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101: Getting Started

by Joshua Rivers | Podcasting for Authors

Welcome to the first episode of Podcasting for Authors. This first season will have 10 episodes. Most people looking into podcasting usually want to look at and talk about the tech aspects:

  • Microphones
  • Mixers
  • Software
  • Other gadgets

We will definitely cover these in future episodes, but the best place to start is with brainstorming and mental preparation. As an author, you may already have some of these in place, but it’s best to check it anyway rather than to assume something and be wrong.

Know your audience

The first and most important thing is your audience.

At this point, you may or may not have an audience already.

No matter what your current status is, you need to figure out and understand who exactly you are trying to reach. This is a process of being very specific. Saying that you are targeting males 18-80 that love fishing is not good enough.

Here is one thought to help you: your target audience is one person. Not one kind of person. One person.

Here’s some questions to help you get started:

  • What is his/her name? (that’s right – a name)
  • How old is he?
  • Is he married? How long?
  • Does he have kids? How many? Names, ages, etc.?
  • What is his career/job?
  • What is his greatest strength?
  • What is his greatest weakness?

This is just a start, but you get the idea. Be very specific about who he is. Also realize that you may tweak who your target audience is or discover more about him as you move down the road.

As you move along the podcasting journey, you may be able to broaden your audience to include additional demographics. Instead of just a 30-year old accountant with a wife and 2 kids, you may start reaching other 30-something men that have office jobs. Or you may start reaching those that are 30-50 years old. As you grow, just make sure that you always come back to your avatar. He is the center of it all.

Know your why

You need to have a “why” that is huge. Podcasting can be a slow-growing process.

Yes, there are plenty of stories of people that started a podcast and things took off for them: they had thousands of downloads, money started coming, and they became famous overnight.

However, this is the exception rather than the rule. And usually, these “overnight successes” are a result of years of strategy, skill, time, and money.

Most likely:

  • You will have smaller numbers
  • You won’t be bringing in money for a few months or even a year
  • You won’t reach that celebrity status
  • You’ll be putting your time and money into podcasting and see little results

The average number of episodes for a podcast is 7. That’s it.

In order to make it, you need a strong “why.” A reason that will keep you going even when things look down. Those that persevere through these early difficult times will usually make it for the long haul.

Your “why” should be more than “I want to make money.” It’s not wrong to want to make money using podcasting, but it’s not a strong reason to keep going.

“I want to help people do ___________” is a better reason.

To help give a better perspective about your audience size is to think in terms of holding a class in a physical location once a week. A classroom with 20-25 people is generally considered to be full. Imagine everyone listening to your podcast as a person in a classroom, all coming to listen to you every week. Does that help change your perception?

You need this strong why before you really get started so that you can have a solid foundation.

Know what your goal is

Very similar to knowing your “why” is knowing what your goal is.

How do you know when you reach your goal?

  • A certain number of downloads?
  • A certain amount of feedback or interaction?
  • A certain number of email subscribers?
  • A monetary value?

Nailing down what your goal is can help keep you going.

If your goal is community interaction, how important are paid sponsorships?

Whatever your goal is, keep that in front of you all the time. And this is also going to drive the call to actions as well.

If you want people on your email list, have that as the call to action. Telling people to rate and review in Apple Podcasts doesn’t add anyone to your list. Directing them to your website to download some worksheet or guide will.

Know your podcast topic

This may already be decided since you’re an author and have a subject matter that you’re covering. But here are some thoughts in relation to your podcast.

Looking at the avatar you developed, what does he need help with that you can fulfill? Notice that this is identifying one thing that answers two questions:

  1. What is your avatar’s problem?
  2. What can you provide?

The key is to find the intersection of those, and that will give you an overarching topic for your podcast.

Another approach to figuring out your topic may have nothing to do with your expertise of the topic. It may be driven by your passionate desire to learn the topic. In other words, you may be your avatar!

You could potentially start a podcast where you document your own learning experience through interviews, research, and other content curation. You can put things into practice and report your results.

Whether you start your podcast as the expert or as the student or guide, you make sure that you can address the problem of your avatar.

After you nail down your main podcast topic, you need to see if you have enough subtopics to make it worthwhile. If you can only come up with 5-10 sub-topics or ideas for specific episodes, things will dry up pretty quickly. Sit down and write (or type) out as many subtopics that you can think of related to your topic. You can use the journalistic questions to help (who, what, when, where, why, and how).

Let’s use lawn care as an example. You may have a list that has subtopics like:

  • Choosing the right mower
  • Choosing the right trimmer
  • How to get a clean edge along the driveway
  • What to do when dandelions take over
  • Why you need to use fertilizer
  • When you should use weedkiller

This list doesn’t have to be extremely detailed at this point. This is just a brainstorming stage. If you need help thinking of more ideas, you can use a couple resources:

  • Google
  • Amazon – you can search for other books on your topic and preview their table of contents
  • Books and magazines – you can get a bunch of ideas from your local library
  • Talk to other experts in the field of your topic
  • Talk to your potential audience and see what specific problems they may have

You can take this list of subtopics and see if you can break any of them down into more specific subjects. For example, instead of just talking about mowers, you can break it down into push mowers and riding mowers. If you can come up with a list of 20-30 things, you have a great start, and this could be a great topic. As you progress, you should be able to add to this list as you engage with your audience.

This gives you an overview of these starting mindsets. Again you may already have a head start translating your past experience and followers as an author. But, many times, readers and listeners are different, so the approach sometimes needs to be different. So don’t just pass this by – take at least a few minutes to really think about these things and you’ll set yourself up for better success.