• John Lim

MF 405 : Podcasting in 2022: start with the exit

Updated: Nov 7



We kick off the final series of the season with a look at podcasting in 2022. We'll look at the ins and outs of podcasting, what's changed, how to get started and the technical aspects. Today, we start with the end and why having an exit strategy is key to mapping out your podcasting journey. More at www.bemovingforward.com.


Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music.


The end

We kick off the last series of the season with an updated look at podcasting. A lot has changed since I did the podcasting miniseries in 2019. Notably, the technical aspects are easier than ever to master. Launching a podcast is practically a one-button press endeavor. I recently read that there are over 2M podcasts now, with a large number of them having launched within the past two years. The medium is more popular than ever. Yet, of those, most have fewer than five episodes and a significant number have zero. Yes, zero!


There seems to be a huge disconnect between the more accessible technology and the creative impetus to launch, much less sustain a show.


This is why, we start with the end. If you launch any creative endeavor, begin with an exit strategy. An exit is already built into some mediums like research papers and books where you have an arc: a beginning-middle-end.


With podcasting, it's a lot more opaque. Because there's so much excitement involved in conceptualizing and planning a show, most people don't think about the end. The result is a lot of heat and momentum at launch with many shows sputtering out at around 12 episodes or less. When I launched Moving Forward in 2015, 12 was the magic number I often heard that defined podcast "hump day." If you could get to and then past 12, you had the potential to stick with it. Yet, even many of those shows would fizzle out before hitting 20 or 30 with inconsistent content and no actual end; just an abrupt disappearing act like a TV show that was cancelled mid-season.


Now, in a crowded podcast landscape, we see many shows with far less than 12 episodes, including ones that launch without releasing a single one. Why is that?


I believe there are two factors at play: 1) insecurity or lack of confidence in putting yourself out there, and 2) not having a clearly defined exit to keep you on track.


We'll deal with the first factor a little later in this series. For today, I want you to consider the second: the exit.


I didn't think about an exit in 2015 as I was worried about figuring out how to get started, mastering the tech, booking guests and then finding more guests once I ran out of people I knew to interview. Once I hit my stride, I stuck with it through thick and thin. Eventually, I hit that lull that all content creators face. I still enjoyed recording episodes (back then interviews) but I lost some of the enthusiasm and energy I felt when I started. Then, it was episode 165 in which I interviewed Tim Fulton, a successful entrepreneur who spoke about the importance of having an exit that it occurred to me: I didn't have one for Moving Forward. This was the missing element.


As I approached episode 200, I started thinking about whether it was time to hang up my mic and call it a day. Instead, I decided to continue on, retooling the show, starting in 2019 with a shorter and more intimate format: a solo podcast in which I would talk about projects I was working on, sharing them with my listeners. I also let go of a lot of the the time consuming editing and frills of the earlier seasons. This gave me a second wind and I discovered or rather rediscovered the joy of podcasting within this freer workflow.


More importantly, I came to a conclusion about Moving Forward's conclusion. I decided that I would end at episode 500, which I announced publicly on episode 400. This has kept me going ever since.


If I were launching Moving Forward today, it would look very different. While I'm proud to have 400+ episodes under my belt covering so many topics and formats, today I think it's easier to stand out in a crowded sea of podcasts if you have a specific niche and clearly defined topic. This is why I would start with an exit, mapping out how many seasons and episodes I want the show to be. Doing so provides a framework to craft your show, to make it focused, and more importantly help you stay on track once the initial thrill wears off post launch.


Assignment

Start with your exit. Be realistic about how much time you have and how many episodes you want to do. Example: 3 seasons, 10 episodes per season or one episode every other week for 2 years. I recommend you deal with the end first. You can tweak this as you plan what the show is about, as we haven't even addressed format or topic yet, but the sooner you start anchoring your show with an arc, the easier it will be to conceive of your show's arc and keep to a content creation schedule.


For more on exits, check out:

My books on Poshmark

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Check out the Moving Forward mini-series collection

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