Podcasts are everywhere. They are being played in the subway, in the cafes, in the gymnasium, wherever you go. More people than ever are starting a podcast, but before you do and invest time and resources in, perhaps the wrong medium for you, analyze why you shouldn’t start a podcast.
According to survey findings shared by Edison Research, as many as 50% of US households are fans of podcasts.
They are listening to podcasts of different genres, with comedy, education, and news being the most popular ones.
Podcasting is attractive, and many people think about starting a show
These figures make podcasting very alluring, but if you are someone who is toying with the idea of starting a podcast just because of such numbers, you need to sit down and think through things.
While the huge number of listeners make podcasts look very attractive, let me tell you that many shows don’t grab the attention of listeners.
Worse, there are many dead podcasts too – as podcasters abandoned them in between.
Less than 50% of podcasts are active, meaning only half of shows shad a new episode published this year.
And that’s why you just shouldn’t start a podcast if you are not sure about certain things that I will discuss in this post.
So if podcasting is on your mind, make sure you aren’t doing it for any of these wrong reasons, or otherwise, your podcast would get relegated to a quiet corner of the virtual world pretty soon.
1. You are fascinated by the outcome, but don’t know the grind it involves.
You have listened to a couple of podcasts. Now you think that all the podcaster did was hit the record button, read from a script, and publish. If you believe that’s all it takes in podcasting, then you shouldn’t start a podcast.
Let me explain very briefly what it entails to run a podcast-
- Choosing an idea (it’s not as easy as it sounds),
- Deciding the episode topics and duration,
- Researching and writing a script,
- Interviewing people to corroborate facts, or to be a part of your show,
- Rehearsing for the recording,
- Setting up quality podcast equipment (also, buying it!),
- Sound editing,
- Uploading it to a podcast host and making it available in a directory,
- Promoting it through different channels,
- Working on a long-term monetization strategy.
All these things are not very complicated, but need dedication and patience to learn. But if you are not willing to put the effort, then stay away from podcasting.
2. You want to have a podcast, just because many people have one.
If you think having a podcast is like having an Instagram page or a Facebook account, you can just create one and keep on posting random stuff, as and when you like. Few of your friends started a podcast, and look at them, how cool they are!
If your ideas are similar to what I wrote above, then you probably haven’t done your homework yet! First of all, podcasting is not free, unlike your social media account. Even if you want to keep things simple, you will have to shell out at least $200 for essential equipment set up.
And making a podcast consumes way more time than an Instagram post. You won’t get the luxury to skip a day on your posting schedule. Given the much higher level of effort and time needed. So if you don’t have a plan and strategy in place before you begin, then, frankly speaking, you shouldn’t start a podcast.
3. You want quick money.
Podcasting won’t get you quick money. Forget those stories about super-successful podcasters that quickly rose to fame.
They undercut the years of hard work that went into building their expertise and running their podcast show. And despite everything, only a few achieve that status after many months or years.
If you think you can simply launch a podcast and money will come pouring in, then I would instead like to give you a warning – you shouldn’t start a podcast. Podcasts are not going to become an overnight replacement for your full-time job. Chances of that happening are pretty less.
I don’t want to discourage you, and of course, with strategic planning and great content, after some time, you might be able to make a decent side-income.
But if you think it will make you very famous or rich overnight, and you won’t have to do anything else, then you are headed for a sore disappointment.
4. You think podcasting is super easy to learn.
After all, you just have to talk. Google a bit, jot down a few points here and there, and voila you are ready to record! And suddenly, the whole world will stop in its tracks to listen to you.
If you think that podcasting involves no or little skill, be aware that the reality is precisely the opposite.
Podcasting demands you to learn and hone many skills.
You have to be an outstanding researcher who knows how to study a topic thoroughly, unearth new facts and info, reach out to experts for verification, etc. Now that you have to talk to experts, you need excellent interviewing skills for them.
Oh, and you have to write a script for the show. And also, record it in a very professional and appealing manner. But even the best of recordings need a bit of sound editing to remove retakes and pauses – so you need to edit the sound as well!
Now, what about marketing your podcast?
And you need to do these things within a timeframe. It is difficult, not impossible. But you should be ready to hone these skills if you want to make your voice heard among the rising crowd of podcasters!
5. You think it needs little time.
Many people think that podcasting needs a bit of reading and a little bit of speaking, and anyone can record an episode quickly. And such people shouldn’t start a podcast, because it is going to demand a lot more of your time.
I have just told you about all the skills that you would need to work on for podcasting. And the process of launching a new podcast. Think carefully, how much time you need to devote if that’s how you want to work?
I estimate that it would need at least 9-10 hours to work on a high-quality one-hour episode.
Anyone can do it for one episode. But would you be able to maintain this enthusiasm for the entire series? Do you have any personal or professional commitments that are likely to come in your way?
Start a podcast only if you are ready to give that kind of time to your podcast every week.
