling overwhelmed or confused. Whether you’re an experienced podcaster or a complete beginner, this episode is packed with practical tips and actionable advice that you can start using today. So tune in, grab your headphones, and get ready to learn how to break through tech hurdles and launch your very own podcast with confidence!
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Podcasting Made Simple: Breaking Through Tech Hurdles To Launch Your Podcast With Jennifer Francis Of Tools Of The Podcast Trade
I have Jen Francis. SoloMoms! Talk was her first show, but now she’s got Tools of the Podcast Trade. She’s out there helping podcasters everywhere at the nitty-gritty level. She’s got the New West Podcasters Meetup and all kinds of things going on. She’s fascinating. She’s a creator and host of both podcasts, the SoloMoms! Talk and Tools of the Podcast Trade. She’s a writer and content creator. She’s a mentor who helps people reach their goals. She loves to help people reach their goals.
I was completely fascinated by her insights and the questions that she finds she’s asked again and again because she’s down there at that nitty-gritty level of building these events and curing what people are struggling with. She has great insights into that. She’s going to bring that to us. I’m excited for you to hear that because sometimes, we get to be deep into something. We get so far down the road that we forget what it’s like to be new. It’s part of the reason why I start a new podcast every single year. I want to be new. I want to understand what everyone is struggling with now.
It also helps to rise those questions, but even though I’m starting a brand-new podcast every year, I’m still bringing all the experiences that I had. It’s not a fresh and open perspective. Jen has developed a model of how she helps people, mentors, and coaches. She has done it in a way where she’s always in touch with what’s new. What are the new questions? What’s a newbie thinking? What’s going on in their mind? Let’s talk to her because that might help unstick you if you’ve been sitting here, coming back again, and trying to get the podcast that’s deep in your soul started. Let Jen Francis inspire you.
Jen, I’m so glad to have you here. I’m so glad that Tools of the Podcast Trade is not all microphones. It’s what I expected from the title, but you talk about so many different tools. That’s important to look at podcasting as a trade. I love that you focused it that way. You’re talking about all kinds of tools, digital tools, real tools on occasion, and people who are tools, not in a good way to help out. I like that. How did that title come about for you?
It came about because I was thinking of all the different things that exist in podcasting. I was explaining to someone that podcasting is simple. It’s very detailed. I realized that the details are necessary to get your show started. The term tools came into my brain while I was thinking about the name. I was like, “That is it.” At first, I was thinking about microphones, headphones, and all those little things but then it expanded because I realized hosting is a tool. Guesting is a tool. That’s how that came about. It was a messy process but it made sense to me.
A podcast trade is also a great way to think about it because a trade is something you work at for your whole life. It’s not something that you start in, and you’re an expert. Tools of the Podcast Trade is not your first podcast. Tell us about your first podcast.
My first podcast is called SoloMoms! Talk. It was my training ground and part of the inspiration for doing tools because it took me six years to get that first episode published.
I’ve had a lot of people who podfade. In my company, I have people who we call missing in action. They say they want to start a podcast and then they never get started, but I haven’t heard six years before.
I wasn’t not doing anything. I was thinking about it. I was taking courses. I was reading. John Lee Dumas had a little book out that he has on Audible and Amazon. I was going through that ad nauseam. If you’ve ever heard of Cliff Ravenscraft, he was one of the first.
There are lots of editing tools and tech stuff. He was one of the people who were on my list when I researched and started this show. Both of those people were on that, Pat Flynn as well who has been on our show. What was holding you back then?
The bottom line is my mind. The little brain took over. I did start something on Blog Talk Radio but I realized it wasn’t appropriate for what I was trying to do. When I discovered John Lee Dumas and Entrepreneurs on Fire, I’m like, “That’s what I want,” but then I was thinking that it was my story because the reason I wanted to start SoloMoms! Talk was to share my story of being a divorced mom and the struggles I went through.
