“The old man rubbed his hands: ‘Ah! A meta-subject! Using language to discuss language, there’s nothing better. I adore that’.”
This episode is one that I’ve been talking with my team about doing for a while. I get a steady stream of questions about how I started my podcast, the equipment I used, the production process and how I find guests. The opportunity to answer all of these questions came up when I was asked to be part of a virtual session at the Morningstar Investment Conference and the topic was podcasting.
Of course, we’ve turned the session into a podcast of its own. That’s right. It’s a podcast about podcasting.
In this episode, I’m interviewed by Marie Swift, president of Impact Communication, one of the premier marketing and PR firms in our industry based in Leawood, Kansas. And she’s also interviewing Cathy Curtis, a financial advisor and principal at Curtis Financial Planning in Oakland, California. Cathy also has her own podcast, so it’s two podcasters talking about podcasting.
- Blubrry [14:19]
- GoToMeeting [06:17]
- Libsyn [13:16]
- Tegra118 [05:44]
- Top Advisor Marketing [28:49]
- WordPress [15:08]
- Zencastr [24:39]
- Zoom [06:11]
Complete Episode Transcript:
Marie: Well, hi everybody. We’re so happy that you joined us for another special session here in the Social Digital Hub, at least we’re pretending like we’re in the Social Digital Hub. I mean, it would have been so great if we could have all been together in Chicago, in June, at the Morningstar conference at the McCormick center, but COVID and all that. So we’ve got the next best thing, which is a virtual conference coming at you in September thanks to Morningstar. And we’re going to try and replicate what we would have done had I had Cathy Curtis and Craig Iskowitz with me right there in the social digital. So, Hey Craig, where are you calling in from today?
Craig: Hey, Marie, I’m calling in from beautiful East Brunswick, New Jersey.
Marie: Oh right. I’m in beautiful Leawood, Kansas. And how about you Cathy?
Cathy: Hey Marie. I’m in Oakland, California.
Marie: Well, and you guys can notice, show your t-shirts you guys, since we’re on posture, Superman pose, we’re all wearing our Social Digital Hub t-shirts right. Cause we’re in the spirit for Morningstar and we’re doing a video about podcasting and Craig you’re actually podcasting right now, aren’t you?
Craig: I’m recording this for a podcast. So yeah, this is going to be podcasted at some point later.
Marie: Yeah. We’ll figure out a way to slice and dice this great content, because we want to talk about how you two are using podcasting to build your authority, to build your business, to kind of be famous. So good information can come out in a podcast, let people get a sense of who you are. And it could be a little bit longer format than a video. Although this video is going to be 30 minutes. So I guess there you go. So let’s get you talking about the benefits of doing a podcast, Craig, because I know you’ve been using podcasting as a part of building your presence. So what are the benefits you see? How long have you been doing it?
Craig: I started last January, February of 2019 and I’ve had a blog for 13 years, which I write on a regular basis and that is great for marketing. I run a consulting firm called Ezra Group, so we work with banks, broker dealers, asset managers, and lots of FinTech firms. So getting the word out is important. And I found a blog is very helpful. Posting thought leadership content gets people to know who you are and what you can do. And the podcast seemed like a natural extension of that in a different format to deliver content to people who maybe wanted to listen to the sound of my dulcet voice rather than read my words.
Marie: So talk to me a little bit about how you do podcasting and I mean, I’ve seen you in action cause you and I have done some podcasting live at a conference together a couple of times now at T3. So tell us about your equipment, your thinking, how do you get your arms around all this?
