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The Ups and Downs of Podcasting

I stopped blogging in 2019. By April of 2020 I was really missing that connection to the writing community that I had enjoyed with blogging. Covid was also shutting everything else down and I needed something new to experiment with. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to try new things. I'm familiar, comfortable, slightly talented at a lot of random things. Generally, once I know I can do it, I move on to the next thing. This means I'm not an expert at anything.

Well, podcasting was my new thing in 2020. I started with the goal of being a readers podcast. We'd talk about books, interview authors about new releases, that kind of thing. The first few episodes were me talking about the behind the scenes of my own stories. They were super short because it was hard to talk about my own work when no one was asking me questions. Personally, I feel these episodes are a bit cringy. And, I didn't get any kind of "connected" feeling by doing them.

The podcast really took off when I started having other authors on to talk about their books. It was so much more comfortable asking them about their writing journey than talking about myself. Plus, it brought home that feeling of being part of a community again. Writers and authors are like me. We have the same mental issues and challenges.

Then I invited two friends to co-host with me. What a blast! We would get together and our recordings became a group writer's therapy session of sorts. We talked about our goals, became accountable week after week, and talked about the obstacles that kept us from writing and how we dealt with them.

Now that we are half way through 2021, it's been really hard for my co-hosts to join me to record an episode. I don't want to do it by myself, but I feel this need to continue talking about the struggles of being a writer. The biggest issue is I feel super boring by myself. I don't want to listen to me ramble, so why would anyone else? I have several authors lined up to interview, but I miss the sit down, shoot the breeze, easy going vibe of three friends just chatting.

It's been two, maybe three weeks since the last recording and posting session. I'm feeling antsy, like I have to do this, but I don't want to do it alone.

Why is it so hard to have confidence in myself? That's what it boils down to. I don't feel like I have anything to offer on my own. I'm better as a host, an interviewer to get others talking about themselves. The realization is eye-opening. Now I have to figure out how to respect that I have things to offer other than as conversation moderator.

Have you ever considered starting your own podcast? If so, here are my top 6 bits of advice that I learned the hard way.

  1. Do your research before you post your first episode. I recorded something and threw it up before I learned anything about podcasting. That meant my listeners had to suffer through my education process with me. A little bit of reading can spare your readers that injustice. I'm talking about how to record, edit, clean up background noise, that kind of thing.

  2. Have a clear understanding of who your audience is and what they want. I started thinking I was doing this for readers. Then I realized, they don't really care, and I didn't know what they would want because of that. My episodes changed fairly quickly to be for writers. I had more to offer here. My mission became to help writers feel like they were not alone. I wanted to share all the challenges we face together.

  3. Have a plan before you start. Have topics, guests, whatever lined up beforehand. Decide how often you are going to post an episode (once a month, twice a month, once a week, more than once?).

  4. Work the plan for a month before you post the first episode. What do I mean by this? Record an episode and edit it. Have that interview and edit it. Doing it will show you what you don't know yet. It will also give you a clearer understanding of how much time will be needed to accomplish the timeline of posting you've set for yourself. Then you'll know if you need to adjust your expectations. Even better? You now have a couple of episodes ready to go while you continue to produce content. It's like a safety net if something falls through, you get sick, or whatever might prevent you from recording one week.

  5. Don't try to be something you're not. This is the most important advice I can give for any and all aspects of life. Be yourself. Be happy with who you are. If that means you laugh and giggle on the show, so be it. If it means you ask dumb questions or say silly things, that's okay. If it means saying, "I'm struggling with (fill in the blank) and I don't know how I'm going to get through it," so be it. Learning to be authentic will ensure that the people who need you will feel connected to you.

  6. Remember that you are putting yourself out there for anyone and everyone to find. Meaning, it's okay to talk about real life problems, but if you're going to complain about something, have some possible solutions to talk about as well. Be real, but end on a positive note. Then don't be surprised if you say something controversial and get kickback. If you speak, you are inviting people into a conversation. You don't get to pick and choose who responds.

  7. Enjoy the process. This is where I am because my small group of listeners are lurkers. Meaning they listen, but they don't comment. I have to find the connection with my co-hosts and guest authors and let that feed my soul. Don't expect hundreds of comments on what you're doing. Although, I hope eventually I'll say something that will elicit some kind of response from people.

Do you have a podcast? What is your focus? Share it in the comments, because I'm always looking for new things to listen to.

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