I also wanted to hear the stories of other SoloMoms and sharing them with those whose stories would help. First, it was like, “I can’t do this. How am I going to do this? What am I thinking I can do it?” It came down to the point where I was like, “Nobody wants to hear my voice. It’s not good.” I went through and listened to a lot of different podcasts from Amy Porterfield and all the female podcasters. I listened to them and how their voice sounded and then looked for the “worst” voice.
I recorded my voice, listened to it, went out, and found the “worst” voice. I’m like, “It doesn’t even sound that bad. She has a podcast.” This was when I evicted the lizard brain and said, “I want to do this.” I went through that struggle and then started to hear a lot of questions. I joined John Lee Dumas’ Podcasters’ Paradise. He connected me with a guy who wanted to start a podcast. We co-mentored each other. I heard the questions and realized I was answering the questions enthusiastically. I’m like, “I know this stuff. I like doing this stuff.”
That’s why I started the New West Podcasters Club. Thirty people joined in the first month, which was amazing to me because I didn’t even think people were interested in some stranger. I wasn’t a brand name. I was just some stranger. When I heard the questions, I’m like, “Those are the things I went through. I got my answers. Now, I would like to help these people get their answers.” The club and Tools of the Trade started around the same time hand in hand.
What was holding you back? You were talking about mindset. A lot of that shift and support happened, which is the problem for so many podcasters out there. You have a Meetup, New West Podcasters Club. That’s what I want to talk with you about. Finding that support system can be what shifts that, whether it’s a mindset problem or a tech problem. That’s where your problems may lie. Not reaching out for help when there are so many willing to extend a hand, podcasters or aspiring ones, is what shifted you.
I realized that I wasn’t the only one with questions that seemed dumb to me but they were real questions. One thing I found out and realized is that even when we say we don’t know what mic to get, we’re stalling.
I love that. Let’s call ourselves out on that. There are two forms of procrastination that I found. I talk about this in one of my many podcasts out there. It’s in Product Launch Hazzards. There are two forms of procrastination. There’s procrastination where we’re stalling, not making choices, and not doing something. There is procrastination where we get overly obsessed with editing but never air our show. We’re recording but we’re then never airing our show. We’re obsessing about something that we are deep diving into but it is a form of procrastination as well.
I had one lady in that group. She was a coach and a psychologist. She has five different podcasts she wanted to start but she couldn’t decide on one and start that one. She had a bunch of excuses why one wasn’t good enough. She wanted all these.
I’m glad you’re calling yourself out on that because what we need to do more often is call ourselves out when we’re contributing to the problems that are happening and why something is not moving and not going. We have to take responsibility for that because we can identify it and move through it. I love that you put that on.
SoloMoms! Talk has 145 episodes. Congratulations. That is a big accomplishment. You are in the rare territory of people who have done over 100 episodes. You should be honored for that in the podcasting space here. Your new one is another 37. You’re getting pretty close to 200 episodes in the podcasting world, which makes you an expert.
You should be proud of that. You should look at that as an important accomplishment. What’s next? That’s how we think. What did you learn from SoloMoms that you do differently now in Tools of the Podcast Trade?
I tried to get more help with Tools of the Podcast Trade. Bear in mind that they’re two different shows. SoloMoms! Talk is a little messy. I’m not saying moms are messy but the life of a solo mom is messy.Moms aren’t messy, but the life of a solo mom is. Click To Tweet
It’s a talk show-ish. It’s a little more informal. I wouldn’t say it’s messy because I didn’t think it sounds messy at all. Authentic and informal would probably be my description.
Tools is more of a business podcast. I saw it as something I was doing. I was interviewing a gentleman. One of the questions I would like to ask my guests is, “What are you grateful for?” He said, “One of the things is that I’m on your podcast. I’m on Tools of the Podcast Trade. Did you know your podcast is number seven in marketing on Goodpods?” I’m like, “What are you talking about? My little teen-weeny podcast?” He said, “Yeah. Go check it.” I went and saw. That week, I was in the top 100, number 7 in marketing, and then I was something number 15 in nonprofit podcasting. I was like, “I had no clue.”
