If you’ve ever wished for a podcasting cheerleader, look no further than Krystal Proffitt.
(Yes, that is her real name: The surname comes courtesy of her husband.)
Before getting into podcasting, Krystal was an actual cheerleader. “My older brothers played football, and I was like, Oh, this looks like fun: I can go out there and scream and run around and everybody encourages it,” she says.
After realizing that being an accountant and then a stay-at-home mom wasn’t fulfilling the creative part of her personality, Krystal went into podcasting. She now hosts two shows, the weekly show The Proffitt Podcast and the short daily show The Poddy Report. She’s also a podcast coach, helping other hosts find their voice and their space in the ever-growing podcast world.
That all sounds neat and tidy when it’s written out. But it took dedication, effort and a commitment to constant improvement to get her to this stage. She shared the journey on an episode of Between Two Mics.
Here’s some of the best advice Krystal gives to her clients, including how to manage imposter syndrome, how to make money from your podcast and how to keep getting better.
Don’t give in to imposter syndrome
You’ve bought your microphone, written your outline and you’re ready to record. Suddenly you’re hit with a wave of doubt that sounds something like: Wait, I can’t be a podcast host. Why would people want to hear what I think? No one is going to listen and I will have to admit I’m no good at this.
Krystall says that many of the hosts she coaches tell her they’re worried that something about them makes them unsuitable for podcasting.
“I can really see when people are starting to beat up on themselves, like, I’m not good, I don’t have a voice that sounds like this person, or I have a really thick accent, or I’m not loud enough,” she says. “All the mental things that keep podcasters from pushing forward in their journey and getting out of their comfort zone.”
The truth is that you’re probably overthinking it much more than any potential listener. If you can talk passionately and honestly about something people care about, they won’t even notice how you say it.
And if they do want to comment on your vocal fry or your accent, that’s their loss. Not just of your podcast, but every other show they won’t listen to.
You won’t know how people will respond or how great you can be at podcasting until you try. Take a deep breath and hit record.
Making a podcast is always a work in progress
The other reason you don’t need to worry if your first few episodes are not that great is that you will naturally get better as you go.
Every podcaster cringes when they listen back to their earliest episodes — including Krystal. “You will never hear me walking around saying I tried something one time and I got millions of downloads or I got all the likes,” she says.
Unlike some hosts, she hasn’t attempted to erase her Early Era from existence: You can still listen to it in all its glory. Krystal treats those episodes as a learning opportunity for others, and a reminder to herself of how much she’s improved.
“Embrace your mistakes and know I’m going to be so much better on episode 300 than I was on episode two,” she says.
Here are five ways to make sure you’re constantly improving:
1. Ask yourself: is this still fun?
You have to be passionate about whatever your podcast subject is. So passionate that other people in your life have told you, “You should start a podcast about that” just so you’ll stop talking to them about it.
Krystal completely changed her show when she realized she’d lost interest. The first iteration was called The Rookie Life. It wasn’t very focused, and she eventually understood that she was more interested in the process of podcasting than her subject matter. So she made that process her new subject, and rebranded to The Proffitt Podcast.
“The entire journey is, Do I like this? Is this fun for me?” Krystal says. “If it’s not, let’s go back to the drawing board.”
2. Be authentic.
Listeners can tell when you’re putting on an act. It might be your way of managing recording nerves, but it comes across as insincere or arrogant.
This goes for networking too: Don’t be that podcaster touting their Apple Podcasts ranking or flaunting their spot on a Forbes list. Those are great achievements, but people connect with your personality, not a verbal rendition of your LinkedIn profile.
3. Prioritize your community.
Your community of listeners are the ones who embolden you to keep making your show. Don’t take that for granted! Take notice of which topics they like, which episodes get the most downloads, which ones your listeners are talking about on your social media pages. (And create social media pages.) Then give them more of it.
“Putting my community first and foremost has helped me along the way,” Krystal says. “Because now that things have started to get rolling, I have to attribute so much of that to my network and my community saying, You should go check out this Krystal chick! She’s kind of crazy and kooky, go watch her YouTube videos and listen to her podcast. Laying some of that groundwork is starting to pay off.”
4. Take it slow and steady.
If you’re expecting to release three episodes and immediately go viral, now would be a good time for a reality check.
We get it: You have this great idea for a podcast, you’ve bought all the equipment and you’ve outlined a six-month strategy that involves videos, Patreon and guest spots. But like Rome, podcast empires were not built in a single recording session. Build the foundations before you put a Colosseum on top.
“[If] you’re like, Yeah, I want to do a podcast and YouTube, I advise you do one or the other first: Get a system down and then decide, Where can I repurpose this content or try something new?” Krystal says. Managing a podcast long term is challenging enough. Learn the ropes of that process first, including making adjustments, and then you can evolve it.
5. Be consistent.
This is one the hardest pieces of podcasting advice to follow. When the only person who knows or cares about your podcast is you (and maybe your three most supportive friends) pushing yourself to keep making episodes is grueling.
However, inconveniently, this is also some of the most crucial advice you’ll ever get. If you want to build the kind of community that can sustain your show, you have to keep going through all those lonely early days, and then keep giving your listeners a reason to show up for every new episode.
“You have to do it over time,” Krystal says. “A lot of people don’t want to hear that: They want to hear what the magic bullet is, what can I do to have this type of business tomorrow? And I’ve just got to say it’s built on consistency. Keep showing up for your people and be authentic in everything you do.”
If your podcasting goal is to make money, be prepared for a long haul
More people than ever are making money from podcasting. However, as we’ve already pointed out, there’s no such thing as an overnight podcasting sensation.
Krystal is very upfront that it took her a long time and a lot of intention to start making money from her show. But she says that a lot of new podcasters’ first questions are along the lines of How do I get rich from this tomorrow?
“So often people are waiting for someone to knock on their door and have that Ed McMahon moment [where someone hands] you a check, like, Here, you’re awesome, take that and cash it, but it’s just not reality,” she says.
You have to be proactive: Don’t wait for a brand or platform to offer you money.
Monetizing your YouTube channel or landing sponsorships requires relatively high download and listener numbers. Krystal says there are more effective ways to monetize your podcast when you’re just starting out.
6. Make the most of affiliate marketing.
You’ve definitely heard podcasters do affiliate marketing before. Typically it works like this: A company gives you a unique URL that links to its website. When people buy through that URL, you earn a percentage of the sale.
This is a win-win for hosts and brands, since it’s low-cost advertising for them and income for you. (FYI: SquadCast even has an affiliate program.) Affiliate marketing is different from sponsorships, in which you do X number of ads for $Y — although you can (and should) use your podcast to tell your audience about your affiliate links.
“I tell people to start exploring affiliate income: This is something that I have done and it’s been so lucrative for my business,” Krystal says. “So much of my revenue comes from being part of affiliate programs.”
7. Create premium content.
Once you have a group of loyal listeners, create paid content that offers them something extra. Maybe they get a one-on-one conversation with you, or access to special episodes. Create a Patreon account and offer extras at different tiers.
The reason Krystal has so much advice to share is not because she has a secret recipe for success: It’s because she’s worked hard and kept going through those tough times you might be experiencing.
“Always be experimenting and trying new things, because you never know what is going to work until you try.”
To hear more advice from Krystall Proffitt about her best coaching tips for aspiring podcasters, listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.
Natasha Lavender is a writer, editor and podcast nerd. She has a BA in English and American Literature from the University of Birmingham in the UK, which proved especially useful when she moved to Chicago, IL, in 2016. This content was produced collaboratively with PodReacher.