Whether you're already podcasting or about to start podcasting, how you approach your show could contribute to success or failure. Here are three approaches you can take, and how to work best with each of them.
1. Invent something new
Creating something entirely new (at least to your knowledge) can be very difficult. But this can also be the most-rewarding approach. It's the trailblazers who often get the most attention (until someone comes along and dramatically improves on the idea—more on that later).
Inventing something new takes a lot of planning, hard work, focus, and persistence. When you set out to create something entirely new, you may later discover that others had your same idea—but that shouldn't stop you, and it doesn't mean that you're not inventing anymore. In such a case, you can then shift toward innovating and setting yourself apart.
Listen to these couple episodes about podcasting when others are already in that niche:
- Should you cover the same niche as someone else?
– 4 ways to create community—not competition—with other podcasters
2. Imitate someone else
Copying someone else's formula for success seems like the easiest thing to do, but it actually isn't. You are not the person you're trying to copy, and you will never be. Thus, what works for them may not work for you.
With each big success in podcasting, there will always be a clowder of copycats. (Educational sidenote: a group of cats is called a “clowder”! That's just asking to be turned into a tongue-twister with “clam chowder”!) This has happened since podcasting's inception: tech, video-gaming, comedy, fan content, interviews, storytelling, and more.
Charles Caleb Colton said, “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery,” and that's still true, in most cases. To imitate someone does show that you respect them and believe in their success. But I think over-imitation can also be an insult that may communicate that you are trying to compete with someone else or trying to steal their success.
For example, Samsung and Apple are currently in legal battles where Samsung has—quite clearly, in my opinion—sought to outright copy many things that Apple is doing with smartphones and tablets.
In the podcasting space, a lot of people have been and will continue trying to copy This Week in Tech, Entrepreneur on Fire, Serial, and more to come.
It seems that when a success can be broken into a formula, that others assume that formula is all they need for success, so they copy it.
I never recommend that you fully imitate someone else. But you can imitate portions of their ideas ideas (within legal reason) to be small portions of your own big ideas. Just because there are other interview-based—or whatever style—podcasts doesn't mean you can't start your own with that same style!
3. Innovate the space
When you can't invent something entirely new, and you don't want to imitate someone else, innovation may produce more success for you.
This is when you look at what's already being done in your niche and you find a way to improve it or fill gaps that others are missing.
Think of Apple again. They didn't invent the smartphone, the tablet, or the smartwatch. Apple entered already-existing spaces with something usually designed much better.
Innovation is often born from frustration with what already exists (“This is horrible. I want to make it better.”). But innovation can also be the result of inspiration (“This is good, but I think it can be much better.”)
After reading the Steve Jobs biography, I realized that I work best as an innovator. Consider my accomplishments as examples:
- I launched The Audacity to Podcast because I saw a void left by others in the podcasting space.
- I created Social Subscribe & Follow Icons because I couldn't find any other WordPress plugin that did everything I wanted and was friendly to podcasters.
- I created My Podcast Reviews because I wanted an online, platform-agnostic app to do something better and more automatic that the single-platform solution that previous existed.
- I created SEO for Podcasters because I saw a lot of SEO content, but very little accurate information that was specific to podcasters—especially with how SEO should improve our content, not just our meta tags.
What about you? What does the world need?
How are you approaching podcasting? Are you trying to invent by creating something new, imitate by copying someone else, or innovate by building on and improving an already existing idea?
Personally, I think the world needs more inventors and innovators, but fewer imitators. If you feel like an imitator, take just a couple different steps and you could become an innovator and stand on your own.
I'd love to see your stories! Where were you in this when you started podcasting? Where do you feel you are now? How have things changed and how are you going to change things?
- Coming up next: Should you try to make money podcasting?
- Vote in the Podcast Awards starting on March 3!
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
- AMGlandon left a negative review, but I truly appreciate the honesty (and I have a feeling it was after hearing some of my embarrassing old episodes).
- swpax said, “This has been my go-to for getting started with podcasting, particularly regarding using Audacity, but for all other podcasting considerations as well.”
- Alohakrisi, from Switzerland, said, “Daniel provides practical focused advice that is technical enough to be useful but does not geek out so much to be boring.” Read the full review.
- Wes McKithern, from The Veterans Cafe Podcast, said, “…the more episodes of The Audacity to Podcast I listen to, the more my own podcast continues to improve. …” Read the full review.
- Cheri, from Creation Science 4 Kids, said, “… You won't ever feel belittled or unintelligent because you don't know something. …” Read the full review.
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.