We want to thank Carrie Caulfield from Ya Ya Podcasting for taking the time to write a well-thought-out response to our column about burnout, which generated a lot of feedback. Some of you disagreed with the column, some agreed, others just got plain ugly and angry. Here’s what Carrie had to say…
I feel to make an accurate assessment of whether you’re speaking from savvy or privilege, I’d have to know more about your background and personal life. So, I’ll just be Devil’s Advocate instead…
Burnout doesn’t happen for lack of passion or because of some personality defect. Burnout happens for a variety of different reasons and takes many forms, but in talking with lots and lots of podcasters on social media, in my business and for my show, I think it boils down to some key things:
1) Vulnerability. Most people aren’t comfortable putting themselves out there. There’s a lot of science that backs this up. We don’t like exposing our underbelly and that’s exactly what podcasting forces us to do. I’ve talked to some podcasters who actually talk about having “vulnerability hangovers” after launching their show or doing anything big with it… they need more sleep, have less energy, enter a funk… Some even end up getting physically ill immediately after. Add in how effortless the podcasters make it look… and it’s a recipe for a lot of “why do I suck?” moments.
2) They have zero experience. I mean none. They are literally learning how to create, edit, distribute, and market a podcast. They are learning to build websites. They have no idea what buttons to push where. They’re learning new software. And there’s a ton of noise to wade through to figure out what to use and how work everything. There’s five new languages to learn. They’re learning by doing, which means there’s a lot failure. (See point 1 for the extra layer of hardness.)
3) They have a full-time job, maybe side hustle, are in school full-time, AND are doing a podcast… with zero help. Those can be 100-hour weeks. Most humans can’t sustain that sort of schedule for long and something has to give. Passion or not. It’s tough on the body and mind, not to mention relationships.
Also, comparing professional radio hosts to podcasters is apples and oranges. Radio shows typically have a person to handle the engineering, guest booking, marketing, website, etc. There’s staff and resources that the average podcaster does not have. And I’m assuming 99% of radio hosts get paid to show up. Ninety-nine percent of podcasters pay to show up.
4) They have kids. Those little humans require a lot of time. You have to do everything around a certain schedule. And kids eat up a lot of emotional energy. Layer on points 2 and 3 and I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
5) They are the primary caregivers in the home. I won’t limit this to moms or women because it’s true for men as well. They have to do the laundry, plan and cook the meals, clean the toilets, care for the pets, doctors and dentist, PTA, family functions, and if they have a family member with a disability it makes time and energy scarce.
For instance, I have an autistic kid. There’s no hiring a babysitter for a few hours. There’s no asking him to wait a minute while I finish this task. And we spend a crazy amount of time with doctors and therapists or on the phone with the school. Dude, I live in a constant state of stress and worry. It’s exhausting.
6) They’ve got stuff. Life is hard. Sometimes, people deal with issues you can’t imagine. Even podcasters. Sometimes that thing they’re really passionate about has to do with that. Not everyone is equipped to compartmentalize or throw themselves into work to deal with it. Sometimes they learn how to deal through podcasting. And that’s wonderful!
I think we need to talk about burnout. I wonder how many podcasters have read your article and now feel like shit, for lack of a better word. They’ve now been discouraged, feel defective and may even be inspired to quit because they are inherently defective. Is that really your goal?
Perhaps, instead of posting about WHY you can’t understand how it’s a thing, maybe talk about HOW you make it not a thing? Because a lot of people would like to know how to show up with more energy to better serve our message and audience… like the pros do.
Carrie Caulfield is the creator of Ya Ya Podcasting and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org