There comes a point in every burgeoning podcasters life when she walks down the metaphorical aisle, ascends to the symbolic podium, receives her imaginary diploma and graduates from the ranks of podcasting hobbyists and amateurs. She has put in the time and effort carefully crafting talking points, fiddling with second-hand recording equipment, and mimicking the voices of others to create the impression of a panel discussion. She has spent countless hours in her basement wondering whether or not people even care about what she has to say- questioning whether this could ever be anything more than a fun weekend escape. And now all of that hard work has at last paid off. She is ready to take that final step forward and become a podcasting professional.
While not everyone’s road from shoestring budget production to NPR quality hit series is the same, there are a few tell-tale signs that you have graduated to the big leagues of episodic digital entertainment.
Professional Recording Equipment
Most anyone who has a dream and a laptop can start their own podcast, but anyone who has ever made the jump from a laptop microphone to a Blue Yeti knows that you aren’t really cooking with fire until you’ve made the investment into your sound quality. While $130 may seem like a small fortune to someone just starting out, the improvement in sound quality when you make the leap to a high quality microphone makes the investment worth every penny.
Look over to the other side of the glass. Is there an intently focused, albeit slightly disheveled, looking man painstakingly building ambience for this week’s episode of your podcast about the Cleanliness of Highway Rest Stops? That’s your audio engineer! He’s there to locate music, edit and mix in ads, cross-fade, de-noise, and generally clean up your podcast to make sure it’s the most enjoyable listening experience possible. One of the most underrated members of your podcasting team, his presence is a symbol you have begun to take more than a passing interest in your production.
Maybe it’s Alec Baldwin. Or maybe just Daniel Baldwin? Ok, we’ll settle for Billy Baldwin. But, you’ve done it! You’ve managed to arrange for your first signature guest to come on to your podcast. This is where your latest episode becomes appointment listening for your devoted audience. Having a movie star, athlete, politician, author, or other notable figure on your show means that you now can generate the kind of marquee guest on your show that will draw people to your program. Everyone loves a good guest spot, and your ability to bring in the big guns for a special episode means you’re on the right track.
This is the Holy Grail. The reason you got into podcasting in the first place (I mean, other than your tireless pursuit to debunk the greatest assassination conspiracy theories). Once you have managed to convince some tight-fisted business to part with a portion of it’s hard earned advertising dollars and pay you to promote their brand on your latest episode, you have finally achieved the goal of every grassroots podcaster. You have managed to monetize this brainchild of yours, and are now getting paid to broadcast your thoughts to the world via your own audio platform.
I think Congratulations are in order.