How I Used SEO to Write Show Notes and Facebook Ads

Have you ever listened to a podcast episode and seen a written description of the episode alongside it? Why is there a written description of the podcast episode when people can just listen to it? When I first started my podcast, those were the biggest questions that I had. But I spent over a week of research into show notes and SEO to figure out why having show notes is important for a podcast. Let’s go into why show notes are important for a podcast: SEO.

The Importance of SEO

What is SEO though and why is it important? SEO is “search engine optimization”, it’s the practice of improving your website to increase the quantity of traffic from relevant searches. SEO is adding and improving upon your website so that people can find it in searches, such as with Google, more often. SEO is important to use when creating any website, and in most cases, the way to improve it is by improving the text on a website. There are various ways to improve SEO such as utilizing keywords more, improving page loading speed, having more redirect links to your website, using header tags, optimizing images, and so much more. 

To properly understand SEO and how to utilize it, you will have to do a lot of research. Here are some great resources to learn more about SEO and tools to figure out how to improve your websites SEO:

How I Used SEO for My Podcast

So I now knew what SEO is and how to use it, but how did I use it for the podcast when SEO focuses primarily on text and podcasts focus on audio? When you’re creating a podcast you’ll need a podcast host, a website. So your podcast is going to have text on it no matter what, so you may as well use SEO with that text, and the website as a whole, to get the most traffic to your podcast. 

Here are some further resources for SEO specifically for podcasts:

The first step in my mission to improve my podcast’s SEO was to create show notes. Show notes are a written account of what happened during a podcast episode, they can vary from a brief description to an in-depth account that goes over every detail that occurred in an episode. And they’re a great place to put additional resources, such as links to articles or images for example. But since this is a textual account of the episode, it is the perfect place for us to utilize SEO techniques to improve our website visibility in search algorithms. 

There are various ways of doing this, such as making the show notes longer and having it read like a blog post. Another way is to use keywords repeatedly in it. Keywords are the words that people are searching for on the internet, so the more that you use them in your show notes, or anywhere on your website such as the web address, the more likely your website or page is to appear in search results relating to those keywords. The resource I used to search for keywords that people are searching concerning the topic of my podcast is Ahrefs. This is a great resource to find out what keywords are the most relevant and easiest for you to use to get results in improving your SEO, and they have other tools to see how to improve your SEO such as their website audit. But I used it specifically to find out keywords to use in my show notes, as you can see below.

As you can see from the Ahref keyword search, I searched a variety of different keywords relating to my podcast and topics that I discuss in my episodes. The website uses a 1-100 keyword difficulty scale to rank how easy it would be to have your website rank on a search result related to those keywords. In my various show notes, I utilized the easier to rank keywords repeatedly to improve their SEO. For example, one of my podcast episodes focused upon B2G (marketing to the government), and since the keyword ranking for B2G is low I peppered that keyword throughout my show notes for that episode, the title, and web address. Repeatedly using keywords all over your website will vastly improve its SEO.

The next step in how I used SEO for my podcast website was to add transcripts for each episode, thus adding more text and the potential for more keywords on the website. And if you think creating an episode transcript is too much work, some websites automatically do it for you such as They save a lot of time for you, but they do cost money and you will have to go back and edit some words because these websites aren’t perfect, so that’s something where you would have to judge the value of the service yourself and see if it fits within your budget.

SEO and Facebook Ads

The final step of my SEO utilization was in the creation of my Facebook ads for my podcast. Facebook is a great tool to utilize when marketing your podcast due to its extensive ads manager tools, having 2.6 billion monthly users, and also the ability to create Instagram ads in the same tool. To learn more about how to specifically create a Facebook/Instagram ad, check out this video I created going over the process with a mock product, and you will need to set up a business page on Facebook to use Facebook’s business tools:

Facebook ads are great for SEO because you’re able to create a target audience for the ad, so you’re able to go into the parameters and list the ages, genders, locations, and interests of the people to show the ad. You’re especially able to use the information you learned in finding out keyword ranking in listing “interests” in the parameters of Facebook ads. And as you can see below, I was able to reach 1,225 people in my audience. You can also see my parameters for my target audience. I specifically targeted a younger audience who are interested in business and marketing because with that younger demographic it is more likely that they’re looking to improve their knowledge and skills concerning marketing and business, which directly correlates with the goal of my podcast.

When you’re creating a podcast, you want it to be viewed by as many people as possible. Through SEO this is possible. There are various techniques you can utilize to do this with a podcast, but the most important is using keywords throughout your website, such as in your show notes or transcript. 

