Blessed is the podcaster who harbors no doubts about their podcast, for they are truly a divine being. And a mythical being. Because, let's face it, we all have doubts about our podcast.
Doubts and suspicions about the content we make for public consumption are normal. We all have them. Even the most successful podcasters in the world have doubts about some aspects of the podcast episodes they're producing.
This gets back to imposter syndrome, which I've talked about previously on the program. Imposter syndrome is felt by every single human on the planet, with the possible exception of sociopaths or psychopaths. But assuming you're not one of those; you will face imposter syndrome. You're going to harbor doubts and suspicions that you are doing something wrong, or that some aspect of your podcast is not as perfect as you would like them to be.
Doubts Are Good. Shoulds Are Bad
When I speak of doubts and suspicions, I’m talking about specific aspects of your show. I am not speaking of vague and/or nebulous things you think you should be doing.
Should is a bad word. Should undermines your productivity and leads to depression. He said, speaking from experience. Yes, I used it in the subtitle of this article. But I only did so so I could have this quick aside.
If you can voice your doubts or suspicions in the form of a should, like “I really should be paying more attention to marketing”, that’s not a doubt or suspicion. That’s a should, and you really should stop using that word. It’s not helping. Let’s focus on real doubts and suspicions you can point to, not insidious mental traps.
Doubts About Your Podcast Are Quite Common
While the totality of doubts one might harbor about their podcast are far too many to list, here are a few common ones you might have heard that little voice inside your head harping about:
Episode length - If there’s one constant in podcasting, it’s the obsession over the ideal show length. Which is a garbage pursuit, you understand. I’m on record (many, many times) saying that a podcast episode should be as short as it can possibly be. But there’s a lot of room for interpretation there. It’s quite natural for you to have a sneaking suspicion that your podcast episodes are too long, and that you're losing people because of the time commitment you require of them. Or maybe the nagging suspicion is that your podcast episodes are too short, and that you’ve somehow edited out all of the humanity from your show.
Quality - Perhaps you doubt your ability to make episodes of a high enough quality to compete with other shows in your niche? You might have a nagging suspicion that you don't have the right equipment. Or that you're not using the equipment you do have properly. I could be that you’re concerned you're not spending enough time making each episode nice and polished.
Boring bits - It’s pretty common to have a nagging suspicion that your podcast’s episodes are boring. Either in totality or just certain segments or portions that drag on too long. So you worry that might be a turnoff for some of your audience (or your potential audience).
Running out of content - Podcasters new and old face all face the harsh reality of running out of things to talk about, people to talk to, or just having the energy to continue. Planning things out helps, but only to a point. And what are you going to do when you reach that point with your podcast?
Frequency - Is that little voice telling you that monthly episode releases are way too far apart? It’s probably right, but how will you find the time to make more content with your busy schedule? Or perhaps you’ve a nagging suspicion that putting out daily episodes is too much content for your audience - who are also busy - to consume?
Those are all valid suspicions that might be lurking in the back of your mind as a podcaster. That little voice may crop up when you're not thinking about your podcast. Or it may rear its ugly head when you deep in the throes of making your podcast, and you really wish it could go away.
We’ve all been there. Again, nagging suspicions and having doubts about your podcasting processes are normal and real. The healthy way to deal with them is not to squash them or ignore them, though there are plenty of people who advocate for that.
Instead, when these repetitive and nagging suspicions and doubts appear, give them voice.
Giving Voice To The Doubts You Have About Your Podcast
Giving voice means just that: talk about your doubts. To whom, you might ask. I’ve a few ideas.
Talk to your audience - It might feel natural for you to talk about those nagging suspicions on your show, sharing them with your audience. After all, your doubts might directly impact your audience. But I would exercise caution with this course of action. Anytime you ask your audience for feedback, it’s almost always only the hardcore fans who will reply. And hardcore fans always and only want one thing from a podcast: more. The desires expressed by your hardcore fans may not be in line with your vision for the show.
Talk to your peer group - If you don't have a collection of podcasters who you respect and are at least producing content tangentially related to your content, I highly recommend you cultivate one. Having regular (or irregular) contact with just three or four peers is huge. The benefits of having a good peer group where you (and they) can voice your concerns, tell them what’s keeping you up at night, and get reactions from cannot be overstressed. Start building one today.
Talk to an online group - Similar to the peer group, online communities can be good places to give voice to your doubts and suspicions. It’s quite possible - probable, even - that someone else has dealt with a similar issue and found a solution that worked for them. But I’m again going to exercise caution for you. Those who respond might have wildly different goals and experiences than yours. Or they have vastly different audiences or experience level. How valuable is advice from random, unvetted strangers who also happen to have a podcast?
Talk to the people who support you in real life - We all know how hard it is to get your friends and family to listen to your podcast. But even if they aren’t listeners, you can still turn to the support group that cares more about you than they care about your podcast. No, they won’t be much help when discussing optimal frequency or the more technical aspects of making a podcast. But they do better understand your psyche and might help you refocus on why you decided to make a podcast in the first place.
You might find talking to any (all ?) of these groups quite helpful. More importantly, you’ll likely find a healthy way to deal with the doubts you're having right now about your podcast.
If you do one thing after reading this article, let it be this: please tell one other podcaster about Podcast Pontifications. The only way this show grows is by word of mouth, specifically when working podcasters like yourself share the show with other working podcasters.
If you do two things after reading, let the second be a trip to BuyMeACoffee.com/EvoTerra where you finally take the plunge and become a member. Members get some perks, and it's a nice way to show me that you enjoy these philosophical deep dives into the future of podcasting that I deliver to you four days a week.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.