Podcasting Has Changed My Life
A lot of folks will make that claim. For many, they will point to the monetary gains as the biggest change. But for me, there are three other changes that are way more valuable. They are changes I have seen in most podcasters and so I believe anyone getting into podcasting will experience them too.
Now before I get to them, let me give you a quick history lesson on me and my path.
When I first started my professional career, podcasting barely existed. Sure some folks were offering digital audio but it was very tiny. It was only after I had been at my first job in radio that podcasting really started to take off. Apple really made it popular when they added the podcasting store to iTunes following the introduction of the iPod. Then a few short years later, the iPhone came out and the future of digital media would never be the same.
As someone who always loves to experiment with new technology, I saw podcasting as an opportunity for our station to reach a larger audience with valuable content. Within a few weeks, we started to take our 5am newscast and make that available as a digital download. And just like that, I had produced my first podcast.
Later, I took a different “radio” job. This time, I would be working for the syndicated news network of one of the largest newspapers in the United States. While radio was their top priority, more than 50% of my time was spent on podcasting. Now, I still always had my eye on the ultimate prize of getting on the radio, but it was podcasting that provided me with amazing opportunities. I got to interview countless experts in every field imaginable. I produced shows that would reach half a million people every month. I even had the opportunity to create several new podcast shows, all while having the backing of a major publisher. It was an incredible experience.
However, the future of radio was not so bright and this publisher decided it was time to exit that business. They laid off all of the radio staff and effectively shut down their podcasts at the same time. (They have since reversed course and are producing podcasts once again).
Now, I found myself out of a job, trained in an industry that one of the top publishers saw no future in. But that’s when it hit me. I wasn’t really a radio professional. I had become a podcast professional. And so I took this opportunity to go out on my own and build a business in a field that didn’t even exist when I first started working.
Now, nearly two years after I started down this journey as an independent podcast producer/consultant, I am reflecting on how this has changed my life. It has forced me to learn an incredible amount of new skills. It has given me the confidence to launch several new business ventures (something I never thought I would ever do). And it has introduced me to hundreds of amazing people just like me that I would never have met had I not taken this plunge. Frankly, I see most podcasters experiencing the same changes. So let’s go through those.
Having your own podcast is more than just talking into a mic. Yeah, I knew how to edit and produce audio, but many new podcasters don’t. But thanks to YouTube videos, coaching sessions, and just bravery many of them have taught themselves this skill. And the audio portion is still just a fraction of the work we podcasters take on.
Another skill is writing. Successful podcasting requires copywriting so that people will know what your show is about and actually hit play. It also requires marketing that content. Unlike broadcasting, it’s a lot harder for people to just stumble over your content in the sea of existing shows. You have to put the word out there and convince people to spend their valuable time on you. Most amateur podcasters don’t think about this but soon become digital marketing experts.
It means learning how to build and manage a website in many cases. Sure, most of us can build a simple site using blogger or just relying on whatever our hosting company gives us, but most times that’s not enough. And as a result of needing a better site, I know list WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and limited HTML to my repertoire of skills.
Those are just some of the “hard” skills I had to learn. That doesn’t even include the soft skills that you develop in launching your own venture. And speaking of that…let’s get to number 2.
CONFIDENCE TO START A BUSINESS
In order to consult/produce content for others, I had to start a new business, something I never thought I would ever do. And something I had no idea how to do. But I did my research, I called the county/state offices and asked tons of questions. I even made some serious mistakes along the way but learned valuable lessons as a result.
And now I am into the second year of my first business and love it. Once you develop the confidence to start a business, you may not stop. As a result of that confidence, I decided to help someone with a podcast newsletter by developing a brand new website (The one you’re on currently). And I am also developing another business on the side. The ideas/possibilities just keep coming.
A podcast alone can be its own venture. It may require you to think about branding, licensing, revenue, advertisement, etc. And I can’t keep track of all of the amazing folks I have had the chance to interact with who took one single show, and have turned it into an empire! And speaking of other people…..
Every day I find myself talking to someone new about podcasting. Of course, I am not saying I would trust every single one of them with my life, but the number of people I would trust with my life has grown exponentially as a result of being part of this community.
I’ve interviewed tons of them. I’ve met many at podcasting events/meetups. We’ve gotten into heated, but civil discussions on Facebook or Twitter about the industry. We’ve celebrated each other’s successes and offered support when things go south. Almost everyone involved in podcasting is super nice and supportive. All of them are willing to pay it forward because at some point they started at square one and know what it’s like. I’ve never seen anyone bullied for trying something new and different. It’s amazingly refreshing and probably the single best reason to “Just Do It” when it comes to launching a new podcast.
So while I didn’t know what podcasting was when I first started, I wouldn’t trade in the last 10+ years of my career for anything in the world. So those are three ways podcasting has broadened my horizons. Comment below to add other ways it’s helped you! Besides monetarily.
This article was written by Mathew Passy, Podcast Producer/Consultant at MPassy Productions