Craig: The thinking was easy in the sense that I already did a blog and I was already putting some content out, but as we were discussing before, it was kind of on a whim where one of my clients, Cheryl Nash from Tegra118 said to me while we were doing a strategy project for them. And she said, You know, you should have me on your podcast. And I said, Well, I don’t have a podcast, I gotta start one to have you on it. So it was sort of like well I need to start a podcast so I can have people on it. So there wasn’t that much of a plan. And when you start, you don’t really need any equipment at all. Everyone’s laptop, as long as you have a laptop and almost everyone has a laptop, use the microphone of your laptop, and I just use Zoom, because that was the video conference technology I was using. But we were on GoToMeeting, you can use Microsoft Teams. Any of these tools have recording capabilities, and you’re podcasting, right? So you don’t need any special equipment. I went and bought a microphone. So when I started, I bought this microphone, which is a blue snowball, it’s called a snowball microphone. And it came with this little pop shield, which is so you your words, don’t like your P’s don’t ~pop~ in the microphone. This was, I think this was $80 and it’s got a little stand and it goes right on your desk and you’re good. But you don’t even need this. You can use a headset, which I’ve used before, my Java65 headset. This works great. And a lot of my guests will use this when they call in, and they sound fine. So you don’t really need a lot of equipment to get started on podcasting.
But the thing you see here – that works too, your headset from your iPhone. Yeah. This I bought for you Marie, because we wanted to look the same when podcasting together conferences. So this is a road podcaster microphone it’s about $200 on Amazon. Then this is a shock mount for if the desk shakes, it doesn’t shake, and this road arm here, about $100 on also Amazon. So all that stuff together, $350, something like that.
Marie: So that plugs right into your Mac, right? You’re using the laptop.
Craig: I didn’t want it to get too complicated. You don’t really need this, but if you’re going to buy this, you got to buy something to drive the audio. So I only bought this because you wanted me to, and I have a big box over here. I don’t want to pick up my laptop, I have a mixer, a big mixer, this is a special kind of connectable to XLR. And they have XLR right to USP, but it doesn’t sound very good. So you need a mixer to boost the audio of these kinds of mics and also drive the power.
Marie: So this is what I’m using right now. This is like $80, it’s what you see here with the pop shield right into my Mac. I also have the fancy one, the $200 one that we plug into the mixer when you and I go podcasting, but we’re actually giving one of these away for anybody who goes to our special, I guess it’s a virtual booth that we’re going to get as a part of the Morningstar conference.
Craig: Oh, great!
Marie: You can sign up and get all our free handouts and stuff and our equipment list, but we’re giving this away. So be sure you go. And whatever the portal is that you’ll see somewhere on this screen Morningstar will tell us, and just download the handouts because they’re good in and of itself, but we’ll also throw you in for a drawing for this awesome podcast microphone set. So that’s fun. So tell us how long you’ve been podcasting and what are some of the things that you’re learning or seeing or enjoying the most?
Cathy: Okay. I am a brand new podcaster, about four months now and I’ve done six episodes. And the reason I started is I’ve been blogging like Craig for a long time, and I have a newsletter and I post on social media, but I’ve been noticing this huge upsurge in people’s interest in podcasting. And I don’t think it’s dying. I think it’s going even further. I mean, Michelle Obama started a podcast, and I’m thinking maybe people are listening to more podcasts during the pandemic. I know I am. I take long walks at night and I’m listening to podcasts now. And I’m kind of a late starter on listening to podcasts. So I thought during this pandemic, I want to try something new. I want to stretch myself and people have been encouraging me to do a podcast for a long time.
So I thought, okay, I’m going to go for it. And I have a marketing person that has been encouraging me too, and she said, Cathy, all you need to do is start on Zoom. And I said, you’re kidding. And just like Craig, I’ve spent no money. Zoom makes it so easy, it produces an audio file and a video. So I’m doing both audio and video, I upload to YouTube, and I’m finding that my listeners like video. So I think I’m going to continue doing both video and audio and see how that plays out. I thought that was kind of interesting, because I’m able to populate my YouTube channel now, which supposedly it’s good for search. Right? So that’s an added benefit there. And I love doing video, I like watching people’s reactions and things like that. So I’m going to continue on that level.
And then I have a recommendation from a friend, this microphone, which is AudioTechnica, A2R 2100 USB. It’s got the little stand and I plug it into my Mac desktop, I’m using a desktop every time I Zoom, not a laptop. This is my home office, the red walls, this may be a bit much, but I think the red walls are pretty and I’m ready to go.
