Here’s a really bad podcasting strategy
Start your podcast, then get quite a few listeners, and stop podcasting. If it sounds really weird, that’s exactly what we did at Psychotactics. Back in 2006 or so, I started a podcast and it was nothing more than reading out the articles that I had on my website. There was no strategy.
Still, clients wanted to listen to the articles in an audio format and so in about 3 years, we got about 600 downloads per episode. Then I got bored, Apple changed something in their policy and I just gave up on podcasting.
I woke up back again in 2014
Apparently everyone had read their “how to start a podcast” primer and were well on their way. And I did feel like a proper dunce having stopped, only to start again, but I did realise what I’d done wrong the first time around.
I’d not set myself a “when do I give up?” timeline
This is the mistake many of us tend to make when we’re starting out a project. We’ll go online and look up everything we can find about podcasting and then we’ll want to go to some conference or some course. But we’ll fail to deal with the main question. And that question is: How long am I going to podcast before I give up?
Yup, that’s the first thing you need to know before you get started in this whole podcast shenanigan. Before you try to figure out anything else at all, you need to know when you’re going to give up.
I should know. I started, did mildly well and I stopped
And believe me, you’re going to stop too. You’ll think podcasting is a great idea, but then trouble will leap up from around the corner and you’ll decide to give up.
When you look at your timeline and realise that you’re going to be podcasting from now for the next 10 years, you’ll start making plans. You'll start working out what you’re going to drop, what you’re going to have to do, and how to move forward because 10 years is a verrrrrrry long time.
So we’re on board yet?
Maybe you’re not ready for 10 years, but you can’t give it a year. Or two years. The core is to have this long term podcasting strategy in place because it sure gives you perspective. You’ve read about those 200-year plans they have in Japan, right? Well, you can discount that by 95% and you’ll still be as good as gold.
Ok, so you’re in it for the next 5-10 years. What next?
We have our “give up by” date and now it’s time for a topic. You’ve got a few options here:
- You can create your own content—fresh and ready to go
- You can get someone else’s content.
Let’s start out with the “create your own content” stuff
Back in 2006 or so, I just read my own articles. But you already know that. As you’d expect, I was reasonably hopeless, even at reading. I tried to put on this interesting voice and it wasn’t until much later that I got any good at reading. Even so, the early versions of the podcast were something I’d rather forget.
However, it’s something you can do. If you already have content, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel at all. All you need to do is have an intro and outro (and we’ll cover that later) and you’re good to go.
Just one little bit of advice
You’re going to need a fair bit of content, and even if you publish once a week, you’re going to need enough for a long time. So somewhere down the line, your “we need more content” alarm will go off and you’ll have to write some more.
I’m a crazy guy. I like to create a lot of new stuff and I call it stuff because sometimes it stuffs me up. It’s fun for me, but it may not be fun for you at all. Hence, it’s best you choose the second option: using someone else’s content.
Someone else’s content is pretty cool
Let’s say you want to start up a podcast on leadership. You don’t have to know squat about leadership. You just have to be able to contact enough people who’ve written books on leadership. You know where to find these books, don’t you? Yes, Amazon is full of them. So now you have an author with all the knowledge and all you have to do is interview them.
People make it sound like “the interview” is like nothing, but it can be terrifying. It’s likely that you’re going to be out of your depth for a while. Maybe 40 or 50 interviews, but eventually by the 51st interview, you’ll settle in and you’ll be far more comfortable.
Ok, so we’re clear, well, sorta…
- This podcast business needs a bit of “when to quit” deadline. With the deadline in place, you’re going to soldier on when it rains, when Hurricane Possum heads your way, even if it means pouring a nice glass of wine and moving forward.
- You’re going to need your own content (and we’ll go deeper into this in future posts). If you already have a ton of articles, you’ll get a chance to read them out. You just need a bit of tidying up and you should be ready to go. If you’re not feeling that brave, then you’ve got to create the content. This is what I do every week with my current podcast (yes, the one I started in 2014). It’s all fancy with music and scripting etc.But please don’t start comparing. You need to start really basic and work yourself up. 10 years is a long time and you’ll get better in about 40-50 episodes. This, as you’ve figured out is a year of podcasts, if you run it on a weekly basis.
- If you’re keen on harvesting someone else’s knowledge, head right to your topic of choice. Believe me you need to know nothing about the topic. Now if you’re interviewing someone about CSS or InDesign tables, maybe a decent knowledge will help. But if you’re just working on personality development, leadership, writing etc. you’re already more than qualified. Even if you don’t think so, you’ll be fine in about 50 episodes.
And yes, we’re done, aren’t we?
That’s Podcasting 101, Advice 001. Let’s move to the next point.
We really should start with “how to create your own content” and dig into it, but let’s come back to that later. It’s harder, believe me. It’s easier to go to Amazon land and you’ll learn a ton of stuff when you interview others. Plus you make connections. Ooh, wait, I’m giving away the good stuff already, aren’t I?
Let’s keep it under wraps until the next time where we look at the tiny little time-saving secret when starting an interview podcast.
P.S. I’m pretty bright but I didn’t realise one thing. This could be a series by itself in a podcast, couldn’t it? Ooh, ooh, I’m going to have to pour myself some nice, red wine. Full bodied. I have just the thing in mind!
Dave Jackson says
For the “when do I give up?” shouldn’t be a “give up,” but when do I “change the recipe.” The only sure fire way to make your download numbers take a dive is to quit. You also need to define what “success” is. Is it making a living with your podcast? Have fun as only about 8% of podcasters can pull that off (and they typically are celebrities). But if you’re having fun, and enjoying it, keep going. There are times when your goals, and timelines won’t add up. Some will quit, but my first instinct would be to change the recipe, not throw in the towel.
Sean D'Souza says
This is great advice, Dave. And I’ll want to feature some that changed the recipe. That would make a good podcast in itself.
Kitty Kilian says
How about adding a ‘go to next podcast post’ button under each post? 😉
Sean D'Souza says
Good point. When I wrote this, it was the first one, but now that I’m turning them out regularly, I’ll go back and put that link to the next “podcast post”. Thanks, Kitty.
bill calhoun says
As media has become more visual, should we offer our audience viewing and listening options?
Sean D'Souza says
Not really. Podcast listeners especially like the fact that they don’t have to look at anything. For instance, when I write the posts in this series, I also draw the cartoons. I don’t want to see anything. I want to listen. It’s the same thing on the road. I want to listen. Anyway, talking heads are boring to watch. Unless your podcast has a lot of “animated movement”, you’re unlikely to keep the attention. It always foxes me that people record talking head podcasts.