I didn't have an audience. I didn't have a mailing list. I didn't have any experience with a podcast, or talking into a microphone.
But I had an idea.
Less than 3 years later, I had an audience with somewhere around 50 million unique downloads. I had a clean mailing list with over well over 10,000 subscribers. And I had a heck of a lot of experience–hundreds of hours–behind a microphone, podcasting.
I'm not sure I'd call myself an expert podcaster, but one of the most frequently asked questions I hear assumes I am: how did you do create 5 popular podcasts?
The short answer: accountability (Podcasters' Paradise) and consistency. Update: this free podcast course is a great start.
But I'll share the longer answer, too.
Achieving Podcast Goals
I read a book called Willpower Doesn't Work by Benjamin Hardy, and he says:
“When it comes to achieving goals, making committed decisions involves investing up front, making it public, setting a timeline, installing several forms of feedback and accountability, and removing or altering everything in your environment that opposes your commitment.”
Let's break that down in terms of podcasting.
Investing Up Front
This is key. I've witnessed this in both myself and others. When I give away free products, maybe 1% of people will actually use it. But if they pay for it, it's a different story. Not only that, but the more they pay, the higher the success rate. Why? You're invested. That's why it feels exponentially more difficult to break up with someone as time passes. You're invested, your family is invested, and your friends are invested.
I invested in Podcasters' Paradise. It's not cheap, but I knew it would have the information I needed to launch and grow my first podcast, from the tech of microphones, recording software, creating and uploading the MP3s, getting listed in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more, to creating a website, making money from ads, and everything in between. There's also a free podcast course worth checking out.
Making It Public and Setting a Timeline
You put your money where your mouth is, but you also need the words, too. Declare this goal!
The first thing I did was share my podcast idea with my business partner. I was tired of making apps. He liked the idea. But most importantly, I told him in late October or early November of 2015 that I would launch this podcast before the end of the year.
Not only that, but I told the creator of Podcasters' Paradise himself: John Lee Dumas. He was closing down registration–and I barely got it. I thanked him and told him that I'd follow his program and launch within a couple of months.
Installing Several Forms of Feedback and Accountability
I've heard that most podcasts “podfade” at around episode 7. Without accountability, and with a lackluster launch, it's easy to give up quickly. You need to have accountability, but also feedback so you're making improvements with each new episode.
One of the reasons I wanted to join Podcasters' Paradise was the feedback. They have “Pay It Forward Friday” where hundreds of professional
podcasters review each other's work, and honest reviews are emphasized. This isn't a place to simply trade 5-star reviews, but to give some legitimate feedback to your peers. I participated, giving and receiving feedback on hundreds of podcasts. I learned what worked, what didn't, and took constructive criticism to heart.
I also relied on Lee (my business partner) for feedback. He was my avatar–someone who represented the typical listener. Before launching, I gave him a few episodes to listen to and asked for his critique. I did the same with those closest to me. It wasn't easy; in fact, it was nerve wracking. But the feedback was important.
As the show grew, I received feedback organically, and still do, in the form of emails, tweets, and Facebook messages. When someone likes or doesn't like something, they'll get in contact with me.
Removing or Altering Everything in Your Environment That Opposes Your Commitment
Make this as easy on yourself as possible. Create a dedicated space where you podcast. Join podcasting groups. Become friends with podcasters. Attend podcasting events.
Being part of Podcasters' Paradise Exclusive/Members Only Facebook Group and leaving other unrelated Facebook groups helped with this, but I was lucky in that my business partner was on board for me to pause our app development business and spend my time launching our first podcast. I slowly changed my focus from apps to podcasts and never looked back.
I also used the countless tutorials in the Podcasters' Paradise members area to learn what equipment I needed, how to edit the audio, where and how to submit the MP3, and everything else I needed to know to create a podcast.
We Launched Our First Podcast Before 2016
I kept my promise to my business partner and the Podcasters' Paradise community. I launched in December of 2015 with no audience and no expectations. My goal was to hit 1000 downloads in one day sometime in 2016… even if it took all year. But somehow, I crushed that goal before 2016 even began.The launch of a podcast is only where it begins. Consistency is where the magic happens. Click To Tweet
Growing the Podcast: How One Download Turned Into ~50 Million
The launch isn't everything, though. In fact, I believe it's overrated. The secret sauce is consistency–consistency in everything.
Your audience needs to know what to expect. When my favorite podcast releases every other Saturday, and I don't see a new episode on that Saturday that I expected it, I'm disappointed. Create a schedule, and stick with it, whatever that takes. If you have to record episodes ahead of time, so be it. You need to be held accountable for this.
“If you build it, they will come.” -No Successful Businessperson Ever
If you're interviewing people, make it easy for them to share your show with their network. If you have a solo show, be where your audience is and use your expertise to answer their questions genuinely, and refer them to specific episodes you've created that dive into the subject even further. Help out others who have the audience you desire–truly help them–and who knows, they might return the favor.
Some of the authors I narrate gave me permission, and that's all I ever asked for, and all I ever received. And I'm ok with that. I'm more than ok with that–I'm thankful that they gave me permission in the first place. But some authors have gone above and beyond, sharing this work to their audience time and time again, without me even asking for it.
Create and share value, and I promise that you'll be pleasantly surprised by the dividends you receive.
Get Feedback Consistently
I've already touched on this, but I want to emphasize that this never ends.
The Podcasters' Paradise community has been a massive resource for me with feedback about all aspects of my show, including audio quality, content, and more.
And with that feedback…
Tweak & Improve Consistently
If you have an interview show, every episode is an opportunity to improve your interviewing skills. If you have a solo show, you can improve your performance, your cadence, your tone, and your timing.
You can boost the quality of your sound. Your editing skills should grow.
There are tutorials covering all of these in Podcasters' Paradise, but it's up to you to learn every day and make consistent progress with each and every episode.
Most people are looking for the easy answer: “Buy podcast subscribers on Fiverr.” Mmmm… good luck with that. That's an easy way to get flagged, have a bunch of ghost/robot subscribers that never listen, and ruin your chances at something bigger.
But if you can first commit to the goal of launching, and then grow consistently, you'll be ahead of 90% of podcasters in no time.
Make it easy on yourself:
- Invest up front
- Make it public
- Set a timeline
- Install several forms of feedback and accountability
- Remove or alter everything in your environment that opposes your commitment
Podcasters' Paradise helped me with all of the above.
Once you've launched, stay consistent with your publishing schedule, promotion, getting feedback, and improvement & learning.
And yes, Podasters' Paradise helped with that, too.