How I started a podcast as a side hustle from home during the pandemic

  • Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
  • Due to the pandemic, Morin says many of her speaking engagements (which accounted for a major part of her salary) were either canceled or indefinitely postponed.
  • In order to pivot her business model, she began a new side hustle that she could do from home: a podcast about mental strength.
  • It doesn’t take fancy equipment to start your own podcast, Morin says. As long as you have a good idea and an inexpensive microphone, you’re good to go.
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As a mental strength trainer and an author, a large portion of my time is spent giving talks. I speak to audiences across the globe who want to become mentally stronger.

One week I might talk to a small group of private executives in Chicago, and the next I might speak at a tech conference in Silicon Valley.

In the pre-pandemic era, speaking engagements provided a major portion of my income

Along with the associated travel, they had always taken up much of my time. I usually gave about three talks a month.

When March 2020 rolled around, all of that changed, of course. My talks for April were originally postponed until fall. (Back then we thought there was still a chance we’d have live events within a few months.)

Some of my speaking engagements in May went virtual — so I was able to deliver them from the comfort of my living room. Rather than spend a few days traveling back and forth, my presentations now only required a couple of hours of my time.

By June, it was clear that live speaking engagements in front of large audiences were coming to a screeching halt for the foreseeable future. Many of my events were postponed for a full year.

Suddenly, my calendar had more time available than ever before.

The early days of quarantine came at an oddly convenient time. My publisher’s deadline for my next book — “13 Things Mentally Strong Kids Do” — was in early May. So the stay-at-home order coincided with the time I had already scheduled to write my book.

But once my book was finished, my schedule looked somewhat empty. Without the need to travel to speaking engagements, at least two weeks of my time were wide open every month.

With little certainty about when mass gatherings will be safely held again, I knew I had to pivot my business

I decided to create the “Mentally Strong People” podcast. Starting a podcast seemed like a natural fit, at least a professional fit. I’m an author and a speaker, so I have many things to say about mental strength.

I’ve always wanted to share other people’s stories as well. I want to know what helped them become mentally strong, the mistakes they made along the way, and what strategies continue to help them build mental strength.

As a therapist, I’m fascinated by other people’s stories. And as someone who has had their share of heartache (I lost my mom, my husband, and my father-in-law in a very short period of time), I have a personal interest in learning as much as I can about mental strength.

So I decided to host a show that would include a mixture of solo episodes and guest interviews. And while I knew nothing about hosting a podcast, I also knew I could learn.

In terms of an actual fit — in the physical sense — a podcast might not seem like such a good idea for my situation, as I live on a sailboat.

Turning a sailboat into a podcast studio was a bit of a challenge

I was determined to get the best audio quality possible, I wanted a professional setup.

I decided to just go for it by transforming a good portion of my living space into a floating podcast studio. Microphones and audio equipment take up quite a bit of room. The dining table doubles as my audio engineer’s work station. The living room couch has become my interview area.

I thought the background would look like a regular office when I do video interviews. I actually wasn’t planning on telling people where I was recording them. But to my surprise, many of my guests ask, “Are you on a boat?”  

The wood in the background combined with cabinet doors that have special latches on them are a giveaway to anyone familiar with the boating world.

For the most part, the floating podcast studio works pretty well. But there are some drawbacks. A windy day makes the boat move around a bit which makes video recordings a little interesting. And a rainy day can be loud when you’re trying to capture the best sound quality. Fortunately, my audio engineer likes a good challenge.

Initially, I thought the floating studio would be a temporary situation. When travel resumes, I can interview guests in person at a professional recording studio. But I have to say I like my sailboat studio, and a lot of my guests have even asked if they can come for an in-person interview on board sometime.

My business pivot may become more permanent than I imagined

It just might be one of those times when making a temporary shift out of necessity actually becomes a change I want to permanently adopt.

Of course, time will tell. The “Mentally Strong People” podcast launches in mid-September. But with several episodes ready to go, I have to say creating a podcast was more fun and less intimidating than I had imagined.

If you want to launch your own podcast, here’s how to get started

You can find a lot of information about podcasting by reading articles and books, taking online courses, and listening to podcasts that teach podcasting skills. In fact, there’s so much information that it can feel overwhelming. But podcasting doesn’t have to be all that complicated. 

Start with a good idea. Whether you want to sit down every week to dissect your favorite reality show on air, or you want to interview experts about your favorite subjects once a month, create a show that you’re excited about.

Listen to other podcasts and gather ideas about format options. Do you want to interview people? Have a co-host? Do solo episodes? Take questions from the audience? 

The rest isn’t all that hard. Pick a name for your show, get some cover art designed, and make a website if you don’t have one already.

As far as the technical aspects, you can start with a headset or inexpensive microphone that plugs into your laptop. There are plenty of companies who can edit your audio and assist you with distribution.

If you’re interested in making your podcast more of a business than a hobby, you can also monetize your show. From paid ads and sponsorships to premium episodes and listener donations, there are many ways to earn an income from your podcast.

So if you’re looking to pivot your business or you want a little side hustle income while you’re at home, it’s a great time to get in on the podcast action.

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