Yes, today's episode is about podcasting. But I must first set it up by briefly discussing food and booze. I promise it'll all line up!
I'm a competent cook. No one is going to confuse me for a trained chef. I'm not even qualified to be a line cook. But the kitchen is my domain (at least in my household).
I'm also a competent cocktail maker. My repertoire isn't expansive, and I don't have a desirable liquor cabinet. But I'm a passable drink slinger when we have guests over.
I'm good at both, but I'm not great at either. And maybe that describes you as a podcaster: good enough to make a podcast episode that is good enough for your audience to keep listening, but you know it's not great.
Perhaps there are certain things about your podcast that aren't as good as you would like, yet you know you're capable of improving them. If only you knew what was wrong.
That Aubergine Kinda Looks Like A Microphone
If only I knew what was wrong. That describes exactly how I felt about my eggplant parmesan and my Manhattan cocktail. Until recently, that is. I recently up-leveled my skills on both items using a technique I think you can incorporate into your podcast.
I like eggplant Parmesan. If I'm feeling meatless, which often I am living with a veggie wife, I'll order it at a restaurant. But I'm always disappointed when I've tried to make it at home. Not that it's inedible. It's just that it fails to taste as good as what I get in just about any restaurant.
I like Manhattan cocktails. I'm picky about my Manhattans, and I'll only order one if the bar feels like a place that makes a solid Manhattan. But I've been disappointed with my attempts to make a great Manhattan at home for years. Yes, mine is drinkable. Just not crave-able.
But all that changed recently. As my wife said, the eggplant parmesan I made last week was restaurant quality. The Manhattans I'm now mixing at home are on point now and cause my cocktail-picky friends to do a double take.
So what changed? Little things, believe it or not. The "secrets" I discovered were tiny things. Small stuff I'd been overlooking (or, more honestly, rushing past) previously in the kitchen. Small things other people who are great at both of them know, but I never bothered to learn.
The secret for excellent eggplant parm was found when I finally took the time to read the 600-word blog post that sits on top of the recipe. Hidden (not really hidden) in that block of text were two nuggets of information—make smaller slices and use a two-step cooking process—I'd been unaware of that made all the difference in the world.
For the Manhattan, I shared my frustrations and my process with the grizzled ex-bartender that works at my local booze shop. He told me I'd never ever get there with the cheap bottle of vermouth I was using. And yeah, he was right.
Finding The Not-So-Secret Secrets To Your Podcasting Hump
So what's the lesson you can apply to your personal podcasting hump? Consuming more excellent podcast episodes probably won't do the trick. Ordering more eggplant, parmesan or drinking more quality Manhattans was never going to fix my issues because I didn't know what my issues were.
You can listen to as many excellent podcast episodes as you like, and you can bang your head in frustrations because you can't make episodes that sound that great, but that's not going to help fix your issue because you don't know what your issue is.
The solutions to my issues presented themselves when I finally asked for help. I stopped going through the motions—motions I'd gone through dozens or hundreds of times before—and I took stock of where I was. I recognized something was off in my process, then set out to finally find a solution to the humps I was encountering in the kitchen.
And that's what you need to do to get over your humps with your podcast. Stop going through the motions—motions you've gone through to make your episodes dozens or hundreds of times—and take stock. Recognize that something is off in your process, and go in search of a solution.
Maybe that means digging deep into podcast training courses, videos, books, or training materials produced by other podcasters who have found podcasting success where you are struggling. Perhaps it means seeking out advice from other podcasters who've mastered their craft.
But adjust your sites properly. You'll note I didn't ask for an audience with the top chef or the head mixologist at the Waldorf Astoria to fix my food and drink problem. Nor did I need to, really. I just needed to ask someone who was more capable and better than me.
I also didn't ask them for tips on becoming a great chef or bartender. That's way too broad and completely ignores my specific pain points. Instead, I was focused on those pain points and, at least in the case of the guy at the booze store, I engaged a person who knew more than me in a dialogue until a solution presented itself.
You can do the same to help you get over your podcasting humps. Podcast Movement, 2022 is coming up in Dallas later this month. If you are attending, you'll have ample time and opportunity to get one-on-one time with podcasters and producers whom you admire. You'll find most of them happy to sit down with you and share their secrets (that aren't secret).
Not going to PM22? The same goes for just about any podcast conference. If attending one is in your realm of possibility, I suggest you prioritize that and get it on your calendar.
Not that in person is the only way. You can get involved in the podcasting community via social media, various online forums, discord servers, or many other places. Be friendly, curious, and supportive. You'll find that many—if not most—podcasters are very willing to share tips and tricks with other podcasters just like you.
But be sure to ask about your personal podcasting humps. You may be pleasantly surprised by how willing they are to share a secret (that's not so secret) with you that might make all the difference in the world.
And if you see me at Podcast Movement 2022, please come over and say hello!
I shall be back next week with yet another Podcast Pontifications.