Head back to my landing page here!

Week 4 Update – SEO, Ads, and Publishing

This is my fourth weekly update in my month-long creation of a podcast. I created a podcast focused upon interviewing people in marketing and operations positions to create a resource for people to gain new knowledge and skills to thrive in those positions. The secondary goal of the podcast is to utilize the knowledge I gain to specifically market the podcast.

In week 3, I had focused on editing, researching SEO concerning podcasts, how to set up a podcast host site, and how to use Canva.

This week I:

This week I focused on finishing up the publication of my podcast and my SEO utilization. I created show notes and episode transcripts to improve the SEO of my podcast after I published it. For the remainder of the week, I focused on typing up a blog post going into detail on SEO and how to use it for podcasts. In addition, I focused on uploading all parts of my project to my website so people can easily follow through my one-month journey into learning about podcasting and marketing.

What I Learned This Week

If you’ve been following along with my project, you’ll know that I originally wanted to record a fifth episode for the podcast and create an email campaign for the podcast. Both, unfortunately, didn’t come to pass. I’m in discussions with three separate people to do episodes with for the podcast, but due to scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t able to record a fifth episode this week. Ultimately I feel that I learned a lot more about scheduling meetings from that experience though. I also went to my parent’s house for this week as well, and I learned a lot from that experience. There’s less than 1 Mbps of internet speed where they live, so I had to learn to make the most out of the time that I did have high-speed internet, alongside the importance of having a mobile hotspot for those kinds of situations. As the podcast continues to grow, I will set up an email newsletter to send to my subscribers, but it wasn’t something I could get to in the final week as I intended. This came down to various factors such as the slow internet speed, running into issues publishing my podcast to big directories, and not having enough subscribers to warrant a newsletter yet. As a whole, this week taught me a lot about becoming a more efficient worker and working in suboptimal conditions.

Head back to my landing page here!

Week 3 Update – Research and Setting Up the Podcast Host Site

This is my third weekly update in my month-long creation of a podcast. I created a podcast focused upon interviewing people in marketing and operations positions to create a resource for people to gain new knowledge and skills to thrive in those positions. The secondary goal of the podcast is to utilize the knowledge I gain to specifically market the podcast.

In week 2, I had focused on recording and editing podcast episodes. This week I continued editing, researched SEO in relation to podcasts, how to set up a podcast host site, and how to use Canva.

This week I:

  • Finalized the logo for the podcast; I used Canva to create it, and I’m learning how to use Canva to create visuals for Facebook ads.
  • Created a tutorial video on the basics of editing.
  • Found a podcast hosting site and learned how to utilize it
  • Edited the third episode of the podcast.
  • Did in-depth research on how to utilize SEO for podcasts and show notes.
  • Scheduled the next podcast episode for next week, and I’m in the process of scheduling the fifth episode as well.

This week I focused far more on research. I researched a variety of different things: using Canva, utilizing SEO and writing show notes, and setting up a podcast website. As the week developed, I realized this would require more research than I initially thought. So my plans for the week changed from researching and implementing, to just researching. I was able to get started on the framework for everything though, with my new goal being to implement and publish the podcast with these episodes, show notes, and ads within the first three days of the final week. 

One of the biggest tips I can give to someone who is starting a podcast by themselves is to leave some wiggle room in their schedule. Sometimes guests can’t make the original recording time, or you need more time to research or to edit. Scheduling in some wiggle room/ a backup plan can be highly beneficial when you’re starting a podcast. It’s the whole reason I chose to postpone the implementation of my research because I planned some blank time into my schedule in case something goes awry. I learned this in the prior week when I had to schedule my podcast episodes and I had to change my schedule during that week to accommodate my guests.

Next week:

  • I will record and edit the fourth podcast episode.
  • I will create two Facebook/Instagram ads and use Canva to create the images for them.
  • I will implement my SEO research into my show notes for each podcast episode.
  • I will use Mailchimp to create an email subscriber newsletter.
  • I will finalize the schedule for the fifth episode and hopefully record and edit it as well.
  • And definitely expect videos and posts where I go more in-depth into Canva, Facebook/Instagram ads, an email subscriber newsletter, and utilizing SEO for your podcast.

Week four will be the final week of my project. Due to my desire to extend my research that I had planned for week three, some things got pushed back into week four. But I planned ahead in case something like that happened, and although much of this week focused on research, I was able to start on the Facebook ads, images, and show notes. Check out my week four update to see my final progress in my podcast and marketing endeavor (Create a link to week 4 update).

