Today we’re talking about systems and processes. Now I know that some people when they hear that they kind of balk at the idea, but the truth is systems and processes can be a great way to make your podcasting more fun. Whether you’ve been podcasting for a few months, or you’re just now getting ready to release your first episode, I think you’ll find that using systems and processes can actually help you to get the things that need to be done for your episodes much faster than you might already think.
Now the truth is that podcasting has a lot of moving parts. And that’s why I was really excited whenever Kate Erickson of Entrepreneurs on Fire agreed to sit down and chat with us all about what she’s the queen of – systems or processes. Enjoy the show!
Episode Chapters (click to jump to section)
Let’s Get to Know Kate Erickson
Kate Erickson 0:58
Yeah, awesome. Well, Ashley, thank you so much for having me on. I’m very excited to be a part of this series, because podcasting for me is a huge part of my life, and like practically all of our business. So I love talking about podcasting. I’m super passionate about it. I am Kate Erickson. I’m one half of the Entrepreneurs on Fire team. So my partner, John Lee Dumas, launched a podcast called Entrepreneurs on Fire back in 2012. Early 2013, about six months after he launched, the podcast had really taken off. He had a growing audience and he started having listeners approach him and ask if he did coaching, asked how he launched his podcast, how he made it successful.
And as that started picking up, he started getting all these ideas for, you know, communities, masterminds programs, courses, but he was it was himself in one virtual team member. And so he asked me if I wanted to quit my job and come on board as kind of like the operations, like heartbeat, system behind the whole setup. And after a few months, I decided to do that. And for the past nine years, we’ve been producing Entrepreneurs on Fire. We’ve launched probably like seven or eight other podcasts as well. All different kinds of podcasts. I do a topic-based podcast called Kate’s Take that I launched in 2014. I also launched a podcast early 2020, called Ditch Busy. Most recently, I started a podcast with one of my girlfriends, Nicole, so we co-host a podcast called Nicole and Kate Can Relate. So I’ve done everything from top of that topic-based to co-hosted to series-based to interview-based. And that’s kind of my podcasting background in a very small nutshell.
Do you basically just eat coffee out of the can? Or do you still like …
Kate Erickson 2:52
Whole beans! whole beans!
Systems and Processes Are the Key to Launching Podcasts Successfully
I love it. So I mean, it sounds like you’ve done a lot. I mean, I knew that you had done some but I didn’t realize it was like that many podcasts over the over the course of the nine years. That’s insane. So clearly to do all of that you have to have systems and processes in place. So what are what are the systems and processes that you use? And why do you think they’re so important for the beginner podcaster? Or even the Pro? Because obviously, you’ve been doing it so long, I’m sure you still use all these systems.
Kate Erickson 3:24
Yes, well, a common thing that we see happen and that I experienced myself when I launched my first podcast Kate’s Take is that there’s so much excitement and passion and drive behind starting a podcast, and you’re so excited to get your message out and you want to help people and you want to. You know a lot of people start a podcast to try and build a business around it. Some people already have a business and they’re adding a podcast as a marketing arm. Whatever the case, like there’s a lot of excitement that goes into leading up to launching a podcast. And what we see happen a lot is there’s so much focus on the artwork, the interview format, how you’re going to get guests, if you’re doing a topic, they show what topics you’re going to talk about. And oftentimes what gets left behind is what’s going to happen once you launch. So you do all this hard work, and you put all this energy and passion and emotion into it. And then you launch and then you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m supposed to publish an episode tomorrow. And I was so focused on getting everything ready for lunch like now I don’t have anything. Yep.
So what we really preach a lot is having a content system in place so that no matter what type of podcasts you’re publishing an interview-based podcast, a topic-based podcast, a co-hosted show, a series-based show – that you have an actual production plan and system in place. So that that’s one of the biggest stress points and consistency is so important with a podcast that if you launch and then all you’re doing is struggling to keep up with your production schedule, it becomes not that much fun. And, you quickly get frustrated because you’re not growing an audience like things aren’t happening the way that you thought that they were going to. And so much of that is because of a lack of content or being able to produce enough content.
So that’s one of our biggest systems that we use is the content production system that we have. It’s largely based off from batching content. So recording multiple episodes at one time, versus always relying on like, if your episodes published Monday, Wednesday, Friday, not being up on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, preparing those episodes to go live the next day.
I’ve totally done that.
