Why do you podcast? Is your podcast intended to educate, inspire, or entertain? We all have different motivations. Maybe your goal is to grow your personal brand and build authority? Perhaps you want to monetize your show by building an audience and selling ads to sponsors. Or you might podcast for the simple joy of creating something with friends. Art needs no justification.
I’ve listened to many podcasts, and I do believe that podcasting is an art. The phrase “art for art’s sake” (from the French l’art pour l’art) condenses the notion that art has its own value and should be judged separately from themes such as morality, religion, history, or politics.
Why do you create art? Is it a noble pursuit or an exercise in vanity? As podcasters, we have a tendency to look too closely at downloads to validate our hard work. This is not a criticism. What artist, writer, or musician wants to be irrelevant or ignored? Who wants to create in a vacuum? Not me. Every podcaster who I know wants to make an impact. But don’t let the numbers discourage you and stop you from doing what you’re doing.
What’s not clear is how many listeners do we need? Consider these words from Glenn “The Geek” Hebert who has been podcasting since 2008. He founded Horse Radio Network, one of the largest independent podcast networks in the world, with over 8,000 episodes and 11,000 guests interviewed.
Glenn is currently recovering from surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed. Here’s an excerpt from a post that he wrote at the Podfest Multimedia Expo Facebook group.
I have always preached that you shouldn’t get hung up on numbers, downloads, views. The truth is you don’t know who is listening and how you might be affecting them. Even if it is one person, you might be saving their life or making that terrible day they are having a little better. I knew we had built a community at HRN, but the love and support I received through this from listeners has been incredible and extremely humbling. The listeners got together and sent a large Amazon Gift Card so I could shop while healing. I have hundreds of emails from listeners going through the most God awful stuff that say listening to us has helped them get through to live another day.
Bottom line: Whether you have 10 downloads or 10,000 downloads. Be the best podcaster and messenger you can be for that one listener. The one listener who really needs you that day. You just might save their life.
While it’s common to question if your downloads are tracking well or not, having only a handful of listeners is enough to make a difference. You’re fine just where you are. And until you reach your goal of however many listeners you desire to have, remember this:
Art for art’s sake means for the pursuit of beauty – without any other preoccupation.
Keep hitting publish. And keep making art that matters.
Are you overly focused on the number of downloads your podcast gets? What do you think?