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If you’ve thought about starting a podcast but haven’t yet, this episode is for you. I want to address some of the reasons and fears you might have that are keeping you from starting a podcast or any kind of creative output that can help you grow an audience and establish you as an authority in your field.

My goal is to break you out of the mindset that you might be in (the one that is keeping you from starting), and motivate you to start taking the steps towards launching your podcast.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • Start a podcast about whatever you are most passionate about. If you care about it, talk about it.
  • You won’t run out of topics. The longer you podcast, the more things you’ll find to talk about.
  • What community do you want to become a part of? What community are you already a part of, and do you want to become known as an expert?
  • You don’t have to understand everything about making audio sound good before you start. You don’t have to get editing right the first time.
  • Improve as you go. No one is going to kick you off the internet if you mess something up.
  • After you get over the initial learning curve, you will get faster. Like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
  • We all have an equal amount of time in the day. It’s up to us to decide how to use it.

Show Notes

  • 2:00 In my brainstorming and research for this episode, I went through my email archive, searched Google, and asked members in the Community what was keeping them from starting a podcast. Here’s the list of things I kept seeing pop up:
    7 Reasons People Don’t Start a Podcast:
    1. I’m not sure what to podcast about, or what topics I should cover.
    2. I don’t know anything about recording or editing audio.
    3. I don’t have enough money to buy good gear.
    4. It seems like so many people are already podcasting. Why would anyone care what I have to say, and how do I stand out?
    5. I don’t have the time.
    6. I’m not good at speaking.
    7. I don’t know anything about making a website or hosting.

1. I’m Not Sure What to Podcast About, or What Topics I Should Cover.

  • 3:05 I get this. I was asking myself this question for about a year before I finally started my podcast. I was worried that after a few months I would run out of things to talk about. I was also worried that the topics I covered wouldn’t be interesting to my audience (more on that later).
  • 3:30 I have a few questions for you to help to you figure out what you should be podcasting about. First, what are you passionate about? What do you spend most of your time thinking about? What are you constantly excited about learning about? What do you love spending your time on?

Start a podcast about whatever you are most passionate about. If you care about it, talk about it.

  • 3:53 There are so many examples of people make great podcasts that I could bring in, but I just want to mention a couple so you can see examples of people who have found success by podcasting about their passion.
  • 4:06 1. Chris Coyier has two podcasts; the Shoptalk Show and CodePen Radio. Both are focused around his passion, which is web design and development. He loves learning about web design, so he started the Shoptalk Show with another guy who loves web design, Dave Rupert. They talk about web design and interview people who love talking about web design. They invite their audience to ask questions about web design so they have more to talk about. This is one of the reasons their show is so successful: the hosts are passionate about web design and they’ve consistently shown up every week for the past three years to talk about what they love.
  • 4:52 2. Ryan Young (from the punk band Off With Their Heads) start a podcast called Anxious and Angry back in March of 2014 because he wanted to share his struggles with depression, anger, and the difficulties of being a independent touring musician. He’s obviously passionate about music, but like so many people (especially in punk rock, it seems), he struggles with self-destructive tendencies. So he talks about those things, and asks listeners to write in questions or share their struggles. He also interviews other musicians and highlights music from bands that he likes.
  • 5:37 3. Graham Cochrane from TheRecordingRevolution.com and Joe Gilder from HomeStudioCorner.com are both passionate about writing, recording, mixing and mastering music. They have created huge communities of people who share their passion because they share everything they learn and ask their audience what they’re struggling with.

You won’t run out of topics. The longer you podcast, the more things you’ll find to talk about.

  • 6:05 What I’ve realized in my short time of producing a podcast is that the more I do it, the more topics I find to share. I feel like after ten shows, I’m just starting to see the tip of the iceberg of the topics that I could do podcasts about. I believe there are two reasons for this:
  • 6:32 1. Since I’ve committed to producing a show every week, I’ve started capturing topics as I come across them. I’m following and listening to people who share my passion for podcasting to see what they’re talking about. I get inspiration from them, I learn from them, and then I share what I’ve learned in my own words; through the lens of my experience. I’m becoming part of the broader conversation about podcasting.
  • 7:01 2. As I produce more and more content, people are beginning to see me as an expert in this field and they’ve started asking me questions. This keeps me grounded and connected to what my audience is struggling with and what they’re interested in. I encourage this by asking for questions and feedback. I want to know what other people are thinking and what their opinions are about the things I share on my show.

What community do you want to become a part of? What community are you already a part of, and do you want to become known as an expert?

  • 7:43 If you start a podcast about whatever it is you’re passionate about, you’ll build relationships. You’ll make new friends. You’ll get new work opportunities. The same will be true for the people that become a part of your community through your podcast.

