The Podcast Growth Phase of Planning is less about achieving and more about being able to consciously make choices that best suit what you need to do to hit your own goals.
As part of your planning process, focus on something that can be reviewed annually, every 6 months, or every quarter.
The most important aspect of this planning is being able to do a check-in, a debrief, a re-alignment with yourself, your work and your goals periodically throughout the year.
A successful plan requires you to check in on your progress and to assess whether what you’re doing to accomplish your goals is working.
The intention of the goal categories below is not to choose ALL OF THEM (although you can). It’s about finding the category that best reflects what you want from your work in podcasting and/or from your podcast in the coming year.
Each of the categories has ideas for specific goals and goal settings that you can take action on throughout the year. Each of them requires you to measure their impact and is aimed at cultivating podcast growth.
Podcast Growth Goal Categories — Elsie Style
Category 1: Outreach/Advocacy/Education
I wrote this blog post in 2017 and not much has changed. I’m quoting myself here:
The least amount of focus for most podcasters is on educating their potential listeners about how to consume their content. There is an expectation we have as podcasters that people will know exactly what to do and how to do it. Most of us do not explain what our podcast is about nor how to get it. We take it for granted that consuming audio content is ‘a thing.’ I hate to break it to you but, it’s not.
We need to create a culture of listening. This is imperative, especially since we know how much influence mainstream media has on our society and how visually slanted it is. We all need to take the responsibility of teaching people how to listen to podcasts – any podcast.
Here are a few steps to add to your outreach/community-building goals.
- Create or update tools for people to easily subscribe to your podcast. When you do that, center the non-listener. Don’t assume anything.
- Make a point of addressing the basics — what podcasting is and how to listen. The only blocker for a new listener might be figuring out how to consume your show.
- Lead a LOCAL workshop about the power of listening to a podcast or watching a podcast to inform and build community. EX. teaching parents about parenting podcasts, writers about writing podcasts, horror movie buffs about horror movie podcasts, etc.
- Connect with your local library/university/chamber of commerce. Tell the about your podcast and the benefits it can bring to the people that they serve.
Believe it or not, the way that I grew my first podcast was 100% through local, face-to-face advocacy for podcasting and for my podcast.
Category 2: Community!
Once your community starts to share your show with those in their circles, you’ve made it! IMO.
I’m also aware of how challenging it is to simply grow your community. It’s daunting and at times disheartening because it feels as if it’s never going to happen.
The following are tips to transform community goals into a task list that you can add to your podcast growth strategy and slowly see your community grow — a little bit at a time.
- Get to know 10 of your listeners’ first names every 3 months.
- Investigate what conversations resonate the most with your people in relevant communities and social media every month.
- Make sure your audience knows how to contact you consistently (email, Google Voice number, hashtags, private groups, etc.).
- Be energetically present to engage with your audience when you’re online (given your own boundaries).
Create a container that aligns with you so that growing a community is grounded in what works best for your own energy levels and well-being!
This is a process that you need to outline for yourself.
As you scale, the above will become more and more important. In fact, the bigger you get, the more you need to acknowledge what your position looks like for you.
Being able to sit down and determine exactly how much of you you can offer or have accessible to others — and in what capacity— is very important. Doing this and coming back to it will help you avoid growing pains.
I started this process by shifting my mindset around who I am: Elsie the person and Elsie the brand.
Over time, I have almost completely stepped away from being Elsie the person on social media and have been fiercely staying the course, presenting solely in a professional capacity online.
Occasionally I still share personal stuff, but it’s 100% intentional and in certain situations or online playgrounds.
Why? Because of my own values and my own personal well-being. For me, working and hanging out in the same space doesn’t jive. I need separation.
This does not mean that YOU need to do this. This means that you need to CHOOSE for yourself what is best for YOU!
Category 3: Podcast Growth
Why do we feel that …
IF SOMETHING CAN NOT BE MEASURED IT IS WORTHLESS.
WHEN DOES BEING ABLE TO MEASURE BECOME A LIABILITY? WHEN IS IT AN ASSET?
A multi-tiered, multi-faceted approach to measuring growth and success in podcasting is invaluable.
We also need to know how to discern what really matters for whatever end goal we are targeting.
It is insanely challenging to properly measure in the way that most other digital assets can be measured.
Here are my suggestions for data points to keep tabs on and measure monthly, quarterly or bi-yearly.
- Audience (client) feedback
- Connections (opportunities, access, skill building)
- Sales (conversions)
- Reach and influence (measure when people take action because of YOU)
- Platform growth (social media, email list, website traffic, etc.)
- Intuition — TRUST YOUR GUT ABOUT YOUR GROWTH. Don’t let numbers dissuade you if you sense that you are reaching more people OR are REALLY reaching people.
- All the happy (you being happy about your podcast and/or your work)!
Category 4: Content
Episode reviews! This is something that you can do for yourself periodically after you publish a show, especially for those of you that are working specifically on streamlining your content and your workflow.
The bullet points below were taken directly from Addy Saucedo’s awesome Podcast Planner.
Take a look at the totality of last year’s content. As you browse, hand-pick some of the episodes that you were the fondest of or just pick a few randomly.
Then, make note of:
- 3 things you liked best about this episode (or not)
- What struggles you experienced with this episode
- What steps can you take to reduce or eliminate those struggles
- How was this episode received by your audience? Any listener feedback?
- Final thoughts about this episode
Use your answers as a paradigm for developing new episodes that will appeal to your audience. Then, use your insights to streamline your workflow. Finally, use this knowledge total to make the following year easier and more exciting!
Category 5: Income
Do you think that you can hold off and head over to our upcoming blog post all about this? I think you can!
All this to say that yes, there is a category that is all about making money with your podcast and you need to make sure that you lay out exactly how you’re going to make that money.
To figure out how you’re going to make that money, take a look at how you made money this year, whether directly from your podcast or not.
- Digital Products
- Your job-job (many podcasters have a full-time gig and yes, add that to the mix if this is the main way that you make your money)
- Affiliate partnerships
- Speaking engagements
Remember, all of these avenues are opportunities you can pursue as you grow your podcast. If you’ve yet to earn any income directly from your podcast but want to add that to next year’s strategy. Pick a couple and really focus on those. We’ll talk more about money goals and how to attain them in phase 3.
You know what I am talking about. Exactly where you want to see your podcast go. Your idea of real podcast success. What are you looking to get out of all your dedication and devotion to your podcast?
And it might be that you are using your podcast as a step toward that Big Dream.
Write it/them down.
Return to the dream when you need a pat on the back or a push forward.
You can be your biggest inspiration.