Episode 295

Published on:

6th Sep 2021

Test Your Podcasting Tolerances

Podcasting isn't easy.

There's so much that goes into a quality podcast episode and that's before we even talk about the launch process, the marketing requirements and all of the pesky business "stuff" that goes into finding and managing sponsors, listener support and any other legal obligations you may have as you start to generate revenue.

It's why Captivate creates so much free educational content - anything that will help you to navigate the challenges of being a day-to-day podcaster is worth doing.

Podcasting is just podcasting, right?

"Podfade" is the term that people use to describe a podcast that started producing and then faded out.

First and foremost, I want to be clear that that's alright - this is podcasting, not life and death so please ignore anyone being grumpy or telling you that it's wrong to "podfade". There are some angry people out there with access to keyboards.

I say that not to be flippant, but so that you know that it's ok for podcasting to not be your whole life. Maybe it's a hobby - heck, I have hobby podcasts that get about 1/3 of the effort that this one does but that I love doing - maybe it's something that you do for other reasons than making money or a business.

In short: podcasting is just a *thing* that people do for different reasons and it's ok to put as much or as little into it as you want as long as the expectations of what you'll get "back" from podcasting are aligned to how much you put in.

You won't earn a passive living and retire to a beach through podcasting if you spend an hour conducting templated interviews and "automating" every piece of marketing that you do for your show because some guru told you that you can podcast in one hour per week.

But, you can make a really good living in the podcasting industry by treating it as a job. 

Or you can have a really great time in podcasting by understanding that you don't want it to be a job - much like me with playing my bass, going out with my camera or playing golf; I love them all but understand that I don't want to make a living doing them and so, if I have a week off playing golf, that's ok - no one is going to angrily tweet me about "golfading" or tell me that because I've only played one round of golf that I should be kicked off all golfing platforms and stop contributing to the number of "dead" golfers that make up the vast majority of the industry.

Doesn't it sound silly when you say it out loud?

One of the challenges with podcasting and in fact, with any other hobby or career path, is that the thing you "do" doesn't always articulate the depth or detail of the things that must be "done" in order to "do" it.

For example, "podcasting" is fun and easier than it has ever been but the thing that people associate with podcasting the most is sitting down to record and then seeing that recording on a podcast app for people to listen to.

In reality, though, there are so many more nuanced activities that go into a podcast's production and although you might love "podcasting", you don't have to like every act that you must undertake in order to be a podcaster.

Without understanding that concept you're at more risk, in my opinion, of "podfading", especially if the things that you don't like to do outweigh the things that you love to do.

Test your podcasting tolerances to keep publishing and start growing.

There's no point doing things that you don't like unless you simply must do them.

That applies in business and in life, in my view, but in podcasting we often have more control over these things than we would if we were trying to avoid doing the laundry which of course, I never ever do. I love doing laundry. Honestly. No, really.

What the heck am I talking about?

Let's think about some of the things that may go into producing an episode of your podcast:

  • Planning the episode
  • Recording the episode
  • Editing the episode
  • Writing the episode notes
  • Creating episode art
  • Publishing to Captivate (other podcast hosts exist, believe it or not)
  • Creating promotional artwork
  • Publishing to your website
  • Writing some tweets about your episode
  • Scheduling them
  • Doing those to things for Instagram...
  • ...oh and Facebook...
  • ...wait, LinkedIn too...
  • Emailing your guest to say their episode is live (if you interview guests you might do extra research, too)
  • Writing and sending an email to your email list about the new episode

There's SO much to do for each episode and while you can automate some of it, it's rarely as good as doing it manually yourself.

Is it any wonder that podcasters "podfade" or that there's no time for other types of new listener acquisition marketing when you're swimming upstream just to get an episode out?

This easy hobby or automatable (is that a word?) new business content channel is suddenly much harder than the $97 course from that guru told you it would be!

So what do you do?

Do you stop producing? Maybe.

Do you outsource? Maybe, if you have the resource to do so.

Do you just not do some of those things? Maybe, after all, it's better to focus than to spread too thin.

At this point it's about the time to dig into some business strategy around finding out what's important to your podcast, doubling down on that and forgoing everything else. Or maybe we should talk about how it's vital to "grind" and "hustle" because nothing comes easy.

Blah blah blah. I'm not here to sell you a business course.

I'm here to help you to enjoy podcasting because when you enjoy something, you want to get better - you enjoy the getting better - and you start to see traction through simply enjoying podcasting because you get better at it.

I've seen it countless times: podcasters worrying about doing everything perfectly because if your forty-two paragraph in-depth show notes don't show up properly in every podcast app or if you aren't giving your listeners an entire transcript then you're not a "serious podcaster".

