Deck used: The Fountain Tarot
Spread used: 2 cards. Shuffle and draw the first card from to center the reading. Draw your second card to cross it.
That silly song I mentioned: (with Johnny Cash covering it!) Won’t Back Down
At WordCamp US 2015 in Philadelphia, I won a Blue Yeti Microphone at the GoDaddy booth. Thanks again, GoDaddy!
— Melissa Jo Hill (@melissajohill) December 5, 2015
Also, look how cute I am with red hair. Hmmm… I digress.
Immediately upon my arrival back in New York, I began plotting a podcast. Not just any podcast, also. It would be really personal and full of my sage insight and wisdom—part memoir, part social commentary. It would be witty and well-written. I’d reach out to famous authors I admire, gurus and thought leaders, who would listen to one snippet of my amazeballs podcast and say, “OF COURSE I’ll be a guest!”
I began outlining my podcast on notecards, then moved the whole project to Scrivener, where I wrote out 8 3-act episodes, complete with an epilogue and show notes, and a list of assets I’d want to include (like sound clips and photos). I ordered a mic stand and a shock mount. I investigated sound muffling panels for my office. I bought a domain name to house the project, installed WordPress, and then…
Never recorded a single moment of audio.
It was all, too, too much. I don’t know why I do that to myself. Putting together a project of the scope was just beyond my capacity and bandwidth.
But in that time, at work, I did start using the mic to record screencasts and tutorials. I recorded a blog post. I really enjoyed the process of recording and editing the audio.
(This is exactly how I recorded the podcast also.)
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. In a conversation with a friend, the phrase “tiny Tarot” reading came up, and my first thought was that it would be a good blog post series. My second was that it would make a banging tiny podcast.
For the project to be manageable, I knew I had to limit the scope. I settled on a scripted format that would be no longer than 5 minutes, and no guests.
I’d write each episode, aiming for 650-750 words (because I knew from experience that’s around 5 minutes of talk time for me), and try to record the audio in no more than two takes.
I waffled a bit with music, because introducing additional tracks complicates editing, but in the end, I just don’t have the equipment or setup for a crystal clear recording. The music helps muffle any mistakes I make, bumps, shakes, or dog growls you might hear in the background. I also had some experience doing this at work last year, but if I were a total newbie, I’d have opted for just a single track recording (because it can be tedious to edit it all together).
I wrote and recorded two episodes before I shared the first with anyone. My process is like this:
Once I had two episodes down, I could look at the whole project from a capacity standpoint. It takes me roughly 40 minutes from start to finish to write, record, and edit a single 5 minute episode in the format I’ve chosen. I decided it was a reasonable goal to have 10 episodes shipped by the end of 2016, so I shared my samples for feedback and decided to launch.
To get started quickly, I installed the plugin, Seriously Simple Podcasting. It was easy enough to set up (I think), but the first night I spent a few terrible hours trying to figure out why my audio player wouldn’t show up right in my posts before I realized that I exported the audio all wrong.
Next I had to purchase hosting for my audio files, because I knew that I didn’t want the possibility that it would drag on my webhosting account. I tried SoundCloud at first, but I didn’t like how they make you use their own player. In an ideal world, I use something like Amazon Web Services, but getting into the tutorials to set that up just made my head spin and my eyes glaze over. And it was really late at night. And I knew I wanted to launch the podcast on a certain date.
To dip my toes in the water, I just purchased the cheapest plan on Libsyn. It works just fine, but includes a lot of features and bells and whistles that I don’t even need because the WordPress plugin I use makes that redundant.
Essentially I just upload my audio there and then paste the file name in the podcast field in WordPress. The plugin makes the rest of the magic happen—and seriously don’t ask me how, because it might as well be magic to me.
I also haven’t submitted the podcast to iTunes. I started on that as well, and suddenly I needed cover art and various descriptions, and once again, the project started to feel like it was creeping out of scope. This part isn’t difficult, but I haven’t taken the time to do it, and honestly don’t know if I will for this particular series. My original plan was to redirect the domain I purchased (tinytarot.com) to the iTunes feed. But obviously that hasn’t happened yet, so plans might change.
Figuring out how to get my audio files online in a podcast format was by far the most time consuming aspect of this project. If all you want to do is get the audio online, I’d recommend SoundCloud, since they’re so dead easy. Again, it’s my standards of perfection that trip me up. 😇
I have several weeks recorded out now, and a plan and schedule for moving forward with the project. As I mentioned earlier, my goal for 2016 is 10 episodes. Then I’m not sure I will continue the Tiny Tarot project or take a break or start something new. I think that’s okay! And a healthy way for me to view the projects I decide to commit to.
Then go for it! Just keep in mind that if a project is completely overwhelming, it’s less likely to get off the ground. I still have the scripts and outlines I wrote for my much more ambitious podcast project, and who knows how that will turn out.
What I’ve learned from this experience though is that I need to be more realistic and respectful of my time and energy. It’s not about passion or will even—don’t fall into that trap either. I hate it when I hear people say that if you’re not pursing your creative works, you must not want it enough. You can be 100% totally passionate about a creative project, but too busy with the reality of living—making a living, feeding your kids and making their lives happy and comfortable, being good to your body and spirit. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about that! (It took me a long time to figure that out, by the way.)
The last thing that I want to stress is that a podcast (much like any other online project), can be as simple or as complex as you allow it to be. You can start and launch a podcast in 10 minutes with SoundCloud. Or you can use the WordPress plugin and have it all set up in 30. There’s plenty of beginner-friendly resources online, as well as resources for the true audiophile. I think I fall somewhere in-between right now, and for where I’m at in real life also, the middle way works for me. 😉