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Ultimately, all of us will stop podcasting. You, me, and every other podcaster you know. On a long enough timescale, one day our audience will no longer be able to hear our voice. Perhaps forever. Or, less dramatically, perhaps for an extended period of time.
Given our druthers, we’d all probably prefer to let our audience know when that happens, whether or not we’re coming back. But how well are you prepared for that inevitable day? How much thought have you given to what you can do when the thing that you do you can do no more?
Broadly speaking, there are three approaches podcasters can take to help plan for this eventual reality.
1. Do Nothing
For the majority of podcasts, this is probably the correct approach, so it’s a good thing it’s also the default approach.
Real talk: Whatever has happened that is keeping you from talking to your audience is likely a Very Big Deal. A much bigger deal than, say, updating your podcast. You, and perhaps your family, need to focus on that Very Big Deal. If podcasting is just a hobby for you, or a way for you to explore your creative side, or some other less-than-critical aspect of your life—which describes the vast majority of podcasters—then I don’t think you should spend too many cycles thinking about this inevitability. Just keep on keepin’ on, until you can keep on no more.
2. Do Something
Something is better than nothing, right? And because you’re a podcaster, you likely know at least one other podcaster who could, in an extreme crisis, step up and post an episode on your behalf to let your audience know what’s happening. It won’t sound like it came from you, but that’s OK. The goal here is to inform the audience of the crisis, not just keep cranking out episodes.
But that assumes several things. Like that you've actually designated who that person is. A person who is familiar with your publishing platform and has access to your login credentials.
It also assumes your family and close friends who may not be podcasters know of your desire to contact said designated podcaster so they can update your audience. Have you connected your podcasting buddy to your non-podcasting family?
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3. Do Everything
That second option is rife with problems. Notably this: You very likely publish more than just audio episodes of your podcast. More to the point, a good portion of the people who consume your published content may rarely or never listen to your podcast.
It’s great that your family reached out to your designated podcaster who in turn published a quick episode to explain your absence. But what about your audience who prefers to watch the videos you publish on YouTube, be they full videos or short clips? Who’s going to post a video on your behalf to your watchers, assuming you aren’t auto publishing a video based on your audio?
What about your audience who prefers to read your articles created from your podcast episode? Articles you painstakingly write and flesh out with more information that just went into the audio. Who’s going to write an update to your readers, assuming you aren’t just publishing your in-app episode details to your website?
What about those who only but actively consume your newsletter content? Or those who eagerly await your reposts to Medium? Or the loyal following you’ve built who prefer the distilled Twitter threads you make from your episodes? Will you leave all of those people—an important part of your overall audience—in the dark about what’s going on with you?
If it sounds like I'm describing me and my processes, well I guess I am!
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Because in some ways, I'm really fortunate. I’m well connected to a lot of podcasters, so any number of them could push out an update quickly. My long-time production assistant (hi, Allie!) could update the places she already maintains on my behalf. And I use a fair amount of automation to push out notifications as things publish.
But a lot more of my process is manual. Worse, it’s completely undocumented and lives only in mah brainz. Not because it’s too complicated to write down. Because it’s too messy to write down.
There’s no reason I can’t document the process. I mean, I do the same thing day after day, so it will be straightforward to templatize/productize/processize. That seems like the logical next step to take, right?
Honestly, I doubt I will. I know me well enough to know that there are some things I know that I should do, but I will never do. Thanks to the therapist who helped me come to terms with that.
But I might, especially as my processes continue to refine. Maybe that’s a service we need in podcasting? Some sort of packaged crisis-communication offering?
How about you? If you podcast with a partner or as part of a larger organization, you’re probably at much less of a risk than we solo podcasters. But still, it’s something to consider.
And as you consider, please consider supporting the show, my articles, the posts I make on Twitter… all of it. PodcastPontifications.com/sponsor has some excellent options for you.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.