I've also seen countless times the number of podcasters who fell in love again with the medium the second that they let go of all that seriousness and saw podcasting for what it is to them again: a hobby that they're serious about but that they don't want to feel overwhelmed by.

Here's the truth: you can only do what you can do and I'd rather that you kept creating than stopped creating because the obligations that you have as a creator increase week-on-week.

Should we do everything as podcasters? Sure, it'd be lovely to and if your job is to podcast then you really should spend all of your time on creating the best eco-system, all-round experience and content for your show. 

But as a hobbyist or someone taking podcasting a little more seriously than a playground but not too serious that they'd cancel going to their kid's soccer match to do it (don't ever do that), you should do whatever you can to keep going.

What you should do.

If you're struggling to stay on top of things when it comes to your podcast then you should consider what your tolerances are.

These may be time tolerances or they may be task tolerances.

You don't like every part of the podcasting process and even those bits that you do like, you don't like in equal measure. I don't either.

For example, I don't like editing that much.

I like doing it to a degree, but I only have a tolerance for doing it for about 15 minutes and don't care too much about learning every possible facet of audio production.

My solution: write out my episodes in email form first, which I know will be around 15-25 minutes long, then record them as audio using that "script" so that the editing is absolutely minimal.

I also don't like posting my episodes to Instagram anymore. I think it's a bad platform for podcasting and don't like spending time creating audiograms or images for each episode for very little return.

My solution: don't use Instagram for my podcast and instead focus on what I do enjoy using, Twitter.

Some podcast coach somewhere would tell me that both things weren't amazing. That I should "be everywhere" and that if I'm not deleting every audible breath from my episode that I'm a bad podcaster.

That's ok, they'd just have to give me a refund for being a crap coach.

A really great exercise is to sit down for ten minutes with a pen and paper and draw a table with three columns: "Things I like doing", "Things I hate doing", "Things I like doing but that take too long".

Grab a cuppa and think through every facet of your podcast production and marketing workflow, assigning every single task to one of the columns mentioned above.

It's a simple exercise but it's really going to force you to be honest about what your podcasting tolerances are and, because those headers are really specifically set up, it'll help you to gain a clear picture of what you should carry on with, what you should do if you get extra time and what you should sack straight off.

This isn't like business where, very often, you have to focus on the things that are important versus those that are interesting (with more integral tasks forming a baseline for your admin time) - this is your podcasting life, it's alright to do what you like to do and not do the things that you dread.

Sure, if "record my voice" is in the "hate" column then we have a problem, but usually, it'll be things like editing or writing episode notes or scheduling social media that are in there and because there's no "Things I don't mind doing" column (because you end up being indecisive with a column like that, everything goes in there) you can't hide from the demarcation between tasks.

Once you've defined your list you simply stick to the things that you like and, as long as you can, ignore the things that you hate.

This may slow down your audience growth, especially if "marketing" is in the "hate" channel but I'd rather you had something to market because you've focussed on the parts that you like and enjoy podcasting again and kept creating.

If you do that, you'll get better at it and it'll take less time to produce brilliant content and so, with any spare time that this creates, you'll be able to either do some of those "Things I like but that take too long" or you can study some of the things that you hate.

If that's marketing, for example, then confidence comes through competence - an hour spent learning SEO basics will make you feel more confident and so you'll hate it less and that will only perpetuate the more of it that you do.

The fun thing about this is that it keeps you producing and it keeps you enjoying podcasting but it also gives you a really simple outsourcing task list, too, if you ever get to the point that you want to hire a VA or someone to help with your show - the "hate" list is the place to start.

Podcasting is easy but being a podcaster is hard. I'd rather you carry on doing the minimum and focussing purely on your content being amazing than trying to do everything and feeling overwhelmed, especially if you don't have the tolerance for some of the tasks that you have to do as a fully rounded podcaster.

Just do your thing. Connect with your audience through your content, make that your sole focus and don't sweat the other things - the things that you just have no tolerance for.

And if anyone tells you you're wrong for doing that, send them my way.

Your next steps

I teach podcasting a lot, and usually for free. So, here's what I'd recommend you do next:

P.S. you can start engaging with your listeners using AWeber. It's free, no credit card required: Mark.Live/Email

Mentioned in this episode:

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Known as "That British Podcast Guy", Mark is one of the United Kingdom's original podcasting experts. He is Managing Director & co-founder of podcast hosting, analytics & monetisation platform Captivate.fm which was acquired by Global in 2021 and is known worldwide as an insightful, thought provoking and actionable podcast industry keynote speaker.

Mark has educated on podcasting and delivered thought leadership at events including Podcast Movement, Podfest, Harvard's "Sound Education" and many more.

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