Putting Yourself Out There (and Staying Safe)

How much information should you reveal in a podcast?

With technology evolving and more ways to connect than ever before, it can be incredibly easy for someone to find out a lot about you by just searching your name in Google or on social media.

Putting Yourself Out There (And Staying Safe)

Before you begin a podcast, know that you will be putting yourself out there to the masses and it's a good idea to evaluate what other information you may already have that's easily searchable. And it's a good idea to take precautions sooner rather than later.

Are you podcasting for fun or to increase awareness of your personal brand or business?

This should be the number one question you ask yourself, when it comes to what information you keep public.

The reason I ask this is because I know plenty of podcasters who keep their private lives private by either using a pseudonym on their shows or just a first name. And that's fine. But if you're planning on maybe using your podcast to help grow your business or personal brand, using your last name and being available on social media to interact with will help form connections to listeners (and potential customers).

But it's a weird shift to go from one to the other, as I'm slowly finding out while beginning to build this business.

I've been so used to hiding behind my podcast cover art, that's it's so foreign to me to post things on social media as myself or to accept friend requests from people I've never met or talked to in real life.

One thing to consider is even if you aren't planning on using your podcast as part of a business, you might want to make yourself known in communities as more than your podcast. This may mean using your personal profile to reach out, as in Facebook groups or pages.

But my tip is to make yourself aware of who has access to see the information on your profile. Take a good look at what you are listing on your social media sites and who has access to see them.

On Facebook, for example, you can set most things on your profile to Public, Friends Only, or Only Me (meaning you). For a lot of posts about my location or identifying pictures, I keep a lot of them Friends Only. Actually, since becoming "friends" with a lot of podcasters and people I want to form business relationships with, I have a special setting I've created that includes only family and very close friends for when I post more personal things.

And while I have an Instagram account with my full name listed for anyone to look at where I give podcasting tips or talk about E Podcast Productions, I also have a private Instagram account I only accept friend requests from people I know personally -- mostly I post pictures of my cats, so it's not like it's any big secret, but it's definitely not what I would think those interested in podcasting would want in their feeds.

Is it possible to grow an audience without a personal brand?

Of course it is! I've done it with two shows, in fact.

I had Twitter and Instagram accounts for shows with just the logo as the picture and posted information regarding the show. Had I used my own, personal account, it would probably get confusing for listeners to see the other random things I Tweeted about or took pictures of that maybe only a small handful of friends would understand.

Would you be comfortable telling the CEO of your company about your podcast? If not, you might want to steer clear of talking about the company or your role.

For the most part, people tried out the show and got to know me through that. Actually, one of the funnier things I found while Tweeting under a podcast name was the number of people who assumed because I was a podcaster, I was male. (But more about that in another post, I think.)

Another thing to consider when podcasting is if your podcast is something your place of work would be against. (Would you be comfortable telling the CEO of your company about your podcast? If not, you might want to steer clear of talking about the company or your role.)

How much should I reveal?

Truth be told, I'm still trying to get a handle on that. On one hand, I like connecting with people, especially if we have similar lifestyles and interests. On the other hand, once I began putting my face out there, the level of creepiness I've already gotten in DMs on Instagram makes me second-guess if it's worth it.

For me, there's no such thing as being too cautious, and I have a trigger-happy finger ready to push that Block button as soon as I get the least bit creeped out.

If a conversation makes you uncomfortable, don’t feel weird letting the person know it makes you uncomfortable or simply block them.

It's also important to talk to your friends and family about what they are comfortable with you sharing. A friend of mine is a teacher and works hard to keep his social media profiles from being found by students, so when I used him as a source for a podcast and thanked him, I was asked not to use his last name in the show or the show notes.

The best advice for thinking about how much to reveal is to find your comfort sweet spot and if a conversation makes you uncomfortable, don't feel weird letting the person know it makes you uncomfortable or simply block them -- if it means losing a listener, don't feel bad, since you wouldn't want that kind of person as a listener anyway.

One more thing to take into consideration is the topic of your podcast and presentation. If you're someone who likes to ruffle some feathers or instigate debate and controversy, be wary of releasing any information that might cause a person to take action against you or your family. It's a scary thought, but something to really be careful of.

Actionable tips

  • Check your personal profiles on social media and consider what information you want to keep private.
  • Check the settings on online photo albums under your name, like those on Facebook.
  • Set up social media accounts for your podcast if you don't feel comfortable using your personal account.
  • If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to let them know and/or block them.
  • Keep information like your address, place of work, financial information, social security number, etc., off your podcast and materials.
  • Set up a P.O. Box for your podcast if you plan on sending and receiving mail.
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