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It’s been five years since I started my first podcast. What began as a hobby has grown into a career that has led me to interview and work with CEOs, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and experts worldwide.
I had to overcome many challenges and mistakes over the past few years. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned.
You’re going to struggle in the beginning
When I started my podcast, I didn’t think that public speaking skills were essential to making a good show. Talking to people and publishing my findings resulted in the frightening realization that I was a horrible public speaker.
As a podcast listener, we rarely think about the intelligence, eloquence or insightfulness famous interviewers like Oprah Winfrey and Larry King must possess to conduct a great interview.
The ability to masterfully hold a conversation with world-famous personalities on various topics is a skill all great interviewers and podcasters have in common. However, everyone struggles with his or her craft in the beginning, and you will too.
The best thing you can do is accept this fact and know that you’re in excellent company. Embrace the feeling and work on overcoming your shortcomings one day at a time.
You’re going to have to work harder than you initially think
The most common misconception about podcasting is that once you have the right equipment, the rest is easy. That’s what I thought too.
The equipment needed to start, maintain and grow a podcast is only 2% of the puzzle. The remaining 98% is content creation.
From researching topics, finding high-quality guests, recording the episode, editing, promoting the show and eventually monetizing it, running a high-quality podcast is hard work. Most podcasters start out doing everything themselves until they give up after a few episodes.
Statistics provided by MyPodcastReviews.com show that out of the roughly 1.6 million podcasts in existence, only 680,000 are currently active podcasts. A whopping 25% of podcasts die after releasing the first episode. If you’re starting a new show, it’s best to plan everything you’re going to do and stick to a publishing schedule you’re comfortable with for at least six months.
Once you’ve established a rhythm and learned how to do everything yourself, you can explore bringing on a team to help you take over some tasks.
You’re going to have to keep learning and improving if you want to be great
Being an excellent podcaster requires continuous learning and improvement. At the start of my podcasting journey, I took a course with Andrew Warner of Mixergy, where I learned the ins and out of becoming a podcaster.
After a few years of running my show, I realized that my style was pretty boring. My mentors Andrew Warner of Mixergy and Joe Rogan of The Joe Rogan Experience were consistently tweaking things to make their shows better.
This observation taught me that a podcast is not and should not be stagnant. Your show will grow and attract a larger audience if you are growing and evolving as well.
Continuous learning programs like On Deck‘s Podcasting Fellowship (I’m one of the first participants) and others teach both new and seasoned podcasters how to improve their shows by sharing the experiences of many of the best podcasters and thought leaders in the business.
It will take you longer to make money from it than you anticipated
Initially, I advertised for a few companies on my podcast. But I hated the commercials and decided to stop doing them altogether.
In 2015, there were no multi-million dollar mega-deals in the podcasting space. A few podcasters were making a decent living, but nothing close to getting a $100 million deal from Spotify like Joe Rogan.
The current podcasting boom has attracted all kinds of entrepreneurs and marketers looking to cash out in a big way.
Most people don’t know that 98% of podcasters don’t make any money from their show. The few that do are the household names you probably already know about: Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, the Call Her Daddy hosts and other hosts with popular shows.
Many podcasters make money by monetizing their shows indirectly. They leverage the expert positioning and increased thought-leader status their podcasts give them.
This allows them to sell their services, books and products to a niche audience; attract paid consulting gigs; and build monthly recurring revenue coaching programs.
If you’re thinking about starting a monetizable podcast, you need to think about who your ideal customers are and how your content can best serve them.
You may not be as memorable as you think
There’s been a dramatic surge in the number of shows launched since the pandemic started. With more people working from home and limited entertainment options, people who have put off starting a podcast suddenly had an abundance of time to invest in their shows.
It spawned an onslaught of newly launched shows that look and feel like many more familiar shows. Though imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it’s still just that: an imitation.
Podcasting is all about being yourself. It’s about using your personal experience and those of the guests to create narrative content your audience will love. It’s essential to make your show uniquely yours by becoming an expert on your subject.
Joe Rogan has been podcasting since 2009, and his show has grown exponentially since then. He found his voice, carved out a personal area of expertise and proceeded to dominate the space.
If you want to be memorable and stand out in the crowded podcasting space, then you need to select an under-served niche and do some deep introspection to figure out your unique voice and create content within your zone of genius.