... probably not what you think it is.
It's not the technology... as that is in so many cases the easiest aspect. Download a tool like Audacity to your computer and start talking into your built-in mic. Boom. You're done. Or point your phone's video camera at someone and press the record button. We've got a zillion different devices that will record audio or video.
It's not the post-production... although that can take some time depending upon the level of "professionalism" you want to give to your podcasts. Some people are fine with just posting raw "(wo)man-on-the-street" interviews up with little or no post-production. Some people want to do some editing, add intros and outros, etc.
It's not the on-air voice (the "talent")... as there are many podcasts out there that demonstrate that you don't need to have the proverbial "radio voice" to still have a show that builds a community of listeners. Of course, having (or developing) a good voice does help, but it's not the hardest part.
It's not the marketing of your podcast... the world of social media has made it so much easier to get the word out. Good shows will spread virally and people will learn about what you are doing. MANY tools out there to help spread the word.
It's not the story or the outline of what you will talk about... although admittedly this CAN be one of the harder aspects - to craft the outline of what you are going to do over a period of time, to think about the audiences, to figure out what story you are going to tell.
No, the absolute hardest part of podcasting is none of those, although all of them can be challenging in different ways.
Instead the hardest part of podcasting is...
... keeping the podcast going!
It's easy to start a podcast... it's far harder to maintain a podcast.
To keep doing it... week after week after week after week after week after...
For every podcast like For Immediate Release that has been diligently going on week after week for over five years now (just passed episode #621) or the VoIP Users Conference that has been going on for 4+ years, there are a hundred other podcasts where the hosts had brilliant ideas, the best of intentions... yet didn't keep the podcast going.
The Internet is littered with the remains of thousands of podcasts that started... (and yes, the same could be said of blogs).
One of my own is amidst those remains... from 2005 to 2008 I produced and co-hosted Blue Box: The VoIP Security Podcast. It was great to do and we built up quite a strong community of listeners. But then jobs changed... life changed... new kids came into the world... and so we ended the show's run. I keep thinking about bringing it back... but I'm conscious of this "hardest part" of podcasting. If I do bring it back, I have to be ready to commit to bringing it back on a regular basis.
THAT is the hardest part of "podcasting".
Keeping the podcast going.
IF, of course, you are trying to create a "show" that is ongoing. If you are just putting up some audio interviews... well, those might just be "downloadable audio files" and not really a "podcast", per se. Or they might be a "podcast" that has a predetermined lifespan... such as for an event or conference. There are many such podcasts around an event or date - or for a set series of topics - and they are great for what they are: a "body of work" with a defined beginning and end.
But if you are trying to create an ongoing show that attracts a community of listeners... then this "hardest part" comes into play. When I've been consulting with clients about starting up a podcast, I stress this fact again: it's easy to start a podcast, but far harder to keep it going.
Are you ready to commit to the long-term run of the show?
To do it week after week after week after week?
THAT is the hardest part of podcasting.
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