Marie: So how do you pick your guests? How do you make them sound good? How do you pick your topics?
Cathy: Good questions. So I decided since I am an advisor that works mainly with women, I want to amplify women’s voices, that’s my goal. I originally started with a good friend who’s a very interesting woman because basically I knew it would be easy for me and it was like my test run. And that was so much fun, and I got a lot of great feedback. She has a big social media presence, so I got a lot of listeners and I have a big social media presence. And then I interviewed another advisor. I just did a bunch of young people of color, young women and talked to them about personal finance. So I don’t really have a particular strategy honed in yet, except that I know I want to amplify women’s voices and talk about money and their lives and how they intertwine. That’s that’s my goal right now.
Marie: So what’s the name of your podcast and where is it hosted and all that good stuff?
Cathy: It’s called Financial Finesse and it’s hosted on Libsyn and I’m on Spotify. This is a good one that I’m trying to figure out for the newbie podcasters getting on Apple’s podcast platform has proven to be challenging.
Marie: How do you get on Apple? Craig, jump in here.
Craig: I can help you with that, Cathy, we’ll take it offline. It’s a bit of a process depending on how your podcast is posted and where it’s hosted. So I’ve got a degree in computer science, so I do a lot of these things myself, but even I have to go out to the experts when there’s problems sometimes because you know, I don’t have the time or I don’t know enough about certain things. But for example, I don’t know where you host your podcast, but I host on a website called Blubrry, it’s $20/month and I forget how many hundreds of megabytes of space you get, but then they will then distribute your podcast automatically once you set yourself up on Spotify and iTunes and a couple other distribution channels. I have my podcast team, they upload it right to Blubrry, and once they hit “publish”, it just goes out, but you have to set it up first. So you have to configure, go to Apple/iTunes and register as a new podcast, get the information, plug it into the right places in your infrastructure. Like I use WordPress for my blog, and reason I use Blubrry is it works very well with WordPress. If you don’t use WordPress, you may be looking at something else.
Cathy: I do use WordPress.
Craig: So you might like Blubrry. It’s got a WordPress plugin, and we’re getting really technical here. So there’s a plugin on WordPress, like I post the transcript to all my podcasts on my blog and people like that. So you’re giving people lots of options for interacting with you. Some just listen on their iPhone, through iTunes or whatever podcasting app. Some can go to our website and go right to the blog, and there’s a little a widget. So Blubrry has a WordPress widget that pops up and you can click play and play it through your computer.
Cathy: Oh, that’s cool.
Craig: Yeah. So it gives people lots of options for listening to the podcast. And then we post the entire transcript as well in there. And there’s a little plug in at the bottom. You click on it, it opens up a Blubrry window, you pick your podcast and kind of go.
Cathy: I’m doing that.
Craig: So one tip for doing your podcast is you can have sub-categories or sub-brands of your podcast and do a little series, so you may do an insurance series where you just do insurance for a couple episodes, or you might do long-term care, or you might do a 401ks for a couple episodes. I’m thinking the advisor side. So on my B2B, cause we sell to banks, broker dealers, asset managers, and fintechs. We did a Winners of WealthTech people who we felt had made a difference in the industry, and again, we were trying to keep it 50/50 men women. And we gave it a separate hashtag and made it like a separate brand inside of the podcast. And it was kind of fun. It doesn’t cost anything, but it gives people a different reason to listen. And when we were to announce who the winner of this month is, people would get, Congratulations, you’re a winner of wealthtech. I’m like, woohoo, you’re a winner! So that’s looking to get more interaction with your podcast.
Cathy: I want to add something a little problem I’ve been having. And Craig, you probably know the answer. I did a panel and I love panels, but it’s problematic in that you gotta make sure everybody has good lighting and good sound. And also the other thing I just learned is you have to tell people, keep your answers on the relatively brief side, because I don’t want to go longer than an hour, or you have to spend a lot of time editing, which I had to do on my last one. And that took forever to do. Those are some of the lessons I’m learning is give the people you’re talking to some good parameters, and then the sound thing I’m not so sure. I was on Kitces podcast, he actually mails a headset to you and lets you keep it.
