Regularity

Kole here.

For a while, I worked at a radio station that served the blind and visually impaired community in Cincinnati. It was called the Radio Reading Service, and we were responsible for programming 24 hours of content, seven days a week. We were fined if there was dead air. If we missed a show, people would notice. If a volunteer didn't show up to pre-record the morning paper, I was stuck in the control room reading the sports pages live. Things were planned and pre-programmed down to the minute, and you always stayed mindful of how long it was until your next station break.

It wasn't as stressful as I'm making it sound, but the point remains: In live broadcast radio, regularity matters.

The same is true for podcasting, but in a different way. There's no immediate peril if you record a little later than normal, and there's no hard stop at an hour of show length. The joy is that you aren't a slave to a format or a show clock. But it's crucial that you show up on a regular basis, when your listeners expect you to.

There have been times when we've goofed on certain shows (Those Damn Ross Kids is one that is particularly prone to missing several weeks at a time for personal reasons), but I'm very proud of how Duckfeed.tv has managed to make a weekly schedule and stick to it. We've never missed an episode of Bonfireside Chat, and we've only missed a single episode of Watch Out for Fireballs! (and that was because I got into a car accident).

This is the result of a network-wide effort to make time for the shows and think through the best ways (and times) to make things happen. For my part, I work very hard to keep spreadsheets and calendars updated so we always know what we need to record, and when. This kind of effort is necessary when we're dealing with several shows and posting episodes nearly every day of the week. A bunch of network business will slip and fall by the wayside, but priority one is making sure shows get out on time.

A glimpse at the spreadsheet we use for show recording, editing, releasing, and planning.

A glimpse at the spreadsheet we use for show recording, editing, releasing, and planning.

I'll frame this as a piece of advice for anyone who wants to create a podcast, or any other kind of periodically released piece of creative work... Releasing on a predictable and regular schedule is good for your audience. And what's good for your audience is good for you.

The people you hear from on a regular basis are likely to stick around if you miss a week or two. They subscribe to your show. They'll be bummed out that they didn't get their latest fix, and they'll express concern over what happened, but you're not likely to lose them. They'll just be happy to see the notification when you release your next episode. But those loyal listeners are only a small fraction of any given audience.

The larger portion of any audience is people you never hear from. They're new listeners or fairweather listeners who are still feeling you out. While it's great that they're giving a show a shot, it's likely that if you go away (or "podfade") they'll happily move on to whatever's next. This is a very important group to keep in mind because any one of them could become a loyal and engaged listener if you demonstrate care and professionalism. If you show that you'll be there for them, they'll be there for you.

I even go as far as to try to post episodes of the show at the same time every day. It sounds a little crazy, but there exists in the back of my mind some listener who is counting on having the newest episode for their long commute or longer workday. This was easier to accomplish when I could schedule episode releases, but my lunch break most days is dedicated to putting up whatever show goes out that day.

This kind of regularity is good for the people at the network, too, and could be good for any creator. Each show records generally on the same day and at the same time. Editing schedules are predetermined, agreed upon, and noted on the spreadsheet. If there's an assigned game to play, we know what we're responsible for several weeks in advance. The more you plan, the more you're able to absorb the random stuff that pops up and screws with you.

It doesn't really matter how often you release a show. Whether it's weekly, biweekly, or monthly is up to you, and determined by how much time you have to dedicate to the effort. But once you establish it, clearly communicate with your audience and be there when they expect you.

Again, I'm not the paragon of this. Shows will slip without notice. I haven't updated Hex Crank in months. But it's always at the front of my mind to know what's recording this week, and what's going out this week. People are listening, after all.