On Monday I’ll publish episode #63 of the While She Naps podcast. It’ll be the 24th episode I’ve produced this year and will mark my second complete year as a podcaster.
Last year around this time I reflected on what it was like to produce the show in the first year. These were the things I listed as important at that time (feel free to read that post for more details on each one):
- Figuring out guests is a big job.
- Booking guests isn’t a big job.
- Every guest requires several hours of research on my part.
- The show needs to be interesting in the first 30 seconds.
- Sound quality matters.
- Being perfect doesn’t matter.
- Marketing each episode is my job.
- Organized archives are important.
- It takes time for people to listen. Be patient
I’m nodding my head as I look back at this list. It’s all still true. With another year of making this show under my belt, though, I have some additional reflections. So, here are my thoughts on producing a podcast at the end of year two.
It’s possible to monetize. I actually love podcast ads as a listener. I think they’re intimate and memorable and, if you do them right, they’re fun, too. Partway through the year I set up a very simple sponsorship program for my show and I’ve really enjoyed working with the eight indie businesses that sponsored episodes this year. And a funny thing happened last week – I sold more sponsorship spots for 2016 than I had shows booked. This is the first time that’s happened and it gives me hope that this podcasting thing might be financially sustainable for me.
Record in-person shows whenever possible. I record most of my interviews through Skype (using eCamm Call Recorder), but I was able to do four in-person shows this year (Deborah Balmuth, Stephen Fraser, Vivika DeNegre and Cate Prato, and Jenny Rushmore whose show will air on Monday) and I’m struck with what a difference it makes in the quality of the conversation. To sit across the table and read someone’s body language as they talk? It can’t be beat. I’m hoping to use my portable mic more next year.
Don’t take pitches. Part of my role as a podcaster is to curate the guests that come on the show. I treasure that role. I choose who I think is interesting to talk to and then I talk to them. This keeps my show unique. I’ve found that when someone pitches to be on my show, they’re likely pitching to be on lots of shows. Hearing someone again and again on the crafty podcast circuit waters down the power of their story. I much prefer the underexposed guest to the overexposed one. (When I had Geninne Zlatkis on the show this year she’d never been on a podcast and many of her fans had never heard her voice. It was magical. That episode has been downloaded 12,015 times – an all time record for my show.)
Hang in there. Many, many people who start podcasting with enthusiasm and energy end up podfading within the first six months. Their show just sorta dies. Podcasting is a lot of work, even with a show that is very lightly edited like mine. It’s a constant cycle of booking guests, doing research, recording, editing, writing show notes, and marketing the episode. I like listening to a startup podcast to get fresh ideas. Podcasting is not the sole focus of my job. It’s just one of many, many things I do. In order to stick with podcasting you’ve got to both totally love it and make yourself work on it even when you don’t want to.
Podcasting is awesome. It’s made me a better listener. It’s made me a better journalist. It’s connected me with a new audience and given me an excuse to call everyone I’ve ever found interesting and ask them an hour’s worth of questions. I have a full line up of guests booked for the spring and I’m ready to go! Bring on year #3.