A podcast is a series of audio or video media files that are released episodically and usually downloaded through web syndication, like iTunes. In the simplest of terms it’s like having a radio show, only you record and edit it in advance, and then you release it on the Internet instead of over radio waves. Having a podcast is a great way to differentiate yourself from other professionals, to display your expertise on a subject and to connect with other people.
I’ve had the pleasure of being a guest on three podcasts. It’s a lot of fun to record a show. There are many legal podcasts available for download on iTunes. I regularly listen to Lawyer2Lawyer, Rocket Lawyer and Legal Lad Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Lawful Life.
Recently, I attended PodcampAZ, a social media unconference for bloggers and podcasters. One of the presenters was Evo Terra. Evo was the 40th podcaster on the planet, and he co-authored Podcasting for Dummies. Here are some of the lessons he’s learned in the seven years he’s been a podcaster.
- Being a podcaster doesn’t make you special—creating excellent content does. Your job as a podcaster is to create quality content. Don’t get into podcasting just to say that you have a podcast. If you don’t have good content, you won’t have listeners.
- Ask for help. It can be intimidating to start a podcast. There are lots people who are willing to help you with things you may not be an expert in like editing and graphic design. You will make yourself insane if you try to do everything on your own.
- Your podcast can open doors. You can lever your podcast for professional advancement. It could open the door for books, public speaking and jobs. A podcast is an exceptional tool for creating a professional niche.
- Have a co-host. In general, podcasts work better when you have a co-host. You can only talk to yourself so much. It’s much more effective and fun to have someone to banter with. My favorite legal podcast is Blind Drunk Justice, cohosted by two anonymous lawyers known only as BL1Y and The Namby Pamby. Part of what made their podcast so enjoyable was the way they interacted with each other, not just the topics they discussed. I was pleased to hear that they will be recording news shows soon. Another way to liven up your podcast is to invite guests to be on an episode.
- The f-word is overrated. The FCC doesn’t regulate podcasts. There are no “deadly words” that you can’t say in your show. It’s okay to swear on your podcast—I’ve done it—but don’t do it every two seconds. You can say anything you want when you record your show and then edited it before you release it to maximize your impact.
- Release a new episode every week. Ideally you should release new episodes on the same day every week. Your listeners will expect and look forward to it. You listeners will also appreciate your show having some type of structure so they know what to expect every week.
- Your show should cover the topic of the week, and then stop. Each episode “should be as short as you can possibly make it.” Don’t add anything just to fill time. Listeners often listen to podcasts when they’re working out and in the car. They won’t listen to a show if they think it’s too long. Many podcast episodes are about 30 minutes long, but they can be shorter. Legal Lad does one tip per show. He rarely has an episode that’s more than six minutes long.
- Invest in a quality microphone and headphones. There are ways to save money when making a podcast, but you shouldn’t scrimp on these. Your microphone and headphones make a huge difference in your sound quality. Talk to experts to find the right microphone for your voice.
- Don’t plan to recoup your investment. Think of your podcast as a hobby. It’s something you do for fun because you love it. Never go into a podcast with the intent of making money. That might happen, but it definitely isn’t the norm.
If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, find yourself a co-host and do it. It’s a fantastic and fun way to share your passion and build a name for yourself.