Craig: Yes. He’s professional.
Cathy: And it worked great because he wants to make sure the sound is good.
Craig: Yeah. He’s way professional about it, moreso than I am. I’ve had him on my podcast twice and he always sounds great, but that’s one way to do it. I mean but that’s his business, right? He’s in more of a media business than I am. But I had considered doing that with some people because sometimes the sound was bad. However, I think as with all things, digital COVID has really changed that. Before COVID I did have a lot of problems with people not being on a good headset, being in a noisy room, not having a good background. The first half of my podcast I didn’t do video. I only did audio. And then I realized, why not do video, because it’s another piece of content. You want to repurpose your content. Anything you do content-wise is repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. It’s like the old adage, what’s the secret of real estate? Location, location, location. With content it’s repurpose, repurpose, repurpose.
Cathy: Why not, right? You’re spending so much time doing it, you might as well.
Craig: Yeah. So you’re right to do video and it’s going to be a little bit more editing. Yeah. And I think more people, I haven’t really found anybody that doesn’t have a good background, doesn’t have a good microphone these days depending on who you were interviewing. My daughter Elana who’s our digital content coordinator, she has a standard email she sends to our guests and it’s got a whole list of things. Make sure you’re in a quiet room, make sure you’ve got a headset, make sure you’ve tested your internet connection, all those different things. I don’t like to do much prep for the podcast. Usually I’ll do some research, but usually the bigger companies will want some prep. Like I interviewed Lauren Wilkinson who’s Head of Advisor Tech at Schwab and their PR was like, Oh, we have to have a big meeting beforehand. Like, don’t worry, you’re going to be fine. I know what I’m doing. And it was fine. So you know, how much prep you need to do is what you feel comfortable with. I feel more comfortable with less prep because it’s more spontaneous that way. And it doesn’t sound rehearsed. I don’t want it to sound like a sales pitch. I want it to sound more like a conversation.
Cathy: I totally agree with you, cause I listened to podcasts and I don’t like the ones that sound like they’ve been practiced. And some of them, maybe they feel like they have to because the information is very technical or their guests insist on it. But I like the whole conversational aspect and you really never know where it’s going to go, which is I think fun for listeners.
Marie: I have a tip, a little bit of acting is a good thing. So if you tell your signature story and you just kind of race through it, and usually people are like, Oh, that’s so profound, but you race through it? I mean, have a pregnant pause every once in a while raise your eyebrows, do a little bit of like, it’s not like you’re phony, but like go ahead and be into it. Raise your voice, your energy, and if you’re on camera, you gotta play to the audience, right? So I’m enjoying talking to you guys, but I know that thousands of other people are going to see this. So I think there’s a little acting and how you inflect your voice and your body language.
Craig: If you hire a podcast person to edit for you, there’s an option in Zoom that says record each participant in a separate file.
Craig: What that does is it creates a separate .m4a for each person that you’re talking to, because each person will have a different level. I’ve got this microphone, you’ve got that microphone but he’s got that microphone. So this way can each file is just that person’s voice so your podcast editor can set the level just for them. Rather than one big file you’ve got to set the level once and everyone is all messed up.
Cathy: So that’s how to solve that panel discussion.
Craig: Right, because people have different sound levels, like I’m being really loud on my microphone. I’m really far away, you can’t hear me. If you use that setting in Zoom, each person with a separate file, you send them to the audio person. They’ll line it all up in their program and then adjust the audio. Marie, you’re next.
Marie: Thanks for calling on me. I wish we had an opportunity to clink our coffee mugs together.
Cathy: I’ve got one from a passed Morningstar conference.
Craig: Oh, look at you.
Cathy: My favorite coffee cup.