Who is Your Audience of One?

  • 8:00 I heard a question the other day that I really liked. Who is your audience of one? The idea is that you should create your podcast for one other person. Have a clear idea in your mind about who that person is, and what they are interested in. Chances are, if you are passionate about something there are plenty of other people out there who are equally passionate about it.
  • 8:45 My audience of one is someone interested in learning about podcasting. So I ask myself, if I was hanging out with someone who was interested in podcasting, what kinds of questions would they ask me? What would we talk about? What would they be interested in hearing me talk about?
  • 9:08 If you have a business, or if you’re some kind of professional or aspiring professional, what can you talk about that would help potential clients? What stories can you share? What could you teach someone who is brand new to the field? What could you teach or share with someone who is at or around your level of expertise?
  • 9:31 These are the things I keep in mind when preparing for my shows, and I think if you think about those questions, they’ll help you find and shape the message of your podcast.

Should I Create Content for Potential Clients or Other Professionals Who Share My Passion?

  • 9:43 Brent Galloway asked: With the content I produce, should I be concerned with it attracting two different audiences (other designers and potential clients)? Most of my content will be design oriented, but my site’s primary goal is to bring in client work.
  • 10:18 This is tricky; should you podcast or create content for the other people who share your passion or for potential clients?
  • 10:28 I think creating for the other people that share your passion will attract clients that want to work with people who are known for being an expert. If the client just skims your list of podcast or video titles and they see the wealth of knowledge you’ve shared, they will trust that you have experience, and they’ll feel confident that you are capable of solving their problems for them. This will help you attract the right kind of client as well; clients who want to hire you for your expertise and not because you’re the cheapest option.

2. I Don’t Know Anything About Recording or Editing Audio.

  • 11:28 I talk a lot about the importance of audio quality because I believe high-quality audio is one of the most overlooked factors in why some shows are more successful than others. I want you to have a successful show, and sounding great can help your show be successful and grow.
  • 11:47 What I don’t want is for you to wait to publish anything until you have the perfect setup and the perfect sound. You’re not ever going to get there. I know, because I’m already looking at upgrading microphones and I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my sound.

You don’t have to understand everything about making audio sound good before you start. You don’t have to get editing right the first time.

  • 13:02 I’m going to share a short story here about my drumming career, how I got started, and how it relates to podcasting. When I started playing drums at 12 years old, it was because I was intrigued by them. I wanted to learn how to play this instrument that had so many different pieces and sounds. I wanted to participate in a band; be the guy who held down the rhythm.
  • 13:20 There were so many things I didn’t know. I didn’t know any of the brands of the companies that made drums and cymbals. I didn’t know anything about how the size of the drums affected the way they sound. I didn’t understand or have much control over the dynamics of my playing. I certainly didn’t have any idea of how to make a living as a musician, but that didn’t keep me from getting started.
  • 13:43 The very first step was pick up the drumsticks. After that, I learned a few common rhythm patterns (called rudiments), then I sat down behind a drum set and I learned how to play a couple of basic rock beats. Eventually, I learned how to play entire songs. Fast forward 13 years and almost 10,000 hours later, and I was playing in front of hundreds of people, getting paid money to play drums.
  • 14:11 I’m telling you this because you have to take that first step if you want to get better. Then you have to take the next step, and the next step, and you have to keep taking steps.

What is the First Step in Starting a Podcast?

  • 14:23 You just have to choose a topic and talk about it. That’s all! That’s the 1 simple trick to becoming a podcaster! I want to talk about this thing, or I want to tell this story. People love stories. If you like having structure, write a short outline. Just a couple of bullet points or important things you want to remember to share.
  • 14:54 After you’ve decided on your topic or story, find a quiet room, pick up your iPhone (or whatever smart phone you have), open the voice recorder app, hold it a foot from your face (microphone pointed at you) and TALK. Talk for 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour; whatever you need, whatever you feel comfortable with. If you aren’t used to talking out loud to your phone, it might feel a little weird at first. It’ll get easier over time.
  • 15:21 Now send that audio file you recorded on your phone to your computer (trim the beginning and end if you want), add some tags to it with iTunes, create a jpg that is 1400×1400 and put some text on it (you know, the title of your podcast), setup an account on Simplecast, and boom. You’ve got a podcast. You are now on your way to becoming a professional podcaster. You’ve done it once, you can do it again.

