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Q: Is it ok to start a podcast just for fun?

Yes, of course. It’s ok to do anything for fun. What’s important is knowing why you’re doing something and what you hope to get out of it.

I suspect that many people who say they want to start a podcast “just for fun” are just using “fun” as an excuse to avoid doing the parts of podcast that they consider work, like preparation, detailed editing, show notes, and so on.

Those things aren’t necessarily fun, but they are essential if you’re interested in growing an audience. If you want more people to listen to your podcast, you have to prepare. You have to have good sound quality and you have to write show notes so that new people will find your show through Google, subscribe to it, and share it with their friends.

Do you want to grow an audience? Do you care about getting new listeners?

If the answer to this question is no, you don’t need to listen to the rest of this episode. Go make your podcast. Have fun! Do whatever you want, have a good time with it.

If the answer to the question is yes, then you need to listen to this episode.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • Focus on the journey and the small rewards that come from making incremental progress, not the outcome at the end. The journey is the reward.
  • Some aspects of podcasting are fun, but some aren’t (think post-production). If you want a successful podcast, you have to get through the parts that feel like work.
  • Why should someone invest their time to listen to your show? Everyone asks that question before they hit play on a podcast; make sure you have a good answer.

Show Notes

  • 2:40 A Community member asked me, “Do I need to have business for my podcast? Or is it ok to podcast just for fun?”
  • 3:06 It really depends on if you care about growing an audience or if you want to make money with podcasting sometime in the future.
  • 3:10 Podcasting is not cheap to start. You’ll have to invest money in gear, and there’s also reoccurring monthly hosting (usually between $10-20/month). It’s also a time investment; even a simple show can take hours per episode to produce.

What is Fun?

  • 3:28 The dictionary defines fun as:
    • Something that provides mirth or amusement
    • Enjoyment or playfulness.
    • Behavior or an activity that is intended purely for amusement and should not be interpreted as having serious or malicious purposes
  • 3:59 So why don’t I talk about podcasting for fun more often? Mainly because if you’re doing something for fun, there shouldn’t be rules. You don’t need to listen to me, just do whatever is enjoyable for you.
  • 4:14 The main reason I listen to podcasts is to learn. 90% of the podcasts I listen to are for learning, and 10% for fun or entertainment. My focus has always been helping people make better podcasts, which is why I talk about things like audio quality and preparation so much.
  • 4:42 My secondary goal is to help you help other people with your podcast and grow an audience through relationship marketing that will help support you doing what you love, whether that’s graphic design, programming, art, music, hand-lettering, audio engineering, or whatever.

What Does It Mean to Do Something Just for Fun?

  • 4:59 Many people play music just for fun. Some of these people want to make it their life (do it professionally), and in order to do that, they have to find some way to make money with it. Podcasting works the same way; many people want to make money by podcasting. It’s hard to make a full-time living through podcasting, although it’s certainly possible. At the very least, a carefully planned and executed podcast can help augment your income.
  • 5:27 As I was working through the outline for this episode, I realized something. I’ve not terribly interested in fun. I don’t do most things strictly for fun or amusement, at least not anymore. Somewhere along the line, I became a fairly serious, objective-oriented person. I do things because I’m looking for a certain outcome.

Why Don’t I Care About Fun Anymore?

  • 5:52 Just because I don’t do most things for fun doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy what I do, or that I don’t do things just for amusement. It’s just that I enjoy doing things that are challenging and involve some kind of creative process (writing, making music, podcasting, screencasting).
  • 6:17 The things that keep my attention tend to be challenging and ultimately rewarding and enjoyable.
  • 6:27 Maybe it has something to do with the cancer scare I had back in 2010. A tumor grew in my leg, I had surgery and I’m fine now, but it really changed my whole outlook on life. I realized that my time here on earth is finite. Someday my life is going to come to an end. I want to use the time I have left wisely and accomplish goals I set for myself and do the things that I find most satisfying and rewarding.

Focus on the journey and the small rewards that come from making incremental progress, not the outcome at the end. The journey is the reward.

What Makes Podcasting Fun for Me?

  • 7:04 My favorite things about podcasting (the fun parts) are:
    • Learning new things and sharing them on my show
    • Interviewing people and hearing their stories
    • Hearing from people (like you) who like the show
    • Positive iTunes reviews
    • Making new friends
    • Helping people make better podcasts

What Parts of Podcasting Are Not Fun, But Still Rewarding?

  • 7:51 There are parts of podcasting that aren’t fun, but they still end up being rewarding:
    • Hours of writing every week
    • Post production
    • Show notes
    • Admin work
  • 8:02 These things take up a lot of time, and even though they aren’t “fun”, I’m still happy to do them every week because they help other people and they are assets that will be around for a very long time. They are proof of my knowledge and mastery of a subject (almost like trophies).

