I think my podcast project ultimately, is a flop. I’m really glad that I was brave enough to venture out of comfort zone and interview guests via actual conversations, since it’s my nature to shy away from all verbal interactions. I think it’s helped my practice social skills and it’s been rewarding to connect with new people and help them share their stories. With that said, I’m very glad that I didn’t purchase any expensive equipment or invest much more than $30 into the project because it doesn’t seem to be taking off in any appreciable way and it’ll likely end soon.
Initially, I had many bites when I posted the announcement of my planned show and a solicited people to volunteer or nominate guests. It was almost overwhelming to get the number of interested people scheduled, and I ticked off so many interviews within the span of a few weeks that I collected a sizable backlog of episodes to release.
Then, crickets. I had trouble finding new guests or pinning down people who had expressed an interest. There’s no podcast if there are no interviews, no stories to tell.
I’ve also been disappointed with the reach or listenership for the show. Granted, there are literally thousands of free podcasts these days, because, as demonstrated by my own podcast, the barrier to entry is very low—technologically, financially, and skill-wise. People have limited time to dedicate to listening to podcasts and the competition for that time is significant. Moreover, I don’t do any advertising outside of my own Facebook circle and my podcast focuses on a rather niche subject; it’s not really designed to appeal to the masses.
Even though these points serve as valid justifications for my measly number of weekly downloads, it’s hard not to feel unmotivated or take the seemingly underwhelming reception personally. Although my blog readership and book purchases are/were never particularly impressive, I enjoy the process of creating those substantially more and I receive gratifying feedback from those who do read. Every supportive comment, personal email looking for support or asking questions, and message sharing how my writing has helped someone has buoyed my spirits and confidence so powerfully that it more than makes up for any lack in volume of page views or book sales: quality (impact) over quantity definitely rings true for me.
In contrast, I’ve received a scant number of comments of any kind on the podcast. Of the relatively few people listening, even fewer have been moved in any sort of way to reach out. (Those of you who have messaged me about an episode, thank you so much! Your words never fall on deaf ears (or blind eyes).) It’s probably a character weakness, but I thrive on positive feedback and words of encouragement. I’m working on not needing external validation or approval but that’s a lifelong process for many humans, especially for those, like me, with low self-esteem.
There’s a commonly quoted saying that the journey is more important than the destination. While it holds true for many things, I don’t apply it universally to all pursuits and goals. That said, if neither the journey nor the destination are particularly enjoyable or beneficial, an alarm should sound, signaling a closer examination and critical evaluation of that activity. Such is the case here. I mostly dread recording episodes; I’m very glad when they are over and filled with satisfaction, but the actual moments in which it is occurring (and certainly those that precede it) are stressful and not that fun. Engaging in a lengthy conversation can be exhausting for me. The destination, or product (a published episode), seems to be falling flat, as evidenced by the few downloads and near nonexistent feedback.
So, should I continue? I’m not sure yet. I’m analyzing my feelings about all of this and considering my goals, benefits, and “costs.” It may be that there is no “decision” to make because if the trend of not finding guests continues, the decision will be made for me. Until that time, and absolutely afterwards, I’ll work on not classifying The Chin-Up Podcast project as a total failure. It’s important and emotionally necessary for me to acknowledge what I’ve gained from it and the “wins” I have had, so that I’m not reluctant to take risks and try new ideas and passions in the future. I guess in all this free time that opened up by a lack of scheduled interviews, I can start brainstorming my next venture.