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Podcasting Your Way Through The Coming Recession

Jan 30, 2020

It’s not a question of if but when the next big economic downturn hits. And it’s a certainty that podcasting will be impacted when it does. Here are four things you need to do now to survive the next crash.

I podcasted my way right through the 2008 financial crisis. But don't think that I'm some sort of financial genius. I'm also the moron who bought a gigantic house I couldn't afford at the height of the mortgage bubble. So while I’m no help on economic issues, I do have some relevant advice for you and your podcasting efforts on surviving the coming recession 

Note: This episode is in no way predicting a recession next week or next month. But it doesn’t take a crystal ball to know one is coming, just the ability to look back in time and note that a recession occurs every 10 years or so.

My four pieces of advice will focus on things other than “go find more money”. (Though clearly, if your podcasting efforts right now are funded by other people -- sponsors, advertisers, patrons, big VC dollars -- economic downturns are going to be particularly problematic for you. If you're living hand-to-mouth with your podcast, relying on funds that come in this month to let you podcast next month, you should have some money in reserve so that you can podcast without a paycheck for a few months when the troubles do actually hit. Thus ends my advice of the financial sort.)

So let’s get into the four ways you can prepare as a podcaster for the coming financial hiccup.

Shuttered storefronts next to the title slide "Podcasting Your Way Through The Coming Recession"

1 - Diversify The Content You Podcast

You already know that you're supposed to diversify your financial portfolio. In a similar fashion, I suggest that you also diversify your podcast content. If your podcasting eggs are all in one podcast-shaped basket, you’re vulnerable. You can downplay that risk by diversifying the content you create. 

Go do other podcasty things. Perhaps that means making other podcasts. This show puts episodes out four times a week and yet I have other podcasting projects. You likely can too.

When the recession comes, it's going to impact shows disproportionately. Yes, podcasting will survive, but a lot of shows won’t. With multiple shows or you having roles to play on multiple shows, you spread out your risk. Chances are that one or more of your podcast projects won't be as negatively impacted as others when the recession hits, so you can keep going.

2 - Differentiate Your Podcasted Content

I don't know if you've looked recently, but there are a lot of podcasts doing the exact same thing in almost the exact same style, with the host as the only noticeable difference.

When the recession hits, a lot of those undifferentiated shows will share the same fate. On the surface, that sounds like a good thing. Instead of 3,152 entrepreneur interview shows available today, that number might shrink drastically. If yours is one of the few that survives, that’s more audience for you, right? Maybe. But that’s being hopeful instead of strategic.

A smarter play is differentiating your content to appeal to the new wave of listeners that the recession will bring. In 2008, a huge wave of new listeners turned to podcasts for the first time. Some had a lot of unfortunately free time on their hands. Many used podcasting as a learning device as they explored their options.

If you can create differentiated content that in some way supports, inspires, or educates the new wave of people who will turn to podcasts when they’re hit hard, you might be able to bring new opportunities to you and the listener.

3 - Understand Your Podcasting Stack

If you rely on other people to keep your podcast running, remember that the recession will hit those service providers too. Some may go out of business. Some may be forced to give up their side hustles and find a more permanent gig. What happens when one of the cogs in your machine or of the links in your chain (pick your metaphor) is taken out of the picture thanks to that recession? What are you going to do?

Can you quickly recover from that? Can you be the link or cog for a while until you find another service provider? The only way you'll be able to do so is by digging in and understanding all the processes that come together that allow you to publish episodes. You don't necessarily need to know exactly how to do everything the way it’s done for you today. But you do need to understand the processes so you aren’t caught unawares when bad things happen.

4 - Built Your Network Now

One of the biggest regrets I remember seeing from the 2008 recession was reported by people who got hit completely unaware. They didn’t have their network built up ahead of time, so they had to start building one from scratch. Without access to their work email accounts. Without their contact database from work. 

Start building your network with other podcasters, hosting companies, or other businesses in your city and industry. Do whatever you can to start networking. Start making connections. Get out of the podcasting bubble that you have created for yourself and make sure you've got lifelines out to other people. Who knows what might happen and who might be able to help you? Or who you might be able to help.

Having a well-built network might also act as an early warning system for you, allowing you and your network to react quickly and mitigate your risk as much as possible. 

Remember, it's not a question of if the next recession's coming but when. I'm not predicting its arrival. I am saying that to not only survive the next recession but to podcast your way through it, those four tips will help you get there. 

And doing one or all of these three things will help me help you:

I'm off on Friday, so have a great weekend. I will be back here on Monday with another Podcast Pontifications. 

Cheers!