I'm making a Cardinal sin of podcasting today. I'm going to be talking to an audience other than my primary one. I follow many of the best practices I put forth on the show, so I know who I am for—the serious podcaster—and why they are here.
But I also know that many people who work in the business of podcasting either listen to my episodes, watch the videos, or read my words either on the site or in the newsletter. They too are who I a for. Some are the people at the top of the companies that make the podcast ecosystem happen. But plenty are in the middle layers of those organizations, helping keep the business of podcasting alive and well.
So bear with me while I deliver a pointed, actionable message to everyone who works in the business of podcasting. A message I'm confident my primary audience will back me on.
If you work in the business of podcasting, you need to be a podcaster.
Quite the controversial take, I know. That's why I'm dedicating an episode to make my case and hopefully push you in the right direction.
If you're feeling called out right now, relax. I'm not advocating for your immediate dismissal. Nor do I think your employment should be predicated on you starting and maintaining an active podcast. That is not my position at all.
Instead, my position is that you should want to have your own podcast, either a solo show or a group effort, because being a podcaster will make you better at your job. It will accelerate your career trajectory. It will increase your value, present and future, and it will make you all the more resilient and able to withstand the upheaval our industry faces every single day.
By becoming a person who works in the business of podcasting and is a podcaster, you'll gain a greater appreciation for the role you play in the podcast ecosystem at your job that no amount of training can ever provide.
By becoming a person who works in the business of podcasting and is a podcaster, you'll have more than just an appreciation of the effort it takes to put out a podcast; you'll gain empathy for the clients of your company who do. That empathy will lead to understanding, and understanding will make you more efficient and more effective because you'll know the crux points faced as a podcaster because you too faced them as a podcaster.
Just Start Podcasting
Let me be clear. I do not care what kind of podcast you make, where you decide to host the show, or with whom you opt to collaborate. I don't even care if you can grow the show past a few dozen listeners. You may care about some of those aspects depending on your own goals and objectives. But to reap the benefits I just spoke of, it's enough that you start just podcasting. And then keep podcasting, ideally.
Yes, it's OK to start on Anchor or some other free hosting platform. As you've heard me say and you likely know, it's easy to switch hosting companies. Though before you make your choice, be pragmatic. If your company has (or perhaps is) its own preferred podcast hosting provider, you'd probably be seen as a model employee if you used that same service for your new show. Likewise, if your company has an antagonistic relationship with a hosting company, that's probably one to avoid. Podcast hosting companies range in price from free to cheap, so don't let that stop you.
When you podcast—I mean going through the actual motions of making a podcast—I encourage you to do as much as you possibly can on your own. Yes, that's scary. And it's a lot. So I'm not going to fault you if you establish a team of people and handoff as much to others as you can. Podcasting has a lot of moving parts, so you're not going to grok the totality of it all if you only show up to talk to a microphone with your friends for 30 minutes and then bug out while they do all the work. But even that will give you some exposure to at least some of the process.
I encourage you to try your hand at everything. Even audio editing and engineering. Sure, it takes years to master, but that shouldn't stop you from learning by doing. Go ahead and use a free tool like GarageBand or Audacity. Or even Descript if you want. You don't have to use professional tools like Hindenburg Pro (my DAW of choice), Adobe Audition, or Pro Tools. And you'll learn so much about this industry just by editing audio, sweating over things like softening plosives, getting the EQ just right, and whether or not to leave in that sharp intake of breath. Riveting stuff. I know. But crucial to knowing what it is that we do in podcasting.
If you can, I encourage you to work up an episode outline. Go ahead and write up the episode details. Send the audio file off for transcription and then go through the process of correcting that transcription. I'd love to see you fretting over just the right episode title. Or using Canva or some other tool to make episode art. Research guests, invite the guest to a recording session, conduct the interview, and then pull the files down from that recording system. Try your hand at making social media assets, be those static images, audiograms, or even video clips. And then publish those assets to see what resonates. Yes, try to get more people to listen. Reach out to other podcasters for fun collaborations. Participate in podcast-related Twitter Spaces. Spend some time reading and answering newbie questions in online groups and forums places where newbie podcasters hang out.
All of that is valuable experience. What doesn't matter is whether or not your show ever becomes a "hit". That's not important to gain this experience. It doesn't matter if you're unable to attract advertisers or sponsors to your show. Nor do you have to vie for the biggest celebrity guest on your show.
All you have to do is learn what it truly means to make a podcast. I assure you that doing so will make you that much more valuable to the podcast-related company you work for today, as well as podcast-related companies you might work for tomorrow.
I shall be back next week with yet another Podcast Pontifications.