How to Start a Minimum Viable Podcast

People often ask me how to start a podcast. I’m always baffled by the time, money, and resources they invest in something that doesn’t have an audience. They underestimate the power of starting small. So they buy fancy recording equipment, enroll in expensive courses, build web sites, etc.

I do not deny that it takes time to build something worthy of an audience’s attention. Everybody starts at zero.

But, all of this will be for nothing if you discover you hate doing a podcast, your audience hates your show, etc., etc. A minimum viable podcast allows you in the words of Alberto Savoia to “fail Ferrari fast and fiat cheap. “ He’s been the founder of several successful startups and was the director of innovation at Google. So his advice passes the credibility test.

The first iteration of the Unmistakable Creative Podcast was a far cry from what it is today. There were no album covers or even a web site. I barely knew how to use Wordpress at the time. Our first episode was an mp3 file on my blog with a link that said, “click here to download?’

The process was so stupidly simple that anybody reading this could publish their first episode today.

1. Plug a microphone into a laptop

For some stupid reason, the one thing inside a Macbook that isn’t amazing is the default microphone. That being said, I didn’t use an external mic. One of our listeners was enjoying the content so much after our first 50 episodes, they sent me one as a thank you and asked me to use it. But for less than 80 bucks you can get a decent mic on Amazon.

2. Interview Anyone who will talk to you

Contrary to popular belief, famous people don’t always make for great interviews. I’ve said no to some very well known people that everybody reading this has heard of. The worst podcast guest in the history of our show is incredibly well known, and I would NEVER have that person back.

My filter is simple.

Is there something If intriguing about this person?

I could care less about how big their audience is, whether they will promote it to their followers, etc., etc. The secret to that is simple. Do an interview that they want to share. If you do, you won’t even have to ask.

  • They get interviewed all the time. Sometimes well-known people sound like parrots saying the same thing on every podcast. It’s hard not to when you become an expert at something and get asked the same questions all the time.
  • If they’re well known, and you have no audience, they’ll turn you down. To this day, I still get turned down. I’ve been turned down by well-known people who have appeared on podcasts smaller than ours. And that’s ok. As James Victore says, we’re not for everybody, just the sexy people.
  • Lesser-known people give you a chance to practice. I waited for almost 300 interviews before I interviewed Seth Godin. I didn’t do this because he would say no. I did this because I wanted to become a much better interview. After that interview, Willie Jackson sent me a message and said: “I’ve heard nearly every interview with him, and this was the best.”
  • The least known people are often the ones that have the most interesting stories. Some of my favorite podcasts guests are the people who nobody has ever heard of. The most important lesson I learned early on was that everybody has a story worth telling. If you are personally curious about their story, it will be a better interview than one with a famous person.

The first guy I ever interviewed was another student in Yaro’s blog mastermind course. His name was Josh Hanagarne, and he had just started his blog. He was a kettlebell weightlifter and librarian with Tourettes.

3. Record the conversation

In 2009, we didn’t have any tools like Zencastr. I recorded it with a plugin called Skype call recorder. I did a few simple edits in Garageband and exported an mp3. Today have options galore to record, transcribe, and share an interview. Don’t spend hours planning, researching, etc. Just pick one and record your first episode.

4. Publish it somewhere (your website, your email list, etc.)

Conventional wisdom from successful podcasters is that you should record 10 episodes. Set everything up on iTunes. Optimize it, etc., etc. But conventional wisdom produces conventional results.

My recommendation is to start as small as possible and execute as fast as possible. Unless you absolutely in your heart know that you want to do this, spend as little time as possible doing this.

This approach simplifies the process. You get feedback from your audience, iterate on it, and give them something you know they want.

Last month, my friend Matthew Cooke did a series of 15-minute interviews with me about how to build an audience for your art. I did zero editing. I uploaded them Soundcloud and published them in a free course on our Mighty Network. Before I put any more effort into it, I wanted to know if my audience found it useful.

If you want to start a podcast, don’t underestimate the power of starting small. Start a minimum viable podcast. See how it goes before you go all in. Otherwise, you’ll do the opposite of What Alberto Savoia suggests. You’ll fail Ferrari expensive and Fiat slow.

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Order An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake: Listen to the @UnmistakableCR podcast in iTunes

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