What if you could become an authority on any subject of your choosing in the next four months with $100?
It’s easier than you think.
Podcasting has been one of the most valuable education experiences of my life. Over the course of two years, we’ve built a loyal following, talked to amazing authors, entrepreneurs, and adventurers, and just had a lot of fun.
How do you create a good network and a good signal while learning a subject?Experiencing the personal growth from podcasting has convinced me that it is one of the best ways to invest in your own personal development and a significantly better investment than the time and debt required at college.
The arguments for college revolve around three main appeals. It is a source of knowledge, provides context for networking, and provides a signal to future employers.
The internet has made college obsolete as a source of knowledge. With Youtube, blogs, and podcasts, you can get better information online than by attending college.
The second two points are the main arguments people use for college today. For simplicity, I’ll assume that college is reasonably good for your network and as a signal (although the value of your college network is dubious).
So that is the challenge. How do you create a good network and a good signal while learning a subject?
You could pay $50,000 to go to Harvard. Or you could pay $80 for a microphone.
Think of a topic that you want to learn. A subject with experts you admire. For an example, let’s use virtual reality. Maybe you want to get a job in the field, or maybe you are just interested in learning about it.
Instead of selling your soul to a bank to go to college, you are going to create a 20 episode “Intro to VR” podcast series on the topic.
“Me? How could I start a podcast? I’m not an expert.”
Most people believe in the myth that education is an authority figure lecturing to a group of students. We are trained to think that the best teacher is the best practitioner, and this is where we are wrong.
The best teacher for a beginner is often not an expert, but rather an intermediate learner.If you think back to your experience in school, you will remember how many times it wasn’t your teacher who made sense of a problem, but your classmates.
You learned when a friend, who understood your point of view, explained the issue in simple terms. Or you deepened your understanding when you tried to teach the idea to a friend.
The best teacher for a beginner is often not an expert, but rather an intermediate learner. Someone who was just a beginner and remembers all the things that trip a beginner up.
When it comes to your virtual reality podcast, you being a beginner is an asset because your audience is a bunch of beginners. You are creating a beginner's guide to virtual reality. You as a beginner are the literal guide. Two experts talking forget about all the confusion and concerns that beginners have. They forget what it is like to not know everything they know. A host who is a beginner is actually an advantage for fellow beginners because you will ask the stupid questions.
So the equation is better stated like this:
beginner + expert > expert + expert
Find Experts and Conduct Interviews
Here is the plan you’ll use. You will create a 20 episode podcast interview series on virtual reality.
Create a list of experts who you want to talk to. Getting good guests is a numbers game; people will say no, and quite a few won’t even reply to your email. Think up 50 people you’d love to talk to about VR.
Reach out to as many people on your list as you can and ask for interviews.
Interview as many guests as you can before releasing anything. This will allow you to launch your podcast with an accompanying product. Some guests won’t say yes if you don’t have a track record of other guests. So every time you do an interview, ask your guests for recommendations for who to talk to. “Fred thinks you would be great on the podcast and recommended I talk to you” will be the primary way you get to yes when you are starting out.
The experience of creating this project will make you more valuable simply from the side-effect improvement to your communication skills.Do your first ~10 interviews and write a guide with what you’ve learned. Create a website with a simple landing page and email collection for the guide. Insert a call to action in all of the episodes offering people the free guide to the ten simple steps to becoming a VR expert.
Begin releasing weekly episodes. Once you have episodes out, some audience numbers, and a website, your project will be an easier sell for guests. Reach out to another round of more prominent guests with interview requests. Then conduct those interviews.
Ideally, you are operating on about a ten-week backlog. So you will have a two month period where you are still releasing episodes, but not recording interviews. Use this time to create a product. This could be a simple ebook: What I Learned from the World’s Top VR Experts. For bonus points, create a course that teaches people what you’ve learned. You can promote this product to your email list, and change your call to action on the remaining episodes to sell your book or course.
And that’s it. You’ve got a podcast series and a product that will be useful and valuable and continue creating value for long after you’ve finished working on it.
This is how entrepreneurial, positive sum education is done.
The world wins because there is now a great resource to learn a topic.
Your guests win because they are introduced to a new audience to promote their work.
And you win. You win a lot.
You’ve learned and networked one-on-one with some of the world’s best. You’ve created a podcast and a product that shows the world you are an expert on this topic. With some marketing savvy, your course or ebook can make you some money. And the experience of creating this project will make you more valuable simply from the side-effect improvement to your communication skills from conducting interviews.
If you have more specific questions on writing interview requests, planning a podcast launch, or anything else podcast related, send me an email.
This first appeared at the author's blog.