6. You are not interested in promoting your podcast.
Many individuals avoid social media. They like to keep their internet activities to a bare minimum. They are not the kind of people who would share a post or a blog with others, leave their comments on other individual’s work. And there is nothing wrong with that unless you want to start a podcast.
A podcast wouldn’t attract enough people by its mere presence on a directory (unless you are a sought after celeb or an authority in your field). An active social media presence is a must to promote your work and get feedback from listeners.
You would also be required to manage a podcast landing page, write something informative for your show notes, stay in touch with existing and potential listeners through email marketing, etc.
All these need to be used strategically to derive maximum visibility for your podcast. Unless you are happy to spend more time online and aggressively promote your work, you shouldn’t start a podcast.
7. You don’t have original ideas.
Many people believe they can copy or take inspiration from someone else’s work. There are singers, stand-up comics, bloggers, etc. who think that way. I can’t speak for them. But in podcasting, copying some else’s work won’t take you anywhere.
If you plan to imitate someone else, there is no reason why people will listen to you instead of that someone else. If you are going to regurgitate another podcaster’s idea or copy their format, I strongly feel there is no reason for anyone to listen to you instead of the original person. (You might rather end up making a strong case to listen to your ‘inspiration’).
There are many podcasts on different platforms, and many more people are planning to foray into podcasting space.
Unless a podcast has something new and different, it won’t gain enough attention. So if you want to do something similar to what another podcaster has already done, you shouldn’t start a podcast.
8. You don’t want to spend a penny on basic equipment setup.
At the end of the day, podcasting is an audio show. And the quality of audio matters. The listeners may not be sound engineers, but high-quality audio has a strong role in deciding how they will perceive you.
You need to sound professional. Your voice should be rich and attractive, the sound should be free of unwanted noises, and the accompanying music needs to be edited with perfection.
And you can’t get this for free. You don’t have to set up an entire professional studio. But to produce a podcast with rich sound, you need to spend a minimum of $200 on basic hardware and software. If you want top-notch podcasting equipment, the costs can go up to $1.500.
If you are not interested in spending anything for production, you shouldn’t start a podcast.
9. You don’t like listening to podcasts.
I hope there aren’t many of you – but I am sure there might still be a handful of individuals who don’t have the patience to listen to a complete podcast episode. They have explored podcasts, yet they want to jump into the fray hoping to get famous, make money, or to sell their products.
Regardless of the purpose, podcasting is a passion. And someone who is not passionate about it shouldn’t start a podcast. The kind of involvement it requires when it comes to the time and effort, and the patience it demands to keep going is not possible for someone who is not into it.
Moreover, you need to spend time listening to other podcasters and know what work is done in your niche. You need that awareness to stay away from overused topics or get a pulse of what listeners like.
As a podcaster, it is of the utmost importance that you are aware of what is going on around you in the podcasting world.
Unless you appreciate podcasts, there is no reason that you should start one yourself.
10. You can’t face competition.
I agree that the podcasting space is not as saturated as blogs or videos. But still, there is a competition to beat. It’s not going to be an empty space that you can just step in and fill.
If you are a person who is not ready to take on some challenges, then you shouldn’t start a podcast for any reason.
Even the most ideal or perfect content strategy needs changes to stay relevant to its target audience. You need to be spirited enough to take criticism positively and use it to improve your work. You need to be aware of your competitors to bring something new for your listeners in every episode. And you need to be there for the long-term to gain a good number of subscribers.
Are you open to constructive feedback and constant improvisations? Or you are someone who calls it quits after one disappointment? Think and decide whether you want to start a podcast! A wise decision can save you a lot of time.
I am a huge podcasting fan. I love podcasts and everything about them.
Yet, I won’t recommend every third person to go and start a podcast. I think to start a podcast just because you fancy it will only lead you to abandon it midway.
Think about all the wasted hours and frustration. It would have been better if you had put your energy into something more sustainable for you. If you still think you should start a podcast, please see that you are into it for the right reasons, and you are ready for a long haul.
I just want to say that if you take the first step, make sure that you are committed to staying!
If you have any more doubts, just go through this list once again and make a fair assessment and consciously decide if podcasting is right for you.
Thanks for this article, it was exactly what I was looking for. My first google search was “how to start a podcast” and when I saw the results I realized I’m old enough and wise enough to refine that search. I next searched on “Realities of starting a podcast” because I didn’t want to read articles from marketers trying to sell me their wares for my podcast and encouraging me onward. I wanted a pro’s opinion telling me the realities. You hit the nail on the head. I’m still thinking of going forward with it, but I have to digest this food for thought before committing.
The realities of starting a podcast are a bit complex. If you want to have a truly successful show, this will be a journey of 12+ months (some people of course get super lucky in no time). Anyway, I think you can learn a lot by just trying out – a lot of public speaking and presentation skills that will be useful in any situation.
I’ve been recording since I was small at home before podcasting ever existed. I recorded my own songs. When podcasting came along, I made stories from blogging into podcasts and art. Most of all, I have a music commentary show. I always wanted to do something in radio and podcasting is the closest thing to it. That is why I podcast.