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3 Tips to Start & Maintain Your Podcast

We just finished episode 90 of our podcast this week (which you can listen to for FREE at our website, or on iTunes, or on Google Play, or on Stitcher, or on…you get the point!), and while we are very proud of all that we have accomplished so far with our show, we believe that we are just getting started. It has taken us a while to find our groove, and the cool thing is, we’re discovering that the groove is fluid. When you create something, you can do whatever you want with it. It really doesn’t matter because it’s yours. We try to keep our focus on movies, but there will be times when we decide to shoot from the hip and talk about life (I favor those episodes). That could lead us to talking about the great things that are happening for us, or the rough patches we’re going through. We love that the podcast is an outlet for us to give our thoughts not only on the film business, but on our day-to-day lives.

But how do we do this? How does this process work for us?

Well, let me say that while the process is going to be different for everyone, I believe that there are a few core ideas at play here and everyone can and should implement. So, here are some tips I can give you based on my podcasting experience over the past 90 episodes:

3. Preparation
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Preparation is key to really anything in life, and as such, it’s vital for anyone wanting to start up and maintain a podcast. Not only do we need to watch movies, but we must then think intentionally about what we have just seen and put those into cogent words. It’s about figuring out how to go deeper. It’s getting under the hood of the car to see what is really working. It’s a relatively simple practice that can be overlooked if you’re not being deliberate about it. It’s easy to try to go off-cuff, but I don’t recommend it, especially in the early stages of your podcast. From my experience, when we don’t prepare enough for our show, it is extremely evident, not only in the overall quality of the episode, but in our enjoyment of recording the episode. You can just tell when something is “off.” That’s not a place you want to be. Thankfully, it is completely avoidable.

Preparation doesn’t have to be rigid. On the contrary, fluid preparation is important to not make it feel like a chore. On our very first episode, we just knew we wanted to introduce ourselves and talk about two things: Star Wars Episode 7 and Jurassic World. That was it. That was our preparation. Could we have gone more in depth on that? Sure. We could have drawn up a diagram, wrote out critical pieces of information we wanted to hit on, but it’s just not something we felt like we needed for our first episode. We had our two movies, and that was that. It was enough to get the ball rolling.

I don’t think that preparation should be exhausting. At least it never has been for me with our podcast. I’ve just chosen to see it as fundamentally necessary for the overall quality of our show and to give me peace of mind. It can be done in as little as 10 minutes for a one hour episode, and it be as concise as writing down three bullet points. I can see a difference when I take just a few minutes to think about what I’m going to say on our episodes. It’s through preparation that we can delve into spontaneity, but without being properly prepared beforehand, the spontaneous moments would never, ever happen.

We have a weekly show, and occasionally we’ll throw in some extra episodes. But for the most part, we know that every Monday, we’ll have a new show. And it’s important to at least know a few days before we record what we’re going to talk about. I started up a Google Document and planned our next 30 episodes, all the way up until the Academy Awards air in March 2018. It took about half an hour and I just started jotting down every topic I could think of. It was fun and it got a lot off my mind regarding all the things I’ve been wanting to tackle on the show.

It’s good to have something like this even if you don’t stick with it. For example, for our 91st episode, we’re going to be talking about something totally different than what I had written down, because something else interests us and things change. But just knowing that we’ve got a plan as a backup is a huge relief of burden and honestly, it allows for more free thinking.

Next, I try to keep up to date with movie news. It only takes a few minutes to skim headlines, and if something piques my interest, I’ll stop and read more thoroughly. But for the most part, this is a very simple idea that just allows for us to talk about film news on the episode. If it’s something I know I’ll want to talk about, I make a note of it. If it’s not, then I’ll forget about it.

I believe that the longer you do something, the easier it will be and the less structured the preparedness can be in theory. You’ll always want to prepare, but as you get use to the rhythm and flow of your episodes, it’ll become easier.

2. Relaxation
There’s no getting past it. If you’re not relaxed, it’s going to affect how you feel. If you’re tense and tight, you’re just not going to have as fun with what you’re doing. A few things I like to do beforehand: take a few deep breaths, do some short vocal exercises, and practice saying a few lines: Sometimes I write out our intro, and that leads me into relaxing myself into the episode. It really helps. Don’t, I repeat, don’t worry so much about promoting the podcast, because the truth is, if you love what you’re doing, the listeners and downloads will come with time. And besides, you’re not doing this to get a set number of downloads. Do we want to have listeners? Of course, but it’s not the main thing, and it really shouldn’t even be on the top list of things you evaluate for your podcast anyway. So, allow yourself to relax and embrace the actual process of recording your episode and try not to stress about the little things that ultimately take away your joy from what you’re trying to do.

1. Enjoyment
As crazy as it sounds, I must remind myself that this is all supposed to be fun. There’s no competition here. We’re not trying to become something that we’re not. We’re just trying to have fun. Jordan and I use to talk on the phone quite a bit about movies, and so one day we said, “Why not just podcast this?” And that’s how it all got started. The truth about it is that we just love movies. I personally try to think more positively about the movies that I watch and I try to limit my criticism unless I’m just feeling particularly sarcastic and biting on that day. And on those days, I give myself some time to vent, and then try to reign myself back in and remember that film is one of the greatest avenues of expression, and it’s a fantastic way to immerse a person.

I’ve gotten stuck in a negative mindset a time or two on the podcast, and each time I regret it. Yes, there are some bad movies out there. And yes, I think they’re bad too. That’s not to say you can’t give constructive criticism, but it is to say that you probably want to start your movie podcast (or whatever topic it might be) because you love the subject and you want to learn more about it. Don’t forget what brought you to the dance in the first place. Kill the cynicism and enjoy what you’re doing. Don’t record what you hope people will enjoy listening to. Record what you want to talk about! There are genres that I just don’t watch. So, I’m not going to start just because I think some people want to hear it. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone. Instead, I watch things I know I’ll probably like. That’s why I’m more positive about the movies I see because I already know beforehand that I’m probably going to like them anyway. That’s not to say you can’t stretch yourself and try new things. It’s because of the podcast that I’ve watched so many movies that I otherwise never would have and I’ve discovered new forms of storytelling that I really like. Try new things if you feel inclined, but if you don’t, then don’t force yourself to watch movies or shows you know you’re just not going to like. The bottom line: ENJOY! The only person who needs to be satisfied with your podcast is you. Make it fun! Make it memorable! Love what you’re doing and the rest will take care of itself.

There are certainly many other aspects to podcasting. Scripted vs. non-scripted, episode length, editing, debate vs. discussion, equipment, logo design, and all that fun stuff. But at the core of it all, the three things I talked about above are what I find most important. Preparation, relaxation, and enjoyment. If you start with those three, and truly allow yourself to be “in” those things, everything else will just be a continuation of that. You’ll be happier, and you’ll want to podcast more. And that’s really what all of this is about.

Take care!

Josh