So, you’re considering launching your own nature podcast? Fantastic! The world needs more people in conservation spreading the good word. You can consider me an ally in this incredibly rewarding journey (hugs).
Going down this path will open doors that you never even knew existed, introduce you to people that will become lifelong friends, and allow you to have a bigger positive impact on the planet than you thought possible.
But before we go any further, I want to be fully transparent:
Starting a podcast is hard AF. If anyone tries to convince you otherwise, let me tell you from experience that they’re lying.
Even if you follow some magic “podcast formula”, you will quickly see how much is involved in creating a great show and the level of patience you need before gaining momentum (years of patience).
Yes, I said years.
So, why am I spilling beans about everything I’ve learned, all of my secrets, trials, errors, and behind-the-scenes processes?
Because I would have done anything for someone to have done this for me when I started.
I want to be that person for you.
Why Nature Podcasts Are Not Like the Rest
When I began researching everything needed to create and launch a podcast, I was quickly overwhelmed by all of the lists, how-to guides, and dozens of “podcast experts” that claimed to have me up and running in no time with their tips.
While several of these guides were useful and I did learn a tremendous amount (which I’ll link to the most useful in the resources section), a lot of them didn’t quite fit what I was looking for. Being a super niche show, the authors just didn’t have the knowledge to met my needs.
For example, I always do my best to buy the most sustainable products. I never found a guide for the greenest recording gear (this is, after all, a conservation brand).
Additionally, as conservationists, we’re frequently paid with “opportunities”, “new skills”, and “resumé-builders” that don’t actually equate to money in our pockets. Thus, lots of gear, valuable podcasting courses, and top-of-the-line recording software were out of the question when I launched (as they might be for you, too).
What do I need to launch my show?
With all of this in mind, you might be asking yourself, “Brooke, at the bare minimum, what do I need to launch a show?”
To launch a show that has the potential to grow from Day 1, I recommend these things:
- Have a clear, well-defined vision for your show and your audience (more on this below).
- Microphone. Yes, you can use your computer and phone’s microphones, but do you like listening to shows recorded with low-quality gear? You don’t need the latest and greatest on Day 1, but you do need something that will sound pretty dang good.
- Recording platform. The audio needs to go somewhere, after all.
- Editing software. Just wait until you realize the number of times you say, “um,” “uh,” and “like”. Or when your neighbor starts their super loud car in the middle of an interview. It’s glorious.
- Podcast host. This is how your show is distributed on the gazillion podcasting platforms out there now.
- Website. A website, you ask? Yes, a website is crucial. This will become the home of your show.
Podcasts have significantly grown in popularity over the years, including nature shows. It might seem like the airwaves are saturated, but I disagree. Considering the number of different angles you can take with a podcast of your very own, the sky is the limit.
Before you take a rocket to space, sit down with a piece of paper or open a blank Google doc and answer these questions:
- What value will I be giving my audience?
Always, always, always keep your listener at the center of everything you do. Maybe you’re considering starting a podcast to gain access to experts in the field, position yourself as an expert, or gain science communication skills. All of these are perfectly valid reasons to launch a show. However, they start at the wrong place. Figure out the value you want to give your audience, and then brainstorm how it’ll enhance your skill set.
- Who is my audience?
Expanding on the first point, who will you be speaking to? Get as specific as you possibly can. Is your audience biology undergraduate students, PhD scientists, or mothers on-the-go? Each of these demographics will (more than likely) enjoy totally different shows.
- What is the voice I want to add to the world?
Clearly, you’re thinking about launching a podcast for a reason. What is missing in the nature podcasting sector that your show could fill?
- Do I want to do interviews, solo episodes, or a mix of both?
In some ways, this might be the easiest question to iron out. Do you want to interview experts on your show or discuss topics yourself? Maybe both? There are no rules. Double Tip: You can change your episode down the line if you’d like to. Ask your audience what they want to hear.
- What is my creative spin? Schtick? The secret sauce that makes my show unique?
