On April 20, 2015, after several months of planning and preparation, I submitted the first three episodes of my podcast to the iTunes Store. Within just a few hours, I received an email from iTunes that my podcast had been approved, and it was now live and available for download in more than 190 countries.
Over the past year, I've interviewed more than 40 writers of fiction and non-fiction. I've talked to traditionally-published authors, independently-published ("indie") authors, editors, journalists, bloggers, and content marketing gurus.
While I've yet to monetize my podcast with advertising, sponsorship, online courses, donations, or any of the other myriad ways that some podcasters are earning money, I've been rewarded in many other ways. I've learned a lot about the craft of writing, I've made new friends and valuable professional connections, and I've developed a few new skills that might serve me well in other areas of my life.
Here are 8 of the (mostly unexpected) benefits of producing my podcast:
1. I've met incredible people from around the world.
One of the greatest benefits of producing my podcast has been the chance to connect with fascinating people from around the world, like Mark Vanhoenacker, a Senior First Officer for British Airways who quit his job as a management consultant to pursue his life-long dream of piloting jumbo jets--and then wrote a bestselling book about his experience. Or Chris Fox, the novelist who recently quit his comfortable six-figure job as an app developer in Silicon Valley to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time writer.
2. I get to interview authors of the books I love.
Imagine downloading a book from the Kindle store to your iPhone, devouring it, marking it up with the Kindle app's colored highlighting pen...and then organizing a Skype call with the author to ask her everything about it: Why she wrote it, her writing process, how she marketed it, and more. That's what I get to do with my podcast.
3. I've read a lot more books.
I've always enjoyed reading, but to prepare for interviews with dozens of authors over the past year, I've had to read a lot more books. In just the past 12 months, I must have read more books on the craft of writing than I have in the 12 years since I went on a reading binge of books about writing.
4. I've discovered amazing stories that I've turned into blog posts.
Every writer I interview has a story to tell, not just in their books?--an obvious focus for my interviews?--but a story about why and how they became writers in the first place, how and when they published their first book, and stories about how they eventually ditched their unfulfilling day jobs to fulfill their lifelong dream of becoming a full-time writer.
Many of these fascinating stories I've shared in articles that I publish on Inc. and LinkedIn. Some have resonated with readers and have taken a life of their own, like the story of Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic and creator of WordPress, the content management software that powers 25% of all websites today.
My article about how his global company of 450 people work mostly from home and without email?--?they prefer to use a collaboration tool they developed themselves?--was one of the most popular articles on Inc. earlier this year.
5. I've become a better listener.
When I started interviewing guests for my podcast, I didn't have much experience behind the microphone. I was nervous about how I would sound interviewing accomplished authors whom I had never even spoken to before our conversation. So I scripted my questions in advance and read them verbatim.
It was a good way to sound prepared, but I soon discovered that I was focusing a little too much on my next question, and less on what my guest was saying. So for subsequent interviews, I decided to prepare outlines rather than script out questions. And I stopped thinking about the next question I would ask and started to listen much more carefully to what my guest was saying, so I could respond more naturally.
6. I've become used to the sound of my own voice.
Isn't it ironic? That after so many years of "hearing" my own voice in my head, I didn't really know how I sounded until I heard myself played back from my recordings. Hearing my voice has made me more conscious about how I speak: Am I speaking too fast? Do I sound nervous? Am I using too many meaningless filler words? But it has also given me more confidence in the sound of my own voice.
7. I've learned to deal with rejection better.
I've been pleasantly surprised by the "hit rate" of my invitations to potential guests. Most of the guests I've invited have responded positively. But I've also been greeted by radio silence, not-so-subtle evasion of my persistent requests, and the occasional "sorry, not interested." And that's okay! My tolerance for rejection has gotten that much higher since I started reaching out to my guests.
8. I've become a better writer.
I try to make my podcast as useful to as many writers as I can. I like encouraging others to improve their writing skills. And I enjoy being a curator of strategies, tips, and inspiring stories that I believe can help other writers become better at their craft.
But as a lifelong student of the craft of writing, I never feel that I'm where I I want to be with regard to my writing ability?--or the impact I'm having with it. So I produce my podcast with another, more "selfish" purpose in mind: I'm learning to become a better writer.