Head back to my landing page here!

Week 2 Update – Recording and Editing

This is my second weekly update in my month-long creation of a podcast. I created a podcast focused upon interviewing people in marketing and operations positions to create a resource for people to gain new knowledge and skills to thrive in those positions. The secondary goal of the podcast is to utilize the knowledge I gain to specifically market the podcast.

In week 1, I had focused on planning, outlining, and creating a project management system for my portfolio project. This week I began to follow through on my plans.

This week I:

This week I dived headfirst into the recording and editing part of the podcast after scheduling a few interviews. Originally I had only two episodes planned to record and edit, but due to having to take the schedules of the people I am interviewing into account I was able to record the third episode. 

There was a cost that came with the way I did things this week though. Due to having to adapt to other people’s schedules, I had to change up my schedule and swap the order that I wanted to do things.

Next week:

  • I will edit the third podcast episode
  • I will create a podcast logo
  • I will research SEO and how to best utilize it in show notes, Facebook ads, and email marketing campaigns
  • I will write show notes for the first three podcast episodes
  • I will find a host website for the podcast and upload those first three episodes on all the major platforms
  • I will create two Facebooks ads for the podcast
  • I will send follow-up emails to people I sent emails to ask if they would like to be interviewed for the podcast

Week three will focus a lot more on research into various things such as SEO, Facebook ads, copywriting, and publishing podcast episodes. Before I changed my schedule that research was broken up into two weeks, but I believe now that it actually would work better if all this research and application is done in one week. Check out my week three update to see my progress in my podcast and marketing endeavor.

Head back to my landing page here!

Week 1 Update – Planning

Finishing my first week on my podcast project has been such a learning experience. I couldn’t get started on my project immediately due to prior obligations in the first half of the week, but I quickly was able to get on track with my schedule again. 

This week I:

  • Revised my project idea and outline
  • Set up a project management system in Trello
  • Built my landing page template
  • Became reacquainted in Audacity
  • Scheduled my first two podcast episode guests

Project Outline:

Originally my project outline was far broader and had disconnected ideas. There wasn’t a clear focus on what the project would be besides having a podcast be part of it. So I focused upon connecting the dissonant ideas into something more cohesive. Ultimately I settled on the project being a podcast where I interview experts on marketing and operations to enhance my own, and the audience’s, understanding and application of those roles. And research into SEO and the application of a marketing campaign for the podcast to promote it, all while building my skills in marketing. With a tutorial on the creation of this podcast being a facet of the project as well.

Landing Page:

I decided on putting the landing page of my project on my personal website, so the audience has the opportunity to see the website I have created, my blog, and other portfolio projects. Currently, I only have the foundation of the landing page and it will be updated as I progress further into my project.

Task Management System:

For task management, I prefer using Trello, especially for projects that are divided into weeks. This is because Trello is very simplistic and easy to create boards that focus upon each week of the project, where I can then divide it up into lists and cards ranked by priority. And for scheduling recording, editing, writing, etc. I used Google Calendar so I can easily send invites confirming dates and times to the people I am interviewing, and can get notifications to my phone so I can stay on schedule.

Audacity, Equipment, and Interview Requests

To end the week I did a refresher on Audacity, so I can properly understand how to record and edit in the software. And alongside that, I did a rundown of my equipment and software that I will be using for the podcast to make sure I have everything and that they work correctly: my microphone, recording software (Audacity), and a virtual audio mixer.

My final objective for the first week was to send out interview requests to my colleagues and people I admire who specialize in either marketing, operations, or both. And I was able to schedule two podcast interviews for week two!

What I will Be Working on Next:

For week two I will be recording and editing the two podcast interviews, designing the logo for the podcast, research which platform I will host the podcast on, and familiarizing myself with the marketing tools I will be using: Facebook ads, Mailchimp, and HubSpot. I will also create videos detailing my process of planning, recording, and editing the podcast, to act as a tutorial for starting a podcast. Check out my week two update here!

Head back to my landing page here!

Five Delightful Southern Destinations You Have To Visit

The southern United States is unlike anywhere else you will ever go. Warm smiles and greetings, alongside the hot weather, and some of the most delicious grub you’ll ever find constitute the framework of this unique region.

The South is filled with many wonderful destinations, all of which have many fun activities, restaurants, beautiful architecture, and culture to partake in. So if you ever find yourself in the South, here are some destinations you absolutely must visit!

