As a college of storytellers, an impressive number of our alumni are podcasters in their spare time. In this blog post, we asked a few of them what they wished they had known when they started their side gig. Discover the tips and stories they shared with honesty, benevolence, and humor. A must-read for anyone thinking about starting a podcast in 2021!
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Producing a Podcast Takes Time
What We Wished We Had Known
Producing the Gone Boss Podcast is a lot of fun and we think it brings a lot of value to our community. I wish we’d known how much time producing it would take. Scheduling guests, editing, promotion, etc. takes more time that you would initially think! Also, we recommend getting the best equipment you can afford. No one wants to listen to a podcast with poor sound quality. But don’t be discouraged… We’ve been hosting Gone Boss for 3 years and really enjoy it. We’re not probably not going to get rich with this podcast, but we get to talk to a lot of neat people and that makes it worth it.
Good Girl: Gone Boss is a weekly podcast hosted by Matt Howell (’17, Telecommunications) and Angie Rogers-Howell (Owner of Farmhouse Creative). Each week, we feature awesome people in our community. We’ll interview them, find out what makes them tick, the cool things they are doing to make our community a great place to live and work, and how they have Gone Boss. 96 episodes aired to date.
It is All About the “What” and the “Who”
Think of something you actually WANT to talk about, and only work with people you actively WANT to work with. Don’t just think of a “hook” idea. You’re going to have to want to do it for a long time before you start getting anything tangible back for it.
Myself and my funniest friend (writer Jon Daly, class of ’05, was a co-host with me in the original years of BSU Tonight) decided to watch Sex and the City together, and fans originally found us because they like Sex and the City. We knew we could talk about anything and have fun doing it, and now we have a fanbase that wants to hear us talk about everything else, and subscribes via Patreon. The fact that SATC is now coming back is dumb luck.
The previous podcast I did that developed a following was “College Stories,” and I did that because I lived with people I went to college with, and I genuinely love talking about college, and hearing everyone else’s stories from that time. Simple, focused way to talk to interesting people.
Bonus tips: no one has ever complained a podcast was “too short.” If you have the time, edit and cut out anything that isn’t bringing you joy to listen to. Marie Kondo that thing.
Also, if you can, bank a series of episodes before you release the first one. It’ll allow you to go back and fix things once you learn a bit before they’re published, and let you keep a regular release schedule (very important) even if you can’t record for a week or two.
Sex and the Cidiots is a TV & comedy podcast hosted by Kevin McCaffrey (’04, Telecommunications) and Jon Daly (’05, Telecommunications) and based on a simple concept — two guys watch Sex and the City for the first time, 20 years later. 100 episodes have been released so far.
In College Stories, Kevin McCaffrey talks to people in the entertainment industry (comedians, writers, actors, directors) about their funniest, craziest, most interesting college stories. 104 were released.
No one has ever complained a podcast was “too short.” If you have the time, edit and cut out anything that isn’t bringing you joy to listen to. Marie Kondo that thing. —Kevin McCaffrey
Progress over Perfection
My Story and Tips
I remember standing in front of my students at Miami University in March 2020 saying, “I am sure this will pass by us quickly. Enjoy your extra week of Spring Break and we will be together soon.” I had no idea how wrong I would be about the future of our world and our lives. As a professor of digital branding, I had always felt pressure to practice what I preach. And when we went to virtual learning for the rest of the semester, I decided to launch a podcast called “Digital Branding – Daily Bites” and the idea was to share daily podcast episodes about everything marketing, personal branding, and class-related in under 10 minutes. To summarize what I learned, I would share these five bullet points:
- Don’t wait to be perfect – start now and fix it later.
- Use what is available to you. I used the recording app on my phone to do my podcast and uploaded the audio file (unedited) to Soundcloud. I didn’t have the time and energy to do a lot of editing or promotions.
- Google is your best friend. If you want to start a podcast in 2021, all you have to do is type into Google, “How to start a podcast” and you will be linked to hundreds of articles, videos, and even other podcasts to help you. The excuse, “I don’t know what I am doing, though” doesn’t apply here.
- Always keep your audience in mind. Everything you create should serve your audience and that means deeply knowing what excites, motivates, encourages, and relates to what they are experiencing. When you build your content calendar, think of ways to answer your audiences’ top questions and let your topics evolve from there.
- Look at your data and make changes. When I was doing my daily podcast, I realized that I was only getting about 10 listens per episode and I had 68 students. So, I changed from daily to twice a week to see if that would be more manageable for people to tune in and it worked! Let data guide you and what you do next!
Once the semester ended, I found a corporate job (again) and had to stop teaching because my husband lost his job. So, I changed my podcast from a “digital branding” podcast to a “human experience” podcast and started sharing stories about how to unfold and become the person you’ve always desired to become. I haven’t been active on my podcast the last 6 months because of my new and demanding job, but I will be recording episodes at least once a month in 2021!
Unfolding & Becoming is a personal development podcast hosted by Ashley Sieb (’10, Journalism/Public Relations). This podcast is for the feelers; those who care deeply and need a place to work through their struggles and step into their truth. 29 episodes have been released so far — 27 for my digital branding students and 2 episodes with my new branding.
Know your Focus and Target Audience
Our Top Tip
The biggest tip that we feel would be key in starting up a podcast would be to know what the focus of your podcast is and who your target audience is. Myself (Yash Padhye), Zach Keilman, Will Hatczel and Codey Emerson are all fans of a variety of sports leagues and we like discussing the major storylines in sports so we tailored our podcast — Beyond The Pressbox — to cover a variety of sports leagues. Our podcast therefore is able to reach a variety of age groups and fans because we analyze storylines in the different sports leagues.
