Should you start a podcast?

How to decide between airing a podcast and starting a personal journal

Basic guidelines for when you should start a podcast.
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It seems like everyone and their mother is starting a podcast, and we’re constantly subject to other people's ideas about everything from true crime to relationship advice.

However, it’s up for debate whether these people are truly qualified to provide this information. 

While everyone’s entitled to share their thoughts and opinions in a podcast, we need to set some ground rules. This article provides some basic guidelines about who should start a podcast and who should remain a humble listener.

Reasons to start a podcast:

  1. You’re famous.

This is arguably the best reason to start a podcast and will guarantee success. It may seem like everybody with a platform has a podcast nowadays—and there’s a reason. A podcast is a great way to profit off a pre-existing audience. 

Whatever you want to talk about, there’s a good chance you have a core group of fans willing to listen. Your life as a famous person is likely inherently interesting, so even if you only talk about yourself, people will be hungry to listen. However, you better get your famous friends to hop on occasionally, just to keep it engaging.

  1. You have a topic that doesn’t include your own life.

The best podcasts aren’t about the host. Some of the most popular podcasts of all time tell fictional stories, cover true crime cases, or analyze iconic pieces of pop culture. If you’re passionate about telling a story or exploring a topic that isn’t about you, a podcast could be a great medium for you. 

  1. You’re an expert in your field.

If you’ve dedicated your life to your field and want to share what you know, a podcast is a great way to do so. Academics, professionals, and other experts use podcasts to spread awareness. After all, dissemination of information is a great thing, and being able to throw on a podcast about World War II or the composition of asteroids is the greatest gift of podcasts.

However, we should be skeptical of the podcast industry for the same reason high school teachers are skeptical of projects that cite Wikipedia: anyone can say anything they want.

To make sure you’re not contributing to any misinformation, please only discuss topics you’re qualified to talk about. If you’re educated and have something interesting to share, we’d love to hear from you. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether you would be qualified to write a non-fiction book about your topic.

Reasons not to start a podcast

  1. Narcissism

Taylor Swift put it perfectly when she asked, “How can a person know everything at 18 and nothing at 22?”

We should be skeptical of people who claim to know the answers to life at any age. In the case of podcasts, it takes a certain amount of audacity and entitlement to publicly disseminate life advice, and we think we should be especially cautious of these people.

If you want to discuss your life and give advice but aren’t a psychologist, please don’t start a podcast. As I get older, people around me have started making podcasts that blur the lines between professional development and personal disclosure.

To put it bluntly, it’s weird (and maybe a red flag) when you find out someone you’re romantically interested in has a podcast discussing their last breakup.

If you want to work through your feelings, maybe you should start a journal or a video diary—but please don’t share your life journey or emotional toils on Spotify.

  1. Privilege

Many personal development podcasts spin the narrative that success is contingent on one’s daily habits and grit. However, most fail to acknowledge the amount of wealth and privilege behind success.

Some of the most popular podcasts, like The Mindset Mentor and Motivation Daily,talk about how we must “get out of our comfort zone” and “overcome our limiting beliefs,” as if leaving a minimum wage job to go traveling and start an exciting career hasn’t occurred to their audience.

Whether you’re creating or listening to podcasts about personal development, keep in mind that success is intimately linked to privilege—in all the interconnected and intersectional ways it manifests.

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