A fellow nightclub DJ showed me a painting an artist had made of him years earlier. At the time Dave and I were working at a club in Southend (UK), and one night instead of going our separate ways he invited me to his home to chill down. It was there he showed me the painting; a microphone.
“That’s me,” he said.
Dave, who is easily 10 years older than me saw the bemused look on my face. And before I could state the obvious (it’s a microphone), he pointed to the mic cable.
“Look, it’s cut in two,” he said. “I was a DJ and no one was listening. That’s how the artist saw me.”
It was Dave’s way of saying he had worked his way up from wannabe DJ to working in a top club and that it was tough to, as we say today, “to get cut through”.
It was very late (or early), and as a 20-something club and radio DJ who was going places in the brightly-coloured 80s, it was a bit too deep for me. But the conversation, and the painting, have never left me.
Since 2007 I have started and stopped half a dozen podcasts and syndicated radio shows. And getting cut through today is tougher than it was in the 80s; there’s just so much more competition.
The streaming audio revolution has made it so easy for anyone to start a podcast or a digital radio station that many of us can understand the insight of the artist who captured Dave’s frustration in landing his first big gig.
We are out there doing it, but getting cut through to be heard against every other podcaster and broadcaster is a toughy – perhaps the toughest.
Everyone, it seems, is doing it – from the bedroom DJ to the powerful multi-national broadcasters. So, how to connect the cable and make contact so you can find your audience?
The alternative for not having a huge budget for a strong, targeted and ongoing marketing campaign is time. And that means you have to do what you are doing for longer to get listener numbers up; and be better than the competition.
You have to keep being there, keep delivering, and never let your audience down when they turn to listen to your podcast.
This may mean you have to keep doing what you’re doing for longer than you think, you will have to pace yourself, set mini goals for download numbers, and not expect the world within the first three months of starting.
Build your podcast slowly and surely, and don’t waste time and effort telling fellow podcasters about your show on the forums – they aren’t your audience. Instead, join forums where potential listeners are and share new episodes as you make them.
Bottom line, for any chance of success, you have to make a connection with listeners (and advertisers?). And you do this bit by bit by bit; every time you release a podcast.
Keep your show consistent, on topic, short, sweet, humorous if possible, and of course ensure high audio quality.