022 – How to Turn a Negative into a Positive

022 – How to Turn a Negative into a Positive

Sometimes, you don’t get what you’ve asked for. You can pivot and go in an entirely new direction. Or you can decide to do everything yourself.

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David shares how he decided to learn new media all by himself.

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Highlights:

00:17 – The story of how David ended up learning new media by himself
02:27 – Figuring out how to create content
04:23 – The trick to audio sweetening
05:18 – The evolution of David’s new media journey
06:14 – One microphone changed everything
07:02 – The pros and cons of a content first approach
08:12 – Capturing ideas as they come to you
09:33 – Don’t worry about the gear – start recording!

Transcript:

In 2009, I was thinking about going to school for a new media course, and I think I’ve told that story before. My grades were fine, there just weren’t enough seats for me to be able to join the class, which primarily focused on podcasting, video, and composing music for video games.

It was right around that point that I decided, I didn’t get into this course, and I ended up applying through a strange set of circumstances anyway. Originally, I was just going to audit a composition course because I was like, “Well, I want to continue to invest in my growth. I’m just not sure if I’m ready to enroll.”

And then I was told by the professor, “Why audit? You could totally enroll in this.” And that’s where the seed was originally planted.

So, when school didn’t work out, I made that transition very quickly to, “Well, I think I can do it myself.” It was then and there that I decided, “Let me learn the art of podcasting, and making videos, and composing for video games by myself.”

And that’s what I ended up doing. I started a YouTube channel for video game and movie reviews. I ended up kick starting the David Andrew Wiebe Podcast. As an extension of those projects, I ended up composing music. Maybe not a ton of music, but certainly like 10, 20 tracks. The music appears in some of my videos as well.

That YouTube channel did alright over time. I think it was just good timing. I could record a little bit of gameplay footage and get a few thousand views. Those were the days, that was a fun time for YouTube.

We’ve switched things up quite a bit, so I’m not too sure if there are any old guard listeners out there that remember all those projects, but if there are, just know that I super appreciate you because if you’ve followed me to this point, you’ve had to hop at least two other podcasts just to get here. So, thank you, thank you, thank you if you have been following me since that time.

And I remember thinking to myself at that time, “I don’t even know how to record myself. I just know that I have a headset.”

Which, oddly enough, those have somewhat increased in popularity in recent years. I was kind of surprised to find that because my experience with my headset was fine, I suppose, but it wasn’t anything special.

As I’m speaking, the headband would make a lot of crackling noises, and I was like, “This is kind of weird.” But I figured out how to do it at least at a very basic level. I don’t even remember what I was using to record at the time.

It was a USB headset, and I found some kind of recording app on the PC. Well, it’s that hard to believe that it’s that far back at this point that I can’t even remember what I was using.

But I plugged it in and recorded myself and away I went, right? And the podcast got going.

My first video edit that I ever did, too, was a review of a wrestling game from Super Famicom or Super Nintendo, if you will. And it went much the same way. I had to figure it out as I went. I used Windows Movie Maker to put it together.

And then I got a little bit of help from my buddy, Adam, who knew our home studio better than I did. I think at that point he’d gotten married and moved out when I was getting started on these projects.

But he came back and showed me the ropes with some of the gear and how to use the mics and stuff like that. So that was my next obsession, like, “Oh, great. I get to record now sort of on a more professional capacity using… not top-grade microphones, but studio quality or beginner studio quality microphones.” And that was kind of exciting and we had some ups and downs with that too.

But the good news is I knew little thing about audio sweetening and what sort of software I could use to automatically create great masters of my podcast. I’m honestly surprised that people still don’t know this.

They think they must sit there and sweeten the audio themselves. And I mean, look, you’re going to get way better quality that way, but the software that does it automatically, it’s just so good. And it’s so fast, too.

But there are just so many people that don’t know about it, so their audio totally sucks. Even if they have good quality video or whatever else, they just don’t get it.

There used to be CN Levelator. It has a great piece of kit, and you can still technically download it. It’s not supported anymore, but still seems to work fine, at least for me.

Nowadays you’ve got Auphonic, and I think you get up to two hours of free audio per month to sweeten up and enhance automagically. So, why are podcasters not using that? Regardless of source, of how they capture their voice, microphone or otherwise, I just don’t know.