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans during Mardi Gras is a truly magical experience that I highly recommend if you’re visiting. While going back for Fat Tuesday is something that’s definitely on my agenda, the city is equally impressive every day of the year. As you wander through the city, you’ll get a sense of the unique culture and past of New Orleans.

Things to See and Do:

  • Visit the oldest cathedral on the continent, St. Louis Cathedral, erected in 1720!
  • Explore the Crown Jewel of New Orleans, the French Quarter. The city’s historic heart is known for its vibrant nightlife and colorful buildings. With the crowd-pleasing Bourbon Street, you can experience many cajun eats, bars, and jazz clubs.
  • Learn about the plantations of the area, the iconic symbol of the South. One option is Oak Valley Plantation, which is majestic and has been featured in many movies and music videos.
  • Take a bayou tour, kayaking through the swamps to see the landscape and ghost towns of the swamp. One of the many swamp tours you can take is with Wild Louisiana Tours.

Places to Eat:

  • Check out Napolean House for an amazing muffuletta and distinct atmosphere.
  • The birthplace of Bananas Fosters, Brennan’s.
  • You’ll surely find something to quench your hunger in the French Market.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte is known mostly as a banking and business town, but it’s comprised of gorgeous, historical neighborhoods, interesting museums, and awesome restaurants.

Things to See and Do:

  • Explore Downtown Charlotte with plenty of parks, restaurants, retail, and more. 
  • Visit museums in the area such as the Carolinas Aviation Museum, the Levine Museum of the New South, or the Nascar Hall of Fame.
  • Check out the other neighborhoods, too, and get a look at the charming aesthetic, such as the Victorians of the Fourth Ward.
  • If you get a chance to see the Carolina Panthers or Charlotte Hornets play, leap at that opportunity.

Places to Eat:

  • It would be remiss of me to not mention 5Church, an amazing, trendy restaurant that serves New American cuisine and has won Restaurant of the Year from Charlotte Magazine. Try their succulent Lamb Burger!
  • Sea Level tops the list of restaurants that serve seafood in Charlotte. Their unique dishes, such as their PO boys and shrimp steam buns, have won them many accolades.

Savannah, Georgia

One of the most picturesque cities in the South, Savannah is known for its historic architecture, cobblestoned squares, and oak trees covered in Spanish moss.

Things to See and Do:

  • Head over to Tybee Island for tons of history and beach vibes.
  • Exploring River Street is something you must do. It has a unique mix of new buildings and old warehouses, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and pubs on the Savannah Waterfront.
  • Savannah is widely purported to be one of the most haunted cities in America, so go on a ghost tour or haunted pub crawl to learn more about its ghoulish history.

Places to Eat:

  • Go to Vic’s on the River for dinner with an insanely cool interior — a 19th-century warehouse.
  • Mrs. Wilkes has a classic family southern-style breakfast and lunch that permeates the atmosphere of the restaurant.
  • Leopold’s Ice Cream on Broughton St. is one of the best ice cream parlors I’ve ever been to.
  • For something more dark and cozy, go to Mata Hari’s speakeasy. Just know that they make it a challenge to gain entry; only a password will get you in.

Charleston, South Carolina

The perfect place for beach lovers, it seems as if the city never gets colder than 75℉. It’s a quaint city; packed with a ton of history and plenty of things to do.

Things to See and Do:

  • Visit Angel Oak Park, you’ll find a massive 1500-year-old oak tree, which is truly a sight to behold!
  • Explore the Cypress Gardens for 80 acres of blackwater bald cypress/tupelo swamp, with plenty of foot and boat trails.
  • Get a view of the ocean from White Point and take a gander at where many pirates were executed, including the infamous “Gentleman Pirate” Stede Bonnet.
  • The City Market is a must to walk through. Established in the 1790s, this historic market impressively stretches across four city blocks.

Places to Eat:

  • Callie’s Biscuits has some of the most scrumptious award-winning biscuits, grits, southern tea sandwiches, and locally-inspired dishes.
  • Charleston also has a 5Church, and this one is also a must because of the food and cool interior of a renovated church.
  • FIG has updated takes on many southern classics.

Cape Charles, Virginia

A very off-the-radar town, Cape Charles is a true delight to visit. With plenty of good eats, a charming southern aesthetic, a prime location on the beach, and plenty to do in the surrounding area. Cape Charles can easily contend with the bigger cities on this list.