3. I Don’t Have Enough Money to Buy Good Gear.

16:13 At some point, you might want to upgrade microphones. You’ll know when you’re ready, but you’ve created a podcast. Is it as high quality as what you could get with a $500 setup? No. You don’t need a $500 setup to be a podcaster. When I started playing drums, I had a pair of sticks and a little practice pad. After a year, my parents bought me a used $300 drum kit (it was crap). After ten years, I had upgraded to over $2000 worth of professional gear, but that professional gear wouldn’t have made me a better drummer in the beginning. I had to learn how to play drums before the gear even mattered. Professional gear will not make you a professional podcaster.

Improve as you go. No one is going to kick you off the internet if you mess something up.

  • 17:07 I’m giving you permission to not get everything perfect the first time, or even the first twenty times. I’m still improving my show. It’s a journey, not a pass/fail test. The important thing is to start and then keep going. If you care about getting better, you’ll find ways to improve and get better as you go.

4. It Seems Like so Many People are Already Podcasting. Why Would Anyone Care What I Have to Say, and How Do I Stand Out?

  • 17:38 “No one is going to care” is just an excuse we tell ourselves because we are afraid of rejection or not receiving attention. There are tons of people out there that need the knowledge you can share. Maybe you won’t start off with thousands of listeners, but everyone has to start somewhere. If you clearly define the “why” of your podcast, other people who share your interests will find you. This is the beauty of the internet.
  • 18:27 When you start, you might be podcasting to crickets. That’s ok. Keep going. Go out and find the questions that people in your audience are asking. Don’t have an audience yet? Think about what kind of people you want in your audience, and then find out what they’re asking.

5. I Don’t Have the Time.

  • 18:57 This is true for all of us especially if you are motivated, if you have a lot of projects and passions, if you have a family or a full time job. It’s hard to find time. It’s hard to make time, but that’s what you have to do.
  • 19:16 Eric Friedensohn said: The main thing that is keeping me from starting a podcast is that I can see how much work goes into making a good one, and it’s pretty daunting. Lately I have been sticking to mediums and platforms that are working for me, rather than jumping into a whole new world and adding that onto my weekly plate.
  • 19:39 Podcasting does take time, but there are different levels of commitment and how much time each episode will take you. One of the guys I mentioned earlier, Joe Gilder (who does the Home Studio Corner podcast), gives himself an hour to produce each episode. 45 minutes to prepare and record, and then 15 minutes to edit, write basic show notes and publish. I know he can do each episode in an hour because he has experience and has his workflow down, but it is possible to record and publish an episode in less than a couple hours.

After you get over the initial learning curve, you will get faster. Like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

  • 21:04 Charli Prangley said: What’s holding me back from starting a design blog (which I really want to do to start trying to get client work) is all my other projects I’m committed to and LOVE doing.
  • 21:25 I thought this was interesting, so I just wanted to bring up a few questions:
    • What if you could get better clients if you blogged consistently for a year?
    • What if you could work with people you look up to and respect?
    • Do you currently have any projects that you aren’t super stoked about?
    • Do you foresee yourself wanting to transition into something else later down the line?
  • 22:02 I’m not here to convince you to start a podcast or a blog. If what you are doing is working well for you, that’s fine. Keep doing it. If you have plenty of money but are short on time, you can hire people to help you with editing, show notes, and admin work. A lot of people hire podcast editors and assistants to help with their podcasts. They spend maybe an hour each week preparing for their show, then they record, and after that, they don’t have to do anything else. The show gets fixed up and published.

There’s no rule that says you have to record an hour long podcast and write 5,000 words of show notes.

  • 22:57 When you’re just starting out, it’s ok to limit your show to 15 minutes or less. As you get better and more experienced, you might find yourself wanting to do longer shows.

Podcasting is a Good Investment of Your Time

  • 23:08 I heard a great story recently on the Mac Power Users podcast. The author of a popular blog about Apple called Daring Fireball – John Gruber – described how he got a full time job from someone who was a reader of his site. So if I told you that if you invested an hour or two of your time every week to create a podcast it would eventually lead to better job opportunities or new clients, would you invest that time?
  • 24:02 Something else to consider: Are there things that you could give up to create time for podcasting? How much time are you spending browsing social media or Reddit? How much TV do you watch every week?

We all have an equal amount of time in the day. It’s up to us to decide how to use it.

