We’re dishing up some hard truths on the blog today. It’s time to get real. The podcasting world has grown exponentially in the last few years, but with that growth comes a lot of misinformation. From the fables portraying the art of podcasting as nothing more than a walk in the park, or those promises of instant fame and fortune, there are a lot of podcasting half-truths and whole lies floating around in cyberspace! That’s why we’re here to tell you 10 Podcasting Truths You Need to Hear Today.
We know what it’s like when you first start out—you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available on starting your own podcast and getting started with recording and editing interviews. Besides having to filter out what is reality when it comes to starting a podcast, and what is not. So we’ve put together this list designed to help you get your podcast on the right path, by helping you join the race with no blinders or blindspots, so that you can avoid pitfalls along the way.
So get ready, as we get ready to tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!
1. Podcasting is not easy
Generally, podcasts are made by an amateur – you only need to know how to use the simplest of recording devices and some basic editing software. But just because the set-up is fairly seamless, and the process of recording is simple enough does not mean that creating a high-quality podcast is easy. Because it’s not. Not by a long shot! And that’s because there is way more to an excellent podcast than meets the eye. Excellent podcasting is really equal parts talent, discipline, knowledge of the craft, knowledge of your subject, hard work, good sound gear, as well as consistent effort. Not so simple after all!
Now, this is certainly not intended to scare you off from your desire to start a podcast! But you should be aware of all of the above going in. Creating an excellent podcast is no mean feat. It’s long hours of preparation, long hours of recording, and long hours of editing and marketing. And is it worth it? Definitely. But is it easy? No way!
2. Great interviews require a lot of work
I hate to be the one to burst bubbles (but, hey, if it helps you make your podcast better, I’ll happily do it!) but I’ve got some hard truths about podcast interviews. You know those easy-breezy interviews, with that laid back vibe, yet full of great banter and effortless back-and-forths between guest and host? You know what I’m talking about. I know those interviews sound like they just hit “record” and let the magic happen, but, alas, that is very rarely the case.
Great podcast interviews require work, and lots of it! And that’s because there are so many moving parts to an interview. As the host, you have to have top notch interviewing skills. You need to know how to prepare questions that really bring out the best in your guests, and you need to create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable sharing honest, authentic answers.
You also need to know how to deliver these questions in a way that feels natural and unrehearsed, while still being able to really listen to your guests and pivot the conversation if you feel the direction changing. Phew!
And that’s before you take your guest’s mood, nervousness, and their ability to stay on point into account, and all the editing that has to happen to make the conversation flow naturally and with fluidity. So the next time you hear a podcast interview that sounds oh-so-smooth and effortless, remember that there was a ton of work both in front and behind the mic that went into creating a seamless end product. And you’ll have to put in the equivalent effort to create these great conversations on your show.
3. Podcasting is not a “get rich quick” scheme
Are you ready to have another bubble burst? Contrary to a common message, podcasting is not a “get rich quick” scheme. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, before you’re in a place where you can warrant asking for financial support, whatever shape or form, for your show. And, I’m not going to lie, it can take years before you have a Rogan-esque following that makes big names sit up and take notice.
Now, don’t get me wrong, monetizing your podcast, even in its infancy, is totally possible (and we show you how on posts like this one) but starting a podcast is by no means assurance that you’re about to hit the big time. There is a lot of ground work that has to be done, especially during those beginning stages, in order for your podcast to bring in some serious dough. And even then, it may still require a fair bit of hustling, creative marketing, and innovative ideas to successfully monetize your podcast.
4. Editing IS necessary!
Say it with me, “Editing is necessary!” Yes, we that love the natural, conversational aspect of podcasts, too. But here’s truth bomb number 4 – that natural, fluid conversations your favorite host seems to have with every guest most likely is the product of a fair bit of editing.
It’s a common myth that a great podcast can be produced with little to no editing. In reality, that just isn’t the case. The truth is that the best podcasts require a lot of work in post-production, besides the time it takes to capture all the content you need. Even if you’re just removing any background noise, those dreaded “uhms,” and “aahs”, or just those false starts and faux pas that tend to happen occasionally when we speak in general, editing your podcast episodes will always be necessary!
And as a final point, with so many podcasts cropping up all over the show – and with big names dipping their toes into the industry, you simply have to deliver great audio if you want your podcast to stand up against the rest. And that means editing!
Related read: How To Seriously Speed Up Your Podcast Editing
5. You don’t need the best equipment (although it definitely does help!)
Podcasting Big Truth Number 5, you don’t need the best equipment on the market to create a great sounding podcast. We won’t lie, great quality equipment can definitely yield some stellar results, but you can definitely get that beautiful, crisp raw audio with more basic equipment, if you make some wise picks. And conversely, having the best mic in and of itself does not an excellent podcast make.
Check out this post for more: How Much Does Podcasting Really Cost? (Breaking Down The Expenses)
And so while you definitely shouldn’t compromise when it comes to getting a quality mic, there are definitely quality options to suit your budget. And when it comes to headphones, you can easily use your AirPods, or the like, without having to buy the top of the range headphones.
