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The Solo Podcaster’s Survival Guide


woman in black tank top sitting on chair in front of microphone

Running a podcast by yourself might sound difficult. Can you do it alone? What tools do you need to record and edit your podcast? How do you get the word out about your show so people will listen? These questions are not easy to answer, but I will attempt to shed some light on the subject. Can you do it alone?

You can podcast alone and have a successful show. Solo podcasts are one of the most popular formats of podcasts and they build authority in a space, but there are some pitfalls to avoid. Some of the most important things to remember when you are the only person on your podcast are quality, consistency, and staying organized.

In reality, there are only four different formats for podcasts, Solo, Interview, Panel, and Storytelling. These formats are not mutually exclusive. You can have a solo podcast that interviews guests, or you could have an interview-driven show with panelists who occasionally host solo episodes. In this article, we are going to cover how to run a solo podcast.

What is a solo podcast?

Solo podcasts are shows where one person is the main host and there aren’t any co-hosts. In a solo podcast, you will be hosting your own show with no help from anyone else. You might have guests on as interviewees or you could read out loud from your notes or a script. There are no set rules or requirements for a solo podcast.

Some of the most successful podcasts in the world are hosted by a single person, and never have an interviewee or co-host.

The format lends itself well to the following industries:

  • Education
  • Motivation
  • Coaching
  • News

That list is not exhaustive, if you have an idea for a solo podcast, go for it. If you want to podcast by yourself, do it! There is no reason not to try and make your own show if you have an idea for one. Just like with any kind of art, the only way that people will be able to appreciate what

Podcasts that are done alone can really build up expertise, authority and credibility because when people can hear your passion and enthusiasm for a subject, they will want to listen. They have tuned in to hear your voice, not the voices of other people.

The benefits of being a solo podcaster

Possibly the biggest benefit of being a solo podcaster is that you get to do everything by yourself. You don’t have to answer emails from a co-host, or try and schedule an interview with someone else’s approval. You have complete creative freedom, and you do not have to answer to anyone.

Another huge benefit is you don’t have to split the money earned from ads or sponsorships with anyone else. You can spend all of your time creating great content for people, and not worry about sharing profits with someone who isn’t helping you run your show. Most podcast relationships are built on trust and friendship, not a joint business venture, but when money gets involved it has a tendency to create tension in a relationship.

When you record by yourself you also get to have flexibility in scheduling that larger productions do not have. When you are doing an interview show, if one of your guests can’t make it on the date that they said they would be available there is not much you can do about it. You have to schedule around their availability and hope for the best. If you want to record at 1 AM, you have no one to answer to but yourself.

If this sounds interesting to you then you are on the right track with a solo podcast.

The drawbacks of being a solo podcaster

Podcasting alone has its own set of challenges. There is no one to bounce ideas off, so you have to be your biggest fan and hardest critic at all times. This can be especially hard if you are recording by yourself and you don’t have anyone to get feedback from.

It becomes even harder if you try and do everything yourself from idea generation for all of the episodes, to writing the script, doing all of the research, and interviewing guests.

You also do not have anyone helping you edit your show. When you are a solo podcast, there is no one to share the workload with and it can be too much for some people. You have all of the responsibility in every part of your show, from start to finish including marketing and promotion. If you don’t enjoy doing everything by yourself this might not be fun for you at all.

Aside from lacking creative collaboration and workload balancing you also lack someone to help you be accountable to your audience. When you have a co-host, they can remind you to keep your release schedule. You can’t put off releasing an episode because you don’t feel like it is good enough yet. You will have to be your own coach and cheerleader

If this all sounds interesting but also scary then take the plunge into being a solo podcaster. The benefits can far outweigh any of the drawbacks when it comes to having your own show.

How to be successful when you’re the only person on your show

People who get into solo podcasting usually have a specific goal they are trying to accomplish. Most people do not just want to start their own show for the sake of starting their own show, but rather there is something else they hope will come from it. This might be teaching or training others about a topic that interests them, demonstrating expertise in their field by sharing their knowledge with others, or simply gaining exposure to an audience that they normally would not be able to reach.

Before you start your solo podcast, it is important for you to figure out what your goals are. Your reason behind starting a podcast will help guide the type of show you do and how often you produce episodes. This goal will also help you keep moving forward even when things get tough.

Aside from setting goals, it is important that you learn to either outsource work or find tools to help you be efficient. If your show brings you any kind of return on investment I would highly recommend starting by getting a podcast editor. Someone who understands the production and editing process will be able to make your show sound professional.

If you don’t want to hire someone subscription services like Descript can help you by simplifying the editing process. Descript transcribes your recordings and then you can edit them like you would edit a word document.

Another tool that I highly recommend for solo podcasters is an AI writing tool called Jarvis.AI which helps tremendously in coming up with podcast episode ideas, show notes, scriptwriting, outline generation, and social media marketing. I have been using Jarvis for quite a while and it has helped me come up with ideas for shows, stay on top of my release schedule, and generate new blog content. Consider Jarvis as a team member that doesn’t care about any money that you make or any creative decision that you take. If you would like to learn how to do these things I have created a free email course that you can take that will help you through the trial.

