Who Should Not Start a Podcast Refresh Draft

You’ve probably had the experience of listening to a podcast and thinking, “Wow, I could do that!” But the best-sounding podcasts mask all of the hard work below the surface. Sure, tech companies have streamlined the process to make the production process easier. But there are still building blocks that don’t come naturally to everyone.

Let’s look at the four kinds of people who should not start a podcast. If you recognize any of these characteristics, put a pin in it for later.  Friends don’t let friends make bad podcasts. On the upside, if you don’t see yourself described here, then we have ways to make you talk.

Why It’s Not Easy to Start a Podcast

When you listen to a podcast, you hear the finished product. You hear the hosts’ voices, the sound effects or music, the ads, the calls to action, and the cross-promotion. If the podcast’s team does its job well, the final product will be both informative and emotionally affecting. 

The episode may seem seamless, but its underpinnings are invisible. The work of making the podcast episode doesn’t distract from the episode’s message precisely because doing so takes time, skill, and effort.

Not everyone is cut out for this kind of work. Let me show you who isn’t.  

People Who Don’t Care About the Topic, Audience, or Medium.

Making a podcast is like writing a research paper and then turning it into a presentation for a global audience, regularly. If you don’t love what the podcast is about, thinking and talking about it for many hours a week is a chore.  Moreover, audiences can always tell when a podcast host genuinely cares. Enthusiasm comes through in how a host researches and explains the material. But, if you don’t love it, the work’s unrewarding, and the finished product will reflect that.

Podcasts are a lot more like a phone than we realize. There’s a person on the other end. Some people learn that a certain demographic might be a fruitful target and try to tailor their podcasts accordingly. But if the host isn’t interested in engaging with the people in that demographic, they won’t derive any fun from the experience. And if you don’t love who it’s for, the response you get won’t please you, even when it’s positive.  

Finally, you need to love audio enough to learn how it works. Your audio shouldn’t distract from your message. You can learn how to use its unique qualities to make your topic shine and capture your audience’s attention. When you care about the quality of how your episodes are recorded, edited, and mastered, you know that your medium won’t distract from your message. 

People who don’t care about the topic, the audience, or the medium should not start a podcast. Otherwise, they’ll never be happy with the process or results.

People Who Want To Make Money, Fast.

There’s a popular misconception out there that podcasting is an easy way to make money and become famous. It isn’t.

The first time I saw a clickbait ad on social media touting “Five Easy Side Hustles You Can Do To Make Big Money This Weekend!” my eyes rolled up and into the back of my head so hard that I nearly blacked out. Naturally, the ad featured the standard-issue “podcaster” stock photo (a person in their early 30s smiling into a huge microphone). This myth of the rags-to-riches podcaster still makes the rounds on social media. People send me all-caps messages saying, “Hello how do i get rich mic talk podcast moneys now.”

It’s rare for anyone to make millions from podcasting. News stories about people making nine-figure incomes from podcasting exist precisely because they’re rare. And it’s not “money for nothing,” either. 

Podcast monetization is an extra set of tasks podcasters do, on top of planning, recording, editing, and publishing episodes. For example, you can sign up for a media host that offers dynamic ad insertion. But, advertising buyers only want to put ads on shows that already have a lot of “inventory” (episodes) and a large audience. Depending on the service, your show may have to reach thousands of downloads per episode before you’ll receive any money. Building this inventory and audience takes time and consistency. 

In short, people have been able to change careers and build new lives with podcast monetization. But people who want to make money fast should not start a podcast.

People Who Can’t Make Time For More Work

Making a podcast can be quick and easy. Making a good podcast, however, takes time and effort. How much time it takes to make a podcast depends on many variables. Summing it up in less than a paragraph would be inaccurate and unfair to you.

But think about the comparison I made earlier: making a podcast is like writing a research paper, converting it to a presentation, and then promoting it to a global audience.  All-in-one podcasting software now streamlines different parts of podcast production, which saves time. If you’re organized, focused, and can stick to the same workflow for every episode, you can make a pretty good podcast in (maybe) less than eight hours a week. Over time, you can whittle that down to four.

However, if you have responsibilities – whether from work, family, or social activities- producing a podcast can drain those other areas of your life. 

When I’m consistently producing new podcast episodes, I feel fulfilled and healthier. This helps me better take care of other things in my life. But it’s hard to schedule the time to reach that balance. People whose lives are already full should not start a podcast right now.

People Who Need External Validation

Podcasting can be lonely. People spend a lot of time in their studios planning and creating content. Even interview podcasts where the host interacts with guests regularly still require a lot of time scheduling recording sessions, not to mention editing. 

Moreover, you might not get any feedback for a long time. Podcasters can go for months or years without getting feedback about their show. You don’t get a carrot every time you finish a task. 

And if you do get feedback, it may be negative. Studies show that negativity is about 15% more prevalent online than positive feedback.

So, if you need a regular supply of validation to keep moving forward, you should not start a podcast. 

People Who Start a Podcast Without a Purpose

There are a couple of different kinds of people who start a podcast without a clear purpose in mind. In both cases, the ego is driving the bus, and there’s no road map.

Celebrities “Between Projects”

Some of them are celebrities who suddenly find themselves without a job. They don’t know what they want to do next, but they need to maintain their social momentum. They’re good at being famous. They might also be good at talking into a mic or photogenic. So, they start a podcast.  But remember the underpinnings we talked about earlier. Being attractive or provocative isn’t enough to sustain much more than a sound bite or a photo session. 

Talkaholics In Search of a Topic

Another group of people have so much fun chatting with their friends over Zoom that they think, “We should record this.” Or, maybe they think other people want to hear them playing with their kids. One person told me they wanted to start a podcast where they could talk about everything that came to mind because… hey, they enjoy talking. I haven’t recovered.

Specificity Is The Point

Which would you rather listen to?

Bob and Carl talk about what they’re up to lately.

Bob and Carl explain their process of restoring a 1955 Gaylord Gladiator, which may have belonged to Marilyn Monroe, one step at a time. Can they get this car into the National Automobile Museum’s annual show?

I bet you’d click on the episode where Bob and Carl get a forensic pathologist to go over every inch of the car’s interior to find DNA evidence that JFK rode in the passenger seat. I know I sure would. 

Specificity shows your audience what to expect. We call this podcast niche. You create a space where the people who dig your content most can return again and again. Niche also makes it easy for your audience to share your show. It’s easier to share “Marilyn’s Gaylord Gladiator” than “Bob and Carl Talk about Stuff.”

People who don’t have a specific reason for podcasting should not start a podcast. 

All Right, Smarty Pants, Who SHOULD Start a Podcast?

Let’s end on a high note. You may have read through this list and thought, I’m NOT any of those people! I do have:

A topic I can’t stop thinking about, and focus to shape it

An audience in mind that I want to reach

Interest in recording and editing

Enough free time to make it work

If that’s you, then by all means, go for it! We here at The Podcast Host have abundant resources that can help. Let’s start with the Big Three:

Our guide to How to Start a Podcast helps you lay the foundations for your show.

You can also test out any podcast ideas you have, quickly and for free, with our Alitu Podcast Showplanner.

And finally, our Indiepod Community is a great way to learn from others’ experiences, celebrate, commiserate, and find future collaborators. Join us, and find out if now is the right time for you to start a podcast.

Originally posted on October 30, 2023 @ 1:25 am

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