Things to See and Do:

  • Check out the tiny, but cute and informative Cape Charles Museum. And next to the museum they have some train cars for the public to look at.
  • The Kiptopeke State Park is a nice area for camping, bird watching, swimming, and kayaking. If you go kayaking, definitely check out the Concrete Fleet, a group of derelict ships not far from shore.
  • A wonderful day trip when staying in the area is to drive an hour north to Assateague to see the wild ponies. You can even watch the annual Pony Swim, where the Saltwater Cowboys swim the pony herd from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island.

Places to Eat:

  • Coastal Baking Co. is a charming bakery with some of the most delicious pastries and sweets. And their sandwiches and cajun-inspired cuisine is no joke, either! They won 3rd place for Best Bakery in the Virginia Living Museum.
  • Cape Charles has many restaurants for alcohol lovers — Busky Cider, Cape Charles Distillery, and the Cape Charles Brewing Co.

The South has a variety of scenic destinations, and these are just a drop in the bucket. If you’re traveling there are many more places and hidden gems to find in the South. But these five destinations definitely epitomize the beauty and culture of the South and should be added to your bucket list!   

Competition Breeds Success

When the pandemic quarantine first began in the United States, a game came out called Call of Duty: Warzone. A year later, and I’ve put over 300 hours into the game.

Call of Duty is a franchise of first-person military shooter games. You typically play soldiers on one of two teams online, completing objectives or trying to get more kills to win a match. There’s even an entire esports scene centered around the franchise, where people play professionally for money.

The franchise was like that for nearly twenty years, until Warzone changed the formula. Warzone embraced a battle royale format, where 150 players all fight each other on one large map, with the last player or team alive winning the match.

I fell out of Call of Duty around 2012 because the old multiplayer format was uninteresting and not competitive enough for me, but Warzone brought me back into Call of Duty. It required you to be far more competitive to win since in a battle royale you have a finite number of lives as opposed to the normal infinite number of lives in multiplayer.

I grew up not being competitive; competition seemed idiotic to me. Constantly comparing myself to other people and trying to outdo each other for prizes, or even for no reason at all, was not something that I vibed with as a kid. Warzone, on the other hand, has made me completely reverse my viewpoint on competition. I now believe competition is good for us because it constantly makes us improve ourselves.

How I Found Competition Through Warzone

As of December 2020 Warzone has over 80 million downloads. That’s a ton of players and they can’t all play in the same lobbies because of differing skill levels. Because of this, the developers of the game implemented a system called “skill-based matchmaking”. It is where players are put into game lobbies filled with players around their skill level, and is based upon their performance in matches they are put into either more difficult or easy lobbies.

Compared to games that allow the players to choose their difficulty, this system seems better due to the former getting boring with time and hindering your learning.

The system allows me to play against players of a similar caliber, and as I win and kill more I’m put into lobbies with better people. The difficulty keeps ramping up as I get better, and as I play against better players I have to improve my abilities in the game. I have to improve my aim, tactics, audio and visual settings, etc. to climb the ranks and become a better player.

This natural system of competition in the game made me enter online tournaments. By constantly competing against like-minded players I was able to get to a state where I could hold my own in these smaller tournaments.

The Power of Feedback

I got to a point where my skill had begun to stagnate, I couldn’t figure out how to become better when I had put in so many hours, and my aim, tactics, and situational awareness were improving. Why was I stuck in a rut?

Jake Wilder has an article on Medium that dives into why people stop improving. He makes an interesting point about how people can put in hundreds of hours into something but still not become experts; he says “There’s no growth without feedback.”

Feedback! That’s what I and so many other people were ignoring when we became competitive. Being at competition allows an exchange of feedback between people. It allows us to see what weaknesses hold us back and what allows us to succeed, but it also allows us to understand our opponents and what causes them to fail or succeed.

Over the months of me becoming serious and competitive at the game, I hadn’t considered the circumstances around my opponents nearly as much as I should’ve. I was far too focused on what I was doing. I realized, after watching my opponents more often, a majority of them play with a mouse and keyboard while I play with a controller. 

If you don’t know much about first-person shooters, know that using a mouse and keyboard allows a player to have better aim, movement, and recoil control for their guns. They had tools that naturally made them better, but I wanted to become better than them. So I’m currently making the transition to playing with mouse and keyboard, and it’s an incredibly difficult transition. Playing with a controller since I was around five years old makes it far more difficult to transition to a mouse and keyboard because it feels so unnatural. I took feedback and acted upon it because I wanted to improve at the game that I love.