Quality, consistency, and staying organized

When podcasting by yourself the most important thing you can do is make sure that your show always has high-quality content. It doesn’t matter how great of a job you did with editing or what an amazing story you told, if people cannot listen to your episode because it is full of background noise,  or they miss out on key information when listening to it because of poor sound quality they will not be back for another episode.

The most important thing you can do when it comes to consistency is making sure that your show has a schedule and sticks with it. It doesn’t matter what kind of podcasting format or topic you choose, if listeners know that you are reliable and that you keep your set expectations they will be more likely to come back.

Keeping organized can be difficult when you are working alone which is why I recommend using a project management system whether it is post-it notes or something more complex like Trello. Having some system in place will help you stay on top of your episodes and make sure that you don’t miss any deadlines.

I personally prefer to use systems that are completely cloud-based because that means that I can access the information whenever I have an idea that strikes me.

Some common tools that Podcasters use to keep themselves organized are:

  • Google Docs
  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Wunderlist

Remember, while all of these tools are helpful, you do not need to use every single one. Choose the ones that work for you and your podcasting needs.

A list of pitfalls to avoid when running a solo show

Now that you have an idea of what tools you can use, it is important that I mention some things that podcasters often do which end up hurting them in the long run.

The biggest pitfall that you will fall into is setting the wrong expectations. Expectations are not just about how many episodes you are releasing, but also the quality of your show. If listeners know that they can expect a certain level of professionalism from each episode then it will help them stay engaged in your show even if it takes longer to produce an episode than usual.

Expectations are set by the words we say and the actions that we take. For example, if you tell your listeners that they can expect to have a new episode every week but then it takes you months before producing one, this will set the wrong expectations. Or if you have whimsical artwork but have a super serious show then you are also setting the wrong expectations.

Another thing that podcasters often do that ends up hurting them is not thinking of their podcast as a business. Yes, you love your show, and hopefully it is a lot of fun, but there comes a point where if you don’t think strategically about what goals to set for yourself then you will never move forward or get recognition for your hard work.

The last thing that I want to talk about falls into the consistency category because it is a problem that I have seen over and over again with solo podcasters. If you do not set and keep to a schedule it will be very easy to put off recording your episodes. When life gets hard if there is no one there to push you to make time for your show, it can become easy to let good ideas slip through the cracks.

Know Your Listeners

One way to avoid letting your show slip through the cracks is to develop real relationships with your listeners. This is not something easily done when you have a huge audience, but if you have a small audience you have the opportunity to reach out and reply to everyone who emails you or who leaves a comment.

If you know your listeners by name, and if you can have a real conversation with them about how you are doing, it will do two things.

The first thing that it will do is that it will help you to keep your expectations for how often you release episodes realistic. If you know that they are excited to hear about each small update, then it might push you to record more frequently than if you were not in touch with them. You are no longer recording a show for an unknown listener base you are recording for John or Amy or Joe.

The second thing that it will do is that it will create more engaged listeners that are more likely to engage with your show, and tell others about it. This is beneficial because it will help you to drive traffic back to your site, which in turn will lead to more downloads of each episode.

Cultivating real relationships with listeners is not something that happens overnight, but it can be done over time if you are willing and able to invest the necessary energy into making it happen. This means emails, social media comments, and maybe even zoom/telephone calls.

Engage your listeners where they are comfortable engaging. If you would like to try to move them to a community on a platform like Facebook or discord there are plenty of benefits, but make sure your audience is comfortable with the platform first.

Know Your Show and Express Yourself.

It is also important that when you are trying to cultivate real relationships with your listeners that you are being yourself. It can be exhausting talking about a topic that you don’t know much about and even more exhausting putting on a persona that is not actually you.

One of the biggest benefits of podcasting is that you can create authentic relationships with people that you’ve never met and people that you never will meet because audio recording and editing is so accessible. The last thing that you want to do is to act like a different person. Eventually your worlds will collide and you can’t predict how it will go.

If you have a show that is at all personal then the most important thing to remember about expressing yourself on your podcast is being honest with yourself and your audience. If they know what makes you tick, what gets you emotionally invested in topics, or if they can see when something difficult has happened in your life they will feel much closer to you.

It is not necessary to pour your heart out on each episode, but it does help if listeners can tell that this show matters a lot to the host. Even small things like having an emotional or angry outburst during a topic life then they are more more likely to listen when you have something important to say.

Conclusion

Running a podcast on your own is not always an easy task but if you are willing to put in the hard work then I am sure that you will be able to produce something amazing! As long as you keep these tips in mind when you are setting your podcasting goals and making plans for the future then I am sure that everything will turn out just fine!

Be sure to check out my free course on how to use Jarvis.AI for podcasting. This will help you to spend less time on the tasks you don’t enjoy and spend more time actually podcasting. Remember when you are a solo podcaster you are responsible for everything, but not everything has to be as HARD as it seems!

Happy Podcasting!

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