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Is Now (November 2020) A Good Time To Start A Podcast?

You’ve got a cracking idea for a podcast and you are ready to get going right now. The only problem is it’s the middle of November, a week away from Black Friday, a month away from Christmas and much of the UK (and beyond) is under some form of restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Should you really launch your podcast now?





Well, like any question in podcasting I’m going to answer it by saying “it depends”.


Here’s the points you should consider.


Timing

You’ve probably noticed there’s a lot of noise around at the moment. People are trying to sell you everything. Black Friday sales are underway even though we’re not quite at actual Black Friday at time of recording. Then there’s Cyber Monday.

And of course Christmas is on the way. The Christmas adverts are here and well it’s game over until 2021 isn’t it?

Not necessarily. If what you are talking about in your podcast fits with what’s going on now and is going to solve a problem for your listener then you have a good reason for doing it. Remember the problem you solve doesn’t have to be anything too complicated, it could be offering an escape from Christmas overload. Let’s be honest a lot of people have hit the Christmas button very early and may well peak too soon if they don’t counter it.

But if what you have to offer is likely to get lost in all this pre Christmas noise you may want to consider holding off and deciding when you would get the biggest impact. Bringing a new podcast to the world needs a fair bit of noise from you to get it noticed so make sure you are going to create the loudest noise.

I held off launching my podcast about culture in Stoke on Trent until the weekend the city would be announced in the shortlist for the City Of Culture bid because I knew I could jump on those conversations and use them to talk about my podcast.

You need to identify when the best time to be talking about what you’re talking about is and go for it.


Commitment

As mentioned, right now it’s the middle of November, the calm before the Christmas storm. And whilst that storm is undoubtedly going to be different to other Christmases, it’s still going to blow in.

I need you to think hard about whether you have the time and both the physical and mental space to not just start your podcast but keep it going.

Data courtesy of the My Podcast Reviews service, by Daniel J. Lewis shows on Apple Podcasts at least there are a lot of podcasts with only a single episode. And when I say a lot I mean more than 276,000 single episode podcasts. The only other time you see close to that many inactive podcasts is at 10+ episodes and that obviously includes single series podcasts.

It’s all well and good spending the next couple of weeks planning your podcast, getting all the kit and recording the podcast if you’re going to be derailed by Christmas holidays.

Consistency is key, especially when you are just starting out, if you want to build your podcast audience.

You need to consider the time to record the episodes and the time to edit them too. Editing can take up to 2 or 3 times the length of the raw audio to edit. Although you don’t have to do a huge amount of editing, you can just take out obvious mistakes and leave the rest.

It depends on how fussy or picky you are as to how much editing you want to do.


The podcast landscape

This is something really important to consider. Podcasting is growing massively. According to data from the My Podcast Reviews service, by Daniel J. Lewis there has been a doubling of the number of podcasts on Apple Podcasts since last November. Yes double. From 800 thousand to 1.6 million. And that’s just Apple Podcasts, this doesn’t include podcasts which are just on Spotify, Google Podcasts or other platforms.

Now the caveat is that not all of these podcasts are active podcasts. They are podcasts that have at least one episode. I encourage you to have a look at the data, it’s fascinating (no it really is!)

But this news should really make you sit up and take a long hard look at yourself if you’ve STILL not started your podcast. Especially if you have been thinking about starting a podcast and putting it off for months or even years.

At least 800 thousand extra podcasts are out there compared to this time last year.

That means 800 thousand more podcasts competing for your listeners' ears.

That’s annoying isn’t it.

Don’t panic though, because you haven’t missed the podcasting boat just yet.

It just means you’re going to have to shout a little louder about your podcast.

Which obviously takes us back to thinking about how you’re going to get your message out when there’s a lot of extra noise and distractions to occupy your listeners' minds.

But does the thought of all those extra podcasts fill you with a kick up the bum to get going? In which case go for it. As long as you are confident you’ve got the commitment to keep going over Christmas.


That Pesky Pandemic

Nobody needs me to tell them the pandemic has been at best a disruption and at worst a disaster for business and us as people. And I promise I’m not being flippant when I call it the Pesky Pandemic, I have lost a friend to the virus and I also have friends in the hospitality industry and other sectors who are clinging on by the skin of their teeth. The effect on mental health has also been devastating.

And that’s why you really do need to factor in whether this point in the second wave of the pandemic in the UK is the best time for you to start your podcast.

How are you going to deal with your children being sent home from school because there’s been a case? What if you’re told to self isolate? What will happen if you get ill and you can’t record your podcast episodes.

I know I’ve already said this but consistency is so important, especially when you are starting. It’s important throughout but if you have already built up that following and created those fans then you are more likely to get away with missing an episode (as long as you tell people what you are doing!) and not losing your audience.

I give this advice every winter and I will also in the near future give some advice on looking after yourself and your voice when it comes to winter. But this year it feels extra important to make sure you are ahead with your planning and batch recording your episodes.


So should you go ahead and get going on your podcast? It's up to you. If you think you've got the time and the motivation then yes go for it. Otherwise you might want to use this time to get your planning nailed down and ready for a strong 2021.


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