I view Tools differently now. I view it as a tool that I could use to help not just those who want to start a podcast but those who don’t realize that they need a podcast. I gave a talk or a presentation in Playa del Carmen to a bunch of digital nomads, coaches, and different things. It was a podcast that gave me the courage to go in front of these people and say, “You’re doing all these things. You need a podcast to help you be better.”
You are a digital nomad as well because I talked to you about this, and you’ve been all over the place. You’re in British Columbia. I could see now why when you said Blog Talk Radio didn’t fit you. That’s one of the main reasons because the ability to do podcasts from anywhere and have it be in your schedule and your model is a better fit for you. Digital nomads have the issue of typically having inconsistent sound because their space is different all the time. It’s not the microphone. It’s the space.
Although if you use a too-expensive microphone, then it can make it worse. The inexpensive microphones are what we call directional microphones. They do better in any space. I hear that’s what you’re using, which is why your sound is good. It’s because we sometimes miss the checklist for setting up in our new space. We forget to make sure our microphone is turned on. Things like that happen. Do you have a process you use to make sure that doesn’t happen to you?
I don’t. It’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about. I’m switching from this. I’ve been looking at the RØDE VideoMic because I want to publish more. I record more from a mobile standpoint since I move so much. I’ve destroyed three microphones in the last couple of years. I’ve destroyed headphones because they’re in my backpack. I travel quite a bit. I’m always going places. I’ve decided that I needed to switch from my studio setup, which is what I had and was carrying around with me. I realized that it doesn’t work in an Airbnb that has a 22-foot ceiling.
It’s too much echo. The microphone picks it up.
I have 3 or 4 podcasts that I recorded. I was in this apartment in Playa. They have an office. Everything looks good. I listened to my interviews after, and I was like, “Oh, my God.”
It happens to all of us. I’ve had hotel rooms where I thought it would be fine, and then there’s this horrendous air conditioning sound. You never know. You’re thinking about some new equipment and some changes to that. Make sure you get a microphone you can return because 9 times out of 10, I find when a microphone comes in, somebody fails. They test it, and they’re like, “This sounds great.” When they go to record it 1 week or 2 later, it doesn’t work.
Make sure you got a good return policy and time to return it because you may find out when you get that recording back that it’s not as good as you thought it would be. The more expensive microphone in a less sound-controlled space can be worse, especially one that has a lot of settings or options. A lot of times, the options that they tell you in the instruction sheet are the opposite of what you should do in an uncontrolled sound environment. We see that all the time with the Yeti, some of the RØDEs, not all of them, and some of the expensive high-end mics. They can never work in an open environment.
People are shocked at it. I have a glass desk. You would never know it. You would think this microphone wouldn’t work. I’ve got an ATR. I love Audio-Technica because it’s a directional mic. That’s what you’re using. The directional-ness of it keeps it from picking up sound from all over the place. I’ve found it to be good but there are exceptions. I don’t have 20-foot ceilings. There are some exceptions even to that.
Instead of having your mic pointed up as you do, point it straight at you if you’ve got a big environment with tall ceilings because it won’t pick up on the sides of the mic, it only picks up down the front. If it’s pointed upward, it might be bouncing off the ceiling.
There we go. Let’s chat about tools. This is what you do so well. You do so well in being open to ideas from your guests and the people you talk to at your Meetups and then saying, “Here’s what I’ve experienced. Will this be a solution to it?” That openness to coaching and new ideas is why your show is getting better. It’s why people are going to come and continue to binge on it, listen again, and share it with others. That is rare. Podcasters do it their way. They get set in their ways, and they’re closed off. You are not one of those podcasters.
I try not to be because I realize, especially for that show, it’s not about me. I’ve learned that if I’m blogging an article about something, I always put myself in the reader’s shoes to say, “Are they going to understand this? Is this going to help them?” Something I’ve been working on is putting myself in my listeners and my readers’ shoes.
