Getting Started On YKYZ

This week’s topic was suggested by DoctorIrish – thanks for the suggestion! I know there are quite a few people just starting their microcasts, so I’ve used his ideas and hopefully gathered them all into a coherent-sounding post.

First, and most importantly, welcome to YKYZ! You’ve probably noticed we’re friendly and supportive, but it can still be overwhelming when you are just starting out with your microcast. Trust me, we’ve all been there. I don’t think any of us look back at our first microcasts with anything approaching pride, but remember, practice makes perfect! It takes time to build a good microcast, especially if this is your first rodeo. I hope the following strategies will be of some help.

When deciding on your microcast topic, make sure it’s something that you can see yourself talking about for quite some time. While you are certainly welcome to change the subject of your microcast, or start a new one, it is best for consistent listener engagement if you can stick to it over time. If you are switching up the topic of your microcast often, it may be hard to keep your users loyal. It is important to find a topic that you are passionate and/or knowledgeable about, so keep that in mind. This is essential for a couple of reasons – first, your listeners can tell if you are interested in your subject matter or not. Second, it doesn’t seem much like “work” when you can talk at length without having to do a lot of research about your subject.

One thing that may be a tad difficult at first is sticking to your topic, or fitting everything into the allotted 90 seconds. Don’t worry, you’ll adjust. It may help to make a rough outline, writing down the important points you want to mention. You can also just write out the whole microcast episode. I make a point of doing this – otherwise I wander all over creation and say “um” way too much. Remember, the famous sayings we remember from great men and women were usually part of a speech, but only one or two lines are often quoted. Think of your microcast as those lines. You aren’t writing an entire news article. This is a “just the facts, ma’am” type of situation.

That being said, there are some topics that just can’t be squeezed into one microcast episode. When you do a series of episodes, make sure they are clearly labeled, i.e. part 1, part 2, etc. That way your listeners don’t miss any information. It’s also helpful to give a short intro at the beginning of each microcast in the series, so that if someone hasn’t heard the first episode, they still have a rough idea of where you are coming from, as opposed to just jumping straight in. If nothing else, you can mention that “This microcast follows episode 13, so make sure to give that a listen first!”

Your microcast channel will evolve over time. You may add intro and/or outro music and sound effects. The way you introduce yourself and sign off may change. You may find yourself gravitating towards one aspect of your topic more than others, or you may slowly change the tune of your whole microcast. And that is perfectly fine. The important thing is to give your listeners some continuity. It’s best to make changes one at a time, so they don’t suddenly hear new music and a new introduction and a new topic, all at once. It’s also easier for you to slowly change things, as well. One thing that will help with listener engagement is to ask for feedback, or their opinion. Maybe you have a couple different intros you would like to do, and this is a great time to see what your audience would prefer.

One last thing – don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself to do everything right, and to do it right now. It’s easy to listen to microcasters that seem to have all their ducks in a row and go, “Wow. I sound terrible compared to them.” Remember, they’ve likely had experience, and they went through the same learning process you did. So don’t sweat it. Learn as you go, put forth an effort to change and grow as you see room for improvement, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. The road to success is traveled one step at a time – or, shall we say, one microcast at a time?

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