Every podcast is a promise. You, the podcaster, might not realize you made a promise. But as Jules reminds you; yes, you did. Or maybe you do realize it, but also recognize you might have strayed away from the promise you made.
Just by having a podcast and publishing episodes on an ongoing basis, promises are set. They may not be overt promises from your perspective. But the way you approach your topics, the tone of voice you use, and other subtle—and not so subtle—aspects of your episodes establish that promise as your passions and interests shine through.
But you must account for natural drift. You're not the same person you were when you produced your first episode. Or your 10th episode. Or your 380th episode. (👋) You change as a person. Your interests change. Your passions change. And when you, the person who is delivering the episodes, change, your podcast will also be changed.
By now, you know that I love change. I think change is good, natural, and necessary. We need to evolve to thrive, I truly believe.
Your audience is probably OK with change too. Natural shifts in the tone and style you bring to your podcast are more or less noticeable by your existing audience. Your current listeners may have been with you for some time. They all get to vote on whether or not they like those changes via the unsubscribe button (bad, but a reality) or by telling more people in their circle about your show (good, and you want more of that).
But what about your new listeners?
Overt Podcasting Promises Explored
New people to your podcast aren’t aware of what your show used to be like. They haven’t experienced the slow, gradual changes that have happened over time. Chances are, they’re coming in with a promise in their head. A promise you likely made and perhaps have forgotten about. A promise you made in text.
“Text? In an audio medium? How important can that be, Evo?”
In a word: very. In ~350 words...
Almost by definition, most of your podcast’s new subscribers will use a podcast listening app to handle the mechanics of subscribing. Right alongside that “subscribe” or “follow” button is a block of text that you wrote. Inside of that text are overt promises made that compel searchers or browsers to become subscribers or followers.
When’s the last time you reviewed that text and held those promises up against the episodes you’re making today?
Do you make available a media kit for your podcast? If so and you actively send it out on a frequent basis, you also likely update some of the stats and other data to keep it current. But what about the description of the show? It’s probably not a copy-and-paste from your show description, since the media kit serves a different purpose. But there are also promises there. Are they still current?
Many podcasters choose to outsource the writing of their in-app episode details (I refuse to call them “show notes”) or turn them over to a copywriter or someone with more time on their hands than you, the busy podcast host. When is the last time you reviewed those to make sure the tone and style of that text match the tone and style of your show?
How about the bios that live in your social media properties? Or the bios for the social media properties you established for your podcast? Do they still accurately establish promises your podcast can keep?
Savvy podcasters are making good use of newsletters, either to distribute their show (I do that) or as a part of their marketing plan. Most modern newsletters and email marketing platforms automatically send out emails to new subscribers. When is the last time you read through that to make sure the text is still in line with what you are delivering with your podcast today?
All of those—and more—establish promises with your listeners. Perhaps before they became a listener. But now they are listening. Are the episodes they are listening to living up to those promises?
Using Change To Plot A New Podcasting Course
Once more for the new people: Change is good. Change is great, even. Over time, it is quite natural for your show’s episodes to drift away from the initial promises you set. Still, no reasonable person likes to break promises, either intentionally or unbeknownst to them.
As you compare and contrast all of those promises made then with your show of today, you’ll realize something needs to change. I’m betting you like the podcast you’re making today, so an update of those promises is in order.
But maybe, after reexamining those promises you made, you realize that you’ve drifted away from your True North without realizing it. Perhaps that original promise you set is important to you, and you want to get back to it. Well… now you know.
You won’t know which to change—how you make your show or the promises you’ve made—until you check.
Whatever you decide, it’s important that you and your show live up to promises made. Your existing audience will appreciate it, and your brand new audience will get exactly what they expected. Win-win-win!
Tangent! Social Audio Is Still A Thing
Tonight, PHX Podcast Club is hosting a virtual happy hour on Clubhouse at 6:00 PM MT. This will be our first time getting together in almost a year. Thanks, COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, we had been meeting every third Thursday of the month in real life for dinner, drinks, and conversation. Tonight, we see how well that works in a virtual setting. And since we’re all podcasters, listeners, or people in and around Phoenix who are just podcast-curious, an audio-only platform seems a good idea. If you have an iOS device and are on Clubhouse, join us tonight!
Tomorrow, Friday, Jan 22, 2021 at 11:00 AM MT, I’ll host another Podcast Pontifications on Clubhouse event. No, I’m not recording the podcast live on Clubhouse. I don’t produce episodes of Podcast Pontifications on Friday. This is more of an open forum where we can discuss some of the concepts brought up on Podcast Pontifications. The podcast is pretty one-way, but the Clubhouse room is all about communication.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk together about empathy and podcasting on Clubhouse. 11:00 AM in PHX is 6:00 PM in London and 2:00 AM the next day in Hong Kong, so adjust your schedules accordingly.
And this coming Sunday at 9:00 AM PHX time (4:00 PM London, midnight Hong Kong), I'm hosting another Podcast Fiction Sunday on Clubhouse. It’s an open-forum room where listeners of podcast fiction can get together and talk about the shows we can't stop listening to, and maybe find a few new gems.
(Yes I know that’s a lot of real estate to devote to a platform that is invite-only and iOS-only. But social audio is here to stay, and it’s of obvious relevance to podcasting. So I’m going to stick with Clubhouse for a while.)
And as always, please go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra if you enjoyed the episode and toss a couple of shackles my way.
But most importantly, please tell another friend of yours who's into podcasting about Podcast Pontifications. My promise is to help working podcasters think of ways they can make podcasting better, and I appreciate you helping to spread the word.
I’ll see you—hear you, rather—on Clubhouse over the next few days. And if not; I shall be back doing this on Monday for yet another Podcast Pontifications.