A Bank of Content Takes the Stress Out of Launching
Kate Erickson 5:35
We all have we all have, you are not alone. But it becomes so much more fun. And something that is not like a stressful thing when you have that bank of content. So we always encourage people to launch with a month’s worth of content. So if you do a weekly show, that would be four episodes in the bank. If you’re doing a three times per week show, that would be 12 episodes in the bank. So depending on what your consistency and schedule looks like, we highly recommend having at least a month worth of content when you launch, and then putting a production schedule in place that’s the same every single week, so that you don’t fall behind that because it’s awesome to build up the bank, but you have to keep doing that, or else the bank goes away. And then you find yourself in the same position all over again.
So let’s say someone’s just starting out, they’re trying to get all these systems in place. What tools would you recommend that they start with, so that they can actually create these systems and processes?
Kate Shares Her Tools for Systems and Processes
Kate Erickson 6:36
Yeah, so that’s the thing with systems is that I know a lot of people don’t love them. And they think that they’re going to be grueling and boring, and like tedious. And all of these things. Systems are incredibly simple at the base ground level. Like most of our systems are built on a Google spreadsheet, or in a task management system like Asana, or Basecamp. It’s simply creating a checklist of steps that you go through every time you do that thing, so that you’re not relying on using mental bandwidth to like backtrack, am I forgetting something? Oh, my gosh, I didn’t hit record – happened to me more than once. I know, it’s happened to other people who are tuning in. And so having that checklist and the set of steps that you’re going to follow is absolutely critical. And a huge part of that system, again, goes back to actually having that schedule in place.
So on your calendar, booking the time, okay, these are the two hours where I’m going to prepare my next four episodes. And then maybe one day, you have a two hour block where you’re recording those episodes. And then maybe one day, you have a two hour block where you’re editing and uploading those episodes. And once you get into a rhythm with a system like that, that, again, is just like a Google spreadsheet or a checklist or a Google Doc or I use Asana a lot. So I put some a lot of my systems in Asana so that I could just check done done, and then actually scheduling the time in your calendar. And that’s really all there is to it. You just have to like do it that one time, and then it serves you. So big moving forward.
You Can Change Your Checklists Over Time
Yeah, I think that templates and systems like that are so important. For me personally, I use Google Spreadsheets and I use Trello. So Trello and Asana are pretty similar. Aren’t they. Oh, yeah. So I’m curious though, was it a lot of like trial and error to figure out what should be on your checklist?
Kate Erickson 8:31
Totally. Because sometimes you’re creating a checklist when you’re not actually doing the thing. So in that case, you’re kind of like, okay, if I were about to record an episode, what are the steps that I would take? In which case, if you are doing that, because I highly recommend that whenever you have 15 minutes, that you can sit down and focus to ask yourself things like this – what are the steps that I take every time I record an episode? Same goes for editing. Same goes for uploading. Same goes for your show notes page. Same goes for finding guests for your podcast. All of these are like little micro systems within your production system, that all need to happen in order for it to work. So when you sit down and you think about, “what are the steps that I take every time I record an episode?” If you just write down from memory, the steps that you take, then the next time you actually do record, have that list next to you so that you can really go through maybe you missed a couple things, maybe there’s something on there that you’re like, oh, okay, I guess I don’t actually do that. You know, maybe you already have your recording template set, which you absolutely should have, in which case you’re not putting on like any extra effects or you know, having to mess with the volume levels or anything like that.
So creating these templates and then having that checklist so that you can look at it every time you do that thing and continue to improve it is a huge step in the process. And we’ve sometimes we’ll recognize that like this happened to us with our sponsorship system recently, is you can never, like communicate too much and too clearly and too basic. And we found that with some of our sponsors, however, whatever, we’re doing to describe this process is not working, because our sponsors are coming back to us with a mid roll that’s too long. So like, in those situations, we’re constantly thinking about, okay, how can we put this in different words? How can our template look different? How can we set this up different from the time that we first engaged with a sponsor to actually locking that in, so that the communication is clear, and that this stuff doesn’t happen? So, absolutely, our systems are always changing and proving based on like, what’s happening?
You Can Adapt and Change As Needed
I’m really glad you said that, because a lot of people that are going to be coming to this, they’re going to be the beginning podcaster. And there’s a lot of nerves that come with it, like, “Oh, am I getting it wrong? Am I doing it wrong?” And just the fact that, you know, even nine years later, you’re saying that you’re still evolving and how you’re changing things. I love that. I think that’s fantastic. Because I think one of the problems that I’ve seen is that some people, they’ll try to start doing systems and processes, and then they feel locked in, they feel like okay, well, I said, I have to do it this way. So I have to do it this way. And and so being able to adapt and change. It’s brilliant. I absolutely love that.
So I kind of feel like, whenever it comes to having these things, you shouldn’t wait until you have a few episodes in the hopper. You should go ahead and like immediately start acting on these things. Why do you think you should implement systems and processes from the very beginning?
