Launching the Podcast of A Journey Across Borders: crossing 26 European borders in 6 months
Exciting news: I’ve launched a Podcast!
26 border crossings in Europe
Almost two years ago, way back in summer 2017, I was a full-time student working towards my Master’s degree in European Society, Politics and Culture jointly at the University of Groningen (in the Netherlands) and the University of Uppsala (in Sweden). I’d just completed my second semester in Sweden and was spending the summer travelling around exploring the Western Balkans and Sicily.
While I was enjoying a much-needed break over the summer, I did have one final project to complete as part of the University of Groningen’s Honours College, which I was completing alongside my Master’s. I had free reign to choose almost any project as long as I could find a supervisor to approve it. At the time, I was pondering how much I’d learned about Europe outside the classroom, from the many trips I’d taken that year, as I crossed a total of 26 borders within Europe over the first 6 months of 2017. Some of those 26 borders were simple, some were arduous, some were even invisible. I found myself interested in further exploring what borders represent and how they actually impact people’s lives.
So for that project I decided to experiment with my writing style, trying to combine both academic and informal tones into a style called ‘popular narrative non-fiction’, also known as a ‘longread’. I blended the storytelling style of my travel blogging with the real world issue of border management in Europe, into a standalone website that hopefully engages the reader and visually illustrates this topic through 8 separate trips that I took in early 2017.
You can find that website here: www.AJourneyAcrossBorders.wordpress.com
So why record it as a podcast?
The Guardian records almost all of their ‘longreads’ as podcasts and it does seem like the perfect channel for this kind of writing style, so back in 2017 I hatched a plan to turn the ‘A Journey Across Borders’ project into a podcast too. I personally love listening to podcasts and it seemed like a good skill to pick up too. However it turned out that backpacking around the Balkans isn’t exactly the best time to find a decent amount of quiet space with absolute silence to record a podcast, so the idea ended up being postponed and postponed… Until earlier this month that is! The item “Record podcast” had sat on my to-do list for over 18 months, but I’d refused to delete it entirely from my list.
There are two reasons why I’ve finally got round to launching the podcast now:
- Fellow blogger Vicky Flip Flop recently launched her own brilliant podcast, So She Travels. Seeing someone I know personally launch a podcast made the whole process seem so much less daunting and more accessible, and was a really good prompt so thank you Vicky!
- There are certain key dates referenced within the podcast that are fast approaching, and if I waited any longer then the podcast would be entirely out-of-date. It’s important to note that I wrote it back in summer 2017 and although I’ve recorded the podcast in early 2019, I haven’t made any edits to the language or timestamps at all. It is still very much the project and text that I created back in summer 2017 while I was a student, before I moved back to the UK and started my current job.
The podcast is available to listen to on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Anchor, and I’d suggest you start with the episode called ‘Introductions’ and then work your way through the trips from 1 to 8, which range from skiing in Switzerland, to living in Sweden, from my attempt to summit Mont Blanc, to working on Illicit Trade in Netherlands, among others:
As this is very much an experiment and my first experience creating a podcast, I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the podcast, and even any anecdotes of your own that you can add to the topic of borders. Creating this project was a learning opportunity for me, so I’d equally be interested to hear if this style doesn’t appeal to you, or what aspects I could improve. I really enjoyed the process of creating the podcast, and I have a few ideas up my sleeve for other podcasts I could potentially launch related to travel, so do let me know if you like the concept and would like to hear more or not!
How do you start a podcast?
There are so many different styles of podcast, and one of the most popular styles is to interview interesting people. For this podcast, I instead decided to use text I’d already spent a decent amount of time writing and editing, and I divided up the 10 separate pages of the A Journey Across Borders website into the 10 podcast episodes. My episodes are each around 7 minutes-long and are short compared to a lot of podcasts. I hope this makes them easier to digest, as I’m sometimes put off by podcasts that last over 30 minutes.
I researched different podcasting platforms and settled on using Anchor, which is free, has an easy-to-use iPhone app, and has just been bought by Spotify. I then found a really, really quiet room and recorded the various audio segments through the Anchor app, trimming and re-recording until I was happy with the sound quality. I added background music and sound effects through the app and pressed publish. Anchor then published my episodes on their own website and 4-5 days later had published them on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and a few other platforms I hadn’t heard of.
It took me a little while to decide on the format of the sections and the sound effects, but once the basics were in place, it’s all been quite quick and easy. Surprisingly so! Which is why I’m pondering recording more podcasts in future, perhaps turning some of my most popular blog posts into podcasts for listening on-the-go. Would you be interested in listening to some of my blog posts as a podcast?