There are a lot of people starting up podcasts these days, and I can see why. Podcasts are HOT right now. For me, part of the appeal is that I can listen to them while I’m driving , walking, doing chores around the house or cooking dinner.
One thing I want to stress is that if you’re planning on starting a podcast, there is a ton of backend work that goes into making a good podcast. It’s not one and done, either. A podcast is a major commitment, and you need to be prepared to be consistent, research your guests beforehand and treat them with the utmost respect, and understand that people are taking time out of their day to listen to you. I don’t take how I spend my own time lightly, and I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time either by half-assing an episode.
We’re not going for perfection here, because that’s enough to paralyze you from taking any action at all. I’m talking about being respectful of the commitment your listeners are giving to you by popping in their earbuds and hitting subscribe, which is something to be taken seriously when considering the effort you’re putting into episodes.
With all that said, I honestly LOVE podcasting and the entire process has been a blast! There’s always more to learn, and that’s half the fun. After completing 46 episodes with thousands of downloads of the Fit & Nourished Mind podcast with my co-host, I knew long before we wrapped it up that I wanted my own podcast, Room to Grow, and launched it the same day my joint podcast wrapped up.
Before you dive into creating a podcast with a co-host, here are some of the things I learned along the way that can be really helpful before making a decision about how you want to proceed.
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU PARTNER UP WITH.
Yes, this goes without saying, but I mean be REALLY careful. Choosing close friends or family members can be great, but if things go sideways or you aren’t going to be comfortable being honest with them if you want to change directions or switch things up when it comes to podcast, it can cause trouble.
My Fit & Nourished Mind podcast co-host Kate and I had met as part of our business coaching group 6 months prior to deciding to start the podcast and had become fairly close, with lengthy discussions around what we wanted from the podcast and sharing ideas. We tested the waters by doing more informal joint Facebook Lives every week for a couple of months to see what types of topics people were interested in, get some feedback from people watching, had our viewers vote on the podcast name they preferred (fun fact: Fit & Nourished Mind wasn’t the name Kate and I had wanted!) and to figure out if we had the kind of chemistry required for something like a podcast. This is incredibly important, especially on a two-person podcast.
We also discussed having a contract and decided against it, but we were extraordinarily lucky to have ended our co-hosting relationship on such a positive note. Typically I would advise anyone to go the safe route of signing a contract to protect each of you. At the end of the day a podcast is still a business, and it’s always best to err on the side of caution for reasons of copyright, liability, and more.
Speaking of business…
2. IS IT A HOBBY OR BUSINESS?
You need to ask yourself what you want to get out of having a podcast. What’s the endgame? Are you prepared to put in the work for the long term?
If you’re serious about making a podcast a big part of your business, that might be pretty tough to do when you have a co-host. For example, a podcast can be a great way to leverage the other awesome content you put out there, coordinate with your launch calendar, and give your business some free advertising, assuming you don’t have sponsors. But this is more difficult to do when there are two people, two businesses, two different launch calendars, and two different objectives.
If you want to do a podcast purely as a hobby, great! It could be the perfect set-up for you. If you’re looking to create a podcast with the intention of building your business around it, you might need to think twice before you start things up with a co-host, particularly because podcasts typically take time to get traction. Putting in the amount of time required to dedicate to producing a great podcast without seeing the results you might have in the back of your mind from a business standpoint can be the deciding factor between going at it alone, or working with a co-host.
It all depends on what you want out of it. Focus on that first, and then work your way backwards to figure things out.
3. HAVE A STRONG SENSE OF YOUR BRAND
This is a big one. When you start a podcast on your own, you have a bit more wiggle room to pivot your podcast if you switch things up. You can relaunch with a different name / brand, let your listeners know what’s up, and go from there. It’s much more difficult to do when you have a co-host.
In the early days of your business, you might think that you’re set on “THE THING” that you want to be doing, but as you learn more, work with more clients and expand your knowledge, that could shift. Moreover, if you’re part of a co-host team, particularly if you are in very similar niches, your listeners may have a tough time differentiating what each of you do outside of the podcast.
Some people might find that it’s easy to lose themselves in the opinions of their co-host, with whom they are spending so much time with discussing topics relevant to their own brands. Proceeding with a co-host means that you need to have a strong sense of how you want to show up in your business for your clients and followers.
After all, one of the biggest benefits of having a co-host can be discussing differing opinions, or thoroughly covering topics where each of you have something a little different to bring to the conversation.
4. ACCOUNTABILITY AND CONSISTENCY
I know I mentioned this above as well, but it deserves repeating: consistency should be one of your top priorities when it comes to a podcast. People want to know when they can expect to hear you, and if you go for weeks at a time without releasing an episode when you told people you would, not only are you breaking their trust, you’re likely going to lose listeners, plain and simple. It’s pretty tough to grow a podcast when you’re not consistent with it.
Enter a co-host. Depending on your personality type, having each other to rely on and be able to meet one others’ expectations can be a HUGE benefit. That built-in accountability is what can propel a podcast forward on dark days when you aren’t being as productive as you would like, keep you meeting necessary deadlines, and make it all happen when you would have struggled to accomplish the to-do list on your own, without someone else counting on you.
Of course there are ways to set up accountability on your own as well, but the co-host factor can be exactly what some people need to keep showing up the way they want to.
5. THE FEAR FACTOR
My co-host Kate and I agreed that we would likely not have started podcasts at all, had we attempted to do so on our own. Once we started to get into the thick of the backend work prior to launching, we realized there was so much more involved than we had originally thought. Had we not had each other to both cheer each other on and divvy up the workload, I’m not sure if our podcast would have gotten off the ground.
Then there’s just the actual fear of not being good enough. Thinking that everyone else has already said what you have to say. Worrying that no one will listen. Lying awake at night wondering what to talk about. Yes, ALL of those things have crossed my mind, and yes, having a co-host helped because we supported each other and pushed through despite the fear.
The fear is REAL. I hear people tell me all the time that they are going to start a podcast, often for months, and nothing ever comes of it. I’ve even been interviewed for podcast episodes that have never aired, because the person simply never got around to actually launching the entire podcast at all, whatever the reasoning (poor form, by the way – please don’t waste your guests’ time unless you are truly going to launch.)
The good news about fear? The more comfortable you get being uncomfortable, the better you’ll get at it. It’s a practice just like anything else, and if having a co-host is what makes or breaks whether you move forward with a podcast, it might be the best way to go.
Hopefully this has given you some insight into having a podcast co-host, and will help you make the decision whether to partner up or go at it alone. I chat in more detail about this stuff in the video below:
You can also listen in as Kate and I discuss our reasons for ending the Fit & Nourished Mind podcast, and what we got out of the experience here:
AND, last but not least: you can now find me over at the Room to Grow podcast!