Oct 20, 2021 • 19M

What is Your Metric of Success?

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Chris Spangle
Chris Spangle has been podcasting since 2007 and has hosted over 4,000 hours of shows while editing and uploading 18,000 episodes for a total of 30 million downloads on dozens of shows. With his unparalleled experience, he takes you behind the curtain to show you the building of the Podcasting and Platforms brand.
Episode details

When looking back after a few months, how will you know if your time and effort were worth it? How will you judge success? Will it be in the number of downloads? New influence and connections in your network? A second income? Understanding your own motivations and goals will shape your content and it is important to understand it before you begin. 



Welcome to Podcasting and Platforms. Thank you for joining me here on the show. My name is Chris Spangle. You can learn more about the show at podcasting and platforms.com. And today, I want to talk a little bit about a metric of success. How will you judge if you're successful or not? This is an important question. This is something that you need to really think about before starting your podcast, because there, as we talked about in the last episode will be times that you're discouraged. And then you're not quite sure if you should keep going. Is it worth the expense? Is it worth the time? Is it worth the headaches that sometimes come with building an audience, and you need to determine what is success? What does it look like for me, and there are many different metrics that you can use to judge your success.

Downloads are the main one, that is what everybody defaults to how many people are listening, how many people am I reaching. And this is obviously an important one, it's a good metric, but it can also kind of be a cruel mistress. And a little bit misleading. Because if you expect to be Joe Rogan, within the first six months of your podcasting career, you're going to end up getting yourself frustrated. So there are according to podcast industry, insights.com 2.3 million podcasts. And that might sound like a lot. And that is up from 2 million at the beginning of the year. Podcast index counts over 4 million podcasts, which is quite the jump. But the thing you have to remember, if you drill down into the numbers, you find that 75% of those podcasts haven't published in the last 90 days. So people run out very quickly. And I really think that there there are a couple reasons in my experience and talking with people and just kind of feeling it through on my own. And I think it's because people put the download numbers first and foremost in their journey. But what what you really have to remember is, this is a long, hard slog, this is a grind.

And that's why you really have to value your own enjoyment, first and foremost as the main metric. Like I said in the last episode, I love researching and writing. I love talking about this stuff. I love talking about podcasting, I love talking about history, and I'm talking about things that interest me, as opposed to turning it into a job. It certainly is a great second income. It's a great second job for me. But, and there are a lot of downloads across my different podcasts. But am I enjoying my experience? am I enjoying that time? I have to? Because every time I sit behind this microphone and dedicate time to this, I'm saying no to Reagan and my stepdaughter, my fiance, Reagan and stepdaughter, and I love spending time with them. And so it has to be worth it. And so that enjoyment is am I getting something out of it personally that time? Am I learning? Am I growing in my craft? That's like my main metric of success. Now that's not quantifiable. That's just sort of an internal feeling, right? But let's talk about downloads. The first year of we're libertarians, we had 72 people listening at the end of it. I couldn't believe we got 72 people listening. It was not much by the gosh, I think the end up but the beginning of the third year we had around 2500 People in Episode listening. Now we are around 3000.

And there's, well that doesn't sound like a lot of growth, which with a much different host that counts things a lot differently. Ay ay ay ay ay b is the system that counts how downloads are measured, and standardized across the board and it lowered everybody's counts a lot. But we, we still bring in nearly 30 My show brings in about 30,000 a month on the Chris spangle show downloads across the board. And the the pat down is I'm not gonna say what the pat down is, but it's more every week. And it's it's fairly robust. Those are great metrics. But even if you're sitting at let's say, a podcast with 50,000 downloads a week, you still will go these numbers are so crappy. You know, it's like this guy in radio. I saw him pull in once. You know, I was like 23 I was so broke. I was working part time at the radio station. It was like a Saturday. You know, my life's going nowhere. I was I was just living in my mom's basement.

dropped out of college I had been fired from a full time job. I was working part time for my dad as a janitor couldn't get a date like I was I was a loser By every metric. And this guy's very successful. His name was AJ pulled in in a brand new Mercedes sports car. It was just The coolest car I've ever seen, he did imaging. And I was just talking to him. I'm like, yeah, he's like, so what are your plans in radio, and I thought, you know, I just don't know that I want to move around every three years, to be tapping out at $30,000 a year at the end of my career, 30 years later. And he's like, listen, it's not about the money, it can't be about the money. Because every time you make more money, you spend more money. And think about your own experience with money, right? Like, those days, when you're just like, Ah, I need five more dollars to make it through this day, or I just need 20 more dollars. And then you get to a point in your life where you like, I just need 500 more dollars to make it this month, I need 1000 more dollars to make this month. You know, there, that mindset of scarcity never goes away. And that applies to downloads too. If you're at 50,000 a week, it's never gonna be enough. And you have to remember, the median for podcasts. Most people a really good number is 200 downloads an episode.

So if you've reached 200, an episode, within let's say, your first couple years, you're, you're almost above average, you're like, right at average. So most people are hitting 100 At the end of their first year, and then 200, and then 300, and then 1000. And then it just grows, the more consistent you are, the longer you do this, the more people that will listen to you, and it will grow. The other thing is this is a very new technology. And so there are not a lot of people listening yet. You know, for instance, very few baby boomers listen to podcasting. They're the second largest generation after millennials. So they're starting to adopt, and they believe that I think the number was 60% of baby boomers will have at least listen to one podcast and a couple years, two years from now. That's a whole new market of people to listen, the older generation getting into podcasts. So the number of people that are listening and consuming podcast on a daily basis is still very low. So there is a lot of people that are going to come and move into this marketplace and raise everybody's floor.

