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To Content Creators, With Love - Part 1

Last week when I was chatting with Darth Coffee after our interview for HeroesNews, I shared that I'd been podcasting for 6 years and he reacted with awe. "Six YEARS? That's amazing!" It kind of struck me that.... yeah, that's a long time! It still feels like yesterday that I started my first show. But, I've never felt like the expert or the voice of authority in podcasting because I keep learning new things. This year in particular, I've been challenged by things I'd never done before.

Even as a self-perceived non-expert, I've had the honor to coach and advise other aspiring content creators (podcasters, Twitch streamers, artists, etc.) who sought my advice as they were starting their journeys. The beauty of content creation is that anyone can jump in! But it can be hard to get started when you're new and just trying to find your way.

As part of my own personal growth journey, I want to share some of my experience and insights to others that might benefit from it. In this blog series, I'll walk through some of advice that I've gotten in the past and that I've given to others about content creation. I hope you find it helpful!

Part 1: Creating Content Is Hard Work

There's a special kind of excitement that comes when you've made the decision to start something new. You're energized, hyped with all kinds of ideas, wanting to share it with the world. 

The honest truth is that the excitement period will wear off, and that's where the work comes in. In podcasting, the general rule of thumb is: set yourself a goal to make it to 10 episodes. Doesn't sound like a lot? The honeymoon period usually wears off about 4-5 episodes in.

I'll be prepping HeroesNews episode 6 this week, and here's how the work breaks down for me. (A typical episode has been 5-7 minutes of news and a 15 minute interview.)

-Seek out the guest for the week. Send emails, Twitter DMs, usually 2-3 per week to see who is free/who replies. (Time spent: 15-30 mins per week)

-Keep tabs on discussions on Twitter, Reddit, HeroesHearth.com, various Twitch streams. What's everyone talking about? (Time spent: ~1 hour per day)

-Book this week's guest and record the interview with them. (Time spent: ~30-45 mins per week)

-Edit the interview to remove lengthy pauses or dead air, clean up the audio for background noise or extra loud microphones (Time spent: 30-60 mins per week)

-Research all the esports results (HGC and Open Division), compile all the game news and write the show script for the week (Time spent: 2-3 hours per week)

-Record the script (often more than once to get the right feel), edit it, and drop in all the sounders (Time spent: 2-3 hours per week)

-Write up the show notes, publish the show, write up the announcement blog and the Twitter post (Time spent: 1 hour per week)

Total time spent per week to create one episode of HeroesNews: ~12-14 hours
(This doesn't include the hours of HGC and Open Division matches I watch, which averages around 20 hours per week.)

Believe me, I'm not complaining! This is the content I've wanted to create for years, so it doesn't feel like work. But, real talk... that's quite a few hours per week to create 20 minutes of published content. If you don't love the work you're doing, it's probably not going to last. Make sure your heart is in it and you're doing it for the right reasons. 

About five years ago, I co-hosted on a podcast called That TV Show. It was right around the time that Netflix was breaking out with original content, and a large portion of the show included us doing a review of the first season of a show. I needed to set aside quite a bit of time each week to watch multiple episodes, take notes, and make sure what I was bringing was entertaining/made good discussion. It was a ton of work that neither of us were really enjoying after a while. Eventually, we made the decision to end the podcast, and it was the right call. If you're just slogging through it every week, it shows. Your listeners will notice, and then it's no fun for anybody.

If you're dragging through it and your audience isn't really enjoying it, the hardest question you need to ask yourself is: why am I doing this?

Many of us watch Twitch streamers and/or have aspired to start our own Twitch stream. I estimated (unofficially, as a viewer who watches a lot of Twitch) that a full-time Twitch content creator is streaming 4-6 hours a day, 4-6 days a week. That's 32-36 hours of content per week.

I've streamed my chainmaille jewelry creation in the past, and streaming was not easy for me. You're multi-tasking the whole time - creating your content as well as interacting with and entertaining your chat. I stopped streaming because my heart just wasn't into that kind of work like it was for podcasting, and that was hard to admit! I'll sometimes get the itch to stream again, and each time, I'll get real with myself and sit down with the numbers. Do I have the time and energy to really give to this? So far, the answer has been no, so I honor that.

Most Twitch streamers love the work that they do. But, I will always remember that they're working their butts off for the subs, bits and donations they get.

We live in a beautiful time for a content creator. Anybody can create a podcast or start up a Twitch stream. If you've ever thought about it but have had something holding you back, this is my advice to you:

Ask yourself honestly: why am I doing this?

When you're new, you don't know what you don't know. Most times, you just have to get in there, get your hands dirty, and start doing. As you're doing, keep asking yourself, "Okay, again, why am I doing this?" Your answers may change, and they may not. But keep asking! It'll be your compass when things get challenging.

Thank you for reading! My messages and Discord/Twitter DMs are always open, and I welcome your feedback and questions. :)

In Part 2, I'll talk about finding your place in the content creation and why not knowing everything is the key to your success.

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Thanks for sharing your insights about your process. I personally just got into Podcasting after being a fan of it for so long. I discovered a platform called Anchor.FM that seems to simplify the publishing aspect of podcasting so we can just focus on creating the content and recording it.

I think one of the challenges of being a Heroes of the Storm podcaster is finding a unique fearless voice that is authentic and interesting to the listener(s). Right now we are relying a bit on Eric's YouTube content for HotS and his interest in mastery, as well as my insights into what is going on /r/heroesofthestorm and learning how to play the game.

Another challenge to content creation is choosing what level of quality of content your want to produce for the time commitment and audience size. For me personally, I wanted a simple workflow so I could just focus on taking about the timely topics of the week. In addition, I wanted to host with someone else so I have someone else to interact with and engage with so the show has multiple perspectives. The first five episodes we basically were being like the other podcasts on the subject... just with way lower production values :) With our most recent episode, we broke away from the homogenized coverage and started going deeper into topics... which resulted in a 2-hour episode... but it felt good... like we did something totally different.. even though it was somewhat the same.. just deeper.

I will address your last point about why I am doing this tonight on our next episode with Eric, I think it is a good topic to explore... but I will address why we do a podcast and not a Twitch Stream. The podcast format is portable and allows us to focus on each other and the discussion, if we were doing Twitch, we would probably get distracted by chat or how we look on camera. We are still new to this, so maybe there will be room to explore creating different types of content to support the show in the future.. who knows.

I really enjoy your show and welcome any insights you have about improving our show.
Hi LDAP! First, thanks so much for reading and listening! I appreciate you. :)

You hit on a lot of the topics I'm going to cover with Part 2 of this series - discovery of who you are as a content creator. Most of us have likely followed the "standard formula" at least once in our podcast careers because, you know what? It works! The "Hi, welcome to... what have you been up to this week? Okay, now the news." I've done it on MANY shows. It's a great place to start.

When you broke out of the formula for your most recent episode, it felt more like "you", I'm betting! I give you a ton of props for giving yourselves space to experiment and trying out something new. It's such a great way to learn. And notice how you did it in Episode 6? It's so normal. First 5 episodes - "Woo - we're making a show!" Next 5 episodes - "Okay, we know how to make a show. Now, how do we make OUR show?"

I'm traveling later this week, so I'm hoping I'll have a chance to snag my dad's laptop while I'm visiting to knock out Part 2 of the series, which talks about that, too.