6. I’m Not Good at Speaking.

  • 24:23 Community member Brent Galloway posted his first Youtube video today. We were talking about it in the Community chat earlier, and Sean McCabe said something to Brent that I thought was really profound, so I want to share it with you here. Sean said (to Brent): It’s crazy, you probably feel like you’re just sort of sticking your neck out there and you see all the things you need to improve and do better, but for every one Brent, there are 99 others who just sit back and passively listen. You are the 1% of people who are actually doing and you’re so far ahead.
  • 25:16 I know what it feels like to be dissatisfied with your voice. Recording a podcast is hard. You want to do a good job so you’re stressing about it. After you record, you listen back and you think, this is terrible. I can’t believe I messed up that word. I can’t believe I talked in monotone for 15 minutes.
  • 25:41 Sean is right. If we put ourselves out there, if we try, if we create stuff, there are going to be 100 other people that are going to consume what we make, but they aren’t going to be creating themselves because it is hard. It is a risk and it is scary putting yourself out there.
  • 25:59 If you feel like you aren’t a good speaker, I encourage you to go listen to episode 9 of this podcast, What If I Don’t Like My Voice? You find tons of useful information there. Also check out the work by Roger Love. He’s created a lot of great content about speaking publicly.

7. I Don’t Know Anything About Making a Website or Hosting.

  • 26:34 The good news is that you don’t have to have a full website to start a podcast. Simplecast is $12/month and will give you everything you need. No coding, graphic design or complicated setup required. There are also great solutions like Squarespace for creating a website that is easy to use.

Q&A:

  • 30:12 Garrett asks: I’m afraid (the thing I make) will take off (because it will) and then people will start looking into my history and they’ll find my high school livejournal that I can’t remember the password for.
  • 30:42 I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I think we all have those old embarrassing blogs. The good news is that most people are not going to care enough to go digging around in your past. If they do, it’s probably because they really like you and they want a deeper connection. They probably have old embarrassing blogs of their own. I wouldn’t worry about the tiny number of people that might go snooping around just to dig up dirt; those people are jerks and no one likes them anyways.
  • 31:13 Ben Toalson asks: I don’t have time to do a podcast AND a weekly blog AND a weekly newsletter AND a weekly vlog. What should I focus on?
  • 31:29 Ben, you are already doing three of those four things, which is more than what most people do. For those of you who don’t know who Ben Toalson is, he’s the co-host of the seanwes podcast, and he does a show with his wife called In the Boat With Ben (a podcast on balancing family life with a creative pursuit). He does a weekly podcast, but he also writes extensive show notes (what I would call a blog post), and sends those show notes out to an email list. That’s how we do things on the seanwes network. You can do something similar with your show. It is a lot of work, but it’s easier than producing three separate pieces of content every week (podcast, blog post, email newsletter). Start with writing, then repurpose that content for different mediums as much as possible.
  • 33:29 Sarah asked: My husband and I did about 30 episodes of our podcast but now it’s at a standstill (because of me). Not sure if I want to continue with it. Not really gaining traction (that I know of) and also I’m not sure what I’m trying to get out of it. I think he was more into it than I was. How long should it take to start receiving feedback, comments and a little more traffic from a podcast if done regularly?
  • 34:06 If you create a show that isn’t gaining traction or resonating with anyone, I would take a hard look at the content. Are you addressing topics that your audience are interested in? Are you asking for feedback and questions? Are you having conversations with people about the topics?
  • 34:29 Regularly producing a podcast isn’t good enough if you aren’t creating content that resonates with people. If your podcast is extremely niche, there may not be that many people who share your passion and are also interested in listening to your podcast.
  • 34:47 You should also take a close look at audio quality and SEO. If you have a podcast and you’re doing a good job with your titles (they should be something your audience would want to click on), but you aren’t writing much in terms of show notes, you’re missing out on organic search engine traffic. I’d recommend checking out episode 5, How to Supercharge Your Podcast and Increase Its Value With Writing. There’s a lot of good advice in there about why show notes are important, and how you can create them.
  • 36:13 Let’s talk audio quality for a minute. Some listeners have a higher tolerance for poor audio quality than others. If you are recording with an iPhone or a built-in laptop microphone, you may lose listeners because your audio quality isn’t great. Most of those listeners probably won’t let you know, either. They are just going to turn off your podcast and forget about you. There are too many other podcasts out there with great content and great sound quality. You don’t have to have a super-expensive mic, a professional recording studio, or an audio engineer to mix your show, but you need to have a decent mic and know how to record at proper gain levels and do the basics of post-production (editing, mixing, noise removal, etc).
  • 37:57 Satvik asks: My clients are pretty specific: CEOs of growing startups with complex accounting needs. How do I figure out the best way to reach them? Should I focus on podcasts, blog posts, videos or referrals?
  • 38:22 First, word of mouth referrals are the best way to get new clients. Having your client’s friends recommend you is really powerful. As far as content goes, start by identifying what your clients are interesting in learning about. What problems are they having? What are they struggling with? What do they want to learn about? Can you create content that gives them some new insight or shows them how you solved a problem?
  • 38:57 Start with writing. Write a blog post about how you solved a problem for one of your clients. Write as many of those blog posts as you can, because that will attract clients that are searching online for those answers. Turn those posts into podcasts and then video.