In this Chapter of our Basic Elements of the Podcaster & Livestreaming Starter guide I want you to understand that you have to love or be extremely interested in what you are sharing day after day, week after week – like us!
Both Adam and I hear a lot of our clients and friends say that super-successful podcasters and streamers had a lot of luck or had the foresight to be the first to do something, maybe got the right connections at the right places and that it was the key of their success. While I’m not disputing that these factors can act as booster rockets on the road of success, it would only be temporary if there was no passion to drive onward once these rockets run out of fuel. I’m going to compare it to music production since it is at heart all about content production to the right crowd as well.
Think for a moment about American Idol winners. It is a huge promotion at the start and many relationships with industry insiders are built before the finals. Professional coaching is provided after the first few rounds in the casting show and they get all the ingredients needed to continue their success. The casting show was so popular that it had been replicated outside of the USA in the same format but in the respective foreign countries with their own music superstars, genre specializations, etc. Yet, of how many American Idol contestants do you still know today? To give you a quick Top 5 successful American Idol Contestants by Album Sales.
- Carrie Underwood – Season 4, winner – 16,850,000 Total Album Sales
- Kelly Clarkson – Season 1, winner – 14,351,250 Total Album Sales
- Chris Daughtry (as Daughtry) – Season 5, 4th place – 7,376,000 Total Album Sales
- Clay Aiken Season 2, runner-up – 5,069,000 Total Album Sales
- Fantasia Barrino – Season 3, winner – 3,332,000 Total Album Sales
Based on this data compiled by Wikipedia here, you can see that out of the top 5, 2 are non-winners. The 3rd and 4th most successful American Idol contestants by total album sales across the board were in 4th and 2nd place respectively. Ironically much better performing than the winners of the same season they competed against.
What I’m attempting to show you here is that there are more factors to success than the initial start. Persistence, Perseverance & Passion can be so much more powerful and rewarding in the long-run. A battle lost yesterday will not determine the outcome for the remainder of the war.
The great thing is if you are so deeply interested in what you are talking about (or in the case of music – your love for your specialized genre), you have an almost unlimited natural drive to keep putting content about it out there and have insider knowledge and random or fun facts that only a very limited amount of people besides yourself knows about. It allows you to express your true, natural personality far easier than having to act like someone in an industry you have no personal relationship to.
That natural personality of yours makes you appear as a more realistic person which is what listeners and viewers are craving. They don’t want soulless, boring robots that simply do as the script says. Neither do they want someone who clearly is not that interested, curious or knowledgeable on a topic they wish to deep-dive in. You do not need to be perfect, because nobody is. It all starts with being yourself. Your comfort is tied to your passion. Don’t worry too much about competition, similar podcasts, high-end professionals in the niche or even how easy or difficult it is to monetize that corner.
If you can provide value, then your listeners will return value to you – all you have to do is ask them! The more passionate and interested you are in what you are talking about – the easier it is to provide value. Not only do you have the knowledge they are seeking, but more importantly you have the wisdom of understanding their exact pains. Individuals flock to you maybe for the entertaining aspect, maybe to learn a skill, maybe to simply resolve shared problems. The bottom line is that your listeners and viewers dedicate their invaluable time to you. They are not commuting and listening to the latest hit song, their favorite 80s rock band, an audio book or the self-proclaimed #1 expert in the niche. They are listening to you.
Expect that your listener has at least half the interest level of your own in the topic you are podcasting about. They will be able to discern quickly whether or not your content is valuable to them. Of course there is a plethora of other reasons why someone might not finish your episode of a podcast from simple reasons such as time limitations (maybe their commute is only 20 minutes but your episode is an hour long), over insufficient audio quality all the way to them simply disagreeing with your opinion and take on a topic.
But from our experience the most dedicated fan listeners are either working in the field you are talking about, your competitors who want to learn what you are offering that they are not and of course those that are not yet a veteran of your topic but wish to rapidly advance their knowledge by listening to the authority in the field.
Try to remember the first time you got a taste of your current number one passion. Was it a slowly accelerating curiosity that got you digging deeper and deeper each day, trying to maximize your knowledge? Or was it more like a rollercoaster going downhill where it hit you like an adrenaline rush similar to a child having freshly unboxed their new favorite toy? However you first felt when getting into your passion, there is a good chance that your listeners feel the exact same way. Support them in ways you wished someone had you when you are looking back.
Don’t be a Facebook or Instagram profile with only perfect picture posts. Talk about your mistakes, the resolutions, lessons and ultimately how you grew from each encounter. Don’t be afraid of mentioning peers, because you can become much stronger by actually working with them, learning about them and ultimately even becoming friends. There is a good chance if you talk about other podcasters & streamers in your niche, they might give you a shoutout of thanks or even want to be a co-host on an episode they are an even deeper specialist than yourself.
As you might’ve discovered at this point, it doesn’t come down to how you start or what connections you have. It is about ceasing the opportunity by utilizing your unique experiences and putting them out in the world in your style. The next bullet point list will be some actors you might recognize that tend to play similar characters in different settings / movies. That is because directors hire them for that very reason, their natural personality and of course what their fans know them for already:
- Adam Sandler – A comedian who tends to play ‘simple’ male characters who can be easily identified as an ‘Average Joe’ but experience more often than not something magical or miraculous.
- Liam Neeson – An action actor who plays most of the time Law Enforcement or related characters who solves problems more with guns than words.
- Sean Bean – An actor who loves portraying death. He is so known for dying on-screen that fans simply assume his character will die (which is most of the time true).
- Samuel L. Jackson – An actor who tends to be a cunning bullet-delivering hero with a few exceptions such as his appearance in Star Wars where instead he wielded a light saber.
- Jennifer Aniston – An actress who is often a main character in modern romantic comedy movies & tv shows.
While it might sound unfair to be put in a box like that, it can add to your marketability and how your fans can describe you to their friends & family. “Adam looks like a young Bob Seger and is the Dave Ramsey of Podcasting” – or so I might personally describe him, I mean take a look of his picture & read about his experience on our ‘Meet the Producers’ page here.
Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) Summary:
- Be Yourself! Comfort = Authenticity = Better Reception from Fans
- Persistence, Perseverance & Passion = The 3 P’s that will lead to your success.
- Don’t be a Perfectionist – Nobody is, give it your best shot and cover your basics!
- Talk about your Peers, this will give your listener even more value as they get a better idea of authorities in the field and will allow you to get more reach through the fan of theirs. Think of it like an Opening Band at a concert. Fans might come for the Main Group, but they still will listen to the Opening Band and might be a new fan of theirs, too!
- Remember how you felt when your passion was ignited – Your listeners & viewers probably feel the same way right now.