Competitive Influence On My Life

The wonderful thing about embracing a competitive mindset is it started to influence my life outside of the game. Competition improved my work greatly due to me becoming more competitive with the other bartender. I constantly tried to outdo the sales of my coworker. I would push higher-end products and tell customers it would be better to get two drinks at once since they would be going into a long movie. This greatly improved my transaction sales and led to me getting a larger amount of tips consistently.

We used each other for feedback, I would tell my coworker where he could improve upon when it came to upselling drinks. He would tell me how I could improve when it came to what I struggled in: selling memberships for AMC Theatres. We constantly pushed each other to be better while trying to one-up each other. It led to an increase in sales and membership registrations from both of us, thus making us more positive assets to the theater.

Ultimately I view competition as a tool by which people can improve themselves. It can be incredibly fun to compare your achievements and progress to others and try to learn from them to increase your skills. I’m going to continue to view more aspects of my life with a competitive mindset, so I can grow and become a more highly skilled person and I hope more people do the same because I love a good competition!

How I Became a Leader With Less Than a Week of Training

I know what you’re thinking, “Less than a week of training? That’s insane!” I would have to disagree, a week is perfectly reasonable when it’s something you’re passionate about. For me, this was being a leader for Project Peak.

When I entered college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. I was able to get into a program to help students transition into college, Project Peak. Project Peak is specifically a week-long camping trip for incoming freshmen to George Mason University. They help students transition into college, learn more about what they want to get out of college, and gain some outdoor skills. It was on that trip that I realized I wanted to improve myself and gain leadership skills, like my Project Peak Trip Leaders.

So I applied to become a trip leader for the program and was accepted. It was a long interview process, and I felt incredibly nervous. I felt that I showed I was too nervous, but I did the interview with four department heads at once, and they said I didn’t seem nervous at all and showed good public speaking skills and the ability to quickly adapt and be creative. It was about an hour-long interview, and I felt as if I was bombing it, but the department heads said I excelled at it. When it comes to interviews, go in with confidence and realize that if you feel nervous, it’s just in your head.

Less Than a Week of Training

This brings me to the training portion of the program. The department heads in charge of Project Peak specifically hire driven people who are willing to put in long hours. You are expected to be able to finish your certifications and training in under a week. This meant from 7 am to 9 pm I did nothing but dedicate myself to learning everything that goes into being a trip leader for Project Peak. Everything from learning wilderness survival and safety skills, to getting first aid and CPR certification, to learning social and communication skills, how to utilize tools such as Excel and Google Calendar, and more. There’s a lot of skills required to be a trip leader, and they’re all skills I still find myself using to this day.

If you’re leading an outdoor camping trip, having first aid certification is completely necessary. It’s not a skill that’s easily transferable to other professions, but in the case of a medical emergency, I know what to do. Going beyond that, the training taught me about being a leader in today’s society. Going the extra mile and learning something new to better yourself and your ability to do a job makes you far more prepared in case you ever have to use those skills.

Being able to effectively communicate with my other team members and the students is easily the most important skill I learned during that week of training. 

Before I went to college I was incredibly introverted and meek. I was far too terrified to ask other people for help or to enter into discussions because I was afraid that my ideas wouldn’t be good enough. 

This is not productive in a work environment, so I made it my mission that training week to continually put myself out there with my ideas. Doing this also helped me get to know and understand my team members. I found that one of the keys to effective communication is confidence, which leads to more discussion about our plans and ideas being talked about. 

Building off of that confidence helps you to be clear and concise with what you’re talking about and planning to do. When communications are ambiguous, far too much falls into the cracks.

By simply being more confident in my abilities and being more clear, I noticed I had become more approachable to my team members. I became able to effectively hold hour-long planning sessions and talk with the students about the trip plus whatever popped up that they needed to talk about. Being able to read into what my students were thinking and realizing when their morale was low led me to be able to effectively lead them, maintain and even raise their morale.

Something else I had to quickly learn how to use and then implement was being able to use a variety of online tools to plan and operate the camping trip. I had to become knowledgeable in Excel to properly track the student’s information, meal plans, food budget, venue information, supplies, emergency plans, and overall budget. I had to do this in conjunction with Google Calendar for our schedule to make sure everything lined up correctly. There’s a lot of planning and logistics that go into trip planning, and those are skills that are easily transferable to operating businesses. To this day I still use my knowledge in Excel to keep track of inventory and sales in the bar I work at, and in my personal use tracking my tips and my financial budget. 

