(By Dave Jackson) As I write this we are all a little stressed out as we self-quarantine ourselves. Podcasting can have its challenges, and I want to share some strategies to help you keep your sanity.
Don’t Worry About Things Out of Your Control
I feel for all the sports podcasters. Their subject has disappeared. It’s hard to talk about pre-season that never happened. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, why not ask yourself, “What does this situation enable me to do that I normally can’t do?”
I have an idea. You usually can’t get an athlete on your podcast because they are super busy. Well, not anymore. Consequently, Marcus Couch of the Chicago Bulls Podcast (bullspodcast.com/) was able to get some of the players on his show (what else are they going to do?).
You have no control over when sports come back (besides staying home, practicing social distancing, and washing your face). Nascar has turned to esports to entertain people. You could have one of those discussions that only sports fans love “Who is the greatest ___ (quarterback, pitcher, goalie) and let your audience go crazy.
Your Audience Wants You To Succeed
I was doing an interview last week, and someone had the sound of their kids come through the door. They had done what they could to get away from the extra noise in the house, but, well, you know… kids right?
Don’t sweat this. Have you watched Jimmy Fallon? Someone get that guy a USB Microphone. He is doing the Tonight Show using the built-in microphone on his laptop. His audio is horrible.
Here is the one thing that makes the COVID-19 pandemic special: we are ALL going through this together. I spoke with people this week from the US, the UK, Australia, and we are ALL going through the same thing. Consequently, when someone hears kids in the background of your show, they don’t mind because they just had to yell at their kids to be quiet. Your audience wants you to succeed. Do the best you can in these circumstances (which is what Jimmy Fallon is doing), and go to bed knowing you did all you could do.
Focus On Things That Make Your Show Better
Over the last few months, there have been some stories about the podcast industry. Some people were saying Spotify was more popular than Apple. Then someone else would say Apple was still the king. Now with the pandemic, one company has said download numbers are up, and other companies said they were down.
Do you know what download numbers matter? Yours. When it comes to focusing on items, it’s not Spotify, Apple, or the Podcast Academy; it’s your audience.
Sure, if an app is getting more popular, you want to make sure you’re in that directory. But if you’ve got half a brain and truly want to grow your audience, you are already listed in every directory. Consequently, who cares who is more popular? Your audience doesn’t care about it, so neither should you.
Get a zoom account (or any other group meeting platform) and invite your audience to join you (see podcasterhappyhour.com) and get to know them better. Ask them what they would like to hear in your podcast going forward. Ask them if they know of any potential guests they think would be a good fit for the show. Do you know what successful podcasts do? They deliver what the audience wants. Do you know how to find out what the audience wants? Ask. If two people show up, that is better than one. If nobody shows up, then you learned Thursday at 7 is not a good time. Keep swinging the bat. Keep pressing record.
Dig the Well Before Your Thirsty
When times get tough, you sometimes need an extra push to get you motivated. Many people think that motivation leads to action. I believe the other way around. When you take action, that boosts your confidence, which then gives you momentum.
One of the things I started doing is if I get a positive email or voicemail, or any kind of feedback (I do occasionally get a card in my P.O.Box) don’t just archive them into your Gmail. Make a label for them, or print them out. You want to make it easy to find these items in the future. Jordan Harbinger always says on his show (oddly enough named “The Jordan Harbinger Show”) to dig the well before you’re thirsty. Digging the well is what you are doing when you organize your feedback.
This way, when things that are out of control come along and make podcasting harder than it usually is, you can refer back to these items and see the people who get pleasure from your efforts. You can put some gas back in your tank.
Think About the Hardest Thing You’ve Ever Done
You’ve done hard things in the past as have I, and yet here we are still standing. In the same way that launching a podcast is not the hard part (getting people to listen is), I think overcoming the virus will be seen as the “easy part” of this period of time, and getting the economy back on track will be the tough part.
You’ve done hard things in the past and survived, and you will face hard things in the future. Things won’t get back to normal, cause we’ve probably learned some things during this time that we might implement going forward. We will return to what many people call “the new normal,” and you will be breathing, eating, sleeping, and podcasting.
Dave Jackson is a Hall of Fame podcast consultant who has been podcasting since 2005. He is the founder of the School of Podcasting where he helps you start your podcast and grow your influence. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org