I never planned to go into podcasting.
I’ve been a writing machine for so many years that the idea of doing my own podcast didn’t get serious until recently. You see, there’s one passion of mine that hasn’t really had a place in my life as of late: movies.
Before becoming a novelist, I went to film school in Los Angeles and made dozens of short films. My love for movies goes all the way back to being a kid, and I realized in the last few years I haven’t really had much of an outlet for that passion. I have all this love of and expertise in cinema… and nowhere to put it.
I’ve started listening to and enjoying lots of cool film podcasts this summer, and so now I’m in the process of launching my own!
What are some ways I plan to make it successful? Here are a few…
This podcast will die an early death if I’m not passionate about my topic.
If it’s a mere hobby that amuses me from time to time, I’ll lose interest after a few months, maybe a few weeks, and I won’t have the energy to go on.
There’s something kind of sad about a podcast that only has five or six episodes just languishing out there in the online universe. I don’t want this to happen to me, and I don’t want this to happen to you either if you’re thinking about creating a podcast!
Therefore, I’m choosing a specific topic I adore that will lend itself to many, many years of potential episodes…
The Right Topic
For the last few months, I’ve been listening to a podcast called SpielbergPod, where the host and a guest discuss each Steven Spielberg movie in order of release date. It’s a super fun podcast I’ve enjoyed immensely from the beginning.
The one problem?
Steven Spielberg has made roughly thirty-five films, and so the podcast can only go so far. The host eventually produced episodes about other movies he likes, but once he reached the end of Spielberg’s canon, the podcast sort of fizzled out.
So. You want to pick a topic you’re passionate about. And you want to pick something specific enough that you stand out from all the other podcasts.
And just as important? You want to pick a topic that can give you potentially hundreds of episodes in the months and years to come.
Therefore, I’ve decided on the following…
- Film at Fifty. A podcast dedicated to celebrating semicentennials in the world of cinema!
I’ll be discussing films that came out fifty years ago, along with trends that have come and gone, how films have changed throughout the decades, episodes dedicated to actors and directors, and so on.
Don’t pick something that will only give you thirty-five episodes. You want something that allows for your podcast to grow.
Something I will bring to my podcasting that I’ve perfected in my writing is consistency.
I can’t promise every podcast episode will be great, but if I tell you I’m going to upload a new episode every Friday? You are going to see a new episode every Friday.
The same way I reach my word count every day when I’m writing a new novel and manage at least one article published to Medium every day, I’m going to figure out a schedule that allows me to produce at least one new podcast episode each week.
From the little bit of time I’ve spent analyzing successful podcasts, it looks like one new episode a week is essential. You can’t just podcast when you want. You can’t just drop one episode a month and think you’re going to be a sensation.
Whatever schedule you decide on, you need to stick to it and not let your loyal listeners down. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Plan Your Episodes Far in Advance
Something else I’m good at? Planning far in advance. In any given year I have my next six months sketched out for what writing projects I’ll be working on when.
I decide what novel I’ve be writing from scratch in June / July and what draft of what book I’ll be revising in August. In any given week I’m always working on some kind of writing project, and I know months in advance when that will be.
The same will go for my podcasting. It’s now July, and I’m not launching my new podcast until September, but I already have my weekly episode schedule set in stone all the way through the end of January 2021!
Some episodes already decided on include…
- Five Easy Pieces and the career of Jack Nicholson
- Trog and the career of Joan Crawford
- Happy 50th Birthday, Ethan Hawke & Jennifer Connelly
- Happy Film Debuts, Diane Keaton & Susan Sarandon
- 1960, and the Impact of Psycho
- 1950, and the Power of Sunset Boulevard
- The 43rd Annual Academy Awards
I’ve done my research, figured out what films and subtopics excite me the most, and I know exactly what’s to come for the podcast these next few months.
There won’t ever be confusion about what episode to do next. In fact I will be able to produce multiple episodes weeks in advance because I’ll know the schedule precisely!
