CIP100: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from Recording 100+ Podcasts

Today I’m celebrating my 100th episode of the Creative Introvert Podcast!

Technically, I’ve recorded many more shows – nearly 50 ‘Year of Fun’ minisodes, plus two 10 episode series, one on Self-Knowledge and one on the Enneagram.

I know every podcaster who hits an arbitrary number with some 0’s on the end says this, but I really am surprised I’ve been going this long.

I’m a serial quitter. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I’m actually really proud pf my ability to switch gear or to acknowledge when something isn’t for me any longer. I’m definitely not one for flogging dead horses.

And amazingly, this podcast has kept me entertained for over two years. And whilst I’d love to say it’s because I’ve got some knack for podcasting, I’m certain it’s 50% because of the awesome guests I’ve had the pleasure to chat to on the show, and 50% due to YOU the listener, who keeps my faith in humanity alive on a daily basis. The sweet emails I get, the comments on Instagram and Twitter – this is the stuff that fuels me when I have to scrape together my incoherent thoughts, and record something for you. So… thanks for that.

So before I get too mushy, I figure I’d share some of what I’ve learned from this podcast, the thing that started as an experiment way back in January 2017.

 

1) Done is better than Perfect and Not Done

I wouldn’t have started this podcast if I had expectations of it being perfect. I see way too many people delay starting something, or never starting because of this fear that it won’t be perfect.

I say, screw perfect, let’s embrace ‘good enough’. Heck, let’s embrace sub-standard, IF it means we make a start and are willing to keep going until we improve.

My major hangup when starting the podcast¬† was mostly around my speech. I was terrorised as a child, by my well-meaning father, who really didn’t care for the ‘likes’ or ‘ums’ that peppered my speech. He had a point: it’s annoying. It’s sloppy.

The great thing about podcasts is… you can edit that shit out! So, I embraced my imperfect speech and got to it.

I don’t edit much now, and you’ll still hear plenty of ‘ums’ and other fillers, particularly when I’m interviewing guests. But: I actually think my speech has improved naturally since starting the podcast. Daddy should be proud.

 

2) People will help you – IF you ask

Deciding to do an interview show meant I was going to have to really go big on my asks. Until the podcast, my asking was limited to occasional collaborative projects. But the podcast meant I’d need to be asking a lot of people for their time, nearly every week.

Some people, like Joanna Penn, Tad Hargrave and many more – were my heroes way before I started podcasting. The idea of getting to speak to them for a half hour was equally terrifying and exciting. I think starstruck is the word.

In addition to asking guests for their time, I made other asks from friends of mine. The new intro and outro music is courtesy of an old friend, which you may have noticed in recent episodes. The photos on my site – another friend. And it wasn’t easy for me to ask, for fear of them saying no or worse – of them laughing in my face that I had the audacity to ask…

Asking is hard. But bravery means doing something anyway, because it’s worth the potential reward.

And – as I learned – bravery is always rewarded. Maybe not immediately, but in time. So ask, ask, ask away.

 

3) Listening can be learned

I generally say that listening is a Superpower of introverts. And in general, it is. But it’s worth remembering not ALL introverts have developed this skill to its full capacity AND equally, extroverts are capable of developing it too. The difference is that plenty of the more quiet introverts might appear to be listening because they’re not speaking – but that’s very different to listening.

What I had to learn to do on the podcast was truly listen. That means giving my undivided attention to the guests, so that I can ask a decent follow up question. I can’t stand interviews where the guest is just barraged with question after question, without the interviewer stopping to acknowledge what’s been said. I try my best not to do that.

And the result is I’ve become a better listener in daily life. Where I might have zoned out in the past, I’ve learned to be much more present when speaking with someone – and people appreciate that.

 

4) Speaking can be learned

Just like listening, speaking is something we can totally improve at, just from some focussed practise. Naturally, when I’m around friends, I don’t have to think about how I speak.

I already mentioned the ‘ums’ and ‘likes’ which I’m very slowly ferreting out of my vocab, but there are plenty of other things I’ve been working on too. Like trying to slow down. I’ve noticed this acutely when speaking to guests with slower speech, and have been trying to take a leaf from their books.

There’s a lot of creepy advice out there about trying to deliberately match someones speech patterns to get them to like you or buy from you, and this is definitely NOT what I’m trying to say here. But, I do think there’s something to be said for noticing how your conversation buddy speaks, and trying your best to accommodate them.

