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20 Lessons After 50 Episodes

· Time to read: ~3 min

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**(By Tim O’Brien) **Today marks the 50th episode we produced at the Shaping Opinion podcast, which provides an opportunity to think about my 20 lessons from the first 50:

  1. The Brand of Microphone Doesn’t Really Matter – But quality does. It shouldn’t matter the brand or what it looks like, but more importantly how you like the sound.
  2. The Type of Microphone Does Matter – If you produce your podcast outside of a studio environment then I think dynamic mics are the best fit.
  3. Sound Quality Matters – With an increasing number of choices, podcast listeners have less patience for audio quality that’s not on par with broadcast quality.
  4. In-Person Interviews Sound Better than Remotes – If you can meet the guest in person, do it for the sake of quality. If not, do everything you can to get the best possible remote connection.
  5. If You’re Not on iTunes, You’re Not Podcasting – Possibly unfair but true.
  6. Don’t Save Money on Your Podcast Host – Save money in other places, but the best investment you can make is a quality host who will be around.
  7. Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Guests Their Audio Quality is Terrible – I’ve had to insist that guests use alternate connections just to salvage interviews. Some results were good, some not so good.
  8. It’s Worth the Time to Edit Out “Ahhs.” – All content is better when it’s properly edited.
  9. External Recorders are Life Savers – I use an external recorder at all times. That’s good because my computer has had hiccups at the worst times.
  10. Don’t Waste Extra Money on Headphones – Choose the headphones you like and can afford. Headphones won’t make you sound better.
  11. Social Media Matters – No one will know about your episode unless you tell them. Social is free, easy, accessible, and frequent.
  12. Don’t Choose Guests Only by Their Numbers of Followers – I’ve had guests with big social followings and some with small ones. A few with the most downloads were with guests with no social presence.
  13. If It’s Good, Show Length Doesn’t Matter – Podcast listeners are a dedicated bunch if they like something.
  14. If You Wing It, It Sounds Like It – Even if you don’t use a script, you should have a clear idea beforehand what you want to achieve with the final product. A good outline helps.
  15. Audacity is the Best Thing You Can Get for Free – It’s not always simple, but it’s usually simple enough.
  16. Be On as Many Podcast Channels as Possible – Make it easy to be found.
  17. That Episode You Loved, Other People Hated – Some of my favorite episodes were panned by people I respect. You can’t please everyone.
  18. Relatability Matters – Before every episode, think about whether your topic is something to which your audience can relate. If they can’t relate in some way, it’s harder to connect.
  19. Batching is a Stress Reducer – If you commit to a weekly schedule, batching episodes is your friend.
  20. The Secret to Podcasting Success is Other Podcasters – I’ve learned by listening to other podcasts and by getting to know other podcasters. That’s the most pleasant surprise after 50 episodes.

Tim O’Brien is the producer and host of the Shaping Opinion podcast and the founder of the Pittsburgh-based communications consultancy O’Brien Communications.  He can be reached at 412.854.8845 or

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