Be a Professional (but Don’t Break the Bank)
Again, I’ve never done a podcast before, and I want to do it right.
So I worked my way slowly down Ross Winn’s excellent article How to Start a Podcast and paid attention to all of his advice. I bought a stellar microphone that will make my voice sound crisp and clean. I bought an excellent pair of professional monitoring headphones.
Additionally, I paid for a lifetime license agreement to a piece of intro music I adore, and I have a graphic designer friend putting together my cover art.
I already have Final Cut Pro X, which I’ll use to edit the audio of my podcasts. And most of the films I’ll be watching and discussing I either own already or I’ll be able to find for free.
How much is all of this costing me? About 300 dollars. Not dirt cheap, mind you, but a certainly reasonable amount that doesn’t break the bank.
A podcast about film history probably won’t bring in the big bucks anyway, at least in the short term, so it was important for me to spend enough money to get quality products that will give my podcast a professional face while at the same time not go overboard to the point where I’m needlessly spending thousands of dollars.
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in listening to a lot of podcasts the last few months, it’s that conversations between two or more people are usually more engaging for the listener rather than a single person talking the entire time.
This is my main weakness now because I don’t have a second person to do my podcast with, and, to be perfectly honest, I would be hard-pressed to find another person who would be able to keep up with the level of episodes I plan to produce.
So, yes, a few of my episodes, especially the early ones, are just going to be me. And it’s not impossible to make these fun and informative. I’m enjoying a podcast right now called Classic Movie Musts, where most of the episodes are just a single film connoisseur talking the entire time.
But one of the things that excites me the most about my podcast is reaching out to film lovers I’ve met throughout my life and having them on as guests, mostly of the remote kind. Actors I’ve worked with, film critics I’m friends with. All sorts of amazing people.
I think having some episodes of only me will be feasible as long as I also bring on guests from time to time to add some variety.
Daily Updates on Social Media
Again, I’m not launching my podcast until early September, but I already have a Facebook group, Twitter profile, and Instagram page for my podcast — Film at Fifty — and I’m updating all three daily. Sometimes twice or three times a day.
The key is getting people interested in my podcast and my overall topic weeks in advance to get them invested in checking out the podcast once it launches!
I’ve read that it can take months and sometimes years to grow a following with your podcast. I’m expecting nothing less. I’m not a household name, and I’m not going to have hundreds of followers right out the gate. And I won’t let the lack of listeners get me down in the beginning.
The key will be continuing to update my social media sites and producing new episodes of the podcast week after week.
Like with most podcasts, I will be setting up a Patreon page entitled…
- Film at Fifty: Bonus Features
I know most of the world has moved on to streaming, but I still prize my DVDs and Blu Rays to this day (and have quite the extensive shelf to prove it), and something I’ll always love are the bonus features. The audio commentaries. The behind-the-scenes documentaries.
Therefore, my podcast will have a place where you can dig in even deeper to lots of film topics and episodes that won’t be featured on the main podcast.
If you gain some true fans of your podcast, they’re going to want a place they can hear more, and so I plan to have a Patreon that I will be updating every week with fresh content.
Ultimately this new podcast of mine will fail if I’m not having fun. Just like with writing, as soon as it starts feeling like work, as soon as I start dreading it, it will be time to call it a day.
There’s going to be a lot of research involved, and I probably won’t be able to record a podcast that’s just me in a single take from beginning to end. I’ll hit some roadblocks in the beginning, I might get frustrated at times, and that’s okay.
As long as I’m having fun, we’re golden. As long as my personality is coming through, I’ll be a happy podcaster! The listeners don’t want a dry history lesson. They want something that engages them from beginning to end, and that’s what I hope to deliver.
So if you’re thinking of launching an awesome podcast like I am in this crazy year of 2020, hopefully some of these tips have been helpful for you.
There’s a lot to think about as you get started, for sure, but if you love your topic and believe in your work ethic and have something to offer your listeners, there’s no telling how successful your podcast might eventually become!