Only Idiots Start Podcasts: Getting Your Sh*T Together

I explained in my previous article that I was starting a tutorial series on getting up and running with your very own podcast. So here I am to deliver! In Part 1 of this series, I’ll be giving you some advice and guidance on the very early stages of your podcast development: The “Planning” phase. As I illustrated previously, I am definitely not the most authoritative figure on podcasting. However, I do feel like I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons during our 3 year tenure, and would love to impart some potentially beneficial wisdom onto those of you considering starting your own show. So let’s get started!

When I started the Geek Garage, I was honestly scared shitless, for several reasons. However, the most terrifying was the idea that the podcast might fall flat, or just straight-up fail. I was OK with the idea of the podcast not working out for one reason or another, as long as I gave it the ole “College Try”, as they say. What I wasn’t OK with, was the podcast ending up like so many of my past endeavors and side-projects: Fizzling out due to lack of enthusiasm and hard work on my part. So from the get-go, I was absolutely determined to make this podcast work.

Before I bought any recording equipment, or jotted down episode ideas, I decided to ask myself a few very important questions. And these questions should definitely be ones you ask yourself as well!

  • What do you want to talk about?
  • How much of your time, energy, and money can you devote to your podcast?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How often do you want to release new episodes/content?

Obviously this is not the definitive list of questions you should be asking yourself, in order to prep for your podcast. In fact, as time goes on, you’ll most likely find your list growing faster than you can answer the already existing questions! But that’s perfectly fine; you never want to hit a point where you’re not taking your podcast to “the next level”.

So, let’s get started with the first question, shall we?

What Do You Want To Talk About?

In my opinion, this is one of the most crucial questions you will answer before you hit record on your first episode. But don’t be afraid if you feel like you can’t answer it 100% to the best of your ability. When I started the Geek Garage, I asked myself this question, and my answer was relatively simple: I wanted to talk about nerdy/geeky shit with my best friends. It was already something that I enjoyed immensely, so why not introduce a microphone into the equation!

Now, I know that making sure you have a clear podcast idea in mind probably sounds like a “duh” kind of thing, but you might be surprised how difficult of a question it can be to answer. One of the most challenging aspects of answering this question is figuring out what your niche is going to be. Let’s say for example, you want to start a podcast where you talk about D&D, or maybe even play D&D with your friends and record your campaign(s). Right off the bat, you’re dealing with the issue of saturation, which is already a huge underlying problem with podcasts anyways. Everyone and their f’ing mother already has a D&D podcast. This in no way, shape, or form means that you can’t have your own. Even though there’s a billion podcasts out there, there’s always room for one more. So the name of your game is this: How are you going to make yours unique? What spin could you put on your show, to make it your own? And that should be the main part of this first question you focus on.

How Much Of Your Personal Resources Can You Dedicate To Your Podcast?

This is another very important question to initially ask yourself. It’s crucial for a lot of reasons (a few of them are quite obvious), but a big one is that you can treat your podcast like a little hobby, you can go HARD AF, or anywhere in between. One of the best ways to decide how much money, time, and energy you should throw at your podcast is to seriously ask yourself…how much can you throw at it. Or even, how much do you want to throw at it. When I was formulating my game plan for Geek Garage, my goal was to release new episodes on a weekly basis. Looking back, I practically laugh at 2017 David for his silly-ass ideas like this. I didn’t necessarily have my head in the clouds; I just had incredibly high hopes for my content schedule. Luckily I had a few friends, all of which were also content creators, that were able to pull me back down to reality.

At the risk of naming another “duh” moment, just like in the previous section, you want to make sure you stay within the confines of what works for you personally. This means determining how much money (if any) you have to spend, how much free time you and your co-hosts (if you have any) can dedicate, and the amount of energy (both physical and mental) you’ll have available. As I previously stated, due to the forgiving and flexible nature of podcasting, you can put as little or as much of your personal resources into your show. And while ultimately it is up to you to decide this, I definitely implore you to start on the lower end of the spectrum. Unless of course you by happenstance have all the time and money in the world to dedicate to your new venture. But I’m going to assume that that’s probably not the case for you πŸ˜‰.

