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This is the second part in a two part series about shooting the video lessons for my upcoming Successful Podcasting course. If you’re thinking about making a video or screencasting course, you’ll want to listen to this.

Cory McCabe and I just wrapped up shooting video and WOW; what a week. I’ve got the video gear packed into my car, and I’ll be heading down to San Antonio in a few minutes to take it back to Sean, but I wanted to take a few minutes and share 7 lessons I’ve learned in the past two weeks.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins:
  • Writing for a podcast is great practice for writing for a course.
  • Writing out what you have to say and reading it out loud helps you refine your voice and your message.
  • You probably sound more boring than you think you do on camera. Keep working on it.
  • Collaboration can lead to incredible growth.
  • If you want to finish a project, set a deadline and find accountability.
  • Don’t use other people’s success as an excuse to quit—learn from them.
  • Be willing to share your opinion.
  • Be in the moment. Try to enjoy the work and the journey.
Show Notes

1. Writing for a Podcast Is Great Practice for Writing for a Course

  • 02:33 If you’ve been listening to this show for awhile, you’ve heard me talk about how important it is to write out your episodes, think about what you want to say, think about the takeaways, prepare some headlines, and then write. As I was preparing for this course, I realized that writing the course was easier for me because I’ve spent the last year writing out podcast episodes, getting comfortable with outlining, and laying out my ideas in a way that makes sense. Writing 50+ podcast episodes helped me write my first online course.
  • 03:06 When I started writing Successful Podcasting, I thought about the outcome I wanted to for the person watching it (learn how to prepare a great podcast, grow an audience, and make money with a podcast), and I pretended I was just writing a really big podcast episode. If you want to write a course some day, writing blog posts or scripts for podcast episodes is really good practice.

2. You Sound More Boring Than You Think You Do

  • 03:51 Don’t stress, but keep working on it. I keep learning this over and over. If you talk to a camera or microphone the way you talk normally in person, you’ll probably come across as flat or boring. Some people are naturally dynamic and exciting, but I’m not really one of those people. I’m pretty mellow and chill, and after reviewing the first video lessons that I did, I realized I looked kind of bored. I didn’t let it get me down, and you shouldn’t let it get you down either.
  • 04:31 If you’re going to be doing videos or podcasting, listen back, review, and think about ways you can inject some more melody into your voice. Exaggerate the way you talk. As voice coach Roger Love says in his How to Project Confidence video, go up and down with your voice. Don’t freak out too much about it, but work on it. Try to sound more interesting and exciting when you’re recording.

3. Collaboration Leads to Incredible Growth

  • 05:07 The past two weeks of working with Cory McCabe have been insane for my personal growth because I got to watch how he works. I got to see how he thinks about setting up a frame for a video, how he does lighting, and how he records audio. I learned a ton in the last two weeks. I’ve been working out of my home for the past three years and I feel like I may be missing out by not spending time with other people at least a couple times a week.
  • 05:50 I like my alone time so I can focus; I like isolation to think, write, and work, but collaboration is so valuable. I’m thinking about checking out some co-working spaces or maybe moving to San Antonio next year so I can spend more time with Sean and Cory at the seanwes office. If you want to accelerate your growth, get around people who are doing cool things (related to what you’re doing or what you want to be doing).

4. Set a Deadline & Find Accountability

  • 06:31 I’ve been thinking about making this course for a couple of years. I thought, “Someday, I’ll do a course!” but it didn’t happen until we set a deadline. At the beginning of 2016, Sean McCabe and I planned out the whole year, month-by-month. Sean blocked off the month of July to write his book, and I knew Cory wouldn’t have any video to shoot or edit, so we decided that July was when we’d shoot the video for my course.
  • 06:59 Setting a deadline and being accountable helped me finish writing the course. I knew Cory was going to come up here so I had to have everything ready by July. This helped me focus and gave me the drive to finish all the stuff and not just let it be a thing that happened in my free time or on the weekends.
  • 07:24 If you really want to finish a project, set a deadline and find someone to hold you accountable. I don’t know if announcing it publicly is the best idea, but maybe you could hire someone; like, “Three months from now, I’m going to pay this person to help me do this thing,” and that will get your butt in motion. If you want to make something like an online course, you have to sit in the chair and do the work. Accountability and a deadline will help you get it done.

