Your First Podcast Is Going To Suck

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(By Emily Prokop) Many future podcasters, maybe like you, are afraid to press “Publish.” I don’t know specific numbers, but they might have the first episode recorded. Or maybe more than one. They’ve written their show notes. They’ve got the cover art. They’ve got the music they want. Maybe they’ve even got a sponsor already lined up!

But they can’t get past that feeling of, “It’s not ready. It’ll never be ready. It needs more polishing. I don’t quite know everything there is to know about this yet. Who am I to think that anyone would want to hear my voice?”

Welcome to the lovely world of Analysis Paralysis! It’s an uncomfortable place I find myself in quite often, as do many other podcasters. (We keep saying we’ll make T-shirts, but we haven’t decided on the colors or styles yet.)

This happens when we spend so much time thinking and perfecting and doubting ourselves that we find it’s best to just keep on the outside, observing but never trying. We think of the worst possible outcome if we go ahead and take the plunge. It’s awful and it may stop you from putting out the first episode of your podcast!

So, I’ll ask you this: Why do you want to start a podcast?

You’ll hear a lot of talk about “finding your why,” and it’s all very important. But aside from that, your “why” is most likely going to be some sort of growth.

Growth as a person, growth as a business, growth in your enjoyment of a hobby, growth in your knowledge, growth in your connections, growth in your email list, etc. Most likely, if you are starting a podcast, you want to grow in some way.

But you can’t grow unless you get yourself unstuck from your Analysis Paralysis.

One of the first things to realize is nobody’s first podcast is perfect. In fact, I just tried to listen to my very first podcast from four years ago and I am cringing so hard right now, and also silently screaming at you not to click on that link because, ugh, it’s just … I can’t even!

But I put so much work into it. For that 20-minute show, I spent probably eight hours editing, and that included getting comfortable with Audacity. Then probably another hour or so navigating through my hosting company (Libsyn) for the first time so I could post it. Now I can edit a 20-minute show in 40 minutes, and I can navigate Libsyn in seconds.

But at the time, I thought that first episode was great. I was so excited at what I had made. I listened to it every day for probably two or three weeks. And, for a podcast made with Rock Band microphones, I’m still just a little impressed with the sound quality (as in, “it could be worse”).

The best part, though, was I knew it could be better. I even remember telling myself, “Ok. This is the worst episode. Now that it’s over, I can get better.”

Every time I encountered a hurdle or a mistake, I didn’t look at it as something wrong with me. I looked at it as a way to learn something new. It’s what’s known as “growth mindset” — believing your talents and skills can be developed with hard work, as opposed to “fixed mindset,” whereby you believe there is only a finite amount of talent or knowledge.

While it’s not something you might get as an answer when you ask podcasters “what lessons do you know now that you wish you learned when you started out,” some of the best advice for a brand-new podcaster would be it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you keep going that matters.

Emily Prokop’s company is E Podcast Productions and she can be reached at emily@epodcastproductions.com. Listen to her podcast at TheStoryBehindPodcast.com.