Someone's Doing the Podcast I want to Do...What to Do
The French writer Andre Gide said, “Everything that needs to be said, has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
Austin Kleon uses this quote in Steal Like an Artist. The premise of the book is that we are a mashup of everything we’ve experienced and that anyone can be creative with the right influences. Austin captures some really relevant messages for podcasters, especially aspiring podcasters who’ve been putting off creating a show because someone else is doing something similar.
On episode 14 of Podcasting Step by Step, I’ll share how you can take an existing idea for a podcast and make it your own.
Let’s say you have a brilliant idea for a podcast, and then learn that someone else just started something similar. Or, maybe three others already exist and they have a lot of ratings and reviews and loyal fans. This is actually great news because it means there is an audience for what you want to do.
If you are the new podcaster in town, how do you set yourself apart from the existing shows in your niche?
Get clear on what you stand for
Your story and how you help others is what sets you apart.
What is your mission?
Why is this important to you?
How did you come to this?
What stories do you have in your life that support these values?
How do you want to make people feel?
How will you help them?
Branding goes way beyond fonts and colors. It’s your story. And it’s a story that you will repeat.
If you’re looking to be inspired, Steal Like an Artist offers this exercise:
“find one thinker — writer, artist, activist, role model — you really love. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people that thinker loved, and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can. Climb up the tree as far as you can go. Once you build your tree, it’s time to start your own branch. Seeing yourself as part of a creative lineage will help you feel less alone as you start making your own stuff.”
I love the idea of apprenticing with whomever you want, including fellow podcasters. This helps us cut down on the content overwhelm a lot of us feel. Pick one person you admire and study their work.
For example, let’s say your inspiration is Barbara Corcoran. She is one of the most successful businesswomen in the U.S.; a host of the TV show Shark Tank; and a podcaster -- she hosts Business Unusual. To learn how she succeeded, you can read her books, watch her show, listen to her podcast. You can read interviews with her and listen to shows she’s been on, listening for her core story and how this helps others.
Focusing on her podcast, you can study how Barbara (and I’m guessing her team) operate and promote.
How often does the show come out?
What social media channels is she active in?
How often is she posting?
What kind of content is she posting?
Is there a newsletter?
Is there a lead magnet?
How is she engaging her audience?
What are the calls to action on her show?
You can also read the reviews of her show on Apple Podcasts. When it comes to reviews, there are a lot of haters and superfans. Neutral reviews are more rare and often include thoughts on how to improve. Make a note of suggestions and complaints and think about how you can do better. Also, take note about what people love about the show and how you can do it your way.
Create something familiar with a twist
In Steal Like an Artist, Austin says to “think about your favorite work and your creative heroes,” and then poses these questions:
What did they miss?
What didn’t they make?
What could’ve been made better?
If they were still alive, what would they be making today?
If all your favorite makers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew?
Make a list of your favorite podcasts. For each one, write down what you like most about them. Think about which parts you might want to incorporate into your show, and which elements you’d like to add. What new perspective do you want to take based on your mission and experience?
Also, ask other people what they like most about the podcasts they listen to. In a previous episode, I talked about the importance of getting feedback on your podcast before you launch. One of my reviewers told me how much she liked lightning rounds at the end of shows, and I thought this was a great idea for my travel show, so I incorporated this into my format.
Find your zone of genius
We all have that something special. It’s trendy now to call this our ‘zone of genius’ or ‘super power,’ and this is another thing that sets apart our podcast. What is your secret sauce?
If you want help finding that out, there’s something called the CliftonStrengths online talent assessment, which takes about an hour and is supposed to help you identify what you naturally do best, and how to develop this.
I haven’t tried CliftonStrenths yet, but the other day, someone in a chat group I was in was talking about an enneagram test, which helps you understand your personality and hidden strengths. Here’s a link to a really quick enneagram test that I did for fun. My top numbers were 9, 2, and 6: peacemaker, loyalist, helper.
And, why not, I’ll throw in one more personality test. Myers-Briggs. I’m an INFP, in case you’re wondering. According to 16personalities.com, this means I’m a Mediator and these “personalities are true idealists, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events, searching for ways to make things better. While they may be perceived as calm, reserved, or even shy, Mediators have an inner flame and passion that can truly shine.” There, now you know everything about me. As an INFP, I feel so exposed! But I have to get over it because I want to podcast (see my episode on Help for the Introverted Podcaster if you can relate).
The test at 16personalities.com, which is free, is scary accurate and the results you get back go on for pages and pages. This assessment can help you understand your communication style, which is an important thing to know as a creator/communicator.
Collaborate with your competitors
A final note on starting a podcast when similar shows exist: Take advantage of collaboration opportunities.
Podcasting has historically been a very welcoming place, with supposed competitors guesting on each other’s shows. I’ve done this with Postcard Academy and I love it because it gives me the opportunity to talk to people who are really into what I’m into. Their audience can learn about me and vice versa. I’ve even done podcast swaps, where I’ll get interviewed on one show, then they will interview me on their show, and then we’ll both share both episodes, so our audiences can get exposed to a new show, but something they’re interested in.
To sum this all up
Don’t worry if someone is doing the podcast you want to do. You can make anything your own by sharing your story, personality, experience, and advice.
Get clear on what you stand for. Your brand is your story and your values.
Choose a creator you love and do a deep dive on their work, their success, and how they got there.