When you make a podcast, you should feel rewarded for your hard work. Unfortunately, it can be lonely. There's no applause or laugh track (unless, of course, you're using a Zoom PodTrak P4). Particularly when you first start, you might not get feedback from listeners. It can be hard to feel like you're doing the right thing. One of podcasting's quirks is that you have to define success for yourself. Unfortunately, no one is going to burst into your recording studio and award you a medal. The good news is that you can get your own medal without anyone else judging you. Podcasters need to create goals and then meet them. “But I have,” you say. “My goal is to be super rich and internationally famous and have everyone love me and give me money.” Okay. Yes. That is a goal. Let me try re-framing this. For podcasters to be successful, they have to achieve SMART goals for podcasting success.
“What's with the all-caps stuff,” you may wonder, “is she shouting at me?” No. It's an acronym. SMART Goals are talked about in fitness, self-help books, education, and productivity seminars. I'm not just co-opting a trend; I'm telling you about this because it works. Podcasters need goals that are:
- Realistic, and
SMART, get it? Of course, you do. So, what are some SMART podcasting goals?
Specific Podcasting Goals
The most specific goals tend to be number-based. Unfortunately, it's easy for podcasters to spend a disproportionate amount of time watching their download numbers. It's a particular goal to say, “I want my podcast to be downloaded a hundred thousand times.” But, if you're worrying too much about quantity, you'll forget about quality. What are some goals that you can set which are specific but not necessarily number-based? For example, you can:
- book an interview with a particular guest.
- learn how to use editing software so you can save money, or, find a way to outsource the work to save time.
- field-record an episode in a special location.
- swap trailers with another podcast.
SMART Goals for podcasters don't have to be difficult. Specificity makes the other parts fall into place.
Measurable Podcasting Goals
Once again, I implore you to back away from the download numbers. Sure, check them once in a while, but don't make them your only standard for success. True, measuring things in numbers makes the most sense. But what about upload numbers?
If your workload is established, and you know how many episodes you want to upload per month, why not make a montage episode, and save it in your media host for a rainy day? You don't have to publish it and save it, so you have a little extra room in your schedule in the future.
What about audiograms? Could you pledge to yourself to make an audiogram based on your existing content?
Struggling to Choose & Use Your Podcast Equipment?
Pick the right gear, and learn how it works: from USB mics to mixers.
How do you feel about the way you have your recording gear set up? Are you comfortable with it? Could your cables use some organization?
SMART Goals, for podcasters, don't have to mean adding extra work. You can commit to improving your existing workflow. Think about how you measure that workflow. Whether it's your episode frequency, mic technique, or the way you set up your recording gear (take before and after pictures for yourself), find a way to measure the difference between how you start and how you finish. This is how you'll know when it's done. What's your finish line?
Achievable Podcasting Goals
The Muppet Movie is a great, classic film, but unfortunately, the ending really messed with the minds of all creative people born after 1967. The heartwarming, joyful ending claims that creative success arrives all at once. When Orson Welles, as Lew Lord, head of World Wide Studios in Hollywood, said, “Miss Tracy, prepare the standard ‘Rich and Famous' contract for Kermit the Frog and Company,” his stentorian tones cemented in the collective imagination, for all struggling artists, that there would be a day that they could walk through a final door and become Successful.
The reality is that every professional in any media has to work to maintain their standard of living and career. The Slate podcast, Working, can give you an idea of what that kind of hustle is like. Celebrity social media profiles might make some people's lives seem easy, but your favorite talk-show host or pop star has goals that feel out of their reach, too.
Big Dreams, Fine Details
So, what podcasting goals would make you feel like a success, and how can you achieve them?
If you go into blue-sky-thinking land, what do you come up with? What are the necessary steps to achieve that? For example:
- Record in a truly unique location at a special time
- Interview a high-profile guest
- Influence a huge social media following
- Make lots of money with my podcast
These are a little vague. What would make these goals achievable? Fill in the details. For example:
- Record a podcast episode at The Met Gala
- Interview The Dalai Lama
- get 100,000 followers on social media
- Fundraise and earn more money with your podcast than you spend making it, plus enough to sustain your current standard of living.
Then, you map out the steps to reach that goal. SMART Goals for podcasters have details. Fill in all the blanks. Each step is going to require a certain set of skills. Build those skills, and think of every episode you make as an opportunity for practice. It's work, yes, but it's a lot less vague of a goal than a “standard rich and famous contract.”
Realistic Goals for Podcasters
That blue-sky-thinking part sure was fun! Let's come back down to earth.
As you work on SMART goals for Podcasters, think of goals that you can actually reach.
Can I climb Mount Everest? Probably not. The distance from North Everest Base Camp in Tibet to Mount Everest summit is 36.5 kilometers or 22 miles. Can I walk 22 miles? Absolutely. Is the view going to be as good? It depends on where I walk that 22 miles.
Let's pretend your achievable goal is, “interview The Dalai Lama as a guest on my podcast,” think about why it's important to you to interview The Dalai Lama. Maybe it's because…
- he's a deeply spiritual person with a unique perspective
- he has survived a challenging time and place in history
- he has written and published a lot of philisophical and theological books which have influenced many people
- he's one of the most famous people in the world
What if you figured out what's most important to you about interviewing the Dalai Lama and then interviewed guests who embody those qualities? If your podcast niche is “Buddhist spirituality,” or “survivors of history,” or even simply “authors,” there is no shortage of guests you can find that fill that podcast niche.
Take your achievable goal, distill it into what's most important about it, and make it realistic. Then, plan the steps you need to take to make it happen.
Time-Based Goals for Podcasters
This last step in the SMART Goals for podcasters is the simplest, but it's where the commitment happens. Give yourself a deadline. This deadline should be relative to all the other parts of the SMART goal.
For example, “upload ten polished episodes in a year” isn't as challenging as “upload ten polished episodes in four weeks.” The time frame makes the challenge meaningful. Time is one of the most frequently wished-for resources among podcasters, but the other parts will fall into place if your goals are specific enough.
And, if you don't meet that deadline, you know you need to re-evaluate that goal and how you go about achieving it. Don't take it personally; find a new strategy or a new goal.
The Formula for SMART Goals for Podcasters
- what you want to achieve
- why you want it
- how you'll know when it's done (what's the finish line?)
- when you'll start and finish.
Some SMART Goal examples could be:
“Remove all distractions from my desk, so I can focus on writing new episodes, until my desk is empty and free of clutter, between 10 am and 12 noon tomorrow morning.”
“Use Podchaser Connect for the next two hours to find and book three interview guests for the next three episodes so that I can plan my season.”
“Write an episode about the history of bubble wrap for my series on environmentally friendly packing materials between now and Tuesday at noon.”
When you reach your personal finish line, reward yourself. Throw a listening party with your friends for your podcasting goal, or soak in a nice hot tub or something. You've earned it!
Every SMART Goal for podcasters has a strategy, and we're here to help you with them. The Podcast Host Academy can help with any aspect of podcasting, from generating new episode ideas, to cultivating your audience. Our Weekly Live Q & A sessions can help with any aspect of podcasting you might have. Not only that but also, our all-in-one podcasting tool, Alitu, can help you record, edit, polish, and publish your podcast. You can do it!