5. Don’t Use Other People’s Success as an Excuse to Quit

  • 08:00 Learn from other people who have had success. See how they did it, see what they did right, and try to learn from their mistakes if you can. Don’t look at someone and say, “They’re just too good. I can’t do it that well, so I shouldn’t even try.” Don’t let that jealousy or envy of what someone else is good at keep you from trying something. For example, Sean has done hundreds of videos and he’s great on camera. I’m still new to it. I’ve done dozens (definitely not hundreds) of videos and I’m still learning.
  • 08:46 There was this voice in the back of my head that said, “If you can’t be as good as him, then you shouldn’t do even bother.” But I realized I have to go through this process, and you do too. You have to go through the process of learning for anything, whether it’s writing blog posts, doing a course, doing podcasts, or doing video. If you’re a musician, you can’t look at the best of the best people and say, “If I can’t do it that well, then it’s not worth doing at all.” Learn from those people, take the inspiration, and do your best. You have to practice and struggle if you want to get good.

6. Be Willing to Share Your Opinion

  • 09:32 You don’t have to get everything right 100% of the time; sometimes it’s more important to say what you believe. There’s a module in my course where I talk about making money with podcasting and I was going to talk about ads and Patreon. I had a conversation with Cory and I said, “I was going to talk about ads and Patreon, but something feels wrong. I don’t want to recommend people do ads or even Patreon.” Although there is a good reason to use Patreon, which is that it allows you to provide exclusive content to your supporters.

The best podcasters create something for free that’s valuable to their audience and then they create even more valuable paid content.

  • 10:30 That’s a fine way to make money. Anyways, I had this whole lesson on how to make money with ads, but I felt weird about it. I felt weird about it because ads are hostile to the listener. No one wants to hear ads. Everyone pulls out their phone and hits the 30 second skip button when an ad comes on. It’s annoying. I listen to podcasts on bike rides and anytime an ad comes on, I’ve got to lean over and hit skip forward 30 seconds on my Apple Watch, or pull out my phone. It’s distracting.
  • 11:13 I don’t believe ads are a good way to make money because it’s not doing what’s best for your audience, so Cory told me to say that. I talked to Sean about it, and he said, “People are coming to hear what you think. You’ve established yourself as someone who’s passionate about podcasts. They’re not buying this course for you to tell them what everyone else thinks they should do. They want to know what you think they should do.”
  • 11:42 It takes a certain amount of bravery to say, “I don’t think you should do it this way, even though that’s how everyone else does it.” There are going to be people who disagree with me about ads, and that’s fine. If you’ve done the research and you’ve thought about it, be confident in what you think and share your opinion. Some people are going to disagree, but it’s important to say what you believe and be confident in it.

7. Be in the Moment

  • 12:22 When you’re doing something difficult that you’ve never done before, like shooting a course, giving a talk on stage, or recording a podcast, you’re going to be nervous. I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep. I was excited, but I was freaked out too. Try to stay in the moment. Enjoy the work and the journey and don’t let yourself get stuck in a loop thinking about all the ways you might fail. There are so many things to worry about when you’re doing some kind of creative work. You wonder if people will like it, learn from it, or if anyone is even going to buy it or pay attention to it. That can drag you down and suck the fun out of creating things for other people. Stay focused on the positive things. Don’t beat yourself up. Realize that you’re doing the best you can right now. You’ve prepared, you’ve thought about it, and you’re not going to be perfect, but do the best you can right now. Be happy because you’re creating something, you’re learning, you’re moving forward.

