Podcasting for pea-brains
How to start your very own podcast and be terribly average at it
By Colin Macgillivray, Arts Editor
Sorry guys, but music is dead. Long gone are the days where one could haphazardly strum a guitar or sing a sweet, sultry tune to get attention. Plus, in a socio-political climate such as ours, it is frankly unacceptable that artists like The Chainsmokers or Imagine Dragons can dominate the charts for weeks at a time. FM radio is atrocious and worst of all, you can only listen to so much AM radio before you’ve memorized the local traffic patterns.
Yes, this bit has been incredibly facetious and no, music is not actually dead, but there is no denying that the days of listening to bad music on the radio are over. Not only have AUX cords completely revolutionized the way you and your best pals listen to music during road trips, but the emergence of the podcast has given the less musically-inclined an outlet to listen to literally whatever they want.
But what if your passion is reptile grooming and you can’t find any podcasts about it? What happens when you’re itching to listen to some Häagen-Dazs ice cream reviews, but you’re met with zero search results? Luckily for you, your unhealthy Häagen-Dazs obsession has led you to an untapped market, where fellow ice-cream freaks are probably dying to listen to an eloquent cream-fiend describe just how tasty the tiramisu flavour is. So, if you’ve been itching to jump onto the hot new trend of podcasting and have no idea where to start, this list is for you.
Step One: Find your Niche
If there is only one thing that you take away from this list, it’s that if you have an interest, it’s almost certain that some other people out there have it too. The aforementioned ice cream-cast is incredibly ridiculous, but if you have a sweet tooth and would love to share your thoughts on some delicious creamy treats, there is no doubt that others will have a similar interest. There is nothing better than an original idea in any art form, so if you can somehow create a completely original podcast, you’ll be golden. But, if you and your buds are absolutely obsessed with Star Wars and want to talk about it over a couple of beers, you can still make a podcast! Just ensure that you’re trying to be as unique as
possible. Are there a plethora of Star Wars podcasts about Darth Vader, but absolutely zero about Yoda? Maybe make a Yoda podcast. This step may take a while, but by finding your niche and ensuring that you’ll offer something new to the podcasting world before you even press record, you’ll already be ahead of the game.
Step Two: Get the Gear
Now that you have your million dollar idea in your back pocket, it’s time to ensure you have all the proper equipment before you start broadcasting your thoughts across the internet. As painful as it may be, you might have to crack open the old piggy bank and actually spend some money here. For podcasting, audio quality is obviously key, so if someone turns on your first episode and it has clearly been recorded on a terrible microphone in a busy room, they won’t be listening for long. Put some money towards a decent quality microphone, an editing software you feel comfortable using and maybe even a set of good quality headphones. It definitely sucks spending money on something that you might not really need, but if you’re serious about starting a podcast, getting some good quality gear is a must.
Step Three: Press Record
Let’s face it, your first episode is going to suck. No amount of preparation or equipment will take away from the fact that it’s not easy to just start talking about something you’re passionate about when a microphone is on. But, if you want to ensure that your first episode is not a complete disaster, having a rough script is of utmost importance. Writing down your entire episode word-for-word is not necessary, but by having an outline of how you want to allocate your time, as well as understanding what you want to discuss, you can maintain a semi-coherent flow throughout.
Speak confidently and naturally. Don’t put on an act that makes you sound a certain way and definitely don’t mimic another podcaster you admire. The best way to stand out in an oversaturated market is to be different and be yourself.
When you’re done recording, don’t immediately listen to your work. If it works in your schedule, take a couple of days off before returning to edit. Not only will you keep your sanity, but listening to it with fresh ears will let you listen to it as if you were an audience member. Have a roommate? Have them listen to the episode once you’ve done some editing and ask for their honest opinion. A second set of ears can go a long way.
Finally, don’t delete the episode. Even if it is an absolute dumpster fire, post away.
Step Four: Practice, Practice, Practice
Congratulations! You’ll only get better from here! After posting your first episode, ensure that you are actively seeking feedback for your work. Ask your friends, make an Instagram poll, or even write a dreaded Facebook post asking for feedback. If someone says they only listened to the first 10 minutes, ask them why. Understanding what your initial audience wants to listen to will help you grow.
Don’t expect to blow-up overnight. Unless you’re already incredibly successful, ridiculously famous, or the most popular kid at your junior high school, you won’t be raking in those listeners right away. Getting discouraged will get you nowhere, so keep a positive attitude even when your mom is your only subscriber.
Be consistent! Nothing is worse than uploading a couple of episodes and then disappearing for six months. This is obviously easier said than done. We all have hectic schedules, but uploading once every month is a lot better than having a backlog of episodes that you just can’t find time to edit. A consistent presence is key to building a follower base. If a potential listener sees that you post rarely and sporadically, they will be less inclined to give you a shot.
Now, for the most important step. Just keep at it. Practice makes perfect for literally everything, so the more you record, edit and upload your podcast, the better you will get.
Step Five: Here Comes the Money
Okay, maybe not right away, but if you are sincerely invested into your podcast and put in the work, you will start to see an increase in listeners. It might not be huge, heck, it might even just be a couple more listeners, but you’ll start to build some fans.
This step might be the most important, because if you started a podcast strictly to make a profit, then I think you should re-evaluate your choice. Making money is great and we all love cashing cheques, but if you don’t genuinely enjoy running a podcast, you won’t be successful.
I started a podcast last year with some friends and I really love doing it. Not only has it helped me find my voice in public speaking, but it has been an excellent excuse to get together with my pals and talk about things we love. So, if you’ve learned anything from this list, it’s that getting together with your friends is great and podcasts are super great too.