Producing vs Progressing Your Podcast

April 12, 2021

Let's accept that production is the thing that we have to do - we can't podcast without producing a podcast and so we can't assume that by producing and releasing, we're doing enough to progress.

Lockdown has been hard. I've been a royal pain in the rear to be around, I'm sure. 

We're social creatures after all but one phrase that keeps coming up during these “How's lockdown been?” discussions is:

“Well, it's good to be busy, isn't it.”

It really is, we aren't here to stagnate! We're here to progress as individuals, collectives and as a species.

But as a podcaster, there's a huge difference between being busy and actually progressing. The trouble is, most of us don't see it until it's too late…

Hitting podcasting burn out and then realising what you've been doing wrong

I stopped producing an interview show for founders in early 2016 after 150 episodes.

I was bored of it, frankly. I was working on my Podcast Websites business with Kieran and the EOFire team who we were originally affiliated with on that business and my podcast, whilst fun, was giving my guests a platform for their opinions rather than for me and my ever-growing thoughts about the podcasting industry and my willingness and desire to help podcasters.

But it felt great to produce it. I was busy on it and enjoying it.

The business, though, didn't benefit from my interview show other than enabling me to be a podcaster (which I'd been for years at that point, and that I'd still be even if I didn't work in the industry).

I could pat myself on the back every week and enjoy the highs and buzz of coming down from a great interview but what I couldn't do was reliably grow my podcast.

There was an inherent problem with being so busy on my podcast: I was busy producing, not progressing.

As a hobby podcaster, I should add, being busy and progressing are often one and the same. Many podcasters podcast because they want to enjoy podcasting, talk about something they love with people they love talking to and that's it – nothing else – and you know what, that's completely fine – many of the best podcasts have no illusions of grandeur or giving the host “financial freedom” so they can create courses on how to achieve “financial freedom” (why do they do that if they have “financial freedom? Surely they don't need the money, right?! Anyway… I digress).

The problem though, is that a lot of podcasters are told that creating a podcast will “10x your authority” or “Give you instant expert status” (add other LinkedIn crap here at your will…) and they believe that to be true on the basis of just turning up.

So when it doesn't happen, when their numbers are “low”, they blame podcasting (the medium) not thinking for a second that their focus is wrong.

What then happens is that they double down on production, feel great about it for three months but then find themselves back in the same position.

They're busier than ever before but are now seeing the diminishing returns that I've spoken about in various podcast episodes before and thus, the perpetual cycle continues and eventually leads to “podfading” (aka. stopping their podcast).

Choose progress over production

Producing your podcast is a given. 

You have to do it in order to podcast. But production isn't something that you can continually lean on as a badge of honour as a podcaster, it's something you're expected to do as part of the committed dedication to your audience that you signed up for when you started podcasting.

In my view, expecting someone to applaud you for being so busy producing your podcast is like expecting applause for turning up at the job you chose, to do the job you actually do every day.

It's the baseline. 

Now, I'm not taking anything away from how much time and dedication goes into production – it's admirable, should be respected and should be understood as being a tough thing to stay on top of.

Rather, I'm suggesting that as podcasters we should get off the ego train a bit (including myself here, don't get upset) so that we can clearly see why we aren't progressing as we might like to and in particular, what we can do about that.

Let's accept that production is the thing that we have to do – we can't podcast without producing a podcast and so we can't assume that by producing and releasing, we're doing enough to progress. 

If we're truly interested in progressing as podcasters, our job is to have our heads up and to look outwards at where we can create opportunities for growth as opposed to having our heads down, looking inward and expecting something, anything to affect our podcast's growth without any influence from us.

The first step in this is accepting and understanding that concept. 

The second step is figuring out what to do when we do have our heads up looking outward – how do we begin on the progress train?

Well, just like any train we only need a few things to get going: a vehicle (our podcast), a destination and some fuel.

The destination can be defined as our growth targets: what actual numbers do we want to see through our podcast and when do we want to arrive at them? 

Then, what's our route? How do we get there? That's something that only marketing can help us with and something I'll talk about more in some other content.

Next: fuel – the fuel is our action, and it comes from our ability to plan. All fuel is finite and what we do to grow our podcast is finite either as defined by skillset, budget or time constraints.

With our destination in mind we have a clearer understanding of where we're going and thus, what we need to navigate and do in order to get there. So, our fuel can be focussed on that journey rather than just being busy.

A great exercise that I use for decision-making with Captivate or any of the projects that I work on is, when faced with an “opportunity” or decision I ask myself:

“Will doing this get me at least one-step closer to my destination or not? Or, is it a diversion that would delay me or keep me from arriving at where I need to be?”.

If it's a diversion or doesn't get me any closer to my destination, to my targets, I say “no” to whatever it is I've been asked to decide upon.

It works.

That's a pretty abstract concept so the action I have for you today is this: decide if you want to progress as a podcaster and if you do, for now, figure out your destination – get a pen out and write down “In one year from now, every podcast episode that I release will receive [x] number of downloads.”

Now you have a destination.

I'll be back with more on this as I put more content out…

Your next steps

I teach podcasting a lot, and usually for free. So, here's what I'd recommend you do next:

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I’m your host Mark Asquith, The British Podcast Guy and CEO and co-founder of Rebel Base Media, the podcast tech company that creates the Podcast Success Academy, Podcast Websites, Poductivity, Rebel Base Studios &, the world’s only growth-oriented podcast host where you can get your first month of podcast hosting for just one dollar and transfer an existing podcast in, completely free.

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Mark Asquith

That British podcast guy, Mark is CEO & co-founder of Rebel Base Media, a podcast tech and strategy company that owns, Poductivity, Podcast Websites, Podcast Success Academy & Rebel Base Studios. He's a wildly approachable Brit and Star Wars/DC Comics geek.

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