By Andrew Chamberlain
Just over two years ago I realised that there was a gap in the range of podcasts available to writers. There were some great podcasts out there, like “Writing Excuses” and “The Creative Penn”, but I couldn’t find anything that offered practical, applicable advice.
So I decided to start a podcast myself. I reasoned that if I was going to find out more about the craft for myself, I might as well share it with others.
And so “The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt” (CWT) was born. The podcast is a mix of short, fifteen minute episodes that explore different facets of creative writing, and longer interviews with writers and editors. Two years and fifty episodes later I’m still producing one podcast a fortnight, but I’ve also learnt some lessons.
First, I have realised that there are three essential “C’s” to podcasting, these are:
- Consistency, and
- Capturing an audience
You’ll notice that none of these directly relate to the technical challenges of podcasting. Those challenges are real, but you can overcome them. The real key to podcasting success is to get those “C’s” right. Here’s how I try to do that.
I’ve learnt that if you want to host a podcast, you have to work out why you want to say something before you work out what you want to say. I wanted to create the kind of podcast that I’d find helpful as a writer. I had to work that out first before I decided what I was going to say.
I’ve also learnt that I need to present the best content possible. That means doing the research, thinking for the audience, and presenting the material in an engaging and clear fashion so that they’ll keep coming back for more.
From the beginning I realised that I needed to keep up a regular output of material. I chose to create one episode every fortnight. On one occasion I decided to give myself a fortnight off, but when I came back after a month with a new episode my download figures had slumped. It can sometimes be hard work but consistent output is essential.
Consistency also applies to the sound quality of your work. I am sure that I lost some listeners in the early days because they were not satisfied with the sound quality. Fortunately, some of them liked the content enough that they were prepared to tell me they weren’t satisfied – bless them! That’s when I invested in a new podcasting microphone.
Capturing an audience
We all know that it’s not enough to write a book, as the author we have to invest in marketing and selling it. The same thing is true with a podcast. The challenge with podcast marketing is that there are so many ways to do this. Here are some of the things I’d recommend:
- Give each podcast a snappy and compelling title, it does attract more downloads
- If you have a website, set up a page on it to tell people about your podcast. If you don’t have a website, consider setting up a blog on something like Blogpress, or blogger.
- Start a Facebook page and a Google+ page for your podcast and link episodes to it regularly
- Start a group on Goodreads (goodreads.com)and invite people to join this
- Start a twitter account and comment on your episodes when they come out
Finally, remember that podcasting is a marathon not a sprint. Focus on the three C’s, and try to maintain the standard of what you are doing in terms of the audio quality and content. Good luck!
Andrew Chamberlain (www.andrewjchamberlain.com) is a writer and creative writing tutor. He is the host of “The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt”, a podcast that gives practical, accessible advice as well as occasional interviews with writers, editors, and other artists. You can reach the podcast on iTunes here.