Journal Craft on Anchor.fm

My Process for Podcast Creation

Chelsea Hansen

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Digital Media is constantly expanding and it is good to dip toes in different kinds of media, especially for those getting into UX design. This article explains my experience with designing a podcast about journaling, called Journal Craft, and the process of brainstorming, my process on publishing two episodes, and my thoughts of what could be improved.

Goals

My goal for designing this podcast was to create two pilot podcast episodes, and making sure I include proper metadata, and podcast art. I wanted to make sure that I created a podcast that had an intro and outro with music included. I also wanted to learn the technology associated with audio as I had not yet explored editing audio.

Getting an Idea

I first needed an idea on what to podcast, and I brainstormed a couple of ideas. I was first thinking about making a podcast about web design, but the more I thought about it, my ideas for making a web design podcast would be best done in a video format. I then came down to two other ideas: my experiences with jaw surgery, or journaling. I settled on journaling since I had a lot more to talk about journaling than anything else at the moment.

Next, I needed to figure out what about journaling I was wanting to talk about, and the kind of podcast I wanted to make. I settled on more of a how-to podcast, since after talking with people, there are many who don’t know how to start and keep a journaling habit.

Art and Metadata Creation

The process of creating this podcast started with the podcast art and metadata. I wanted to make sure all of that was there so when I published the two episodes, I could put in everything a publishing them right away.

I came up with the title “Journal Craft” and went through the process of creating some podcast art. I created a canvas on Adobe Illustrator at 2000 x 2000 pixels as recommended by anchor for podcast art. I made all the art from scratch mainly used the curvature tool to create the pen to make the outlines for the feather pen and the book. I used gradients on the background, pages and pen to create more depth. I curved some text boxes and put an assortment of words that made it look like it was being written in. I found a font that was calligraphic as well.

I created a podcast description, focusing on keeping it short while properly summarizing what my podcast was about:

Journal Craft is a podcast all about keeping a journal habit. It covers everything from how to keep and maintain a journaling habit, what things to write about, and the ways a journal can be kept. It also discusses the benefits of keeping a journal, and pitfalls that will break the journaling habit.

I read through other podcast descriptions to come up with this one. I also made descriptions and titles for 3 podcast episodes to nail the topics of what I wanted to talk about in each episode. I was shooting for about 15 minutes in length for each one, and I estimated that those topics would take about that length of time. I wrote all of these in a google doc and transferred them over to anchor upon publishing 2 episodes.

Scripting the Podcast

I decided to make the two episode scripts before recording, and used google docs to write it all down. I wrote started by writing down outlines for each episode, then worked on one of them at a time.

Both episodes were made using a common outline for podcasts: and intro, the main content, and an outro. I went through a couple of iterations of the intro and outro themselves. The first iteration of the intro had someone else do the intro, but due to time, I ended up changing that to having myself do it. I also thought of the type of real-life integration I could include in my intro and outro. The second iteration had myself giving the intro, inviting listeners into “the writer’s cafe,” but I ended up doing something different by giving writing prompts in each episode, and answering them in the next episode. The prompt would be promised to be given in the beginning of the episode, and right before the outro, I would give it, and promise to tell mine in the next episode.

After getting the intro and outro completed, I worked on the content for the first episode. I gradually made my bullet points of the main outline of my episode into paragraphs. After getting the first draft written, I went through the draft to make sure the structure I created made sense. The draft integrated the steps to making a journal habit and my experiences, but I didn’t like the tone that it was giving. The second draft, I changed the structure to have the first part being what I wanted to define as journaling, then going into my experiences with journaling, then what I learned in regards to starting and keeping a journaling habit.

A similar thing happened with my second script. It went through two drafts until I found something I was happy about. There was something I did not do with these drafts that I wish I did, and it became evident when it came to recording.

Recording

The equipment I used for the recording are a Blue Snowball microphone, and a macbook pro. I used quickTime player as the recording software, recording in m4a, which is the default for quickTime player. I would change the file later after editing. I chose a room in my apartment that would soak up the most sound and that happened to be my bedroom sitting on my bed.

I planned on recording both episodes at once, but due to me starting to lose my voice, I was limited in that regard. As I read through my script, I realized I did not do a reading draft of the script to make sure it made sense to read out loud. As I went through recording, I rewrote parts of my script. Even with that, I did adlib parts of the script as I went to make it feel a bit more organic.

I recorded the episode in three parts: the intro, the first half of the main content, and the last half of the main content with outro. I did try to record the episode all at once, but due to me losing my voice I found it better to split it up, and it turned out to be better for audio editing later.

I recorded the second episode a couple days later after I started getting over a cold that apparently was the reason for me losing my voice in the first place, and recorded it before editing the first episode so I could edit both episodes at once. Recording the second episode went a lot smoother as I did go through another draft of the script reading it outloud. I didn’t have to go through as many recordings for the second episode, and the adlibbing was a bit smoother.

Editing the Audio

I used my macbook pro and Adobe Audition to put together my m4a files into episodes. I added music to the intro and outro, and used the artist Walz’s “Library” song from Uppbeat, which is a website with free music for creators. I found the tone of this song matching the tone of the episodes I made so far.

When creating my file in Audition, it had a template for making a podcast, so I decided to check it out. It had all I needed and more, including a place for an intro, sounds effects, and other things. I only used up to three tracks. One track for the content, one for music, and one for quieter music behind me speaking in the intro and outro.

As I was stitching both episodes together, I spliced my outros from my third clips. I realized it would have been easier to record the outros as their own clips, but it only added a little more work. I also spliced out some big breaths I took throughout the episodes, and I made sure to make sure the music eased in and out from start to finish of each clip, which helped with the intro and outro.

The issues I encountered though with my audio was I sounded a bit breathy in the first episode, but that did greatly improve in the second episode.

Publishing on Anchor.fm

Because I created the metadata before hand, it was easy to put together the descriptions of the episodes, the description of the podcast, and the episodes on Anchor.fm, a free podcast publishing platform. I did have to change the descriptions a little bit as some of the content of my episodes changed, but it was an easy fix. I uploaded everything, including the album art, made sure the links to spotify and Anchor were good to go, and I published the episodes.

The link to my podcast is now live, and you can listen to it here!

What I Would Do Differently Next Time

I would give myself more time to record, and not record while I have a cold. I would also make sure that I would cut out more of my breaths, and maybe invest in getting some breath filters. I would also do more with my scripts and edit them while doing a live read of them.

I like what I’ve done so far, and I hope you enjoy my podcast!

Chelsea Stamm is a student in the Digital Media program at Utah Valley University, Orem Utah, studying Web Design and Development. The following article relates to the Podcast Project in the DGM 2260 Course and is representative of the skills learned.

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Chelsea Hansen

I am a budding web and app designer who likes to learn new technologies, and use creative means to solve problems.