Last week I bought a new air conditioning unit for my apartment. This one was a little different from others that I’ve purchased: I had to buy a few extra attachments due to the setup of my apartment.
While others might have had a little trouble putting said AC unit together, I was able to get it up and cranking in about five minutes.
I’ve probably set up a couple dozen AC units in my lifetime. I’ve read all the manuals, watched the how-to videos on YouTube – I’ve even read articles online about the best types of AC units to buy depending on the set up I have. Comfort is pretty important to me…
I will almost go so far as to say that these days, I’m a semi-pro in the AC department.
But it wasn’t always that way.
The first experience I had setting up an AC unit was a disaster. The tubing wasn’t long enough to reach the window, the power wasn’t intense enough to cool the entire room, and the size of the unit certainly wasn’t ideal for the space.
I guess it’s kind of like my experience with podcasting.
The day I decided I was going to set out on a long and winding journey to start my own podcast, I didn’t know anything about podcasting. I had never recorded audio before. I didn’t know what type of equipment was required, how to edit an audio file, or that I needed accounts with companies like LibSyn to host the audio files for me.
But now that I’m here – now that I’ve been podcasting for over a year – I know a lot of this stuff like the back of my hand. I can tell you exactly what equipment you need, how to set it up, and how to record, edit and publish an episode in no time flat.
Kind of like putting together that new AC unit I bought last week – it’s natural.
I’ve made some incredible progress in a pretty short amount of time with podcasting. My podcast is currently being downloaded over 500,000 unique times every month, and at month six, I started finding several ways to monetize to the tune of earning 6-figures annually.
When looking back at the past year, it’s amazing to think of all the manuals I’ve read, the how-to videos I’ve watched and the articles I’ve read online about the best techniques, tips and resources for podcasters.
I’ve run into multiple road blocks, been pushed on my behind more than a few times, and I’ve spent countless hours correcting mistakes that could have been prevented altogether if I had known what I was doing in the first place.
Which is why I want to offer up a little advice to anyone getting started in podcasting. There are probably a hundred things to consider if you really want to make a business out of (or an impact from) your podcast. But many of those things aren’t essential.
What IS essential is getting started on the right foot.
So below I’ve listed the 5 essential first steps for starting a podcast. Consider this your quick-start guide to getting your podcast started the RIGHT way:
Step 1: What do you want to Podcast about?
Ask yourself questions like:
What am I passionate about?
What do I like learning about?
What do I like talking about?
Who do I like talking to?
This first question is vital to the success of your podcast. If you don’t care about your topic, if you don’t like learning about the subject matter, or if the people you interview don’t invigorate you, your podcast won’t last. You’ll burnout before you make any progress, wasting possibly hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.
Don’t start with money in mind – start with passion.
Step 2: Create your avatar
Your avatar is your ideal audience member, and you need to know your avatar inside and out. What you’re creating with your podcast is not for everyone; it’s for someone very specific.
Who is that person?
Step 3: Define your niche
It’s very difficult to niche; if it were easy, then everyone would do it.
After all, it sounds so much better to please everyone than it does to please just a single group of people, right?
If you’re not talking to one person, then you end up talking to no one. [click to tweet]
Don’t be afraid to niche way down – find that very specific group of people who are interested in what you have to say and the value you’re going to provide.
For example, if you like fishing, your niche isn’t going to be fishing as a whole. But your niche might be bait & tackle. And then, you might even niche again, and you might only focus on bait & tackle for lake fishing.
Believe it or not, the more particular you can be, the better.
Step 4: Name your podcast
I know it’s important, but don’t get hung up on your name – seriously. The quality of your content and just starting your business is so much more important.
That said, you do need to name your podcast. So what name resonates with you?
Follow your gut!
Also, what name will resonate with your guest? Remember, you want your avatar to see your podcast name and say, “Okay, I get what the topic is, and I want to listen to it.”
Then of course you’ll need to be sure the domain is available. Again, don’t get hung up on the naming – the content you’re providing is much more important.
Step 5: Decide what format and consistency you want to follow
There are several options here, all of which you’ll need to review before starting your podcast.
Do you want to do an audio-only podcast, or do you like the idea of video, too? This is somewhat dependent on your audience and when they’ll be listening to your podcast. Will it be during a time when they can watch a video, or would it be better to have audio-only?
Do you want to interview others on your show, or just talk to your audience one-on-one?
How long do you want each episode to be? If you’re targeting an audience who is listening when they might be driving to or from work, or while they’re on their daily run, then around 30 minutes is probably a good length.
Consistency is also very, very important. You need to set your audience’s expectations up front. When you launch, you should launch with at least 3-4 episodes, but what consistency you follow from that point on is completely up to you.
Make sure you communicate this to your audience so they know what to expect. If you promise a new episode 3 times per week, and only deliver 1 time per week, you will lose credibility and your audience’s ability to trust you. So whatever the consistency is, just be sure you communicate that up front, and then stick to it.
Finding Your Paradise
It’s no secret that podcasting is a passion of mine.
That’s the reason I started Entrepreneur On Fire in the first place. And it’s the reason I’m building a new community – Podcasters Paradise.
I love talking to successful entrepreneurs about their journey, and then sharing that with as many listeners as possible in order to motivate and inspire others to take their own entrepreneurial leap. Hearing about the struggles my guests have faced, and how they’ve picked themselves up and continued to push on because they’re working toward building a business that really means something to them – it’s inspiring.
That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about: learning how to turn your passions into a viable business so you can create a lifestyle that allows you to do the things you love.
If I can help aspiring entrepreneurs find their paradise faster – so they don’t have to go through all the heartache I went through when I first started – then I’ll be one happy guy.
That’s my paradise.
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John Lee Dumas is the Founder and Host of Entrepreneur On Fire, a top-ranked business podcast that interviews today’s most inspiring and successful Entrepreneurs 7-days a week (from Seth Godin to Tim Ferris to Barbara Corcoran). His book Podcast Launch is the #1 ranked book in Amazon on podcasting, and Podcasters’ Paradise is a community for Podcasters to create, grow, and monetize their podcast.