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12 Episodes In: What I’ve Learned About Creating a Podcast (So Far)

8 Dec

podcast desktop

When I was in Perth earlier this year, my friend Connie took me to Fremantle Markets, where I stumbled upon a stall of adorable illustrations called Little Sketchy. One of the drawings I bought is her character Mr. Hammy trying to grow a sweet potato, and it’s captioned, “hard work + persistence = Big Potato.”

I look at this drawing everyday for motivation as I continue working my way up the mountain called “Successful Podcast.” Alison and I are 12 episodes into the adventure we call “Olympic Fever“, and while it’s a complete blast of a project to work on, it’s a lot of work to build something from nothing.

We pride ourselves on creating good content that we’re releasing every week, but then we have to market the hell of out of it (with no budget). On top of that, we need to work on multiple episodes at once–booking guests, conducting interviews, cataloging and editing tape, putting stories together….it can be a little daunting sometimes, and I see why people throw in the towel after posting just a few episodes, if it’s something they’re doing on the side.

I thought I’d take a little time to talk about what we’ve been able to accomplish in the four or so months we’ve been working on this project, not only as a motivational tool for us–it’s always good to take a look back at what you’ve achieved–but perhaps also as help for anyone who’s thinking about doing a podcast of their own. So here’s a short list of smart things we’ve done.

  1. Take a class – One of the best things I’ve done is take a self-study class from MediaBistro (which sadly isn’t on their current lineup of classes). It gave me the background I needed to understand equipment, hosting, good artwork and marketing. The pace was good, and the info was exactly what I needed to get going quickly.
  2. Come up with a good format – As we were talking about how to do the show, Alison suggested we do more packaged stories, rather than just “yuk yukking” it, so we have an A story, chat/trivia time, and a B story/news wrap-up. To be honest, it’s a lot more work than just chit-chatting — we have to write scripts, conduct interviews, drop in audio clips, sometimes throw music underneath — and potentially takes a ton of time (don’t ask how long I stayed up to put together our A story for our pinhead episode, but I love the final product). In the end, it’s a good format for us. We keep the show a little more focused, and it’s nice to have the experience of putting together an audio story, which gives me cred if I want to pitch to another show.
  3. Take advantage of opportunities – Not long after we started taping, we were able to go to Olympin’s pin collector conference, which also led to USA Bobsled and Skeleton saying yes to setting up interviews with some great athletes, which led to Team USA letting us into a media event where we got to do a bunch more athlete interviews that (a) were great people to talk to (we’re looking forward to some upcoming shows), and (b) got us quality guests without a ton of legwork on our part. Our show would definitely not be as interesting if we didn’t get to talk to athletes and fans, and the kindness of a few people saying yes has really helped define expectations for what we produce.
  4. Get it done every week – I’m honestly proud of the fact that we’ve managed to post an episode every week for the last 12 weeks. A lot of weeks have been “just get it done” for me, so maybe the audio quality isn’t as great, or the episode is longer than ideal, but we’ve gotten it posted. And when we’ve needed a vacation, we’ve managed to tape additional episodes to give us a much-needed break.
  5. Have patience – I’ll be honest — it’s really hard to get listeners (where are you, potential fans?!), and it can be frustrating to look at our download statistics. We’re marketing as well as we can, but let’s face it — we can’t do all of the things all the time. We have other jobs and families and activities, so while we post on social media where we can and look for other ways to market ourselves, we try to keep it in stride with how it shakes out in the results. And we know that if we had better results, we could start commanding some advertising to pay for a project that can be pretty darned expensive. Downloads aren’t everything though — we’re also incrementally building our skills, getting better gear, building out a good calendar and creating an interesting tape library. Every week we have a great conversation and learn new things about a topic we love. It’s pretty sweet to be able to say that about a project, and ultimately, that’s the best kind of motivation to keep going.

Got a comment, question or similar experience/inspiration? I’d love to hear from you!

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