How to Embrace the Plateau as a Podcaster
In a recent Mastermind conversation with alumni from Seth Godin's altMBA, we talked about overcoming plateaus (as content creators) and the very moment where we feel stuck.
One of the group members, Gustavo Serafini said, “What if we can embrace the plateau?”
It made me pause. Not only am I asked to fight my enemy, now I need to make friends with it too?!
There is no easy path to consistency and consistently delivering your work, no matter how interesting they appear at the beginning. As a podcaster, I find myself struggling from time to time, especially when I am about to launch a new episode.
I love my guest but the work itself can be so hard and time-consuming. The next thing you know, you are saying no to friends’ parties, or that lovely walk you want to take on a Sunday afternoon. Instead, you need to stick to your schedule and SHIP.
So I decided to post a question in the Podcast Community public group on Facebook. The answers are unexpectedly heartwarming and useful.
Why not share the feedback from more than two dozens of podcasters who have made friends with their plateaus?
I reached out to each and every one of them, asking for their permission to share their answers in embracing their podcasters’ block, along with their names and their podcast names. [In cases where people did not respond, I include only their first name to respect their privacy]
To preserve authenticity, I decided to only slightly modify the answers so you see the essence of our original discussion. And to make reading and scanning more easily, I've categorized their answers into a few categories as seen in the headlines below.
Please enjoy and let me know your feedback in the comments below, OR share this article with your friends who are feeling a bit stuck in creating what they love.
Too Many Stories Left to Tell...
Esther says “I have too many stories left to tell. Can't even imagine ending the podcast. Now, it’s been 20 months. ”
Kristofor Lawson says it's all about "traction". "People downloading the show, feedback from other producers who liked the concept, good reviews, some people wanting to buy ads." (Good for you Kristofor!)
Scott Thrower from Fairy Tales for Unwanted Children says: “Still have more stories percolating that need to be told -- and listeners I love too much to disappoint.”
Chris Cooling says he is “in episode 17 now of ForgottenTV... hoping to get to episode 30 by the end of 2018! What makes me keep going? I've barely scratched the surface of great old TV from the 70s/80s...There are dozens of shows and topics I want to talk about and revisit.”
Love What You Do as a Podcaster
Jason says it’s “Love for what you're covering.” He also asked me: "How do you find the motivation to keep going as you approach episode 150?” (Me: I don’t feel like I’m done sharing stories yet. Once you’re a podcaster for a while, you start to notice things and people in your life you have perhaps overlooked before).
Bruce Williams says “I have two podcasts. One is in Episode 172, the other at 395. Gotta love your subject matter. (Me: that's a lot episodes!) Yep, but that doesn't include the podcasts I HAD but have since been killed off. One of them got up to 132, a couple of others got up to the 50 mark or so. I started in June 2005, so I was onboard pretty early. Been podcasting continuously since then.”
Mike Faber from The Earth Station One Podcast says “Too much to talk about to stop and over 400 episodes later we are still going. He added, "You need to enjoy what you're talking about, if you don’t and it ends up sounding forced, your listeners can tell and will give up on you. 90% of the podcasts out there fail for those reasons.”
Jamie Robinson from Mr. Throwback Thursday says “The passion for the topic. If you don't love what you are doing, why do it?”
Andrew Lewin also says "You have to love your podcast topic! That’s the secret. You have to be willing to do it even if you aren’t making money off of it. "
Tee Morris agrees with "The love of it. The genuine love of getting on the mics and riffing about a subject. Show #008 of my new podcast was on "Playing Smart" in Destiny. We just dropped our 30th episode. That's not including special episodes."
Allan Newsome says "My podcast is Two Chairs No Waiting - I’m up to 465 episodes about a 50+-year-old TV show. You have to love your topic and be able to continue to find things that are interesting to you. If YOU enjoy the things you find to share, others will likely enjoy it too."
Sam Harris-Harris says "Focus on topics, subjects, and guests that interest you. I'm very selfish about it. If I'm not interested, what's the point and I doubt any others will be!"
Paul suggests "Producing a season at a time. And, passion for the content."
