I’m sure there are as many reasons to podcast as there are podcasters and potential podcasters.
Here are some I’ve come across in my teaching:
- I have something to say.
- To develop my comedy skills
- To help people into retirement
- To support my book sales
- To explore my hobby with like minded others
- As a backup to my brand
- To retire early
Let’s start with that last one, “To Retire Early”. This is perfectly possible. The statistics would suggest otherwise with just a podcast. It does happen. It takes some time, usually, to get that point but it can be done. Mike Duncan of The History of Rome springs to mind. He was quite a few episodes in before he was approached by an advertiser. He asked his listeners what they thought and the overwhelming majority were for it. He had spin off ideas, tours around Rome, Books, merchandise and then a new podcast: Revolutions.
But Duncan began began back July 2007. When he began he it was a passion project. Something he enjoyed doing. Not a dream of money making. Beginning with the cash in mind tends to be a sad dream.
As a backup to a brand, a way for others to understand your core message, to build authority and to connect with others, this is a good idea. The podcast “Content Sells” is an excellent example of this. Produced by two co-hosts, Hosted by Suzi Dafnis and Michelle Falzon, the podcast is not just an advertisement for their their businesses but instead a course in content creation for better sales results. They give, give and give with their content and “here’s our website if you’d like more help.” This is a great example of using the podcast medium to promote the brand. That more small and medium sized enterprises aren’t in this space is one of the oddities of podcasting.
Exploring a hobby, passing on tips, interviewing others in the same hobby but slightly different areas is also a good reason for starting a podcast. Learning through sharing is designed for the medium. This may never lead to monetary riches but it certainly is a great way to build a community of like minded individuals to share a passion.
As we discussed, intimacy is one of the key functions of the podcasting medium. We get to know the hosts we listen to through their voice. People, listeners, get to know us through our voice. This is a great way to build authority in a niche. The examples cited above evidence this.
I have had two previous students who wanted you use their podcasts to develop new audiences. One for his standup comedy routines and another for his children’s books. This gives people another avenue to both find and get to know you as a person. I think this is a great use of the medium. Hearing a piece of fiction, or even non-fiction, read as the author intended gives another layer of understanding. Once the entire work has been sent out as a podcast, the files are available to sell separately as an audio book. Again, with the reading of the work comes that intimacy with the reader, podcasting secret weapon. The same applies to comedy monologs. Either you get the humour or you don’t. This means when the podcaster goes “live”, in pubs, standup nights etc, those who already appreciate the material will be more likely to be there and supportive.
Another student was looking to get the stories of people who have retired or about to retire and share their stories. What’s the reality of the process versus the imagined outcomes/ That sort of thing. A brilliant use of the medium. Helping others through real life stories. Toss in the intimacy effects of podcasting and it’s a winning idea.
Our first reason to podcast, “I have something to say.” is probably the base line for starting a podcast. Just filling audio space with sound yet without a purpose is a great way to podfade. That’s when a podcast just fades away. This is a thing worth remembering. Without a driving purpose, producing an episode on a regularly basis becomes difficult. Other things take priority. I lost my voice, for the first time in my life, eight months after I started World Organic News for four weeks. I had a couple of “spare” episodes to publish but a month of not podcasting took an effort to restart. It wasn’t difficult but it did take some effort to get back into the routine and the passion. Having been ill didn’t help but I had and still have a vision for that show so it was not too hard to restart.
Without a purpose, the hard work of the early episodes, learning the gear, mastering the software and all the other things covered in my Podcast Essentials course become too hard to sustain. With a passion these things become an integral part of the process, an achievement with every episode. I still get excited when an episode pops up on my podcatcher at the scheduled time, just like magic.
So if you want to podcast, think about “why?”, think about “who?” and think about “how?” and you’ll be well on the way to creating an engaging, entertaining and useful podcast.