For Headliner Highlight 10 we hear from Barack Lesnar from Cointelbro w/ Barack Lesnar.
Tell us about your podcast.
My podcast is Cointelbro w/ Barack Lesnar and it’s a variety podcast, I’m gonna talk about politics, I’m gonna talk about sports, I’m gonna talk about pop culture, entertainment, things of general interest to me. My goal is to develop it, build it, be able to bring on different guests in different industries; Joe Rogan is a big inspiration of mine, I don’t have the connections he has, but I feel that great conversations can be had at every level of society. You don’t need to have Hollywood famous friends to really get to the nitty gritty with some very interesting people doing some amazing things right here in my community and in similar communities across the country.
How long have you been podcasting and why did you start?
I’ve done it on and off for a few years now. This new venture, I’ve only been doing it for a few weeks. But I really like digital marketing. I really like social media. I really like having a platform in which I can communicate my thoughts and express myself with people who might be like-minded or maybe not like-minded. But I welcome that. And again, that’s why I started podcasting. I have an interest in building a platform, building a soapbox where I can share my thoughts and ideas.
What do you do to share & promote your episodes?
Mine is a little more difficult in that I’m trying to cover a variety of subjects. But it becomes a lot simpler if your podcast is focused on a certain theme, on a certain industry. So for example, I do fantasy basketball. So if I’m doing a fantasy basketball podcast, then I know the people I want to seek are on maybe [r/nbafantasybasketball] or on other forums that focus exclusively on fantasy basketball. And, what I take is, I take my show notes, which is the notes I use to make my episode, and I find a way to change it into a post that has valuable information that a person could read and then at the end, I offer them a link like, “Hey, check out my podcast if you want more.”
What has been most effective? Least effective?
People don’t like it when you promote your content without giving them a small sample. It’s smart to give them either a written sample, or maybe you can make a two or three-minute trailer where they can actually listen to 3 minutes, and if they want to continue hearing, give them a link they can follow. I feel like if you do that, be patient; you have to be patient.
If you slowly add one or two listeners a week, before you know it, in a year, you have over a hundred listeners, and once you have a hundred listeners, word-of-mouth comes in, and if 10 out of those 100 tell a friend, now you got 10 more listeners. So, it compounds over time, you have to be consistent, and you have to build through the grind knowing that, hey, there has to be more to it than just the people listening to you, at least initially.
Once you have 10, 15 episodes, now a person that finds you, they might listen to 10 of your episodes and say, “Hey, I like this guy.” But when you only have one or two episodes, there may not be enough to go off of, so continue building. The quote, “if you build it, they will come,” really comes to mind.
Why do you make Headliners?
I really enjoy Headliner. The ability to make these trailers with the waveform and even convert my podcast into a quick video format with the waveform that I can upload on YouTube. That’s another huge way that I can promote my podcast and get new followers via that channel.
What’s your current podcasting setup?
A quality podcast does not have to be as expensive as you may think. I do recommend having a decent computer with good processing power, maybe a good video card, a good sound card, some good RAM. I had a good computer built last year, I spent maybe $800 or $900 dollars so it’s pretty suped-up, but it really shows when I’m doing digital editing on my tracks.
I use a digital workstation. I use Mixcraft. It’s for Windows, and it’s very user friendly, it was the first digital workstation I ever used that just felt intuitive. I knew how to use it, it felt simple, and that’s what I use. It cost maybe $80, and if you pay the $80 every year, you can upgrade it, and I think you only pay like $20 or $30. I normally upgrade it every other year because I do enjoy the program. It has a lot of preset options for mixing and editing the waveforms for the podcast. So I can go ahead, make my show notes, and record everything through my digital workstation. If I’m doing a podcast episode, if you’re not doing it by yourself, maybe you could record the conversation on Skype.
As far as a microphone, I use a Blue Snowball microphone, and I really enjoy it. You can probably get that microphone for $40 or $50, again, not very expensive; it has a convenient little stand, has a USB plugin, you can hook it up for the road. I’ve heard people say it doesn’t have very great quality, but honestly, I think this is great quality. I’ve listened to some high-quality podcasts, let’s say Talk is Jericho, and I think the audio quality I’m pumping out right now is comparable after I edit it, of course. Maybe there’s less editing needed with a more expensive microphone, but again, if you have a digital workstation, you could add a couple of presets to the compressor and the equalizer, and you could pump out some quality audio with a $40 or $50 microphone.
I don’t have a studio space, so I bought a piece of metal that folds up and has soundproofing foam on it. So it’s very convenient, I have it right there on my desk, but it simulates having a sound booth. You can probably get a decent one on Amazon for $80 to $100, so between the two, we’re talking $150 for the mic and that soundproofing. If you have a decent laptop already, buy the digital workstation. If you’re doing a podcast with people, you can use Anchor. You can use several services that let you have that conversation and find a way to record that conversation and turn that into a podcast.
The tools are not that difficult to get, and you can make some quality work with these tools. It’s more attainable than you think it is. I started with a really crappy mic back when I started making rap music, maybe in like 2008 or 2009, I started with a crappy mic on a crappy computer, and the sound quality was obvious, but again, I really like this Blue Snowball mic, I think it works great for podcasting regardless of what others may claim.
What is something you think is overrated or underrated in podcasting?
I think it’s overrated that people think you need a certain level of clout or level of exposure, or that you need a certain level of celebrity for something to matter. I don’t think that’s true. If you have something to say, you have something to say. I’ve seen homeless people on the street that drop some beautiful words.
Believe that you have something to say and believe that you are underrated. Find that thing that drives passion in you, that you can speak on with all of the passion in the world. What topic would you be entertained listening to yourself on? If you can entertain yourself, I feel like you can entertain others for the most part. But you have to be genuinely entertained. You can’t ignore it. You can’t downplay the importance of it, you just have to try to entertain yourself and if you’re passionate about something, it’s a lot easier to present that.
I’ve done presentations for school, YouTube videos, and podcasting sessions where I’ve had to present to groups, and people have exclaimed afterwards, “Oh my God, that was great!” Because again, I believed in my execution, and how I was carrying my voice, how I was carrying the message. I believed that they would be entertained, and they picked up on that. They picked up what I was laying down.
So go for it. Just start building. Even if you don’t have a huge audience, you can build a huge audience. You don’t need a certain level of celebrity; you could build that level of celebrity just by having a podcast in an industry you think is important.
If someone was to only listen to one episode of yours, which one would you send?
If I could have you guys listen to one of my episodes, again, this podcast’s only two episodes in, but my old Player Hater Club Podcast was hilarious. It was a community we built on Facebook. It’s not a very large community, but it’s a community of passionate, very dedicated friends, and it was hilarious making that podcast. It’s a thing of the past now. Maybe we’ll make some honorary episodes here or there through my new podcast, but they were so fun to make, and they really introduced me to the world of podcasting and believing that I could have a voice, that I could share my voice, that I do have something meaningful to say.