There are so many compelling reasons for a photographer to start a podcast – and you don’t have to be a pro. For the avid storyteller, recording interviews allows you to engage with other creatives and present their stories to a wider audience. It’s also a great way to expand your own network. Going solo is another option, and you can create episodes about anything from comments on your images to gear reviews, or opinion pieces on current photo industry news. .
From a marketing perspective, podcasting works well as brand extension — something that doesn’t make your photo business money per se, but helps increase exposure and awareness. There’s a reason so many celebrities and personalities have jumped onto the platform in recent years.
• Listen to the 20 Best Podcasts for Photographers (opens in a new tab)
Like most successful creative endeavors, however, there is no fast track to success. The best (and the best is a subjective term, of course) are those that consistently feature engaging or insightful content, relaxed guests, top audio quality, and easy-to-understand handling.
So what do you want your podcast to look like, sound like, and focus on? We can’t answer these questions for you, but we can provide some practical advice to get you started.
Read on and learn how to schedule content, record and edit great audio, and distribute your shows when they’re ready to air. The popularity of podcasting has exploded in recent years, and here we have professional podcasters who have shared their ideas and approaches.
Plan your podcast
Start by asking yourself, “Why do I want to start a podcast?” It’s a saturated space, so if your plan is to make a quick buck, think again. We spoke to professional landscape photographer Sam Gregory, co-host of The Togcast (opens in a new tab)to find out why he saw the value in podcasting and sought to create his own.
Sam Gregory is a professional photographer and videographer based on the south coast of Dorset, England. Now he focuses on working in the landscape, both natural and man-made, to explore storytelling opportunities. Although not currently running, Sam was one half of the popular photography podcast The Togcast (opens in a new tab).
“The podcast genre has allowed people to find audio content in their own specific areas of interest,” says Sam. so you can play what you want, when you want, wherever you are. They’re usually free, can be easily downloaded, and it makes perfect sense to listen to something that interests you on your trip.
Finding a niche for your own show is a good place to start, because you don’t want to end up mimicking established podcasts and competing for airtime. Being authentic is also essential to success in the modern age. If you’re not passionate about your guests or your content ideas, it’s likely to end up in the final show.
Sam started The Togcast with co-host and fellow pro Paul Sanders (who we’ve spoken to extensively before (opens in a new tab)) in 2016, the duo focusing on long interviews with renowned photographers. “I couldn’t find anyone who was already producing what I myself wanted to hear as a photographer,” he says. “The podcasts that circulated [then] were usually outfitted photographers or single photographers talking about their own work or travels. I wanted to hear from a range of photographers in long, thought-provoking interviews to understand their processes, motivations, and work. I could see there was a community of landscape photographers in particular, but there was no connection between them in terms of unique, interesting, and engaging audio content.
Starting a show from scratch can seem daunting, but consistency is important for podcast listeners. At the very beginning, the Togcast duo made a long list of photographers whose work they were interested in and progressed during the first two years. “Contact was usually through friends of friends or directly with the photographers through their social media or websites,” says Sam.
Having a schedule for episodes also helps to stay on track and maintain momentum. “We release two episodes per month and want to hear more about a photographer’s motivations, stories, challenges and inspiration. We mainly cover the landscape genre, but we have also featured wildlife and documentary photographers.
Guests on The Togcast have included names such as Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, Valda Bailey, Rachael Talibart, Verity Milligan and Martin Parr, but Sam thinks it’s important to choose photographers who have something unique about them. work, including “lesser known” photographers. photographers as well as well-known names. “We could arguably grow more if we chased guests based on their social media reach (to get more listeners), but that would be contrary to our original motivations,” he explains.
Every photographer has a presentation style that suits them, but don’t panic if you can’t find yours right away. Relax into the process and your approach should appear more organic. For The Togcast, the tone is friendly and informal. “Paul and I have always sought to have conversations with guests rather than interviews. We record 99% of in-person interviews instead of video calls because it allows us to build rapport…and a more personal conversation,” says Sam.
If your plan is to interview other people, consider whether you should ask questions ahead of time or go with the flow. “[Paul and I] they both approach it differently,” Sam admits. “I tend to have different key topics: four or five big parts of their work that I’d like to touch on, and then some specifics. I research and take these notes ahead of time so I don’t refer to them in conversation. I used to have specific questions, but the problem is that you’re looking for questions and you’re not listening and reacting to the answers like you should!”
Once you’ve found an angle and approached some guests, you’ll need to consider the logistics involved, like how you’re going to record the audio. This is a new skill for many photographers, but getting it right is key. Sam advises, “High audio quality is really important if you want to deliver a quality podcast that listeners can trust and enjoy,” says Sam. “Get yourself a good microphone, like the RØDE NT-USB (opens in a new tab) or RØDE smartLav+ (opens in a new tab) lapel mics. These go into a small, portable recording device, which is useful if you’re on the go.
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If you’re recording interviews on location, wind and other ambient noise can result in questionable audio quality. Therefore, after recording, use post-processing tools to develop your clips into clear audio content. Sam uses a program called Reaper, but free digital editors such as Audacity are also available. The same way you would with image files, keep your podcast files organized. Use consistent folder structure filenames.
As for the soft skills needed to be successful with podcasting, Sam thinks these depend on what you want to get out of the process. “If you think of success as a financial reward, then the most useful skills would be marketing-based: a good understanding of how to leverage social media to reach your potential audience.”
If you want to create insightful content that teaches you along the way, the best skills are based on curiosity and knowing when to listen and when not to talk. “Ideally, you would manage in both scenarios described,” Sam muses.
There are challenges for photographers wanting to record a podcast, but also many benefits. “You meet other photographers, share your ideas, your stories, your inspirations and you can always learn something from everyone you spend time with.”
Publish a podcast
You need to upload your files to a media host and then publish them to popular platforms from there. Here are four top podcast hosts.
Buzzsprout lists all the top podcast directories. It is free for 90 days and has different pricing plans depending on how many hours you want to download each month. See stats like total downloads over time, which apps people use to listen to your podcast, and where people are listening from.
Captivate has a clean and easy to navigate interface for beginners. There are solid stats for every user (starting at $19), not just those on the more expensive plans. You get unlimited podcasts/RSS feeds for one price per month – and only pay extra for more downloads.
The transistor costs between $19 and $99 per month. Like Buzzsprout, it shows you which apps people are using to listen to your show and offers advanced analytics. The site also offers customer support, as well as a guide to getting your podcast out there on its “How Podcasting Works” page.
Simplecast offers one-click publishing to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other major directories. The basic $15 per month plan is great for beginners and offers unlimited storage and downloads, a customizable show website with a custom domain, and 20,000 downloads per month.
Sam Gregory’s advice for a successful episode
- Plan ahead
Prepare a rough outline of the main points to cover in advance to keep your episode on track and avoid rambling too much
- Include headings
Have clearly defined sections of the episode, such as an intro, main section, and ending. Jingles? They depend on you!
- Have great sound
Make sure the audio quality is as good as possible with the hardware you have, but consider investing in one of the best audio recorders.
- To be coherent
Stick to a consistent length and broadcast schedule so listeners know what to expect.
- Stay relevant
Ask yourself if you find the content interesting. If so, this should be interesting to your listener base (hopefully).
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