Watching Olympic athletes is ridiculously inspiring. Simone Biles and Michael Phelps seem superhuman, don’t they? But they put on their leotard or swimsuit, respectively, the same way we do. The truth is that their achievements are outstanding because they work tirelessly to get there. They eat, breathe, and sleep their sport. And so they become the best in the world. But there’s a bit more to it, of course. Work ethic is part of the equation but not the whole of it. Many athletes work hard but not all end up on the podium.
The same goes for podcasters. Many of us eat, breathe, and sleep the medium. We are constantly hustling. Day and night we create content, follow up leads, listen to shows, snapchat, post to insta, attend webinars, and more—often MUCH more.
So what is it exactly that separates those who become outstanding and successful, who grow large audiences and make a tremendous impact on them, from those who work just as hard, but somehow do not?
The longer I train in this field, the more convinced I am that the winners are those who apply these three principles.
- They are passionate about an idea. They have a message they want to communicate. They are not just trying to build their own little “fiefdom.” They didn’t get into podcasting as a hobby to kill time or because they liked the sound of their own voice. They got into it because there was something that mattered to them and they wanted to shed light on that issue. I know of a podcaster who is focusing on the juvenile justice system and its effects on the so-called “delinquents.” She has not yet launched her show, but she is bubbling over with passion. There is no doubt in my mind that she will find her audience. Or rather, that her audience will find her.
Application: Figure out what you are psyched about. What excites you? What are you convinced needs to change in our world? Build a show around that.
- They understand their purpose. This is linked to passion, but is distinct, nonetheless. You can be fired up about your message but, like the gerbil in the cage on his little exercise wheel, you can run with passion 24/7 but still end up nowhere. This is why passion is not enough. Passion and energy have to be funneled into a particular direction to make an impact. Imagine a powerful fire hose aimed at a three-alarm fire. When the hose is 5 inches in diameter, the water comes out with intensity and can easily be directed to maximize its efficacy. If the hose were designed differently—say 30 inches wide, for example—the water would come trickling out, not at all going in the direction needed. Rather, it would be wasted on the ground. In the same way, your passion must be contained and directed for the greatest effect. I know several podcasters who are college professors. Their purpose is to educate, beyond the confines of the university’s campus. Their classroom has now expanded exponentially because they grabbed a microphone.
Application: Consider how to channel your passion and energy. What exactly is your purpose/focus? What needs to happen to affect the change you want to see? What do you need to do to make that happen?
- Production is the final piece. It is actually the pièce de résistance. It needs to be the finest point of your show. Passion is important. You’ve got to believe in what you’re doing. Purpose is critical. You have to know where you want the show to go. But without stellar production it’s all for naught. Literally. Your total output needs to be fantastic content and decent sound. The content must give “value added” to the listener. Give them a reason to listen. And the sound quality needs to be as good as you can afford. I started listening to a show recently with poor audio quality. When it started cutting in and out, I had to stop listening. I really wanted to listen, but the audio hurdle proved too much.
Though there are no gold medals to win, there is success and satisfaction to be achieved in podcasting. Keep these three principles in mind and you will see listeners reached and lives changed.
Hilda Labrada Gore lives in Adams Morgan with her daughters and husband, and her cat Mia (which means “mine” in Spanish). She recently returned from Kenya and Zimbabwe where she was speaking and interviewing folks for her nutrition podcast! The show is called Wise Traditions and can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, and at westonaprice.org.