How can you tell if a new podcast is going to be successful ahead of time?
Why do some podcasts succeed while others fail?
In my years working with musicians (and more recently, podcasters), I've noticed a single "predictor" of success that allows me to tell whether somebody will ultimately be successful or not, but it was only recently that I saw a related study that backs up my observations.
The study has to do with students attending community college.
Many community colleges have a hard time with student retention. In other words, students start, but don't stick around very long.
Does this issue have something to do with open enrollment? The fact that almost anybody can attend community college?
That was the theory. So community college students as well as students attending traditional universities, which have much stricter admittance guidelines were studied...
As it turns out, retention rates at community colleges have little to do with open enrollment, money, or domestic issues. The issue is about identity - how the students perceive themselves.
Who Are You?
When somebody asks about who you are, what do you say?
For students at a community college, "college student" was way down on the list, around seven or eight, behind other identifiers, such as what the student did for a living or the status of a relationship.
For students at a traditional university, "college student" was almost always listed in the top three identifiers, and often listed first.
Simply put, those who identified as "college students," regardless of whether they were enrolled at community colleges or traditional universities, were more likely to continue college.
While I don't have a study to back this up, it's been my observation over several years that those who identify as "podcasters" are more likely to be successful with podcasting. Similarly, other experts, such as those who identify as "writers" or "speakers" are more likely to be successful with their media of choice, such as books or live presentations.
In short, how you identify yourself has a lot to do with whether or not you'll be successful.
A Message For Podcasters
It's my job to help you get more people to listen to your podcast. So why write about identity?
Because identity is where everything starts. It's also the foundation upon which everything is built.
Building on that foundation – that's the next step. Calling yourself a writer, or a blogger, or a podcaster, or a broadcaster, or whatever else is only a start. For longterm success, you have to back your words with action, so your identity is truly internalized.
Don't be the guy on social media who calls himself a podcaster and spends more time talking about the podcast he's going to do than actually podcasting. While you might fool other people into thinking you're a podcaster, the only way you'll convince yourself is to actually get behind a mic, turn on a recorder, and publish something.
Podcasters make podcasts. Just like musicians make music, just like writers write.
Don't wait. You may not have perfect hosting skills, but these days, you don't need perfect hosting skills. You don't need a radio tower to broadcast your message. You don't need lots of expensive equipment to record it.
You have everything you need to make the impact you want, as long as you're willing to own your identity and back it up with solid work.
Start where you are. Outline your ideas, record them, and put them online. Tell the audience you have, even if it's just your friends right now.
And when people ask who you are, tell them, "I'm a podcaster" and then show them what you've created. When you do this, podcasting success and impact emerge automatically.