Launching your first podcast can be a daunting task. There are many pitfalls to be aware of as you set out on your journey. A wrong step in any one of them can end up costing you in both time and money.

Many people enter the podcasting arena with a unique perspective and a few specific skills under their belt. But it’s rare to find a brand new podcaster who has all of the following…

  • A background in public speaking or radio presentation
  • A knowledge of podcast media hosting platforms
  • The ability to set up and maintain a website
  • An understanding of setting up and using audio hardware, such as microphones and mixers
  • Experience in recording and editing digital audio

Learning from a Mentor

Of course, all of this knowledge can be picked up and learned over time. But as the old saying goes:

Money and time are your two main resources in life, and the latter you can never get back once it’s been spent. This is the reason that slowly learning podcasting unaided and unguided isn’t an option for many people. Particularly businesses who want to provide the best quality content that they can for their audience and customers. Those that want to provide that quality from episode one.

It’s for this reason that many new podcasters will choose to hire a podcast mentor.

Of course, hiring a mentor isn’t the only shortcut towards running a professional sounding podcast series. Podcasting courses (such as our own here at The Podcast Host) are a popular method of learning the trade. These can come in many different forms, such as audio, video, or via email.

Why Hire a Mentor?

Accountability

Despite there being several podcasting courses available, some folks still want that one-to-one working relationship that can be offered by having a mentor.

Accountability plays a big role here, because if someone falls behind on their video course, the video isn’t going to know or care. But if you have a Skype call arranged with a mentor every week, then you will be much more likely to get something done. Who wants to spend half an hour listing excuses and apologising?

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Your mentor can’t physically make you get things done, but if you’re the type of person that likes being held accountable, then this can work wonders for your productivity.

Live Support

Although podcasting courses are usually created in an easy to understand manner, many people still relish the opportunity to ask questions and get immediate answers. Especially in person (on the phone or on Skype) as opposed to written form.

One of the factors that makes podcasting such a powerful medium is the fact that it is a speech-based communication. This can be just as relevant when we’re learning something too.

Even when we do completely understand something we’ve been taught, we often take a great deal of comfort and confidence from reaffirming it. Asking someone “so, what you mean here is…” and having them confirm that you’ve understood gives a real clarity to the learning experience. It prevents you from dwelling on any doubts that you’ve failed to grasp something. It means you can move on to the next section of your learning with 100% focus on the task at hand.

Do I Need A Podcast Mentor?

For the Hobbyist

Hiring a mentor isn’t advisable for everyone, because it isn’t going to be cheap. So if you’re starting a hobby podcast, it’s probably not for you. After all, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if your first few episodes were a bit varied in quality. You’d be finding your feet, and this is unlikely to affect you in any way.

There’s a wealth of experience in the many different podcasting communities online, where you can have questions answered fast and free. You would of course need to make sure someone is qualified enough to offer advice before you take action on it. This will cost you a small amount of time as you verify answers elsewhere, but again, at a hobbyist level this is absolutely fine.

For the Professional

If you’re a business or professional and your podcast is part of your plan to market yourself and build authority, then you’ll be less likely to accept any inconsistencies in standards. The last thing you’ll want to do is spend time away from running your business to slowly learn how to podcast.

In this instance, having regular conversations with a mentor can be invaluable. All the fat will be trimmed from your podcasting to-do list. They will keep you on the right track, working on the things that matter, and throwing out anything that doesn’t.

What If I’m Outsourcing?

Many businesses and professionals choose to outsource their podcast production. If you’re only hitting record, before sending your audio off to be edited and published, would you still need a mentor?

Though you might not need to learn anything about audio production, it can still be really handy to get some training on content creation. A good mentor can help you shape and structure your show. Not only in your presentation, but in planning and in the general direction of the series.

If you’ve never created a podcast before and you need to get it right from the start, then a mentor can still be invaluable. But if you’re already confident and experienced in content creation then it probably isn’t necessary.

It all depends on how much you’ve done, and how much you’ve learned already.

How Do I Find A Podcast Mentor For Free?

If you really like the idea of having a podcasting mentor, but there’s absolutely no money available to pay someone, then all is not lost. Here’s something you can try.

  1. Identify a podcaster in a similar niche to yourself, who has an established show. Make sure they’ve achieved already what you want to achieve.
  2. Approach them with the offer of a ‘skills exchange’. You could offer to
    1. Do some editing for them
    2. Transcribe their episodes
    3. Write their shownotes
    4. Schedule interviews for them

This might be in exchange for an hour on Skype with them each week or fortnight.

How you set up this arrangement is entirely up to you and your proposed mentor. Just make sure you’re both getting value from it and the relationship should provide fruitful and rewarding.

Ask Yourself

  • Who is my podcast for?
  • What aims do I have for it?
  • How important is it that my podcast sounds great from day one?
  • What is my budget?
  • How much time do I have to learn how to podcast?

The answers to these questions should point you in the right direction, based on what we’ve talked about earlier in this article. If you choose to find a mentor, then good luck with the hunt!

Tell us Your Mentor Experience?

Do you work with a podcast mentor? Did you do so in the past? Or did you learn by taking a course, or purely by picking it all up as you went along? Leave a comment below and tell us about your experiences.

Oh, and if you’d like some mentorship from us, we’re only a click away. But remember, read above, you might not need it!