Give yourself permission.

July 13, 2021

One of the best things about podcasts is that anybody can make one. And as long as you adhere to a few basic rules, you can easily have your own show at the fingertips of the world available for anybody to listen to.

Now this may not be news to you, but it wasn’t always like this.

It wasn’t so long ago that if you wanted to let people know about your product, passion or what you did, short of going around and talking to everybody, you had to get a journalist to report on it, or pay for an advert or sponsor some content. And if you dreamed of your own radio or TV show, it was even more difficult. Even at hospital radio level you had to compete against other people who wanted a break, and those who were desperately clinging onto the airtime they already had.

Even with numerous papers, radio stations and TV channels, there was only so much space to be filled, and only so many people who decided which bits went where. These Journalists, Editors, Programme Controllers, Receptionists – these were the gatekeepers, and there were many levels that you had to go through to convince the right person to let you deliver your message to the masses.

And their decisions were based on many factors, the most important of which was: would what you wanted to do make them more money than anything else they were already doing.

You see, the traditional media model went something like this: Initially, you print a newspaper to tell people the news, and if you do a good job, your paper sells well. The more newspapers people buy, the more income you generate. Also, because you sell a lot of papers, people pay a lot to advertise with you, and your focus gradually shifts. As newspaper sales dwindle, this advertising becomes your main source of income, and so to maintain that, you pitch your paper to as many people as possible – get bums on seats, however you can. And usually thats by appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Now the reason I’m telling you all this is not just because I love history, or media economics, but because even though the media landscape has changed beyond recognition, this mindset still exists.

People still hold on to the belief that you have to get millions of listeners/readers/viewers to be successful. That it’s only worth doing if it has a big audience, because then you get the big bucks. But from your advertisers point of few, how do they know if any of the 10 million people that watch the show they sponsor are genuinely interested in their product?

They don’t.

Because by advertising via mass media you are effectively just drift net fishing: casting nets miles wide in the hope that alongside all the whales and dolphins they scoop up there will be some tuna fish. And usually there are, but it’s a small return for a very big outlay.

But there is a phrase you may have heard which for many is proving more attractive than the mass fishing lowest common denominator – “Niches make riches” (said fast enough in the right accent this rhymes)

You can go and make a podcast about anything you want, and you can find and grow an audience. A podcast may only have a couple of hundred listeners compared to the hundreds of thousands of people offered elsewhere, but a far higher percentage of that audience is engaged with that particular lifestyle/hobby/experience. Which can mean a much better return on investment for the advertisers.

To go back to the earlier fishing metaphor: instead of a drift net, you have a smart net, one that the tuna fish themselves swim up to, and the dolphins and whales avoid.

And in a world of smart nets, no longer do you need to come up with an amazing idea just to impress someone enough to give you a shot. There is nobody you need to convince to give you a platform to talk about what you do. There is no longer a finite amount of space that can be filled with someone with more experience than you. Nor is there anybody to tell you what you can and can’t talk about, nobody to dictate how much of this or that you can or can’t do.
The gatekeepers are gone.

Nowadays, the only person you have to convince to let you have your own show, is yourself.

Convinced? Great. Now go do it. Not sure what to do? Well that’s where we come in…

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