I like to tell people that my wife and I are among the first people to produce an independent travel podcast. No one is ever really that impressed.
Maybe I should just stop fishing for compliments.
The back story here: my wife and I were married last May and immediately took off on a round the world honeymoon. We produced a video podcast called, “The Traveling Morans.”
If you’re thinking of doing something like I did, maybe I can help. Here are a few things that worked for me.
Make it Different
I always thought of our podcast as a show I would like to watch if it were on regular TV. In my opinion, lots of travel shows these days still have the same, “lets all marvel at this beautiful old building behind me” sort of feel.
I think that if you want to get people interested in what you’re doing, you need a hook (if the “beautiful old building” concept is what you’re going for, don’t let me stop you).
“The Traveling Morans”, as a convenient example, was as much about the interaction between a real married couple as it was about the scenery. We weren’t trying to be tour guides.
We were just trying to be moderately funny in a cute married couple sort of way.
Work Smarter Not Harder
A video podcast can take up a lot of time. We didn’t do more than fifteen episodes because I didn’t like spending all day editing in a small hotel room. So it’s important to have a good plan.
For every five minute podcast, I only shot about an hour of tape. That’s nothing. The more I shot, the more time I had to work, the more tapes I had to lug around, the more hard drive space used, etcetera.
So every time I went out with the camera, I knew what I wanted. For example, in Rio at the big Jesus statue, I only shot about ten minutes because I knew I’d only need about one minute for the actual podcast. I knew I’d have Sarah do a quick bit, grab some cover shots, and that’s it.
Of course, there are times when plans change, but if you have a good idea in your head about what your show is all about, you can tailor your shooting to it, saving you lots of time.
Because it’s a travel podcast we’re talking about, you probably want a better than average video camera.
I used a Sony HDR HC1. I loved it. (Sadly, it was stolen on the second to last day of our trip. I just bought a Sony HDR HC-7 to replace it). It’s about as big as anything you want to carry around for a long time, and it shoots in high definition.
For me, an HD camera made sense because I want these tapes to look as good as possible years from now.
Something else to think about are microphones. I bought an Audio-Technica wireless mic set for about $100. If you want to get someone’s audio from more than four feet away, you need a wireless mic.
Most camera mics are terrible. When I wasn’t using the wireless, I used a $50 Sony shotgun mic. It wasn’t the greatest, but it was good enough for what I needed.
Now, I can’t speak to other programs, because I’ve never used anything other than my Mac to cut the podcasts. I still consider myself a beginner when it comes to editing.
So if you’re just starting out and you want to do something relatively simple (like “The Traveling Morans”), then a simple editing program is all you need. I used iLife, which came with my MacBook Pro.
In fact, the first thing I ever cut was our first podcast. It took me about two days to get comfortable. Especially if you’re traveling and you’re not a professional editor, get something that won’t make your project harder.
We published the podcast from everywhere. Only once were we in a place too remote to publish (the Gili Islands off Lombok, Indonesia). Internet cafes are everywhere.
We would always try to find the place with the fastest connection, usually the trendiest coffee bar in town, which was almost guaranteed to have a wi-fi connection. If the connection was fast, Sarah (publishing was always her job) would simply put the podcast on iWeb, upload it and wait about an hour.
We always thought publishing would be our biggest problem, but the world is a lot more connected that we thought.
If I could do it again I would…
…have taken more chances. Sure, you’re a tourist, and you don’t want to go around announcing it to everyone, but everyone already knows it and doesn’t expect much from you anyway.
Almost every time I shot someone local, they opened up to me. The people I shot never got weird about having a camera in their face. For the most part, they loved it. I wish I took advantage of that more.
What I Used
- 15″ Macbook Pro
- Sony HDR HC1 video camera
- shotgun mic camera add-on
- wireless lavalier mic
- Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT
- Nikon Coolpix 5200
- USB memory card reader
Remember, do it for love
If you can make any money doing what I did, I’d love to hear how you pulled it off. Sure there are opportunities to sell videos or podcasts, and we could have pursued them more aggressively, but I think you have to love what you’re doing in order to succeed.
Putting video podcasts together is work. It’s not necessarily hard work, but you have to want to lug a laptop, camera and tripod around the world.
It sounds corny, but I did it for the feedback. It was all the emails from people telling me how much they enjoyed the podcasts that kept me going.
If you want to know more about the trip, my wife just finished a detailed FAQ on her blog.