There are two ways to make a podcast: the easy way and the hard way. Most people who get into podcasting almost always start out with the easy way. Because why wouldn't you? If there's an easy way versus a hard way to do something for the very first time, why wouldn't you take the easy way?
It's pretty easy to make a podcast. And getting easier by the minute. Not necessarily better, but it’s a lot easier to make a podcast now than it was just a few years ago. That's the way it is with most things. It's easier to write a book today than it was 30 years ago. It's easier to get speaking engagements today than it was 30 years ago. Everything's easier because digital makes things easier.
With that easiness comes a false sense of expertise.
It’s very common for a new writer to, after cranking out their novel during NaNoWroMo in November and hastily publishing it the first week of December, have the notion that they are now qualified to teach people how to become a published author.
This same phenomenon occurred when with website “development” in the late ‘90s. As if figuring out how the <blink tag> worked made one into a web developer, ready to pass on their skills to other fledgling webmasters.
On one hand, that's fine. There are lots of people who don’t find that thing -- books, websites, or podcasting -- easy at all and fail to get past the hump. So getting access to people who have done it and are willing to help is great! I think the camaraderie that comes along with helping lift people to your level is a wonderful thing.
But I'm hoping that you're thinking about making podcasting better. And I’m not sure what I just described gets us to that goal.
If you’re still podcasting today the way you did when you stumbled into podcasting 10 years ago… there are probably better ways to podcast that you haven’t yet incorporated. If you yourself haven’t grown -- significantly -- in the process of podcasting, there are probably better ways of podcasting you haven’t explored.
Of course, things have gotten easier for you over that time, as you’ve refined the craft. But again, if you're cranking out the same type of content for your podcast you’ve always done, then you need to accept the fact that there’s more to podcasting than what you are doing.
So let's make the assumption, working podcaster, that you really do want to have a “how to podcast” training course or that you want to be the kind of person who plays a very active role in the podcast support forums, offering advice, maybe even soliciting some business. Great!
But rather than just go in with the one thing you know how to do, I suggest that you take it a step further. I want you to take the shows that you're working on right now and take them a step further. Even if you’re just a hobbyist and you only want to help or work for other hobbyists, I want you to take what you’re doing today a step further.
Specifically, I want you to work harder before you offer your advice or services to someone else.
In order for you to be a coach, consultant, or generally helpful person who also wants to make podcasting better, you first need to understand that there's more to podcasting than just the way that you do it. Even better, you need to understand how to make all sorts of podcasts.
Let’s assume that you, like most podcasters, have a straightforward interview show. It's you and a guest, and that's it. If you’ve been doing it for a while, you probably have a good routine down and can be in and out really quickly. Here’s your assignment: Take your next episode (or plan a future episode) and do something quite different. You can keep it interview-style, but perhaps make this episode a guided story that you help your interviewee tell. You take their answers to your questions and rearrange them, cutting out you asking the questions, and then write and record voiceover pieces to blend it all together. Maybe you rephrase some of their answers in your voiceover, so you can break the show down into smaller segments and elevate just the key moments. Or maybe you cut yourself out completely from the interview, letting the guest’s voice live on its own.
Can you make an episode that is both radically different from what you do yet also meets the needs of your audience? Trust me, they’ll let you experiment.
If you haven’t done it, you should try out the journalistic-style of storytelling, where you capture sounds or conversations naturally, then go back into the studio to put all of the good bits together in a nice, tightly edited package... that takes 15x the effort you currently put into an episode.
Yes, that does sound like hard work, doesn’t it? But doing so will allow you to learn much more about making a podcast. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to go outside of your comfort zone. But when you've done something that's a lot harder than the easy road you're currently taking, you see tremendous personal growth.
Maybe you’ll find the final product so compelling, it becomes its own show. Why not? You can have multiple shows as a podcaster. Doing something that different can be a lovely refresher to get you re-engaged with your show too.
But note: I’m not suggesting you just spend more time doing each of the steps of your current process. That’s not helpful. I'm talking about doing work that is radically different than what you're doing today. Doing that helps you be seen as a true expert because you’re more well-rounded.
I really believe that trying your hand at harder things is one of the best ways to grow. And it’s the only way to be worthy of having your own training course or developing a voice in the support forums that is worthy of listening to. Food for thought.
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See you tomorrow for another Podcast Pontifications.