Twice a year, I try to check in with you all about how my podcast, “Reports from the Spiritual Frontier” is going. (My last update is here.) As I mentioned during my update at the beginning of the year, this is my make or break year for this podcast. The first six months have been immensely clarifying about what that means, so, without further ado, let’s check in:
1) Am I having fun?
I could almost copy-paste my response from last time. I love the interviews and the opportunity to have deep conversations with utterly amazing people. It’s been a *dark* six months nationally; and this podcast has been one of the key activities that gives me hope and keeps me sane.
I can’t tell you how energized some of these conversations have made me. Highlights include: talking for almost two hours with David Evan Markus, as we discovered our immense common theological ground, listening to Erin Martin and almost crying as I heard about the beautiful way her intentional community grounds her vocation, gasping almost audibly I had heard Dan Wolpert describe the first six years of my pastoring in five minutes, smiling as I heard Lisa and Justin talk so openly and collegially with Ramsey about creating spiritual community with the differently abled.
I still don’t like promotion, I still don’t like wrangling guests (and yup, I’ve had several no-shows, etc. this year), I still don’t like the way that I can anxiously obsess over statistics.
I’ve discovered that I have a super-anxious artist living in the back of my brain, and while I know I have to deal with him, the constant “This is going to fail”, “Your audience isn’t growing”, “Your podcast isn’t making much of a difference” monologue is emotionally exhausting.
2) Is it sustainable?
Thanks to some excellent feedback from Beth Estock, Kenda Creasy-Dean, and David Evan Markus, I now have a workable business plan.
Out of that came immensely simplifying clarity: the bottom line is that my podcast is simply not solvent, and my income needs to expand if I can afford to do this for a fourth season.
This is the linchpin to my discernment. If people like what I’m doing enough to invest financially in it (stay tuned in early fall for a Patreon campaign and very affordable financial sponsorship opportunities for your organization!), then I can step into this for a fourth season and feel good about it. If not…
3) Is it making a difference?
We’ll see. My listens are about 10% down from last year (in part due to a interview-cancellation/illness absence in May). For me, the question whether people value this enough to invest in it financially will be the answer to this question.
4) Am I learning?
I’ve leveled up my business-planning skills immensely. I’m still not great as surfacing the value proposition of my podcast, accurately valuating my audience, and hustling to find partners; but I finally feel like I have a pathway for growth, which is very encouraging!