I love that. I do love that you have a blog. I love that you’re blogging because that is a great tool for drawing in new listeners. People forget that. They think it’s only the audio. That’s all that ever matters, and it’s only social but you’re going to move to do more blogging, social media, and videos. All of those things do contribute to people finding your show and consuming it in their favorite format, whether it’s the summary articles you write or the video. They will find what they’re looking for based on that and all those media types. I’m so proud of you for doing all of that because it’s a lot of work. The new show is different from the old show. What’s your favorite part about Tools of the Podcast Trade?
It’s learning, especially learning from my guests.
It’s the guest interactions or that relationship building.
Podcasting in general is great for this, especially when you’re interviewing guests. You meet people from all over the world. You meet people you would never normally meet. I talk to people like Vinnie Potestivo.
I’ve had him on the show here too.
He’s a riot. One of the episodes I get the most feedback on is from the guy who created Creators Legal, Eric. He talked about the legal aspects of podcasting. You should have a guest release and stuff like that. When I have those guests on, I realize that I’m getting an education not just in podcasting but in business. It is my favorite.
That’s such great advice. You’re starting to think about podcasting, “How does it fit? How does my business grow around it? What else can I apply?” One of my favorite parts about it is getting new perspectives from my guest, too.
We’re not just picking up the mic and putting out a recording. We’re doing something that’s impacting someone. It’s exciting stuff.Podcasting is not just picking up the mic and putting out a recording. It’s doing something that's impacting someone, and that’s exciting stuff. Click To Tweet
You follow the model of different links for your show. My audiences know, I always check out and listen to all of my podcasters’ shows. If they’ve got more than one, I do like to listen to their earlier show to check out. Is it stylistically different? What’s different about it? Even in that show, you had sometimes shows that were 10 minutes and sometimes shows that were 45 minutes. You had a range. It seems that you followed that instinct early on. The show needed to be as long as it needed to be, and not, “I’m going to be strict about it.”
I did do that deliberately because if someone comes in and wants to talk, and it seemed like what they’re saying is going to be useful, then I always say to them, “This is us. We’re the producer. We’re the director. We say cut when we say cut.”
I’m so glad you said that. That was so profound.
If you have something useful to say, say it. If we have to edit something out, we do it but usually, we don’t.
This is the difference. Sometimes I don’t. I am a binge-listener of shows. When a show is strictly an hour, I lose interest in it a lot faster than a show that has a variety of times. I know when I see a variety of times like that, you are respecting me as a listener and you’re respecting yourself as the person doing all that work. If it’s not interesting to you, you’re going to cut it off short, or if it got to the point and it was done, you’re going to end it. I’m going to have a better takeaway than if you live up to the hour because you committed to an hour.
Early on, I feel that a lot of podcasters don’t heed that. It seems that you’ve been doing it pretty much since early on in your days, which is rare for a podcaster that learned from the old-school model from John, Pat, Clint, and all of those people. There was more of a rule about keeping to a time slot but those of us that abandoned that quickly ended up with better shows because our listeners felt respected.
I believe that too.
Tell us about the New West Podcasters Club. I heard your episode. You were excited about the Meetup. Tell us a little bit about that and why you’re so excited about it.
It’s called the New West Podcasters Club because when I started it, I was living in New Westminister, BC. I shortened it to New West because a lot of the people who joined are not from Canada. They’re also across the US. I figured if I put New West, it’s a lot less specific.
They don’t have to be local because it’s a virtual meetup.
It’s a virtual meetup. It’s always been. I still don’t see a reason to have a physical meetup unless we need to.
You draw a broader audience of more interest from all over, especially because you’re traveling all over. You’re meeting people from various places who want to join.
