Being a podcaster can be a tricky enough field to navigate, but there will inevitably come a time that you talk about something that your regular audience isn’t down with.
Uh-oh. What now?
You might decide not to get into this kind of situation with your podcast, and that’s okay!
Thom from Three Extra Lives says, “I try to avoid hot takes on a situation and do my best to get all the facts for a well-rounded discussion - in some cases, your audience might actually appreciate this, especially if it's about something complex or controversial.”
Not at all like Amanda and Monika from Geek Herring. These two ladies have a show built on controversy and talking about the hard things that other people might shy away from. For them, there’s power in opening these discussions, getting down and dirty with a debate, and creating more awareness. For Geek Herring, even though they love connecting with their audience, if they get bad feedback or people telling them they’re not vibing, that just means they’re doing the job right.
And then there’s Frazley, from FrazlCast and Be Great Today, who takes a more pragmatic approach. Frazley says, “If I'm feeling good on the subject, I podcast, but I do know dips in numbers can happen. It happened in February 2019, and I foresee it might happen again this month. I do my best to find ways to still enjoy what I podcast about.”
Whichever stance you want to take with your podcast is totally okay. You know why? Because it’s YOUR podcast, so ultimately, you’re in charge, you can decide what you want to talk about, and whether or not you listen to your audience feedback… or take action after that dreaded drop in numbers.
Your Stats Plummetted, Now What?
We’ve all been there. For one reason or another, our download numbers have taken a hit.
Sometimes there’s no defining reason for this, and other times, you can see a marked pattern that says your audience is truly not digging those topics.
Sil from Whispers of War embraces these drops and uses them to propel her podcast into its next stage.
She says, “I might tweak [the podcast] a tiny bit if I see numbers drop drastically, but it's a fluid thing. Some weeks/months are great others not so much. I don't tend to change too much, maybe start a new segment to keep it interesting and fun for myself. I think that is the most important thing; having fun in what you’re doing because if that doesn't reflect in your podcast, you know listeners will pick up on it. I also believe in honest feedback, if the current audience would say they really don't like a certain topic/segment I would consider changing it, but I would need constructive feedback on how to make it better. It's a learning curve, as always.”
Which is some pretty great advice because you are creating this podcast for you, but of course, the download stats and listener feedback definitely matter.
Listen to that feedback, yo!
Yet another view comes from the guys over at Slacker’s Studio who pride themselves on taking their audience feedback on board.
Ed says, “We don't really [run into that issue] because we have like 5 people that listen. But if it were live, from past experience it's always easy to tell when something isn't quite working. That is why you need to prep and have alternate topics or practice spontaneous segues into something else!”
And of course, because they’re awesome co-hosts, Jack agrees and expands on those thoughts.
Jack says, “Mirroring off of what Ed said, it is tough for us to gauge this as we have a small following, and most of them are too kind for criticism. Something we did hear back is ‘You guys tend to do news segments, but the truth is we go to other casts to hear the news. We like what you do, keep original!" Our last episode was pretty free-flow, and although it means less of a planned cast, it actually frees up some conversations that could have been missed had we not. After the cast, we always speak about how we felt about it. The truth of the matter is, if you aren't happy with the cast, then change it to suit you. You are happy, they will be happy.”
That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? If you’re happy creating your podcast, you will find your audience and they’ll love your podcast because they love you, your topics, and the way you talk and engage them.
Marty from Sleepless in Copenhagen wholeheartedly agrees with this sentiment. He says, “I resonate with [Slackers Studio]. I feel that if you are happy with what you are doing, then the audience will notice this. If your audience disagrees with you, it's up to you to decide if you want to adjust accordingly or continue doing what you find fun/right.”
So what’s the verdict?
Honestly, every podcaster is different with how they approach this kind of audience feedback.
If you get the odd episode that doesn’t jam with them, then there’s probably no issues. Keep on doing your thang.
But if there’s a marked drop in your download numbers and you’re consistently getting feedback that your audience is so. not. down. with your topics, you have two choices:
- Change up your topics and aim to please. No shame in giving your audience what they want!
- Stick to your guns and voice the opinions and topics you want to.
Oh, and it’s 100% up to you if you want to shy away from controversial and hot topics. There’s no point talking about those takes if you don’t have the capacity or knowledge to do it!
In conclusion: it’s your show. Do what you feel is right for you.
You got this!