Over the weekend I launched my podcast, Spirits on the Plains, releasing it into the world. It’s about the ghosts, spirits and demons from the most haunted region west of the Mississippi. It’s available on all the major podcast directories as well as at www.spiritsontheplains.com. But this post isn’t about promoting the podcast and telling you to go listen to it. Although it’s awesome and you should. This is about the road to getting it made. This is about the pride that comes from seeing sweat equity turn into something tangible.
This is about me being proud of myself for this and sharing that experience.
I had zero fucking clue what I was doing when I started this project. Well, I knew how to listen to podcasts, if that counts. All I really knew is that I loved Kansas City history, and I loved ghost stories, and I wanted to share that love with my community.
Thank God Dr. Internet was there to guide me.
At the start of any new project in life, the best thing you can do is to acknowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s always a humbling experience, but it turns into something rewarding along the way when you do. I started by reading every article I could find about how to start a podcast, particularly the step by step guides written for people like me who knew next to nothing. I didn’t know what media hosting was, or that I would need it. And I truly knew nothing about recording software or equipment. There were times, particularly at the beginning, where I thought for sure that I had bitten off more than I could possibly chew.
At those times the only thing that really kept me going was that I had shot my mouth off and said I was starting one.
So I started with the tasks that played best to my strengths. I researched and compiled a list of haunted areas around the Kansas City area. I pulled articles about the places I wanted to highlight for the first set of episodes and began to identify people I would eventually want to talk to get more information. Then I started to write, and edit, and edit. And edit some more. Writing when you know it’s going to be converted to the spoken word is a whole different style. Especially when you’re gonna be the one doing the speaking. Also especially when you hate the sound of your own voice.
The most daunting obstacles were on the technical side. As a writer, I didn’t know anything about recording software or equipment, building a website that could handle media files, how to get the podcast distributed on iTunes and Stitcher and had never even heard of media hosting. Quite frankly, once I got to this stage of development, I started to worry about cost. I had no problem putting in the sweat equity to get this project off the ground, but I am not a man of means at the moment, so there was a limit to the amount of cash I was willing or able to sink in.
The fact that I was worried about it truly proved that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
It turns out there is a free recording software called Audacity that a lot of beginning podcasters use. I really, really like free. It also turns out that for $7 a month I could get set up on Libsyn, a media hosting site that not only houses the website, but also pushes the podcast out to all the podcasting directories (after submitting the podcast to them and getting approval). And their walk-throughs regarding all the technical tasks (except recording) were game changers. It took a series of tasks I had no idea needed to be accomplished and helped me tackle them in a single night.
For $15 I own the domain spiritsontheplains.com helping people find my podcast with ease. And I bought the lifetime rights to the song I am using for theme music for $10. And the basic mic I needed ran me $30 on Amazon.
A sunk cost of $55 and $84 in yearly costs to get a creative project off the ground. My hobbies of reading, running and golf each cost more than that. Hell, my internet and streaming cost more than that per month. This is a steal at twice the price.
Then I moved on to actually recording the first episode and playing with the software. Wanna talk about getting lost in the fucking weeds? I seriously hate the sound of my own voice, so pushing past that alone took some effort. I also learned that I breathe, like a lot. Quite possibly more than I should. And it’s loud. So it would be fair to say there was a learning curve with all that. And that there were moments I was very thankful that I live alone.
It got exciting when I started to learn some tricks that made me feel cool. I learned how to fade audio in, fade audio out, run it in the background while I spoke. I learned how to edit out the worst of the errors. And I grinned like a fucking idiot the entire time.
I also learned that it is in fact possible to grow tired of the sound of your own voice. And that I have a lot to learn about getting comfortable talking into a mic, which is ironic given the fact I’ve spent time as a speech writer.
This experience has been rewarding in ways I can’t even articulate. It’s been beyond surreal to see my podcast, something I created, available on platforms like iTunes and Stitcher. Seriously, I can’t stop opening the apps and looking at it.
I also spent more time than I care to admit dancing around my apartment this weekend. I am unapologetic about my state of childlike joy. And again, because of the terrible dancing, I am glad I live alone.
There is zero chance this would have happened without the support, wisdom and advice of my friends. Some of them simply cheered me on. Others were experts in areas where I needed, well an expert, and were generous, giving and patient with their advice. All of them were supportive every step of the way.
I am constantly amazed at how fortunate I am to have such wonderful people in my life.
It’s terrifying and exhilarating to put something like that out into the world. I’m excited to grow as this project continues to move forward.
Now go download it and give me a five-star review.