On the surface, it seems like a simple question with a simple answer: “Why podcast?”

To share knowledge. To express an opinion. To display expertise. To interact.

Your answer to the question might be one of those, all of those, or none of those.

But “Why podcast?” also has the capacity to be deceptively complex. Once you begin to understand your motivation, you may find that your simple answers don’t hold true in all cases. You may even find that the real answer is something unexpected or even unsettling.

But regardless of your final answer, I believe that understanding your motivation to record and share information is vital to your growth and success as a podcaster.

There’s no shame in changing your answer as you go. I only think you have a problem when you don’t have an answer to the question, or — even worse — aren’t asking yourself the question at all.

At this weekend’s PodCamp Pittsburgh 7, I’ll be leading a session called “I’ve Started a Podcast. Now What?” Truth be told, it’s not only for those who’ve just started podcasting — it’s also for those who’ve been podcasting for years or have yet to begin.

On Saturday in RoomC at 1:00 pm, I’ll explain how the 4 C’s — consistency, community, concept, and character — are the foundation that can bring your podcast focus, longevity, and success.

But before you use the 4 C’s, I think you need to ask yourself why you want to record in the first place. Establishing your own why will give you meaning and purpose that focused branding, expensive recording gear, a slick website, and strong social media presence simply can’t deliver.*

Five years ago, I started AudioShocker.com with Neal Shyam because we had something we wanted to say. We felt a strong pull to share our opinions on pop culture. However naive, we believed that our criticism needed to be heard and we were eager to give it.

While my why has evolved over the years from pushing opinions to exploring taste to interacting with other passionate and creative people, one thing has remained consistent — I’ve always had a reason for podcasting, something driving me to keep producing new episodes.

I hope you’ll take a moment to ask yourself why before you join my session this Saturday. I promise you’ll get something out of the self-exploration and it’ll make podcasting all that more rewarding.

*By the way, you don’t have to have all of those fancy elements to succeed as a podcaster. I record at home with a cheap pair of headphones and my laptop’s built-in mic using a TV tray as a desk. The important thing is I’ve got a why, my podcasts sound good, and I’m having fun.

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