Ep 162: I (almost) Quit Podcasting [audioblog]

I Almost Quit Podcasting

 

Audioblog Version:

 

Blog – (Text Version):

I have been podcasting for over a year now. I did not have a background in radio or TV or journalism. I just believed I could do it and went for it!

As a consumer of podcasts and an entrepreneur myself, I loved hearing the journey of other entrepreneurs. In the lonely world of my own software startup, these stories kept me going. But what was missing for me was hearing from women.  The majority of podcasts I listened to were of 30 year old single men interviewing other 30 year old single men.  That was so different from my life as a wife and Mom.  When a dude would interview a woman (about 10% of the time), the questions they would ask were not the ones I needed answered.

So I launched The Biz Chix Podcast to give voice to woman entrepreneurs and to get answers to my own questions. I have interviewed over 150 women and I walk away each time inspired by the women, the businesses they run and the lives they are living.

But the truth is (and this is hard to admit publicly), I considered quitting, throwing in the towel, giving up on at least 3 different occasions during this first year.

I’m going to be honest, podcasting is way more time consuming than I ever imagined. The majority of podcasts that launch never reach the 10th episode (I just released #160). The term “Podfading” was even invented to describe the act of quitting a podcast.

In January 2014, I launched The Biz Chix Podcast, when I was 7 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child (I now have a daughter that is 13, a son that it 3 and a 6 mos only baby boy). I wasn’t planning on launching while pregnant and if I had not already committed to a launch date before I found out we were expecting a new blessing, I would have delayed the launch. If you or yours has ever been pregnant, you know that the first trimester is tough. A woman’s body diverts all energy to help baby grow and to create the systems needed to sustain baby for 9 months. Let’s just say I got really tired during the first trimester, was prone to fall asleep while sitting straight up on the couch and I ate a lot of cereal.  I mean a lot!

I launched the podcast by releasing 3 episodes on the first day (1/31/14) and then 1 episode a day for the first two weeks. So for the 3 weeks leading up to this I was interviewing guests 5-6 days a week to start to build up an inventory of guests. I also needed to get intro music, voiceovers and podcast artwork produced. I was initially planning on editing and doing all the post production  myself, but in order to pull off this aggressive schedule and run my other biz and household, I needed help. My husband, Mark,  is a software developer and super techie, so he easily slid into the role of editor and producer for the show.

I started my normal schedule of 5 episodes a week after my initial launch. Once I passed the 50-episode mark, I started to get worn down by this schedule. We had grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to produce a single episode. It actually takes 4-8 hours (for our team of 3 – myself, Mark and our virtual assistant Liza May) to produce one episode with the greatest variable being the time it takes to edit. Looking back, I cannot believe I kept up this rigorous schedule during my first trimester of pregnancy. Often I would take a nap from 8pm to 10pm and then get up and finish the next day’s episode. Mark would often be editing past midnight to release the episode 2-3 hours later.

Business_new_noteworthy

An exciting early win during this launch period was being ranked as a #1 New Business podcast by iTunes. If you are not a podcaster, you may not realize that this is like being ranked an Amazon bestseller. It helps people discover you and give you some “bragging” rights. An interesting note about the graphic above. Of the 12 podcasts fully visible below, 3 are no longer being produced, one did not release an episode for 5 months and two were produced by veteran podcasters who had other shows (Pat Flynn’s Ask Pat and Tim Paige’s Conversion Cast). So I am clearly not the only one that has struggled with podcasting endurance.

I Want to Quit Round #1

About mid-April (or 4 months in), I decided something had to change or I was going to burn out. I decided to move to a 3 day a week schedule once I reached the 75th episode milestone. This gave me room to breathe and to think about how to interact more with my audience (something I was desperately craving) besides just releasing episodes.

Maui2014Can I just say that Mark and I felt like we had so much free time all of a sudden?  We had literally given up our evenings of relaxing with a TV show, movie or conversation to just producing content.

Then my family went on a vacation to Hawaii. Ahh, can you feel the island breeze? Can you imagine life slowing down? It was so wonderful to relax and enjoy time together. We stayed in an oceanfront resort and our biggest decision each day was whether or not to go to the pool or the beach first.

I Want to Quit Round #2

On that vacation, I started questioning why I was doing the podcast. Did I want to keep doing this while I had a newborn in arms (not sure)? Was I making a difference (yes)? Did I have enough downloads and social media presence to attract sponsors (no)? I also realized that I was not going to have enough episodes to take a 3 month maternity leave from interviewing (my goal), if I stayed at my 3 day a week schedule.

