At this time, there are more than 700,000 active podcasts, according to 2019 Podcast Insights, which does beg the question: “Why would I – in an oversaturated marketplace – go to a workshop to learn how to podcast?”
Is it the possibility of turning it into a side hustle, and supplementing my income with donations from a loyal fanbase? Is it getting noticed specifically for my voice in a medium that isn’t full of gatekeepers?
I mean, that would be nice, but the majority of podcasters don’t make money. In fact, the average podcast lasts only about five episodes, according to writer and podcaster James Stegall, who spoke at the workshop I attended.
So, again, why am I interested in trying to give this a shot?
The real answer, I suppose, is: Why not?
I was late to the podcasting party. I prefer reading the news to listening to the radio, and the medium didn’t immediately jump out at me. It was when I was commuting to Salem for an internship over the summer two years ago that I listened to my first podcast: My Favorite Murder. A true crime, comedy podcast with a cult following, MFM opened the doors for me. While I still listen to a lot of true crime and supernatural podcasts (And That’s Why We Drink), I also listen to a lot of celebrity comedy podcasts (How Did This Get Made and Why Won’t You Date Me), pop culture podcasts (Keep it), readings of “bad” self-published books (My Dad Wrote a Porno) and one that does a deep dive into romantic comedies (Romcomoisseurs).
With more than 700,000 available, there is a podcast for every niche hobby or interest, and everyone brings something new to the table. Along with the opportunity to try a new, challenging way of storytelling, podcasting is a new way to think about producing content. It also allows the freedom to focus on something as specific as Ru Paul’s Drag Race to something as expansive as U.S. politics.
For me, podcasting could be something I incorporate into my freelance world, doing interviews with other journalists and writers, but it could also be something I do just for me. A friend and I have been considering starting one where we drink wine and read fiction stories we wrote in high school.
Is anyone besides family and close friends (if that) going to listen to either? Honestly, probably not. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I shouldn’t do it, or that anyone who wants to start a podcast shouldn’t – even if there aren’t any sponsorships or revenue tied to them.
There was an eye-opening editorial by Molly Conway called “The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles,” which talked about the pressure creative people have in turning something they enjoy into a business, and the toll that can take on individuals. As someone who has turned my hobby and passion of writing into a full-time career (and love it), it can make it difficult to write for “fun.” This is actually something I’ve been working on bringing back into my life, and podcasting is another way to do that.
Whether it’s something I choose to add to my business brand or something I do just for me, this workshop showed me that while it’s easy to get into the game, there has to be that drive to explore and have fun to make it rewarding – even if it’s not financially. So, yes, as the number of active podcasts continue to grow, know that one among those 700,000 podcasts is going to be mine.
Podcasting Quick Tips: Getting Started
Find podcasting resources: A quick google search of how to podcast or how to upload to iTunes brings up thousands of free, in-depth resources on getting your podcast uploaded.
Identify your potential audience – niche it down: Curate your podcast’s subject matter around your target listener base. Think about what will set your podcast apart.
Determine podcast format and consistency: How often can you upload? Do you need to record multiple episodes at once? Is it just you, or will there be a co-host or guest?
Recording: You don’t need to buy a microphone and recorder (although you can); oftentimes your phone recorder and lapel mic can do the job!
Hosting services: Import your .mp3 recording onto a podcast hosting site. There are many options out there; research which one works best for you.
Syndication: Get your podcast out there! Your hosting service will have an RSS feed URL that you can upload to streaming services like spotify and itunes.