There’s no getting around it. It takes a lot of motivation to take an idea and turn it into something tangible in the real world. So we often let our sparks of creativity pass us by.
Great podcast ideas are a dime a dozen. The harsh reality is that without execution, they’re worthless. People can’t tune in and listen to an idea.
But with podcasts becoming so popular in recent years, there’s no shortage of people who think they’re just an iPhone recording away from creating the next Serial. And they generally love to tell anyone who’ll listen. They talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
So why is it only a tiny fraction of people actually seize their idea for a show and start podcasting?
Well, it all comes back to that voice in our head that loves to tell us things like:
“I’ll get started on my podcast tomorrow”
“Now’s not a good time, I’m too busy to start a podcast”
“I won’t be able to do it, podcasting seems complicated”
Our mind is great at coming up with compelling reasons for why we can’t put the work in. But they’re not true. They’re just excuses.
If you listen to that internal voice and accept it unquestioningly, your podcast will never get off the ground. Far too many great podcast ideas fall victim to this. And that’s a shame.
With all the technology and information available to you, you’ve got everything you need to create a great show. You just need to make a commitment to yourself and actually start podcasting. Today.
Of course, we know that’s easier said than done. Procrastination is something that plagues all creative endeavours. But learning how to deal with it is vital if you’re serious about becoming a podcaster.
Break Through the Blocks
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield offers a fascinating insight into the psychology of procrastination and creativity. Joe Rogan, one of the worlds most successful podcasters, has been a vocal proponent of the book for years. In the clip below, taken from the very early days of his podcast, he hands over a copy to a guest as a gift.
We know that Joe Rogan isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He tends to polarise opinion in the podcasting world. But even if you’re not a fan, you can’t deny his work ethic. At least some of which he attributes directly to reading The War of Art.
So what wisdom does the book have to offer other aspiring podcasters? Quite a lot actually. We read the book and picked out three gems that are directly relevant to anyone who’s about to start podcasting. (If you’re looking for motivation, we highly recommend picking up a copy and reading through it from start to finish!)
Podcasting Isn’t All Fun and Games
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
From the outside looking in, it’s easy to conjure up romantic and idealised ideas about what life is like for podcasters. As listeners, all we hear is the final product. And for the most part, great podcasts usually sound effortless. The hosts sound like they are having fun and the show seems to flow naturally from one topic to the next. Seems easy enough, right?
Wrong. Great podcasts don’t happen by magic. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make everything come together. Guests need to be booked, questions need to be prepared, editing needs to be done. And that’s just the start.
The point we’re trying to make here is that podcasters are hard workers. The vast majority have to balance their show with lots of other key responsibilities like work and parenting. But they’re dedicated and always make time for their podcast. It never gets put on the back burner.
Before you start podcasting it’s important to have a realistic view of what’s involved. Otherwise it’s very easy for all your initial enthusiasm to fizzle out. “Podfade” is rampant. Podfade is when podcasts are launched and don’t last. And it usually happens when people get into podcasting viewing it as a sprint rather than a marathon.
Podcasting is a job. It’s consistency. Ideally you should be posting every week. So preparation is 90% of the game. And prep is not sexy. Being prepared and knowing what you’re going to say every time you switch on the mic is the secret to success.
The Best Time to Start Podcasting is Always Now
“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don't just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed. Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives... This second, we can sit down and do our work.”
There will never be a “perfect” moment to start your podcast. So stop waiting for one. Today is as good a day as any. Even if you can only dedicate 10 minutes a day for now, that adds up to more than an hour a week. An hour a week is infinitely better than nothing at all.
The trick is to start off small. There’s much more to be done than the actual episode recordings themselves. So there are always things you can be getting on with, like coming up with the perfect title for your show, brainstorming episode ideas, or drawing up a list of potential guests.
Pick something that’s easily doable and get going. You’ll feel much better once you do.
Podcasting is Not a Get Rich Quick Scheme
“The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.”
