Are you staying too safe with your podcasting efforts? As we—both as individual podcasters and as the podcasting industry—mature and grow it's quite natural that we, the podcasters making the content, want more.
We want to be in a different state than the one we currently occupy, ideally occupying a more advanced state. Perhaps you want to seriously embark on a growth plan for your podcast. Maybe you want to change up your format drastically. Or start a brand new show. You could even make a commitment to yourself to double-down and recommit to the craft of podcasting.
None of those state-changes is guaranteed to work out in your favor. And if you’ve never taken such actions before, you probably don’t know where to start. So you stick with known entities, mitigating your risk and assuaging your fears. Why blaze your own trail when so many other successful podcasters have done the same thing you want to do? Why not just copy what they did? It’ll all work out, right?
Popping Big Podcasing Bubbles
Having a big-name guest on your podcast—if your episodes feature guests—will not make your podcast popular. It might make that episode more popular than some of your others, especially if you make it easy for the guest to share. Oh, and make an episode worthy of their effort to share.
Starting a Tiktok, Instagram, or even Clubhouse account for your podcast will not make your podcast popular. Those may be the hot social properties today, but that doesn't mean your show is going to be popular on them.
If you follow the formula laid out by a podcasting superstar—a formula they swear they swear by—there’s no guarantee it will make your show popular. Yes, I know you spent your hard-earned cash on that course. And I know thousands of other ardent fans of that superstar podcaster also bought the same course. But sunk costs don’t care about your feelings.
Yes, you can buy the same mic I use, or buy the same audio interface I use to connect it to my computer. Many podcasters big and small use those or similar pieces of kit. And while it might make your audio quality better, it might not. And more to the point: New gear is not going to make your show popular.
What does? Many factors working in conjunction, many of which are difficult—if not impossible—to replicate. For every successful combination, there countless other combinations in place by other successful podcasters and podcasting teams. Combinations that are unknown to other podcasters and podcasting teams. So why not embrace the unknown just a bit?
Try out that social media platform that you're personally excited about. Grab that microphone you haven't used in a long time and get to know how your voice sounds on it. Stop measuring your guests by the size of their audience and instead bring on people you find interesting who you can have great conversations with.
Slaying Silly Superlatives
Do you want to know the best way to promote a podcast? There isn't one. There's no such thing as the best way to promote a podcast. There are lots of ways to promote a, and they all work to varying degrees.
Are you looking for the best podcast media hosting company? They don't exist. There are lots of fine podcast media hosting companies out there, and they all work for at least some of the podcasters relying on that infrastructure.
Looking for the best source for sound effects and music to use in your episodes? Once again, no single source is the best. There are many good places—some popular, some less so—that provide music and other audio elements to podcasters. And each of them has its adherents and its detractors.
Claiming anything as “the best” presumes comprehensive knowledge about all options. And that’s just not possible. Maintaining the mantle of “the best” requires reevaluation each time a new contender enters the space. Another impossible feat.
The podcasting ecosystem is always in flux, with new ideas and entrants coming to the stage—and exiting the stage—with increasing frequency. There is much we don’t know simply because it is impossible to know all things. So rather than sticking with what’s safe, sometimes we should embrace the unknown.
Podcasting Is Risky, And That’s OK
The funny thing about the risk vs reward payoff is that it’s true. No, I’m not saying every risk you take automatically comes with a reward. The truth I speak of is that reward is rarely seen without risk. How big of a reward? How big of a risk? That’s debatable. Or unknowable, I’d wager.
There’s only so much risk-mitigation you can do. Sometimes, podcasters need to take risks and just do what feels right. So do what feels right to you. Because the unique combination you bring to the table just may pay off.
Please don’t take this as your excuse to do foolish things. I’m a fan of best practices because there are many best practices. It’s not best practice, singular. That’s just silly. Best practices help you navigate trodden ground, showing you exactly where the traps are. They don’t tell you which way to go, but they do clearly say “don’t step here!”
Where and how you step is up to you, regardless of what paths others took. To stick with this tortured metaphor a bit longer, maybe you have an idea to build a bridge over a trap. Go for it!. Just because others haven’t tried it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Especially if it feels right to you.
There’s still a lot of unknowns out there in the podcasting world. Embrace it! Use best practices to help you easily avoid making dumb mistakes, but leave plenty of room for you to explore the unknown portions of the landscape. The only way to make a remarkable podcast that is uniquely yours is to, at least sometimes, embrace the unknown and find new ways forward.
If you like the things I said today and want to give me a little bit of support, great! BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra is where you can do that. (There are lots of services podcasters use to solicit direct support from their audience. All of them work for someone, just like BMAC works for me.)
And if you know a podcaster struggling with the unknown or who perhaps isn't taking their podcasting quite as seriously as you wish they would, send them this episode of Podcast Pontifications. Perhaps this is just the spark they need.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.