I was feeling overwhelmed. I thought about quitting (again). I had been at this for over 6 months and while I was hearing from my audience from time to time (thanks Biz Chix!), and some were asking to work with me, I didn’t have the energy to create a product or service for my audience (that’s what the 3rd trimester will do to you, your mind turns to nesting mode).

I battled my desire to “nest” and/or “nap” 24/7 and ended up deciding to continue podcasting, but to reduce the number of episodes (again) and release to 2 a week. I was able to easily see how many episodes I needed to record in order to go on maternity leave 4 weeks before my due date. Let’s just say that June and July were filled with a TON of interviews, but I made my goal (woohoo!) and by the first Monday in August, I was done interviewing and baby Jett Conrad Eckdahl arrived September 2nd (no drugs, water birth, 9lbs 15oz, 23 inches).

I Want to Quit Round #3

The final big decision on whether or not to continue was when I ran out of interviews that I recorded before baby Jett was born. I knew in October I needed to start booking interviews for November, but I just didn’t really feel excited about interviewing again.  The thing about interviewing is that it locks you into a set schedule. You make an appointment with your guest that you need to honor. I was really enjoying not having to do anything on a set timeline.

I even posted about this in She Podcasts (a Private Facebook Group for Female Podcasters  – join if you are one), asking for their advice regarding my stalemate. They gave me great advice and I realized that one of four things was happening each time I thought of quitting and they were all happening at once in this round.

Four Reasons I Almost Quit Podcasting

1) I had lost connection to my Why.

I needed to reconnect with my Why. Why was I doing this? I launched the podcast to give voice to female entrepreneurs and in turn inspire other women. I also wanted to establish myself as an expert on entrepreneurs and specifically female entrepreneurs. I knew all this was happening, but it was hard to measure.

2) It was hard to connect to my audience.

Since most people listen to podcasts while they are doing something else, it is difficult to get listeners to respond to any call to action. Occasionally I would see comments on my episode show notes, get a tweet from a listener or a personal email. I needed to find a way to interact with my audience on a day to day basis.

3) I had NOT focused on creating an income from the podcast and I don’t like to work for free.

It was taking to long to monetize and after all, I did not start podcasting as a hobby or for philanthropic reasons (BizChix.com is not my charity).

I was used to being paid well for what I do, but I knew that starting a podcast would not lead to an instant windfall. However, I figured by the 6 month mark, I would have sponsors for the show and other ways of creating an income through the Biz Chix brand. What I didn’t anticipate is that it takes time to build up an audience and by the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, I didn’t really feel motivated to offer a product or service to my audience or to seek out sponsorship. I was tired.

I did try an experiment to see if anyone would sign up for a one month accountability group in August. If it went well, I would continue it after the baby was born. Unfortunately, my sales process was lame and no one signed up. So, I ended up inviting some women that had been supportive of the podcast to join in. We participated in a private Facebook group, but my focus waned as the month went on and baby was about to arrive. I did take key learnings from this “failure” though (which you will see later).

4) I don’t like having a set schedule.

This especially relates to my 3rd round of wanting to quit. With an infant in arms and technically still omy a self-imposed maternity leave, I was finding it hard to commit to a specific interview schedule. I knew I just needed to conduct 2-3 interviews a week, but I had not transitioned my nanny or mom taking care of the baby. They primarily helped with my toddler and taking care of the home while I took care of baby (and squeezed in work while he napped). Baby Jett was not easy to get on a predictable schedule, and as a nursing mom I had other scheduling complications.

Why Did I Keep Podcasting?

1) The Audience Asked Me To Keep Going

podcast_testimonial

Every time I thought of quitting, I got an email from an audience member sharing how the podcast is positively impacting their life. I mean EVERY SINGLE TIME!! The timing has become almost eerie to me. I find it so generous of the women that take time to write and share how the guests I bring on are inspiring them. Many have shared that after they found me they went back through my entire library of episodes and binge listened. I feel so honored that out of all the media options available, people choose me. (Thank you!)

The relationship built between a podcaster and their audience is very intimate.  I know that for the podcasters I listen to regularly, I feel like they are my close friends.  I know that we aren’t really friends, but I get attached to them, enjoy hearing stories about their personal lives and feel like I know them.  I’ve learned that my audience feels the same way about me and they are huge reason why I keep going!

2) Podcasting is Addicting

I love the art of Podcasting and get a high from each interview. I had no idea that I would love doing this so much. I am naturally curious about entrepreneurs and always ask the entrepreneurs I meet in real life about their business, so it is so fun to have 45 straight minutes to dig into someone’s business and ask them anything I want!

