Questions every successful (woman) podcaster must answer before starting

Is there a difference in podcasting for men and women?

Fundamentally, there are no differences between men and women when it comes to podcasting.

However, there are key reference points that affect women and men differently, as is the case for women in almost every other industry.

These perspectives come from cultural propensities and societal expectations which are very alive in our subconscious.

Most of us are not aware, and therefore have no choice. Once we do become aware, we have a choice, and most importantly, a responsibility to choose - better.

What can you expect from this article?

Is this article a man vs woman thing? Is this article helpful only if you are a woman?

Neither!

The following is a list of top questions and tenets I have confirmed are necessary for podcast success.

These questions will make sure your path into podcasting is prosperous and life changing.

They will support you in getting clarity around who you are, what resources you have access to, knowing what your problem solving skills are like, the importance of your tech affinity and remembering why you got into podcasting in the first place.

Some of the above can be very challenging for women, especially when stepping into an industry that at the surface “seems” to have a very low percentage of women involved.

Why, you ask, are the following specific inquiries important?

So that you keep podcasting.

It is relatively easy to start and launch a podcast. It is a whole other story to keep doing it.

It is my experience that most podcasters quit podcasting during pivotal personal or professional milestones such as the first year anniversary of the podcast, hitting your 100th episode, getting married, a big move, having a new baby, etc.

For women, especially those of us that are wearing many hats, when we hit those milestones, we tend to exhale a little bit too much and lose sight of the big reasons we started podcasting in the first place.

I don’t want that to happen to you.

Why should you listen to me, you ask? I started podcasting in 2006 and I’ve worked intimately with hundreds of podcasters at Libsyn, a well-respected podcast hosting company since 2007.

I’ve produced 3 different podcasts (She Podcasts, The Feed: The Official Libsyn Podcast and Elsie’s Yoga Class) and I am at the helm of the biggest podcasting community for women since 2014 with my partner in crime Jessica Kupferman.

Therefore, my frame of reference is being a woman in the podcasting space for over a decade. And I’m still podcasting.

So let’s dive into these top questions and tenets. They are broken down into 3 main categories.

▸ Before you start.
 ▸ Doing it.
 ▸ The afterglow. 


Know Yourself And What You Are Getting Yourself Into (Before You Start)

If you don’t do anything else, at least answer the following questions for yourself.

If you take the time to do it, you will be far ahead of most podcasters out there regardless of gender.

Get yourself a notebook, real or virtual, and write as you read.

Who are you?

This has zero to do with your podcast content, strategy or development.

It is truly about you.

What do you love to do?

What are the things that rock your world? That inspire creativity? That inspire joy and expansion?

EXAMPLE: I love to go to coffee houses. I love organic food. I adore the new PBS Sherlock. My MacBook Air and my iPhone are like my adopted children. I’m happiest when I’m with myself. I’m a fanatic about technology and innovation. My family makes my heart sing.

Now it’s your turn.

How do you feel when you are with the people that you love? Doing the stuff that rocks your world? What do you sound like when you are sharing this with other people? How do you move when you are talking about it? What are the things that you cannot shut-up about? How do they make you feel?

WHY IT MATTERS: You need to be super clear about the things that excite you and what they feel like.

Podcasting starts from this place of feeling (excitement, passion, energy) and in order to KEEP podcasting, you must be able to tap into it.

When you can no longer connect with that feeling of deep excitement and enthusiasm, it’s time to make another choice. You need to remember, realign, or possibly even pivot.

This self-knowledge will empower you to make decisions like nobody’s business. It will save you resources and money because you will know whether to keep podcasting or not.

What’s your daily life like?

In your personal life, what do you do in the morning? afternoon? evening? etc.

Is your life jammed packed? Do you have time to read, watch movies, play games, dive into your hobbies?

Do you have young children at home? Older children? No children? Are you taking care of an older parent?

Do you love to travel and explore? Or are you the type that really digs hanging out in one place?

What are the things that you would never in a million years stop doing, no matter what?

What does your time look like professionally? Do you work from home? Do you have a 9–5? Do you work 12–18 hour days? Do you work 4 hour days? Are you a student?

How much mindshare does your professional life take?

EXAMPLE: My life is pretty jammed packed. I have 2 young daughters. We homeschool. We have goats. We are homesteaders living in a rural area. We run our business from home. I meditate, practice yoga and adore being attuned to nature.

WHY IT MATTERS: Podcasting takes TIME above almost anything else. If you barely have any time to spare, you have two choices - one, carve some in your day or two, figure out what and how to outsource the workload so you don’t give up the things that you need in your life. Ok, you have a third option - suffer.

You read my personal example above. Here is how it has played out in my podcasting choices. During the first year of She Podcasts, I desired to have pristine audio quality. I have the knowledge of what gear to get and how to use it, yet, my lifestyle at that time, left no room for me to upgrade my sound quality with general solutions from podcasting audio experts.