Marie: I should have had my Morningstar pop socket, but I left it at the office. But so I’m doing a podcast for Napa where I’m the host and I have a producer. He happens to be my son, Johnny Swift, go figure these millennials and technology. And he’s been you know, taking orders from me for 30 years, so he’s a really good employee. I kinda liked the guy, but he recommended we use Zencastr. Cause we didn’t want to do video. We just wanted to talk to people, but Craig, to your point, it has the two separate soundtracks. So if I cough and we don’t want to stop the person, Johnny just says, Hey, just ignore that. He’s going to cut that out. Or if a dog barks in my background, he’s just going to cut that out because everybody has their own soundtrack. And then he edits on a Mac using Garageband and he just does his magic. I recorded the intro here it is Mindset Mastery brought to you from Napa the best fiduciary organization, yada yada. I gave their commercial. And then I host somebody as my guest and we talk about mindset and mastery. We have signature through music, we have the intro and then we have the graphic that Johnny put out on Spotify, Apple. I think he hosts it on might be Libsyn, but he changed a couple of times. So anyway, I’ll put some of this in the crib notes whatever we’re going to put to go with this so that people have a sheet of resources, but that’s how we’re doing it for Napa.
Cathy: I want to say that I’m so glad I started this podcast. It’s really a great way to build community. And in these times when a lot of us are socially isolated, we’re working from home or sheltering in place. It doesn’t look like the pandemic is going away anytime soon. It’s just so much fun to be able to reach out and communicate with people and get my voice out there and get their voices out there. And if someone’s thinking about doing it, don’t hesitate because you think it’s going to be too costly or too difficult, even if you’re not technical and I’m not technical, I’m a financial advisor. This is not what I do for a living, but I’m learning how to do it. And there’s so many great tools out there right now.
Marie: Awesome. Craig, final words of wisdom?
Craig: I agree. If you’re thinking about it, just do it, don’t worry about technology. Don’t worry about equipment. Just record it on your laptop. Use your headset that you normally talk to your clients with and it’ll be fine. People expect podcasts not to be professional-sounding. And as Cathy said, if it’s too professionally, it sounds weird and people don’t like it. So it’s even better just to use your phone. You can record on your iPhone or your Android phone. You don’t even need a computer. You know, there’s a lot of tools out there and apps that you can do that with. So it’s easy to get started. You don’t need a plan. You can just wing it and see how it feels and go from there. You know, for us it’s a part of our marketing strategy and we’ve got guests lined up, but you don’t need to do that just to get the ball rolling.
Marie: You know, one thing we haven’t talked about yet, and I’ll just throw this out here as couple of quick tips is, if you’re kind of a dry, boring person, you’d like to try this, get a cohost, like get an Ed McMahon to have somebody else like who’s a little bit lively. Like I’m working with a CPA attorney and he loves to talk about tax strategy and we’re like, do you want to do a podcast? So we’re talking about getting a co-host, who’s kind of bouncy and fun. Who’s gonna help cut him off and bring him back on track when he goes into the tax code. Cause you know, that’s for him to know and for us to know that he knows it, right? The other thing is I was talking to Pam Kruger who is known for her PBS specials. She did the Money Track special for many years and now she’s got this thing called Wealth Ramp and she said, you don’t have to do this forever. You could just do like three, like a series on a thing and then say, that’s all the podcasts I’m going to do. So think about that for what it’s worth.
And one more little shout out to some people I like, Top Advisor Marketing, Kirk Lowe and Matt Halloran, those guys are awesome. If you’re watching this and you’re thinking, man, I just want the white glove service, work with Kirk and Matt at Top Advisor Marketing they’ll do everything, soup to nuts. They’ll get you set up on Apple. They’ll produce it. They’ll push it out on social for amplification. So a little shout out to those guys who are doing great work and they only work with advisors right now. I think they have plans to conquer the universe. So this has been so much fun you guys, thank you.
Cathy: I learned so much. It was great.
Marie: All right, so shall we say goodbye? Parting is such sweet sorrow. Until next time.
Craig: This was fun. Thanks Marie.