Another year of podcasting is in the books! I usually do this type of recap at the end of the year, right after we finish publishing the last episode of The Feed, but this year I wanted more time to process.
Because this was an eventful feeling year for me in producing and co-hosting the show, as we’re headed into our 10 year anniversary.
I took time to do what I preach and now I’m ready to share with you.
In case you want to also do what I preach, I covered it in a series of blog posts here, here, here and here!
Podcasting lessons learned in 2022
1. The grind is real, the joy is essential.
At the end of 2022, after publishing episode 233 (and including other current and podfaded shows), I’ve published 759 podcast episodes.
That’s a lot.
I’ve kept at it because it’s not only part of my life now — a habit — but also my job, and this was a year that it felt more like work.
More times than I have in the past, it felt like an “I have to” vs. an “I want to.”
It wasn’t because of podcasting itself per se, but because of workload. I have a lot more on my plate now. I have more responsibility and am accountable for a lot more as it pertains to content and community beyond creating a podcast.
Doing all the things is exhausting.
It became abundantly clear to me how much JOY plays into sustaining a podcast.
Podcasting brings me joy.
There have been less than a handful of times in all of these years that I’ve gotten off the mic and didn’t feel energized.
I love to podcast. I love to podcast for its own sake. If I’m going to create a piece of content, my first go-to is to talk into a microphone.
Note to self: Keep tapping into the joy.
And to you, make sure you find joy in creating your show. That joy can be the thing that helps you move through challenges and frustrations that you might encounter as a creator.
2. Community enhances the work
I was very deliberate when working on the concept of The Feed that I wanted to build it around audience feedback.
Audience feedback was the first reason that I fell in love with podcasting.
I was shocked by how accessible podcasters were. I loved hearing listener’s voices on my favorite podcasts. And when a podcaster mentioned me in an episode for the very first time — wow — I’ve never felt so appreciated and seen.
I knew that I wanted to build a relationship from the get-go with our audience.
In these past years, we’ve received hundreds of pieces of audio feedback, and that’s not including all the emails that we get to the show! We’ve featured close to 700 hundred 30-second promos! Wowza.
This communication is one of the key reasons why The Feed is so rewarding to produce.
It’s given both Rob and I a direct connection with those who listen to our show and also has helped us continue to build relationships with podcasters. We get to know them, their shows and how to best help them keep podcasting.
Preparing for each episode starts from a place of ease because of the feedback.
And in turn, when we happen to be light on feedback, it becomes more challenging to get our content together.
Which brings me to my next lesson.
3. Getting a podcast’s audience to engage is a job unto itself
I get an opportunity to communicate with podcasters on a daily basis by observing social media conversations, asking questions, and corresponding with podcasters through email and comments.
One of the top concerns that I see is the lack of audience interaction.
They often query how to even get feedback.
Given that I established the dialogue with our audience early on with The Feed, I’ve thankfully always had feedback.
But, I’ve observed it take a dip this past year.
In the past, emails, comments, and voice feedback simply came in. I never reached out for feedback outside of asking for it in the podcast. The podcast itself was the one and only place.
Now, I regularly ask for feedback on social media channels.
What this tells me is that folks are much busier than they used to be, and are probably listening to more than one podcast at a time. The path from “listening” to sending in feedback is less clear.
Speaking from my own experience as a podcast listener, I’ve found that my time and attention from point a to point b as it pertains to any kind of digital communication is often interrupted by an exorbitant amount of attention grabbers.
The biggest culprits? Notifications and the behavioral design of social media sites.
It is extraordinarily challenging to follow through while being on a smartphone, even if it’s also the easiest thing to do. Forgetting what you were about to do is commonplace.
I’ve found myself relying on following social media accounts of my favorite podcasters, or consuming their adjacent content through Instagram or YouTube as a way to remind myself to answer a question they’ve asked or to send in feedback.
I assume that’s also one of the reasons I’ve seen a drop in getting feedback from just publishing episodes. Folks are on to the next thing quickly.
Plus, we’re also competing with the thousands of asks that our audience gets on a daily basis from all the other content they are consuming digitally.
“If you like this thread, retweet….”
“Remember to subscribe to my channel!”
“Sign up for my newsletter here,” etc., etc., etc.
Another possible reason for the decline in podcast feedback is that in the past, folks were only able to get podcasting insider info from podcasts about podcasting. Now they are able to get that information from a ton of sources: social media posts, blog posts, podcasting newsletters, podcasting communities, and YouTube videos.
This was not the case when our show began. Podcasts about podcasting were the only way to learn about podcasting and have questions asked and answered.
Listening to a long podcast requires a much bigger investment than doing a quickie ask on social media. The social dopamine hit will always win.
4. Podcast listeners are loyal
Even with all of the distractions and dopamine hits of the day-to-day, I’m always delighted by how loyal those who listen to podcasts are. I want to continue to learn this lesson over and over again!
The Feed’s first episode went live in the summer of 2013, and through almost 10 years of publishing, many familiar names are still reaching out to us.
It is an incredible honor to know that some of our audience has been with us for almost a decade! I can barely wrap my head around that. Especially because our podcast is sooooo niche. A podcast about podcasting is not for the general population!
I am so grateful and humbled by that kind of commitment — not once is that relationship taken for granted.
5. Commit, commit, commit
One key thing that I know in starting a new year of podcasting — your podcast must matter to you.
IMO you need to love podcasting to keep podcasting, as there are many parts of it that suck up your time and attention, and sometimes, even your money, with very little “results.”
But, I’m also aware that the industry has changed from a medium that was primarily fueled by those that got behind the mic as a hobbyist, to one that has folks entering with full-on professional intentions to build a career in podcasting or through their podcast — and sometimes, love is taken out of the equation.
In lieu of love, here are 3 questions that must be top of mind for anyone looking to make their podcast their thing:
- What does your show mean to you?
- What are the benefits that you get from producing your show?
- Why are you podcasting (or in podcasting?)
If you don’t have an answer, or are vague or fuzzy about the answers for yourself, podcasting or your podcast might become more difficult for you.
My suggestion is that you ask yourself those 3 questions at least two times a year. Brainstorm your answers. Put them in an easily accessible place, and re-read what you wrote when you feel disconnected with your work. This is a simple way to reconnect with your commitment to the medium.
And be honest with yourself.
You don’t get any bonus points for doing it just because you’ve always done it.
Personally, I still love podcasting. And I love it for exactly the same reasons that I loved it when I started — I want to get behind the microphone and create my own thing.
It fulfills me. I podcast for its own sake.
That is good enough for me to keep at it.
That might not be good enough for you, as you might be looking to achieve something more tangible.
I hope that you found this retrospective a little helpful to you in your journey as a podcaster. I hope to help you continue to choose podcasting from a place of clarity and determination.
This space is so full of possibilities.
So what do you think? I’d love to hear from you!
The best way to connect with me is to email [email protected] That’s the email associated with our podcast. You can also call this number 412-573-1934 or leave us a message on this SpeakPipe page.
It can be a conversation just between you and I, we won’t use it as content for the show. Do make sure that you mention that when you reach out to me!
— But if you do want us to discuss anything you share on the show, let me know.
And if you don’t want your name used, also let me know. We often redact names of people, places, and things.
I look forward to hearing from you. And feel free to follow The Feed: The Official Libsyn Podcast, wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Happy New Year! And keep podcasting!