Today I want to take a break from the rants that often characterize this blog (yeah, sorry about those, I might have a problem…), and gush to you, over you, and about you.
Yeah, this might get weird…
Over the past two years, my life has been completely enveloped by the world of podcasting. What had to that point been a pastime (albeit an obsessive one), and a way to make productive use of my time while at my day job*, morphed into not only a full-blown career helping other podcasters share their stories, but a true passion that I wake up and go to bed thinking about every single day (and more than occasionally dream about…).
* Because really, what is a day job for other than podcast listening time? #RockstarEmployee…
And while I love the democratizing power of the medium and the quality of content available, what’s really sucked me into this world is the community, and the people that make up that community.
While I was already working and interacting with some truly amazing people in the podcasting world, it was my experience at Podcast Movement this summer in Anaheim this past summer that really gave me pause to reflect on who we as podcasters are as a demographic, and what makes us truly special.
A Tale Of Two Conferences
To be honest, heading into Podcast Movement in August, I wasn’t all that excited about it. While I had been thoroughly jacked earlier in the year when I had bought my ticket, that rush had faded and I was already looking ahead to the next thing on the calendar (an upcoming 2 month long trip to Brazil, from where I’m writing this article now).
A big part of my change in mood towards PM had to do with another conference I attended in July, World Domination Summit, or WDS. WDS is a yearly conference that takes place in Portland, OR, and bills itself as aimed at people “trying to live an unconventional life in a conventional world.”
In short. These were my people.
I had been wanting to go for the past 7 years, and my first experience did not disappoint. I walked away with so many amazing new connections and experiences that I knew for a fact that there was no way Podcast Movement could live up to it.
And I was right.
But that isn’t a bad thing. My experience at Podcast Movement was completely different than WDS, but in a great way. The purpose of the conference is completely different, the people are different (although I met up with a handful of WDSers at PM!), and my takeaways were entirely different, but perhaps no less profound.
An Ode To Podcasters
It didn’t take long for me to realize upon arrival at PM17, that once again, I had found my people. And the more podcasters I talked to, the clearer the picture became in regards to what it was about this group that so enchanted me, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
So here they are. All the reasons I think podcasters are amazing, and why I basically want to spend all my time around all of you fine folk.
The Passion For Niche
The first shows that come to mind when you first think about the word podcasting might be big, mass appeal shows like Serial, Startup, This American Life, or any number of many, many other shows with huge listener bases and mass appeal.
But to me, podcasting is defined by the vast majority of people who are putting their heart and soul into their shows covering topics that on the surface, you might think almost no one else could possibly be interested in.
Podcasting can be a thankless endeavor a lot of the time, with little or no income being the norm, and the time and energy it takes to produce good episodes can seem all-consuming at times. Anyone with enough passion to stick with their show and remain excited about it through these challenges is someone I want to be around.
Like I said, at first blush, many niche podcasts might seem so niche that there is no audience to engage with whatsoever. What I see more often, however, is small, niche podcasts bringing together and engaging a nascent community, and facilitating new connections and relationships.
I can’t overstate the importance of viewing yourself as a community organizer and facilitator as a podcast host. If you want to monetize, assuming this role is key, but not only that, you’ll find that this role will become one of the great motivating joys of your entire life.
I get messages from my clients and podcaster friends every week showing me messages they’ve received from audience members about how the shows have impacted their lives, and I feel so proud to have been a small part in that process. It is truly an honour to take part in any process that is changing people’s lives, and as a podcast host, you most certainly have the power to do that.
Coming up in the new year I’m going to write a post on how to own the role of community organizer and leader, and how to use that to kick your podcast up a notch. Stepping into this role this year with The Cut The Bullshit Podcast Community
has been one of the highlights of my year without a doubt, and I’ve learned a lot that can be applied directly to a podcast.
The Underdog Dreamers
It’s no secret that podcasting is growing ever more mainstream. And while that brings an influx of capital into the scene, that also brings not only increased competition for listener’s attention, but increasing competition from some big-name players with deep pockets.
While you could definitely make the argument that the average podcaster has always been an underdog, it’s now become unavoidable.
Most of us don’t start podcasts with ideas of getting rich, but rather due to some passion that simply can’t be contained. We have something to say that we need to get out into the world.
Somewhere along the way however, we see others making a bit of a return on their shows and get this crazy idea that “hey, maybe I could do that as well.”
I’m a big fan of anyone who not only has the nerve to have big dreams, but actually take steps toward making them a reality. So I can hardly express the excitement I get from seeing niche podcasters with families, day jobs, and any of a host of other obligations asking questions, doing research, and working their asses off to take their hobbycast to something that might one day be an additional stream of income.
Make no mistake. Making an income off a podcast is no get rich quick scheme, and you’re going to need to do a lot more than just sell sponsorship spots if you want to do it right. But you didn’t get into it to get rich anyways, remember? You got into it because you care about your topic and your audience.
Don’t forget that with the increasing number of so-called “competition” also comes a quickly expanding community of people to collaborate with and learn from. Use them.
The Community Vibe
On the topic of community, I just have to say that as a whole, the podcasting community is overwhelmingly supportive and positive, maybe more so than any other group I’ve been a part of.
I’m a part of a lot of online communities*, but I have to say that every one of the podcasting groups and forums I’m a part of stands apart. I’m so often overwhelmed by the open-minded, willing-to-learn attitude of almost everyone in the podcasting community, that’s hard to find in such numbers elsewhere.
* I’ve been a part of offline communities too, I’m not a complete hermit…
Maybe that’s because we’re all still kind of early adopters at this point, and the medium is constantly changing and evolving, so it’s necessary to always be open to new opportunities and ready to learn.
Whatever the reason, I rarely leave a discussion in any of the podcasting communities, online or off with a bad taste in my mouth, and I find myself almost daily doing spit-takes over my computer I’m laughing so hard, or tearing up with joy at the heart, openness, and vulnerability of the interactions that are taking place.
Community In 2018
As we’re getting towards the end of the year, I’ve been reflecting on the year that was, and the year I want to create next year. I like to set a theme for my years going into them*, and the word Community has been kicking around as being the thing I want to be the driving focus of the upcoming year.
* This year’s was “Momentum”, last years was “Emergence”
There’s already been a lot of talk of an off the chain Cut The Bullshit shindig at Podcast Movement this year*, our first in-person meetup is coming up in NYC in a couple weeks, with meetups roughly scheduled for Vancouver, London, Toronto, and LA happening later in the year.
* I don’t really want to talk about it yet cuz it’s not by any means confirmed, but it’s going to be awesome 😉
I’ve talked about community and collaboration before as necessary to succeed in anything, so I’m super excited for each and every one of these meetups in the coming year and getting together with some of the most passionate, intelligent, open and heartfelt people I know (many of whom only online right now, but not for long).
I’m firmly of the belief that only good things can come from bringing podcasters together (colonies on Mars, world peace, curing cancer, and perpetual energy production come immediately to mind, but let’s sit down and have a couple beers first before getting started on those), and I’d love to meet up with each and every one of you reading this if possible in the coming year.
If you want to keep up to date with future meetups and other fun events both online and off, come hang out with us in The Cut The Bullshit Podcast Community. We’d seriously love to get to know you and share a virtual ice cream cone.
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