In biology, evolution is the change in the characteristics of a species over several generations. In business, products evolve over time to improve the customer experience. As a showrunner, you need to encourage the evolution of your podcast.
At launch, it’s difficult to know if listeners will enjoy your podcast in the way that you envision it. Let’s assume that you followed podcasting for an audience of one where you created a podcast that you love and others have followed and listened over time. Or you followed an entrepreneurial approach by identifying a problem or gap in the podcast universe, polled people about what they wanted in a show, and you created that podcast.
As you run a show over time, the challenge is to push yourself beyond the status quo. How do you innovate?
Listening back to your show with a critical ear is a powerful tool. Put yourself into your listeners’ shoes. Make time to review old episodes and take detailed notes about what you could have done differently to strengthen the episode’s message and impact. Could you have asked better questions? Could you have said more by saying less?
Be critical and adapt with precision.
As your back catalog grows so does your data. Don’t just look at downloads for the sake of looking at downloads. Review your metrics with purpose.
- See what episodes got the most downloads. Is there a common thread in the topic, style, or format?
- Did certain episodes receive more feedback or elicit a stronger response from listeners?
- Look at Apple Podcasts Connect or Spotify for Podcasters where you’ll be able to see how long people listened to episodes. Which episodes kept them for the entire episode? Where did people drop off?
Based on the above, make data-driven choices.
I find that it’s often difficult to get constructive audience feedback so be proactive. Ask friends and fellow podcasters to listen to a specific episode and ask them for feedback. What did they like or not like? What changes can they suggest that would improve the show?
Search for clues in your podcast reviews. Read the comments if you publish to YouTube.
I periodically conduct listener surveys where I give away several Amazon gift cards to entice people to participate.
Ask listeners if they’re male or female, how they learned about your podcast, do they listen in the car? Gathering additional information about your listeners, why they listen, and what they like or don’t like is priceless.
Change is not easy, especially when you don’t have a lot of data to go by. Implementing real improvements to your podcast requires you to take risks. I encourage you to do it regularly.
Change the length of your introduction.
Try a new theme song.
Randomly try a different show format.
Ask different questions.
Invite unexpected guests.
Experiment like you’re a mad scientist. Then look at the metrics with the care of a forensic accountant. See what moves the needle positively. Ask for more feedback.
As you try different things, some will instantly feel right. Others will be stinkers and fail. Experimentation allows you to adopt the good and shed the bad. Rinse and repeat. Embrace this process and you cannot help but make your podcast better over time.
What tips can you share about evolving your podcast?