February 7, 2013
For the past few days I've been gripped with uncertainty, confusion and occasionally terror as I dither over the next steps regarding my podcast, The Broad Experience. I've become increasingly irritated by the fact that I can't concentrate on it full time and give it the attention it deserves while I keep getting pulled away to freelance work. A professor of mine at CUNY told me at the end of last year the content part was good, but that I am not doing is enough on the business side. Guilty. This is what the entrepreneurial journalism course at CUNY (where I was this time last year) was all about - teaching journalists, who generally have arts brains, how to tackle the business side of producing and distributing their work - how to make money from it, in other words. Yet the business side still feels very unnatural to me, and, as with lots of things that scare us, I tend to put it off. Selling myself is still pure hell. I don't automatically think about 'models', 'strategy' and numbers the way my MBA friends do. The issue now is whether I hunker down for a period of time, forget scouting for or accepting freelance work and commit fully to The Broad Experience.
I might not be thinking so seriously about this option at all had it not been for a conversation last year with David Gerlach, producer of the podcast Blank on Blank. At one point he said casually, 'No one takes you seriously unless you're doing it full time.' That comment has kept popping up to haunt me. Part of me is petrified at the thought of doing the show and nothing else. Not just because of the zero income aspect, but because what I am doing is so hard, and concentrating on it full time would amplify that fact. Building an audience feels like trekking uphill with a backpack on, even though I've had the show distributed by WLRN in Miami and via the Women's International News Gathering Service. As my former colleague Nate DiMeo once said, 'audio never goes viral.' (By the way, Nate wrote last night's episode of NBC's Parks and Recreation, so he's not doing too badly.)
But the other part of me is excited at being able to focus on this one thing for the first time and potentially take it to the next level. So should I, as my friend and colleague Manoush Zomorodi put it last summer, abandon my cautious, hedging stance and go 'balls to the walls'?
I would have to put on my business hat (flimsy though it may be), have a plan, and spend every single day trying to push the show out to those I think would be ideal sponsors and/or partners, as well as make new episodes, all without any help whatsoever. How I wish I could hire a social media manager! I could no longer hide behind the excuse that I have other work to do. Because I wouldn't. I would only be doing this. So it's the sheer, unmitigated difficulty of the task ahead that unnerves me most. I'm not delighted at the prospect of failure, either, and what would come after that, but for now I can put those thoughts aside. It's the idea of the day-to-day slog in unfamiliar and uncomfortable terrain that I find so daunting.