You’ve been thinking about doing it for a while. Now’s the time.
I always wanted to start a podcast but I convinced myself I didn’t have the time. This went on for months, maybe even years. What will I talk about? Does anyone truly care about what I have to say? How much time do I need to commit to said podcast? Then the pandemic enveloped us, time stood still and frankly, the lame excuses ran out.
When I finally decided to get started on my podcast I had only two goals — produce one 15-minute episode per week and don’t obsess over how many people are (or aren’t) listening. That was it. I wanted to make sure that I had attainable goals and that I wouldn’t give up because of unrealistic expectations.
Let me be clear, The Journey with Jon Schaeffer isn’t an overnight success story. I’m not even sure if my podcast would be considered successful at all. But with that being said, I have managed to produce 11 episodes in the first three months (not exactly one per week but who’s counting?). I’ve also developed a loyal, albeit small, audience that has slowly grown with each passing episode.
The premise of my podcast centers around the stories from my two-decade long career as a play-by-play sportscaster and sports talk host. Think the cult-hit Brockmire but with a robust dose of realism. I’ll be honest — it’s for a niche audience. Maybe very niche. The topics in my first few episodes have ranged from the practical (like how does a baseball broadcaster know what pitch is being thrown by a pitcher?) to the absurd (like the time that a real-life bat flew into my broadcast booth during a game). I consider myself a realist — my podcast will likely never be a trending topic on Twitter but I promised myself that I wouldn’t obsess over the numbers, remember?
So how do you get started on a podcast? The same way you begin preparing to write an article — by brainstorming a good idea and designing a strategy to successfully convey that idea. Assuming you have a Smartphone (and I know you do), you literally need nothing else to start your very-own podcast. I won’t get into the technical aspects of recording (because there are literally hundreds or maybe thousands of those articles on the web if you’re interested) but trust me when I tell you that it’s not that hard. In fact, I find it easy to produce and I’m not a super-technical guy. Put it this way — it takes me less time to write, record and post a podcast digitally than it does for me to write a typical 1,000 word Medium article.
So what’s my advice for aspiring first-time podcasters?
1.) Don’t be afraid to fail. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? Seriously. You’ll waste your time? The rewards of creating content and developing a new avenue ofpersonal expression far outweighs any potential downside, right?
2.) Be authentic. One of the hardest things to convey to broadcasting and podcasting newbies is that the best thing they can do is be their authentic, true self on their podcasts. Trust me, it’s easier said than done. Obsessing over how you sound or if you say “um” too much is entirely unproductive. In my experience, creators areFAR more critical than listeners. Take a deep breathe and just be YOU.
3.) Practice. Before you hit record, make sure to review your script at least a couple of times. And then maybe a couple more. For every 15 minute podcast, you should be prepping for at least twice that amount of time. And by the way, I don’t write out my script verbatim — I personally feel as if that sounds forced to the listener. I just prepare detailed bullet points and expound on those topics during the live recording. This can be an acquired skill for some, but give it a try and I think you’ll find it’s not as complicated as it seems. If you don’t like how it sounds, just record again but don’t obsess over making it perfect. The truth is there’s no such thing as a perfect podcast episode.
4.) Don’t worry about finding the perfect topic. It doesn’t have to be the greatest theme or idea in the history of mankind. Simply explore something that you either have an interest in or a passion for. Whatever it is, make sure the topic is at least broad enough that it could be discussed in more than just one or two episodes.
5.) Don’t sweat the small things. If you worry about the process as opposed to the end result you’ll continue to improve your craft. Once you have a level of comfort and familiarity with podcasting, you’ll have the opportunity to grow your brand (but that’s for another article).
6.) Set realistic goals. If you obsess over the listens and the downloads, especially in the early months, you’ll lose sight of the task at hand; to improve from week to week and episode to episode.
Just remember, a podcast is a passion project not a money-making scheme for 99% of creators. Don’t get discouraged, play the long game with realistic goals and watch your project grow.
Now’s the time. So what are you waiting for?