Systems and Processes Give You Back Time
Kate Erickson 11:36
Time? Yes, that’s what every podcaster, entrepreneur, human being, wants more of, is time. And systems are going to help you get that time. Otherwise, you’re going to be continuing to spin your wheels, and again, being up late on a Sunday night trying to get your episode ready for Monday. Like nobody wants to do that. And with systems in place, you’re going to be able to create so much more freedom in your schedule. I hear all the time. Like, “No, I’m too much of a creative, like spontaneous person to do systems.” Like that is a story you are telling yourself.
I’m all about being creative, and spontaneous. And my systems allow me to do that. If I didn’t have my systems, I constantly be, you know, the one working for my podcast, instead of my podcasts working for me. When I have the systems in place, that gives me the time to be spontaneous and to be creative. So, I highly encourage people to flip the script on that. Because if you continue telling yourself that that’s what systems are, they’re always going to suck for you. And like, you’re never going to get them in place, because you have this vision of them, like ruining your creativity.
I agree with that completely. Because it’s kind of like instead of giving up control, you’re getting it back. And that’s what that’s what too many people don’t seem to realize, because I’ll tell you right now, if I didn’t have the script in front of me, I would have forgotten some of the questions already.
Kate Erickson 13:01
There you go.
Lack of Systems Leads to Podfading
I mean, so, in fact, I actually took your idea of creating, like a script template, just so that I could make sure, “Okay, these are the things I really want to ask. These are the things I want to say and if times permitting,” and things like that. And it’s funny to me, though, that yeah, you’re right. Some people like they kind of butt heads with that idea. But that’s what always leads to podfading, is they, you know, try to do it without a system, and then next thing you know, they are up like you said, a Sunday and they have to release on Monday. And then they’re like, “Okay, maybe this sucks. Maybe I should just quit.”
Kate Erickson 13:34
Yes, absolutely. Because at that point, it becomes not fun.
Yeah. It’s like, “Oh, your TPS reports are doing it’s Monday morning.” Yeah, my little Office Space moment. Yeah. Now, what do you wish you had known whenever you were first planning your very first podcast? Because I know you’ve been working with John for a while. But on your very first one that you were kind of taking the reins of the Kate’s Take and Ditch Busy. What do you wish you had known that you didn’t before?
Kate Shares What She Wishes She’d Known In The Beginning
Kate Erickson 14:01
Yeah, I mean, we’ve already touched on it a little bit here. But it’s about not everything has to be perfect. Not everything is going to be perfect. Yeah. I remember when I launched Kate’s Take I was like, so focused on the fact that it was a topic-based show, and I was being a little bit like over the top about “No, my topics have to flow like it has to make sense. And it has to be a progression.”
And like by Episode 400, I was like, I’m going to talk about whatever. Like my audience is asking me what questions I see on Facebook, like what conversations I’m having with people at events, and those were always my best episodes. Very rarely, unless it’s an actual serialized podcast, or your listeners going and thinking like, this is awkward about systems and last week, she talked about marketing like nobody’s doing that, right. So I’m just, so there’s things like that where I was putting so much bandwidth into that, that I was missing the whole idea of like, just starting, getting better, recording more episodes, engaging with my audience, making my content better, becoming a better host, becoming a better speaker, like all of those things are the things that are important. That’s how you’re going to get better. That’s how you’re going to figure out how to grow your audiences, when you start learning to be better on the microphone, create better content that your audience wants, and engage with your audience so that you actually have a connection and can form community. Those are like the, you know, pillars of what’s going to make this work, not whether or not your episodes match up well together.
I love that. I love that. So now, is there anything that you think can’t be systematized? I already know the answer. But I just want to hear it anyway.
Kate Erickson 15:52
In my mind, no.
Kate Discusses What Drives Her Bananas
Good. I love that. I love that so much. Is there anything that you see podcasters doing that drives you bananas when it comes to systems and processes for your podcast?
Kate Erickson 16:03
Not using them! Yeah. But I mean, there is like, I do think that, you know, maybe you have an hour or so one day and you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to do this.” And you actually spend the time to put something in place. But then the next, like, when you go to do your recording or whatever, you don’t have anything scheduled and your prep isn’t ready. And like, sometimes I see people put the steps in place, but then not leverage them. I know that creating systems and like getting on that it takes time, and it is a huge investment to get it started.