Okay, so there, you have to realize this is a new technology. So if you look at your download numbers, and it feels puny, like, you know, I was talking to someone who is two to 300 an episode, like I just don't know if I should book guests like this just doesn't feel right. You know, there's not that many people listening and these esteemed people are taking their time to come on my show. And I went to charitable and looked at their charts. They've charted at number 96 in their category. And I'm like you are so you're doing so well in terms of your competition, and where everybody is at and they want to reach the engaged group of people that are listening. When I worked in radio, I worked at the lowest rated am station in town, called Abdul in the morning on WX NT Newstalk 1430 WX 70 Am Indianapolis. And you know, they would sell out every day on the morning show. And it was because the right people were listening, there may have been 1000 or 2000 people listening a morning, but it was the right 1000 people in town. And so whenever a luxury brand came to town they would buy with that morning show because they were talking to the right people, the right ears. And so let's say you have a knitting podcast and you land, Gwyneth Paltrow to talk about her knitting. And you're like, I'm only talking to 47 people Gwyneth Paltrow is better than my 47. People know, Gwyneth Paltrow is going to talk to 47 highly engaged highly targeted people that want to talk to your audience. They want to they want to hear from her and she wants to talk to them.

Because in the in the we all think like broadcasters still, we think like we need to get the biggest audience and have the biggest reach. That's not the landscape in 2021. In media anymore. It is about narrowing down to your interest. It is about narrowing down to your specific audience that wants to hear to conversation about your topic that you're talking about. So keep this all into perspective, when you're thinking about downloads as your main metric of success. Some people don't worry about the amount of people listening, they're using their podcast as a tool of personal influence in their network and in their space. So they, the podcast, for instance, especially in stand up comedy world became a powerful tool of building influence and audience. And that's why every now every comedian has a podcast because, again, it didn't matter if they were talking to 10s of 1000s of people. If they were talking to hundreds of people, it was more likely that they would sell tickets to a person that was a big fan that had built a personal relationship with them through their podcast, and would then be more likely to bring some friends along who then become fans of the podcast right? And so it becomes a way to build influence or let's say you're in a business vertical You become, I saw a podcast about small business taxes.

How many people are gonna listen to a podcast about small business tax relief? Well, I'm one of them. And I may be one of hundreds of listeners. But that particular podcast reached my specific I work with a guy named Sean Grady on the environmental transformation podcast. And you wouldn't think that environmental concerns and cleanups Yes, big topic but in terms of the the marketplace that he is working with, he has become a big influencer in this very small space. So it's a great way to stand out and start getting your book yourself booked as a speaker, getting yourself booked as an as a person of influence, I won't say an influencer because of the connotations, but as a person that has authority, and and also your building connections. You know, I remember I don't do a lot of interviews on my show. My friend, Mark Claire, at another libertarian podcast does a lot of interviews, and we were walking around the Libertarian Party convention, and I didn't really know that many people and he knew everybody. And it's because he had had conversations with those people. And podcasts are a great way to get yourself in front of people that you'd love to talk to, it's really hard for you to call up somebody in your space, that is a high value target, let's say and book an hour of lunch, let's say you're doing a local podcast, and you want to call up the mayor and say, or the richest person in town and say, I want an hour with you can we have lunch, I don't know what for, right.

But if you do an interview with them, they're more than usually more than willing to talk about themselves for an hour. And so it's a lot easier for you to book them and get that hour of building a personal relationship and Rapaport with them. So that can be a measure of success, expanding your personal network and building influence in your space. And then for some people, it's income. This is the hardest metric of success, it takes a long time and a good amount of listeners, by my calculations, I'm sure there's some scientific number, but by my calculations, about 1% of your audience will ever give you $1 And that that is T shirts, Patreon money, advertise, you know, advertisements are a little bit different. But advertisement, money is very hard to come by, you've got to have a long standing audience and numbers and influence in your space for that to really work, which equals time, and consistency. Now, income can obviously be a metric of success in you could say, you know, I'm going to put this, I'm going to put 10 hours a week into this. And to get my money back in terms of time, I need to make X dollars an hour, this isn't worth it to me. And maybe that will help you motivate yourself. But I often find this as the poorest metric of success. Because it's very hard to convince an audience that a lot of times a small or doesn't exist to donate, you've got to give a lot of value to get value back. So make sure that that you keep your metric of success in line and think about it. Okay, you've got to think about what if I'm investing this time, and I'm investing my money? What will I feel

proud of getting back getting in return? Okay, if I'm giving value, what value do I get back? Right? You it can be more esoteric, like my goal where I like the deadline. You know, I have missed my deadlines the last few weeks because of moving and getting COVID. And I feel bad about it. And I don't like it. And I want to get back to work and reading and researching. Because that deadline motivates me to grow personally in my intellectual space and keeping informed and communicating with my community. That is a metric of success. Am I producing or not? Am I creating or not am and I can't give you a like an hour goal or a quantification. I just know when I'm being lazy or not. Or if I'm missing those marks or not. Is it downloads? Is it 100 downloads in the first six months 100 downloads in the first year?

Okay, well, what do I got to do to market this podcast to get to that? You know, or is it something even a little harder, like the second income or something a little easier, like building influence, knowing what your metric of success is or what your goal is or what you personally want to get out of doing? This podcast will influence how you do your content. So it's important to think about this before you start. So with that, I just want to thank you for listening to podcasting and platforms. Please make sure you go to bought it podcasting platforms.com If you got something out of this, I just ask that you share it please share it with a friend. Let them know if you're thinking about if they're thinking about starting a podcast, send them this video. cast and with that we say thank you and we'll see you again next Wednesday