What’s your special ingredient? What is it about you that no one else can offer the world? If you’re stuck, ask your best friend, parent or significant other – someone that knows you the best. For me, it’s my ability to talk to almost anyone and make them feel comfortable enough to open up and share personal stories. For you, it could be anything. Maybe you’re an amazing writer and want to put together nature narratives to share across a seasonal show. Or possibly you’re a group of dynamic ecology friends that want to have open conversations about the state of the field. These are both fantastic qualities that lead to totally different shows based on this host’s strengths. You don’t need to be anyone but yourself.
Brooke, what do you use to run your show?
Okay, so by now you should have a clear definition of who will consume your show and the voice you want to add to the world. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty operations of the Rewildology Podcast.
I won’t waste your time listing off the multitude of software programs and gear that I’ve tried and no longer use. So, instead, I’ll get straight to the point. This is literally every program that I use to run Rewildology. No secrets.
*Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you subscribe to a program using the links provided, then the show will get a small kickback. With this in mind, however, I used all of these programs well before signing up for the affiliate program. Read the show’s full affiliate policy here – COMING SOON.
Logo Designer: Fiverr
Social Media Design: Canva
Audio Editing: Adobe Audition
Photo Editing (wildlife photography): Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop
Content Editing: Descript
Podcast Host: Castos (they have a plug-in that works with my WordPress site)
Gear: Vocaster One Studio
Recording Software: Zoom (formerly Squadcast).
A quick note here. Squadcast sounds amazing and I loved using their software. However, many of my international guests had issues using the program, and so I now use Zoom for most of my international interviews. It’s not the best quality, but it will do until I find a better solution.
Guest Recording App: Motiv
I will also say that I pay the premium subscription price for all of these programs. After lots of trial and error, I came to the conclusion that the show’s production would be significantly higher with all of the tools offered by the programs listed above.
I know of some free platforms that you could look into, but remember, nothing is truly free. You will pay in some way. The programs that come to mind are Audacity for editing and recording, Zoom’s free plan (under 40-minutes of recording), Canva’s free plan, and Anchor.fm. These could be a great place to start if you’re not quite ready to drop some serious $$$ on your blossoming show or if you need to stagger subscription payments.
Quick Word on Monetization
Oh, boy. The big M word.
I will be transparent here and say that I’m not the best person to talk to about monetization strategies because I have not monetized this show. Here’s why.
I am INSANELY picky when it comes to brands. Just because a corporation has a sustainability statement doesn’t mean they’re doing enough for Rewildology to stand behind its practices. At the time of me writing this, Focusrite is the only brand the show has partnered with, and that’s because they’re the leader in creating green audio equipment (for more information, check out my interview with Andy Land – Head of Sustainability at Focusrite).
There are so many options out there to look into for monetization, but I recommend not even thinking about this until you have several months of podcasting under your belt to see if you want to do this long-term. It takes a lot of courage to ask people for money, listeners or businesses. I honestly didn’t expect this to be so difficult for me, but I won’t fully monetize this platform until I feel it gives listeners so much value that it makes total sense for someone to pay.
To read more, I highly recommend the book Profit from Your Podcast by Dave Jackson, an OG of podcasting (links in the resource section).
Random Tips & Tricks
- Have a backup recording plan
- Have your guest record their audio
- Start building an email list ASAP
- YouTube is now the #1 podcasting platform
- Unless you’re NPR or some sort of celebrity, you won’t be on the charts. At least, not for a while.
- Don’t stress over downloads. Do stress over the value you’re giving your listeners.
- Treat your show like a business (or job – whichever mindset will make you work harder)
- Making Noise: A Creator’s Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling by Eric Nuzum (easily my favorite podcasting book that I’ve read so far)
- Profit from Your Podcast by Dave Jackson
- Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro by Dean Nelson
- Success in Life:
And there you have it! Hopefully, an insightful guide to help you launch your stellar nature podcast. If you have questions you’d like me to answer, please let me know. I plan to return to this article regularly and update it as I learn more tips, rotate programs, and try new things.