When podcasts came out years ago, they were not a thing. There weren’t many and most people have not heard of them. Fast forward to today and now there are over 5 million of podcasts in any size, shape and colour pattern you desire.
So after years of thinking about it, I decided to create a 5,000,001st podcast of my own. While it seems pointless I had my reasons.
I have always been a speaker without realising it. In school, I used to prepare a 10-minute opening segment for Friday classes with some interesting facts about animal life and world wonders. Doing that made me happy. I would memorize a few interesting things that I really loved and then talk about them in front of my classmates. I had no fear of public speaking just waves of excitement to share what I learnt.
Podcasting was a natural progression for that school-kid version of me. The podcast moment took a long time to arrive, though I had it on my goals list for the last few years. I even bought a microphone, headset, and professional recording software a few years ago.
I was held back by a lack of patience, time, and motivation. But here we are now, with about an hour and a half of recorded sessions and …. Drum roll – ZERO listeners!
A Podcast With No Listeners Is A Good Thing
Strangely, seeing zeros in my stats does not make me unhappy or demotivated. Here are the reasons why:
Firstly, I realized that after recording just a few episodes, my articulation skills and use of filler words in day-to-day conversations have reduced. I still sometimes form sentences without getting to the point, which is my next learning edge.
Secondly, it improves my writing. I use my written posts as a basis or script for the podcast. What I found was that I often don’t proofread my writing it thoroughly enough. While proofreading software will correct grammatical errors it doesn’t understand the logic behind stories.
By reading my writing aloud I fix mistakes missed by the software and re-write convoluted sentences.
This is also helpful because I am not a native English speaker. When editing my own recordings I can hear mistakes in pronunciation, missed articles and so on. While I am fluent in English and have been speaking for 30-plus years this could be a tremendous help for advanced students mastering another language.
Speaking out your thoughts does something similar to writing. Unloading your thoughts, worries, and ideas on an empty canvas has the magical effect of freeing you up from mental tension and a buildup of ideas.
I also find that my interaction with other fellow humans is limited because of working from home I get overly excited when I finally get to speak with people. I want to talk, tell stories and share my ideas, and frankly, I feel that it could be tiring. Not for me, but for the people around me, of course.
I find that podcasting creates that outlet for me. If I tell an interesting story or capture a moment in writing, the need to share it goes away and I don’t have to repeat it again.
Why Am I Not Worried About Subscribers?
You hear it from others, but I’ll repeat it here. When you’re just starting out, you cannot expect to have hundreds of listeners. Nobody really knows you at this point. Your main goal here is not to build a following and recognition but to sharpen your skills.
This is a time when you learn the tools of your craft, and you become better at speaking and engaging people, even though there is no one listening to you. It also helps you to find your authentic style and favourite topics.
You may come to either writing or podcasting or any of the creative disciplines with a preconceived idea of what you want to create. But as Mike Tyson said in one of his famous interviews, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
In writing, this metaphorical punch in the face may come in the form of you realizing that the topic you thought of writing on is actually boring. In my case, I followed a promise of making $10,000 a month by running a blog from internet gurus. I choose the topics that I thought would be great to attract website visitors based on keyword research.
After three retired sites, I reverted back to what I enjoyed from the moment of doing a presentation in front of the class back in my school days. It Is learning something new and sharing it with the world because it is one of my core values.
I like engaging and interesting topics, but they don’t always follow the same format. For instance, this week I may be interested in crocodiles and their social behaviour. Next week I may be fascinated with how AI can revolutionize the legal system. If I had to come up with a name for it, it is storytelling.
I think of myself as Tom Hanks’s character who roams around telling the world news with his own choice of stories and reflection to inspire optimism in people. Having zero subscribers allows you to change topics until you figure out your niche without confusing your listeners.
I also do not want to rely on validation from others by chasing subscribers and followers. In a way, the internet is a social validation platform on steroids that can amplify this need by magnitude.
This platform can give us exposure to billions of eyeballs, literally. If someone has an internet connection, they could potentially see what you create. This need for external validation is not the only way to feel good about yourself. Finding your authentic self and validating your worth using internal guidance system is the only sustainable way to go.
It is a self-sufficient system that is not driven by recent trends. It also makes you unbiased irrespective of what the market or people want. Media creators and writers often morph into what the public wants them to be. Adjusting your writing style to a few market niches has a place in creative work.
However, I am also certain that it has to be done within the boundaries of authenticity. If you start bending too much, then you will lose your authentic self and become a faceless shape-shifting content creator. Not a writer or an artist.
The outsourced validation by others is directly linked to chasing fame. I suggest playing your creative harp from an authentic heart and the right audience will find you. This may not be a huge audience of billions of people, but they will be your true fans that will really dig your artistic creations.
How Do I Measure Success In My Early Days Of Podcasting
Despite not having many subscribers, I still have my success metrics. At this point in time, I’m focused on publishing one episode every two weeks. I’m also looking for the most efficient way of recording podcasts. I also focus on the quality of my speaking so that I don’t have to re-record or edit the rough cuts too much.
I am also planning to use AI tools only once I develop the skill of podcasting. When I am in front of people in real life who will remove “hmms” and “umms” and keep my sentences concise? Sure AI is not going anywhere but that means I have time to work on my own skills.
I will introduce other performance measures that will be linked to the quality and frequency of my content. I am aware that our online presence and number of subscribers are directly linked to how often we publish new content. But again, this is not something I’m concerned with at this point.
Let me know what you think in the comments. You can also subscribe to my monthly newsletter for updates on the interesting content discoveries, and my thoughts on current events.