There's something about a change of seasons that makes folks want to take on new projects. Ideas start to seem more likely to have fruitful results. Old things are easier to clear away. If you're sensing a change in the air, noticing the angle of sunlight, and taking more thoughtful walks, it's probably clear to you how podcasting is like gardening. If you're not familiar with podcasting or gardening, this should give you some perspective.
Podcasts and gardens need patience.
Daffodils are lovely in early spring. Tomatoes are delicious in summer. But, bulbs and seeds need to be buried in the soil about three months before a single petal peels back. In the same way, you can upload files to your media host, but it can take a long time to get a review, or any feedback. Where's your fame and fortune?
How can you cope with this? Here's an analogy. Most gardeners start their plants from seed in small pots, with carefully selected soil, fertilizer and growing conditions. You can give your podcast a focused growth environment as well. If you know some folks who are genuinely interested in your work, you can send them a link to one or a few episodes, along with a nice message asking them for feedback. This way, they're not overwhelmed with a whole series, not knowing where to start. Plus, the positive conversation lets them know they're valued. Thank them, and use their feedback to improve your podcast. If you've released five or ten episodes, think about conducting a survey.
Meanwhile, give it time. More episodes give your audience more impact. It can take a while for your audience to have heard enough of your work that they're able to respond to it.
Podcasts and gardens need space.
How many podcasts would you guess there are? As of December, 2020, Apple had 1.6 million podcasts in its directory. This doesn't include shows that are exclusive to a platform (i.e., Spotify) or private podcasts. It's easy to feel like your podcast is crowded out of the market. Plants can suffer if there are too many in too small a space, and numbers like this can make podcasters feel invisible.
Every podcast has its own unique value proposition. That uniqueness is what gives it space. Your podcast's specific audience gives it space, too. Apple Podcasts currently has over fifty podcasts about fly fishing, for example. In the top 100, however, only one is about Texas saltwater fly fishing. By making sure that your podcast is unique, specific, and targeted, your podcast won't have to worry about crowding at all.
Consistency is key.
Some gardens benefit from neglect, while others need to be trimmed, weeded and watered constantly. The key to caring for either a podcast or a garden is consistency. With both podcasting and gardening, you need a reliable workflow. Planning out the steps to accomplish tasks makes the work easier. When you publish episodes with consistent quality on a regular schedule makes your show a habit for your audience to look forward to.
Don't overdo it.
Too much of any element (sunlight, water, fertilizer) can burn out, drown, or smother your garden. If you're spending all of your waking hours planning, recording, editing and promoting, you'll get exhausted and lose enthusiasm. Even if you don't, your target audience can. Once I knew an artist who tweeted the exact same tweet, promoting a Kickstarter campaign, several times a day, every day, for months. Pretty soon, it made me feel tired every time I saw their tweets. The project never made its crowdfunding goal, and died on the vine.
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Environment is just as important as your care.
Your garden can be affected by neighboring wildlife. Local bees, for example, can cross-pollinate your garden, your neighbor's, and the one across the street. Just like a garden, your audience soaks up different kinds of podcasts, current events, and entertainment. Not only should you listen to other podcasts in your niche, cross-marketing is always good. Reach out to other podcasters who produce similar shows, and find ways you can work together to grow your audiences. For example, you can share booth space at a conference, or swap podcast trailers.
Everybody wants to tell you how they can do it better.
Know how many playwrights it takes to change a lightbulb? Only one, with a thousand to stand around talking how they would have turned the bulb. Creative people are often willing to dispense free advice like this. Sometimes, it's even helpful. Stay true to your original ideas, your value proposition, and your audience's needs. If you get feedback from other podcasters, and it feels positive and brings your show closer to what you want it to be, then, by all means, take it under consideration. Or, you can also smile, nod, wait for them to finish talking, and thank them for listening to your show. If you keep a journal to organize your episode plans and ideas, this can help you stay on course, while filtering in useful feedback.
Podcasting and gardening can benefit you in unexpected ways.
If you plant tomato seeds, planning to make pints and pints of salsa, you can end up with four little tomatoes and a lot of vines. However, you will have a healthier mind, more oxygen, and good exercise. If you produce a podcast and plan to be swimming in money and fame by the end of the summer, you will have to adjust your expectations. But, you'll get the satisfaction of completing a project all your own, making a positive impact in the lives of others, and learn useful skills.
Want to learn more about how to start a podcast? Our Launch course can help. Does your current podcast need a little pruning? Have a look at The Podcast Host Academy. We have plenty of courses, downloadable resources, and more to help you with any part of your podcasting journey.