How Not Podcast Helped My Podcasting Career
Sometimes you need to let your brain decompress, and after this, I’ve found that’s okay. In fact, some researchers say it can make you more productive. Letting your brain recharge and just relax may help in the long run (it is a muscle after all). So that is what I recently did with my brain child, Podcast Fiend.
Why I Took a Break
There are many reasons why I wanted to step away from something that I love and enjoy doing. Partly because it isn’t what I hoped it would be. The amount of work I put in to make a 15 minute solo show was astounding to me. I would work about four hours researching, writing, rewriting, and preparing for recording the show for 10–15 minutes worth of product. To me that just seemed to be too much, because pre-production of this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are many many hours of work ahead of me to edit, export, upload, write show notes, and finalize before getting it out to the public; so 10 minutes on air would take me 10 hours to produce. I needed to step back and figure out what I wanted from this project, I needed to simplify my workload.
When you want to reassess your work, my advice is to first figure out where you took that wrong turn. What made you feel discouraged or even dislike making the thing you used to enjoy? For me, I felt the ends didn’t justify the means, I was happy with the quality I was making but I felt with such small quantity being produced I needed to find a better way to talk about the things I wanted to on Podcast Fiend. So I began writing down options.
In the end I came up with several things I thought I wanted to do, but I had a tough time choosing between them. They all seemed to bring something to the table I thought would help bring the show up in quality and quantity, so I eventually concluded that using a bit of all of them would help. I began gathering ideas for the show, and talking with other podcasters that I wanted on Podcast Fiend and left them messages asking if we could talk about being on my show either as a one-time guest or be one in a recurring fashion depending on the person. After leaving the messages I waited and began thinking about the other reason I needed this break.
Along with lots of time and effort to get little product made, I felt the work I was doing was simply overkill. I wanted to lessen my workflow so I can let my ideas flow, and not bottleneck the things I wanted to do with writing every single word. I needed to let go of scripting my shows and allow myself to just worry about the facts and get a general idea of what I was going to talk about. I did this for two reasons. First, to lower the workload and allow my ideas to be attempted before I killed them; second, to sound much less robotic when I finally did record. One thing they don’t tell you about reading a script, is that unless you purposefully put in filler words to make your writing sound more human, you are going to be just like any other machine reading content aloud. So I did something about it.
Before this hiatus, I made full scripts word-for-word of what I was going to say, especially in the solo shows I did on the podcast. I did away with that and began making bullet points, and once I had all of my thoughts out I would condense the points to the bare minimum and allow the rest of what I wanted to say to stay in my head to allow for the show sound much more natural. The biggest thing I realized when doing this was that I didn’t have that hard of a time handling this change, in fact I think it allowed for me to worry less about how I was going to say something and worry more about what I was going to say. After I managed to change how I planned my show, I realized the amount of time it took to prepare a show significantly dropped. Instead of 4 hours of writing, I had everything down on a single sheet of paper in about an hour. Along with that, the rewriting, editing, and everything you would do for long form scripts I made went out the window. The bullet points worked After condensing.
By the time I managed to get the preparation aspects set, my inbox began filling up. The people I spoke with about being on my show, or seeing if they are interested in having a hand in the show got back to me, and most were very welcoming. I then began scheduling times to record to have some episode “in the can.” Having extra shows in my back pocket was key for this because I wanted to have an emergency episode here and there so that if I can’t make the fortnightly schedule I can release one of the episodes I have “in the can” without issue. If you are able to have an episode or two for your podcast saved, I recommend you have it as soon as possible. Honestly, if you could have at least two episodes saved before you even launch the podcast that would be the best case scenario in my opinion.
So, I’ve managed to fix some of the things I wanted to make preparation better, but that is a short term fix, a band-aid if you will. I needed to switch gears and look at the future. I needed to set some goals, or these changes mean nothing and this show is dead like disco.
Making goals can be tricky, if you set the bar too low and achieve them almost immediately you could lose interest, but set them too high it seems unattainable and you lose interest. It is all about finding a happy medium, and to do that setting just one goal isn’t enough, for me 3 is my lucky number. On top of multiple goals, I made them for different lengths of time.
Making 3 goals with each of them at different times wasn’t my original idea, my good friend and host of the podcast I Read Comic Books, Mike Rapin gave me the idea of having a 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year goals each It took me a very long time to decide on these three goals but after much thought, and even more drafts I came up with these three:
3-Month: Get back on schedule.
Going on hiatus can be great, but you can’t hit the ground running expecting to just get things back to how they were, it is an art to get things back to how they were and maintain it. So I am going to slowly work my way to full speed, and 3 months is plenty of time to do it.
6-Month: Get ahead by at least 3 episodes.
As stated before, being ahead and having some episodes saved for later can not only lift stress off your shoulders it can also save your bacon if you can’t make your schedule. With a podcast that is fortnightly like Podcast Fiend it can be easier to have episodes saved up because of the extra time I have over shows that are more frequent, but any podcast that has guests can be hard to schedule if you’re not diligent on it.
12-Month: Do more than just podcasting.
This one is something I want to do now, but I know I need time to handle my current workload before piling on more.Podcast Fiend is currently just a podcast, but I want to do so much more with it. I want to get others involved in various ways. I don’t want to go too deep into the specifics, but in one year from now I hope to accomplish more than just a podcast that comes out every two weeks with Podcast Fiend.
When to Get Back on the Horse
Deciding when to let the time you have taken off become the past can be hard. You may feel unprepared, unwilling, or unmotivated. I was all three, and I think no matter how much or how little of time you take off from your show or project you are going to have this anxious feeling that you’re making a bad decision to come back and produce content. The best way to eliminate this and let the break you took become the past is by making a single step forward at a time. Hitting the ground running and sprinting for the homestretch will most likely lead you to pulling a hamstring and being out again in a short amount of time. You have to stretch those muscles and get them warmed up and loosened again. To make this trip back to home base, my first step is to review everything I have done and what I still need to do.
After several months, I have recorded three episodes, edited one to completion, and the other two are in the process of editing. On top of what I have edited, I have several episodes either scheduled or in the planning process. All in all, I have about 3 months worth of episodes being worked on in some way or another, which is more than enough to justify getting back on the horse. But it was harder for me to actually get back into gear than I thought.
Turns out, it is really easy to just let your projects fall to the wayside and do nothing. The amount of work I put in wasn’t my full 100%, I let myself stray away, but if I hadn’t I don’t think I would have gotten even half of what I managed to do in the past few months. However, even after accomplishing all that I did during this break I have procrastinated with announcing the show is back publicly. The main reason for this is out of fear that I will either not be able to maintain this again, and also that this will happen again sooner than I want; but this fear is normal from what I understand. Eventually, I decided to go ahead and get back to things even with this onset of fears with the hope they will subside once I get back in the swing of things, which is the latest lesson I learned from this hiatus, sometimes you just have to throw your hands in the air and just do it.