Certain seasons during the year the world takes time off.
For example, as we head toward the end of the year, it’s holiday time! Many people take time off the last two weeks of the calendar year to be with family and friends.
In many parts of the world, one to three months out of the year is vacation season, where again, individuals and/or families choose to take time off — weeks to months away from day-to-day activities.
For podcasters, it’s a little bit different as for many of us podcasting is a way to take time off for ourselves.
Another curious thing about podcasting is that there seems to be a perceived understanding that podcasts are always on. We get great satisfaction in consistently getting episodes out, regardless of what’s happening culturally in the world or personally in our lives.
I get that.
Especially because growing an audience for our shows is the number one goal for many podcasters, and much of the advice out there is to be consistent.
And that is solid advice.
But not to the detriment of your ability to keep podcasting.
I’m here to give you some tried-and-true, simple steps to take when you need to take time off, either to take care of yourself or to deal with unexpected life circumstances.
Keeping listeners on board during time off
Growing an audience is challenging. It’s one of our biggest struggles, but if you prepare your listeners for a break, they’ll get it. They’re human. They’ll understand. So …
Teach your audience what to expect.
Your audience responds to you, that’s why they listen. The culture and community that you worked so hard to build WANT you to keep going and succeed. They are on your side.
You’ve worked hard to create an empathetic, devoted podcast community and now you need to ask for a little of that in return.
Your listeners will respect that you make taking care of yourself a priority.
Most importantly, if they know ahead of time that for two weeks you will be out of circulation, they won’t be disappointed.
Help them keep connected to you by leading them to your archives, and pointing them to your social channels. Sometimes a post or two on social media will be enough to keep you top of mind with your people.
Celebrate the special!
Get creative. Make your absence something special. Think about trying these affirming activities.
- Plan a special end-of-year event with your community (if you are breaking for the holidays). Maybe let them in on how you celebrate (or don’t). Have a special seasonal guest. You get it.
- Create a holiday episode solely focusing on your audience. Get their feedback, share it, have a conversation on social media and share that. Listeners love shout-outs!
- Have a simple giveaway. Super easy and fun! It can be as easy as a $20 Amazon Gift card or a collaboration with a small business that you know your audience would love.
- Make your “come back” episode something to tune in to. Have your return episode be something you know your audience is dying to hear! Maybe a super special guest or a live event. If you are ahead of the game, you can ask them to vote for a topic. Then PROMOTE IT!!!!! Create excitement and urgency and get them back to consuming your show faster.
Plan ahead for time off
Maybe most important is giving yourself time to plan ahead. Ask yourself these questions to get your head around your hiatus and what you need to do to keep things running smoothly in your absence.
- Do you have existing podcast community commitments? Are you giving a talk or guesting on another podcast? Have you promised to write a blog. Have you promised your audience that you will cover a specific topic? Make sure you can work around any promises.
- Do you have partnerships with sponsors and advertisers? You will want to let these people know that you will be taking a break, which, if you have really planned ahead, they should be expecting. In other words, they should know that their product will not be getting airplay during your absence or you have plans to pick up the agreement when you come back.
- What are your family plans? Lay out the personal time you need to spend with loved ones. Then protect it.
- How many episodes do you have left until you need to take time off? Think about how many more episodes you need to produce before you can take time, all the while preparing for your departure.
- How much time are you looking to take off and when are you looking to come back? Make sure this is really clear. As we said initially, listeners need to know what to expect. Tell them.
Trust yourself and your audience
You don’t do anyone any favors by burning out.
Remember, your audience is human, too. You need to be ok with them taking time for themselves and trust them to come back to you when they are ready.
It’s a two-way street.
Now, get to planning that itinerary!