1,000 Podcasts Later, My 7 Biggest Mistakes

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The four capital mistakes of open source

Without any big fanfare and even without me noticing it, sometime in early December I published my 1,000th podcast episode. I am willing to bet you didn’t notice either as my episodes are spread over not only 9 and a half years but over 4 different podcasts:

With 1,000 podcasts behind me here are the biggest mistakes I will admit to making:

1) No Good Plan

When I started Amateur Traveler in July of 2005 I had in mind that I would do a show about my own travel stories. I had quite a few stories, but at the time I was working full-time and was only traveling about 4 weeks a year. My plan was to put out about 48 episode a year and that math (pretty obviously in hindsight) doesn’t work. Amateur Traveler quickly became an interview based show, but I always recommend to others to think of 20 show ideas before you get started and make a plan for how they will find new stories. When I started This Week in Travel we made the show about news stories. Those don’t run out although they do anchor the show more firmly to a specific release date.

2) Remember To Press Record

This Week in Travel episode 134 “That Feeling of Deja Vu” was a great episode… both times. We record This Week in Travel as a Google Hangout and usually Gary Arndt does the intro but in this episode Gary was missing so I was doing my job as well as his… and forgot to press the red record button. To make it worse, Gary managed to connect into the Hangout from deep underground in a Polish salt mine… and that video was lost forever. Fortunately Jen Leo, Mark from Travel Commons and Corey from Irish Fireside were willing to do the show again. It was completely different, but fun both times and one of our most popular episodes.

I would like to say that this is the only podcast episode I ever have had to re-record because I forgot to hit record but it has happened around once a year. These days I record Amateur Traveler episodes in Skype and have it set to automatically record every call. But the last time I had to re-install Skype I forgot to turn that feature back on and forgot to record an interview… ironically also with Gary Arndt.

3) …and to Use the Microphone

Twice in Amateur Traveler I recorded an interview only to find that I had not been talking into my microphone but into the built-in microphone for the computer and my side of the conversation sounded like crap. One time I had even handed this off to my editor to edit without noticing. In both cases I actually re-recorded just my half of the conversation. It is tough to laugh at the jokes and sound spontaneous… but I bet you can’t tell me which episodes I did this.

4) Settling

Sometimes with Amateur Traveler in particular, it was Friday and I didn’t have a show recorded yet for Saturday. Because I was not a few weeks ahead there were a couple episodes of the show that these days I would not have released. But with my back up against the wall I published. I have not done this in years and more than one episode of the Amateur Traveler never saw the light of day so that I could keep the quality of the shows at a level I am at least satisfied with. One guest and I tried twice to record a show, but it didn’t work well enough for me either time. Ouch.

5 ) Show Notes

An episode of Amateur Traveler can take about 8 hours of work before all is done and in the early years when I didn’t have the help of an editor by the time I pressed publish I was spent. This made for some pretty cryptic show notes. These days I try and make sure there are both useful show notes and show notes that Google’s search crawlers will like.

6) Shy

I am by nature painfully shy. I don’t think you would know that if you met me today, because I have learned to be more extroverted in public. I always related to Garrison Keillor’s description of the Lutheran extroverts in Lake Wobegon. You can tell they are extroverts because when they talk to you they look at your shoes. Learning to promote any of the podcasts has been a big learning curve for me and I know I have let many opportunities pass because I was too shy to ask.

At least one reason that This Week in Travel has more awards than Amateur Traveler is that Gary actually entered it in award competitions… and gave me a hard time for not doing so for Amateur Traveler earlier. That kind of self promoting didn’t come easy to me.

7) “Amateur Traveler”

More than once I have regretted not spending more time looking for a brand when I named the podcast “Amateur Traveler”. I had mind amateur as in “someone who does something for the love of it”. But it turns out that not everyone who is searching for “amateur” has the same thought. When someone looks for “amateur vietnam video”… it turns out they are not always looking for travel.

I joke with Alexandra from CrazySexyFunTraveler.com, that I only wish  I had known that domain was available when I started.

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

2 Responses to “1,000 Podcasts Later, My 7 Biggest Mistakes”

Colin Gray

Says:

Brilliant insights Chris, thanks for sharing. As one of the first podcasts on my mp3 player back in 2007, I can safely say you were one of the guys that got me into this podcasting caper and are responsible for my current career 🙂

So, looking forward to the next 1000!

chris2x

Says:

Cool, or… I am sorry, whichever is appropriate 🙂

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