Anyway, the point being, evolution continued from there and when I moved out of my house and into the basement suite I continued in a very similar capacity. I held on to a few mics that I liked and continued using those for podcasting.

Things finally changed for me when I moved to another house. Another basement. A little bit later, I think it was like a year and a half or two years later, and I finally bought the Rode Procaster.

And I felt cool, right? I didn’t podcast for a year, so on the one hand I was like, “Why did I buy it?” But as I was studying some new methods of podcasting that I hadn’t tried that I thought could work for me, I got excited again.

So, I think within a year of taking a break, I was like, yeah, “I’m going to get back into podcasting.” And in 2016, I did exactly that.

So, that purchase of a microphone made me feel like a pro in a way that that I hadn’t before. It’s funny to me though, like how we all obsessed over that. I guess I was somewhat similar, but I didn’t wait to get started.

I didn’t wait to have a great setup or a great microphone or figure out how to connect an XLR cable to an audio interface to a computer, which, let’s face it, it was software based in the box. Recording was still kind of new at the time that I was getting started. Nowadays, it’s plug and play, but let’s face it, it wasn’t always that way.

I geeked out and learned how to use it. And I liked the Rode Procaster. It sounded great. It’s not without its flaws, but with the right gear, you can kind of compensate for it and have it sound great, especially with some of the audio sweetening tools I talked about.

I spent a lot of time… I was convinced this content thing, somehow this content thing is going to pay off. And I wasn’t wrong. Certainly not. It helped us attract a lot of, guest posters and advertisers and, and sometimes sponsors and things like that. So, I wasn’t wrong.

It helped drive affiliate sales and product sales and book sales and stuff like that as well, but long term it didn’t work out that well.

There were two factors. There was a botnet attack on the website that, at the time I would have had no way of knowing. It’s in retrospect that I learned about some of the security issues, what a botnet attack could potentially do to your website and even its ranking.

Second was some of the low-quality content we were publishing via guest posters. I had editors to manage it and look after it, but some of them just didn’t do that great of a job. And I guess there was probably a little more of a money motive than a motive of synergy in terms of strategy and what we were hoping to accomplish.

I guess my point in all this is that this obsession with gear as well as like heavily scripted episodes is all over. I’m more in the routine and habit of recording my thoughts as they come to me. Sometimes several times a day. Usually at least once per day, although it may not happen every single day.

And I usually just get my iPhone out, and it’s weird to say, but I think it’s at this point that I’ve realized how powerful the iPhone is. You can record your audio, you can make your video, you can snap a quick photo for a YouTube thumbnail, and away you go, right? There’s your content, and you’re done.

Of course, you’re going to spend some time in editing and audio sweetening and whatever else to make the content look good, sound good, engaging, interactive, and all that kind of stuff. But as a capturing device, you know, it’s almost unparalleled in its convenience now.

For me, it has become much more about regularity and showing up and sharing my thoughts, even if unscripted, and it’s not just my thoughts anymore. I’m keen on practicing and sharing my stories and putting them out there and seeing what connects with people more so than ever before.

So, you might have heard the advice before, but I have to say it rings true for me now. Don’t worry about production value. Don’t worry about microphones. If you’re just getting started, simply start recording.

Don't worry about the gear. Worry about getting started. Click To Tweet

We’re not just talking about podcasts, right? We’re talking about music, too. When I first started simultaneous pursuits of podcasting, composing, and editing videos, I was using Fruity Loops, but I honestly had no idea how to use it. It’s called FL Studio nowadays, but I had to improvise and figure it out as I went.

I used some of the stock sounds, and it wasn’t great, but it certainly wasn’t awful. It was somewhere to start.

So, you can get started with what you’ve got, no problem. You could probably even plug in a few apps on your phone and upload your content directly from your phone if you wanted to, right? So don’t delay. You can start doing this today.

Start creating now. Click To Tweet
My Productivity Tool Stack for 2024

My Productivity Tool Stack for 2024

Last year, I embraced simplicity in my productivity tool stack, opting for minimalism and efficiency.

But we’re living in increasingly complex times, and complicated work requires a sophisticated array of tools to manage.

