Yesterday I went outside on my tiny little patio and smoked a pipe with 20 other people. No, none of those 20 people were on my patio. It’s tiny!
Earlier in the week, my friend Rachel wrote dozens of people tiny poems using a tiny typewriter. No, they weren't with her physically.
Last night, my friend Addy led a brainstorming session with lots of people attending. Though none of them were clustered in the same room.
In each of those cases, we used the live-video feature of Instagram. In my case, I set up a tripod on my tiny patio, started the live session, packed a pipe, and talked. Yes, about pipe smoking. But also about podcasting. And travel. And, obviously, how the pandemic is affecting me and the people who joined my virtual smoke-session.
It was a chance for me to have a conversation with people all around the world. A different conversation than I have 4x a week on my podcast. It was similar for Rachel and Addy, both of whom found creative ways to engage with their audience -- including friends and family -- at a distance.
The three of us didn’t invent this idea. You’ve probably seen or heard of other people doing similar live events, the number of which that is increasing as we find ourselves struggling to deal with the contained, home-bound, and socially isolated world we live in.
We're feeling that loss of connection as podcasters because we’re humans. And while we still get a jolt out of knowing people are listening to our podcasted content -- yes, they’re still listening -- many of us miss the connections we used to have with people other than those who listen to our podcasts.
Yesterday I suggested some ways you might want to modify your podcast to address the reality we face today. Because everybody is impacted by this pandemic. However, there are other ways you can acknowledge and accept COVID19 without changing the format of your podcast.
If you want to talk about how your niche industry has been impacted by the virus but aren’t ready to change your podcast to do so, think about producing content beyond your podcast.
If you feel the need to get deeper and have some real talk about super-important things that have little to do with your podcast, there are myriad ways you can do that without changing your podcast.
If you’re a business-focused podcaster who wants to show more of their human side, do it! And if you’re genuinely worried that it’s not right for your business-focused podcast, then do something else in addition to your business-focused podcast.
This new content doesn’t have to be live video. It’s a very popular format, but it's not everybody's cup of tea. This article you’re reading started life as a live video, so clearly the format makes sense for me. But it might not make sense for you.
So how about starting a newsletter? There are lots of free newsletter services. TinyLetter is one, and no, they're not a sponsor of the program. But if writing is your thing, it’s super-simple to get get a newsletter up and running.
Maybe it's time to launch a new Twitter account? And if not Twitter, then any social platform you’ve wanted to explore. Social platforms are all about connection, right?
And yes, I suppose you could start a brand new podcast if you wanted to. I mean, you already have the equipment, processes, and skills to do so.
It's really up to you. What's going to enable you to feel better as you connect with other people in a new way? And what is it that people want to get from you that they aren’t getting from your podcasting efforts currently? The sweet spot is at the intersection of that Venn diagram as you know.
But I don’t recommend obsessing over finding the biggest overlap possible. At least not in this case. In my example, I was on my patio smoking a pipe. I don’t really care how much commonality exists between my podcast listeners, the pipe-smoking community, and my face’s Instagram followers. I did that live virtual event for sheer pleasure. And I’ll probably do it again.
There are no rules around this. Addy did a better job of appealing to her biz-based audience with her brainstorming session. That's what she does. She's a planner. Doing a live planning session made sense for her (the most important aspect of this, I think). And it just so happened to make sense for her listeners. So tightly coupled or a more loose association… that’s up to you.
This is one of the rare times I’m going to tell you to not pay all that much attention to the listeners of your podcast. At least, don’t try to pay attention to all of them. Instead, niche down and think about the ones with whom you do share certain ideas and passions that might not be covered in your regular podcast.
Not that I’m suggesting you totally commit to a brand new media property that you have to build, grow, and market forever. That is not what you have to do.
Though… who knows? The world on the other side of this pandemic will look rather different than the world we have today. Perhaps you’ll discover a proclivity for another form of media that really takes off.
All I’m suggesting is that you just go try something new that's outside of your current podcasting efforts. You should absolutely let your podcast audience know you're doing this new thing and let them decide if they're interested in watching, listening, or reading to what you have to say. Not all of them will be, and that's fine. Also, reach out to your non-podcast-listening contacts like your friends and family. Let them in on the new thing that you're doing. They might like it and maybe become interested in that podcasting thing they’ve known you do but have been ignoring.
More importantly, it gets you getting out... without getting out. It gets you out in the world but in a new, virtual way. It allows you to stretch those content-creation muscles that you’ve built with your podcast. We podcasters have an advantage here. We're used to talking into a microphone and putting out content on a regular basis that resonates with people.
If this pandemic has you really down or has a segment of your community really down, think about ways you can address that without interrupting what you're doing with your podcast.
Would you please share this episode with another podcaster who you feel has something worthy of sharing beyond their podcast? You probably know some really talented podcasters who are funny, smart, or insightful in ways that go beyond their podcast. If you think they could mentally benefit (or mentally benefit others) by doing something beyond their podcast, please share this with them. Tell them got the idea from Podcast Pontifications and you’d love to see them add some clarity, brightness, or just plain silliness to the world, would you?
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.