As I gear up for the release of my next book, Prayers for Parents of Prodigals in January 2020, I’m learning that things have changed a lot since my last book in 2015. Podcasts are all the rage now, and writers like me must decide if starting my own is the right move.
Writing Tip for Today: Here are some things to consider if
you’re thinking of starting a podcast:
A major consideration for starting your own podcast is
gathering the equipment you’ll need. A good quality microphone is perhaps the
most important, but you’ll also want to think about your home environment.
While it’s possible to record inside a coat closet, you’ll need to be sure your
podcast’s location isn’t echoey (bathroom) or busy (you have toddlers or pets
racing through) to get a good quality sound. I’ve heard of a podcaster who used
cheap foam boards to construct a “sound booth” to keep the sound quality good.
The other piece of vital equipment is your voice. Do you
speak too fast or slow? Is there a lot of frog-clearing? I recommend you record
yourself for the purpose of improving flaws in your presentation style. Play it
back and practice until you speak smoothly and clearly. While most podcasts don’t
rely on scripts, have some notes in front of you as placeholders.
If you plan to include video, you’ll also need a tripod to
mount your phone (so it won’t wobble during filming), and lighting that won’t
throw harsh shadows or wash out your complexion. Don’t film yourself by looking
down or up at the camera—these angles tend to be unflattering. Think about your
clothing—solid colors are best—and don’t wear heavy jewelry that can make noise
while you speak.
Those who dream of their own podcast must also think about the time commitment. Once you begin, you’ll need to record episodes, book guests, think about sponsors and affiliate with a hosting service. All these things add up to quite a time investment.
The prominent podcasts make it look easy, but again, you’ll
need practice to make a podcast seem like no trouble. Many with popular
podcasts have backgrounds in media or public relations and they already know
the ins and outs from working in other media. If you’ve already had training in
media appearances (there’s a lot to it!), you won’t need as much of a time
investment as the shy, introverted writer who hates marketing.
Writing, the thing you signed up for, may begin to be squeezed out if you pursue a podcast dream. I write this weekly blog on writing tips, and I admit, it takes away from my *real* writing time. I don’t mind the commitment, but writing a post is something I budget for in my time week. A podcast will eat up even more time.
Podcasts feel extemporaneous, but in fact, they must be
edited before they’re posted. What sounds like a cozy chat needs to have the
interruptions (whether personal or from a sponsor spot) edited to give
listeners an even experience. Podcasters often edit music or other transitions
into the segment, edit out unsuitable or rambling answers, and in general
tighten the listening experience.
As the podcaster, you’ll also have to record fill-ins or transitions and make sure there isn’t a lot of dead air in the session. Like editing your writing, this all takes time. Then you must upload to your podcast web host. For a list of top hosts go here. After that, your podcast will be available on podcast directories such as Stitcher, Apple/itunes and the like.
After that, your podcast enters a race that determines which
podcast among thousands will find its way to the top few that are listed on the
service. Like books, discoverability is the key—nobody can listen to a podcast
they can’t find.
I love a good podcast. But for me, pitching to guest on one
makes more sense than starting my own.