3) The Podcasting Community Rocks

I have never been part of a more supportive or collaborative community. I have made friends around the world that I never would have come in contact with through podcasting. Since the average podcast consumer listens to at least 6 podcasts, my “competitors” in the biz women podcasting space have actually become dear friends. Check out my two favs Katie Krimitsos and Jessica Kupferman. I’ve never even met Katie in person but with both of these ladies I can brainstorm the latest strategies we are using to grow our podcasts and also get real about the struggles too. They get me. They complete me!

However, the real turning point for me and what helped me continue during the dark hours was a podcasting mastermind group I participated in from July to January 2014. I was invited into the group by a fellow member of Podcaster’s Paradise. We all made a 6 month commitment to meet with each other weekly and share our ups and downs. It was so helpful to get new ideas from my peers and to encourage one another.

[Interesting side note: Of the 6 shows represented in that mastermind, 2 members stopped podcsting, one member took about 3 months off from podcasting and another stopped doing one show, took a 2 month break, and is about to launch a new show.]

4) My Private Facebook Community

If I could do anything over again, it would be to launch sooner the Private Facebook Group I host for the Biz Chix community. I cannot tell you how rewarding it is to interact with my listeners and guests all together in one place. I have loved facilitating groups in person and that has translated well to the virtual world too.

This group gives me a place to go to be with my audience and guests. I was very intentional about shaping the culture of the group initially and my greatest joy was when the group started taking on a life of its own and seeing my community connect and serve one another without any prompting on my part.

5) The Podcast is Monetizing

Once I came out of my new baby fog around the end of November, I realized that I only wanted to keep doing this if I could create an income from the Biz Chix brand. I decided to launch a paid mastermind and offer 1/1 coaching. The women in the mastermind group are AMAZING and I feel privileged to get to work with them and also to be a conduit for the collective wisdom they share with one another. I never could have anticipated how their individual networks and experiences would help one another. (Please Apply to be in the next group if it sounds like a fit for you.)

I have a background in management consulting and coaching small business owners, so it has been really fun to return to my roots. I love spending time one on one helping coaching clients refine their goals, grow their businesses or work through tough problems together. As a Mom of three, I love to explore how a woman is using all her time and look for ways she can be more productive in all facets of her life and make sure there is time for self-care.

Also, I finally got past a mental block I had and invited sponsors to the show. Now, I feel silly for not inviting sponsors months ago. For a while, I have had my own biz ScheduleMAX.com sponsoring the show and have seen excellent traction as listeners have signed up for free trials and started using our online scheduling software.

Why did I wait? To be completely honest, I was afraid of rejection. I know that is silly, but I had to get over myself and be OK with someone saying NO. Once I did, I had a 100% success rate and want to thank my new sponsors MarketingDish.com and CalamusWorks.com (visit them if you need social media or publishing assistance, respectively).

Executive Summary

If you are going to start a podcast (or any business for that matter), it is important to realize that it’s going to take a lot longer to launch and grow than you can anticipate. You will only keep doing it if you are EXTREMELY passionate about what you are doing and if you can find a way to create revenue sooner rather than later. It is not realistic to think, I will launch this business and in a few months be raking in the money. I’m not saying that is impossible, it just is not likely.

You need a strong why, a supportive community, more time than you think and some kind people in your tribe that will email you occasionally telling you they like what you are doing (thanks BizChix, I love you girls)!

How about you?  Have you ever thought about quitting your podcast or your business? I want to hear from you.  Leave a comment below.

Comments

  1. What a wonderful thing to share with us, Nat! It’s so comforting (in a strange way) to hear that other people struggle with similar things. Lord knows I’ve thought of quitting several times myself! I love your story of how every time you wanted to quit, you received a supportive email. I’ve noticed the same thing in my own life. Either it’s the Universe sending us signs to keep going, or it’s the fact that we don’t notice/appreciate the positive messages until we really, really need them. (An eye-opener when you think of that possibility, right?) Either way, thank goodness those messages came through when they did and kept you going. Women of the world need what you’re doing! You have such a friendly, honest, and sincere voice and I, for one, will always be a fan.

  2. Wow, Natalie. Thank you for your authentic honesty and transparency. It’s refreshing to know how other’s successfully pursued utilizing positive inner perspectives to times of discouragement or uncertainty. I’m going to bookmark this for whenever I feel discouraged. Thank you, again. I really enjoyed reading this 🙂

  3. Carol

    “The majority of podcasts that launch never reach the 10th episode…”

    Very curious about where you got that information. I’ve seen a version of this with 6, 7, 10. 12… do you have a source where this comes from? I’m interested in getting some podcast stats but unable to find a good source. Thanks!

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