Dina Del Bucchia is a writer, podcaster, literary event host, editor, instructor and otter and dress enthusiast. She is the author of the short story collection, Don’t Tell Me What to Do, and four collections of poetry, and most recently, It’s a Big Deal!
So you’ve been thinking about what it takes to start your own podcast, now what? Our latest guest speaker, Dina Del Bucchia has some excellent tips on how to begin!
Podcasting for Fun (And Zero Dollars)
The thing about podcasts is that they can kind of be anything you want! With podcasts you have the freedom to create and publish whatever you like. If you start your own podcast there aren’t the constraints of a broadcaster to hold you back or censor your wildest ideas. If you can afford any type of recording equipment or have access to record then anything is possible.
However! That means you are the arbiter of what’s good. You’re quality control. You’re not just doing all the work of recording and production, but making sure that every element is the best it can be. So, you’re also, probably editing, hosting, booking guests, and all the while thinking about how to make the best podcast you can make.
A podcast is a commitment. I personally am always waiting for new episodes from my favourite shows and eagerly download them on the scheduled release date. If one doesn’t show up, there’s some genuine disappointment. When I don’t release an episode on time, I feel that too.
Here are some tips on how to make that possible, by considering a few elements and making some choices up front about what your podcast is going to be.
Know what you want to do. Be able to describe your podcast succinctly and with ease. Consider the specificity of the idea, who the ideal listeners would be, and how you can make that happen with the resources available to you. Ask yourself a list of questions to narrow down the options. Will it be a solo podcast, an interview, improv, scripted, narrative? Will you work with others or alone? Once you’ve figured out what you want you can set out to make it happen. And if you decide to work with others make sure everyone is clear on all the important points.
Make sure your audience can rely on you consistently and also that you can rely on yourself and anyone you’re working with to do the same. This could mean setting and sticking to a consistent release schedule that is manageable for you (weekly, monthly, etc.) or the length (thirty minutes, an hour, etc.) or it could mean the work that goes into it before you head to record, like research or interview preparation. Developing systems to prepare for each episode, and knowing how much work will go into each one helps immensely with keeping it consistent.
Decide what this word means to you. If you want the cleanest and most professional sound, then the audio quality will take priority. If you want the content to be impeccable then you’ll focus on that. When producing something on your own it might not always be possible to have every level of quality meet the standards you’ve set, but prioritize the qualities most important to you to maintain and keep consistent. As per the previous point, consistency. Sometimes podcasts feel repetitive.
Be your own audience
We often tell writers to write what they would want to read and podcasting is no different. If you wouldn’t listen to your own podcast, why would anyone else? Tone, content, guests, sound quality, even your theme song contributes to the type of show you want to create. Make sure all those things appeal to you. Don’t make something for the “market” when you are doing it for free and for yourself. Your audience will be grateful you didn’t phone it in just to get caught up in the latest podcast trends.
Know your goals
Be honest with yourself about what your podcast will mean for you. If number of downloads is important, you’ll want to focus on promotion and marketing. If you want to create something special to you then one of your goals might be to focus on the details of each episode to create that special feeling. If you know you can only manage a single season of eight episodes, then do that. Not every podcast has to be ongoing. The content will often help refine the goals. And if your goal is to create a podcast, make the most achievable smaller goals to get things up and running.
Be kind to yourself
As many of us have other jobs and commitments knowing our limitations can help us answer questions about what we want our podcast to look like and find a clear path to achieve those goals. If you want making a podcast to be part of your life you have to find the time and energy. Don’t overload yourself. Sure, I made all these rules here (they’re really tips! Not rules!) but if you have to take a break, re-jig the show or make changes, that’s okay. Do what will work for you. And have fun! The best podcasts are often ones that you can tell hard work has gone into them, but the hosts are also enjoying the work they’re doing.