Last week, we celebrated our 50th episode with a special Q&A episode. We asked our listeners to ask anything that was on their minds and we did our best to answer as many questions as we could get to. We had a whole array of topics from gaming, to the Philadelphia 76ers, and even the controversial question ‘is a hotdog a sandwich?’. One question though really had me thinking about our time in these last 50 episodes, that being ‘what were your thoughts going into podcasts and how has that changed 50 episodes later?’. We gave our short answers on the podcast, but still think about what lessons I’ve learned after doing this for almost a year.
While I could write many lessons in this article, I just want to share three main lessons that I believe every new podcaster should learn before they hit their 50th episode. Keep in mind, we’re still new at this too and we’re still learning as we grow to 100 episodes. I am not writing this article as the ‘podcast guru’ but as someone who is constantly learning how to improve the show through the course of years to come. With that said, I want to share with you three pieces of advice that I’ve learned so far.
There’s a reason why this is first on the list; it’s because when you start, you’re going to start basically blind. Yes, the reason you start a podcast is that you’re a fan of podcasts, but there’s more to podcasts than what you’re hearing. How do they prepare each week? What equipment do they use? Why are they using that equipment? How do they get in contact with guests? How do they read their analytics? How did they get their voices so buttery smooth? There are so many factors when it comes to podcasting every week and it helps if you find a mentor that you A) respect their work and B) has been in the game for a long time.
Finding a mentor is key when you are first entering the landscape of podcasts because it allows you to find useful information from the most honest source. We were lucky enough to meet CheapyD of CAGcast and Brian McGuinness of Playable Characters Podcast at Long Island Retro Expo and they’ve allowed us to keep in touch if we had any questions regarding podcasting. Whenever I have a question about podcasting, I know they’ll do their best to answer me honestly, but I also know to respect their time so I won’t throw ten questions per day at them. We’ve also received great advice from the likes of YouTuber, Sean Chandler, and co-founder of RadioPublic, Matt MacDonald. It’s important to learn from those who’ve found success in the medium and also be willing to apply it to your work; if they’ve taken time to answer your question at least take the time to chew on their words for a long while.
One thing you should understand about mentorship is that it takes a lot of time, time that not every creator has. Find creators that you respect and reach out to them asking if they can answer some questions that you have, if they don’t respond right away or at all don’t take it personally. These creators receive a lot of emails and DMs and it might take a while to get back to you, but the important thing to remember is to be polite in your message and understand they have a daily to-do list the size of Florida.
There’s much more I could say about finding a mentor, but I highly advise at least finding one mentor as you start and continue to grow your podcast.
Don’t Compare Yourself
As I am competitive in nature, this is something I’ve had to wrestle with since I was young. I believe a lot of people starting out in podcasts might start to compare themselves with other podcasters, mostly in other’s successes. We might see another person’s numbers and wonder how they got to that point quicker than you did or how they’ve received more reviews than you or how could they can get way more guests than you can.
The more you start to compare yourself, the more discouraged you’ll become and that will start to translate in the way you enter your own podcast every week. The fluctuation of your voice is very telling of how you’re actually feeling, the more discouraged you are the drabber your show will become. Comparing yourself to others will only lead to the worst version of yourself when you’re trying to engage your audience with your best self. Rather than comparing yourself with others, try to work as a team to put podcasting in the mainstream. Video Game Podcasts are not the first thing you think of when finding podcasts, but they have so much to offer and there are so many different ones out there.
If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll probably see that we interact with a lot of different gaming podcasts. I enjoy that there are different gaming podcasts out there for every sort of person, we don’t have to carry the responsibility of bringing gaming podcasts to the mainstream because there are plenty of others already doing that. What’s even more special is that each show has its own set of unique personalities from the most introverted to beyond extroverted. I remember reading a review for The Greatest Story Ever Played that read something like ‘I’ve been trying to find a gaming podcast without a bunch of dude-bros and this is the best one for me’. Everyone has their tastes and preferences, not everyone will click with you, but someone is looking for your type of show and that’s why you shouldn’t be comparing yourself.
Each podcast grows at their own rate with their own fanbase and their own time commitment, just be patient and stay consistent with your content. Speaking on making your own unique content, this segues nicely into our final piece of advice.
Make Something You’re Proud Of
I remember talking with one of my friends, Clai, about starting something online. He shared with me that he wants to start a YouTube channel that no one ever wants to talk about, that being Bidet toilets. Clai is very passionate both about Bidets as well as the fact that Americans are not too inclined to setting one up in their homes, he wants to change that with a YouTube channel. He told me he doesn’t think it’ll work since not many people talk about it, but I shared two things:
If one person is interested in a topic, there’s bound to be more out there
If you’re proud of your content, people will become interested
As I said in the last section if you sound discouraged in your podcast, people will pick up that you’re not proud of your content so why should they? It may not be something that everyone on planet Earth is interested in, but at least you’re proud of what you made. Confidence is key to putting on a great show every week, your audience is looking for someone who loves what they do. I’m not trying to say you need to be on you’re a game every single time, but even on your worst weeks your podcast shouldn’t be something you need to ‘cross off the list’. Put pride and confidence in your work, be proud to share it with your friends and family, be proud to share it on Twitter, be proud of what you’ve made.
One thing I should mention is that there is a fine line between making something you’re proud of and just trying to one-up yourself every week. When I say be proud of what you make, have a mindset of improving yourself and your craft by taking steps with mentorship and learning from mistakes. What I’m not saying is one-upping yourself, the mindset that nothing you do is good enough and you always need to criticize yourself for everything. One-upping each week will lead straight to a burnt-out mind, not doing anything with purpose but instead doing things just to get them done.
Take the time to improve your craft with critical analysis of how you can improve without breaking yourself down. Each week, make an episode that you’re proud of and are proud to share it with the world. If you do this, you’ll inevitably improve yourself.
These are just three lessons we’ve learned after 50 episodes and I am willing to learn even more. We hope to reach episode 100 with more wisdom than ever before, but until then we’re focused on giving you the best E3 episodes we can make for you!