Here I will share the expansive set of tools that empower me to do what I do.

Audio

I primarily leverage these tools for podcasting.

Auphonic

For speedy audio sweetening. Auphonic uses adaptive leveling, filtering, loudness normalization, noise reduction, and automatic cutting techniques to make you sound amazing.

I don’t know why more creators don’t know about this and aren’t using this. Do us all a favor and sweeten up your podcast or video’s audio using Auphonic.

Rode Procaster

My favorite dynamic broadcast mic. Perfect for podcasting, great for music production too (but you’ve got to remember to crank that gain up!).

You can get yours here (it’s great):

Waveform Free

Waveform is one of the best music production software applications in existence. The workflow matches up with how my brain works.

I use it for podcast editing and music production.

Computers

I may need to replace these machines soon (especially the Mac), but for the time being, they are my mainstays.

ASUS ZenBook UX462DA

My ASUS ZenBook

The screen cracked and the webcam doesn’t work anymore. The fan is dying a horrible, loud, vibratory death. It has become more prone to overheating. And speaking of which, I’m not sure the built-in microphone works anymore either.

But for now, it’s the best laptop I’ve got.

Get a new ASUS:

Apple MacBook Pro

The 2015 Apple MacBook Pro has seen better days. Like the ASUS, it has a cracked screen, but the situation is far worse (see for yourself).

My 2015 MacBook Pro

I mainly keep it around for video conferences, seeing as how the webcam on my ASUS doesn’t work anymore.

If you’re looking to get rid of an old MacBook that’s in better condition, drop me a line.

Get a new MacBook Pro:

HP2011x 20-inch LED Backlit LCD Monitor

Having a second monitor is a good thing. Though not thoroughly practical, I haul this baby with me wherever I go. Fortunately, it’s quite lightweight.

eBooks

I am producing more PDFs than ever, and it helps to have the right tools for the job.

Designrr

I bought it on a pandemic special in 2020 and haven’t regretted the purchase. Designrr is a great tool for creating attractive, interactive eBooks without having to hire a designer.

Typeset

Typeset was created to handle the speedy creation of presentations. But so far as I’m concerned, that is not even what it does best.

For creating beautiful eBooks and PDFs quickly and easily, it is practically unmatched. It would be nice to see more fonts though.

File Storage & Organization

I am essentially using the same tools I’ve used for ages.

Amazon S3

I store my podcast files and course content inside Amazon S3. It’s cheap, it’s quick, and it’s (almost) easy.

Dropbox

Every book I’m writing gets backed up in Dropbox. When working with assistants, I generally create shared Dropbox folders too.

Google Drive

More than mere storage. I have a personal Google Workspace account, so I’m also using Gmail and Google Calendar.

I create my LifeSheets, tracking sheets, and a myriad of other documents and presentations inside Google Drive.

Some of my collaborative projects also use Google Drive for file management.

Graphics

The occasional graphical work (blog headers and the like) is par for the course in my profession.

Adobe Photoshop

I can do what I need to do in Photoshop, and if I can’t, I hire a designer!

Music Production

I could go super in-depth here, talking about all my guitars, amps, and accessories. I’ll save that for another time.

Here I’ll look at the audio interface I use.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

My audio interface. It allows me to connect microphones and instruments to my computer. I use it for podcasting as well.

Get the latest Scarlett:

Note-taking

I am constantly writing things down, and I am using both paper-based and electronic solutions.

iPad & Apple Pencil

Besides note-taking, I also read my Kindles on my iPad (same devices from 2019), though if I’m out and about I sometimes read on my iPhone too.

I’ve thought of making videos with the iPad and Apple Pencil. This hasn’t happened yet.

Should you require your own Apple productivity utensils:

Notebook

White paper, blue pen. This is where my mind lives.

I log my income, draw graphs, strategize events, capture song ideas, scribble to-dos, and more.

The wealthy make a mess of handwritten notes. The average type everything into a computer.

If you want to use what I’m using:

Project Management

I am now using a mix of paper- and digital-based solutions to manage all the moving pieces of my projects.

Calendar Pad

I’m bringing the calendar pad back! It is a little impractical for travel, but I can’t deny the benefits of physically writing down all my commitments, as well as my income.

