►Tell us about you and your podcast
My name is R. R. Oldja, but I go by Rootz as a podcaster. My podcast (I have only one for now, though another is in the works) is called Better With Books. It's a weekly solo show of under-ten-minute episodes which are inspired by the books I read. The topics range widely, from sociology to personal development to art, and this variation in topics makes sense to me and to a lot of other readers, simply because readers tend to be eclectic in their interests. My goal with this show is to get people interested in many different topics and give them ideas for conversation starters. So, my audience is people who are interested in a lot of different things and aren't afraid of nerding out every now and then.
►Why & how did you start this podcast?
I've been in love with podcasts for years now. They are better than books, better than TV, better than YouTube to me, mostly because of how personalized and portable they are. For a long time I didn't think to start a podcast because I couldn't think of anyone who would be my cohost. Then I started listening to The Memory Palace. That show was a miracle to me. For there to be a show, made by one person, that is so beautifully scripted? That was, I realized, the sort of podcast I wanted to make, one that utilized my love for writing and my desire to work solo. Then one day, I listened to an episode of The James Altucher Show in which he interviewed Gary Vee, and they put out a challenge to their listeners: start a podcast, let us know, and we'll be a guest on your show. They never followed through with that promise (not the way they promised to on the show), but that call to action was what I needed. I got busy writing a trailer and an episode (about the most influential book in my life, Becoming a Writer by Dorthea Brande) and released them within three days. That was 9 months ago. And my love for podcasts and podcasting and my excitement for what the future of podcasting holds has gown every day since then.
►How'd you find the time and funding to do this podcast?
It takes me about five days of work to produce an episode, balanced between school and work, and I release weekly--at least while it's been summer and my schedule has been forgiving. I break up the production into five steps: writing the script, editing the script, recording the episode, editing the episode, publishing and promoting the episode. Breaking it up this way keeps me from getting overwhelmed when my schedule gets full. I work in the mornings before work on most days, but this schedule changes from semester to semester.
Finding a set time of day and week to work on each step has been very important to me. I find that getting into a pattern and sticking to that pattern has helped immensely in handling the stress of balancing work, school, my social life and podcasting.
As for costs, I spent an initial $300 on a mixer (Yamaha AG06), microphone (AT Pro 63) and podcast artwork (from Fiverr) and now I'm paying $8 a month for hosting on Soundcloud. For my next podcast, I'm planning on using PodBean, which will be another $9 per month.
►What do you gain from podcasting?
I do not yet have any revenue from my podcast. So what do I gain from making Better With Books? I think I have a very "why not" attitude about it. I read a lot, I write a lot. . . so why not combine those two hobbies of mine into something more shareable, like a podcast? I use the podcast as an outlet. It's like a journal that I can look back on and track, over time, what I've been reading and thinking about. So call me selfish, but first and foremost this podcast is a creative effort that benefits me and helps me to express myself.
As my first podcast, it's also an experiment, both for myself and my journey to learning about audio recording and editing and for the medium as a whole. Something I ask myself a lot is, will this essay-turned-podcast format work in the long run? Or will listeners continue to flock to more traditional, interview-like formats? Time will tell. But in the meantime, I'm having fun and expanding myself creatively.
►How does your podcasting process look like?
I use a Blue Yeti microphone when I'm feeling lazy, but otherwise I use a Yamaha AG06 mixer and an AT Pro 63 microphone plugged into my MacBook Pro with GarageBand. (I love GarageBand, and I'm not ashamed to say it! It's easy to use and it has a great learning curve for beginners like me!) I record in my car because there's no such thing as a quiet spot in my house, and my car-studio works great! All that upholstery means I don't have to tack up acoustic panels!
So far I've only had one real guest on my show. It was Ma'ayan Plaut from RadioPublic, and I recorded our conversation on a Tascam DR-07. I reached out to her on Twitter and she agreed to talk to me after a podcasting meet-up we were both attending. I did just enough reading about her company to understand what they did and what their mission was. We ended up talking about the future of podcasting. It was an awesome conversation and an awesome first "real" interview!
►How do you market your show?
Marketing is definitely my weak spot. . . I usually link my show to Stitcher because it is cross-platform and offers nice, short URLs. I host on Soundcloud, which--I wish I'd known--isn't great about giving detailed listener data.
I'm on Twitter and Instagram @ruthrootz, and I post promos, fun facts and interesting quotes twice a day, during the week.
►What advice would you share with aspiring (new) podcasters?
I know everyone who reads this will have heard it before, but, "Just do it!" Start right away! You'll never know enough to start--there's no such thing. Yes, you'll make mistakes. Yes, your first few tries will suck. . . But there's no way around that. You have to go through the rough patches before you actually get good.
As for resources, Transom.org is a big one for anyone into audio and/or journalism. And Reddit! Reddit is a life-saver! Often, you'll have a problem that is so specific that Google won't be able to help. That's where Reddit comes in. The r/podcasting community is truly amazing. Other than that, I get most of my inspiration and ideas for new editing techniques from the shows I love (Radio Lab, Revisionist History, Sandra). And for those who want to listen to something really unique, I recommend Podcast Meander. It's a real mind-bender, a show that uniquely blends music, non-fiction and fiction.
The world of podcasting is just starting to open up, and the possibilities are endless! To those thinking of starting a podcast, I say, do it! And don't be afraid of being different!
►Where can we learn more about you & your podcasts?
I have a blog, Rootz's Blog (blogbyrootz.blogspot.com) where I post updates to my podcast. As I mentioned before, I'm on Twitter and Instagram @ruthrootz. You can email me at [email protected]. Better With Books is on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, RadioPublic, Overcast. . . almost everywhere except Spotify.
Updated: a year ago