Christmas, New Year's Day, and many more holidays affect people differently. Learn whether you should keep podcasting or take a break during a holiday.
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I cover this more thoroughly in a members-only webinar I did for Podcasters' Society, “How to Prepare Your Podcast for Breaks.” That's one of many resources to help you improve your podcast, available exclusively in Podcasters' Society. Click here to join and get immediate access to community, training, and support!
1. Know your audience
What holidays affect your audience? The easiest way to know that would be to look at where your podcast is being downloaded.
Most likely, if the top country (by a large margin) isn't your own, you may need to consider whether your own holidays will matter to the majority of your audience.
For example, Memorial Day, President's Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving (in November) are nationally observed American holidays. Some of these may be known outside the USA (like Independence Day and Thanksgiving).
Regardless of how you let a holiday affect your podcast, I recommend always being inclusive to those who may not know the holiday. Instead of being vague and saying, “the holiday,” be specific (for example, “It's Independence Day in America this week, …”).
It's also good to know the timelessness or “long tail” of your podcast episodes. Most podcasts will get the majority of their downloads in the first 72 hours. (Edison Research reports that 73% of podsumers play an episode within 48 hours of access.) If your podcast has this same “immediate” consumption pattern, then timely events and holidays may have a greater effect on your audience. But if your podcast has significant downloads continuing after the episode's first week, then timely events may not be as relevant to your audience.
If you know your audience is affected by the same holidays as you, and they consume your podcast quickly, you should also think about the prominent lifestyle of your audience and how your podcast might fit into that.
Consider Christmas and New Year's Day (which seem to be the most prominent international holidays). This is about a week or more that your audience's daily routines are significantly different. They may take time off work and thus may not be commuting. They may spend more time with family and friends and thus less time alone. They may spend more time with new “toys” and thus less time with established habits. And they may spend more time traveling to visit loved ones, but such traveling may be with others instead of alone.
With this in mind, how does your podcast fit into the lifestyle of your audience? If your podcast is business-focused, then it may not be relevant or even desired around the holidays. If your podcast is entertainment-focused, it could be a way for your audience to escape holiday stress. And if your podcast is focused on something more relevant to the holidays (like family, health, and such), then your audience may need your podcast at that time.
2. Know yourself
Be realistic. How plausible is it for you to continue your podcast around a holiday? This significantly depends on your workflow and episode backlog.
If you all your podcasting steps (planning, preparing, presenting, producing, publishing, and promoting) are within close proximity, then you may have very little margin for holidays.
If your podcasting steps are more spread out, either through batching or through being several episodes ahead, then you have a lot more margin for holidays.
What is actually doable for you? If you decide to podcast through the holiday, remember that value isn't measured in time. So your holiday episode doesn't have to be as time-consuming as your others, but it should still be as valuable.
If you think it will be too stressful to podcast through the holiday, then don't feel bad for taking a break!
3. Plan ahead
Look at a calendar to see what holidays (or other events) might affect your podcasting schedule. When you know what's coming up, you can plan accordingly.
For example, if you plan to take the entire month of December off but you want your podcast to continue, you can prerecord episodes weeks in advance.
Or if you decide to not release episodes during that time, you can plan other ways to maintain a connection with your audience.
4. Think long-term
How will your decision today matter six months or a year from now? If your podcast is new, then taking a break in the beginning could certain slow your growth. If your podcast is established, a holiday break may not have a negative effect.
Also consider how your decision will affect your podcast relative to your “competition.” What if you podcast when they're taking a break? Or what if you're taking a break while they're continuing to podcast?
This also means that announcements or apologies about breaks won't matter once the break is past.
Which is right for you?
I don't think there's a definite right or wrong answer on this issue. It really depends on you, your podcast, and your audience. Some podcasts should probably continue through holidays, others should probably take a break.
Consider these few things and make the decision you think is right for you. And remember that there may always be someone who will disagree and complain.
For more information on this, including practical steps to prepare your podcast for breaks, join Podcasters' Society and check out our library of webinars, tutorials, and the amazing support of a mature community of podcasters!
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