In order for me, at that time, to up-level my audio production, I would have needed to intrude on and sacrifice other personal and family values that I was not willing to give up. My quality of life would have suffered, and my ability to put out content would have deteriorated.

Podcasting is not limited to the act of podcasting. It takes up a lot of time in your brain to plan, strategize, and most certainly to troubleshoot.

Seeing the big picture of your personal and professional life will empower you to enter into podcasting with your eyes wide open - fully aware and ready to take it on.

As women, although we may be fluent multitaskers, it does not necessarily mean we are skilled at it. The initial desire and passion will only get you so far.

BIG Podcasting Wisdom: podcasting related tasks will take a lot longer than you expect 90% of the time. This includes submitting your podcast into iTunes, marketing, editing, and even outsourcing!

Guesstimate the time - double the time - and you’ll cover what you truly need.

What’s your tech propensity? - what’s your tech love/like?

I rarely, if ever, see this addressed at all. And it’s the one factor that can make or break your podcasting experience.

How do you feel about tech? Is it something you are super comfortable with? Do you gravitate towards gadgets? Are you often found tinkering with new apps, and find yourself totally addicted to playing with iOS devices? Or are you the type of person that uses your iPhone for Facebook, texting, email, and that’s about it?

How do you react to upgrades? Upgrading your phone, your computer, or your OS?… do you know what an OS is?

EXAMPLE: My grandfather was insanely into tech. He thrived on new technology. My last memories of him were of him sitting at his computer, 80 plus years old, in El Salvador. He passed that love onto me, although it remained dormant until I was in my thirties, but still. I dig it. It makes me happy and excited.

WHY IT MATTERS: The real magic of podcasting is that the power is in your hands. YOU get to be the boss.

You are the creator, producer, talent, head of marketing, promoter and everything in between!

There is no just showing up. You have to get your hands dirty. Often times it means diving into gadgets and software, with lots of different interfaces, and a myriad of settings you’ve never even seen before.

Audio and sound are new languages you’ll need to learn, with tons of jargon, quirks and quarks.

If you are tech-phobic, this is the time to either start dealing with it by shifting your attitude or to get yourself the proper support system aka a knowledgeable tech team (to help you with all the stuff that’s gonna make you wanna pull your gorgeous hair out of your head)!

How do you problem solve?

If there was a fulcrum to podcasting, this would be it. What are your problem solving skills like? What’s your problem solving M.O.?

Are you the type who doesn’t even start a project before researching every single possible detail, repercussions, outcomes, etc.?

Do you dive into messing with things without ever reading instructions - because really, who needs them?

Can you usually get by? Are you smart, capable and for the most part figure things out?

When a problem arises in your life, do you have a strong support system who help you through your stuff? Do you internalize everything and deal with everything yourself? Do you quickly start to look for a solution via social media hoping and praying someone can save you?

EXAMPLES: When I first started podcasting, I knew zero about anything to do with computers, technology or audio production. I felt I was constantly out of my element. And truth be told, I was brought to tears because I felt so helpless. My very first podcast mentor, Victor Cajiao, taught me the steps to troubleshoot tech problems. He showed me how to search for answers, look at key components, and learn how best to ask questions to find solutions to problems.

He helped me take the leap from a helpless mess to an empowered trouble-shooter.

WHY IT MATTERS: There will ALWAYS be problems in podcasting.

The tech goes wonky. Things that have always worked stop working. iTunes isn’t showing your latest episode. There’s a new update to your OS. And it breaks your workflow, of course! You get the idea…

You need to be ready with a backup plan and have a contingency team waiting in the wings - or a willingness to get your hands dirty, do your best to figure it out and then let it go.

Sometimes there won’t be an immediate solution.

There is SO much about the medium that you have zero control over.

Recognizing your propensities, as well as your behavioral patterns, will help you set up systems and resources around you to help you when you most need it. And this is what will keep you podcasting!

Be honest with yourself about your tech affinity and your problem solving skills. There is nothing worse than a looming deadline and having your tech decide to die! Or finally landing that super-big-deal guest. You think you recorded the interview, and the recording disappears!

Every podcaster out there can tell you any number of stories that would break any content producer’s heart. And I can guarantee you, if you decide to jump in, you will have your own stories of struggle soon!

Women are often portrayed in mainstream media and in our culture as not very techie.

I’ve observed that as women, we, ourselves continue to support this unfounded societal presumption by using the language we use, and by simply not caring, nor questioning the non-techie labels.

I was afraid of tech. I had no interest in it. It felt completely alien to me at times. And this fear almost kept me from stepping into the space that completely changed my personal and professional life!

The way I shifted those feelings and beliefs was by questioning the labels I used to describe myself.