There are also other ways you can achieve great audio, besides the shiniest mic with all the trimmings. And you can do this by getting better control over your recording environment. Create a great, sound conducive space in your house, get to know the sweet spot of your mic, and plug in a pair of quality earphones, and you’re all set to capture great-sounding recordings.
6. Your niche matters
No doubt if you’ve done any research into starting a podcast, you’ve heard the word “niche” toted liberally about. And I’m here hoping you heeded all that advice about doing the work to find your podcast niche.
But if you didn’t, STOP what you’re doing, and take the necessary steps for finding your podcasting niche. And that’s because your niche matters. If you want to succeed in podcasting it’s important that you pick a topic for your show that matches the type of content you can deliver with authority and authenticity. Because the best way to gain authority, and to build a thriving community around your podcast is by being the go-to expert in your niche. But how can you become a niche expert if you’re just a nomad in the podcasting space? Answer. You can’t! So go and find that niche! Now.
7. You will have to have a marketing strategy
Another hard truth…you will have to put on a marketer’s cap and come up with a marketing strategy for your podcast if you want it to succeed. In the same way that businesses have long-term marketing strategies for their products and services, podcasters need to use those tools to attract new listeners and increase listener loyalty.
You’ll need to use your mailing lists, your social media platforms, networking, as well as good, ol’ fashioned word of mouth if you want to get traction for your podcast and grow your audience. And of course, land a coveted spot on Apple Podcast’s New and Noteworthy section! The cold, hard truth is that this will not “just happen” – you will need to have a sound strategy to get the word out about your podcast.
For more insight into getting on the New and Noteworthy lists, check out this helpful episode of Buzzsprout’s Podcasting Q&A: How To Get Your Podcast into the New and Noteworthy.
8. You should be selective when it comes to sponsorship opportunities
And while we’re speaking about your marketing strategy, here’s a, perhaps unpopular opinion: be selective when it comes to sponsorship opportunities. Why do I say this? Why not partner with whoever’s willing to give you the most lucrative ad deal? Here’s why…your audience.
If you’ve done the work of building up a loyal listener base and have put the time and energy into building a buzzing community around your show, there’s a level of trust between you and your audience. Don’t squander that trust by picking sponsors who don’t line up with what your audience values. You may gain financially, but what you’ll lose is far more precious, your listeners’ trust and respect!
So take the time to find sponsors whose ethos, products, and values are aligned with your own and your audiences. Be selective when presented with opportunities, and always keep your audience in mind before making these financial commitments! This will certainly pay off in the long run!
9. Your delivery definitely matters
Spoiler alert! Not everyone’s voice is naturally great for podcasting! And that’s a problem because, Hard Truth Number 9, your delivery definitely matters!
“Why?” I hear you asking, “I’ve got solid content. Why does it matter what I sound like or how I deliver that content?”
Well, I’m hear to tell you it matters. It matters a great deal. And yes, podcasting is all about connecting with your audience, and a lot of this connection has to do with the content you’re sharing, that’s how your listeners most likely found you in the first place! But once they’re there, you need to keep them there by delivering your content in an engaging way. And your voice will always be key.
But the good news, should you find your delivery skills are not as sharp as you need them to be, is that there are easy solutions to a delivery problem! And we cover a whole load here on this post: Improve Your Voice: Tips for a Better Podcast.
10. Quality content is ALWAYS important
You can tell I feel very strongly about this based off the all caps in the heading…but it is THAT important!
You can have the slickest editing skills, the best graphics for miles, and the best equipment that your cold, hard, cash can buy, but these things will never, NEVER (there’s those all caps again!) be a substitute for quality content.
You can’t fake quality. You may be able to string listeners along for a short time with nothing but fluff, but soon, even the most undiscerning of podcast listener will be able to tell that this type of podcast is a waste of time.
So you need to spend time ensuring that you’re always, ALWAYS (last one, I promise) giving your listeners high-quality, valuable content. All that other stuff is great. It’s fun to have cool tech toys, and kudos to you if editing comes easy, but those things can never outshine solid content.
The bottomline is that while it’s true that there is a low barrier to entry as far as starting a podcast is concerned, creating a successful podcast is not easy. It’s more than just recording podcast episodes and uploading them to iTunes or Spotify for the world to hear. There are many nuances that go into creating an effective podcast, from marketing strategies to editing skills. And, above all, the careful and deliberate crafting of quality content.
So, no, while the act of podcasting in itself may be fairly easy, creating a stand-out, high-quality, enduring podcast is certainly not. I know that these sorts of truths are not always so fun to hear. And it’s probably way more fun to read posts that promise podcasting sunshine and roses. But we want you and your podcast to succeed. And that means grappling with a few hard truths. But as they say, the truth will set you free! And once you’re free of unrealistic expectations and you have all the podcasting facts, you’ll actually be in a much better place to create the best podcast possible, and make it something that you do for the long haul.
Disclaimer: These thoughts are my own and are not necessarily the viewpoints of We Edit Podcasts.