One of my earliest childhood memories was playing with my mom’s 1980s Panasonic RQ-341 cassette tape recorder. When she wasn’t using it to play Suzuki songs and record our violin recitals, I used it to host a make-believe radio show from my bedroom closet, recording myself narrating children’s stories and hosting pretend interviews with imaginary guests including my Nintendo robot and favorite stuffed animals.

Panasonic RQ-341 cassette tape recorder

My mom’s Panasonic RQ-341 cassette tape recorder from the 80s (she still has it!)

I’ve always loved the idea of capturing and replaying moments in time. I bought my first Apple iPod Mini in 2005, not necessarily for music, but rather, to hear the first very podcasts getting publicly released. At the time, podcasts were only in their infancy, but I immediately got hooked on shows like Rocketboom, PRI’s The World, and NPR News Now, which were a handy way to keep up with the news during my days as an MBA student.

Since then, podcasting has gained enormous popularity with nearly 500 million podcast listeners worldwide* and over 3 million active podcasts ±. I launched my Career Relaunch® podcast in 2016, and after eight years of being on air and over 100 episodes published, I’ve learned a lot about the ins and outs of podcasting and myself that I hope you’ll find helpful if you’re thinking about starting your own podcast.

1. Starting Somewhere Is The Most Important Step

Before I released my podcast to the public, I wanted everything to look and sound very polished. After all, when you’re putting your voice out there for the world to hear, you want to be proud of what gets released. You want your podcast to have a catchy title, snazzy cover artwork, high-quality audio, engaging content, and compelling guests.

I spent a lot of time trying to come up with the perfect show title, artwork, and lineup of initial guests. However, I quickly realized that podcasting is no different than any other form of content creation where your very best work is unlikely to be showcased right out of the gates. While I was certainly happy with how episodes 1–10 turned out, the production quality of episodes 91–100 was way better after optimizing, adjusting, and learning along the way.

Your podcast episodes may not be in their best form during the first few episodes, but don’t let that stop you from starting your show. You will almost certainly adjust, iterate, and improve as you go. But you have to put out that first episode for this learning process to begin.

2. A Proper Studio Setup Makes A Difference

I’ve always had a rather low-budget podcasting setup in my home office. Podcasting is not my main line of work or source of income, so I could never quite justify creating a “professional” studio setup. When I started, I had a very basic microphone and a somewhat cumbersome microphone stand I bought on eBay. I just dealt with it, but I later realized my suboptimal setup created a lot of friction when I went to record a new episode.

I eventually invested in a more versatile, user-friendly microphone, a convenient boom arm I could easily swivel into place, and better audio capture software. I wished I’d done this earlier because it made the process of podcasting more enjoyable.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on an expensive studio setup, but investing in a decent microphone and stand/arm will make your life easier.

3. Consistency Is Half The Battle

Podcasting isn’t rocket science, but it’s also not as easy as it may seem. As much as I’ve enjoyed podcasting, I probably invest at least 10 hours into each episode from finding, vetting, onboarding, and interviewing a guest to reviewing the interview, recording voiceovers, and working with my audio engineer on polishing the episode to creating the episode copy, artwork, and social posts.

Most people can probably bring themselves to record a handful of episodes and upload them to Spotify and Apple Podcasts. However, investing the time, energy, and effort into creating many episodes over time is not for the faint of heart. According to Amplifi and Podnews, nearly half of the podcasts have fewer than three episodes, and only one out of four shows have released a new episode in the past year. Podcasting requires relentless commitment, dedication, and a genuine desire to create compelling content week after week.

At the same time, just putting out an episode with some semblance of regular frequency will put you ahead of most shows out there.

4. Every Episode Doesn’t Have To Be Amazing

I can be quite perfectionistic at times. Just ask the audio engineers I’ve worked with over the past eight years on my podcast. My perfectionism has often gotten in the way of me putting out as much content as I would like.

Over the past eight seasons of my show, I’ve had a few episodes that I wasn’t 100% happy with. However, after recording over 100 podcast episodes, I’ve only had one that I decided not to air. That’s not because I was 100% happy with all the other episodes. It’s because I decided to release even those episodes in spite of the fact they didn’t showcase my best work.

Consistency with podcasting goes a long way. Going back to the stats above, if you did nothing else and just released at least 10 podcast episodes including one in the last year, that would immediately put you into the top 25% of podcasts that have hit this threshold, regardless of the actual quality of your show.

When it comes to podcasting, perfectionism certainly has its merits, but not when it gets in the way of consistency.

5. Outsourcing Technical Tasks Is Critical

In the early days of my podcast, while I did hire an audio engineer to optimize the sound and mix in music, I did much of the content editing myself, making decisions about which parts of any given interview to retain or remove. I also designed the episode artwork and wrote all episode copy myself. My strengths and skills as a professional speaker and career consultant aren’t necessarily related to either.

While it may seem obvious to most to delegate tasks that don’t fall within your core area of expertise, I was reluctant to let go of some editorial control with my earlier episodes because I had a very specific vision for the show.