Once I get to the part of this series on recording gear, I will elaborate a bit more regarding the amount of money you can spend. Because just like the time and energy parts, podcasting can cost you as little or as much as you want!

Who Is Your Target Audience

Real talk: This was not a question I took seriously when I started my podcast. Granted, if someone asked me who my target audience was, I could definitely tell them. It’s just that my answer would not be considered appropriate by any kind of decent marketing standards πŸ˜‚. I just figured that my target audience would be people that best resembled my friends and I. And honestly, that’s not a terrible place to start, but you definitely want to be more specific than that. Because when your amazing new podcast hits the internet, you’re going to share it on social media. Maybe you’ll even invest some of your hard-earned money on some paid Facebook and/or Instagram advertising. But none of that is going to do you any good, if you don’t have a clear idea of who will be listening to your show.

Here are a few audience attributes for you to consider, to at least get the ball rolling:

  • Age brackets (18+, kid friendly, millennials, etc.)
  • Gender(s)
  • Hobbies and interests

One interesting thing that happened with me and the Geek Garage is that I figured out who part of my target audience was after the podcast had been around for about a year. Sometimes I would spend a few hours analyzing our podcast download stats, which would help me get a really good idea of exactly who is listening to the show the most. And then with that knowledge, I was better able to understand who my target audience is, which then helps with future marketing. So just like the first two questions, knowing your target audience is something that you should have a decent idea of right off the bat, but understand that you will acquire new information along the way, so you can adjust accordingly.

How Often Will You Release New Content?

I know I spoke a little on this question/topic before in the first section, but I’d like to take a bit deeper dive into it. Starting out, you may not have a good idea of what’s doable in terms of a release schedule. A lot of us are adults with jobs, families, social lives, and other hobbies. So finding a schedule and sticking to it might prove to be one of the more complicated aspects of podcasting for you. If it’s any comfort, just know that you are definitely not the first/only one, and you certainly won’t be the last! However, if you can find a way to come up with a feasible release schedule for your episodes and other content, you will already have a leg up on other folks that go into podcasting less prepared (such as yours truly).

Having some kind of set schedule serves a few very important purposes, but I’m going to focus on two of my favorites.

The first benefit to having a schedule is for yourself, as well as your sanity. Some folks will try to look at having a release schedule as a negative, hindrance, or just general pain in the ass. And while there may be a little validity to those feelings, I try to look at it in a more positive light. When you release content regularly, you hold yourself accountable. Plain and simple. It also makes scheduling a heck of a lot easier on yourself. Starting out, you probably won’t have a ton of help with your show, and you’ll have even less help if you plan on going at this alone. So by avoiding the “fly by the seat of your pants” mentality, you’ll discover that going with a more structured approach yields quite a few benefits. You’re able to plan ahead, think of episode topics, and find and book guests. Trust me, if you take the time to map out this part of your podcast journey, you will 100% thank yourself down the road!

The second benefit (and probably my personal favorite) is for your audience. If you’ve listened our podcast recently, you’ve probably heard us talk about GalaxyCon, which happened back in November. It was our first major public appearance, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Like, at all. To the point where we were kind of terrified. But it turned out to be an amazing experience for us. One of the most important things to note is how much we learned by attending GalaxyCon. There was an abundance of valuable suggestions and advice we received from con-goers that stopped by our booth, but the most notable was how often we heard some version of “So how often do you guys release new episodes?”. By the end of the weekend, it was clear to us that our listeners absolutely thrive off of regularly released content. And it only makes sense, when you think about it. As we get older and fall into more of the adult mold, a lot of us find ourselves seeking comfort in some form of “regularity”. More real talk: Life moves and evolves rather quickly, so it’s nice to be able to have a few things to fall back on as consistencies in your personal life. So let’s say hypothetically you decide to release episodes every Monday, your podcast could potentially be the reason why someone has a great start to their work week! What a wild concept!

Anyways, if you’ve stuck around this long, it must mean I didn’t completely bore you to death. And I definitely hope that some (or all) of my advice was helpful to you in some way. Make sure you follow us on social media or subscribe to our mailing list (links in the header!), so you’re notified when part 2 of the Only Idiots Start Podcasts tutorial series is released! For Part 2 we’re going to get SUPER geeky, because I’ll be covering all of the technical aspects of making your podcast!