#150: What to Consider Before You Start a Podcast

Podcast news: After much deliberation, I’m changing the schedule of Deliberate Freelancer slightly. We will stick to weekly Thursday episodes, and the episode format will remain the same. However, I will now publish in two big seasons, with breaks in between. So, after December 22, 2022, the podcast will go on hiatus until February. Then, the schedule will resume through May.

I will take a summer hiatus, likely June through August, then return for the fall season. I will take another break next year likely similar to this year’s: Christmas through January. 

The Deliberate Freelancer Facebook group will remain active during these breaks, so be sure to join us there. And you can also continue to listen to Melanie talk with others about building a successful freelance business on other podcasts she’s been a guest on. You can access those episodes on the Deliberate Freelancer website

Bookworm alert! Next week’s final episode of the year will be my annual book episode, where I share my favorite books of 2022, disappointing books, books I hated and my most anticipated books coming out in 2023. Tune in December 22! 

In today’s episode, I talk about how you can start your own podcast — what you should think about, how much work it entails, how to think about structure and format and some of the technical things you need to know. 

Podcasts are still booming! Here are some stats for you: 

  • 41% of the U.S. population 12 and older have listened to at least one podcast in the last month. That’s nearly half the country.
  • That actually increased in 2020 and again 2021, during the pandemic — even though people lost their prime podcast commuting time. 
  • In 2020, 24% of the U.S. population said they listen to a podcast every week. In early 2021, that had already increased to 28% — or about 80 million people! 
  • Podcasting has gotten more diverse. What started out as primarily a white boys’ club now has a monthly audience that is 43% non-white. Podcast creators have also become way more diverse. 

Podfade: the tendency to start a podcast but quickly stop recording after only a few shows because of the time and effort it takes. The vast majority of shows don’t make it to 20 episodes. 

My podcast 3 C’s are consistency, content and clarity. 

Consistency: Whether you’re weekly, every other week or monthly, you need to be consistent. Your audience can’t stick with you if you’re putting out episodes on a whim. You need to pick a day and stick to it. 

Content: This might sound obvious, but pick a topic you love. Don’t pick a topic based on the market or what you think might be successful. This is a subject you are going to need to talk about a lot so you better like it. 

Clarity: Be clear on why you are starting a podcast. It shouldn’t be for the money because very few people make a living solely off podcasting. And it can take a long time to make enough money to have podcasting replace even one good client.

So, why do you want to start a podcast? What is its purpose? Who is its audience? 

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned along the way:

Lesson #1: Don’t wait. 

You have to just get in there and do it or you’ll never start. The beauty of podcasting is you can grow and learn and get better along the way. But you have to dive in. 

Set a realistic launch date to hold yourself accountable and then work backward from there to create your to-do list and deadlines. 

You’ll need to consider your podcast name, music, podcast logo and a podcast hosting site. 

Lesson #2: Get help if you can. 

Hire someone to help you launch or to teach you audio editing. Or, hire an audio editing company or freelance editor. 

Consider hiring a virtual assistant to help with aspects of your podcast. They can help with scheduling guests, writing show notes, uploading to your website and podcast hosting site, and creating and scheduling your social media promos. You can even hire someone who specializes in podcasting and use them only to help you launch. 

Lesson #3: Focus on sound quality. 

People will turn off a podcast whose topic is perfect for them if the sound quality is poor. So make sure you invest in a good microphone, headphones and audio editor or learn editing yourself. (Audacity is free easy-to-learn editing online software you can use to record and edit.)

Lesson #4: Create a social media strategy for your launch and for each episode.

Lesson #5: Embrace your voice.

Stop criticizing your voice. You do not have to have radio voice. In fact, it helps if you don’t. Women especially, stop channeling sexism stop saying “I hate the sound of my voice.” 

I launched a second podcast, Association Station in June 2022 and used lessons I learned from Deliberate Freelancer to make the process easier. 

Association Station is marketing and brand awareness for my client base. It’s an interview show with membership association leaders about content, publications and media. That shows my expertise and expands my network in the association industry, where my clients are. 

One lesson is that I made every episode a guest episode. It takes about the same amount of work for me to do a guest episode as it does to script out and create a solo episode. However, it’s a different type of work. I have to research and find guests and schedule and record interviews. But I don’t have to create an episode from scratch on my own, which takes more time and creativity. 

I also pared down my show notes. Deliberate Freelancer show notes are often written like blog posts. For Association Station, I just include the guest bio at the top and then list out bullet points of topics or themes we discussed. 

Association Station is a seasonal podcast. I knew it wouldn’t be sustainable to do it every week and I wasn’t interested in even doing it every month. So, I created a nine-episode season and launched it right before a membership association conference so I could promote it there. I’m hoping to have a second season sometime in early 2023. 

Biz Bite: Notice something delightful every day. 

Dr. Laurie Santos

The One You Feed podcast

The Book of Delights” by Ross Gay

The Bookshelf: The Book of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henríquez


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