When I was younger I could work for a lot longer without breaks. Now I get tired. It's not so much a physical thing as it is a mental thing - my ideas get a little slower to form and my ability to focus on learning and developing is hindered.
That's hardly surprising - rest is vital to a successful and happy lifestyle - but the challenge that I often find personally is knowing what to do in order to develop myself after I've rested.
There's so much that commands your attention and often, as podcasters, we're running our podcast "on the side" (I refuse to say "side hustle" because I'm not trying to sell you a course) so when it comes to producing our show we do it by the numbers.
Producing becomes the only thing we "have to get through" in order to keep our show going but if you've followed me for a while, you know that it's not about just keeping going, it's about moving forward and growing our audience.
Why do we stagnate?
Stagnation comes, in my view, from continually treading water but mistaking that treading as forward motion.
The production of our show is vital, but if that's all we do then we're treading water. To move forward we have to upgrade ourselves bit by bit in such a way https://www.markasquith.com/the-podcast-accelerator/287/ (that we learn new skills) and in such a way that we learn to distinguish between when we're making a decision based on comfort, stubbornness or an unwillingness to adapt.
The problem that I see a lot of podcasters face is that they don't know where to start with educating themselves on, for example, podcast marketing & promotion (https://www.captivate.fm/product-releases/learn-how-to-grow-monetize-your-podcast-with-captivate-growth-labs/ (here's a free thing for that, btw)) so they push harder into the things that they're comfortable with to patch over the mental wound of being anxious about beginning to learn something new and uncomfortable.
I get that completely, I really do, because we all do it. Every single one of us at some point in our lives takes the easier, more comfortable and known path.
The challenge is that, mentally, we want to progress and we want to develop and we know that we're getting in our own way - but if we aren't careful, our ego slips into the mix and we begin to get defensive about our situation in such a way that pushes us more and more into a production cycle - "Hey I don't want to hear this feedback because I don't know how to act on it so instead, I'll just produce more and more episodes so that I feel great about doing something and we'll see how it goes."
You can only do that for so long.
After a much-shorter-than-expected amount of time, you begin to get frustrated with your lack of progress again. Maybe your downloads aren't moving in the right direction, maybe your audience engagement isn't where you want it to be and the cycle begins anew: it's hard to hear tough feedback, so you produce something you're comfortable with to make yourself feel better and off we go again...
That, my beautiful podcaster, is why we stagnate.
Let's learn to be uncomfortable.
Discomfort for a podcaster comes in many forms. Often, it begins with an inkling or some feedback that the show that we love producing isn't quite as good as we think it is.
Sure, that can be subjective but when enough people start saying it, we have to take an objective look at it. We must put ourselves in the minds of our listeners and have empathy with the thing that they're investing in: our show - time isn't free and every time someone listens to our podcast, they invest a little bit more in to our brand.
What's more, new listeners may be experiencing the same thoughts as your stalwart listeners and simply choosing to go elsewhere for their content, resulting in slow audience growth and diminishing returns on the time that we invest in the podcast.
I've seen this countless times and in fact,...