I suspect that there are a lot of people that meet the following description: You’re taken with the idea of starting a podcast. You want to do it! You have a pretty good idea of what kind of show you’d like to do, you know who your audience is, and you know how you can differentiate yourself and add some value to listeners. You also know that you work a full-time job, you’ve got kids, you have other obligations, so the amount of time that you have to dedicate to something else is so small you gave up measuring it in seconds, and you wonder if facial twitches could work as a unit of time.
It doesn’t. I tried.
I was reminded of this by a reader who was kind enough to comment on my last article for Medium. Reading their circumstances, it struck me how similar our situation is: Day job, multiple kids, some with special needs or serious medical issues. It would be very easy to just shrug and say “Time is fleeting, and a podcast takes the time I don’t have”. Well, it can if you have a misconception about what a podcast is.
I think we should acknowledge a hard truth: If you’re flying solo, you are not going to be making a podcast of the quality of This American Life, at least not in the beginning. It’s really easy to get discouraged when you record your first episode, listen to it, and believe that your creation needs a mercy killing. We all think that way at the very beginning, and I think it’s because we have this idea that podcasts must have impeccable production. The level of production, while nice, is not as important as your message. With that in mind, let’s be very clear on what a podcast is at a bare minimum:
A podcast is a piece of media that you’ve created and uploaded to the internet for others to consume when they want.
With that definition in mind, you can record a podcast with the voice memos function on your smartphone. It’s not going to sound like NPR, but it doesn’t have to. All it has to do is connect with the audience you’re trying to serve. So, armed with the knowledge that you aren’t going to make the world’s greatest podcast from Day One, this frees you to make YOUR podcast, your way.
Having cleared that up, let’s talk about some things you can do to help you have the time to make your podcast.
Get An RSS Reader, and use it effectively
To help me with ideas and topics for my podcasts, I use an RSS reader app called Feedly. I subscribe to different blogs that are relevant to my interests, and I also have alerts for certain keywords. I go through my reader every day, and I bookmark any posts that look promising to me in Evernote. Speaking of which…
Get yourself an Evernote Account
The real power of Evernote isn’t in its note-taking, or it’s the ability to sync across devices and platforms. Any app can do that these days. Evernote is good at learning what you save and connects dots between new saves, and anything you’ve previously saved. Evernote’s ability to connect those dots is phenomenal, so much so that Evernote has become my trusted Showprep virtual assistant. There have been times I have had no idea what I was going to do a show about, saved one item into Evernote, and ended up with a full outline for a show in minutes. There have been times I have said to myself “I forgot I saved that!”
Use the ‘hurry up and wait’ time
As a loyal husband who loves his wife, I find myself in the traditional “hold my purse moments” near the dressing room at Target. I also find myself waiting to pick people up a lot. I spend a lot of time waiting for people, and that is time I could be using my iPhone to go through Feedly and save to Evernote.
Develop a show template
In a recent article, I said this:
Knowing that you have, say, four segments to your show that need to be filled with specific content makes your job easier when it comes time to find that content and plug it into your template. Show prep becomes easier, and you’re not breaking your brain thinking of something to say out of the blue with no content to support it.
I have found that using a show template cuts down on the amount of time you dedicate to show prep as well. I would suggest blocking out a fixed amount of time once a week to plug your material into the template and fill in the blanks. Please remember that you don’t have to make your show fit a minimum amount of time. If you only have a five-minute show, then do a five-minute show. Don’t try to stretch it out longer looking for things to say. When people do that, unless they are very good at improvising, the show suffers as a result. Follow the formula you’ve made.
If you’ve been around marketing and entrepreneurial podcasting for any length of time, you know the name, John Lee Dumas. JLD is the podcaster behind Entrepreneurs On Fire. When he started EOF, he did a 7 day a week interview podcast for many years, through April of 2018 when it appears he changed to every couple days. He accomplished this by using two very effective things: He developed a template and asked the same questions of each guest, and he batch-recorded all the shows for a month in a few consecutive sessions over 3 or four days. JLD is as busy as we are, maybe more. If JLD can block out time from his very busy day to record some shows, we can block out part of a day to record 4 shows, one for each week of a month. I carry a mobile podcasting rig in my sling bag and can record a show in my SUV if I need to. I use a production template in my audio editing program and plug my vocal track in there with the existing intro and outro music, and export it. From there I make show notes, upload it to my podcast host and we’re done. Now, recording a batch of shows and getting it uploaded in that same period might be a big task if you’re strapped for time, and so my final suggestion for you is…
Stay Ahead Of The Game
Seth Godin is one of the original bloggers, and one of the first marketing types in the space. His blog is remarkable in that he has put out written content every day since January 2002. he was once asked how far in advance he wrote, and Seth replied that if he were to pass away tomorrow, people probably wouldn’t know it for a year or so. Seth stays well ahead of the game.
There is no rule in podcasting that says you have to do things that are time-sensitive and must be released immediately. When you start gathering material for your first podcasts, make it a point to stay timeless, and prep the first 8 or 12 episodes, and produce the first 4 in one monthly session. Stay 2 to 3 months ahead if you can. That way you aren’t under any time pressure, and if something happens in your niche that is time-sensitive and must be addressed on your show, you can do that as a one-off and not worry about messing up your pipeline.
No law says you must podcast daily, or even weekly. As long as you have set the expectations of your audience, Do the show on the schedule it takes to make the best shows you can.
I hope these suggestions help you create something you can be proud of. Know this, though: You are braver and better than tons of people who never try. Just putting yourself out there is courageous, and you should be proud of that.