I was planning my “Paddle Pilgrim” adventure—kayaking the Mekong River in SE Asia through Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam—when the pandemic hit. Unable to go, I redirected my adventure spirit and decided to try my hand at podcasting. That’s how I, the “Paddle Pilgrim,” became the “Podcast Pilgrim.” It’s been a wonderful adventure of learning.
For those unfamiliar with podcasting, I like to think of it as my own mini-radio program where I share ideas and interview interesting people. The success of my podcast (measured in number of listeners) surprised me and led to being asked to help others start their own.
Here is very simple “how-to” list of steps and suggestions for creating a podcast:
Podcast topic: Your podcast should be what you are enthused or excited about, a topic that you have experience or expertise in, and will benefit and interest others. I began with reflections on “old sayings, familiar expressions, and adages”—ready-made material from my book, Say What? A Fresh Look at Old Sayings. I also started commenting on current events, then later added interviews with interesting people in a series called “Life Journeys.”
Audience: Your audience begins with family, friends, and immediate contacts then grows from there. People you interview can help. I am currently doing a series titled, “The Magic of Music” where I interview musicians about their musical adventures and share great music. Each musician I interview promotes my podcast to their fan-base, building my audience.
Platform: You need a podcast recording “platform.” I use Anchor, a free application that’s easy to use. Tutorials and step-by-step instructions help budding podcasters imagine, write, launch, and market your program. With Anchor your podcast will be available on two major podcast channels: iTunes and Spotify.
Equipment: The only equipment you need are a computer or smart phone, and headphones with microphone. That’s it!
Home recording studio: Good sound is crucial. Podcasting is an audio medium. Make sure you record in a quiet room where there is little ambient sound/noise and no distractions. I don’t podcast on Wednesdays because the grandkids are at our house. William loves to try on my headphones …
Script: Writing a simple script translates your thoughts into clear and understandable content and helps manage the length of the program. I started with 15-minute programs and have expanded with interviews running up to 60 minutes. Having a script keeps me “on-topic,” but also allows me to ad-lib when doing an interview. Start simple and short!
Practice, practice, practice: You know the story of the person who was lost in NYC and wanted to know how to get to Carnegie Hall. A local told him, “Practice!” While practice will not make you perfect, it will help you gain confidence.
Audience: Build your audience by sharing on social media. I use Facebook and Instagram as well as a regular email “newsletter” via Google called FlashIssue. The best days to post on Facebook are Tuesday through Thursday and don’t forget word-of-mouth.
Evaluate your success via the analytics your platform/Anchor provides: You can actually know the number, gender, and age of your audience. I also was amazed to discover that I had an international audience.
The bottom line is to HAVE FUN!: Podcasting can be an adventure where you learn something new and get to share your ideas with others.
Dave Ellingson is a Lutheran pastor, master gardener, former distance runner, and father of five grown children. You can listen to his podcast at: https://anchor.fm/david-ellingson. He lives in Edmonds, WA.