On top of everything, there’s the amount of work that has to go into searching for venues, supplies, and deals. Constantly having to compare prices on many websites and calling people to find out details about events and locations, in addition to making sure that everyone on the team is informed of that information. Ultimately it led me to realize how important it is to maintain and stay under budget and how that duty falls upon the leader.

The Application of My Knowledge

Now the question is: did all of that training ultimately bear any fruit? 

I was a trip leader for Project Peak for three years and every year we had a successful trip and increased the number of campers. The sub-group I was in charge of would continually beat the other groups in competitions during the events. Going beyond that, those groups all had higher grades and campus engagement, in which they successfully became leaders and involved in the campus, when compared to the other groups. I’m incredibly proud of all I accomplished there and that I bore quite a lot of fruit.

I’m incredibly grateful for all that I learned as a Project Peak trip leader. I learned many invaluable skills such as being able to coordinate and manage events and workers, an understanding of communication and social skills, the knowledge to utilize and quickly understand online tools. It’s due to my quick learning of these skills that I became an effective leader who still uses these skills today to accomplish my goals.

These are skills everyone can gain and become proficient in, all it takes is some dedication and finding what your passion is. Just like how I found my passion in leading others and coordinating events and operations.

How to Build the Skills Needed to Create a Podcast

It was April 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, and a majority of people were in lockdown. I was bored out of my mind, completely restless and itching to do something. I specifically wanted to do something new and different that would challenge me.

So I went completely out of my comfort zone and made a podcast with my roommate.

Enter “The Idiots of the Square Table” podcast!

I didn’t know a single thing about making a podcast. “What are we going to talk about? Who’s our audience? Wait, what equipment do I need?” I giddily asked about a thousand different questions.

As I went through the process of creating my podcast and learning everything needed for this undertaking, I concluded that it’s quite similar to building a business.

Recognize What Your Product is and Who Your Audience is

When first starting the podcast, I had to ask myself, “What will we be talking about?” In actuality, the question I was asking was, “What is my product?”

You first need to understand what you’re selling, and in my case, I concluded the podcast would be a pop culture discussion that leans toward film and television entertainment.

When you start up any business endeavor, you have to identify your audience or consumer base. We realized the audience for our podcast would be people who enjoy pop culture and film.

Understanding the Tools at Your Disposal and Utilizing Them

When I started creating my podcast, I had to purchase the equipment and software and then learn how to use them. First I had to find the right mic and windscreen, audio editing software, and audio profile software to make my mic sound more like a professional studio mic. 

My greatest tools in this endeavor were Google and Youtube. 

Too many people don’t use these resources because they are too proud and are deadset on figuring everything out themselves. Using those sites definitely helped me to save time in discovering what equipment and software I needed, on top of teaching me the basics of how to use everything.

If you want to figure out how to do audio editing and mixing, having a Youtube video walk you through the basics is an amazing gift! Otherwise, you’re stuck trying to figure everything out with a confusing layout and making mistakes in your work along the way. 

This leads me to another wonderful resource at hand, your coworkers. It takes a lot of work to create a podcast, and there was no way I was going to be able to do it completely on my own. Realizing when you need to either delegate tasks or ask for help and advice is a strength, not a weakness. Being able to realize when you’re out of your depth and ask your coworkers and peers for advice is an excellent tool. No one is Superman, and no one can do everything on their own. 

For me, that was realizing I didn’t have enough time to completely do the video editing on my own. The podcast is on Youtube and has a video for each episode, so I had to ask my co-host to do the video editing in addition to teaching me along the way. 

Always seek advice in order to better yourself and your work.

What’s Your Platform?

I had to extensively research what platforms were best to publish my podcast on. At first glance, you would think, “Just put it up on Spotify or iTunes!” but there’s far more to it than that. You have to research what platforms have the most engagement, the best times to publish, if it’s free to use, if they have a number of episodes requirement, or if there’s a required minimum or maximum episode length. There’s far more research that goes into picking a platform than you might think. 

And for my podcast, I chose to put it up on Youtube ultimately because we enjoyed having a video aspect to the podcast, and found we didn’t find too many limitations on the platform. And the Youtube search algorithm is far more sophisticated than other search algorithms due to them being owned by Google, so we are able to take advantage of the keywords used for the search algorithm to reach a bigger audience.

Research is a key part of a podcast. It can save you time and even money.

