Podcasting, while not for everyone, can be an outstanding platform to share your ideas and tell your stories.
Recent articles and commentary might indicate otherwise. There is a growing sentiment that there are too many podcasts, with the majority of them being of very poor quality.
That poor quality, some say, is often due to producers having the wrong motivations, serving their own goals rather than being focused on their audience. As a result, many podcasts don’t make it past the fifth episode.
There is some truth to all of that. However, I say so what?
If you think a podcast is the right strategic platform for you to get your ideas across, whether you’re a freelancer or a large company, you should do it.
Here are some pieces of advice I have, after my “long” (4 months so far!) tenure as a podcaster.
Have realistic expectations
Unless you hire a production company, your podcast simply isn't really going to be all that good at first. Your topics might not be all the way thought through and your production quality might not be all that great.
Also, you won't have much of an audience to start with. It takes months, if not as long as a year for you to get any kind of traction and build up an audience of any kind.
Expect that as part of the process. Explore, experiment and keep going. If you keep at it, it will get better. You'll build your audience. It might not be an audience of millions, but it will be an audience that's big enough for you.
And you'll get better at forming your ideas and shaping them and sharing your stories.
Focus on providing value
Often people and companies create content with the end goal of selling something or advancing their brand or having some sort of self interest in mind.
Their focus should be on their audience. According to Gary Vaynerchuk, providing value comes in two forms. Information and entertainment, or ideally maybe a combination of those two.
If you feel have you have some information or stories to share that will benefit your audience or your community in some way, you should share it.
But share it generously and freely and without expectation of any return. You need to focus on what your audience needs and what your audience finds interesting. And if you do that, the rewards will follow.
Focus on quality
A lot of people say that all you need to start a podcast is just an iPhone and an external microphone and maybe some simple software to do the editing and uploading.
And that's true. There's really nothing wrong with starting that way, especially if you're not sure that podcasting is the right approach for you.
But as you progress, I would suggest that you find ways to take the production value of your podcast up a notch or two gradually as you go.
There's nothing worse than bad audio. If you listen to a podcast where it's echoey or you can't hear it very well, it's really just un-listen-to-able and people are going to tune it out pretty quickly.
As you progress in developing your podcast, gradually build your studio and invest in better equipment to make your production values better.
Also work on your content. Listen to other podcasts and get inspiration and hear what they do well, and feel free to steal some and some ideas.
I know I did. There are several podcasts that I listened to that have inspired me and I bake a lot of their approaches into my approach.
Also, you can look for help. There are people with the technical knowledge to help you get off the ground and they can share with you the types of equipment you'll need and how you should approach it.
There are also people out there who have the knowledge of content and they can help you shape your ideas and edit your thoughts to make it more interesting to your audience.
If you want to start a podcast, start a podcast!
Don't let the naysayers deter you. You might find out that it's not for you and you might find out that audiences really just aren't that interested in what you have to share.
Or you might find that there's a better way or a different way to share your stories and your ideas and your expertise. Podcasts aren't the only medium out there. There are blogs and YouTube channels. Or you could do a newsletter or you could do a combination of several of those things.
Just start creating content. This goes for everyone, not just freelancers like me.
Companies large and small and other organizations, educational institutions, nonprofits and whatnot, need to embrace the spirit of creating and sharing.
You have stories to share. Lots of them. If you explore, and if you experiment, if you learn and grow with your content creation and storytelling, you'll eventually find that you're connecting with your audience on a human level.