I’m currently in the States, and I’m doing my best to clarify the weird British terms I use. I grew up with a LOT of American TV, so this isn’t a challenge, but I don’t expect the folk here are so used to British TV (and I assure you, you’re not missing out.) Anyway, it’s just a good skill: to be able to clarify your speech for others. And it can be learned.

 

5) Silence is golden

As an introvert, you might think I’m totally fine with silence, and speaking is my issue. Nope. I can’t stand awkward silences – they’re called awkward for a reason! So I end up jumping in and sometimes cutting guests off, if they take a long pause. Again, this is something I’ve really had to consciously be aware of.

I actually learned a fair bit from Tim Ferriss who has talked about this too on his podcast; how he had to get comfortable with letting a guest have time to think and formulate their answer, without butting in to try and help.

So. That’s a work in progress for me, but I’m learning that good stuff comes from these awkward silences, if you let ’em linger. Maybe I should stop calling them awkward.. .

 

6) Experiment with everything

I haven’t held back from experimenting on the podcast, but it’s been a conscious effort to do it. The Year of Fun was a total experiment – I had no idea how you would respond to such a random concept.

Same goes for the series on the Enneagram – that stuff is kind of far out, and not exactly in line with ‘marketing’ or ‘social media’ or whatever other more practical topics I could share.

But I’ve learned how important it is to experiment, because who am I to know what YOU like? All I can do is lay something down, and let you tell me what you think. I can also look at the podcast stats of course, which is helpful.

I also run the occasional podcast listener survey, to check in on these experiments, and try to gauge a bit better what you’re after.

It’s also a great way to approach difficult decisions, like if you’re trying to decide whether or not you want to start a podcast. Why not run an experiment? Experiments are low pressure: because they’re simply designed to help us learn something. You could decide on a 10 episode podcast as your experiment, decide on your ideal outcome, and get to it. If you like it after 10 episodes, keep it up!

This is exactly what I did with the Creative Introvert Podcast, and this experiment is still running, over 100 episodes later.

 

7) Check, check and check again

Oh man. This is not something that comes naturally to me. I tend to prioritise speed over… accuracy. So… yeah, there will be mistakes that slip through the net.

But podcasting has taught me to slow down and take a bit more time to try and get things right. I mean, every podcast interviewer’s worst nightmare is recording an episode with a dream guest, and realising afterwards… they weren’t recording. Yikes.

So, I’m learning to get a bit more careful in my pre-podcasting checks.

 

8) Podcasting is the ultimate accountability tool

I know I’ve said it like a hundred times already, but introverts need accountability too! And podcasting is insanely good at keeping me accountable. Knowing I’ve promised a weekly episode (or two a week, last year) is enough to keep me on my toes, even now that I’m on the road, and in some places with less than adequate wifi.

So, thank you for keeping me to my word.

 

9) Breathe

Before every guest interview in the early days, I would be super nervous. Like, fear sweat nervous. And if I’m honest, I still do get a bit of nerves, especially if it’s someone I’ve been gearing up to speak to for years.

And the age-old advice to take some deep breaths is… actually very helpful. It’s helpful in most any nerve-wracking situation, but especially when you have to use your voice. When we’re nervous, our voice goes high and just taking some deep breaths really does help to lower it to a normal, human frequency (not just one for bats.)

 

10) Do it for the process

Another hackneyed expression for you, but heck, these things are cliches for a reason. They’re true! It really IS all about the process, or the journey. Podcasting is NOT – I repeat NOT an overnight money maker.

I still don’t have sponsors for the show. I depend on you supporting me on Patreon, and on some of you who decide to take it a step further and work with me or buy other products I make for you. Not everyone can do that, and that’s fine. I’m not doing this podcast as a job, I’m doing it because it brings me joy to know I’m helping some fellow creative introverts, and because I love the conversations I get to have with incredible humans. And because of all these little skills I’ve been able to pick up on the way.

So. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, I really do encourage you to do it. Experiment. But remember to do it for the process, not some end goal (especially if it’s financial.)

 

POWERED BY PATREON

This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting the Creative Introvert podcast also gets you lots of goodies, from a Monthly Ask Me Anything to a copy of my new BOOK, The Creative Introvert: How to Build a Business You Love on Your Terms. Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.

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