I consider myself an introvert. I don't like being in a large group of people (even if they're friends), I hate speaking in front of a crowd and I like quiet time alone. I prefer writing (emails, Slack) than talking on a call to avoid the social interaction.
However, I have also been podcasting (on and off) as a hobby since 2012, not only talking to guests but recording these conversations and putting them out for thousands of people around the world to listen to.
Although shyness is not a characteristic of an introvert, I am a shy person.
However, I have managed to channel some sort of inner extrovert to not only start podcasting but continue to do it over the past seven years.
I thoroughly enjoy podcasting. If you have ever wanted to get into podcasting but have found it overwhelming as a person not too thrilled to hear the sound of your own voice, let alone record an interview with a guest, you're not alone.
You should not shy away from this medium just because you're introverted like me.
“Introversion can be an odd place for a podcaster to be, as we tend to occupy a cultural space somewhere between private content creator and public speaker. In fact, we embody a number of paradoxes—we're demure yet outspoken, shy yet passionate, private yet public.” (source)
How I got started in podcasting
The draw of a radio-type show pulled me into podcasting. I grew up listening to Radio 1 daily back in England and would sometimes dream of having my own show (even if my personality traits would render me useless live on air with a large audience listening in).
I love the idea of radio. It lets you reach a large number of people via a very simple medium: sound. And as a simple medium, it offers a platform where a range of types of content are happy to exist; radio content is mostly based around news, discussion, performance or music.
Podcasting is just like radio, just delivered differently. And anyone can do it! Instead of requiring a radio service to output your content, you can simply record an audio file on any device and upload it to any number of podcasting platforms online. This file is then available to anyone who finds or subscribes to your podcast.
This democratisation of radio became too much of a pull for me in the early 2010s (the "teens"?). For about a year I remember mulling over the idea of starting a magazine podcast after I started an online magazine community/database called Magpile in 2012. An audio show in which I talked to the people making the magazines being added to Magpile made total sense.
And so, Mag Heroes was born. A simple interview-based podcast in which I called up magazine makers around the world, finding out about how they got started, hearing about challenges they face and what they were working on.
I recorded the first season of five episodes using just my MacBook and standard Apple headphones in my local library, starting in November 2012. It was so easy to record and release! And, via Magpile, I had an audience of magazine lovers ready to listen.
Podcasting is as easy as posting to Instagram.
I have subsequently purchased a microphone—a Blue Yeti—to make a better-sounding podcast, but I still just record at my desk in my bedroom. With three kids, I make sure to record either at night when they're asleep or in the morning when they're at school.
It couldn't be easier to make an audio show in 2020.
How to start a podcast as an introvert
Some things to do and think about as you go about starting to podcast.
1. Make the first step
Before you go about arranging an interview for your first episode, get familiar with the medium. Talking into a microphone can feel really strange without prior experience. So get your phone out, sit down, relax, and start talking. You don't have to even record anything yet; just get used to talking to something.
2. Practice recording and listen back
Once you've started recording yourself, listen to what you've created. It always sounds really strange hearing yourself coming out of a computer, but you need to study how you're coming across in the audio.
I struggle a lot with how bored or quiet I can sound during interviews, which is never the case! It's just the way I speak. I have to work hard to try and sound more upbeat that I usually do, to make sure I'm not too monotonous. You may find you also need to keep some pointers in mind when speaking.
Listen out for long pauses, how clearly you're speaking and too many "um"s.
3. Don't be scared to put your ideas out there
Think of podcasting like any other social media plaform. If you can upload a photo to Instagram, you can upload an episode to your podcast.
It may seem like a bigger thing to do—to release your spoken ideas or commentary—but I promise you it's the same, if not easier. There is no direct link or connection with your listeners (there are no profiles, likes or comments in podcasting), so you should feel even more secure to release your content.
4. Remember that no-one can see you and you can edit everything!
Just like Instagram and Twitter, you can edit each recording for as long as you want before releasing it. Even "live" calls like the ones I do for Mag Heroes are edited down to remove bad questions, when I stumble over my words and to remove dead air. If your podcast is just you talking, make sure to remember that you can always re-record sections of audio. Take the pressure off yourself.
Podcasting in practice
Now you have the ammo to push over the hill and get started, here's how you can actually start recording and get your podcast published.
Get a mic
You only have one product or output with podcasting, and that's audio. So make sure your audio is good. If you wouldn't put up a bad quality photo on Instagram, you shouldn't be putting up bad audio on your podcast.
As a bare minimum you should use headphones with a mic built in (like I did to get started), then look to get a microphone if you get serious.
Use free software
This is it! Actually making the content.
If you interview guests, you can use a tool like Cast (like me), which creates an audio call session online and records everyone locally (so you get perfect audio from all participants). You can take each file and put them together in an app like Garageband (this is my workflow for Mag Heroes).
Upload to a podcast platform
There are so many podcast hosting platforms nowadays. If you use Anchor—as mentioned above—to record, you can tap a few buttons and your episode is online!
I've used Simplecast for Mag Heroes. It's a well-designed platform which offers all the things you need for uploading audio, editing episode descriptions and uploading artwork. Also check out Transistor as a great alternative.
Publish your feed
Once you've uploaded an episode or two, you need to publish your feed to the major podcasting systems. By default, podcast apps won't see your content. You have to submit it first to places like Apple Podcasts and Spotify before your podcast will appear in anyone's apps. Most hosting platforms will have ways to do this. It's very easy.
Keep recording and uploading consistently
As with any content channel, successful podcasting requires you to release new content frequently and consistently.
If you have goals to make your podcast successful, put out new episodes every week or every two weeks. and try to make sure it's on the same day. Your listeners will connect better if they know content is coming (just like Instagram or blogging!)