Back in 2012, I was excited about a great “new” content format called – podcasting. I’d been listening to podcasts for a while and derived value and inspiration from them. It seemed a natural step for me to create my own.
But, what would I do the podcast on? Everyone was telling me to “niche down” and I’d always resisted it. I always prefer to keep my options open and write about as many topics as possible which runs contrary to all mainstream blogging advice. However, this time I “niched down” and created the podcast on designers who run their own business.
Well, I think the number of episodes got into double figures…
So, what went wrong?
Well, plenty, as it turns out. Here are some basic and embarrassing lessons learned.
Lack of episodes
If you’re starting a podcast, please, make sure you have at least 10-15 episodes up your sleeve. One of the reasons for my failure is that I simply ran out of people to interview.
Designers are a funny bunch. They don’t like to talk about themselves, they prefer to hide behind large iMacs and design until dawn breaks. I thought I had a lot of people to talk to, the problem was they didn’t want to talk to me.
When you’re launching a podcast, you have a period of eight weeks where you’re more visible on iTunes (on the New and Noteworthy section) so it makes sense to maximise this time in the spotlight by releasing as many episodes as possible.
You may want to do one episode a week after the initial rush but releasing 20 in the first eight weeks can do wonders for a nascent podcast.
Lesson learned: make sure you have the content.
Lack of time
Great podcasters make podcasting look easy. It isn’t. I certainly enjoyed talking to my guests but I didn’t enjoy the hours spent editing the audio or, even worse, sorting out the times to talk to these people.
It’s actually quite hard to get two entrepreneurs on the same Skype call when you’ve got different lifestyles, timetables and timezones to think about. And, people cancel. It’s time consuming.
Lesson learned: make sure you have the time, the flexibility and the tools to book multiple calls in a week.
Lack of interest
Well, for god’s sake, make your podcast interesting! I know this should go without saying but …
I didn’t want to make another “entrepreneurial podcast” but maybe I should have? There are so many entrepreneurial podcasts that I like, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to create another? Or maybe you should add a twist on a theme like my latest fave podcast Jonny Nastor’s Hack the Entrepreneur?
Whatever you do, don’t choose the “Design and Marketing Podcast” as a title. Because that stinks.
Lesson learned: make sure it’s general enough and specific enough to interest your community. How do you do this? ASK THEM!
Lack of passion
And, finally, the most embarrassing admission of them all. I didn’t lack passion helping people market their design businesses, trust me, I was passionate about that. However, I simply ran out of passion when the above issues manifested themselves. And, remember, your passion will always be tested.
Lesson learned: make sure your passion survives numerous challenges.
OK, so I maybe the worst podcaster in the world but, luckily for you, I’m connected to some of the best podcasters ever.
How to be a successful podcaster
Meron Bareket is a successful podcaster who runs Podcast Incubator and has a built up a remarkable family of podcasters that he’s helped. I asked his gang “what makes a successful podcast?” The answers are pure gold:
Have a USP
Give people a reason why they should listen to your podcast. “Talking to interesting people” isn’t enough. It needs to have a focussed reason for being – a Unique Selling Proposition.
“Tell your story and don’t worry about people loving you or hating you, only worry about not being boring” Jonny Nastor says. You should subscribe to his weekly musings.
Jonny Nastor again: “Creating a show that is congruent with the host is essential. Authenticity is so rare these days, yet it is something we as a society crave, so being real truly resonates with audiences.”
Have good sound
Create an avatar
This is something that Meron Bareket is very keen on and something that is recommended by John Lee Dumas and others. An avatar is an ideal audience member or customer. You are meant to write down an actual description of the avatar in terms of age, sex, occupation, location, financial situation, etc., which is supposed to focus a podcast or business.
To be honest, I’ve never found this useful. But other people do, and they’re people I respect, so I’ll put it here.
Maybe this should be the first commandment of content creation. It bears repeating: put episodes out regularly for a year or two before you can even call yourself a podcaster. And don’t expect to “have arrived” at that point either.
Put out quality
Michelle Y. Talbert from Her Power Hustle lays down the law: “Some folks take it lightly and just blabber on so their content is blah and not engaging. Not just boring but bad!”
She’s right. Don’t think it’s enough that you’re talking about a subject you like and that you’re talking to a great guest, make sure it’s quality as well. Every. Second.
“Look at it as a fun thing instead of something important that takes time, planning and quality effort – it can still be a lot of fun.” Great advice from Trevor LaRene of MakeYouSomedayToday. Yes, you have to do hard work but it can still be fun.
This maybe wraps all the above, from Bill Nowicki: “I love talking to interesting people. I think people sense that, and it helps build an audience.” Fun, passion, interest, USP … all rolled into one.
You can do it
I hope you enjoyed my warnings and encouragements. If you’re thinking of starting a podcast, please, don’t let my chasening experience put you off. You can do it. But, remember, you’re going to need a bucketload of passion for the topic.