One advantage enjoyed by people who choose to explore the podcasting medium is that, unlike print or broadcast, it’s not quite so economically damaging if you decide what you’re doing isn’t working and you want to try something different. With other mediums you have a truckload of sunk costs before you even get a single issue delivered (with print) or risk turning off a huge potential audience (radio or television broadcast).
Think about it. Unless your name is Adam Corolla, there’s a good chance you didn’t release your first podcast to thousands of interested human beings ready to consume every word of it, each with with the faith of a saint it would be good. Podcasters normally start out very small, sometimes even as nothing more than a hobby. You’ll likely have a chance to get several shows under your belt before the downloads start, which allows time to develop a feel for whether or not the topic or format is working without the pressure of an audience of slavering devotees to alienate. In the beginning is the time to experiment.
It’s entirely possible that you’re excited about the concept of podcasting in general but aren’t yet sure which way to take it. Guess what? That’s okay! This is the time to play around and figure out exactly how best to approach it. Once there’s an audience in place, like other mediums, you risk scaring them away if you suddenly implement wholesale changes. People listen to a particular show because there’s something they like about it. If you change it all, turning it into something different and unrecognizable, why would they come back to download next week’s episode? Purely on the charm of your character?
Maybe you’re that charming, but maybe not. Unless you absolutely hate your topic and the thought of recording a single additional second makes you immediately vomit, why not take a few moments and consider the audience? A dedicated audience is a precious resource. They’re tough enough to build the first time and it’s even harder and more fraught with failure to try to repeat the process.
The bottom line is this. You shouldn’t be afraid to change your podcast – in the beginning. If you become one of the fortunate few podcasters to develop a sizable audience, take care before implementing wholesale changes because you might be knocking yourself right back to square one. What if one of your favorite hosts suddenly tossed it all away and slammed themselves into another format? How about Rush Limbaugh giving up politics and adopting a feel-good empowerment approach like Oprah? Or what if sports talker Jim Rome decided gardening was his true love? Or maybe Jason Hartman gave up real estate and embraced the Age of Aquarius?
See what we mean? Changing your show in a big way is perfectly fine, except when it’s not. (Top image: Flickr | Parker Michael Knight)
The Speaking of Wealth Team