On Valentine's Day of 2018, I launched my first podcast.
Let me tell you: it was a journey. Learning how to podcast is easy on the one hand, but keeping it up requires grit. I struggled. I celebrated. I attracted clients. I considered quitting at times. I got fan mail. I stuck with it.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
It has now been over 17 months, and I've learned some things. If you're thinking of starting a podcast, here are a few mistakes I'd recommend avoiding:
1. Spending too much money
You do not need a bunch of fancy equipment to start a podcast. Trust me. I spent $65 on a used Yeti microphone and pop filter from some guy off Craigslist and started recording the next day.
I'm also not embarrassed to admit I took the picture for it myself. My goal was Minimum Viable Product. I didn't want to sink a bunch of money into something I wasn't sure would work. So, I took a few selfies, stuck the best one in a PowerPoint slide, and put my "logo" on top. (My "logo" just being the phrase "Dear Men," which is the title of my podcast).
My biggest cost now is my sound tech, Cullen Bonham--a guy I send the raw audio file to. He adds my intro and outro music, sound-balances the episode, and uploads it to my hosting platform. I pay him $20/hour, and he takes 1.5-1.75 hours on each episode, so I'm usually paying $100-125 a month on this. To me, it's well worth it; I could do this stuff myself, but I'd hate it.
2. Believing LibSyn is the only hosting option
I originally hosted my podcast with LibSyn, because it's an industry giant. But it's $20/month (or more, depending on your usage).
Instead, I now use RedCircle, and recommend it to other podcasters. Why? First, it's free for us podcasters. Second, it makes it easy to collaborate and cross-promote with other podcasts on their platform. Third, RedCircle tracks just as many stats as LibSyn (your data is going to be important to you, to see which episodes are popular, etc.).
3. Not respecting your niche
I'm a sex researcher and coach for men around dating and relationships. I'm proud to say I've been producing a weekly podcast for a year and a half without straying from my topic: helping men have better sex, dating, and relationship lives.
Mission creep is a thing in podcasting just as it is in startup world. You need a strong sense of who your podcast is for, and you need to stick to serving those people. For example, I could've done some episodes that have more to do with women--and while I do have women listeners, they're not my target audience. I am focused on helping men understand women and what we want.
Know who you're helping and stick to it.
4. Not using a subtitle
Speaking of niches, let's talk keywords. Use them in your subtitle. This is an easy win. My podcast used to be called Dear Men, but upon a suggestion from a podcasting expert, I recently renamed it Dear Men: How to Rock Sex, Dating and Relationships With Women.
Yep, I stuck as many keywords in there as possible. I also try to get as many keywords into my podcast episode descriptions. For me, that's "sex," "dating," "relationships," "men,"
"women," and sometimes "marriage."
Know your keywords and use them. Constantly.
5. Not actively collaborating with other podcasting hosts
One of the most successful episodes I ever did was a joint episode with my friend Shana James, who hosts the podcast Man Alive. We're both sex, dating and relationship coaches for men, so we did an episode together, where we shared the five biggest lessons we've learned as coaches. Then we each dropped that episode on our respective podcasts.
Not only was it a blast, but I saw a spike in downloads after that episode. Plus (and arguably most importantly), I got a high-end coaching client out of it. He'd listened to our episode on her podcast and then started listening to mine, and ended up working with me directly. It was one of my easiest sales.
6. Having unrealistic expectations
Podcasting is not a get-rich-quick scheme. You aren't going to be Tim Ferriss right away. I've found it to be a rewarding way to share my wisdom with the world, help others, and stay connected to my topic. I also did it to attract more coaching clients. This has worked but hasn't been as consistent as I'd like.
If you're genuinely passionate about your topic and actually want to help people, podcasting is an awesome platform. If you're using it only for lead-generation or because you think your startup "should" have a podcast, I wouldn't recommend it. You need grit and staying power to make it work.
Speaking of staying power, every list in the known universe of "things successful podcasters do" will say this: you've got to be consistent in terms of your podcast frequency. If you're running a weekly podcast and go five weeks without dropping an episode, your audience will notice, and stray. Plus, new people looking at yours will see that it's lapsed and not take you seriously.
Starting a podcast is like starting a relationship. It works best if you commit to it and keep going even when it's uncomfortable.
And like any relationship, I've found it to be both challenging and rewarding--and an epic learning experience.