If you’re looking for quick-wins and immediate results, podcasting isn’t for you. In the absence of a celebrity host, podcast audiences tend to grow gradually on a scale of months and years, not days and weeks. So it’s important to keep that in mind from the outset.
The medium rewards those with patience and perseverance. And the benefits compound over time. As listenership figures creep up, podcasts often begin to grow organically at a continually increasing rate. So there’s no point obsessing over download numbers, especially in your first year.
Your attention will be much better spent trying to up the quality of your content and create a better experience for listeners. If your content offers real value, word of mouth can become a powerful driver for growing your audience. But it’s hard to qualify and doesn’t happen overnight. If you continually strive to improve your content, everything else will click into place.
Now you’ve got a clear picture of what podcasting actually involves, let's take a look at some actionable steps you can take right now to cut down on procrastination and start making progress.
Break Your Podcast Down to Small Actionable Subtasks
Writing something like “Create Podcast” in your to-do list isn’t helpful. It’s too big and diffuse. Because it seems intimidating, it's easy to put it off.
When you’re working on your podcast, you’re never actually working it as a whole. You’re only ever working on one specific, clearly-defined task e.g booking a guest, planning an episode, or creating show notes. It’s only in retrospect that all those smaller tasks come together to form finished podcast episodes.
So this is how you need to approach podcasting. Think about in terms of the individual tasks that need to be done next. When you finish one subtask, simply ask yourself what the logical next step would be and schedule time to work on that.
Remove Potential Distractions
Before you start working, it’s always a good idea to clear your workspace i.e. close unrelated tabs and programs, and clean up your desk. The goal is to optimise your workspace for the one podcast subtask you’ve decided to do.
Keep in mind your workspace never going to be perfect, but there’s no need to have Email, Twitter, and YouTube tabs open if you’re trying to work on your podcast (unless you’re sharing finished episodes of course!). They’re designed to pull us in and hold our attention, so if they’re just a click away, it’s all too easy to fall down an unproductive rabbithole.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
Instead of trying to complete your next podcast subtask, just ask yourself to work on it for 25 minutes. To use the pomodoro technique, simply take one of your podcast subtasks, set a timer on your phone for 25 minutes, then sit down and give it your full attention during that time.
This technique is highly effective because it reframes every task, no matter how difficult. It shifts your focus from output to input. If a particular subtask seems like it’ll be challenging to finish in one sitting, you might be tempted to avoid it.
But sitting down and working on something for 25 minutes is something we can all do successfully, every time. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get a subtask done on your first attempt. All that matters is continuing to make progress on your podcast in a consistent and regular way.
Set and Announce Deadlines
Lets face it, if it wasn’t for deadlines, most of us probably wouldn’t get much done. We need to feel a bit of pressure to work at our best.
So what’s your deadline for booking guests? How much time will you give yourself for editing? What dates will episodes be published on? These are the kind of questions you need answers to. So open up your calendar and set dates.
If you really want to hold yourself accountable, let others know about your planned schedule - friends, colleagues, blog subscribers or whoever, it doesn’t really matter.
The point is, if you’re the only person who knows about your podcast deadlines, it’s very easy to cheat by pushing them back. But if others are expecting your podcast to be out by a certain date, it’ll give you added motivation to get it done.
Forgive Yourself for Procrastinating
Lastly, it’s important not to feel guilty or beat yourself up for procrastinating on your podcast. Everyone does it. And despite our best intentions, it’s virtually impossible to avoid doing it again in future.
It’s best to just accept that even after you start podcasting, you’ll still procrastinate from time to time. The key thing is being able to catch yourself sooner rather than later. A day of procrastination doesn’t matter all that much. But an entire month does.
Research shows that dwelling on procrastination and feeling bad about it makes you much less effective in the long run. One interesting study showed that students who deliberately took time to forgive themselves for procrastinating before a midterm exam were much less likely to procrastinate on future exams.
So if you do find yourself avoiding your podcast, it’s not a problem. There’s no need to feel guilty about it. Just acknowledge it and make a point of scheduling another 25 minute block of work.
Don’t cheat the world of your contribution. Start podcasting today.