Build an Audience

Research is also part of building your audience and creating marketing strategies. You have to do research into the analytics of the podcast to understand who is viewing it, and if it lines up with who you projected your audience to be. Then you figure out how to make sure more people learn about and listen to your podcast. This is where social media comes into play. Being able to promote your podcast through your social media and buying ads marketed to certain people is key to the growth of your audience, which leads to the growth of your podcast.

Personally, I used Mailchimp to create an email newsletter to send to the subscribers of the podcast. This creates viewer retention and makes the audience feel like they are being engaged.

My newsletter is centered around the content that we have talked about in the past episode, in addition to topics we are going to talk about in upcoming episodes. And another thing that I personally like to do in order to have the audience be engaged, is have them ask us questions that we will answer on the podcast. All they have to do is submit the questions in the link in the newsletter. This helps with audience retention and growth.

Being able to know who your audience is, and then learning how to build it up is key to a successful podcast.

Planning an Episode

Once you’ve figured out how you’re gonna record, edit, and what platform the podcast will go on, you have to actually record the episode! And what I always do is create an outline in Google Docs, so I and my co-host can view it simultaneously. We try to have at least three topics to cover over the course of an hour, with notes on the topics and links to websites with the news on the topic listed in bullet points under each topic. And in between topics one and two, we have some of the audience questions to answer. 

But don’t write down every line you’re planning on saying, the audience wants to hear your genuine thoughts as opposed to your premeditated responses. In my experience going over an hour in time, the audience numbers drop off massively. People don’t want to spend their entire day listening to you! So try to break each topic into time segments and have a stopwatch ready so you know when to transition to the next point in your outline.

Don’t be afraid to experiment when you’re recording your podcast though. I and my co-host started to get bored with using outlines and talking purely about entertainment. We wanted to do something with more comedy and improvisation, and that’s perfectly fine. Changing up the formula of the podcast every so often helps keep things refreshing for you and the audience!

These are all skills needed to create a podcast. The understanding of your product, audience, your tools, outlining, and how to research; these skills go a long way in helping you thrive in all your endeavors.

Operating a University’s Camping Trips

If you’ve ever been on a camping trip with an organization or group, I’m sure you had a ton of fun! But, did you ever think about the logistics and amount of work involved in planning a trip to have it run smoothly? Well, I did because that was one of my many responsibilities as a Project Peak trip leader for George Mason University (GMU).

Project Peak is a weeklong camping trip for incoming freshmen of the university, in which they do outdoor events and learn about transitioning into college. 

When it comes to having everything run smoothly though you have to book and schedule events, understand and buy the proper supplies for the campers, create emergency procedures, create the best makeup of teams, and stay under budget.

Scheduling and Staying Under Budget

In order to have events for the campers to go on, we had to call venues such as kayaking services and campgrounds to price check their group rates, compile it into excel to compare the rates, and then book the events. Google Calendar was the scheduling manager used to compile the events at the specific times. It was also used to send calendar invites to the other trip leaders and other department heads involved in the program.

As much as I would’ve loved a blank check, we had to operate within a budget. So making sure everyone stayed within budget became one of my many responsibilities. For example, an area where we have to keep a tight budget was meal planning and keeping track of food expenses. To keep track of this , I created two spreadsheets, one with planned meals, and another that has the ingredients with their prices. This way I can use the sum function to easily add the prices together to compare it to the allotted food budget.

Creating Procedures and Managing People

So we’ve got the supplies and locations planned out, but now we have to create procedures for emergencies and how they’ll operate while camping. At this point, we go over any medical conditions and dietary restrictions of the campers. We adjust our meal plans to compensate and add in any extra medical supplies. Then we create detailed plans for every emergency scenario, such as what to do when there’s a lightning storm or someone is injured. I also have to research where the closest hospital is to each campsite and event location so everyone has directions in case of a medical emergency. It involves a lot of research and planning so everyone is prepared for any situation.

We also have to create procedures for how the campers will do things while camping so they can get the most efficient use out of their day and events. Accomplishing this involves a firm schedule, groups of campers to do certain chores, and implementing a restriction on “campsite romance”. We have to pay close attention to each camper to get a judge of the disposition and figure out who they would mesh well within a group. This is important because we want them to do their chores efficiently but also get the most social pleasure out of it.

Altogether being a trip leader for a camping trip has taught me a number of valuable skills. Skills range from budgeting, planning, the use of spreadsheet tools, to leadership. It taught me a lot about how to make a business run most efficiently, overcome obstacles in running a business, and getting the most value out of it.