What They Didn't Tell You About Podcasting

When I started podcasting in October 2014, the intention was pure. I wasn't in it to make money or to expect a ton of downloads. It was easy for me to feel that way (expecting little of what would come out of my own podcast. Sorry, I didn't write this to discourage anyone). 

English is my second language. I think I'm a good storyteller but I was never picked in school or at work to stand on a podium and blab my brains out. 

I had a full-time job that was wearing on me. I knew I wanted to be a freelancer, or an entrepreneur. But I didn't put all my hope in podcasting and thought that was going to be my breakthrough. Why? Nobody I knew did, and most people I know (still) don't have a podcast. 

Why the heck did I do it then? I wanted to "pick myself", and do something on my own, with full creative control. 

I imagined my future children to want to learn something about their mom, and my friends tuning in to find out what I've been up to lately. That's it. 

As you may have already found out through reading my eBooks, the journey of my podcast was so much more than that, Utterly unexpected at first, and then I learned to embrace what the act of podcasting has brought into my life. 

I want to tell you the truth, the misconceptions, and what others (especially the ultra-successful podcasters) didn't tell you. 

 

1. It's a long game. 

Sure, you are probably used to reading headlines such as "overnight success", "internet sensations", "gone viral", etc. So am I. Our brains are conditioned to think that is how it should work for everyone. Time is limited so we must see results soon. But how soon? Some people say a year, and some say true art is the making of a lifetime. Well, for Feisworld it has been 3.5 years, 137 episodes. 

We don't have a viral episode. In fact, most of our downloads swing between 200-500. Is that enough to make money through sponsorship? No. Is it enough to make real connections? Absolutely. 

Most podcasters give up after the 7th episode. Did you know that magic number? So, maybe push yourself to first release 7 episodes, and then find a second milestone to hit. In that time, what you are learning is no longer about podcasting, but a habitual act of creating something that matters to you. 

 

2. It's really hard work (but it will pay off if you play the long game) 

I gotta be honest. Sitting in my office at 1am to record a voice intro is far less sexy or fun. I love my guests, but the amount of work involved to release even a single episode - from scheduling, re-scheduling, recording, production, putting together blog posts, show notes, quotes, announcing to the world, following up with guests, etc. etc. can be daunting. 

If you don't have a podcast yet, you are going to learn that very soon. There's a dial you can control to a degree. But the deeper you get into podcasting, the more work you will find for yourself. (Thanks to 12 years of project management experience, I have for the most part, figured out a way to make it work. I can't wait to write and share that with you!) 

If you are a podcaster, I'm sure you are hearing this loud and clear. 

Here's the good news - because it's hard work, most people will choose not to do it. Simply by showing up, you've eliminated 99% of the competition. Go ahead, talk to any independent content creators. 

On the other hand, if the act is easy then everyone would already be doing it. Most interactions on Facebook is "Liking" (or hearting, or whatever), because it takes a simple click. People do it without even seeing the post first. Then interactions significantly drop for "Commenting" or even "Sharing" (which is almost just a click, but now you are committed to "endorsing" what you've just seen. 

Play the long game. Seek emotional labor. 

 

3. Downloads aren't the only ways to make money

Since most of you have read my eBook How to Make a Living Without Counting the Downloads, you probably know by now that it's a reality. In fact, if more podcasters begin to think strategically about how their podcasts could serve as a marketing engine for themselves, their businesses, many possibilities will unveil. 

By the way, I love when my readers share their stories on how they used these tactics and closed their first few deals, new clients and projects. I've heard from a few of you already. Keep the stories coming, please. 

 

4. Think and plan strategically - but the most important thing is to SHIP

I started a virtual hangout with new and experienced podcasters in 2017, and we are resuming our bi-weekly sessions in February. Learn more here

Everyone from the group are more than capable of thinking and planning strategically, the only thing that seems to hold some of them back is to actually SHIP. By that, I mean - put your podcast out there - on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud. 

Launch is key. 

There is such a thing as over-planning. As we get older, as the stakes get higher, we are more reluctant to ship. Instead, we are asking ourselves repeatedly - when's the perfect time? How many episodes should I launch with? How to optimize X, Y, Z...? How do I avoid failure? 

You get stuck. You don't know. You aren't sure. And the truth is, nobody knows what's going to work. There is no guarantee. 

Ship it, and then refine, reiterate, make it better. Trust me, it's a long game. There's a lot to be done, and it doesn't all have to happen on Day 1. 

 

5. Don't be shy. Do tell others about your podcast. 

Who cares about your podcast? More people than you think. 

It's true that many of my colleagues from my full-time jobs didn't care for my podcast. They'd much rather listen to NPR and similar high production quality, nationally ranked shows they are already familiar with. They want to learn from 1% of the world to "optimize" their time and learning. 

Your colleagues, or even your families and friends don't have to be the only listeners. The world is a big place, find your tribe. 

I found mine. It took years and it's still very small. I treasure their feedback and they help make Feisworld Podcast better and more fun. 

When I travel to other places, I make a point to talk about my podcast to those who might be interested. It feels awkward at first, but it gets easier. In fact, when you select an episode that might help someone, they very much appreciate it. 

There's more - not only have I done business with so many of my guests, they have chosen to reach out one another and partner on projects together. I'm incredibly eager to share that story with you soon. Stay tuned. 

 

If you have any questions or feedback, I welcome you to leave me a comment below. 

It makes me smile to know that you are here. 

Best,

Fei
Creator of Feisworld Podcast
We celebrate the stories of unsung heroes and self-made artists

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