Be Fearless

Alex Proimos
Photo by Alex Proimos

My podcast almost never happened. I was so afraid of...basically everything that I almost didn’t even start the project.

I was so afraid of:

  • Sounding like I didn’t know what I was talking about.
  • Looking like an amateur.
  • Getting guests to interview.
  • Not getting an audience base.
  • The time it would take to produce a quality podcast.

It was positively paralyzing.

To help build my nerve I worked on each problem, each fear. I focused on the why I should do it and how I should do, instead of the why I can’t.

Knowledge:

I know a lot about a lot of different things, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert. Although by the standards of some experts these days, I probably could get away with it. Growing up I took the saying: “There’s always someone out there who’s going to be better than you,” to heart. It didn’t stop me from trying to be great at what I did, but I worried a lot less at being the best. I guess you could say that I settled for being better than average and if I could help it, better than just good.

But it also opened me up to seek advice from others. Younger, older, it didn’t matter; maybe they knew something that I didn’t.

I also paid attention to where my strengths were. What sort of advice people came to me for? What sort of things boiled my blood and caused me to truly passionate about what I was talking about.

In my creative journal, I often talk about time management, branding, writing, and of some freelance related work. In the past year, I’ve focused on producing quality creative work, particularly for webcomics.

Amateur:

I knew that the first few shows were going to be rough as I developed my interview style. I had some base knowledge about editing software but that was mostly with video editing through After Effects. Podcasts are completely audio files. In a way this realization made me feel so much better; I didn’t have to worry about lip sync.

I also took the time to talk to my friend who runs the podcast at the comic dish. Having worked for radio just after High School, I figured he’d had higher standards than most in terms of tools and quality. He gave me some great advice, referred me to some free tools and some free hosting.

I also listened to the first few episodes and the latest episodes of many other podcasts to give myself some sort of check list to include or avoid, both technically and as an interviewer.

In the end, I knew that if I didn’t start, I would never improve.

Getting Guests:

Being a massive introvert I often don’t say much when I’m in a crowd. I like to observe, decide on the appropriate interactions, then slowly become a part of the group. You’d never know that I’m afraid of people these days.

I smile, shake hands with strangers, and make small talk. These actions has become my default nervous reaction and it’s worked out great!

Email on the other hand...

I’m the sort of person who hates getting fluff in email format. If I’m reading email, there’s a good chance I am procrastinating on something important. With this in mind, I like to keep my emails short and to the point.

I treat my emails as though I don’t expect people to read past the first paragraph. This means that I have a finite amount of words to sell them on an idea.

I like these types of emails. It’s quick and to the point. Most importantly, it states what the person wants right away. I can think yes, no, maybe right away. Ideally you don’t want to give them the freedom to say no, but I don’t like to be bullied into doing something, and so I have this crazy idea that others won’t either.

It also quickly states who I am and what I do, but only at the end. I chose to do things this way because it represents what the podcast is about. I didn’t tell them how awesome I think I am or sell my achievements; I mean why? My show is not about how awesome I am, it’s about how awesome they are!

I started with friends and eventually I got referrals. Sure, I have to toss referrals an email, sometimes two, but they already know to expect an invite. Most of my first year was referral based. It turned out that getting guests isn’t all that hard.

Audience:

I still struggle with this even now.

There are so many podcasts out there, why would they listen to mine? It’s a common fear.

I took the time to really think hard about the kind of shows that I like and sort of information that I yearn to hear about. I’m not doing a celebrity show, so I’m not interested in gossip and trash talk. I don’t talk about industry news, mainly because I can’t be bothered to keep up. I wanted something genuine, something powerful that was capable of infectious motivation. I created a list of pet peeves and turn-offs that I often encountered on different shows and tried to actively avoid those traps.

For example: I really enjoy shows when the show is about the guest and not about some self important twit.

I was told that the host’s personality often determined the tone of the show, that people came to the show to watch the host, not the guest. I think that’s just backwards.

People will love it, or they won’t. My analytics tell me that my podcast is more popular than my articles. Why argue.

Now that’s been over a year of doing this, I really don’t care if they like it or not. For me it’s turned into an excuse to talk to creative individuals about what they do best. Not bad for an introvert.

Time:

I’m a stickler for detail. Some would call me a perfectionist. Honestly, I’m probably the first one more so than the second. I’m still very much prone to error and I’m far from perfect to be able to achieve perfection. All that I can do is my very best; which takes time.

My first interview, thank god, was about 20 minutes long. Many would argue that this was a terrible interview. I didn’t think so. I gave me just enough material to learn what I needed to learn about editing, adapt my format to compensate for time, and to see exactly how much time I needed to edit.

In theory I would get faster at this editing thing as time went on. Turned out that as I got faster, my interviews got longer and it became frustratingly difficult to cut some content.

I average 8 hours a podcast; that includes editing and transcribing. I broke up the editing over the course of two weeks to make sure that I had plenty of time to do client work too.

Believe it or not, I still get nervous when I send out an email to invite guests and I still feel sick before a show. But once I hit the record button, I forget it all and I’m in the moment, having a conversation with someone whose work I’m interested in. 

After a year of doing the podcast, I had to make a decision: keep going? I can’t see Evil Ink not having a podcast anymore, however reality had other plans. Though I'd like to continue podcasting, I'll have to wait until my timeschedule clears up so that I can release a quality show.

About the Author:

Amber Dalcourt is the lead design and digital media consultant for Evil Ink. I loved speaking with creative people about their work and I would love to get back to podcasting soon.

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