Starting a podcast is relatively easy, compared to other forms of traditional media. People compare podcasting to radio or TV, but imagine if you tried to get your own radio show or TV show?!?! How do you even start?
I had my own radio show at one point before moving behind the mic producing and voicing commercials. It was tough as the competition for talent was ruthless. When I finally landed an on-air gig, almost everything I said was planned out and defined for me. I had a schedule to keep for every minute of every hour. I couldn't talk too much or too little. Shareholders and bosses that controlled what I said, when I said it, and even how I said things. Radio sounds like everyone is adlibbing and making stuff up along the way, but that's not true. Everything has some structure and in broadcasting definitely a lot of structure. From the financial aspect of things, I definitely didn't have the money to put into maintaining my own broadcast signal. We joked about it for years that one day we'd band together and buy the radio station from the big corporation that owned it. Ahhh, yeah, no.
It's hard to land on a station or have the money to create one from scratch. There's a lot of competition for talent. But podcasting has a much lower barrier to entry and the industry is still so young that we're not even close to hitting that proverbial bubble. It's not going to pop anytime soon. The basics of all you really need to start podcasting is a microphone, software to record your show, and access to the internet. And as an independent podcaster, you command your show based on your own needs, wants, and you have full creative control. There's no one to answer to, but yourself.
However, there are a few things that no one talks about when you decide to dive deep into creating your own podcast.
One, it's a lot of hard work. Yes, you can record and then publish, but there's more to a successful podcast than just that. Most independent podcasters wear many hats. From host to producer, editor, and even marketing manager, content creator, audio engineer, and don't forget about all administrative tasks! Answering emails, booking guests, and double-checking all your links are working as the tech and web wizard! If you have a team behind you, then you're one of the lucky few. Offloading some of the work can be really instrumental in this marathon of a journey. Podcasting is not a sprint, so think about what it is you don't like to do, so in the future when have the ability to hire someone to do what you don't want or have time to do. If you already have a podcast, take a look at your current workflow. If you don't have a podcast, think of all the things you need to do to create each episode. Note down every single task it takes to create and publish an episode. Is it editing the audio or social media or some other aspect? Sometimes podcasters like to do it all, but know that your time is limited and it might be best to let someone else who's the expert in that field do what they do best, so you can focus on your content, taking time to create the meat in your show. That's what's going to drive your podcast. And don't forget that once your episode is published, you still have to work to do on it. You've got to keep promoting your show and past episodes you have created.
Most of my clients are using podcasting as part of their long term marketing plan for their business. And in doing so, have the funds to invest in their show and hire me to save their time from editing or learning the art of editing. Some of my best clients are the ones who started their own show by editing everything themselves. This way you get to learn all the nuances that go into creating your show in your own way. Once you know how and what you like or don't like, it's easier to then transfer those ideas and processes to an audio editor or whoever else you plan to hire on your team. Plus on the audio editing side, when you edit your own voice, you'll learn about all the little things that will drive you nuts. Like how you say something or which filler words you tend to use a lot of, like, some, ah, you know, right? Those ones are some classics. Take this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Know that you say these things and the next time you go to record, you can try and back off using them. Recollect your thoughts and start again. That's the beauty of podcasting; you're usually not live, so you can edit things out.
So grab some pen and paper. If you've listened to episode 5 you know how I love writing with pen and paper, start jotting down what you will do for your podcast and realize that if you plan to do a weekly show, these are some tasks you'll have to do weekly or batch to work in advance.
Two, there's no magic formula. Everyone has their thing and you need to unlock what will work for you. The podcasting industry is so new and you'll find lots of information out there about how you should be doing X or that this is the BEST way to do something. It's not. What works for one podcaster won't work for another based on your workflow, what type of show you have, the needs of your audience, and even your recording space or how much tech you like to use. And success is based on your own terms. Too many podcasters are looking to others about how we should define success. I'll give you a quick answer to that one, it's definitely not about the downloads. Those are vanity numbers. Every show is unique and if you're not connecting with your audience, the numbers don't make a difference if you can't compel them with your podcast's message to take action on what it is you want them to do.
Let's take for example Podcast A and Podcast B. Podcast A is a business podcast, coaching women entrepreneurs in the health and wellness space. VS Podcast B which targets the same women health and wellness entrepreneurs, but is only spoken in Spanish. Podcast B's niche of speaking in Spanish makes it impossible to compare download numbers. As a listener who doesn't speak Spanish, they can't relate to the Spanish speaking culture. So Podcast A is not going to have the same listeners as Podcast B. If your listener only speaks in Spanish, they will never ever listen to Podcast A which is what they are trying to do, but in a totally different language. Who's numbers will be bigger? Who is more successful? Does it matter? No! Numbers don't tell you the real story. Each podcast needs to focus on its own listeners. Your range of listeners is going to vary niche to niche. Define your own success right off the bat, find your niche, and stop staring at download numbers. I recommend that all the time especially if you are starting out. Don't even bother looking at them for months.
The third secret about podcasting that no one tells you at the start, is that you're not going to get famous. And even the famous podcasters had to start somewhere, as a nobody. Think about it this way instead, if you want to be famous, be famous in your own niche. In your community, in your circle, be the authority there. And that's the takeaway, it's not about being famous, but about being the authority. That's how you are going to drive listenership. By creating connections, real relationships, and sharing your message from your podcast in those communities. It's not about hopping on to social media and posting here and there. It's about asking people in your community how you can best serve them and how you can be the authority, the one that they will go to when they need some help.
So there are the three secrets about podcasting that no one ever tells you from the start. If you've already got a podcast, what did you wish someone told you before you started? Maybe there's another secret that you can share with us. I'd love to hear about it. I'm always active on Instagram, so you can find me there @VisibleVoicePodcast or as always, drop a comment below and let us know!