For over a decade, I’ve wondered what it would be like to be a podcaster. So many things have stopped me on my way: jobs, feeling I didn’t have good equipment, not knowing where to start. . . Basically, you name it, I’ve had that excuse.
But late last year, I was approached by my friend, and now co-host, about starting a Star Wars podcast. As it turns out, the problem of not knowing where to start can actually be that simple to solve. Have an idea, then start doing it.
While that one was easy to solve, I did learn plenty of other lessons in my first six months “on the job.” My hope in sharing these with you is that maybe it will help you think through a thing or two on your journey to start or keep building a new podcast, blog, YouTube channel, live stream – whatever, really.
It Doesn’t Grow by Itself
Wouldn’t it be pretty cool if podcasts were like weeds? You didn’t even have to really do anything – it just grew by itself, totally out of control, until it just spreads and overwhelms everything else in the garden.
Instead, it’s more like a very finicky flower. If you want it to truly grow, it requires constant care, hard work, and following a particular schedule.
If your goal is to see it grow and reach more and more people, then it actually requires a lot of hard work. I think I underestimated how much work that would actually be. I mean – record for an hour or so, upload it, and voila! Podcast! Right? Wrong.
Editing can take hours, if you’re picky about that sort of thing (like I am). Running a social media account (or multiple social media accounts, since you probably want your presence on as many platforms as possible) takes time, attention, and participation. Operating and maintaining a website can be equally time consuming (and frustrating, for that matter).
Bottom line here is don’t underestimate the work you’ll be putting in. It can be substantial.
Be Ready to Make Friends
When I started this adventure, I don’t think I was expecting to make a lot of friends. I was hoping people would find us and want to start listening, but I don’t think I was prepared to find a wealth of people out there that would be as welcoming, friendly, and supportive as they have been.
I think the key here is be ready to have actual, meaningful, thoughtful interactions with others in the same space you’re trying to enter into. I think most people can smell when you’re hanging around to get something in return. So, don’t do that.
People want to get to know you – as a podcaster, but also as a person. I believe that’s where they ultimately identify with you and your work. Your podcast could be gold, but if their interactions with you always feel stiff and forced, I wouldn’t expect them to hang around very long.
Along these same lines, your social media presence is very important. Chances are, people will find you first on some type of social media, then decide whether or not to give your show a chance from there. If your presence on social media reflects someone they don’t enjoy talking to, you probably didn’t gain a listener.
Don’t Start In Debt
This point goes a few different directions.
First, shop around for things like hosting solutions and website solutions. There are plenty of different choices for hosting a podcast, some are even free. When we started our show, we actually went through three different hosts to find one we liked and fit our very small budget. I could have saved a lot of time and some money by doing more research up front on the options available to me.
Second, new gear is always exciting, but remember that even if your goal is to make money from this, you won’t be seeing a return on that investment very quickly. Worst case scenario is you may not see a return on that investment at all. So, don’t sink your money into a beast of a computer with the best software when a pretty basic laptop can run Audacity. Don’t jump into top of the line mixers and microphones when there are some very good lower cost alternatives out there to get you going.
There may be some truth to that old adage about spending money to make money, but it may not be applicable to all people in all circumstances. Weigh your resources, weigh your options, and try to make the best decision for you based on where you’re at now.
Try to Have Fun!
Most importantly, try to remember that you’re sharing your love about a topic that obviously captures your passion and your imagination.
That alone can help everything else fall into place!