While Americans celebrate their independence on July 4, we podcasters can celebrate our independence with every episode! Here's what makes the independence of podcasting so powerful.
Direct connection with your audience
Never before podcasting have you been able to consistently and directly communicate with a global audience using the authenticity of your own voice. Your message is being communicated directly into their ears, and often exclusively and individually.
Additionally, there's no “middle man” in podcasting. Your audience can subscribe to your show from their own location and with their own app preference. They don't have to go to authorized distributors, be part of a membership, or use a particular app.
Even if you never listed your podcast in catalogs, such as Apple Podcasts, your audience could still subscribe directly to your content without needing Apple's approval.
The written word can be altered and perfected. You can write something, refine it, have others edit it, get an authority's approval, and repeat the process until everything is perfect.
That doesn't really happen in podcasting.
You're speaking with your voice. You can edit or script, but such things are evident in the final results. But you can't edit passion and authenticity. It's raw, relatable, and powerful.
When you speak a message, even if only through audio, others can hear your confidence, your passion, and your skill to communicate. If writing was like one dimension, speaking is like three dimensions!
Power of the niche
I recently spoke about podcasting to a group of IT professionals—most of them above 40 years old. I asked, “How many of you played video games in the '80s?” and most of the hands went up. I then asked, “How many played video games on a computer at home during that time?” and about half the hands went up. I narrowed it down further and asked, “How many of you played on an IBM PCjr?” Then, only two hands were raised.
Up until that point, the response had only been raising and lowering of hands, and maybe some grins. But then I asked those two people, “Did either of you play King's Quest on a PCjr?” And without hesitation, the one remaining person answered, “OH YEAH!”
(Side note, one of my guilty-pleasure podcasts is Upper Memory Block—all about these kinds of DOS-era PC games.)
There was the niche; and with it, the passion! None of those attendees expressed enthusiasm when I asked about video games during the '80s. But when I got into the niche, then someone got excited.
Popular broadcast media is designed to appeal to a broad audience. It has to, or else it won't pay its own bills!
But as podcasters, we can, “Boldly go where no man has gone before.”
You may find a niche and hit an audience ceiling of 100 people. But those 100 people are much more passionate about that niche than about the broad topics. And in that passion is great power: power for intimate connections, power for influence, and even power for profit.
This is how “small” podcasts can have a more loyal following that the podcasts topping the charts. Your podcast may not be #1 in any public ranking, but it could be #1 to your audience.
And that's true power!
Although there are some technical rules to follow for your podcast to be compatible, you can set your own rules for everything else. You can say what you want, when you want, and how you want.
You can be as holy or profane as you want. You can be as tolerant or prejudice as you want. There are, certainly, recommendations and principles to consider, but you can make your own rules—or even break your own rules.
(Yes, there may be platform restrictions, but I'll address those later.)
As a podcaster (especially an independent one), you can choose whom you let advertise on your show—or take no sponsorship at all! You can be uninfluenced by the agendas of advertisers, endorsements, networks, producers, executives, and more.
If you want to podcast purely for fun, you're under no obligation to monetize. If you want to be honest about a product or service, you can! If you want to promote only your own products, services, or agenda, you can! It's your show and your agenda!
There has never been another media you could consume consistently and without interruption regardless of where you go. Download your favorite podcast and listen while you commute, work, relax, shower, fall asleep, and more.
You're not at the mercy of signal strength, local programming, or devices with reception. With a device that can fit in your pocket, you have a world of information available, and you can take it with you wherever you go.
That's what makes audio especially powerful. Video can show you places, but audio can take you there. Plus, you can take audio anywhere you go.
Ownership of your platform
Unlike other forms of media, podcasts are decentralized. Yes, there are big directories, like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Music, and such. But those merely point back to your own platform and direct distribution method.
Even if you get kicked out of Apple Podcasts or some hosting service, as long as you own your own platform, you can keep your audience and take them with you. This is because your audience subscribes to your RSS feed, not someone else's. In fact, most podcast apps (certainly all the good ones that are developed by people who understand the podcasting industry) allow people to subscribe to an RSS feed even if the feed isn't listed in any catalogs.
With your own platform, you can change tools without losing the audience you worked hard to build.
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
- BEFaske wrote in iTunes (USA), “What I appreciate most about Daniel is his willingness to share so much for free, despite being in the podcast business. While he isn't shy about promoting his Podcaster's Society, numerous website plugins, and other revenue-generating offers, I never feel like he is ‘selling' me anything during this show. He has the heart of a teacher and I think it's worth subscribing and listening.”
- Amanda Semenoff, host of Overthinking Conflict, wrote in iTunes (Canada), “Having recently launched our podcast, I really appreciated how much of the necessary information was right here. Daniel saved me a lot of time and headaches.”
- My H6 for Podcasters course is launching soon! Make sure you're on my email list for an opportunity to get a preorder discount!
- Speaking of discounts, Amazon's annual “Prime Day” is July 11 and will probably bring many great deals on podcasting stuff. Sign up for Podcasting Deal alerts so you won't miss the big savings!
Need personalized podcasting help?
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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.