Privileged Podcasting 101

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Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash

Step One: Find your topic

While the podcasting market has become somewhat diluted at this point, don’t let that intimidate you. Even if there is a successful podcast out there that worked hard to hone the craft and organically grow an audience over many years, odds are you could do a better job than them. Enjoy cheesy movies? Sure, there are a lot of other bad movie podcasts out there, but how many of those podcasters’ dads went to Stanford with Roger Corman? Want to talk about true crime, but are worried about the stiff competition? Don’t be! Your cousin married into the family of former New York City Mayor Abraham Beame, remember? I don’t think unsealing a few court documents and re-opening some unsolved cases is going to be any problem at all.

Step Two: Pick a co-host that is of the same sex, race, and socioeconomic status, grew up in the same area as you, and shares the exact same opinions as you

This is a big one. Listeners will want a co-host so similar to you that it is impossible to tell who is saying what throughout the show. It’s essential that neither of you has any real defining characteristics and that you agree on most things. Honestly, it’s best if you can agree on pretty much everything. Rule of thumb, if you and your co-host didn’t go to the same summer camp in upstate New York for at least three summers, then you probably shouldn’t be hosting a podcast together.

Step 3: Buy expensive equipment and get a Podcast Producer

You can’t expect to compete with other podcasts unless you’re willing to spend 5–10x more on equipment than they do. While what you say might not always be the most interesting (Who are we kidding? Yes it will), it will always sound the best. Once you’ve made your purchases, you can go ahead and find yourself a Producer. Producers exist to make sure all cords are plugged-in correctly. Needless to say, they are an absolute must. Your goal should be to find someone who majored in sound engineering but is down on their luck. Once you find them and lowball them for their services, you can get to work!

Step 4: Be relatable

Listeners love getting to know their hosts, so be sure and share fun tidbits from your personal life to make them feel connected with you. Tell a witty anecdote from your time editing the Harvard Lampoon or get wistful as you reminisce about summering in Paris as a teenager. Your loyal following will only feel closer to you, knowing that you’ve shared many of the same experiences that they have.

Step 5: Advertisements, Advertisements, Advertisements!

Listeners love advertisements because they tell them how and what they should spend their money on. Not only are ad breaks important, they are a requisite for a successful podcast. So be sure and sprinkle in as many pre-recorded ads throughout your show as you possibly can. Aim for one ad for every five minutes of actual podcasting, if possible. Don’t worry if you’re talking about products that you don’t believe in or understand. Your audience won’t know the difference. All advertisements should crudely skew to the kind of people that you think listen to your show. Are you hosting a podcast about sports? Better advertise boxed tuxedos or something that makes manscaping easier. Got a podcast on meditation? Well, we all know that women love sleeping on mattresses and are scared of burglars. Even if you didn’t get into podcasting for the money, who says you shouldn’t make some along the way?

Step 6: Sell merchandise

The more quickly you can come up catchphrases and slogans, the better. Once you’ve got them and are peppering them into your show, you can bring in a third party seller and peddle some low-quality swag for high-end prices. Consider adopting the old American Apparel model and price those obscure tees somewhere in the 30–40 dollar range. You’ll be surprised and a little disturbed by the number of people who will buy your merch and then post pictures of themselves wearing it. Obviously, it would be both uncouth and uncool for you to don your own podcast’s clothing. Plus, the quality of the material would almost certainly damage the integrity of your skin.

Step 7: Ask for reviews

No one knows why podcasts reviews are important, but they probably are. Solicit reviews every week, but make sure you specify that you only want good ones. Should someone ever leave you a negative review, you have full permission to drag that person publicly on social media. Feel free to mobilize your listenership and go on a crusade against them. Who are they to not to love everything that you do and say?

Step 8: Don’t be afraid of failing

No matter what happens, remember that you will be fine. It was your instincts and your lineage that got you here. And no matter what happens, you’ll have both to fall back on if this doesn’t work out. But because you’re you, it probably will.

Adam Dietz is a writer the host of the podcast "Home Impodcast." His work has been featured in McSweeney's, Slackjaw, and The Weekly Humorist.

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