Looking for a creative and inexpensive way to build credibility and connect authentically with your audience? Launch a podcast! A simple Google search will offer the nuts and bolts of starting out, but here are five secrets to creating a show with staying power.
Scroll through iTunes and you’ll notice that podcasts can be about literally anything (startups, politics, murder!). Want to know what matters more than what you talk about? How you talk about it. By focusing on what makes you sit up a little straighter and makes your heart beat a little faster, you’ll create a show that no one else could host quite like you. Passion is contagious; when you feel most alive and most like yourself, the audience leans in and comes back for more.
In 2014 I started Atomic Moms with actress and girlfriend Bianca Kajlich. Having a co-host can give you a real courage boost and make recording your voice feel a little less awkward. But there are definite perks to flying solo. After the first year, my warm and vivacious co-host wanted to explore other interests and Atomic Moms became my one woman show. I took over hosting, producing, editing, and booking. The transition wasn’t easy. Frankly, I was scared to continue the podcast without her. But I figured it out. And three years later, I’ll admit some things got much easier when it was just me, like scheduling guests, executing a singular vision, shaping an interview, and learning to trust in my own voice.
If you hate the sound of your voice (I have serious voice dysmorphia), do not let that stop you. Just think of all the brilliant actors who can’t stand watching their own performances. Can you imagine if they quit acting just because they got self-conscious? Speaking of actors, here’s one trick I use when I’m having an especially bad voice day, like when I have to do an interview at 7 am and I’m on week three of a preschool cough. I play this series of videos with Jeannette Nelson, Head of Voice at the National Theater. It warms up my voice, gets me in my body, and most importantly, it makes me feel a little ridiculous. And “feeling a little ridiculous” is my secret to getting out of my head and into the moment.
How do you want the podcast to make people feel? Create an environment that sets the tone you’re going for. Listeners won’t see where you’re recording, but they will pick up on how you feel while you record. Special objects help me stay grounded when I have a high stakes interview; my father’s old desk clock, a framed photograph of my husband and daughters, and an empty box of Hot Tamales from the most exciting business meeting of my life keep me company. What are the objects that remind you of why you are doing what you are doing? It’s easy to get distracted by the technical B.S. of podcasting. Setting the mood helps you stay connected.
By far the weirdest element of podcasting is that you are speaking to an audience you never see. It’s very easy to get self-conscious. If I start ruminating on who could be listening and judging me, I get overwhelmed. But if I can imagine I’m talking to a mother who has written to me, I find my hosting sweet spot. The podcast is not about my ego or my imagined critics, it’s about getting information and support out to that mother who needs it. And whenever a “critic” jumps into my head, I focus my attention back on that one mama I hope hears my message.
The world needs smart women to share their voices. Follow your curiosity. You’ve got this, mama. Oh, and one last thing. It’s too obvious to be in my top five, but it’s too important to leave out: consistency is key to building trust with your listener base. It’s a challenge to keep self-imposed deadlines (like REAL HARD). But, do it. I would have never guessed that I’d make it to 200 episodes: I took it week by week. And now, here we are. I truly believe in the Field of Dreams quote, “If you build it, they will come.” I can’t wait to subscribe to your show.
Ellie Knaus is host of Atomic Moms podcast, a modern parenting podcast featuring world class experts, bestselling authors, and moms around the world. To listen to the podcast, please subscribe here and follow us @atomicmoms.
Photos by @hellopinecone.