Podcasting 101: Understanding Your Why

May 5, 2020

Podcasting 101: Understanding Your Why

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When podcasting gets difficult — and it will — you need to have a reason to keep going. You’ll find yourself short on time. You’ll release an episode you’re not proud of. You’ll feel the stinging doubts of imposter syndrome. The struggle is a natural part of the podcast creation process, but what happens when you want to quit? To power through, you need one simple tool: understanding your why.

What’s your why?

It’s the reason you chose to create this podcast. Don’t settle for the simple answer of “it lets me express myself.” Dig deeper. Because when it gets tricky, you’re going to need a strong reason to keep pushing forward. When you’ve fallen down, your why picks you up off the pavement and puts you back in the game.

As an example, for my What We Do podcast, I can spend upwards of 30 or more hours working on a single episode. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just wanted to throw in the towel and go do something easier. It’s in those moments the poisonous questions hit.

What’s the point?

Is this even worth it?

Am I just wasting my time?

My answer to these questions is my why: This podcast allows me to explore the uncharted territory of my own mind through another’s story, shedding light on their life experiences and making connections with listeners.

Simply put: I want to make beautiful things that connect.

When you’re trudging through the slush of doubt, your why refreshes and renews your passion, creating a deep connection with the work you put into your podcast. And the resulting product shows.

Welcome to the land of ideas

Understanding your why does more than give you a reason to keep going. It’s also your source of inspiration, the tree from which you can freely pluck ideas. Because when you understand and are on board with why you do something, you give yourself permission to explore. Your mind releases itself of uncertainties — those pesky catalysts of indecision and inaction — and opens the door to a world where ideas run free.

The power of setting expectations

After establishing your why, set yourself up for success by establishing expectations for time investment. How much time are you willing to (or even can you) realistically put into your podcast? Being clear about the breadth of the work to be done, you’ll have a failure line drawn. Hence, you know when you’re falling behind and can recalibrate expectations if necessary. Otherwise, the project will slip away, and you’ll always feel like you’re not doing enough, or you’re wasting time. Trust me — it will drain you. Which is the exact opposite of what you want your podcast to do.

Keep in mind this struggle isn’t uniquely yours. Everyone from the most celebrated painters to professional athletes — who make their jobs look effortless — face adversity in their crafts every day. Because we rarely get a glimpse at their work in progress and only see the fruits of their labor, we too often presume struggle doesn’t exist for them. And it makes us feel like junk. As The School of Life puts it, “We have not seen enough of the rough drafts of those we admire, and therefore cannot forgive ourselves the horror of our own early attempts.”

All the more reason to keep your why close at hand.

So. Why do you podcast?

What’s it bringing to your life? Figuring this out releases the pressures created from ambiguity and gives you a clear-cut path, and a helping hand when you encounter the strife that comes with creating worthy work.

So take your why and fire up your microphone. The world is listening.

Key takeaways

  • Struggle happens. Your why powers you through.
  • Your why is a source of inspiration.
  • Setting expectations for time investment helps capitalize on your why.

Kickstarting Your Podcast

Doug Fraser

If it's peculiar, you can count Doug in. From the voice of Porky Pig to bestselling author Lemony Snicket, his <a href="https://www.npr.org/podcasts/754346967/what-we-do">What We Do podcast</a> explores the people behind the world’s most intriguing passions, hobbies, and jobs. When he's not podcasting, Doug works as a freelance <a href="https://dougfraserdigital.com/">copywriter and filmmaker</a>.