Beyond The Pressbox is a sports podcast co-hosted by CCIM alumni: Yash Padhye (’19, Journalism/Telecommunications), Codey Emerson- (’19 Journalism/Telecommunications), Will Hatczel (’19, Telecommunications), Zach Keilman (’18, Telecommunications). The show is focused on analyzing the national storylines in a variety of sports leagues such as the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and more. 30 episodes have been released so far.
Perfect is the Enemy of Good
What I Wish I Had Known
My top tip for someone willing, wanting or wishing to start their own podcast is to remember that “perfect is the enemy of good enough.” I could have saved myself plenty of time, trouble and self-doubt if I would have reminded myself every piece doesn’t have to be in place perfectly before launching my show. No one is expecting you to come out of the gates, episode one, having it all figured out.
Don’t hinder your progress by measuring yourself to perfection, others shows or your greatest expectations. Trust me, some of the best parts of the journey are looking back to see how far you’ve come. Let go of perfection and welcome creating something that is good enough.
As long as you have a genuine interest in making the world a slightly better place through your show, holding back is doing the world a disservice. Believe in yourself and don’t let another day go by waiting for the perfect time, guest, logo or equipment. You can absolutely do this! And finally, I’d say forget the willing, wanting and wishing… just start doing.
Facing Fear is a society and culture podcast hosted by Sara McInerney Hauck (’14, Communication Studies). It features individuals who approach fear in the pursuit of living unapologetically authentic lives while defining success on their own terms. Over 50 episodes were released to date.
As long as you have a genuine interest in making the world a slightly better place through your show, holding back is doing the world a disservice. — Sara McInerney Hauck
“Who” Before “What”
My Top Tip
Know who you are going to be talking to before you start trying to figure out what you’ll be talking about. The easy part about it is that you’ll be talking about something you are passionate about or well-spoken on. What you have to sit down and analyze is who will be on the other side listening and how you’ll be able to engage them. For me, I had to break it down with how I approach radio, but I also had to look at who was actually listening according to metrics & use that information to my advantage. I didn’t want to ramble, but I also didn’t want to end up not putting out content that wouldn’t turn someone off.
What Do I Do Now? is an interview-based podcast hosted by Samuel Sirmons (’12, Telecommunications and producer/personality for Majic 107.5/975 in Atlanta, GA). This isn’t just a podcast, it’s an honest and open discussion centered around a single question, “What Do I Do Now?” From life changes in our personal lives to our career paths, we are going to be met with adversity, but how do we navigate through it? The show is in the middle of its first season. 17 episodes have been released so far. Samuel is shooting for 25 episodes in his first season.
Our Top Tip
START! If you have an idea or something that is compelling/meaningful to you, share it! I’d also add that being attached to an outcome (i.e. number of listeners, followers, or likes) will be a hindrance in formulating a message that truly resonates with people. Share, refine, share, refine and allow your evaluation of “how you did” to be driven by how well you FEEL you embodied your message, not by external responses. Were you true to you and your message? That should be the barometer.
The Caveman and The Explorer: Conversations about Our Evolution in Today’s Business World is a podcast centered on business, life and personal growth. The show hosted by Chris Howe (’04, CICS) and Paul Faria (’19, CICS) explores ways to create and design a life that you want while maximizing your experience in the business world. It is available on Anchor, Spotify and Google Podcasts. 3 episodes have been released to date.
Share, refine, share, refine and allow your evaluation of “how you did” to be driven by how well you FEEL you embodied your message, not by external responses. — Paul Faria
Have a Vision and Stick with It
My Top Tips
Have a clear vision of what you want your show to be about, start, share- and stick with it!
As you go, you will find different parts of your podcast that you may want to change or improve upon- areas that you think work or could be better. But you can’t wait until your show is “perfect” to share it- because it never will be. There will always be something you can learn and do better next time.
Don’t be discouraged if you feel that your podcast isn’t getting the audience engagement you hope for right away- it takes time to build something. Continually remind yourself of the “why” behind what you are doing.
Trust yourself- and most importantly be yourself. You got this!
How She Did It is a sports/careers podcast hosted by Amanda Smith (’17, Telecommunications/ Journalism). The show is a part of the Locked On Podcast Network and is dedicated to celebrating the careers and journeys of women in sports. 43 episodes have been released to date.
Keep it Simple
The Advice that Really Helped Me
The best advice I received when I was considering a podcast was KEEP IT SIMPLE! That advice comes in many forms, just get started is really the important part. The next best application of that advice was from an experienced podcaster and she said “as you plan your podcasts take a good hard look at it before you record every episode because you probably have more than one episode worth of material”. Wow, that was so accurate. Smaller steps, smaller episodes, smaller messages, and even a smaller niche is truly the key. Simplicity not only helps you get over the roadblocks to beginning the journey, but it helps in time management, identifying your audience and speaking directly to them (pun intended). One last tidbit that is unrelated from simplicity is launch with at least three episodes completed. I kept seeing this in the research I was doing leading up to my podcast launch and it truly did make a difference in obtaining dedicated listeners; they were able to get a sense of who I was, what I was talking about and develop a connection.
Conversations with Anna; Stories to Move Your Life Forward is a self-improvement podcast hosted by Anna Stumpf (CICS Professor). These conversations are to inspire you to know, accept, and love yourself in order to live a more authentic life. 38 episodes were released to date.