Ramblings

Why I Started Podcasting

I’m currently editing “Hi, I’m Here for a Recording, the ordinary life of a voiceover artist” which I hope will come out at the end of this year. (‘Hope’ being key, it will most likely be out in February…) I’ve just finished working through the section where I explain why I started podcasting so I thought I’d share it here, with you.

“@PilarOrti @mansiontwit Hola. Necesito una cosita urgentito.”
(I need a small thing, urgently.)

One August evening at 10.40pm, in 2016, I just happened to pick up my smartphone to have a browse through Twitter. That tweet had been sent by Sunne, a veteran podcaster in Spain, who’s right at the heart of the podcasting community there. Him and his friends were live with their show, Podzapp, which they broadcast on the last Thursday of every month and one of their guest had let them down. So, checking that I didn’t need to turn on my camera (I was just about ready to go to bed) I said, “Yeah, why not?”. I plugged the microphone into my laptop, sent Sunne my Skype ID and there I was, chatting to a podcaster in Mexico and four others in Spain. There was no way I could have anticipated in 2014 where podcasting was going to take me.

Having spent a bit of money recording ‘The A to Z of Spanish Culture’ I had to find a way of selling it which didn’t involve saying to people, “Come, buy my book!’

Enter ‘inbound marketing’. This is what the online world calls bringing your customers to you, rather than going out to them. In order to do that, you have to master ‘content marketing’, creating content that doesn’t ‘sell’ but inform. You help people, they start to follow what you’re doing, they start to like you, they start to trust you and then, wham! They’re ready to be sold to. This kind of marketing suits me very well, because I love creating stuff. I’ve been blogging since I met my husband (just a coincidence!), so that’s more or less since 2008, so I quite like the idea of writing as an avenue to selling. However, where I fall short is in then bringing people to the stuff I’ve created. That bores me quite a bit. I’d rather write a bit more.

Getting the word out about an audiobook is better done through another audio medium, so I decided to start a podcast. I’d already released four podcast episodes back when I originally wrote the book, but actually, they were narrations of the book, with bits of music and special effects slotted in. This time I wanted to do something that was related to Spain but that was not directly connected to the book. However, I hadn’t lived in Spain for almost twenty years, so there was no way I could create content on my own, without having to research and research and research again, pretty much like I’d done for the book.

I didn’t have much of an idea of what was going on in the country and my general knowledge about food, culture, geography was quite limited and not good enough to broadcast about it. I also had no interest to dig any further. However, what did interest me, was to get to know a group of people I’d met online through Facebook.

In 2011, I joined the Writers and Bloggers About Spain (WABAS) after being invited in by @stevehall (his Twitter handle and also his name). WABAS is a small and select group of people, many of whom are British expats living in Spain. Some are indeed writers, but most of them blog about the country as part of their marketing efforts, as most of them are entrepreneurs. What better group to tap into to discover what was going on in Spain and share the findings through an English podcast?

Through Spain Uncovered I got to meet many of these people for the first time, over Skype or sometimes, just over the phone: Anna Kemp, who has built an amphitheatre in Laroles, a small town in Granada; Paul Reid aka Gazpacho Monk who is a Tai Chi master and great writer; Emilio J Perez (yes, there are also Spanish people in the group) an architect interested in sustainable living; Caroline Angus-Baker, an Australian writer who after having lived in Spain, now sets some of her novels in contemporary times and the Spanish civil war and Graham Hunt, of course, who set up WABAS and was my first guest. A wide range of people as you can see from which to pull a range of information on current events, culture, history, literature, you name it. Also, most of those who’d left their countries of origin to live in Spain, had been there for quite some time and were able to give their views on how society had changed since they had first arrived. (It all makes for great listening, so check out the Spain Uncovered podcast…)

While the podcast was a great excuse for meeting new people, it was also the perfect reason to get back in touch with people from my past. I interviewed Marta Rubio, who’d been patient enough to take part in the plays I organised back at school and had become a professional actress. While I can’t take full credit for her going into that profession (and I wouldn’t want to, it’s such a hard career path to take), she did share that she had very fond memories of having worked with me. Always good to hear. I also brought my good friend Ivor onto the podcast to a talk about the alternative music scene in Madrid and I was delighted to have an excuse to chat to Pablo Jauregui, with whom I used to hang out with when I was six years old. At the time of interviewing him, Pablo was the science editor for El Mundo, one of Spain’s leading newspapers. Not just that, he had actually set up the science section in the newspaper, proving those who thought that science didn’t sell, wrong. He was rewarded by fate many years later when he had the honour of interviewing his idol, Stephen Hawkings. It was just after meeting this living legend that he hopped onto the podcast with me to talk about this once in a lifetime experience.

I found producing the podcast a lot of fun. Editing is such a mindless yet fruitful activity… The best speakers needed little in the way of editing but some guests were quite a challenge, populating their speech with “mmms” and “errrmmms”. I know these filler words are all part of natural speech, but when they’re interjected in every other phrase, you really run the risk of the listener switching off – literally switching off the device or moving onto another of the thousands of podcasts out there. Having worked as a voiceover for so long and having directed some sessions where I could follow how the engineer worked, I was able to visually identify those “urns” and “rems” on the screen, which made editing a swifter process. I learned to read my own voice on the waves made by Audacity, the open source programme I still use to edit speech (I find Garageband too fiddly for that), and to listen out for bits of conversation that prevented the conversation from moving along.

The podcast creation workflow is quite easy: prepare the content, record, edit voice, put together with music, create episode show notes and artwork and upload to publishing platform. However, it does take time. I’m lucky in that I’m used to listening to the sound of my own voice, so I’m quite tolerant of it. Sometimes it sounds good and other times, well, it doesn’t. It sounds high pitched, I speak too fast, I make grammar mistakes. But that’s all part of podcasting – it’s a medium where you can’t really hide. If you do it for long enough, eventually, the real you comes out. And that’s when it starts being fun.

(As I mentioned earlier, this is an extract from my upcoming book “Hi, I’m Here for a Recording, the ordinary life of a voiceover artist.” If you’d like me to ping you when the book is out, sign up here.)

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