Some aspects of podcasting are fun, but some aren’t (think post-production). If you want a successful podcast, you have to get through the parts that feel like work.

What Are Your Expectations?

  • 8:27 Not everything about podcasting is fun. It comes down to your goals and your expectations.
  • 8:38 If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, do you really think it’s all going to be fun, or are you just trying to avoid setting goals or expectations for yourself?
  • 8:48 So many people do things without settings goals because then if nothing ever happens, it’s not a disappointment.
  • 9:00 The problem comes if you actually do have expectations but you aren’t being honest with yourself about them. You say you want to do a podcast for fun but you’re secretly hoping that someday you’ll get enough listeners to someday sell ads. Well now you aren’t really doing a podcast “just for fun”, you’ve got a half-baked goal for yourself. If you don’t see audience growth, then your expectations aren’t being met and you might start feeling frustrated (which takes the fun out of it).

The Problem with Podcasting Just for Fun

  • 9:24 A podcast might sound like fun, but it’s actually quite a bit of work to sustain. If you think that podcasting is just showing up and talking with a friend for an hour every week, eventually you’ll run out of things to talk about. Chances are that your audience isn’t going to grow, especially if there isn’t a pre-defined point to your show.

Are There Successful Podcasts That Don’t Have a Theme?

  • 9:53 I came across a thread in the podcasting subreddit that had some interesting points in it that I think are relevant for this topic. Someone asked, “Does anyone really enjoy listening to podcasts with no theme?”
  • 10:53 This response in particular caught my attention: “People will happily listen to people they already like talk about whatever for an hour, or people they don’t know telling them about interesting things. But when you don’t have either – when you’ve just got a room full of nobodies talking about random junk and not providing any particular insight – then it’s an uphill struggle to get anyone to listen.”
  • 11:34 It’s ok to do a show without a theme if you don’t really care about having an audience.
  • 11:41 People generally either want to listen to a show with a theme that aligns with their interests, or a show with really engaging or entertaining hosts. The shows that do the best have both.
  • 12:03 So ask yourself this: If you do a podcast just for fun, and no one ever listens to it, will you keep doing it? Be honest.

What Expectations Are You Setting for Your Audience?

  • 12:33 Are you going to tell them you’ll quit at anytime if you don’t feel like it’s fun anymore?
  • 12:47 What happens when your co-host stops having fun?
  • 13:11 Do you want people to listen? Do you really want people to listen? Then you need to think about why they would listen to you.

Why should someone invest their time to listen to your show? Everyone asks that question before they hit play on a podcast; make sure you have a good answer.

Even Comedians Work

  • 13:47 I’m not a comedian, and I don’t have any close friends who do it professionally, but I do know that the people who do comedy professionally work very hard at it. It’s their passion. They live and breath it. They take it seriously. That’s kind of funny, isn’t it? They are people who work to make other people laugh.
  • 14:33 The best comedians approach comedy as a craft. It’s something they strive to get better at. They are intentional with their approach to getting better at their craft.
  • 14:42 I’d bet that for every comedian that was born naturally funny and became successful without trying (if there even exists such a person), there are 100 comedians who worked hard their entire life to become successful and make a living telling jokes and making people laugh.
  • 15:04 You might think that people who are professional comedians and musicians are just having fun because they have fun on stage, it looks like what they do is easy to them. They just show up and have a good time and everyone loves it. Fun, right?
  • 15:19 What you’re not seeing are the thousands of hours of practice they put in before you heard of them. You don’t see the sacrifices and the nights and weekends that they poured their heart and soul into what they were doing to get better at it. You’re seeing the results, not the work.

Recap:

  • 15:42 If you want to do a podcast just for your own fun and enjoyment, go for it. Just don’t expect to grow an audience or make any money from it. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but don’t feel entitled to an audience or income.
  • 15:58 The world really doesn’t need or want another podcast where two people record aimless conversations about whatever they feel like talking about every week. You can do that in your own time, don’t make it a podcast unless you’re considering why someone else would be interested in listening to it.
  • 16:20 Podcasting can and should be fun, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take time and effort and yes, work.
  • 16:30 Think about your long term goals and expectations before starting a podcast. Write them down, then figure out what you need to do to accomplish those goals.

Q&A:

  • 19:14 Felippe asked: How committed you should be when podcasting for fun?
  • 19:28 It comes down to your goals. If you just want to do it because it’s fun, great. If you set goals for yourself, however, you need to think about what you need to do to achieve those goals.
  • 19:56 Let’s take showing up consistently for example. People like to know that there’s going to be a new episode every week, sure. So it’s important for your audience, yes, but it’s almost more important for you. If you’re podcasting just for fun, what happens when your schedule gets busy and it doesn’t feel like fun anymore? You’ll stop doing it. Having pre-defined reasons to podcast (other than just fun) can be great motivation to keep showing up even when you don’t feel like it.