New Friendships and Connections
Rob Patrick "Podcast Rob" and, along with his show partner James Hatton produce The Something Something Cast. The show is a bi-weekly pop culture show that's talks about everything from Dan Brown’s books to Dr. Who episodes to guilty pleasure music to current TV/Movies. He says “We just hit episode 112. At times over the past few months, I won't lie... sometimes the motivation was hard to find, but like most things, if you enjoy the content you're discussing, you'll enjoy discussing it. We've also become good friends with a number of our guests and enjoy talking to them to the point where sometimes we angle our discussions in order to bring them back on. At the end of the day though, find what YOU love about your show and use that to motivate you.”
Grit and Determination
Scott Hertzog from Zogpod Studios says "Grit!"
Michael MacComb The podcast I host is Wayward Quest, and it's an actual play RPG adventure. We're in episode 31, hour and a half episodes, with content recorded already to episode 42. Sometimes you just have to keep at it.
James Williams believes in "Determination".
Bryan Entzminger, host the Engaging Missions Show says “Set my first goal at 10 episodes (got me past the dreaded 7). Then set my goal in the first year.”
Play the Long Game
Pete Quint's response to the fact that most podcasts die after the 7th episode. “I’m afraid of 7 and I want to get as far away from it as possible. (Because 7 8 9)” — He is the host of Good Beer Bad Movie Night. He told me “We are coming up on our one year anniversary so I'm still a greenhorn. Our first three or four episodes were pretty rough but we are getting the format down and the shows are starting to get good.”
Creators, keep it rough as a start. It’s a long game and there’s a lot you can do down the road. Don’t let perfection kill your show. - Me
Terry J. Aman Well, I've still got 2,400+ DVD transfers from VHS tapes to catalog -- some dating from the '80s. www.videofuzzy.libsyn.com tracks my progress on finding out what's on all of these things, and needing something to talk about every two weeks motivates me to keep at it.
Dance Like No One is Watching
X says “podcast "Utah Outcasts" - 170 deep so far, I love getting on the mic, being a persona that's quite different than I am in real life, talking with my friends and having a laugh.
D.j. Starsage added "There's a saying.. Dance Like No One's Watching. Podcast like everyone's listening (but no one interacts)"
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
Richard Butler: "The first thing I recommend is to accept that not every episode will be a home run or perfect. Once you accept that it makes things easier. Too many of my fellow podcasters get analysis paralysis and get caught up in too much editing and buying too much gear. Create kick-ass content and the audience will come. I did 400 episodes of my podcast with 200 of them being live with call-ins and video which had its own challenges but in the end, people felt a kinship with me as a person beyond just a content provider and appreciated every aspect of the content even the missteps, brutal honesty and occasional cursing lol. Stay humble, stay hungry and don't sweat the small stuff.
Monetary Motivation Matters
Geetanjali Advani - "My food podcast name is ‘Dakaar’. I am a year down doing my Indian food podcast- Dakaar (means "Burp" in Hindi) it, of course, started because I love doing it. But on some days monetary motivation matters too. Luckily as of now still going strong."
Shaun Patrick - "My podcast is called Rebase, my actual name is Shaun P Martin and the show is @rebaseshow on FB and Instagram. “What is this podcast's PURPOSE? Why is it a MUST for me? Answer these questions and you'll know whether you should continue."
Feeling Good & Therapeutic
Robby Celestin is the host of A Chatter of Fact. “I feel great after each episode. It’s almost therapeutic. That joy keeps me going. Do you feel that? If you do then turn that mic on and dive back in. I just finished my 35th episode. Due to my insane schedule, I had to skip two months. I couldn’t wait to get back on the mic. Yeah. I’ve tried to schedule shows like appointments or planned gym trips so it lives on my calendar. It is tough.”
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Thomas Lee Howl - Host at the Weekly Howl., howling about Lobo Basketball since Junior High.
Jo Gill “ Karen and Jo are actually neighbours, the story goes that Jo threatened Karen with loud music and raising a boundary issue if she didn't join her on the podcast and so the Defectives Podcast were born. Each week we bring you stories from the Paranormal, some will be well known and some you will never have heard of. Join us as we investigate the unknown and push the boundaries of your mind as we journey into the unexplained.