My title might be a little misleading, but I wanted to give everyone a little backstage access to our podcast this week. Working through the PCA transformation has reminded me how much I love podcasting and of my dream to turn podcasting into a legitimate business. I’ve been podcasting for eight years now and my biggest takeaway is PODCASTING EQUALS HARD WORK.
The first thing anyone told me when I started podcasting was “Podcasts don’t make money, only podcasts from famous people go anywhere.” Fast forward five years later and I think we’ve done a pretty good job. While we haven’t turned a profit yet, we had some of the best experiences anyone could ask for. After starting the podcast, we have traveled to conventions, Toy Fair New York, met some awesome people, and had a blast while doing it all.
Our team made it a priority to take this part-time gig and turn it into a day job. This is a very exciting opportunity for us, but it’s scary as well. I’ve always taken pride in my ability to manage risk but this feels like taking a significant leap of faith. I know we’ll do well, but more importantly, I can’t wait to show everyone what’s coming in the near future. So if you’re thinking about starting a podcast (like a few listeners have) take a moment and read this article.
Podcasting is Hard Work
Podcasting may not be physically demanding work (sometimes) but it’s very time-consuming. So, if you’re ready to start a podcast, be prepared for late-night writing sessions, recording, and editing, and learning more things about audio than you ever thought was possible. A single podcast release for the PCA consists of around two hours of writing, around an hour of recording, and 2 hours of editing and that’s four years after starting the podcast. Editing will take more time initially, but once you develop a rhythm and find your sound it decreases dramatically.
Authenticity Goes a Long Way
Authenticity is the first thing I look for and you can normally tell right away if someone is putting on a show. We all know the podcasts, YouTube channels, Twitch streams that are simply faking it. They say “fake it until you make it” and I also believe you must do this to a certain extent. Just don’t be overzealous in your attempts to relate to your audience.
I’ve seen this A LOT recently with the explosion in value throughout the Pokémon and Sportscard industry. People create channels, podcasts, and live streams dedicated to this content and they don’t even know the characters or player’s names. While I know you can’t be knowledgeable about everything you must know something about the content you cover. This can also be true in collectibles too. So many people claim to be veteran collectors when they aren’t.
Remember when starting a podcast your content should leverage your expertise on a certain topic. Listeners can always tell if you are truly passionate about something. It’s extremely easy to write, produce and record on topics you’re enthusiastic about. Our podcast often covers issues/topics where we aren’t experts. In those cases, we rely on friends, fans, or expert guests to enlighten our audience, but we only cover topics we are passionate about.
Niche is Always Better
One of the hardest lessons I learned early was how important it is to bound the scope of your podcast. I know many of us to have tons of ideas for a podcast, but this isn’t always a great idea. You can also be Niche in various ways from how the episodes are produced, the way you cover the content or even guests you bring on the show. Just know when you decide on a topic, stick to it and make sure everything supports that idea.
I’ve worked on eleven different podcasts since starting in 2012 and the best performers have always focused on a single item, issue, topic. Great examples are movies, collectibles, woodworking, finance, etc. I worked on a variety show where you didn’t know what we were going to talk about from week to week. It wasn’t a bad show, just had a difficult time building an audience because we hadn’t established ourselves in that market. In my opinion variety/comedy shows are the hardest to build an audience and are where celebrity really matters. I’m not saying it won’t work, but if you have zero name recognition, you’ll have a difficult time building the audience quickly.
Consistency is Key
I cringe when writing on this topic. Mainly because I know how bad the PCA is at consistency. I guess you could say we are consistently inconsistent, but it only means we are veterans at knowing how important it is. Our podcast would have grown so much larger if we could have decided and consistently delivered on a regular rhythm. Unfortunately, work and life got in the way, but shifting to full-time PCA will allow the flexibility we need.
Consistency level 9000 is key to maintaining an audience. It goes as far as scheduling your podcast release down to the minute. “Every Saturday at 9 AM we will release X.” Yes, that consistent. This relates best to television. Everyone loves knowing Game of Thrones or their other favorite show is releasing on a certain day. This is true for podcasts too. I’m upset when podcasts don’t release when they should (I know you laugh when you are reading this. I AM TOO) which is why I feel so bad when we miss the PCA schedule. Just learn from our mistakes and deliver on your show schedule. Just don’t over-commit to the content you will deliver.
Knowing your Limits
Podcasting takes a lot of commitment especially if you are working a full-time job and doing this as a hobby. Know what you are capable of committing to and develop your schedule based on those limitations. My advice is to start with a slow-release schedule (one or two episodes a month) and increase if you have time available. Taking on too much often burns us out and ultimately results in not delivering on commitments. That’s while the slower schedule is ideal early on while you are still learning about audio editing, recording, and writing. This allows the flexibility you’ll need to produce A+ content and your audience will respect that.
In closing, there are a million reasons for you not to start a podcast, but all you need is one to pull the trigger. Remember don’t wait! Don’t sit around making up excuses about why you can’t do something. I’m here if you need help. Also, if you are thinking about starting a podcast just let me know and sit in on one of our writing, recording, or editing sessions. Just know if you are passionate about something it will show. Be authentic, release content consistently, niche is always better, and never take on more than you can handle. You’ll be fine!