Should you podcast alone, or get a cohost? Cohosts can make some things easier, some things harder. Here's help you to pick what's right for your podcasting.
Potential benefits podcasting with a cohost
First, let's focus on the positives, and probably the reasons you're thinking of podcasting with a cohost.
1. A cohost can bring additional content and perspective
Unless you have a mental clone, another person on your podcast will have a different perspective from different experience. This could be in small areas like seeing something you missed, or in big areas like holding a drastically different set of beliefs.
This variety brings more ideas and a more thorough approach to content.
For example, one of our ONCE podcast cohosts studied Greek mythology. When the Once Upon a Time TV show had a story arc deep in Greek mythology, she brought fantastic expertise and perspective to our conversations! What would have taken me time to research and understand (if I even recognized things), she was able to explain from the knowledge she already had.
2. A cohost can create dialogue
It takes a lot of intentional practice and personal development to monologue well. But even when you're good at talking by yourself, energy can be missing. For example, comedy is a lot easier when there's someone else to laugh at your story or punchline. Without that instant feedback, your timing could be all wrong or you may undermine your own comedy (such as with an “uh” while you wait for the joke to hit).
Monologues aren't bad. But dialogues can be a whole lot more authentic and personable. Thus, they can be more entertaining or more engaging for your audience.
Dialogues can also help your audience feel more represented. Your cohost could ask you the same questions your audience might be asking.
When I did my epic 10th-anniversary podcast episode (#301) with my wife, Jenny, I first imagined it being an interview with her asking me questions. But when we sat and recorded for nearly six hours (often interrupted by Noodle Baby), I feel like my stories became a whole lot more conversational, even though Jenny spoke actually very little in that episode. Simply her being there and being part of the conversation made it a whole lot more natural.
A lecture-style podcast, like The Audacity to Podcast, is not the only way to teach. You can teach through dialogue or even a shared presentation.
3. A cohost can share podcasting responsibilities
I think a lot of starting podcasters don't have realistic expectations for how much work creating and growing a successful podcast can take. Most of us can't simply record and publish in a single sitting with no other overhead. Podcasting effectively takes planning, preparing, presenting, producing, publishing, and promoting (episode 165).
I already covered an aspect of sharing the presentation responsibilities, but a cohost can also help in potentially three other important parts:
- Preparation: Collaborate on your content before you record. You bring some of the content, and your cohost brings the other content. You can segment this however works best for you.
- Production: Your cohost might have the skills to edit your audio or video, write your show notes, capture sound clips or screenshots, or design images to make your podcast better.
- Promotion: Having multiple people participating in your podcast means potentially double the reach to your existing and potential audience. You can both share the latest episodes on your personal accounts and take turns engaging in relevant communities.
4. A cohost can help with consistency
Many experts across many fields agree that consistency is one of the most important things to building influence and relationships. And your podcast is no exception.
It's much easier to be consistent when you have a cohost. This is probably because there seems to be a lot more tangible reward or penalty associated with your consistency. For example, if you and your cohost have a weekly schedule, then you know you have to be ready when you connect with each other.
And because you and your cohost (or cohosts) share the burdens of your podcast (whether it's some of the workflow responsibilities, or simply bringing content to each episode), it means it's easier for you since you're not taking the whole burden yourself.
Potential disadvantages podcasting with a cohost
Working with cohosts is not without potential disadvantages. These may be avoided with proper planning and agreements, but they should certainly be handled agreeably between you and your cohost.
1. A cohost can complicate things
Schedule, ownership, responsibilities, and especially money can all get complicated when more than one person is involved in your podcast. For example, who owns the podcast if one of you wants to quit? Who has to pay the bills and who gets to keep how much of any money that comes in? Who has to take responsibility if certain things go wrong?
You should listen to “10 tips for podcasting with cohosts” (episode 114) for ideas on how to prevent or handle such complications.
Having a cohost can also complicate your podcasting technology requirements, whether they're in your studio or remote.
2. A cohost can bring down your podcast
If you don't have sufficient agreements in place, it's possible falling out with your cohost could result in the death of your podcast.
But even before a show's death, if a cohost isn't doing their job well or isn't bringing their best to the microphone, your episodes and your audience could suffer. I've seen cohosts kill humor, stop a good flow, and pull the conversation into negativity.
3. A cohost can distract you
While it's true a cohost can help remove distractions so you can focus on the podcast—whether they're sharing responsibilities or they're carrying the conversation in an episode while you're doing something else—they can also distract you.
For example, you may have a lesson you want to share, but your cohost keeps interjecting thoughts or contradicting your information. There is certainly a time for that, but if that moment is the wrong time, then it can become a major distraction for you and your audience.
You or your cohost could also have issues outside that podcast that may creep into the episode (and thus bring it down, as with the previous point), or that looms over you and distracts either of you from performing. I remember a couple times I had a personal issue with a cohost and that hurt our on-mic performance.
4. A cohost might not be a good podcaster
You may be a seasoned podcaster: you have good mic technique, you know how to tell a good story, you know what your audience wants, you're focused on improving your podcast by being in Podcasters' Society, and you're skilled with all your podcasting tools. But your cohost might be none of those things.
What makes a good friend or business associate doesn't always make a good cohost. You do need a good dynamic with each other, but they might be lacking necessary skills to be a good cohost.
For example, they might be horrible with technology and thus always mess up some aspect of the audio quality. Or maybe they're not good at speaking to an audience, so their funny story or interesting insight might not be easy to understand.
The good thing is all this can be learned! You can find tools to simplify your process (even if it means sacrificing a little quality). You can help them improve their microphone technique. And you can help guide (or even edit) the conversation so it communicates well.
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
- Louie Marsh, from the USA and host of Disciple Up, wrote, “… Daniel is a natural teacher and encourager and is open and honest with his audience. I've learned so much from him and can tell you for sure that my podcast, Disciple Up would not exist without his help. That help includes several personal e-mails he took the time to send me. He doesn't just share information, he cares about his audience as well and that really comes through.”
- Sean MacGuire (AKA “Godless Poutine”), from Canada and host of Share a Slice with Sean, wrote, “I first saw Daniel on YouTube reviewing mics and immediately discovered a wealth of good information. Now you could find this same information elsewhere but it's the crystal clear, warm and calm delivery Daniel uses which really encourages rather than overwhelms. I say overwhelm because that's how I felt with the adoption of my second son as newborn and the ongoing challenges with raising the first. I was still dealing with the pain of having to reset my expectations of releasing weekly or even twice monthly when I heard Daniels excellent episode on podcasting when life becomes unpredictable. I wish I had found the episode when I was struggling to get baby and first born to sleep and then sitting there too tired to work on the podcast and not having had the chance to talk with my wife the entire day! In short, fantastic podcast and extraordinary episode, Daniel. It raised my spirits.”
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