You can find me nestled somewhere in the rolling plains of the prairies in a tiny little village called Empress. They fancy themselves “the hub of the west” but with a population of less than 150, the hustle and bustle died down long ago. It's not the first place you'd associate with podcasting, and it poses interesting challenges for podcasting with unreliable elctricity.
With six streets and six avenues, and weighing in at 45-minutes away from the closest grocery store, this sleepy little town is truly in the middle of nowhere. This is why it makes sense that a single power line from the main Alberta grid powers all of the homes.
On any normal day, this doesn't pose a problem. But we're in Canada, where winter brings blustery blizzards, and the flat land of the region means that powerful windstorms happen frequently.
So, it's not unusual for the weather to knock out the power line and the town to go dark for several hours, occasionally even full days. Last winter, I had to reschedule no less than four different podcast recordings due to power outages. Which puts a real kink in the production calendar.
The thing is, you can't podcast without electricity. From powering your mic and recording device to editing and publishing the final episode, podcasting is not a paper-and-pencil kind of game.
So, how do you deal when you're podcasting somewhere with unreliable electricity?
Plan for No Power
I realize that for many of us, power outages come at unexpected times. Which makes “planning” for them a little redundant. But if you're in a place that sees more frequent power outages, there are steps you can take.
That said, since I'm sometimes podcasting with unreliable electricity, I've come accustomed to keeping all my devices charged regularly (especially if I know there's bad weather around the corner). Plus, I've added a power bank to my podcasting equipment which provides a little extra juice, just in case.
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Solar power banks won't work for everyone—they're not exactly helpful in Western Canada in the middle of a snowstorm. But if you're in a place that sees a lot of sunlight, it could be a viable and reasonably affordable option in emergency situations.
Tips for Podcasting with Unreliable Electricity
Use No-Power Time for Planning
I'm going to contradict myself a bit here. While podcasting isn't a paper and pencil game, you can still complete work. Whether you have a good ole fashioned notebook handy, or The Podcast Host Planner, there is plenty that you can do.
From preparing the next few episodes to working on scripts, you can still work on your show. I find that some of my most productive podcasting time is away from the screens when I take a real chance to look at the bigger picture and figure out where we should go.
If you frequently experience electricity downtimes, it might be helpful for you to put some offline work into your regular workflow. Not only will it get you away from your screen, but you're still podcasting with unreliable electricity.
Batch Your Work Process
Batching work is generally a good idea for making your workflow more efficient. It also helps when you're working offline if there's no power. Though it really depends on which parts of your process you batch.
This goes along with planning for your work offline. You can complete certain parts of your workflow while you don't have electricity. So long as it doesn't require an internet connection, and you have a charged laptop battery, you can work.
If you plan ahead, you can complete tasks even if the laptop battery dies. Though, you'll probably need a candle or flashlight to finish it.
Rely on Your Phone
Considering the smaller battery, your phone is most likely the easiest device to keep powered. That means it could make for a viable primary or secondary device if you're in a pinch.
When the power disappears here, the house internet also goes down, but my phone doesn't. Since it's on a cellular network separate from the home internet, this means I can continue working. Now, I don't recommend this for every situation. It can get a little heavy on the data plan. But it works in a pinch.
Even without using the internet, your phone can be a reliable tool. My power bank can charge my phone several times. But it really only makes a small dent in my laptop battery. Working smaller could mean working longer if you're in a pinch.
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Preparation is Key
It's true that you can't podcast without electricity. But there are ways you can make your powerless time more productive instead of waiting for the lights to turn on.
Planning your workflow to account for time spent without charged devices or the internet could make your creative life that much less stressful if you're podcasting with unreliable electricity.
Not having electricity could put a real kink in your podcasting schedule, especially if you're just starting out. Check out The Podcast Host Academy where you can access self-paced courses and downloadable resources that you can use to build your perfect workflow — on and offline.