How to Get a Job Producing Podcasts
Ever wondered how to get a job as a professional podcast producer? Me too!
I was checking out some job postings this past weekend and decided to share the most interesting ones in a Twitter thread.
I got a question from GR Johnson (@simonephoenix1 on Twitter) in response:
“I was looking at some of these in the past couple of days, VERY interested, but if one hasn’t the experience, how does one go about ‘snagging’ gigs like these? I’m actually in a degree program for audio production, also, not a youngster. Looking to switch up careers.”
Good question GR/Simone! I’m optimistic for you (and others like us) because I believe there are far more podcasting jobs than just the ones I linked to above.
(Also, an aspiring podcast producer can learn everything they need to know and work from almost anywhere, not just in a big city).
Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. — Anton Ego, Ratatouille
So in this episode, I’d like to talk about what you should study and which skills you’ll need if you want to land a job producing podcasts.
Some of the best jobs are never advertised.
The jobs I linked to in that Twitter thread just the ones I found easily with a quick Google search.
I know there are more podcasting jobs that aren’t being shared on job boards because I’ve landed a few of them myself over the past 5 years, and that was before the big podcasting boom of 2017.
Podcasting is still a relatively new field, and many people, companies, and brands are only now beginning to think about starting a podcast.
They might want to hire someone to produce a podcast, but they may not want to take the time or advertise the job publicly.
They may not know which skills are required or what kind of person they need to hire in order to end up with a good podcast.
This is a time of opportunity for motivated podcast producers at all levels.
Q: If I want to be a professional podcast producer, what do I need to know and be good at?
I took a look at the job postings again to get a sense of the most commonly listed skills and requirements, and here’s what I think are the essential skills for podcast producers.
Essential Skills for Podcast Producers:
- Content creation and direction: You should have experience developing shows and episode content, writing scripts and stories, participating in brainstorming sessions, etc
- Audio recording and editing: You should know how to record audio that sounds good, how to put a project together and edit it in audio software, how to write narration (if necessary), add music, mix and master, and whatever else the production requires
- Working well with others: You should be able to work with — and possibly manage — producers, writers, audio engineers, editors, freelancers, guests, and so on
- Ability to work under deadlines: You can get stuff done and shipped on schedule (time management skills)
- Proactive problem-solving skills: There’s going to be stuff they don’t know, stuff you don’t know, so you should be able and willing to figure it out
- Leadership skills: This means you have opinions and taste and are comfortable with setting goals and identifying how you’ll measure success
Q: What if I don’t have all those skills yet?
That’s ok, I didn’t have all those skills when I started producing podcasts either, and I’m still working on getting better at all of them.
Study those podcast producer job postings for insights into what you should study, but remember that you don’t need to be a master of everything to produce a great podcast, and the best producers are always learning on the job anyways.
The important thing is to have a firm grasp on the basics and a willingness to work hard, experiment, take feedback and criticism, and keep learning.
But since this is a prescriptive advice podcast, here are a few things I believe you should focus on if you want to increase your chances of landing a job producing podcasts.
Things you can do to increase your chance of landing a job producing podcasts:
1. Learn everything you can about recording and working with audio
Study all the various options for capturing audio in studio and live environments: Microphones, audio interfaces, soundboards, etc.
Practice recording with different gear and in different locations. Learn how the gear and the room or environment changes the sound of a recording.
Learn everything you can about how to manipulate and work with audio once it’s been recorded. Learn about editing and post-production: EQ, compression, noise removal, limiting, and loudness metering.
Learn how to organize and share your audio files, and how to backup and archive your finished projects.
You can learn the basics in a few hours, but mastering recording and working with audio is a life-long project. That might sound intimidating, but I promise that it’s actually a lot of fun (doing the same thing every day sucks).
2. Learn pro audio software like ProTools, Logic Pro X, or Audition
Many people get started with podcasting using the free or easy tools like GarageBand or Audacity, but if you want to be a powerhouse podcast producer, you should acquire and master a professional DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) like ProTools, Logic Pro X, or Audition.
While it’s true that you can make a successful podcast with almost any editing program, the professional DAWs have useful (maybe even essential) features that the free or cheap DAWs don’t, including non-destructive and multitrack editing and other features for tweaking or enhancing audio once it’s been recorded.
Professional production studios and other podcast producers are also likely using the one or more of these pro DAWs, so if you’re serious about producing podcasts, try to master at least one of the three DAWS I listed above (Pro Tools, Logic, or Audition).
3. Learn the most popular technology and software tools used by podcasters
In addition to your DAW of choice, you should also learn and be familiar with (if not good at) all the various apps and software used by podcasters and podcast producers.
- Recording gear & software
- Writing apps and other collaboration software for communicating with co-workers, developing episode ideas and scripts, show notes, and so on
- Graphic design apps for developing visual assets
- Content management systems (websites) and podcast hosting software (like Simplecast)
- Social media platforms
- and whatever else podcasters are using to make or grow their shows
You don’t have to master every single app or software in each of the categories I listed above, but you should be able to learn and use them quickly if needed.
If you tell yourself you can’t (or don’t want to) learn new software tools, you’re right, and you’ll probably have a hard time being successful as a podcast producer. Keep an open mind and be willing to learn.
4. Study and learn from other producers (especially the great ones)
Producing great audio is a craft, and there are many great audio producers to learn from.
Keep your eyes open for them. Seek them out. Follow them on social media, subscribe to their shows, read their articles and books, and take their online courses.
Ask them questions when you get the opportunity, but analyze their work either way. It’s a great way to learn about how things are done and may give you some ideas about things to improve or how to do things differently (and hopefully better).
5. Don’t wait to get hired, start your career as a producer today
Don’t wait for someone to hire you: Go out and start your own show, or help your friends start shows and try to figure out how to make them successful. Do the best you can and try to make work you can be proud of.
A good self-initiated portfolio will go a long way towards convincing other people to hire you, and you’ll gain more experience (and probably even learn more) by doing instead of just reading or watching tutorials.
Q: What if I don’t live in one of the big cities where these jobs are?
Good news! While it can certainly help to live near a large city like New York City or Los Angeles where there are podcast companies or businesses looking to hire podcast producers, you can help produce podcasts from almost anywhere.
The internet has made it possible to connect with people all over the world and the rise of broadband and fast internet means you can collaborate in real time or easily send audio files back and forth over Dropbox or Google Drive. And you can certainly learn everything you need to learn about podcast production as long as you have access to the internet and a library.
If you’d like to land a gig producing podcasts, I’d encourage you to invest time in developing the skills I listed earlier but also in networking and connecting with other people in the industry or similar industries.
For example, I’ve learned a lot from writers, web designers, programmers, marketers, managers, folks who work in the film and book industries, and many other kinds of professionals, and many of my podcast clients were referred to me by those people.
Again, don’t wait to get hired as a producer. Start studying and producing shows today.
Links Mentioned in the Episode:
- Twitter Thread: Podcast Producer Job Postings
- Without Fail: Ira Glass: The Man Who Launched a Thousand Podcasts (That Gimlet podcast interview I mentioned, real good)
I’d love to hear from you if you have questions or if you just want to say hi. Drop questions or thoughts in a comment below.
If you like this post, you’ll love my podcast. You can find that and links to more helpful resources at https://thepodcastdude.simplecast.fm/.