10 super-simple tricks for speeding up your podcasting workflow – TAP166

Photo Credit: wwarby via Compfight cc

Imagine publishing podcast episodes faster! These simple hacks will improve your podcasting workflow in the little details. Each of these may take only a few minutes to setup and may not seem to save much time. But even saving 30 seconds per day adds up to more than two hours per year.


1. Change file associations

What program opens when you double-click your files? That is set by the file association. For example, double-clicking an MP3 often opens it in iTunes. But is that really what program you want to handle that file?

For example, I changed the following defaults on my system.

  • .mp3 opens in ID3 Editor
  • .wav and .aif open in Adobe Audition
  • .php, .css, and .xml open in Sublime Text
  • .mp4 opens in VLC
  • .mov (my camera’s video format) opens in Adobe Premiere Pro

Change your file associations with these steps:

  • For OS X, right-click a file and click Get Info. Change “Open with:” to your preferred program. Click “Change All…”
  • For Windows 7/8, open Control Panel > Control Panel Home > Default Programs > Set Associations (or type “Default Programs” into the Start search). Select the file type you want to change and click “Change program.” Or, you can right-click the file type you want to change and click Properties. Go to General tab > Type Of File > Change > Choose a program.
  • For some Linux distributions, follow these steps.

2. Use an FTP client for uploading podcast media

Depending on the media host you use, it may be much faster to upload through an FTP client instead of through their website. LibSyn works this way and is even better.

Popular free FTP clients are CyberDuck and FileZilla.

If you upload to LibSyn, I recommend uploading a fully tagged MP3 file to the “quickcast” folder. This will read the title, description, and other meta information from the ID3 tags; set the file as a post (not as “for download only,” which you shouldn’t use); and publish the file immediately. You won’t even have to login to the LibSyn website!

3. Use templates

I’ve talked before about using Simple Content Templates (formerly Simple Post Templates) for creating templates in WordPress. Also consider templates for your other processes.

  • Preparation template in your favorite note-taker (for example, Evernote, Workflowy, Google Drive)
  • Production template with intro, outro, bumpers, and even track effects in editors (for example, Audacity, Adobe Audition, Premiere Pro)—the simplicity of doing this with Adobe Audition is part of why I left Audacity
  • Design templates for images with fonts, colors, and layout
  • Email templates for interview requests, feedback responses, and business opportunities
  • Effect presets for tracks, clips, and recordings

4. Make macros and “droplets”

Many programs will let you record a set of actions to save as a macro. These are called Chains in Audacity, Favorites in Adobe Audition, Actions in Adobe Photoshop, and other names in other programs.

You can also create a miniature program, commonly called a droplet, on which you can drag and drop one or many files for quick processing. For example, converting stereo to mono, encoding WAV as MP3, converting PNG to JPEG, sequentially renaming, uploading to FTP, applying a template, and more.

5. Work in mono

I’ve already talked about the many benefits of podcasting in mono instead of stereo. In your workflow, this can often cut your processing time in half. An effect only has to process a single track in mono instead of two tracks (left and right) in stereo.

6. Use text-expansion: TextExpander or PhraseExpress

Text-expansion is a huge time-saver for me in the little ways. Here are some example uses.

  • Make typing hard-to-spell words or titles easier—John Lee Dumas uses “eee” to write “Entrepreneur on Fire” since spelling “entrepreneur” causes even the best to stumble
  • Simplify complicated text—I type “tap.url” to get “http://TheAudacitytoPodcast.com/” with the option to add to the end of the URL
  • Make easy hyperlinks—I type “paypal.pay” to get a full payment URL with a custom description and payment amount
  • Insert a complete template—For consulting requests and followups, RSS help, CES booking requests, and more, I have different “email.____” shortcuts that insert a full message with the recipient’s name and custom inclusions

TextExpander PayPal

Text expansion’s power goes far beyond just replacing text with other plain text. You can make dynamic fields that populate the output, shortcuts that process your clipboard, and much more.

Get TextExpander for Mac, or PhraseExpress for Windows.

7. Paste without formatting

When you copy and paste text, font sizes, colors, and other formatting are usually captured and pasted with it. This can make text-editing very annoying. Many applications offer a “paste as plain text” or “paste without formatting” option. This is commonly Ctrl-Shift-V on Windows and Linux, and Cmd-Shift-V on OS X.

The text you paste will inherit the formatting of your target (such as a heading or color) instead of carrying over the previous formatting.

8. Write show notes directly in WordPress

Instead of going through a lot of hassle to paste without formatting from a separate app into WordPress, why not write your show notes directly into WordPress?

You won’t struggle with formatting transitions and invalid characters. And it also means you can seamlessly insert your hyperlinks, formatting, and multimedia while you write your text.

9. Create bookmarks, favorites, and shortcuts

If you regularly use the same tool, website, or folder, make simple shortcuts to each of these in relevant places.

OS X Finder favorites

  • In your web browser, use the Bookmarks toolbar to place your most commonly visited pages (like WordPress’s “new post” page) and bookmarklets (like social-sharing or bookmarking services).
  • In your file browser, add shortcuts to your common folders in the sidebar or favorites for easy access from the file browser or save/open dialog boxes.
  • In project folders, make shortcuts/aliases to other commonly accessed folders.
  • In programs, add your favorite effects to a favorites menu or palette, if supported.

10. Learn or customize keyboard shortcuts

I probably use several hundred keyboard shortcuts in a single day. This is way more than simple cut/copy/paste. Cmd/Ctrl-I will italicize text in WordPress and most apps, Cmd/Ctrl-K will usually hyperlink text (it’s Alt-Shift-A in WordPress), Cmd/Ctrl-S will save.