But I’ve never spoken with someone who has adopted a system and actually implemented it and been mad about the fact that they did that or thought like “what a waste of time that was.” Like, I’ve never experienced that. So it’s all about like, following through with it actually implementing it, like hold yourself accountable. And if you don’t feel like you can hold yourself accountable, get into a community, a group, get an accountability partner, join a mastermind, like tell your friend that you’re really working hard on this and ask them to follow up with you next week to see how everything’s going. Like start putting stops in place so that it because otherwise is way too easy to push it to the backburner.
Kate Talks About Systems She Still Needs
Now, do you think that there are tings that you’re doing that you don’t have a system in place for yet that you still wish you did?
Kate Erickson 17:30
Hmm. You know, to be honest, being a guest on other podcasts or doing like, series like this, I go, I go in waves of like being really adamant about having people use my scheduler so that I’m batching those and then having an opportunity come along that is like that I really want to do, and it’s totally off from my schedule. And when I do that, it’s very obvious that I’m doing it because it kind of wreaks havoc on the rest of my day. Because I’m context switching. I’m, you know, being interrupted from other work and focus and all of that. So I’m really working hard on on making exceptions, like so few and far between. But sometimes it’s tough because I love doing this stuff.
I’m sure. I’m sure because like if you know, like if for some reason, The Today Show called right now you’d be like, “Okay, what can I drop?
Kate Erickson 18:25
I can imagine I can imagine. Well, is there anything that I didn’t bring up that you think I should have?
Kate Shares Some Final Thoughts
Kate Erickson 18:33
I’d just say like for anyone looking to create and launch a podcast, like congratulations for even thinking it. And congratulations for tuning into this and taking the steps to educate yourself and inspire yourself to take that next step. And yeah, I think that’s it. This was I could obviously talk about podcasting for like 100 hours.
Yes, and in fact, they actually have. They (John and Kate) have a really awesome program. Can you tell us a little bit about your program?
Kate Discusses EOFire Courses and Books
Kate Erickson 19:03
Oh, yes, we do. So we have a free podcast course. So freepodcastcourse.com is a completely free eight-video series on how to create and launch a podcast. And then in addition to that, we have an online course and community called Podcaster’s Paradise, where we’ll help you create, grow and monetize your podcast. We have video tutorials, resources, templates, sample documents, like literally the whole thing that you need.
And we also have a Facebook group with an incredible community of other podcasters who are on the same journey as you. John and I are in the Facebook group every single day supporting people answering questions. We do live q&a once a month. So it’s really fun. We’ve been doing it since 2013, which like I realized the other day that that community is eight years old, and I’m like, wow, that feels really awesome to have been serving the podcasting community for that long and yeah, we just love the group so much.
That is pretty awesome. Yeah. I have your Podcast Journal and The Freedom Journal, and The Mastery Journal. And I love the Podcast Journal. Can you talk a little bit about that for a second?
Kate Erickson 20:08
Thank you so much. Yeah, the Podcast Journal was such a labor of love, like had such a fun time putting that together. So what it is, is a physical journal, they’re also digital copies if you don’t want a physical copy, and its idea to launch in 50 days. So the journal walks you through day one through day 50 of starting out with your idea all the way to launching your podcast. Each day, there’s a specific exercise. So you don’t have to think about like, “Okay, what’s my next step?” Or, “What am I missing?” Or, “Am I doing this out of order?” Like we created the entire roadmap for you to go from idea to launch in 50 days.
And what I think is so great about that journal is that it kind of also starts setting you up to think, “Okay, how can I systematize everything?” Because it really forces you to think of it not just from the perspective of a hobbyist, although podcasters that are hobbyist that’s great, I love it. But if you ever have a plan to possibly monetize it, the more you can learn and the more you can actually put the effort in put the work in. What is it? Didn’t John, call it putting in the reps?
Kate Erickson 21:11
Like the more you can put in the reps. Do it! Yeah, yeah. So I love it. I think everything that you’ve shared here is perfect. And I hope that people will just really take this and take it for what it is. That it’s just a really great idea of a way that you can make your life as a podcaster easier. Like you said, bring the fun back to it.
Kate Erickson 21:31
Yeah, absolutely. And I hope that for everyone because podcasting is so I mean, everyone who’s been in the podcasting space knows what, like high energy awesome people, like you just become addicted to podcasting. It’s like such an incredible medium to reach people to create, know, like and trust with your audience to provide value to create an impact. It’s an incredible ripple effect. Like, there are just endless benefits to it and the ease of access to it for pretty much anyone in the world is unlike anything else.
Yeah. Podcasters are the coolest people on the internet. Let’s just let’s call it like it is. Okay, thank you so much for being on this with me. I really appreciate your time.
Kate Erickson 22:17
You’re so welcome. Thanks for inviting me.