If you want the same thing I’m using:

ClickUp

ClickUp is an all-in-one online productivity tool for individuals and teams. And it’s getting better all the time.

Yellow Legal Pad

For daily to-do lists. This is unlikely to change.

Social Media

I’ve got quite the tool stack going for social media, though I do hope to pare this down.

Buffer

For scheduling posts on Instagram and TikTok.

Descript

I use Descript for my podcast and video transcripts as well as for creating audiograms I share on social media.

Creator Studio

For scheduling posts on Facebook and Instagram.

OnlyWire

For spreading posts across 20 social networks, especially new YouTube videos.

Video

Here’s how I capture and edit my videos.

iPhone

I capture most of my videos using my iPhone.

Loom

The ideal solution for screen recording.

Microsoft Clipchamp

A reasonably good video editor. For now, the free version does the trick. I don’t wish to get so good at video editing that I can’t hand it off to someone else, so this works for me.

Web Hosting

I use the following solutions for my websites.

KLEQ

KLEQ is the best solution for creating websites, campaigns, sales funnels, courses, and membership sites.

Find my review here: KLEQ Review – Funnel Builder, Online Courses, Membership Site Solution

SiteGround

My WordPress sites are all hosted on SiteGround. It’s the same host I recommend to friends.

WordPress

We could go super in-depth here and talk about all the plugins I’m using. But that seems excessive.

Here I will simply talk about the tools that I feel increase my performance.

Elegant Themes

I still love Divi Theme and use it on most new sites I launch. It makes creating custom WordPress designs a walk in the park.

Check out what Elegant Themes has to offer.

Writing

In case you haven’t noticed, writing is a key part of my daily activities. I use these tools to make my processes efficient.

ChatGPT

I don’t get AI to generate content for me. I generate content myself and then ask AI to tweak and improve.

I never do this for blog posts, however, and I’ve stopped doing it for emails as well.

The content that I produce in this manner is paywalled, and it’s still double- and triple-checked before it goes live.

I will sometimes have ChatGPT create tweets, outlines, taglines, and headlines for me, which helps with ideation.

Grammarly

I honestly never thought I would use Grammarly, but one of the teams I was working with last year uses it, so it ended up sticking in my ecosystem too.

I don’t like all its suggestions, but many are helpful.

Microsoft Word

If you’ve ever wondered where most of my words are stored, including my books, it’s inside Microsoft Word. This seems unlikely to change.

Final Thoughts

Ready to make a mess in 2024? I know I am!

I hope this guide helps unlock your most productive year yet. Let me know how it goes.

Podcast Workflow Checklist [with Downloadable PDF]

Podcast Workflow Checklist [with Downloadable PDF]

Once you’ve settled on a name and concept for your podcast, it’s time to establish a workflow that sets you up for success with your publishing efforts. The workload is considerable, and you need a system you can rely on week after week.

Here I cover the key items every podcaster should be aware of to ensure each, and every episode of their show comes out sounding smooth and polished every single time.

Podcast Workflow Checklist

Prepare your notes. What is the episode going to be about? If it’s going to be a solo episode, you’ll either want to prepare point-form notes, or type out a full transcript (blog post) before hitting that record button. If you’re going to have a guest on your show, research them thoroughly. Look at their website and social profiles, search for articles and press releases, listen to other interviews they’ve done, and so on. If you want to go the extra mile, prepare questions they’ve never been asked before.

Prepare your equipment. The minimum viable setup should include a USB mic (like the Rode Podcaster), and earbuds or headphones. If you’re going to be recording with a co-host, guest, or anyone else, encourage them to use earbuds or headphones as well. This eliminates unwanted “bleed” – delay, feedback, and other audio artifacts that are harder to edit out. You’ll want to prepare and familiarize yourself with recording software as well, whether Zencastr, Zoom, or otherwise. If you’re going to be recording solo, you can take advantage of Audacity or Waveform Free as well.

Schedule a time to record. If you’re recording a solo episode, you might be able to fly by the seat of your pants. But if you have a co-host, guest, or other participants, you’ll need to coordinate with them. Take advantage of a tool like Calendly to cut down on back-and-forth emails and let your participant pick a time in your schedule that works for them. If you have multiple participants, you may need to coordinate via email though.