But there may also be shortcuts for your other common operations. If there aren’t, you can probably assign them in your app. For example, I setup Cmd-Shift-L to run the Normalize effect in Audacity, or Cmd-Shift-M to convert stereo to mono in Audition.

Maybe you don’t like your app’s keyboard shortcuts because you’re used to a different app. For example, most apps use Cmd/Ctrl-E for exporting, but Audition and Premiere Pro both use Cmd/Ctrl-M.

Critically review your workflow steps

Don’t stop with my list! Watch for any repetitive tasks and find ways to do them a little quicker. When you combine all of these things together, you may find yourself saving 5–15 minutes per day, which adds up to 21–65 hours per year!

What little tasks have your been able to hack to save time? What are some of your favorite text-expansion snippets? Share in the comments!


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  • http://TipsOfTheScale.com/ TipsOfTheScale.com

    Great stuff, Daniel. Lots of valuable info here.

    Re: #3 and #8 – I’ve been using Live Writer lately for its ability to save Post Templates and publish directly to WordPress without having to login to the dashboard. It’s my new favorite tool, and it does its thing without excessive markup.

    Wasn’t aware of chains in Audacity; this is going to be a huge help.

    Re #6 – AutoHotKey is another great text-expander and macro-recorder that saves me lots of time, and it’s FREE.


  • http://www.valueofsimple.com/ Joel Zaslofsky

    Daniel, would you mind linking to or expanding upon an explanation for why I shouldn’t use the “For download only” option in Libsyn? This is the first I’ve heard someone mention it (and you can probably guess which Libsyn option I’m currently using to publish my podcast episode .mp3).

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Did you hear me explain it in the audio?

      “For download only” means you miss out on being in the LibSyn mobile app, LibSyn Facebook app, the LibSyn player, and inclusion in LibSyn’s podcast directory.

      It’s just a bad idea to make anything other than cover art “for download only.”

  • http://www.perezfox.com Prescott Perez-Fox

    Great episode sharing your philosophy for workflow hacking. I’ve adopted very similar practices in the graphic design world over the years, but I’m learning new tips for podcasting as I learn with each new episode.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      When I meet a fellow designer, I always want to ask a particular question, so I’ll ask you. Where’s your portfolio?

      • http://www.perezfox.com Prescott Perez-Fox

        Well sir, you can see my “business site” (aka my out-of-date portfolio) over at http://strshp.com . For a time I was working for myself full-time, but for the past ~2 years I’ve been a traditional employee, leaving me little time for updating my site. Even less now that I’ve started the new podcast — The Busy Creator Podcast — http://busycreator.com.

        But since my new podcast and site are aimed at creative productivity, I think I need to get a grip and update my stuff. Can’t make excuses anymore if I’m wearing the hat of someone prolific and productive.

  • http://www.qualitylivingmadesimple.com/ Joshua Rivers

    Thanks for this, Daniel. I’m going to start uploading via Filezilla. I’m also going to be working on the shortcut keys. I’ve already been using ShortKeys Lite (I save at least 90 keystokes each episode).

  • jamiehayes

    This episode was great but a little overwhelming. Some of it I would need broken down to steps on video. Maybe I need some one-on-one consulting, or buy into a pre-recorded “go-slow how-to” on so much of the stuff in this episode. You can guess that I am not a spring chicken! Ooops. How do I stop my photo from stretching?

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      You’re totally right about these needing videos. ;)Faithfully,

      Daniel J. Lewis

  • Stephanie b

    Thanks for the tips, Daniel!

    A big time saver for me is using Markdown language instead of HTML when writing my shownotes. With the Jetpack plugin, WordPress does support Markdown in its editor now, but I still often use a Markdown editor application because my app has a preview pane. (In WordPress, you have to click the preview button for the post to see what it’s going to look like — it just looks like Markdown language in both WordPress’s “Visual” and “Text” editors.) But even having to copy & paste the HTML from my Markdown application into WordPress, I find writing my shownotes this way saves me A LOT of time.

    Like Joel, I too was interested by your comments about uploading files as File for Download Only to Libsyn. I have concerns about switching how I upload files now because I am hosting files for 3 podcasts in one Libsyn account. (I know — probably not the wisest decision but it was cheaper than getting each podcast its own account and money is a concern for me at the moment.) One of my podcasts uses my Libsyn feed, and that’s the show name that’s in Libsyn. If I publish all the files I upload there as “episodes,” won’t they all show up as episodes of the podcast that’s associated with my Libsyn account in the Libsyn mobile app, etc.?

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Markdown is great! I just started using it more and episode 174’s show notes were written with the Jetpack Markdown module. Now I wish I could go back to this episode and include Markdown. But then again, it’s not really “super-simple,” so I can save it for a future episode.

      Check out a different plugin, WP Markdown. It allows more control over where you can write in markdown, and it also puts a preview panel in the WordPress editor. Just scroll down and you can see your preview. I didn’t like that it replaced the HTML and visual tabs, and also removed some other buttons from TinyMCE. But I don’t like some of the ways Jetpack works, either (like hyperlinking), but I prefer Jetpack’s flexibility.

      On your LibSyn scenario, you’re right that if you host multiple shows in one account and you’re using the LibSyn feed, publishing everything as a post will push it out to your LibSyn feed. So this wouldn’t be a good option for you.

      • Stephanie b

        Thanks for your suggestion, Daniel. I have tried out that WP Markdown plugin, and it just didn’t work for me. Like you mention, I didn’t like that it replaced the HTML and visual tabs. So for now I’m sticking with Jetpack unless I’m writing a big post, in which case I use a separate application.

        I thank Stever Robbins for introducing me to the concept of Markdown, but I first heard Stever on your podcast so really I should thank you too! Thanks, Daniel!