Every podcaster I know (including this guy) wants to grow their show. It doesn't matter if they run a gigantic show with hundreds of thousands of listeners; they want to grow their audience. It doesn't matter if they're a teeny-tiny show hyperfocused on one small corner of the world; there are always people the show hasn’t yet reached.
We all want to grow our shows’ audiences and we've all heard lots of ways -- some really great ways -- to make that happen. Build your audience first and then make a podcast that's specifically for them. Or the more difficult but perhaps more enjoyable effort of making the podcast you want and then trying to attract others who might care about what you’ve built. You can build on what other successful podcasts are doing, working hard to do it better or of a higher quality. You can get high-profile guests who will then share your show with their audience. And you can try to convince a very large show to have you on as a guest.
Or... you could solve someone's pain.
At Podfest Multimedia Expo 2020 in Orlando, which I’m freshly back from, I attended a panel discussion where several very successful niche podcasters -- all of them business-related -- were sharing the tips and techniques that made them successful.
During the Q&A portion, one of the panelists -- Joe Sanok from Practice of The Practice engaged in a dialog with an audience member who was struggling to grow their firm’s niche podcast. Joe asked a simple question of them:
“What pain does your podcast solve?”
Yes, that’s a clever statement that you might expect from a clinician. But it did the trick. There was a moment where everyone in the audience took a pause and considered the question. Me included.
When the person who asked the question gave their very good and specific answer, Joe asked another question:
“Is that the name of your podcast?”
A small chuckle spread through the room, but the person with the question agreed that, yeah… maybe that should be the name of their show.
Branding aside, that exchange got me to thinking: what pain does this podcast solve?
Which should lead you to think: what pain does your podcast solve?
Initially, you might assume that not all podcasts are designed to solve pains. I know I did. But when you look a little bit deeper, maybe that’s incorrect. Because even if you make a show that’s just there to provide some levity and entertainment to your listeners, maybe that's enough temporary pain-removal for them. Many people need an escape from their very stressful lives.
Clearly, the more focused your show is, the easier it is to understand your own answer to that question. The advice came from a guy with a podcast and a podcast network designed to solve the problems of clinicians in private practice, which is quite specific. But as a focusing device, I think we can all benefit from asking ourselves the same question.
Here's a challenge you might be facing if you are one of my listeners with a very successful show. For you and your show, things are going well and perhaps your show or your network doesn’t really solve pain, but they're all really successful. So why change?
I get it. And as much as I love change for the sake of change, you have to be very careful when you start making whimsical changes to your livelihood just ‘cuz some yokel on the internet told you to do it.
But… keep in mind that the podcast you're doing today likely isn't the podcast you’ll do for the rest of your life. Maybe if your current show is successful, maybe you could start another one that does focus more on solving pain. You can probably grow that podcast much faster because you already have a platform (hello, network-effect) of people interested in your topic. Some of them would probably love to have more related content that’s highly focused on their pains.
So how does your podcast solve pain? What pains do you solve with your podcast? These are interesting questions causing me to re-examine what I am doing with these episodes. Because while I think I do solve some pains, I think that could be better at being more focused on solving pains faced by working podcasters like you.
So I'm going to try and do that. I'm going to try to be more focused on solving the pains of working podcasters in future episodes. That's going to have some impact on this show. But it also means there might be more podcasts coming. Stay tuned.
This is a good question to bring to your podcasting compatriots. Podcasters tend to run in tight circles, in my experience. And while most of our conversations are either light or super-specific, sometimes asking these larger, more ethereal questions is healthy. So the next time you get together, either in person or on a Slack channel, ask your podcasting buddies what pains they solve with their podcasts. Tell them you got the idea for the question from this episode of Podcast Pontifications and ask if they heard it as well.
And also, I’d love to hear how your podcasting efforts are solving pain. Even if you think that’s not what you do. Leave me a comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.