If I expect podcasting to improve confidence and self-esteem, that's a pretty tall order. We all know that real change comes from within. Hanging one's self-worth on a set of external circumstances is always a bad idea. This is even more true if it involves buying expensive gear (though podcasting doesn't have to be expensive). But, the satisfaction of a job well done is a big emotional boost. Many of the benefits of podcasting are intangible. They can also run deep into one's psyche. If you're thinking about making (or quitting) a podcast, and can't decide, hopefully, this will help you make a choice and act on it. Here are five ways that podcasting improved my confidence and self-esteem.
1. Perfectionism vs. Completion
When you publish your podcast on a schedule, deadlines can help you stop overthinking every tiny detail, and, as they say, get ‘er done. With a structured workflow, each step has its own goal. Meeting goals, honestly, feels good. When you get your episodes completed and published, it makes you feel like a person who can make something out of nothing. Even if you have audio that's unredeemable (maybe you interviewed a guest who mysteriously flushed a toilet while answering a question), you don't have to release everything. You're the one who is in control. That gives a big boost to my self-esteem.
2. Appearance vs. Action
Many industries have people who pass judgment or throw up barriers for people who don't fit a certain physical mold. It's distracting and exhausting to worry about whether or not my appearance makes people think less of my work. But, it happens to all of us, whether we're considered too pretty to be smart, too old to be efficient, too thin to be strong or too heavy to be quick. Podcasting is a job without a dress code. When you make a podcast, your voice, ideas and commitment are what matters most. You don't have to be an “it girl.”
As digital media becomes more pervasive, podcasting and video overlap. So, there's only so long that podcasters can say, “it doesn't matter what I look like.” Hopefully, technology will catch up enough that I can podcast live Q&As as a cartoon. Until then, I'll let my voice and ideas take the front seat.
3. Sound Is Amazing
We all know that listening to podcasts has a positive effect on our minds, whether we're consciously aware of it or not. The more you listen to your own work as you edit, the more you notice details of your surroundings. My ear isn't trained as well as a full-time audio editor, but I notice things now that I wouldn't have five years ago. Little things can be inspiring, like bits of conversation in public or combinations of nature sounds.
Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I heard an owl hooting outside my home for the first time. Of course, I ran outside to record it immediately. Being able to field-record good audio improves my confidence and self-esteem.
4. Instant Gratification vs. The Long Game
It takes a long time for any podcast to have an impact. You have to publish quality episodes consistently for quite a while, and become a habit. In the interim, you have to come up with your own definition of success. If you “know your why,” have a specific and compelling reason to make a podcast, and stick to it, it's easier to feel satisfied with your work.
My co-worker, Allegra, is an experienced podcaster. We chatted about this and she pointed out that over time, you can see your progress. If you compare your first few episodes, to episodes recorded and edited a year or more later, you'll notice how your work improves. This experience will give you new life. I'll admit that the first couple of episodes I ever made include things I'd never do again, like frantic panning and boring monologues. Comparing those first episodes to my recent podcasts boosts my confidence and self-esteem.
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People who make podcasts are really interesting, and they are everywhere in the world. The more that I engage with other podcasters, the more I find that podcasters are people who:
- have similar challenges, interests and values (Audacity or Adobe? Condenser or dynamic?)
- voice their opinions, and express their likes and dislikes intensely
- set goals for themselves, and work to meet them
- want to have a positive impact on the world
It's very good company to share. My husband was walking around at a podcasting conference, wearing a t-shirt with our podcast's logo on it. A person (whom he had never met) ran up to him and shouted, “That's my favorite podcast!” I asked what he did in response. He said, “I was so confused, I ran away!”
Podcasters are a community of people who take risks, but plan ahead. They care enough to spend hours every week working on something for others to enjoy. These are the kind of people who it's good to share an interest with. I might not actually be Jane Wiedlin, but she and I are both producers and writers, so I feel like a rock star. Knowing that I can make something out of nothing and share it with others makes podcasting improve my confidence and self-esteem.
Podcasting, not Procrastination!
Every day I learn something new about podcasting. Today I learned that most USB mics are condenser mics, but not all USB mics are condensers. Podcasting doesn't have to be confusing. For example, our all-in-one podcasting tool, Alitu, can record six people at a time on one call, and do the editing, polishing and publishing for you. Alitu makes it easier to get from “What If?” to “Let's Go.”