Thinking of starting a podcast? Read on...
The lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 saw a huge explosion in the number of new podcasts being launched. I guess people had more time on their hands... I won't bore you with the stats about how many of those podcasts are still around today - mostly because I can't be bothered to find them - but suffice to say, not many made it past episode 6. I guess the number one reason why podcasts don't last the distance is because most people underestimate the amount of time required to produce something that isn't completely shit. There are other reasons too of course. People's circumstances change, they don't enjoy it as much as they thought they would, etc. But overall, I do think time is the key inhibitor to longevity.
For us to produce a one hour episode, at least 15 hours of work is required. We are heavily scripted - you have to be really when you are telling someone's story - and the researching and writing takes up the biggest chunk of those 15 hours - approximately 8-10. Next comes the recording - maybe an hour and a half, and then the dreaded editing - at least 4 hours. Add in social media, running the website, meetings with ad agencies and sponsors, our Patreon content, managing our inbox, etc, and it really adds up.
But...! I don't mean to be all doom and gloom! I would never want to put anybody off starting their own podcast. Podcasts are easy and cheap to set up - you just need a microphone and a laptop, the latter of which you've probably already got. And a subject that you're truly passionate about - for me, that was true crime. Despite the market being saturated with professional 'celebrity' podcasts, there is still a welcoming space for us amateurs - and more importantly, a significant audience.
There is money to be made too - from sponsors and adverts, and through websites like Patreon, which allow your audience to financially support you in exchange for additional content and benefits. But money can't be your primary motivation; 1 - because you probably won't make a huge amount, and 2 - because, in my opinion, it shows in the content and tone. But if you are patient and put out great content consistently, money will come...
My advice to anyone considering starting a podcast is;
1 - accept that it will take up a lot of your spare time - indeed, sacrifices will need to be made along the way, and other hobbies and interests will likely fall by the wayside and;
2 - get your sound right! It took us more than 50 episodes to sort it out. And we probably lost a lot of listeners as a result - you will need a Blue Yeti microphone (approximate cost £100) and you will need to study the manual. The microphone will pick up everything, so you will need absolute silence when you record.
3 - build your network. I can only speak for true crime podcasters, but we are (mostly) a very friendly and helpful bunch.