My One Year Experiment – The First Quarter Update

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With episode six dropping on Tuesday, I’m just about a quarter through my one year experiment in starting a podcast.  (Click here for more information about how I’m evaluating my experiment, or here to listen to my podcast!) With that in mind, here’s a quick check in on how everything is going.

1) Am I having fun?

The short answer: yes. Some of it, especially the sound editing, feels like work at times, but it’s been unbelievably fun to have conversations with incredible people across the country. More than anything, I enjoy the feedback I’m getting from friends, family, and colleagues who have listened to my episodes and found something that struck them. (Yes, I know I should probably just enjoy recording podcasts for the sake of the art, but I find that my nascent creator-ego enjoys the validation more than it probably should.)

As I settle in, I’m also getting contacts with a wider range of potential interviewees, outside of the metho-church planter-verse, and am getting ideas for new shows. (Q&A e-mail episode with your favorite guest, as voted by my loyal listeners, anyone?)

2) Is it sustainable?

It’s a pretty open question right now. Each podcast takes me six to ten hours to produce, which adds up to a pretty heavy duty commitment over the course of a month, especially as I’ve become a new dad.  Yes, I really enjoy it, but do I enjoy it to the tune of 12-20 hours of unpaid work and stress every month? For me, how I’m able to answer the next question will determine how I end up answering this one.

3) Is it making a difference?

After a pretty slow start, the podcast is starting to grow, from about forty listeners at the beginning, (by the way, this is pretty much friends and family, which I can tell because most of the listens come from the island where we live or the towns where my family lives,) to about seventy now. I’m still struggling to find ways to engage with my audience (so far, only one person has taken up my every-episode plea for “thoughts, feedback, questions, or protests,) and have utterly failed in getting reviews on Itunes or on other places that would perhaps help me make contact with people outside of my social media sphere.

I’ve received wonderful feedback from some of my guests in particular, which make me feel like this podcast actually might serve a real need among Jesus-followers in the country, but I would want to see substantial growth in the size and engagement of my audience before I decided whether this was more than just a little ripple in a very big pond.

My hope? To average around 100 listeners to my podcast by the time the July rolls around and have enough audience engagement that I could a listener e-mail show without too much shameless begging.

4) Am I learning?

Yes, I think so. I’ve cut the production time for each episode in half. (My debut episode was a 20 hour, seemingly unending audio editing maze, mostly due to my own learning curve, followed by an unintentional three day staggered launch as my podcast slowly percolated onto podcast distribution services,) I also feel like the interviews are unfolding a lot more organically than before.

I’m also starting to get my arms around the edges of that vast mystery known as Marketing. I’ve learned that  the number of listeners I get for every episode is almost entirely dependent upon the amount of times the episode is shared on social media. I’ve also learned that, for every thousand people I reach with a post, only 40-50 people actually engage with my content. (Out of those 40-50 people, I might get feedback or engagement from 10% of them.)

I still haven’t figured out how to turn my listeners into an engaged tribe – who will read my non-podcast facebook posts, ask me questions, share my episodes, and give me feedback. This is the BIG question I’m trying to grapple with in the next few months.

2 thoughts on “My One Year Experiment – The First Quarter Update

  1. Some thoughts..

    thanks for the update. Some more comments on the podcasts,
    I enjoy them, but may 30 minutes would be a good round number for length

    Whats your “formula” for each episode and what is your listener hook? are you trying to influence or simply educate? is there ever a call to action for the listener? will you ever pitch to traditional church folk to save dying churches?

    Who do you want to reach? besides church planters and people like me who have tasted Jesus in a non church setting?

    1. These are good questions – and ones I’m still leaning into a little bit right now. I’m pretty comfortable with the podcast length – 40-45 minutes puts me significantly shorter than most podcasts in my genre (and my b-sides give me a chance to share material that I have to cut to get down to that length!)

      Right now – there’s no agenda, simply a desire to share the stories of people whose wisdom would otherwise be buried because of the work they do.

      I am hoping to get beyond my Methodist circles in the next round of podcasts – more interviews with non-Methodists and non-planters, hopefully!

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