Who said that I wasn’t techie? It seemed that I simply took on a label that I didn’t even question.

If you are tech averse to the depths of your soul, then the following will be the axis for changing the narrative. And for those of you that thrive on tech, it can only make things better.

Why do you want a podcast?

So much “stuff” will come up during your journey into podcasting.

People will want to be on your show that you’re unsure about having. You’ll feel like you can’t get behind the mic yet again. Your life will start to get hectic. And the first thing you’ll question is, how do I go on producing yet another episode? You’ll want to know if you should up-level your hardware, even if you aren’t sure you have the budget.

Answering the following questions will be necessary for making tough decisions about content, strategy and production.

Business or pleasure?

Is this your thing? Is it the way people find, and communicate with you?

Are you looking to expand your reach and touch base with a new audience segment? Are you podcasting to establish yourself as a niche expert? Is this your road to becoming a web superstar? Are you increasing your ability to be found online, and add visibility to your brand?

Other ideas? Do you just want to have fun? Do you want to get behind the mic because you simply must podcast?

All of these questions serve as the foundation, so you can reconnect with your initial why and stop getting derailed by incidentals.

BIG Podcasting Wisdom: You must have preferences. You must have an opinion. You must stand for something. You must have likes and dislikes. You must be willing to change your mind.

Go all in. Do it the way you want to do it. Follow your instincts. Move fully into what you know inside and out. And then, stay open to what you don’t know. Welcome uncertainty as opportunity to deepen and expand.

It’s in the balance of certainty and doubt that you will get to the optimal place for growth and expansion in this versatile industry.

It Takes Work (DOING IT)

Which leads to: it is not enough to dabble at podcasting. You must fully engage.

It is not enough to have a point of view, be talented, get content out there, and let it fly.

Be willing to educate yourself around all aspects of podcasting: audio production, RSS feeds, audio distribution, marketing, calls to action, online promotion, community building, and everything in between.

This doesn’t mean you have to become an expert on each and every part. It just means you need to know enough about all the pieces so you can make intelligent, informed, and clear decisions around the growth and development of your podcast.

Most importantly, you must know how it aligns with your bigger vision.

Right now, the podcasting industry is a massive expansion phase.

It is what I call “embodied changeable potential.”

What does this mean in plain English? The industry is changing so fast you can’t just learn about the different parts, pieces, and processes once and be done with it. It requires that you participate in the process, and then modify and revise as needed.

It’s because of this ripening maturity that it’s so exciting to be in the space in this precise moment! And it will remind you of your own growing pains - meaning you get to keep up to date on new systems, new technology, new workflows, new ideas - and that takes bandwidth.

All this learning to keep abreast of the changes takes time. It’s up to you to prioritize. Remember, you are the boss of your podcast.

Here are some mini podcasting proclamations to simmer on

  • Creativity is your number one problem solver.

  • CONTENT… There is no growth without great content, no matter how amazing your marketing plan or budget, remember {insert biggest Hollywood box-office flops here}?

  • Be prepared for a full-on tech fail every time you get behind the mic.

  • Every aspect of podcasting is going to take longer than you thought. In other words, podcasting is a sloth, not a cheetah.

  • Marketing and promoting your podcast: it. never. ends…

  • Be as unrelenting as a dictator, and as flexible as a 20 year old visiting Europe for the first time. 


Copy the tenets above. Have them close to you when you are podcasting. They will help you enjoy the podcasting path.

Be Prepared To Transform (THE AFTERGLOW)

Something happens when you keep podcasting.

Consistently.

When you endure, despite the setbacks, lack of feedback or perceived growth, you train yourself to deliver your message at a much higher level of resonance. Your message sticks - not only with your audience, but also with yourself.

It’s in doing the podcast that you start opening channels and making connections between your vision, your voice, and the overall mission for your work.

Your ability to communicate will become more refined.

Your confidence around speaking up will expand.

Your level of expertise will deepen and become more dynamic.

When you least expect it, you’ll look up from editing your most recent show and you’ll realize that somehow, you’ve come into your own - as a producer, a host, and a voice in your space.

As a podcaster, it’s in the letting go of immediate gratification and instant growth in which you truly reap the rewards of the work itself.

Getting honest and clear about you and your resources, making sure you know your problem solving skills, and tech affinity, plus consistently taking action to podcast will ensure your podcasting path is a prosperous and life changing endeavor.

Podcasting is ripe for women’s voices. It is the most level of playing fields in digital media. Take this opportunity to do the work, and let your voice be heard.

The world needs to hear a diversity of voices, and this means yours! May you choose to share your presence with us in whichever way resonates with you.


If you’ve been podcasting for while and are wanting to create more impact with your podcast, the Winter Session of The E-League is for you. Choose to own your podcasting success, your way.

Elsie Escobar