I presented my first podcast ten years ago because someone said that I should. Not because I had any experience or training in broadcast media or because I had a particularly ‘good voice for radio’ but because it would be a good way to promote the magazines I was editing at the time and building audience for the content we produced. With two colleagues who worked with me, we found a local professional recording studio and set about making a podcast. Each month the three of us (two men, one women) would chat informally about the industry in general (including cameras!) and interview a guest who would join us ‘live’ to talk about their work. One time we spoke to a sports photography directly from the Tour de France, another time with a photographer from the middle of the Gobi desert. Each time we tried new things and it was popular, but we all left the magazine and the podcast ended.
It took eight years for me to come up with a reason to create another podcast. I started the A Photographic Life podcast as a response to my wife’s continued requests for me to write a book about my adventures within the industry, and rather than writing I thought that I would speak, but I soon realised that I was not interested in what I had done in the past. However, I did think that there may be some interest in what had happened in the previous week and that is what I decided to do, to create a podcast that was a real time reflection of the realities of being engaged with photography in the 21st century.
After four episodes of inept recording and editing, and with some useful advice from a professional sound engineer I was up and running with a format that I knew I could replicate weekly including a pre-recorded audio contribution in which photographers answer the question ‘What Does Photography Mean to You?’ It has a unique format and is relatively short at just twenty minutes per episode.
Maybe you have been thinking about creating a podcast.
Before you start, do your research and listen to as many as you can, within your subject area and not connected with it. There is no shortage of kit based podcasts out there, presented by two, three or four men, do you want to add to that? There are also quite a few one-person podcasts where a photographer is interviewing a photographer earnestly and well that go way beyond the hour mark, do we need more? Only you know, but those that exist will be your competition so make sure you know what you are doing before you enter an already crowded marketplace.
I have now completed 167 episodes of A Photographic Life and developed a large and engaged community of listeners across multiple podcast platforms. I am neither content or smug about this situation as with any creative endeavour you are only as good as your last piece of work, but I am in a position in which people keep asking me how to make a podcast so here are a few questions to ask yourself and some considerations on how to get started, and how to build an audience for whatever you want to say!
If you can answer all of these questions honestly and realistically then you may just be ready to start your own podcast.
1. Decide on why you are considering making a podcast. Do you have a USP, a point of difference?
2. Who are your potential audience?
3. Can you commit the time we required? To record, edit and promote each episode.
4. Frequency. How often do you want to publish a new episode?
5. What is your expectation of the podcast?
1. What is the title and does it work withe search engine metadata for your subject matter?
2. Who is going to present the podcast and why?
3. How long will each episode be and why?
4. Are you going to interview people and if so are you good at being the interviewer and are they good at being interviewed?
5. Is your chosen format replicable to meet your proposed episode frequency?
1. Do you have a space you can set up as a studio?
2. Has that space got good accoustics?
3. Are you willing to pay for a decent microphone? (I use a £100 USB Marantz on a flexible arm with a pop screen)
4. Are you willing to learn how to use and pay for a new software package (I use Adobe Audition) and the basics of audio recording?
5. How are you going to include guests if you are going to have them? If they are pre-recorded remember that you may have to edit their contributions and make sure that the quality of their audio is good as well as your own.
1. Where will you host the podcast?
2. Are you able to create the required RSS Feed?
3. Do you want advertisements and/or sponsors?
4. Do you want people to pay to subscribe? Will it have a pay wall or will specific episodes be pay to listen?
5. Do you want to place the podcast on your own website? Spotify? iTunes (I use all three of these and many more platforms.
1. If you already have social media platforms set up will you use these to promote your podcast or are you going to set up podcast specific accounts?
2. Have you thought about creating a newsletter for people to sign up to?
3. Will you create a podcast specific website to host your podcast or use an existing site?
4. Are you willing to promote your podcast every day and at different times of the day to ensure you capture different international timezones?
5. Are you willing to look outside your immediate community for listeners?
You can listen to A Photographic Life via this website and on all of your favourite podcast platforms including Spotify and iTunes.
Dr. Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019).
Grant’s book What Does Photography Mean to You? including 89 photographers who have contributed to the A Photographic Life podcast is on sale now £9.99 https://bluecoatpress.co.uk/product/what-does-photography-mean-to-you/
© Grant Scott 2021