Should I start a podcast? (and other podcast-related questions I get asked all the time)

The first recording of ah ha!

We were walking down the moonlit streets of Adelaide after an amazing night of hosting the great podcaster Jimmy Moore for a talk, and Brett turned to me and said, “We should start our own podcast.” It was January of 2013 and I had just started my health coaching business not long before. I adored podcasts (it’s how I met Dr. Brett Hill in the first place) and my heart leaped at the chance to start my own! I didn’t feel even remotely qualified, but when I moved to Australia I told myself I’d be open to new things, so of course I said yes. Little did I know that only a few weeks later we would have the top health podcast in Australia, and I would be interviewing dozens of my idols. It was incredible.

In 2013 when That Paleo Show hit the #1 Health Podcast in Australia

Despite having thousands of listeners, and being recognized by strangers on the street, my business hardly experienced a blip. I had no monetization strategy, no plan to get clients from it, and tons of work I hadn’t anticipated. About a year later I left the show and became a business coach, but that’s a story for another day. Despite that, I loved every minute of it.

By 2018 I couldn’t wait any longer — I was chomping at the bit to start another podcast. This one a little different than the first; my partner Ryan and I decided to do it together. No interviews, just us reading interesting books and sharing our insights with our listeners. We called it ah ha! This show is a labour of love. 4 years later we still only have 11 episodes, but I think of it every day and am always taking little steps towards the next one. (Turns out starting a podcast with your partner and having a baby at the same time don’t mix! Throw in a pandemic and I’m impressed we got anything done.)

I am by no means a podcasting expert, and yet I often get asked for advice on podcasting. Today’s article is to get my insights and opinions down in writing as a reference for anyone who wants to know where I stand. My way is absolutely not the “right” way to do a podcast, and I have a very different perspective than most podcasters. Take what you like, and leave the rest.

What is the strategy behind ah ha!?

Ah ha! was born for a few reasons. First, podcasting is my favourite medium for sharing and learning information. Writing and video are less interesting to me than speaking and having people hear the passion and nuance in your voice. In our case, it was also a way to have some back-and-forth banter and added flavour to the content. We get a lot of positive feedback on our dynamic together as hosts which is so hard to do in writing or in a solo video. I was also at a pivot point in my business where I was transitioning from working for someone else back to working for myself again. I had zero online presence or credibility, so a podcast was the way I decided to build a body of work. I see it as a very long-term strategy, so it doesn’t bother me that we only have a few episodes out. I refer clients and potential clients to them often as a way for them to get to know me and my work ahead of time. I’d like to also start getting interviewed on other podcasts eventually, so having my own podcast is a great way in.

Why don’t you do interviews on your podcast?

When I listen to other podcasts, I listen to them because I like the host. I don’t usually care what the guest has to say, or if I do, I will look them up specifically and do a deep-dive all at once across multiple mediums. One of the best podcast episodes I ever listened to was my favourite host at the time, Pat Flynn, who co-hosted an episode with someone talking about making video setup easy. This was about 8 years ago, and it really stuck with me how much more enjoyable that episode was than any of his interview shows or even his solo shows. I knew if I started a podcast that I would do it that way. Even if I decide to bring new people on to the show, I will use a co-hosting strategy rather than an interview one.

From a purely strategic perspective, I also think this makes sense if you want to position yourself as the expert, rather than the guest. Interview shows make sense if your goal is to grow an audience or following because you’re relying on the guest to bring you more listeners, but they aren’t as effective at positioning yourself because you’re inherently putting your guest on a pedestal. It can work, of course, but I don’t see a lot of people doing it well when they’re starting a new show.

Should I start a podcast?

I don’t recommend starting a podcast if you don’t have a plan or it’s something you just want to “test out”. Podcasts can be a slow build and they have a lot of work involved to get them to a good place. But that’s exactly why they add so much credibility to a brand, because not everyone has one. If you truly love podcasts and you want to see it through for at least a few years, then it’s something you could consider. I’m happy to talk to you privately if you want to work through this question together.

If your goal is just to build an audience, then there are lots of ways to do that. A great way is to be a guest on other podcasts. You get the benefits of other people hearing your voice and building trust with the audience, and leveraging someone else’s platform rather than having to build your own audience. This is also a good way to test out if you like the podcasting medium without having to lay all the groundwork of your own show.

Is podcasting a lot of work?

YES! Just preparing the episode alone can take hours. In my case it’s a lot longer because I have to read a whole book first. You may have to research, write content, learn about your guests or co-host, coordinate recording times, not to mention all the tech and editing you may decide to do yourself. Writing show notes and descriptions are tedious and promoting it on social media or elsewhere adds steps. It’s much easier to write an article and push “publish”. But it’s not all bad! It’s incredibly satisfying to have a piece of work you can be proud of at the end of it. And it’s totally doable to hire production help.

There are ways to make it easy on yourself, and ways to make it hard. Try to think through all the steps before you get started, but you’ll get a better feel for it when you start.

How do I start a podcast?

For That Paleo Show we had a team who did a lot of the back-end podcasting work, so I had no idea what went on behind the scenes. I prepped for the episodes, showed up, and that was pretty much it. For ah ha! I needed some outside help. I bought Pat Flynn’s Power Up Podcasting course and just followed each step one at a time. This is also where I refer people when they ask me where I host my podcast or any other tech questions. I’m doing what Pat taught 4 years ago, but I know he has updated a lot since then. (No, it’s not an affiliate link, I just like his stuff).

That’s a little bit of my experience with podcasting, but everyone has their own flavour and strategy that makes sense for them. If you try to follow someone else’s template exactly, you’ll likely miss the subtleties and uniqueness that will make your show a success. Trust what you enjoy as a listener, and what gets you excited as a content creator, then you can build a strategy from there. Podcasting is not for everyone, and you can tell as a listener who’s in it for love and who isn’t.

If you’d like to explore how podcasting (or a different marketing strategy) could fit in your business, let’s talk. I know it’s one thing to read about someone else’s experience, but you probably want to look more individually at your unique situation and circumstances.

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