It’s been a few weeks since Podcast Movement 2018 and as always, one would need some time to collect their thoughts, review their notes, and recover their energy for being so social for such an extended period of time. Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting with folks and talking all things podcasts, seeing old friends, and making new friends, but it consumes a lot of energy and I always find myself going into hibernation when I get home. Without further ado, here are my takeaways–and thoughts–from Podcast Movement 2018.
Podcast Movement is one of the big dedicated podcast conferences where podcasters unite for several days of educational sessions and networking with fellow podcasters and industry representatives.
Don’t Be Afraid To Niche
Your podcast should serve a specific market. When it doesn’t, potential listeners will believe that the podcast isn’t for them. A problem that some podcasters may face when trying to get started or when even trying to grow their podcast is that they are casting their net too wide for listeners. In one session I attended by Stephen A. Hart, he quoted his wife saying:
Don’t boil the ocean when you just need to heat the pool.
If you attempt trying to gather everyone from the start, you may end up spinning your wheels. If you can niche down and target your audience more specifically, you can deliver a message that is directly meant for that listener. And when you’re ready, you can expand your audience.
To aid in this, create an avatar of the person(s) you are wanting to speak to. Create this person or fill in the details of people you do know. List their goals and values, challenges and pain points. What do they have in common? Once you have this in place, you’re ready.
Branding Is Key
This has been a spotlight for me recently as I continue to learn the importance of branding. You can view a starting point with a recent piece I wrote, About Those Logos.
When you combine niching your podcast and message down to the point it is a fine and sharp precision tool, your branding will benefit. With a recent read of The Brand Gap, branding isn’t just about logos and typography.
Your brand is not what YOU say it is. Your brand is what THEY say it is.
Even so, with just a focus on logos, typography and everything else, you MUST be consistent. With consistency, people will begin to recognize your branding and pick you out from the crowd. With a consistent brand and targeted message, Stephen Hart was able to find a sponsor for his show with less than a thousand downloads a month. The first check was for ten-thousand. The second was for twenty-thousand. You may be wondering if it was really just with branding and a message? That leads to the next takeaway…
Some say networking, but I prefer relationships. Some of you in the Austin Podcasters community may be familiar with this as you’ve built relationships with one another and I’ve built relationships with you as well. Podcast Movement, or any big conference you attend, just supercharges that by connecting you with people outside of your area.
My first year at Podcast Movement, I met a group of fellow writers, and we’ve stayed in touch since. I’ve watched their podcasts launch and grow and we were able to reconnect again this year and learn even more about each other beyond podcasts. This year, I’ve also marked the start of new relationships that I hope to continually build. They all have information and experience that I would love to learn from and I hope that I am able to give back what I take.
Further, in the previous example, Stephen was able to get a sponsor–despite not having twenty-thousand plus downloads because he built relationships with someone he had on the podcast. Believing in the message, he was able to grab his first sponsor.
When building relationships, you can look to your community as well. Not just your community of local podcasters, but your community of listeners. Through a panel of podcasters, each shared how they were able to use their online community for their podcast to build businesses. They each niched down their audience to better serve them, and from there they have been able to grow their offerings as well as the community itself.
How? First engagement. When you’ve targeted your audience and your listeners feel that you are speaking directly to them, they are more likely to engage with you. Engage back! You may just make them an ambassador. And if no one has reached out to you yet, reach out to them by inviting them to write or call you. Create those opportunities if none exist.
…your measurement of success is not defined by having hundreds-of-thousands of downloads.
There is always one session that stands out above the rest and for me, that was “So You Want To Be A Storyteller” by Christine Blackburn of Storyworthy podcast. The session started immediately into a 10-minute story and she had the room captivated. Normally you would see attendees on their cell phones, but this time, they remained out of sight. All eyes were at the center of the “stage”, locked on Christine. We laughed, we sighed, and we exhaled as she told her story. When it ended, a round of applause went up and she began to break down the construction of her story.
My goals for last year and this year remained the same. I wanted more technical sessions. I already know how to edit, and the editing sessions covered many things I knew. Therefore, I felt I was missing more advanced sessions that looked at the technical aspects of building narrative podcasts, and sound design. In general, there was a lack of attention on audio-drama podcasts by having panels that focused on that perspective as most everything else focused on interview-based podcasts. This may very well be an area that I would have to continue to look at other segments of the market for knowledge and techniques such as film editing and sound design.
Outside of my specific needs, the conference was a great time. Even without the advanced technical sessions that I was seeking, I did piece together from all of my takeaways is that your measurement of success is not defined by having hundreds-of-thousands of downloads. There are many, many, successful podcasts with very small audiences that are allowing some hosts to podcast for a living, or use their podcast to fund their entrepreneurial efforts. All they needed to do was focus their message by being consistent, build relationships, and engaging their community.