Why I Started My Podcast
Back in 2018, I was contemplating the end of my para ski racing career, having spent four seasons training out in the USA at the NSCD in Winter Park, Colorado alongside training and racing with the British Para Snowsport development team. I loved skiing, loved traveling and loved meeting so many like-minded people from all over the world. We all shared a passion of going down snowy and often icy hills as fast as we could, either using a guide, in a monoski, or with outriggers. I knew in my heart of hearts that it was time for this chapter to finish. But what next?
I love podcasts. Many of the long journeys out to whatever ski resort found me plugging into an episode of How to Fail or Happy Place. In fact, I was driving back from Landgraaf in Holland after a race when I probably shouldn’t have been. I was exhausted, having jumped in the car after the awards ceremony, by which time it was probably 6pm. It was the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno which I can genuinely credit with keeping me going and awake because I was laughing so much.
Are You a People Person?
Having always been a ‘people person,’ something that I loved about being on the ski race circuit was the fact that I got to meet so many different people, from all over the world, all with a different story. It wasn’t just the Paralympic champions who were present in that world. Each and every adaptive athlete had a story to share of how they’d overcome huge challenges in their lives. Many of them were so interesting to talk to, with incredible advice that only someone who faced adversity first hand could provide. I remember thinking what a travesty it was that I was the one who was hearing these stories.
So I decided to start a podcast to interview some of these incredible people. As I had seen and experienced how those people were able to rise up and overcome this adversity. It was important for me to make it relatable. Many of these people had been through experiences most of us will never go through. Their advice would help listeners who were facing challenges of their own.
It was important for me to interview a diverse range of people, disabled and able-bodied people, with a wide range of experiences. More people could benefit and relate to these stories.
How to Start Your Own Podcast
Anyone who’s interested in starting up a podcast, the first thing to think about is what it is going to involve and why you want to do it. There are currently 800,000 podcasts world-wide and there is something for everyone. This shows the popularity of podcasts, the sheer range of subjects covered, but also that there’s a fair bit of competition! Make sure there is something a little bit ‘different’ about yours that sets it apart from the rest.
Come Up with a Podcast Name!
I spent ages trying to think of a suitable name. A key theme throughout mine is resilience, adversity and challenge. However, there are endless podcasts with those words in the title. I figured it would just blend in. Therefore, I talked to creative people I know and came up with A Life Less Ordinary with Sophie Elwes. There are others with the same name so I distinguish mine by including my name. It also helps people to search for it when they know me.
There are a lot of platforms online you can use to start a podcast. Buzzsprout provide free podcast hosting and is a great resource I use that takes you every step of the way. Type in ‘start a podcast’ in Google and there are loads of other different hosting platforms too and a ton of information out there.
Choose Your Podcast Format
My podcast involves an interview between me and a guest. This is one format – but there are lots of different types. Do research. I spent ages listening to different podcasts, looking at the format others use, and deciding what form mine was going to take.
If you’re going to invite guests on, put time and effort into researching them. Then composing a thought-out message invite them on. And then if they do agree to appear – do more research about them. You will feel completely informed to have a great conversation with them, without running into any embarrassment. Generally, people are really keen to appear on podcasts so, if this is the format you choose, hopefully you won’t have trouble getting guests on.
Podcast Artwork and Music
Create artwork suitable for your podcast – I used Canva.com which is a free online site which is great. But there are many others out there. Make sure you’re really happy with it before publishing it alongside your first episode. You’re kind of stuck with it! Most podcasts have music as an intro and outro – there are loads of free or paid-for music tracks online suitable for podcasts. Again, Google is your friend.
How to Record Your podcast
Initially, I was keen for my podcast to be of the highest quality so I chose to record the first couple of episodes in a studio. As the pandemic lockdown hit, I bought my own microphone (Samson Q2U– a reasonably-priced good-sounding mic, but there are many others out there). I actually found recording it myself worked much better for me. It meant that I had much more flexibility with timing. I could record with anyone all over the world (internet access providing). I also enjoyed having more control over the edit.
I record the episodes on a site called Squadcast where the guest and I will log in at a pre-arranged time and record the interview over video call. I make sure the guest has the correct equipment (i.e.headphones) and software as otherwise you can run into trouble. Be prepared. It’s important for me to use video calling because it helps the conversation, I
just record the sound not the video though.
Editing the Podcast
After the recording is done I download it and then upload it to Audacity (no, not Audacitymagazine.com) to edit. There are other programs to use but this one is free. It is pretty easy to use after a bit of practice. I’ll spend quite a lot of time editing the episode, adding the music and intro and an outro to each episode. Again, it’s useful to listen to a load of other podcasts to see what you think works for you.
After that, you upload it onto you hosting platform. Generally, you should leave about 24 hours to ensure it uploads to all the platforms you want it to appear on in time for your release. I release mine at 6 AM every Monday morning. There are optimum times to release content which you can easily find online.
How to Get the Podcast Out There
In order to promote your podcast, social media is the key for this. I use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to announce each time an episode is released. I use soundbites from the episode and quotes on Stories where I talk about the new episode. You can reach out to journalists too. Many of them will have their social media handle or email address alongside their work.
Reach out to other podcasters too as they’re a pretty friendly bunch. I absolutely loved producing my first podcast series and am now preparing to start series two. The reaction has been great and I’ve nearly hit 4000 downloads. Due to the pandemic lockdown. I’ve been fortunate enough to get some great guests on who have an hour to spare to tell their story.
I’ve had some of the most meaningful conversations of my life with people including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, the incredible Brett Moran, and Netflix’s Sex Education star George Robinson. It’s honestly not as difficult as you think it might be, particularly recording independently. There is so much advice available online. There are a few small costs involved but it is possible to save on these. For example, music and length of
episodes can help defray costs. So I say, go for it! Good luck future podcasters!
You can check mine out here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/a-life-less-ordinary-with-sophie-elwes/id1514110779.
You can reach Sophie Elwes on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/sophieelwes
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