During my short convalescence over the weekend (bacterial issue, not viral), I came across this line in a book: “‘What am I doing with my life?’, he said. ‘What is my life doing with me?’”
Perhaps due to my concerningly high fever, my brain compelled me to swap out the word “life” and replace it with the word “podcast”, and then re-read that sentence over and over again.
The question of “What am I doing with my podcast?” can be restated myriad ways, and the podosphere is lousy material covering that angle, from how to get started podcasting to how to make a better podcast.
Much less time has been spent contemplating the last half, which I’ll rephrase slightly: What is your podcast doing to you?
Having A Podcast Changes You
Being a podcaster changes you. It’s certainly changed me. I’d go so far as to say every podcast I’ve been the host or co-host of has changed me. And while there might be exceptions to the rule, I think most podcasters, if they’re being honest with themselves, will agree with that statement. That, or they’re brand new and haven’t yet noticed the effect.
The changes podcasting has on you come in many forms, but the important ones can be categorized into the following:
1. Resource Allocation
It takes two types of resources to make a podcast: time and money. And both of those are in balance with one another. Those podcasters short on time can spend money to reduce their time commitment by outsourcing tasks like writing episode details, engineering or mastering episodes, and much more. This obviously necessitates a surplus of discretionary income and often leads to doing silly things like buying 15 different types of microphones but really only ever using one. Apropos of nothing. Podcasters with deeper pockets also find it much easier to pay the fees to attend podcasting conferences, like Podcast Movement Virtual happening right now.
Of course, none of those expenses would be there if you didn’t have a podcast, which means having a podcast has changed you.
There’s a more frugal path that many podcasters follow, but that takes more time. Every task you don’t outsource is one you have to do on your own. That takes time to execute as well as time to build the skills necessary to perform said task. You’re less likely to splurge on a brand new piece of kit just because it looks cool. Instead, you research the best way to squeeze out every drop of value from your existing stack. And if you can’t justify the expenses associated with a conference, you know you can follow the presenters you were interested in, as they’ll likely share their information (if not the actual presentations themselves) on their site, show, or social properties not long after the conference is over.
All of that is time away from the other things in your life. Time you would not have to spend if you didn’t have a podcast. So again, podcasting changes you.
Both money and time are scarce resources. You’re limited to the funds available to you, so every dollar or dime spent on your show is a dollar or dime you don’t spend on or save for some other aspect of your life. You’re limited to the same 24 hours as the rest of us, so every hour or minute you spend on your podcast is an hour or a minute you don’t spend with friends, family, or doing literally anything else.
Not that any of that is a bad thing. It’s just a thing. And the things you choose to spend your time and your money on changes you.
2. Personally and Personality
Most of us working podcasters would agree that podcasting is one of the most authentic mediums of communication. Even those of us who crinkle our noses at the oft-abused word “authentic” in that statement.
Generally speaking we podcasters are speaking our true and authentic selves when we podcast. (Though I can give several examples - and have lived one example - of podcasters who podcast with very a different personality than their real one. But that, of course, changes one too.) Even for podcasters who “amp up” their personality when they get behind the mic, they still try to true to themselves.
But still... just the process of having a podcast and knowing your voice will be heard by other people will affect your personality. The change might be subtle. The change might be great. But it’s present.
And sometimes that new personality or persona you adopt when you get behind the microphone starts to leak out into the real world. Does that work for you? Do you like the changes you notice when you’re not behind the microphone? Do the other people in your life like the person you’ve become now that you’re a podcaster?
I’m not making a judgment call here. I’m not advocating that you should be the person you were before you started podcasting. Nor am I suggesting the changes your podcast has over you are always positive. Introvert or extrovert, high-energy or low-energy… these changes aren’t easily classified into Good vs Bad. But these changes will happen. And are happening. To you.
Wrestling Back Control From Our Podcast
While the changes your podcast has on you aren’t necessarily bad things, they oftentimes feel that way simply because we, the podcaster, feel like we’re out of control. And we’re not in control then how can our podcast be successful?
As with anything, to be successful at podcasting requires making sacrifices, changes, and compromises. We know that in order to get more of X (where X is more listeners, more sponsors, advertising dollars, more connections, etc), our podcaster persona needs to do things differently than the person we were before we started podcasting would have done. Again: sacrifices, changes, compromises.
The first step toward wrestling back the control your podcast exerts on you is recognizing that it’s happening. The second step is making sure you’re OK with those changes.
Start by spending some serious contemplative time with yourself analyzing the “you” you’ve become since establishing yourself behind the microphone. Think about who you are now and compare it to who you were before.
If that’s hard (and that’s hard), pay attention to who you are before your next recording session, who you are during the recording session, and who you are after. Was there a marked change between those states? Did it take you time to “amp up”? And did it take you some time to “come down” after?
You may need to get opinions from the people closest to you who aren’t involved with your podcast. Your friends, family, and others in your life who probably don’t listen to your podcast but know you have one. If you approach them from a neutral angle, like “Have you noticed a change in me since I started my podcast back in [rough time frame]?”, you’ll probably get a much more honest answer than if you colored your question with positive or negative biases.
You might be surprised by their answers. They might say that since you started podcasting they now see you in a more positive light. Or they might gently (?) point out some shortfalls or problems they’ve noticed, now that you’ve mentioned it.
Good changes or bad, the time to take control and become in charge of your podcast is now. Before your podcast takes control over you.
We’re less than two weeks before I take Evo’s Long Winter's Nap. That’s the cute (?) name I’ve given my two-month hiatus from producing new episodes of Podcast Pontifications for the rest of the year. But as I did in 2019, I’m opening the platform to other working podcasters who’d like to use this platform to pontificate on their own. If you’ve something you’d like to share with the class, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you the easy details of how to make that happen.
If you'd like the things I have to say and want to support me even during my coming downtime please go to BuyMeACoffee.com/EvoTerra.
And please tell another working podcaster about Podcast Pontifications. Perhaps you know of someone seeing a positive or negative change in their life since they've started podcasting. They need to hear this episode or read this article. So send them the link along with a personal note from you explaining why they should listen or read it. The only way this show grows is when other podcasters like yourself share it.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.