I was talking to a friend the other day. I do that sometimes. Talk to friends. Sometimes in person, most of the time in Facebook messenger. We got on the subject of podcasting and we were wondering why certain people we know and love weren’t jumping in on that field. Their voices are great, they have great senses of humor, and their point of views are fascinating and insightful. And yet they don’t share that. While I don’t want to assume, I think everything is linked to fear in some way. Maybe I’m coming from this perspective because I’m listening to the second season of The Magic Lessons Podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert—so good!—but think of the four main excuses you have for not starting a podcasting, or even organizing an improv troupe or signing up for an open mic.
I’m going to use some quotes that I’ve thought in the past for anything and everything that I was afraid to do, or am still afraid to do. I will apply my advice to podcasting, but there may be little kernels you can find for general advice.
"I don't know where to start."
I wrote my Podcasting 101 series with you in mind, young Podawan! It's as simple as starting with something that you like. Is it improv? Doctor Who? Do you want to start a Stephen King book club? Is there a fictional story you want to tell? Record yourself talking about what you like, and whatever gets you most excited and worked up is probably what you should podcast.
"I don't have enough money."
If your main concern is that your budget is tight, use your voice memo recorder on your smartphone. You can always upgrade later. (Yet another Podcast 101 article for your viewing pleasure.)
"I hate the sound of my voice."
You're not alone. I still hate my voice. People used to make fun of my voice. Someone very recently made a joke about how shrill my voice could get, and it hurt my feelings. But there are plenty of people who won't care because they want to contribute to the conversation.
"I need a co-host."
Not really. I love my co-host to bits, but if I had a really good idea for a show and didn't want to wait for someone to banter with, I'd just start something. It seems like we wait for someone else to join in and say, "That sounds great! In fact, I'll do it with you!" Don't wait for your co-host... be your own co-host. (Not in a Sybil or Fight Club way. Or Orphan Black. I do not condone cloning yourself for the sake of having a co-host.) Some single-host podcasts include I Should Be Writing with Mur Lafferty, The Myths and Legends Podcast, Grammar Girl, and even the weird and fictional Welcome to Nightvale.
"No one will listen or care."
I get that. But here's the thing: As of this moment, you're not giving anyone the chance to listen. You have to give your podcast a chance to grow an audience, and even then, there will be at least one person listening to your podcast at the very beginning. Yes, it might be your mom and she doesn't understand what you're talking about, but it's a start. Just like any art form—podcasting, improv, papier mache—you have to be willing to share your work.
The hardest thing about podcasting, or any art or conversation piece, is simply getting it started. And that's the best advice anyone can offer. "Just start," or "just do it." We wait for validation or perfection and use the lack of either as an excuse not to try. As someone who is super fearful and craves validation like a chocolate chip cookie, the best way to get over your fear is to confront it in some way. In this case, you may have to just hit a record button and start talking into a microphone about something, anything.
Also, when in doubt, ask somebody. I’m a hardcore introvert in real life, but if it’s a topic I can handle like podcasting or Disney movie trivia, I’m more than comfortable talking to anybody. If you have any podcasting questions of your own, comment below. I will address them in my next podcast-related article.
KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.