Your time is so, so precious. And I won't lie and tell you podcasting takes no time at all, because it absolutely takes time. But I will tell you podcasting doesn't have to take over your life (unless you're like me and LOVE everything-podcasting and choose to spend almost every waking hour thinking about, listening to, recording, or editing podcasts).
Here's the great thing about podcasting: If you're adding podcasting as part of your outreach, you probably already have a lot of the content you can re-purpose into a podcast. If you're podcasting for fun, the time spent can vary, but as you keep podcasting, you'll become faster and more efficient.
So, what kind of time commitment are we talking here? Let's break it down:
Podcast Prep Time
This would be the time spent coming up with your episode topic and writing whatever you need down you'll need for recording. If you're a blogger and starting a podcast, you might not need much time prepping at all. You can use your blog posts and make episodes based on them. You might want to tweek them to turn them into an easy-to-read format or, if you already write the way you speak, this should be no trouble at all.
If your podcast is based on reviewing a movie, tv show or music, you'll have to factor in the amount of time it takes to actually watch or listen, as well as factoring in times you might have to pause to write something down.
If your have an interview-based podcast, this might take a good chunk of your time finding guests, scheduling guests, researching them and coming up with questions.
Just to give you an idea of how much prep a research-based podcast takes, my 5- to 10-minute podcast is a short history podcast that takes anywhere from two to three hours to research and write, but I also write it out word-for-word.
If you plan on writing show notes, make sure you take the time to keep a list of resources used so your audience can find out more information, and these can be added to your show notes.
Some people need a fully written script to record, some might just need bulletpoints, and some just wing it, but unless you are able to stay on topic and focused, that might not be the best method, especially if you want to make sure you don't forget things like calls to action or shoutouts.
There are plenty of VAs (virtual assistants) who could easily take up some of the research tasks, as well.
Recording Your Podcast
From talking to other podcasters, this probably takes the least amount of time (unless you do zero prep work and editing). Some like to record all the way through, mistakes and all, while others who like a cleaner sound may find it's easier to edit after if they start a sentence or phrase over when they make a mistake.
If you are an interview podcast, you want to factor in some time to warm your guest up before pressing the record button, especially if you've never spoken to them before. Maybe you need to warm up to a guest before feeling comfortable talking to them. Remember, this is a podcast, it's not a radio interview where you only have a certain amount of time to interview a person -- in podcasting, you can make your guest comfy and you have more time to get a feel for their style of speaking.
You might also want to factor in time to prep yourself for a podcast, especially if you plan on adding video. Getting dressed, brushing your teeth, doing your makeup, drinking water, getting a snack -- all things to consider.
There are different schools of thought about post-production. Some say record, throw on some intro and outro music, and hit publish. But what if you mess up? What if the doorbell rings and you have to stop to answer it? What if you sneeze in the middle of a sentence right into the microphone?
Just as you don't like when things waste your time, your listeners don't like it either. I can't tell you the number of times I've actually gotten annoyed at a podcast I'm listening to when they have really great content, but they've spent no time on post-production and I'm tapping my foot, waiting for them to get to the good part because they make some easy edits.
Oh, and the examples of someone answering the door and sneezing into the microphone? Those are real-life examples I've heard. (And the sneezing example was in a meditation podcast! Totally brought me out of my relaxation.)
According to Dave Jackson, host of The School of Podcasting and Ask the Podcast Coach (and one of my awesome podcasting friends), you might be shocked to learn that post-production can be about four-times the time it takes to record. As you get faster, you can maybe knock it down to three-times.
And that includes show notes, unless you wrote out your show notes ahead of time, which is a great way of keeping yourself organized while recording and saving you time when it's midnight before your episode releases and you just want to go to bed.
If you're crazy about podcasting like me, this isn't a problem and you enjoy all these steps, great! If you're simply looking to get behind a mic and pass off your file to someone else for editing and writing show notes, you can always outsource those tasks to someone else.
This step is sometimes forgotten when trying to figure out the time it takes to podcast, but it's one of the most important! Promotion can be done via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram ... you get the idea. Another podcasting friend of mine Daniel J. Lewis from The Audacity to Podcast (another awesome podcasting friend of mine) has a great saying about using social media for your show: Be everywhere you can be WELL, meaning don't just sign up for a social media account on a platform you're unfamiliar with if you don't plan on using it or checking it. Stretching yourself too thin is a common podcast killer.
Not counting the time you will probably spend promoting your show, in general, you want to promote your episodes as they come out, and not just on release day, but during the week. There are plenty of social media scheduling tools you can use (many of which are free!) for this, but you still have to write those posts and add some art to help them stand out.
You'll also want to engage your audience on whatever social media platform(s) you decide you want to use for your show. If you're podcasting as part of your overall business or brand, you may already have these social media accounts in place and are used to engaging your followers.
And don't just think promotion is all about social media. Get out into your community, go to conferences in your niche, or find groups via MeetUp.com that focus on the topic of your show.
A note about promotion ...
Don't. Be. Spammy.
This is so, so, so important and one thing that will not only turn away potential listeners, but it might get you blocked on social media or in groups and forums.
Your show is great, it's your baby, you want to show it off and you should be really proud of what you've accomplished by making it. But if you're going into Facebook groups in your niche, dropping your link and bolting, it's going to look unprofessional and slimy. Same goes for posting Tweets every 15 minutes about your show.
(Not only that, but most likely, if someone is following you already on social media, they are aware of your show and don't need to be reminded 96 times a day.)
The best kind of promotion may not actually come from you. Podcasts have the best success with organic, word-of-mouth promotion. If you have a listener who loves your show, they will tell their friends, and if you've ever gotten a recommendation from a friend, you know it holds more weight than all the billboards you've seen.
So, after all is said and done, do you have time for a podcast?
One thing I forgot to mention is that there is no hard and fast rule for how often you should release an episode. If you only have time to release an episode every two weeks or even once a month, that's fine!
It's your show!
That's also the wonderful thing about having your audience subscribe to your show. As soon as a new episode is released, your audience will see it pop up in their app. It's great to have a consistent schedule for your audience to be able to have an idea of when to expect a new show, but if you have to take a break for whatever reason or you have technical difficulties getting the show out, it's not the end of the world.
If you prep, record, edit and publish your show and realize it took much longer than you have time for, cut back your original schedule to be able to accommodate the time it takes to put out a show you're not only proud of, but one that's not rushed or sloppy. And, again, there are plenty of ways to outsource production.
I wanted to keep this part separate because if you've read everything so far and are thinking, "Oh, this looks like waaaay too much work," it really doesn't have to be.
If you're already making YouTube videos or going live on Facebook, you may already have everything you need for a podcast. If you go into recording video with the idea that you'll be repurposing them as podcasts, you need to be aware that not everything will translate into audio, like showing certain products or interacting with people commenting, but a lot of it can.
A great way to get in front of more people all at once is to write a blog post, use the information to record a Facebook Live, use the video for YouTube, and strip the audio to use for a podcast. That's four different ways to engage your audience!
Come up with a release schedule, but don't set it in stone quite yet.
Put together a few podcasts and track the time it takes for each step. (Realize if you're new, this will become easier as you get more practice.)
Evaluate your time vs. money and if it benefits you more to outsource aspects of your podcast.
Consider batching any of these steps, like writing all your episodes in one day, picking another day to record them all, and another day or editing, for example.
Download my free podcast schedule printable to help keep track of the tasks needed for each episode. (see below)