Do you remember the feeling when you are about to start something new and announce it to the world? The cringe of am I good enough, should I even be doing it, and are there better than me? This is the imposter syndrome, and overcoming it is the key in many cases to starting something new.
Although this article is written with podcasting being the main focus, the main concepts, struggles, and solutions apply to all creators.
A question for you: how do you feel about podcasting?
Does the rising number of downloads make you feel ecstatic? Or do you rather feel nervous and think that success is not well-deserved?
Like any artist or thinker or speaker who shares their ideas with the world, podcasters should be ready for all kinds of reactions – they may go unnoticed, get criticized, or receive appreciation for their work.
Success is what most people chase, whether they are making a podcast or pursuing any other passion, but to many folks, the appreciation doesn’t feel real.
Such thoughts may hold you back from working consistently on your show. In fact, many folks don’t even start because of these ideas.
You are not alone if these feelings constantly crop up in your mind. There are many individuals, in podcasting as well as people from other walks of life, who battle such fears. In fact, it has a name.
It’s called Imposter Syndrome, and in this post, I will help you to understand and overcome it! Enjoy!
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes coined the term in 1978. It is not an actual mental ailment, but a dominating feeling that makes you downplay your own achievements.
Initially, it was thought to be experienced only by women, as their professional achievements were often attributed to luck or other factors rather than their capabilities. Additionally, women who were outspoken about their success were considered cocky. Over time, researchers observed that men also experienced imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome in podcasting is pretty common.
While entry into the podcasting world is easy, many podcasters question your self-worth in the light of positive feedback and success.
Thanks to Imposter Syndrome, some individuals endlessly plan their content meticulously, but actually, never release their first episode, and many abandon their work mid-way. They feel that their achievements aren’t real. They think they got lucky, or it’s just a small phase of success that will be followed by failure.
Even in the face of success, they think that their podcast had no value – it just got hyped for some reason. Or their friends made it viral, and surely, the upcoming episodes won’t have a high number of downloads.
Imposter syndrome in podcasting happens to a lot of people – there are many good creators whose imposter feelings make them spend too much time on their podcast and neglect the other aspects of their lives.
5 Types of Imposter Syndrome
Discussing imposter syndrome in podcasting, it would be beneficial to look at the different kinds of imposter feelings people experience. This can help you ascertain if what you are feeling is imposter syndrome or mild stress that one normally experiences.
It can be possible that you are experiencing a mix of types.
1. The Perfectionist
This is a common type of imposter syndrome in podcasting. These are individuals who are never happy with their podcast episodes. While it’s one thing to focus on improvement, they focus only on the flaws and ignore the good points of their work.
Such feelings fuel a great deal of anxiety.
2. The Superhero
Some folks feel inadequate in their lives, and they try to fill the imagined or real void by working too hard.
While it’s good to work hard, it is not good to throw your life off balance in order to achieve perfection in your work or to compensate for any missing elements in your life.
3. The Natural Genius
These individuals want to succeed at the first attempt on everything that they do. They might have excelled in their academic lives or at their workplaces, and they want to see the same results everywhere and every time.
If they don’t get it right the first time, they feel frustrated and dejected. When such people get into podcasting, they get impatient.
4. The Soloist
This is another very common type of imposter syndrome in podcasting. There are podcasters who want to do everything on their own.
They don’t want to accept advisers or outsource any part of their work – small or big – as they see it as a sign of weakness.
5. The Expert
Such podcasters are highly skilled and experienced in their niche, yet they have doubts about their expertise. They are always trying to learn more.
Why is it common in podcasters?
Emotional issues are more commonly associated with high-stress scenarios – like a corporate job. One doesn’t expect podcasters, bloggers, or artists to deal with troubling emotions.
To an outsider, a podcaster or a content creator is free from all worries. Yet, imposter syndrome in podcasting is widespread.
There are a few reasons that make podcasters vulnerable to imposter syndrome.
1. No entry barrier in podcasting
As I have already mentioned at the beginning of my post, there are no entry barriers in podcasting.
One can easily start a podcast – you don’t have to give an audition or show proof of your expertise.
This is a strong factor that fuels imposter syndrome in vulnerable individuals. Podcasters doubt their self-worth, as literally, anyone can start podcasting. They constantly worry if their content actually adds some value to people’s lives, or if they are knowledgeable enough.
2. Requires multiple technical skills
This really bothers the Soloist who loves to run a one-person show!
Rather than outsourcing some of the work and getting someone else on board, they consider it a personal failure.
3. It takes time to gain momentum
Even the best of podcasts take time to grow and become popular. And this is another reason for the prevalence of imposter syndrome in podcasting.
Amateur podcasters dream of replicating the success of famous podcasters, and they want to do it quickly. Many want their podcasts to be perfect from the very beginning, and they expect to become overnight celebrities. Things happen slowly in the podcasting world – many people don’t recognize the fact and see it as a shortcoming.
