Lockdown has been hard. I've been a royal pain in the rear to be around, I'm sure.
We're social creatures after all but one phrase that keeps coming up during these "How's lockdown been?" discussions is:
"Well, it's good to be busy, isn't it."
It really is, we aren't here to stagnate! We're here to progress as individuals, collectives and as a species.
But as a podcaster, there's a huge difference between being busy and actually progressing. The trouble is, most of us don't see it until it's too late...
Hitting podcasting burn out and then realising what you've been doing wrong
I stopped producing an interview show for founders in early 2016 after 150 episodes.
I was bored of it, frankly. I was working on my Podcast Websites business with Kieran and the EOFire team who we were originally affiliated with on that business and my podcast, whilst fun, was giving my guests a platform for their opinions rather than for me and my ever-growing thoughts about the podcasting industry and my willingness and desire to help podcasters.
But it felt great to produce it. I was busy on it and enjoying it.
The business, though, didn't benefit from my interview show other than enabling me to be a podcaster (which I'd been for years at that point, and that I'd still be even if I didn't work in the industry).
I could pat myself on the back every week and enjoy the highs and buzz of coming down from a great interview but what I couldn't do was reliably grow my podcast.
There was an inherent problem with being so busy on my podcast: I was busy producing, not progressing.
As a hobby podcaster, I should add, being busy and progressing are often one and the same. Many podcasters podcast because they want to enjoy podcasting, talk about something they love with people they love talking to and that's it - nothing else - and you know what, that's completely fine - many of the best podcasts have no illusions of grandeur or giving the host "financial freedom" so they can create courses on how to achieve "financial freedom" (why do they do that if they have "financial freedom? Surely they don't need the money, right?! Anyway... I digress).
The problem though, is that a lot of podcasters are told that creating a podcast will "10x your authority" or "Give you instant expert status" (add other LinkedIn crap here at your will...) and they believe that to be true on the basis of just turning up.
So when it doesn't happen, when their numbers are "low", they blame podcasting (the medium) not thinking for a second that their focus is wrong.
What then happens is that they double down on production, feel great about it for three months but then find themselves back in the same position.
They're busier than ever before but are now seeing the diminishing returns that I've spoken about in various podcast episodes before and thus, the perpetual cycle continues and eventually leads to "podfading" (aka. stopping their podcast).
Choose progress over production
Producing your podcast is a given.
You have to do it in order to podcast. But production isn't something that you can continually lean on as a badge of honour as a podcaster, it's something you're expected to do as part of the committed dedication to your audience that you signed up for when you started podcasting.
In my view, expecting someone to applaud you for being so busy producing your podcast is like expecting applause for turning up at the job you chose, to do the job you actually do every day.
It's the baseline.
Now, I'm not taking anything away from how much time and dedication goes into production - it's admirable, should be respected and should be understood as being a tough thing to stay on top of.
Rather, I'm suggesting that as podcasters we should get off the ego train a bit (including myself here, don't get upset) so that we can clearly see why we...