Why does someone decide to start a podcast? And why does that person stay committed once the novelty has worn off? I’m answering both of those questions today, as part of a week of episodes on the act and art of podcasting itself.
Because I’ve found that when I get interviewed these days, it’s really not because people want to me to talk about how to be a better person. It’s because they want to know more about podcasting. Which, hey! Great! I love podcasting and am happy to talk about it anytime. It is a VERY hot topic these days (and I am interviewing someone on Wednesday, Arielle Nissenblatt who is a hugely influential person in the podcasting space, who can help us understand WHY podcasting speaks to so many people, so if you want more about that, come on back!). So today, I’m starting at the beginning of my podcasting journey – and sharing with you what inspired me to get started. And then I’ll give you a peek at what’s keeping me going.
You’re reading the transcript of an episode of the How to Be a Better Person podcast. If you’d rather listen, click the play button below.
Listen to the Podcast Here
Here is why I started the How to Be a Better Person podcast:
I wrote a book called How to Be a Better Person that came out in January 2018. It has 401 ideas in it. That is a lot of ideas!
I was inspired to write the book by a poll that came out in December 2016 from Marist University that said, for the first time ever, the most popular New Year’s resolution was to be a better person. This was right after the election, when we felt so divided, and this poll gave me hope that people were realizing we can’t just get stuck in our own little worlds, that we need to be the change we wish to see. I wanted to be part of that effort, and help folks figure out a way to make that very important and very amorphous desire real.
I wanted to keep that book fresh and top of mind
Typically, so many books are published every year that after about a month of being out, a book becomes kind of old news. With a podcast, every time I published an episode, it would have that “new” factor that would help me continue to be contacted for interviews and help keep the book, and now, the podcast, a part of the conversation.
Plus, I have loved audio ever since I had a radio show in college. (My show was called “The Greatest Hits of the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s” – even then I had a love of broad topics!) Being in the booth, with the headphones and all the dials, and the cough button that you could press if you had to cough so no one could hear you–it was so fun, like being Major Tom or something. And to know that you were in people’s ears as they went about their lives was also strangely intimate. I loved it.
I was inspired to do short, daily episodes
Primarily because my friend and marketing mentor, Nancy Sheed, and I were at lunch during a conference and she said, hey, have you thought about turning your book into a podcast? And I said, yes, a lot, but I haven’t gotten much further than thinking. Then she told me about a podcast she loved that had five five-minute episodes a week. And THAT got me excited. Because, as a podcast listener, I don’t have big chunks of time to listen to an episode.
Some of these podcasts are regularly an hour and a half long! It kind of kept me away from the medium at first. But 10 minutes or less—that I can handle. I like that short daily episodes were something that fit into my life—and I figured I’m not alone in this, and others would appreciate that too. And I liked the novelty of it. Yes, I was launching a podcast like so many other people are, but I’m putting my spin on it. That gave me confidence to wade into a crowded sea.
And finally, the primary way I earn a living is by helping people write their books
I love this work. I was born to do this work. But I came to learn that if I were only creating things for clients, and not for me, that I felt sad on a deep level. I needed something that was all mine–a way for me to get my perspective and my voice out into the world. Podcasting provided that in a different way than writing my own books did. Books come out every couple of years; my podcast comes out every day. It was more about developing a practice of creating and publishing work on a much more immediate timeframe that was compelling to me.
I initially told myself that I would try podcasting for one year–for those 52 weeks, I wouldn’t wonder if I should keep going. I would think about that after I passed the one year mark.
So, if my goal was to produce this podcast for one year, why am I still at it?
Well, for one, it’s become such a part of my life and my identity. Stopping now, on a personal level, would be like giving up yoga, or playing piano, or whatever thing you love doing that helps keep you feeling good about what you’re up to in this life. As much as sometimes I feel like I don’t have time or ideas, I also know that if I just sit down and get to writing I will feel so much better–I’ll have thought through some things, gotten some stuff out of my head, and stayed accountable to this thing that I’ve built, and all that feels really good.
Also, what’s 1000% clear to me is that this is a long game
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m starting to get regular sponsors and the podcast is currently transitioning from passion project that I self-fund to revenue stream. And there are other things I want to do, like create opportunities for people who give a shit about being a decent human to interact with each other and with me. So really, I’m just getting started. Yes, I’ve broken the seal, and I’ve built an audience and a track record, and a habit and routine around getting the episodes out in the world, but that was just phase one. Now a whole new phase is possible–so why would I stop now? Of course everything is subject to change based on all kinds of things seen and unforeseen, but this is where my head is at now.
As for my goal of starting a podcast to help my book stay current and selling, all I can say is that over the last two years, How to Be a Better Person has sold about 2.5 times more copies than my book Stress Less, which came out less than a year prior to HTBABP. The royalties aren’t going to put my kids through college, but they add a (very) low four figures to my bottom line each year.
And honestly, producing this podcast keeps me accountable to myself.
If I’m curious about a topic, the podcast gives me a reason to learn more about it, see who knows a lot about it, and even reach out and interview them. It’s great for my own learning, and my own practice of being the person I want to be, and for building my network.
Also, another thing I told myself when I started the podcast was that I wasn’t really sure where it was going to lead, but I trusted that it was going to lead me someplace good… and while I do enjoy so much about podcasting, I can also tell it has further to take me. It’s just a gut feeling. But I’m excited to see where else it may lead. And if that place is writing another book, having this podcast will help a publisher be more excited about me and my idea (because publishers are always interested in the audience any author already has).
Am I committed to keep the podcast going in exactly the same form for the rest of time? No. It may need to morph–maybe I’ll shift down to three episodes a week, or I may need to bring on a co-host of some sort, or find people to ‘take over’ the podcast for a week here or there to lower the number of episodes I’m responsible for producing on a monthly or yearly basis. Or maybe I will shift to more of a ‘season’ format where I go dark on a regular basis. But so far, if it ain’t broke, I’m not fixing it.
Daily Tiny Assignment
So, is there a tiny assignment associated with this? There sure is, and it’s this: think about something you’re doing currently that you started a while ago–could be a job, or a hobby, or a volunteer position, and remind yourself what your goals were then. And then think about why you’re still doing it now. Is there still enough there to keep you going? And, what phase are you in now? Is there some new phase available to you now that you’ve been at it a while?
And if you’re wondering how I manage to come up with five episodes a week, be sure to come back tomorrow, when I’m sharing how I get ideas regularly, and in a timely manner, and how you can too.