I started it because it would help people. I didn’t know what I was doing. I decided, “Let me put it out there and see if people are interested,” and they were. In the first two months, I got an invitation to speak at the local library about podcasting. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out because of COVID but I was proud of myself that I did get that invitation. We meet almost monthly. Sometimes we have a long break. People always seem to have questions. They come with their notebooks. They want to know how and why you would do it that way. It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to answer those questions.Podcasting helps people. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, just put it out there and see if people are interested. You’ll be surprised by the outcome. Click To Tweet
One time, one of the guests that I interviewed attended one of those meetings. It was a gentleman who was on the road for four years with his family RVing across the US. He was podcasting. I wanted to cut him to come and tell his story to this group, and he did. The members of the group loved him. They were asking him. I let him take over the show and the time, ask, and answer. It was good. I am excited about doing stuff like that, having more guests come, and talking to these individuals.
I love that. It’s great. What is the most common question you get from people who haven’t started a show yet?
The most common question is, “How do I get my show up?”
There’s still this mystery around how hosting works and how the RSS feed works.
There’s a lot of mystery, “How do I get it there?”
No one has said that to me yet. The most common question usually is, “What mic should I use?” I wish it wasn’t the question because it’s not the point.
That is almost the biggest thing because they bought a mic. In their minds, they figured, “I’m going to need a mic.” They bought a mic. They didn’t even bother to ask what mic. They bought a mic. They have a mic, and they’re like, “I’m supposed to be on the internet.”
“How do I get it from here to there?”
That seems to be the most prevalent question.
Shame on who owns hosting companies. We have not done a good job of explaining something that we think of as simple technology and old-school technology. RSS feed is a very old-school thing. Shame on all of us in the industry for not doing a good job there. I am going to take what you said there and make it my mission to figure out in the next few months how we can get that message across properly.
What about existing podcasters? What do they say when they have started a show and they have gotten it out there but they’re struggling? They are probably within 25 episodes because they start to figure things out after that but within that early stage where they’re at the most risk to quit their show, what do you hear from them? What is the most common issue or question?
For them, it’s twofold. One is, “How do I make money doing this?” It’s starting to cost money. It’s starting to look like they’re going to need to pay somebody for something. Usually, it’s editing. They have been paying for hosting. Money has to come from somewhere. That’s a common question, “How am I going to make money to pay for this?” The other thing with editing is that they will struggle with editing themselves but they also want to hire somebody to do it.
They quickly want to give up that role. Few people want to keep doing it.
It takes a special person to do that stuff.
You know that I own a company, Podetize. We do this. To be honest with you, I wish people wouldn’t edit. I wish you would strategize your show to have no editing as a part of it and only need it on rare occasions like if you have a bad sound issue, or something went wrong and you need some support. In the beginning, strategize to not use it so that you could spend any budget, money, or time because your time is the most valuable to growing your listener base, engaging with your audience, and getting better guests.
If you spent your time, energy, and money there, you’re more likely to stick with it to the stage at which you’re making money with your show, and then you could afford to edit. I feel like it needs to be a later consideration rather than an early consideration unless you have a big company, and your brand needs it from the beginning if you didn’t have a professional show. We were talking about Meetup. Meetup has a podcast. If it wasn’t professionally edited, people would be wondering, “What were they doing there?” and thinking about that.
I wish that wasn’t the question. I wish they would think about doing a non-editing version of it earlier. That doesn’t occur to people because there are too many people out there selling them stuff. I say this as a company that makes money from that. We have self-service. We have self-editing. We have tools like that but people feel daunted by them and think it’s too hard. If that’s too hard, then maybe we should have a no-edit model.
That would be nice.
There’s no-code coding. We should have no-edit podcasting. Maybe that needs to be the phrase.
I don’t know if I could stop editing, not because I like editing per se but because it gives me joy listening to those interviews again. You can’t explain it. It’s how I do the show notes because I listen to it again.
You write your articles that way too.
At first, it was about editing because I wanted to be perfect but then Pat Flynn said something that had me clapping my hands. He said, “Stop cutting out those oohs and ahs because it sounds so robotic when you do because people don’t talk like that.”
