Stephen and I have been podcasting for over twenty years combined now and we have been creating dedicated content to help hobby podcasters for the past 6 years. In that time we’ve picked up on a few perceptions and misconceptions hobby podcasting audiences have about the podcasts they listen to. As hobby podcast producers, keeping these perceptions in mind will help you relate better to your listeners and focus on the content your audience really cares about.
- The first misconception hobby podcast audiences have is that audio is easy. Maybe in the future podcasters will be able to record amazing studio quality sound using wearables or handheld mobile devices with microphone arrays and complex noise reduction digital processing including voice isolation … but that hasn’t happened yet. Until that does happen audio is more complex than the average hobby podcast listener knows or cares for. While it’s true the pandemic has taught a lot of teleworkers and distance learners call etiquette and rudimentary microphone skills, most listeners might only think podcasters are vane for wanting a $600 audio mixer-recorder and $300 microphone and don’t understand those huge coffee can earcups on your ears. In reality, that dedicated audio equipment – even basic less expensive equipment used properly – is necessary to give your show an audio sound that doesn’t distract from the listening experience and lets the listener concentrate on your content instead.
- Another misconception a hobby podcast audience has about podcasting is that you can always fix bad audio or mistakes in post. Modern crime solving shows and sci-fi thrillers have given most hobby podcast listeners a false idea of what is possible for the average podcaster to edit an episode today. Sure, Digital Audio Workstations, editing software suites, and video editing programs can do amazing things with audio using advanced plugin effects. But these tools cannot fix everything and are sometimes very expensive – especially for a hobby podcaster on a limited budget. And a common downfall of using too much of a plug-in effect is that the resulting audio can be ruined instead of fixed and could even result in the dreaded underwater sound or worse. In short there is a limit to what even the most advanced audio production tools can do not to mention the expense of some of the more elite capabilities. Starting with better quality audio will result in better final products and be less of a distraction to your audience.
- The next audience perception is that podcasters do not need to prepare. The vast majority of hobby podcast audiences will have no idea how much time is really spent preparing before an episode. And let’s face it, there are a plethora of podcasters that don’t prepare prior to recording. But those shows and episodes can end up suffering in the long term with lower quality shows that could lead to smaller download numbers per new episode. Preparation time depends on the type of podcast and the content being discussed. Time spent in preparation if a guest is interviewed include scheduling, preparing questions, researching the material and helping the guest connect over the internet or setting up for a face to face conversation. Audio drama preparation can be excessive and include script writing, character casting, and scheduling the recording sessions. Basically the more successful effort spent in preparation will mean a better recording and post production process. Not to mention the quality of final production will be better for the listener as well.
- The final perception we’ll discuss is that the show makes money. Sure, there are more ways to generate revenue from your hobby podcast today than ever before. From traditional advertising to placed promotion to referral considerations to crowd funding the list of options seem to be expanding at incredible rates. This could be due to a variety of factors including smaller audience size, reduced publishing rates, or an inability to push into a corporate wall. More often than not a show by a hobby podcaster spends more in costs than it can bring in. Of course unless a show is completely transparent there is no way to know for sure if it generates earnings or not. But odds are most hobby podcasts are running very low profit margins or even using a lot of personal capital to stay in production.
How do these misconceptions and perceptions matter to your audience?
Unless it is a core tenant of your show (such as with Better Podcasting) don’t discuss too much about all the hardware you had to buy to start or maintain your show in your main content. Definitely thank your audience if they had a part in funding the purchases, but if you do discuss finances mention it in general high level terms in your main content. If you do feel compelled to talk about funding in detail consider producing bonus or behind the scenes content for the members of your audience that might be interested.
Always try to produce the best audio quality with your show that you can. Erring on the side of not having your audience mention anything detrimental about the episode audio is always best. If your listeners do start to mention audio issues to you there may be a possibility of other listeners not mentioning it to you and just stopping to listen to your show altogether.
While preparing to record your content, always keep in mind what your audience wants to hear. If your listener presses play on your show expecting to hear about some great research into your topic but you provide 90 minutes of you catching up with your friends or incorrect information without sources your audience might not only stop listening to the episode but could unsubscribe from your show as well. Preparing will not only make the production portion of the process easier, but it will also help focus the content on what the listener is looking for primarily from the episode to begin with.
And finally, minimize the financial discussions about your show on the podcast unless you are being 100% transparent all the time. Unless your content is discussing podcast finances, listeners want to focus on the content you are providing and not on your monthly podcast related hosting bills. If you provide a crowd funding option for your audience, limit these discussions mostly to that communication avenue with the exception of thanking them once or twice an episode. A short “this episode was made possible by our great listeners” at the beginning followed by specific non scripted note of appreciation to them at the end of the episode with information on where to contribute is very much acceptable. Just don’t overshadow your content by discussing money that might be uncomfortable or insulting to even a small percentage of your listeners.
We hope this insight into hobby podcasting audiences misconceptions and perceptions has been helpful to you in framing how to relate to your listener better. If you have an audience misconception or perception that could help a producer or host relate better to a hobby podcasting audience let us know and we’ll discuss it in a future show or write a follow on article to describe it. And as always let us know how you liked this article. If so, we’ll post more like it in the future.