Check your levels. So, you (and your co-host and / or guest) are all online, and you’re ready to start recording. Before you hit that “record” button, though, you’ll want to check your microphone levels. Can you be heard (are you too quiet or too loud)? Can you hear your co-host or guests? Are they distorting? Is their audio quality good enough for the recording? If not, though it might be the “long way around,” you should encourage your participants to pick up a USB mic (even an affordable one like the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB – we have experience with it and it’s quite good for the price) and to wear earbuds or headphones during the recording. If you need to reschedule to accommodate, reschedule.

Hit record. If you are adequately prepared, you should now be ready to hit “record” and start your show. Intros, themes, bumpers, midrolls, call to actions, sound effects and other flourishes are typically added in post-production (editing), but if you have a mixer (like the Rode RODECaster Pro Integrated), some or most of this can be done on the fly.

Last call. Before you conclude recording, ensure that you’ve captured everything you need for the episode. If your guest is online with you, ensure you’ve asked all questions you were planning to ask them. If you plan to record any kind of bonus content with your guest, do it now. You can also record intros and outros now and drag them into place during the editing phase.

Edit. Editing usually happens in multiple phases. The first phase is to cut out “uh,” “um,” dead air, and anything else that might be bothersome or unusable. The second phase is to sweeten the audio. We recommend using The Levelator (no longer supported by the developer, but it still works) or Auphonic to do most of the heavy lifting. Generally, these solutions should only be applied to the talking portions of your podcast, and not the music. The third and final phase of editing is adding introductions, themes, bumpers, call to actions, and so forth. Load them into your DAW and drag them into position, along with all other elements.

Create a header graphic. Regardless of where you’re publishing your episode(s), a header graphic is a great tool for drawing attention to your content and letting users know what it’s about. These can be designed in Canva or Adobe Photoshop.

Create your show notes. Show notes can take many forms. We create four items per episode – 1) an introduction (usually two to three paragraphs to draw the user into the episode), 2) media highlights (also known as timestamps), 3) links to resources mentioned in the show, and 4) a summary or full transcript of the episode. If YouTube is your publishing platform, you would put all this in the video description (normally, you would not add a full transcript to a video description though).

Upload. Before you can publish your episode, you’ll need to upload it. Depending on the hosting solution you’re using, you’ll be able to use the same platform to upload and publish. We upload our episodes to Amazon S3, which is very cost efficient (you only pay for what you use). Podcast files should not be uploaded to your webhost, as the server load will be too heavy, especially as your listenership grows.

Format. Now we take the assets we’ve created (graphical header, show notes, etc.) and add them to a new post inside WordPress. We also add the podcast to the appropriate category and add five relevant tags. This process will vary based on where you’re ultimately publishing. It never hurts to add additional media – graphics, pictures, and images, videos, tweetables, and so forth to your show notes, as it gives your visitors a reason to stay on your website for longer and explore the content.

Schedule. Schedule the podcast episode for publishing. Programmatic publishing is recommended (e.g., every Sunday at 6:00 PM).

Distribute. Share your new podcast episode on social media. We use the Jetpack plugin, which automatically distributes new WordPress posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Photos, Mailchimp, and Instagram. This isn’t to suggest you should rely on automation alone to grow your listenership, but it is helpful.

Promote. The exact steps you take to promote your podcast will probably vary based on niche, budget, and resources available. Creating video and / or audio clips, setting up retargeting ads, and guesting on other people’s podcasts are all common ways to spread the word.

Download the PDF Checklist

Additional Resources

Several years ago, I published an episode on how to be an awesome podcast host with Using Your Power co-host, Maveen Kaura. What we covered there is still relevant today. Have a listen!

Final Thoughts

From preparing your notes to promoting your podcast, the sheer amount of time and effort that can go into producing and publishing one episode can be significant (10 hours or more).

We don’t recommend doing everything yourself. At the very least, editing and writing transcripts should be left to the capable hands of freelancers. Take advantage of solutions like Fiverr to find your perfect candidate.

And if you’re looking for more help with podcasting, don’t hesitate to get in touch.