Doing everything yourself can be tempting, especially if you aren’t earning any significant income from your podcast. However, hiring the right experts to assist with artwork design, production, music, or social content will allow you to focus on hosting your show.

6. Finding The Right Guests Can’t Be Automated

If you’re hosting an interview-based podcast like me, the quality of your guests will have a direct impact on the overall quality of your show. I’ve tried all sorts of tools including podcast guest/host matching services, media call-out resources, and social posts to discover potential guests for my show. I also receive pitches PR representatives and prospective guests who want to appear on my podcast nearly every single day.

However, I’ve found my best guests using analog routes that include personally reaching out to someone with an interesting career change story featured in the news, tapping into my professional network of contacts, or even chatting with a stranger about my show. I’ve identified eventual guests on my show at my career workshops, weddings, hotels, and Instagram.

Often, the people who can share the most genuine stories aren’t those proactively vying to be a guest on a show.

7. Securing Sponsorship Isn’t The Only Measure of Success

During the early days of hosting my podcast, I felt pressured to earn money from my show even though I didn’t create a podcast for this reason. I often tell the story of my commercially-minded friend in San Francisco who always used to ask me, “Are you making money from your podcast yet?” whenever I saw him.

Podcasting requires time, energy, and money. Understandably, many podcasters may want to get something in return to make the effort worth it. Sponsorship can serve as one way to make money from your podcast. Additionally, there seems to be a perception out there that the shows with sponsors are those with a large enough audience to attract potential advertisers.

While I have partnered with brands on my podcast, creating affiliate income, my intention in creating my podcast was never commercially driven. Plenty of podcasts exist for many reasons other than generating revenue.

Making money from your podcast isn’t the only measure of “success.” Podcasting can help you establish credibility, expand your reach, have a creative outlet, share your ideas, or make a difference. Above all else, putting your ideas out there for the world to hear can be gratifying.

8. Offers Many Hidden Benefits

Beyond sharing my voice with others, podcasting has brought many surprising benefits I didn’t anticipate when I started my show eight years ago. First and foremost, a podcast can be a content engine. I doubt most of my listeners are refreshing my podcast’s feed in anticipation of my next episode dropping, but knowing I have an audience in 170+ countries has encouraged me to continue regularly putting out new episodes.

Additionally, podcast content can be repurposed. Many of my written posts are inspired by the conversations I’ve had on my podcast. My newsletter’s content is built from the content of my podcast. The presentations I give to audiences in my career change workshops include audio clips from my episodes, making my sessions more relatable, dynamic, and engaging. And the insights that fuel my career guidance arise from stories guests on my show have shared with me.

A podcast can help you build your personal brand, enabling you to get discovered and featured across other media and publications. It can also expand your network in unexpected ways. Because of my podcast, I’ve connected with guests in over 15 countries I would never have otherwise crossed paths with, some of whom I still remain in touch with years after their episode aired, including some I now consider friends.

9. You Have To Be In It For The Right Reasons

For some, podcasting may be about chasing fame, acquiring followers, or yes, creating an additional revenue stream. Some podcasters, albeit a small minority, host shows with enviable popularity, reach, and lucrative sponsorships.

However, just as is the case with any business endeavor, you have to be in it for the right reasons in order to weather the ups and downs along the way. If you are primarily interested in podcasting for commercial reasons, that motivation alone is unlikely to carry you through the arduous process of creating episode after episode, season after season.

As someone myself who almost threw in the towel on my podcast in the early days due to the time-consuming nature of it, my motivation to continue putting out episodes was driven by my own personal interest in changing career paths, the topic of my show, and my passion and enjoyment around creating audio content.

10. You Can Have a Real Impact

We live in a time when many forms of content creation and outlets are available to anyone who wants to share their ideas with the world. From posting to social media to filming YouTube videos to hosting webinars to writing blog posts to speaking at conferences, there’s no shortage of ways to get your ideas out to the world.

I’ve loved hosting my podcast over the years. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am in my career without my show, and being a podcaster has become a core part of my professional and creative identity.

Podcasting takes time, energy, and commitment. It’s certainly not for everyone. However, if you’ve ever wondered how to get your voice heard, podcasting is one of the most accessible, effective, and intimate ways to reach a global audience. If even one person hears your voice and ends up learning, doing, or feeling something new because of something you said, you will have had an impact on their life. That alone makes podcasting worth the effort.

*eMarketer

± ListenNotes


Originally published at Forbes.

About Joseph Liu

Joseph Liu helps aspiring professionals relaunch their careers to do work that matters. As a keynote speaker, career & personal branding consultant, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast, his passion is helping people gain the clarity, confidence, and courage to pursue truly meaningful careers. Having gone through three major career changes himself, he now shares insights from building & relaunching global consumer brands to empower professionals and business owners to build & relaunch their personal brands.

About Joseph Liu

Joseph Liu helps aspiring professionals relaunch their careers to do work that matters. As a keynote speaker, career & personal branding consultant, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast, his passion is helping people gain the clarity, confidence, and courage to pursue truly meaningful careers. Having gone through three major career changes himself, he now shares insights from building & relaunching global consumer brands to empower professionals and business owners to build & relaunch their personal brands.

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