You may have already heard the joke that a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time. Though a bit harsh, there is some underlying truth to this. Often times, we find ourselves hiring a consultant who ends up telling us what we already know. In an age of freelance experts cramming podcasters into webinar sales funnels, it’s getting harder to know if any advice is worth taking - let alone paying for.
What’s more, there seems to be a growing number of newcomers to podcasting that are both ready to point out what you’re doing “wrong”, and sell you on how to do it “right”. When someone darkens my door selling carpet and a vacuum cleaner, I take pause and so should you.
I’ve had a long-standing distaste for the consulting racket. OK, racket is harsh too, but the icky feelings I get stems from folks with shiny teeth and solutions, rather than the legitimate business of helping folks with sound advice. Ask yourself this question: “Will handing my hard-earned money over to someone slightly more extroverted than myself make my show better?”
Why I am a fan of consulting.
Connecting with podcasters is by far my favorite part of a given work day. Hearing about the ambitions they hold and the struggles they face, and being allowed to visit their creative process is a privilege I never take lightly. I adore finding common threads throughout many podcasters’ journeys, and sharing what are emerging as best practices, which help everyone improve. But let’s be clear, best practices are very different from best guesses.
“You’re like a hairdresser”, someone recently quipped. Odd, yet true that many podcasters tend to share with me a lot of personal information that’s seemingly unrelated to their audio production. But is it so far removed from their shows’ topics to speak on more intimate details of their hopes, fears, and dreams? I say no! It is the intimacy that makes many shows relatable in the first place. Considering that podcasters aren’t afraid to share details of their lives with thousands of listeners, it’s not so far fetched that they would with me in consultation.
As a podcast “survivor” myself, it feels great to share similar stories of my journey with them. A sort of podcaster therapy, if you will, where the therapist needn’t have professional detachment from the patient. We’re all storytellers, and sometimes a good consultation starts with being the first person who can both listen to a story and truly sympathize. A great consultation is one where a new direction for the podcaster is lit and they can embark on a more enlightened path based on analysis and conclusions arrived at together.
Never forget Rule #6
I have my share of Chicken Little calls. Folks message me by whatever means they can at seemingly any hour. An RSS feed is acting up, someone in a Facebook group said that Soundcloud is bankrupt, or they think their breathing sounds “weird” and they wonder if anyone else can hear it too. All of these concerns are legit and it’s definitely part of my job to address them. But let’s step back for a moment.
Sage advice I once heard in a motivational talk by the late Benjamin Zander, centered around the notion that we needn’t take ourselves so damn seriously, is a little mantra I keep in the back of my mind. It’s easy to get caught up in our own drama, not realizing that it is indeed only ourselves that put so much weight on our show. True that we want to provide value and deliver consistently good content for our listeners. We want our message to be heard and hopefully have an impact. However, these are after all podcasts, and we’re still just people doing our best. When stress is getting the better of you, never forget Rule #6.
Where can we go from here?
Podfly is working with a small group of professional podcasters to deliver our Podcast TuneUp program. We have hand-picked seasoned podcasters and thought leaders with proven track records who are not only great at what they do, they are also highly skilled in teaching others. Whether you are feeling that your interviews are not as engaging as they can be, or you want to simply improve your audio quality, the Podcast TuneUp is a way to step back and get a professional assessment, leading to actionable advice on stepping up your game in this evermore competitive medium.