Every aspiring and early-stage podcaster has had this creeping question lurk in the back of their minds at least once – “what if nobody listens?”.
The Sound of Silence – My Narrative Experiment
I’ve been a bit self-conscious about using audio and video platforms. But I decided to give podcasting a bash. The results were, frankly, embarrassing. I’d narrated some personal stories I’d written, created a prototype, and let my trusted friends decide if it worked as a concept. I feared it didn’t. My friends concurred. The reality? Nobody would listen to my podcast show in that format. It just wouldn’t work.
Hang Up Your Hangups: What if Nobody Listens to My Podcast?
This is Chapter 5 of our Podcaster Hangups series where we break down the frequently heard complaint “What if nobody listens to my podcast?”. Find the series intro here!
Fear is rational
I’d just thrown together a recording to test the theory. I know that a lot of time goes into planning, writing and producing a podcast. It’s a big investment of your most precious resource – time. It’s natural then, that you might question that investment if nobody listens. What if, when you launch your podcast nobody listens? Could your fragile ego handle it?
What if People Did Listen?
I can guarantee you this; you’ll have zero listeners if you don’t publish your podcast. We’re great at thinking negatively. We’re wonderful at talking ourselves out of things. Don’t let podcasting be the same.
Consider this; ‘what if people did listen?’ What difference could you make to your listeners? What new connections and friendships could you form? Who could you help and inspire?
Through your podcast, you have the power to reach a new audience across the world. Be excited by that. Produce a great show and market it correctly and you will have listeners.
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Why Wouldn’t People Listen?
To give yourself the best chance of having a podcast that people listen to, let’s look at some of the reasons you might find it hard to reach your audience.
Your Show is Too Niche
Picking a niche is great, just don’t make it TOO niche. It’s all well and good ‘owning’ a specific topic, but if not enough people are interested, you’ll be facing an uphill battle to find listeners. A road racing podcast for passionate cyclists would work, but a podcast dedicated to puncture repair kits would struggle.
Your Show is Too Broad
Conversely, if your show is too general, you’ll also struggle to find an audience. A general racing site that includes cycling, Formula 1 and horse racing, would understandably struggle to maintain a listener's attention.
For more help here, check out Podcast Topics: How to Create a Show That’s Unique & Original
Poor Sound Quality
Even if you do strike the sweet spot and find a decent-sized audience, nothing will drive them away quicker than atrocious audio production. If you make it hard for people to enjoy your carefully crafted content, you’ll find it almost impossible to find loyal listeners.
Fortunately, it isn't difficult or expensive to create great sounding audio…
Even if the sound quality is great, you could still find yourself without listeners because of how you deliver your show. If you’re annoyingly obnoxious or deadly dull, you’re going to do a wonderful job of driving people away. Here’s an idea; be yourself. Be prepared, be organised – but don’t try too hard.
Accept the fact that nobody might listen. Embrace it. Be brave and do it regardless of your fears. Because here’s the thing – even if nobody listens you’ll get a lot out of the experience. For a start, you’ll learn what DOESN’T work. But you’ll also have gained valuable public speaking experience. And, you can use the show as a way to grow your personal network. Use it as a way to find your voice.
You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Don’t let the fear of failure or your natural negativity hold you back. Go on, put yourself out there. Banish the negative thoughts and find your ideal audience.
There is an audience out there for you.
I’m a great believer in reverse engineering. So here’s what I want you to do. Think about a time you abandoned a podcast episode before it finished. What was it that made you stop? Take a note and add it to your ‘what not to do’ list.
Next time you’re searching for a new podcast, ask what it is that makes you skip scroll past a potential show. In other words, what stops you even trying a new podcast? Again, take a note and make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.
Learn from others’ mistakes and create a podcast that's worth listening to.
Next Step Resources: What if Nobody Listens to My Podcast?
Finally, it's time to give you some follow-up resources and hard data to help you make sure that people DO listen to your podcast.
- How Long Does it Take to Build an Audience?
- What's a Good Number of Downloads for a Podcast?
- How to Promote Your Podcast and Grow Your Audience
- Podcast Discovery: How do Listeners Actually Discover New Shows?
Hang Up Your Hangups
Hopefully you're getting a lot out of this podcaster hangups series so far.
We're continuing our quest to turn you into a confident podcaster by confronting another common fear in the next chapter: How to Deal with Bad Podcast Reviews