He’s wrong that most people don’t over-edit themselves when they’re doing the main editing. It’s the auto tools and the autotuning stuff. If you apply them, sometimes they go too far. That’s where I hear more of these AI tools ruining a show that was good before in its authentic stage. I wish people wouldn’t do it. Use it for the good stuff like sound leveling.
When you can’t hear your guests because their microphone is not as good as yours, that’s bad. You want to make them sound good. Improve that. Use it to cut out something that was not valuable from a content piece but leave in the authenticity of how you speak because the beauty of the difference between you and me is that you’re considered in the way you speak. You take your time. You reflect.
In contrast to that, I’m fast, and that’s okay. That’s nice. There’s a place for both of us in the podcasting world where people are going to have an affinity for that. If you ruined it to make it sound more like me, that’s not good. I am so glad you are part of this podcasting community and such a big proponent of it. I look forward to seeing how you can make money doing this. What I would love for you to share with the audience is your biggest return on investment from doing your show.
I hate to sound trite in saying this but it’s the personal satisfaction. If I was making dollars from it, that would be great. I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t welcome that but it’s the personal satisfaction of knowing that I answered somebody’s question so that they could move forward with that dream because podcasting for me is a big deal. I got this done twice, and I know somebody who’s struggling because they have this message, and they can’t see the forest for the trees. The first guy that I did the co-mentoring with started a podcast. It’s called The Prison Post. Look up The Prison Post, and you will see how successful that podcast is. When I see stuff like that, that’s the ROI for me.
I agree. I’m so proud of the podcasters who stick with it, keep going, and keep bringing their message out to the world. If I had a little piece in creating those ripples of impact, that’s all I need. We all should be making money and we should be rewarded for doing that. I hope that you will be shortly but I do also think that the ripples that you’re creating in the world have to come back to you. Jen, thank you so much for bringing your podcast into the world. Tools of the Podcast Trade is a fantastic show. For those of you who are interested, go check out SoloMoms! Talk too, and see how it all got started.
Thank you, Tracy. I appreciate you talking to me.
Jen Francis amazes me. I love talking with her. It’s so much fun. We had such a great time. She’s down to earth. She understands that struggle for how you figure things out. I forget that often as I mentioned at the beginning of the show. I’m a how-to girl. I have great confidence in how to be your guide and how to do that. Jen does too but she doesn’t forget to stay in touch with the fact that’s not your forte. That may not be your thing. How can she meet you right at your level, support you, and guide you through? That’s the sign of a great coach and a great mentor.
Tools of the Podcast Trade is a great show because she’s always thinking about what you might want to hear and how you need to hear it and bringing it to you in different ways. You’re going to want to check out that show if you haven’t started your show yet and you are looking for someone to help be your guide along the way. We are always here at the show and Podetize to support you as well but hearing other voices is so critically important in this process.
That’s why I’ve been bringing you more podcast managers, podcast strategists, coaches, and mentors than me because maybe I’m not the right person for you. You need to find someone who’s going to help unstick you, help get you moving, get you off of that procrastination, and get you moving into podcasting and discover what it’s like to be a fabulous content creator who’s getting more from their show.
Get inspired by Jen Francis. Go check out Tools of the Podcast Trade. You can check out her next Meetup. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Thanks, everyone, for reading. I look forward to bringing you more successful podcasters and more of these wonderful coaches and mentors in the podcasting industry right here every single episode.
- SoloMoms! Talk – Apple Podcasts
- Tools of the Podcast Trade
- New West Podcasters Club
- John Lee Dumas
- Cliff Ravenscraft
- Pat Flynn – Previous Episode
- Amy Porterfield
- Podcasters’ Paradise
- Product Launch Hazzards
- RØDE VideoMic
- Vinnie Potestivo – Tools of the Podcast Trade past episode
- Eric Farber – Tools of the Podcast Trade past episode
- The Prison Post
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