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At-Home Master Class

The Art of the Podcast

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Next up in our #ThingsToDoAtHome series: starting your own podcast. To get the pro tips on doing it right, we went straight to the girls behind one of our favorite podcasts, Bad on Paper. Founders Grace Atwood of The Stripe and Becca Freeman recently interviewed the Veronicas—listen to the episode here—and now they're sharing their insider intel to ruling the airways.

What first inspired you to launch your own podcast?
Grace Atwood: I had been hearing that podcasts were the next big thing (this was a little over two years ago) and wanted to start one to add to my blog and Instagram presence. I asked Becca to do it with me because (besides being incredibly smart and a great business partner, which I was totally NOT thinking about at the time!) she is the only person I knew that reads as much as I do and I wanted it to be about books!
Becca Freeman: Starting a podcast really wasn’t on my radar! But Grace caught me right after New Year's and I was feeling that new year feeling of wanting to say yes to new things. Plus, I was starting to think about leaving my full-time job, and this felt like a fun side project that could engage me creatively. I (maybe naively) went into this thinking of it as a fun hobby, not a business venture, but that also lessened the pressure when we were just getting started.


Bad on Paper's Grace Atwood, left, and Becca Freeman

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“I was starting to think about leaving my full-time job, and this felt like a fun side project that could engage me creatively.”

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What equipment do you need?
We like to record in my apartment as it’s a less formal feeling than a studio. Out of laziness (and now with the pandemic), it’s easier as Becca lives upstairs from me and, with guests, it makes for a more casual environment, which lends itself to better conversations.
BF: For a setup, we have four of these microphones, and this recorder! We used to edit using GarageBand—it’s pretty easy; we just taught ourselves using YouTube videos—but hired an editor last year, which made a world of difference.

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Who are your podcast icons?
Our friends Ashley Hesseltine and Rayna Greenberg do such a great job with their podcast, Girls Gotta Eat. They are absolutely hilarious but also do a great job being socially conscious (they recently did a series of live shows where they donated all of the money to Australia during the wildfires).
BF: I’m such a huge fan of Call Your Girlfriend. They’ve been doing their podcast for 5-plus years, and were some of the first women to really grow an audience around a chat-based show. They’ve had on incredible guests, including Hilary Clinton (!!!), and do such a wonderful job coming up with both engaging and substantive topics to tackle.

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And your favorite podcasts in general?
There are so many, but I will try to keep the list short! I love dating podcasts as they help me feel a little less alone navigating this crazy world. Girls Gotta Eat and U Up? are two faves. I really love Hillary Kerr’s podcast, Second Life (loved the Veronicas’ episode with her!) For weird conspiracy theories and nerdy stuff I like Reply All. And of course our friend Katie Sturino’s podcast, Boob Sweat! Kate Kennedy’s podcast Be There in Five is amazing, especially all the deep dives. And last but not least, I love Hitha Palepu’s new podcast, One Smart Thing. It’s smart and really digestible with episodes between nine to 12 minutes long.
BF: In addition to the ones Grace mentioned, I adore A Thing Or Two with Claire and Erica, who were the founders of Of A Kind (RIP!). I am newly addicted to The Financial Confessions, and especially love their episodes where guests come on and talk about how they manage their personal finances (I recommend the episode with Ingrid Nilsen to start!). I’ve also been enjoying Everything Is Fine, a new podcast from Kim France, the founding editor of Lucky Magazine. It’s meant for women of 40—which I’m not—but I still find it really engaging. I also dip in and out of Who Weekly for all my D-list celebrity gossip.

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Top 5 Tips

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1. Just start. Starting a podcast seemed so intimidating. Our best advice is to just start, and figure it and learn as you go! Some of our early episodes are pretty bad (we thought they were amazing when we put them out); it’s cool to go back and see how far we’ve come. We had a lot of audio issues and weird things happen (for a while one of our voices was coming out of each earphone!) but a little bit of Googling can fix pretty much anything. You don’t need a fancy studio or the most expensive equipment, either. Our equipment is pretty basic (we started with an even less expensive recorder), but it works!
2. Find a format. I think it’s helpful—both for you as the host and also for listeners—to have some kind of episode format or recurring segments. For example, we start every episode with our highs and lows from the week, which helps add something personal even if we’re talking to a guest that episode. I think it also gives listeners an idea of what to expect when they tune in. (Also don’t worry, your format can evolve over time.)
3. Spread the word and be a guest on as many podcasts as possible. The best way to grow a podcast is to guest on other people's podcasts! We are not a big fan of asking to guest on other people’s podcasts but have found that we’ve made some amazing relationships by having other influencers and podcasters on our podcast and building a relationship.
4. Start a Facebook group! A Facebook group is a great way to let the conversation from the podcast carry over into an online community where your listeners can talk about things from the episode. We’ve seen our audience start mini book clubs in their cities, form lasting friendships, share travel recommendations and favorite beauty products… the community there is really cool and it’s a great way to keep your audience engaged!
5. Be consistent. Pick a drop day and release your show every week on the same day. We’ve seen so many influencers start a show, release a few episodes, and not stick with it. Even if people aren’t tuning in en masse at first, they’ll come, but you might lose your small early audience if you’re not publishing regularly.

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