You will get better the more you do something.

  • 13:57 My next course is going to be way better than this course. Most of my podcast episodes are better than my previous podcast episodes. I’m not super proud of my older episodes, but I’m proud I did them. You don’t have to get everything right the first time, or even the second or third time. Enjoy the journey.

Q&A:

  • 21:54 Ryan Magner asked, “How much of your course plans pretty much stayed the same through shooting? In other words, did you plan a lot and stick to it, or did you plan loosely and move things around as need be?” The course was nine modules, and it was basically the step-by-step process of planning out a podcast—buying gear, setting up gear, recording, interviewing guests, hosting and websites, getting your podcast into iTunes, etc.
  • 22:38 The structure of the course was outlined before we started shooting. I wanted to walk people step-by-step through making a great podcast, because there is an order. Most of the writing was done, but about 30% wasn’t scripted out for the teleprompter yet.
  • 23:16 Three of the modules were outlined but not scripted and I ended up rewriting all of module eight, which ended up being 3,000 or 4,000 words. But everything was pretty much planned out. Some of the wording changed, but I had the whole outline of the course finished. It was in place before we started shooting. If I hadn’t have had the lessons written beforehand, it would have taken way more time to shoot, and I wanted to have everything ready before Cory got to my house.
  • 24:36 Austin Saylor asked, “Did you read through or practice the script before shooting?” Some of it, yes, but not most of it. That was a mistake. I wish I would have read every single script—75 lessons total—out loud, and also recorded myself reading them out loud. I learned a lot from reading from a teleprompter. I’d read a paragraph, notice that something sounded a little weird, and then rewrite it to sound more natural.
  • 25:09 So I rewrote some of it, but I didn’t read most of the scripts out loud before shooting. I’ve had practice over the past year, writing out scripts for my podcast episodes and then reading them out loud, so that was helpful, but there were still a lot of places where I would have noticed something didn’t sound right if I had read it out loud first. Even if you’re not going to use a teleprompter, write out everything you have to say in your video before you hit record. It’s really helpful.

Writing out what you have to say and reading it out loud helps you refine your voice and your message.

  • 26:17 Felippe asked: “When doing a screencast, how much of what you’re recording should be scripted, and how much should be improvised?” For my Podcasting With Garageband mini-course I made last month, I just wrote a detailed outline. I wrote down the steps I wanted to walk people through in the screencasts, but I didn’t script everything out.
  • 26:45 I was recording a video with my webcam along with the screencast and putting those two things together, so it wouldn’t have worked out to try to read a script while interacting with the screen. If you aren’t going record video of yourself while you’re doing a screencast, it would be better to write out a script, record yourself reading it, and then do the screencast and edit the audio and the screencast together afterwards.
  • 27:17 I also like keeping the screencast videos short, if possible. I try to keep them around five minutes or less. At the beginning of this Podcasting With Garageband course, I ended up with a 10 minute video and it was hard. I also think people enjoy watching videos that are a little shorter, because it feels like you move through it quickly.
  • 27:41 David Sparks created a screencast series about OmniFocus (a great task management app for Mac and iOS) awhile back, and he recently updated it and sent me a link to download the new version (what a nice guy). I downloaded it, and it’s a single three-hour screencast. I understand why he did it that way (it makes the download easier), but as a viewer, I think there’s downsides to that. Personally, I want to give people three to five minutes screencasts that teach them a single task, instead of a longer screencast that covers a bunch of different things.
  • 28:33 As far as scripting vs. improvised, I think the best thing to do is to try both ways and see which works better for you. I’ve never tried recording the audio first, but I want to. I’m comfortable with improvising, so that’s how I do it, but try both out and figure out what style works best for you. If you’re going to record a video of yourself and put in the bottom corner, then you’ll need to be comfortable with improvising a little bit. If you’re just going to record your screen and not a video of you talking, then writing out a script and recording the narration first might be easier.