4. Disappointed with statistics
The world of the Internet relies heavily on numbers as a parameter to judge content creators.
The number of views for Youtube videos, the number of visitors to a blog, the number of downloads for a podcast episode, position in Apple Podcast rankings – the list goes on.
These statistics often fuel anxiety among podcasters. They start doubting the positive feedback from their listeners, as they are not happy with the numbers.
Podcasters often share the statistics of their show on social media, which means a lot of podcasters would compare their work and start worrying if another person seems much ahead of them in the podcasting number game.
5. It’s a side hustle
Many podcasters start harboring imposter feelings as their podcast is a side hustle, and they haven’t yet figured out a way to make money podcasting.
Since they spend a greater part of their time at their day jobs, they wrongly feel that they haven’t made enough effort on their podcast, and they are far from perfect.
Rather than being happy with the appreciation and recognizing their potential, they fear that the success is not genuine as they had never put long hours in it.
6. It is not related to their work experience/ education
Once again, almost all podcasters have other jobs.
For many folks, their work may not be directly related to what they podcast about. And there is nothing wrong with that. You may be an accountant who has a fiction podcast, and that’s perfectly fine!
Yet many individuals feel inferior about it and have imposter feelings when their idea for a podcast is not directly related to their current jobs.
7 step formula on how to overcome Imposter Syndrome
Now that you know the source of your fear and have acknowledged it to yourself follow this 7 step formula to overcome fear and imposter syndrome and become a better podcaster and content creator.
1. Recognize your feelings
It is natural and all right for a person to worry or feel restless sometimes.
But is the desire to improve your podcast, making you cranky? Do you feel the constant need to justify your success?
Are you neglecting your spouse or your other work for making your podcast better? Do you feel that your friends appreciate you not because your podcast shows are interesting, but simply because they are your friends? Are you obsessed with your podcast statistics and check them twice a day?
You might be facing imposter syndrome in podcasting, and maybe you haven’t realized it yet. If you want to be a happy podcaster, spare a few minutes to assess and accept your true feelings.
2. Accept that you cannot be a master of all
Podcasting requires you to excel at multiple skills. But if it gets too much, it is perfectly fine to take external help.
There are things that you can let someone else do for you without compromising your ideas and voice. You can hire freelance writers to work on your transcripts or help your sound editing or marketing grow your podcast.
This would make your life easier, let you focus on your strong points, and make podcasting fun.
3. Share your thoughts
You may feel that the podcast is your thing, and there is no need to discuss your podcasting issues with anyone else. But talking to your friends and family can really help you feel better about your podcast.
If imposter syndrome is the reason behind your frazzled nerves, the people around you can point it out (they might not use the specific term) and let you take actual stock of your situation.
You may or may not believe the online feedback on your work, but your true well-wishers would tell you what they think of your podcast from a listener’s perspective. They can give you great inputs, and they wouldn’t lie to you, so you can trust their appreciation and feel good about your work.
4. Don’t compare
Podcasting is not a competition. Once you accept this, you will be better off in dealing with imposter syndrome in podcasting.
Stop comparing your work with the success stories of podcasters floating on social media.
The exciting figures often undercut the years of hard work put behind the podcast. If you really want to sustain your podcast, don’t get overly obsessed with the figures.
5. Consider the circumstances
Are you feeling the blues because your latest episode didn’t get the response that you expected?
You need to make peace with the fact that no matter how popular your podcast is, not all episodes will be blockbusters. There will be ups and down – you should rather take into account the overall performance of the show.
When one episode doesn’t get traction, it doesn’t mean your whole show is a flop. You can evaluate why it went wrong and learn from the mistakes.
Sometimes there might be no mistakes at all, and there were just fewer people interested in that topic. It is not always your fault. Cut yourself a little slack and breathe easy.
6. Don’t be scared to fail
Failure is part and parcel of life. It happens to all of us. If the idea of your next episode not garnering enough attention from listeners and it bothers you to the extent that you are exerting yourself and not taking a break, just relax for a while.
You can’t always be super successful – make your peace with this.
Put your best foot forward – take pride in great outcomes, but don’t feel terrified if the results are not what you had been dreaming of.
7. Enjoy the process
You entered the podcasting world with your own free will. You must enjoy the process in order to learn and thrive. It is not a job that you took up to make ends meet or a college degree that you badly needed.
While trying to improve and aiming for perfection is good, but don’t get obsessed and tensed over minor shortcomings.
The small creases smooth out by themselves with time.
Remember that if you want to be a long-term player, you should feel happy about making a podcast.
The support from listeners, no matter how many they are, is always genuine. No one would listen to you speak for more than half an hour if what you are saying doesn’t resonate with them.
No matter what happens, believe in yourself. Learn constantly, take criticism in your stride, and enjoy podcasting.