Thanks to Bulldog Milenko (of the Bulldog Unchained Podcast) for this guest post, sharing his thoughts about his journey of podcasting. He offers some of the challenges he’s experienced, lessons learned and goals he hopes to achieve. We hope you enjoy his story and gain some ideas from his experiences.
Let me begin by saying I run a NSFW (not safe for work) podcast, which means the language and content sometimes displayed on my show narrows the spectrum of my potential audience. That being said, there is something about running a podcast which you know provides a good entertainment factor, and is also informative and engaging. I have been doing this show for over four months now, since February 2016, and I have met my fair share of roadblocks and hurdles. One of the largest being that of trying to get my “friends” to not only listen to my show, but share it, because let’s face it…the only way to grow your audience with next to no advertising budget is by word of mouth, which in the 21st century translates to “Share this on social media”.
I have approximately 800-900 followers on Facebook, as well as close to 700 subscribers to my actual podcast. My downloads and plays, however, do not reflect this, as I’m averaging 316 plays/downloads per episode. This is a combination of my Podbean stats and my RSS Feed stats. This is a pretty decent average, in my opinion, for a show that is only four months old with no advertising budget. However, I feel that it should be closer to the 500 play per episode mark at this point. Alas, without having money to advertise, I’m left to my own creativity to attempt to get the masses to share my show.
One thing I have learned from this venture is that you absolutely CANNOT count on your “friends” to wholly support you in your endeavors unless it somehow benefits them. I literally have approximately 20 people out of almost 900 who share my show for me. That is 2% of my Facebook network. Now, to be fair, Facebook has become very shady in their distribution of your status updates and content to your friends list. It is approximated now that when you post something on Facebook, only 35% of your friends and followers can see said post. This creates an automatic disadvantage for anyone, but more so for those of us who are content creators and distributors, which is why it is IMPERATIVE for others to share your posts. Otherwise, next to no one is seeing them.
Now for the real reason I’m writing this article. Some harsh lessons I have learned from doing my show are these:
1. People want to see you do well…just not better than them: If you do anything in life and do it well, you will start to gain a modicum of momentum and success. This is actually a turn off to even those consider your closest of friends. Whether it just be jealousy, indifference or a contemptuous malice and will to see you fail…people don’t want to see someone they know having more success than themselves.
2. People will scoff at your plans, dreams and goals: When I first started this show, I had a lot of “support”. Friends and acquaintances alike telling me “This is awesome!” or “Wow, you’re really onto something!”. As time has progressed, however, I find that fewer and fewer of my “friends” are listening to my show, and even fewer actually share it. And now that I’ve made it known that my ultimate goal is for my show to become my actual career and livelihood, there have even been those who flat out say “You can’t make money doing that”. Well, as of right now, I have 3 paying supporters who donate a whopping $16/month to my show. Now, while this doesn’t sound like a lot, and it isn’t…it does now pay for my monthly hosting fee, which is actually a financial burden that has been lifted from my shoulders. My goal, however, is to reach that 1,000-2,000 listener per episode mark, and if I could average just $1/month in support from those numbers…I could feasibly make this my daily job. I know it’s a lofty goal, but it is a real one, and one which I feel is absolutely attainable. And, there’s also the issue of potential business and corporate sponsors in the near future.
3. You can’t count on the majority of your “friends” to support you: No matter how much people say they support you, or they love you, or they believe in what you’re doing…the proof is always in the end results of their actions. And when there are no actions taken on their parts, it becomes apparent that you are, in fact, obviously on your own to make your show a success. Now, I have actually made some new “friends” through Podbean, and their “Podcasting Smarter” Facebook community. The guys from “Watch Talk Wrestling” podcast and I have teamed up to do heavy cross-promotion and support of each other. We have recorded promos (or stingers) to be played on each other’s shows, as well as promoting each other on our various social media channels. This is a highly beneficial and cost-free marketing and advertising strategy. It’s important when pursuing this to keep in mind that you want to find shows which are mutually beneficial to yours, and vice-versa.
4. When you gain success and notoriety, the vultures will circle: This may sound harsh, but it’s true. I have just recently experienced this as I am gaining access to better interviews and guests on my show. I have advertised a few said guests, and was instantly bombarded by “friends” who don’t listen to my show, let alone share it, about seeing if they could come be on said show with said guest. This, in my opinion, shows a complete lack of respect for me and the brand that I’m building. It would be the equivalent of building your own house…with very little help…and once you’re finished, people show up knocking on your door asking if they can live there. And even worse, once people realize that you’re actually gaining some notoriety with your show, they will try to tell you how you should run your show. My attitude is along the lines of “Thanks, but I did all of this without you thus far, you don’t get to ride along now”. And yes, it absolutely takes that kind of attitude and disposition to stay the course and maintain the integrity of the show that YOU’RE trying to create.
5. You must stay true to and have faith in only YOURSELF: You cannot count on anyone to make you a success. It is absolutely up to you to persevere and press on through any potential setbacks, roadblocks and/or hurdles. There WILL always be those who truly support and help you in your endeavor, but they are extremely few and far between. Stay true to yourself and your content. Most importantly…stick with it…don’t give up! I have seen quite a few podcasts fizzle out within a few months because people became discouraged when they didn’t reach those thousands of listeners immediately. This is most definitely a marathon, it’s not a sprint. Keep plugging away and sharing your content, and asking for help from your “friends”. If they share it, awesome! If they don’t, try not to get to discouraged by it, as you’ll find, they’re not really your target audience.