Do you ever feel like all the effort you put into your podcast is going to waste?
Like it’s just you and your mic, speaking into the void. You might have a few dozen or even a few hundred listeners, but it’s hard if not impossible to get them to engage with you.
Let’s face it, it sucks. And it often feels like it’s not worth it and that we might as well just give up.
Why I Almost Quit
I was feeling this very same way about my blog* recently. Wondering if the hours I spent laying it out and writing it were worth it, and if maybe that time was better spent elsewhere.
* Yes, this very blog you’re reading now!
See, I love writing, and I love talking about podcasting, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have other motivations for putting the blog out every week.
One of those big motivations for me is growing my email list. When I started writing I didn’t really have a well defined funnel that my email list was leading subscribers through. It’s a bit better now, but to be honest it could use a lot of work to make it more valuable for both my subscribers and myself. Nevertheless I knew it was important to get the list established early so it was ready as I progressed with the content marketing aspect of my business.
Beyond the email list, I wanted to establish credibility and authority in the world of podcast production. I don’t really know how you track this metrically, but I suppose having people reach out with questions is as good an indicator as any.
Even further beyond that, it would be really great if at some point somebody actually identified with my personality so much that they actually wanted to work together in some capacity. This isn’t a goal I was really counting on materializing in the short term though.
When I first started writing and sharing my blog articles, I could count on getting 5 – 10 new email list subscribers a week. Many of those subscribers emailed me personally with questions and comments, and I’ve even jumped on a few Skype calls with some of them, a couple of which have lead to friendships.
It felt good. It felt like I wasn’t alone, like people were valuing what I was putting out there, it was exciting and motivating and it felt like it was all worth it.
But over the past month, I’ve been lucky to get one or two new subscribers per week, the interaction has dwindled, and it’s starting to feel like maybe it’s not worth the effort anymore.
On my post two weeks ago I got more traffic* on a single post than any other I had published to date, but no opt-ins, no comments, no love (at least that’s how it felt).
* Keep in mind, when I say more traffic, I’m talking in the low hundreds, not thousands or millions and especially not kajillions…
When it came time to write last week’s article I seriously questioned whether I should just skip it. It clearly was no longer helping me achieve my list building goals, it took up hours that could very easily be put to more practical work. I was seriously this close* to wrapping up the blog and moving on to some other list building strategy.
* You can’t see it but I’m holding my fingers super close together right now…
But I still had more to say. In fact, I had (and have) a list a mile long of podcasting topics to write about. So I sat down, got to work and wrote the article.
Why I Reconsidered
You’re probably expecting that this is the part of the story where it turns out to be my most popular article of all time, I get 5000 new list subscribers and then line up interviews on Good Morning America, Conan, and then host SNL with the Foo Fighters as the musical guest and I get to get up onstage and jam with them.
And in fact you would be… Wrong. Completely wrong.*
* But damn, would that be cool… I’ll keep hoping.
Instead, it was another week with the ol’ goose egg in the new subscribers column.
But then the day after publishing the article, I got an intriguing email in my inbox from a name I didn’t recognize*.
* No, it wasn’t Dave Grohl saying he wanted to jam…
In that email was a completely laid out podcast concept plan along with a paragraph thanking me for the information I had been putting out there through the blog.
What’s more, the email author expressed how great a fit they felt we were to work together, and how they loved the way I presented myself through my writing and felt like they already knew me.
Whoa. I guess I wasn’t writing into the void after all.
Why I’m Going To Keep Pushing
I know we don’t all get this kind of validation of our efforts in such perfect timing as I did this past week. For many of us it might take months, or depending on our endeavor, years. Some of us never get that validation.
But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth it to keep pushing, keep creating, keep sending our work out into the void.
Even if it feels like no one’s listening. Even if we feel like we’re all alone.
Because chances are, there are people out there listening, even if you don’t know it. And often, all it takes is one person, the right person to hear, or see, or taste, or feel what you’re doing to make it all worth it.
While the external validation is great, like I mentioned, it’s something some of us might never get, and it should never be the reason to keep recording, publishing, creating.
There are a couple important elements that I want to point out from my recent experience that are 100% applicable to podcasting, or content production of any kind.
1. From the beginning, I had a tangible business related goal motivating me to keep publishing.
I know I talk about this a lot, but I can’t stress how important it is to have a plan laid out for how your content production ties into your larger goals, and why podcasting is the best medium to help you achieve that.
Without a roadmap for where you’re going and a reason to keep creating even when the feedback is near (or completely) nonexistent, it’s easy to get lost and feel like you’re floating adrift without a destination.
I know there are exceptions out there, but most of the big time podcasters started out with a defined plan for how their podcasts would fit into either their existing business, or how they would build a business around it.
I don’t care if you don’t want to be a “business owner” and you just want to podcast for the pure joy of it. If you want to podcast full-time (which I know many if not most podcasters do), you had better buckle down and approach it as a business from the outset*.
* Or right now if you’ve already started.
2. Even when the tangible results declined, I still felt like I had more to say, regardless of the external validation
Ok, so this is basically a prerequisite to begin podcasting in the first place, and if at any point you find yourself feeling like you really don’t have anything left to say to your audience, it probably is time to move on, even if you are seeing great results at the moment.
On the other hand, if you’re not getting any type of meaningful validation from your audience but you still feel like you’ve got more to say, keep grinding. You know better than anyone if your content is valuable, and if anything you might want to tweak the format and experiment with how you deliver that content, but keep putting it out there consistently.
Despite the massive validation I got recently, the reality is that I clearly still need to continue refining how I deliver and promote my writing, the same reality many amateur podcasters I talk with fall into.
Funnily enough, this is something the pros are doing constantly, and for good reason. Even if you find something is working and your audience is reacting to it, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t be doing better. Chances are it’s also not going to work forever.
So here’s to continuing to grind, tweak, experiment, and blasting your work out into the void until people can’t help but pay attention to you. You never know when that next listener might change everything for you, or you for them.
I’d love to hear your stories of quitting, or almost quitting. What was the reason behind it, and what pulled you through? Lemme know in the comments. Or don’t, I’ll keep writing anyways.
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