For those of you keeping score at home, I just released my fiftieth episode of my podcast, Just Talking, this week. Technically, if you include the pilot (Episode 0) the official publishing count is actually 51, but that’s a minor technicality that I hope you can get past. This project started when I secured the WordPress account and domain registration on September 30, 2009 and the pilot on October 13, 2009. I think now is an appropriate time to take a look back at the journey that has defined this so-called “experiment”.
First some perspective on where I started. (From a post on October 10, 2009)
The key word here is more, but not for the sake of greed or gluttony but because there is more out there. There is more to me than Diabetes or Video Games. There is more to you than what you publicly promote. Most of my readers have or deal with Diabetes but I know that there is far more to them than this disease. I’ve read their blogs, I know that there is more to all of them. I’m on a podcast with a bunch of gamers, but I know that Video Games are not our only interests and it’s that other that intrigues me.
My hope with this podcast is that I get to explore that other, that more, with whomever decides to join me on the recording. Sure the conversation might start with the common bond of Hokie Pride, Diabetes, Video Games or whatever. But it’s the tangent that excites me. It’s the distraction that I hope will make for an interesting conversation. It’s the quick aside that I hope will bring you and your friends back for each new podcast I publish.
This might be the start of something special.
Fifty episodes later, I think I have been very successful in finding that fabled “other”. It hasn’t been easy week in and week out trying to stay motivated. Admittedly I didn’t think I was going to be able to keep up with the weekly deadline I had placed on myself. Part of this fear was the reception my podcast would or wouldn’t receive. Part of this fear was wondering if people I’ve never met, or only know me as “SugarFree” or “@iam_spartacus” would want to spend an hour talking to me about themselves. My podcast is not an interrogation, but it’s not exactly an interview either. The goal is to have a casual conversation that tends to focus on my guest and just happens to be recorded over Skype. I think I’m keeping up my end of the deal.
I’d like to think that I had a master plan from the beginning but in all honesty the development of this podcast has been the most dynamic and fluid creative experience of my life. I come into each podcast with no more than 5 bullet points of potential conversation points and I accept where ever the conversation goes from there. As soon as a podcast was published I immediately started brainstorming who my next guest would be. Often I wouldn’t have someone confirmed until an hour before recording. But I’ve delivered each week since the beginning and I see no signs of stopping. This is so much fun, I can’t stop at 50, can I?
Technically 100 isn’t out of reach, but I can’t get distracted by that milestone just yet. I have to worry about Episode 51. One game at a time and all that jazz.
So 50 (or 51) episodes on my own, plus my contributions to the Post Game Report and the occasional appearance on other podcasts later I figure I’ve earned the right for my own Top 5 list of things I’ve learned since I started this podcast (almost) a year ago.
1. Be Consistent. If you say your show is going to be out every Tuesday night, it better be out every Tuesday night. If you want to build a relationship with your listeners, you have to establish trust. They need to trust that you will deliver on your word.
2. Have Fun. If you are podcasting for anyone other than yourself, STOP. I do this each week because first and foremost, I enjoy podcasting. Thankfully this hasn’t started to feel like a job, but if it did I know I need to take a serious look at my approach and figure out where I went wrong.
3. Levelator. Most people I know don’t have a sound-proof studio and professional equipment to make their podcast. For those of us living in the real world, audio isn’t perfect in its raw form. Levelator does all of the work for you and will ensure, if nothing else, everyone on the podcast can be heard. Making the conversation worth hearing is a separate issue.
4. Don’t look at the stats. Yes, being heard is part of the point, but if you are too focused on the numbers instead of the personalities you will lose sight of the fun. I don’t have the same audience as Ricky Gervais or Bill Simmons and that’s fine with me. As long as the people that do listen, no matter how few, enjoy what I have to offer then I consider that mission accomplished.
5. Don’t be afraid of change. If you aren’t evolving or at least thinking about how you can improve your content, you will be left behind. I’m not saying that a radical shift in your approach each month is necessary, but be willing to accept feedback and constructive criticism and apply it as soon as possible.
Fun Fact. I didn’t include the “Run Time” of my podcast in the shownotes until I received an email suggesting it a few episodes in. It seems natural now, but at the time it never crossed my mind. Sometimes it’s little things like that you have to be prepared for, or maybe there is a big shift in your horizon. Don’t be afraid to embrace it.
I’m not an authority on podcasting. I’ve made it where I am (wherever that is) thanks to the support from the people I lean on for advice and the guests that were brave enough to spend some time talking with me. To those of you that were part of the first fifty, thank you. To those of you that have been faithful listeners since The Pilot, thank you. To the kind messages on Twitter, Facebook, Xbox Live, to the emailers….to everyone: