Maybe we're wrong about the importance of making podcast content evergreen. At least some of the time. And perhaps a lot more of the time than we think.
Podcast listeners are people, and people’s habits change throughout the year. Or perhaps put a better way, seasonal activities cause people’s habits to change. For a great many products people consume, seasonality plays a big role. We buy roughly the same amount of commodities—like toilet paper, for example—every month, regardless of the month. But for many other products, and especially specialty goods and services, consumption habits change significantly depending on the season.
Are you making a commodity podcast? Or is your podcast special?
No, It’s Not Times Up For Timeless Podcasts
For years, I've also followed conventional wisdom and advised my clients to make evergreen content wherever possible. We really can’t control when someone listens to an episode, so I counsel them to avoid mentioning dates when possible. Even try to not “time block” an episode by saying “last week” or “next month”. (Though I violate that last one all the time. Such is the nature of a daily podcast. Or a lazy host?)
Many podcasters are on the timeless episode kick because they know that Google is a primary discovery tool for many listeners, often serving up an episode’s webpage that’s months or sometimes years old because the content is recognized as superior. Having that filled with now-out-of-date dates makes for a less-than-stellar listener experience, so we try to keep the date-based speedbumps to a minimum.
And for a lot of knowledge-based podcasts designed to be relevant for years to come (like this show), that’s a solid plan that won’t change anytime soon.
But recently I’ve been thinking about what’s happening in my listeners’ lives when they aren’t listening to my podcast, and how much they are impacted by the seasonality of the world around them. Should I consider that seasonal/cyclical nature when I’m planning episodes? More to the point: should you?
In reality, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all-podcasts answer. For some shows, there may be no obvious correlation between the seasonality of the outside world and the content they produce. Looking at monthly download stats for your show probably won’t help either, as there are too many other factors at play.
But before you make the assumption “Nah, bro. I’m evergreen and I’m good,” take a moment to read through these possible examples and see if your opinion changes.
Changing Your Format To Reflect The Change In Seasons
For this one, let’s pretend you have a show about a specific sport or a specific sports team. Sports—at least all the ones I can think of—are markedly seasonal. So too are the attitudes and consumption habits of the most ardent fans of that sport or team.
(Nota bene for the sports-haters out there: Switch to the example of an in-production TV show that releases every week. For TV haters… I got nothin’. Use your imagination, I guess?)
So why not plan your show around the season?
During the playing season, you absolutely should talk about what happened last night or last week, filling your episodes with dated content and releasing episodes on a cadence that fits with your audience’s consumption habits of that sport. Probably at least weekly.
When the regular season is over, switch up your episodes to cover relevant post-season content, even if your team didn’t make the cut. Do a big episode the day (or week) after “The Big Game” that. You may need to change your frequency of release up or down depending on the games.
During the off-season, consider switching your format entirely. Perhaps you could do deep-dives or profiles on particular standout players from the prior season. It’s likely those episodes produced during the off-season would have yet another different release schedule. Some fans need a break in their rabid fandom, after all.
When pre-season begins, kick back up the release frequency to coincide with more interest in the team or sport. And when the real season begins, you’ll probably be back to your original release frequency, filling your content once again with what happened last night or last week.
Taking that approach leads to a pretty obvious packaging of those episodes into distinct seasons of your podcast. And that season—off-season to pre-season to post-season—makes for a very nice time capsule for that team or sport. I assure you there’s a long list of Los Angeles Kings fans who would love to relive the year that led up to their Stanley Cup win in 2012.
Location-based podcasts could do something similar. Looking back on my time when I was the co-host of the Bangkok Podcast (hi, Greg and Ed!), we probably missed an opportunity to embrace the seasonality of that city. But we tried to keep most of our episodes evergreen since the show is less about traveling to Bangkok as a tourist—something that is quite seasonal—and more about living in Bangkok as an expat—which is year-round.
But we could have. We did a few episodes on various big events that happen in the city but in an evergreen way rather than making a Songkran 2017 retrospective episode, for example. We could have talked about the literal seasons—as in the weather—because Bangkok has weather seasons, believe it or not. But largely, we didn’t. I wonder if we should have?
Subtly Injecting Seasonal Content Into Your Podcast
Those examples are rather extreme and obvious. A good number of shows like those already do something similar that closely tracks the real seasonality of the topic they cover. But there’s a very good chance that even your show that you work hard to keep evergreen might be more impacted by seasonality than you think.
If you're doing a personal finance show and you're not talking about the tax season, that’s an obvious miss. Or perhaps you make a family-focused show and you've decided to not cover back-to-school content because you want to make evergreen content. That’s probably a mistake.
But it’s probably also a mistake to make wholesale changes to your show and episodes to try and track every possible season. I’m not suggesting you try that. But I am suggesting you take advantage of your hosting provider’s dynamic content insertion capabilities, which more and more are adding all the time.
Using DCI—dynamic content insertion—or whatever fancy name your hosting company calls it (AMIE on Captivate, DC on Buzzsprout, Clip Stitching on Shortwave), you can drop in seasonal bits while the season is active, and then later take them out when that season is over. All without impacting your main content.
Or maybe you should produce a full episode (or series of episodes) dedicated to that particular season, but designed to be short-lived. You could pull them from your feed after the season is over, relegating the content to a “bonus” section on your site or available on request. This keeps your feed evergreen. No speedbumps after the season is over!
Should You Stop Ignoring The Seasonal Influences On Your Podcast?
Probably, yeah. I think we all need to give this a deeper look. Which is hard to do from the inside looking out. You could use another opinion from someone who knows you, knows your show, and has a handle on the audience you’re trying to reach. And that person is a podcasting peer.
Send that person an email and ask for a brainstorming session on the topic where you help each other out. Include a link to this episode as a primer, then discuss how each of you might change up your show to keep it in line with the seasonal interest people probably have in the topic you cover on your show.
Do you love this idea? If so, please consider going to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and buying me a virtual coffee. Coffee is always in season— iced coffee, hot coffee… I’m easy!
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.