Today we are talking about whether or not you need to set a hard launch date for your podcast.
Every now and again I am approached by a podcaster who say they are frustrated by the approval process to syndication platforms. When I ask why, it's usually because the podcaster has set a hard launch date for their podcast to launch and want to jump into the marketplace with a big splash.
Today I want to break down the meaning of a hard launch and a soft launch with hopes that I can alleviate the pressures you may face when you launch a podcast (or even specific episodes).
If you haven't figured it out yet, but you need to define the goal for your podcast. You hear me talk about this all the time and I'm going to continue to talk about it, but you have to define the goal of your podcast. In other words, what is the objective of your podcast? Is it to entertain or is it to educate?
If it's meant to entertain, what is the underlying objective or the goal behind that? I mean, it can't just be for laughs if that's what you're thinking of creating. While laughs are awesome, they don't pay for th podcast hosing and the time it takes to build your podcast. Likely, you want to turn it into something that's a little more than just a fun podcast where you get laughs. So you are really are going to have to figure out the underlying goal.
Soft launches are where you can tell someone, "I've got a podcast coming out sometime next month." Pay attention to that word "sometimes". This indicates that you haven't set a hard date, but it will come out in a general time frame.
Let's say you have a podcast that is all about pottery. Instead of making a big splash into the marketplace, you want to release a podcast into the marketplace to share and grow your ideas with an audience. You aren't too concerned about the process of getting your podcast in syndication platforms and you will have them submitted as you can get each platform to approve them.
But as it goes with every launch (soft or hard), you have to do a lot of the pre-work before you get it up into syndication platforms. In case you are curious, I have made a guide that walks you through each step of the process called The Podcast Launch Checklist.
Whether you're casual about getting the podcast up into the syndication platforms or you're doing a hard launch, get the pre-work done and know that the approval process varies between syndication platforms (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, iHeart, etc).
As far as your content is concerned, soft launches generally have content that is more evergreen. In other words, the content can be revisited over and over. The content typically isn't time sensitive and reflects content that can be consumed as a means for education. Again, this is generally speaking, the content is always going to be rich in value.
We can also look at soft launches as a great way for you to understand your audience over time. It's very similar to kind of how I run my YouTube channel. I post content that people want to see in the marketplace and understand where they are struggling and try to build content around those struggles by providing solutions.
Soft launches are all about the long game. When you play that long game, you really start to understand what your audience likes, what they dislike, and you build a relationship with that audience. You start to discover that some of the content that you thought was going to be popular with that particular audience is not so popular with that audience. Instead, you pivot your topics towards your audience so they can understand better.
When it comes down to learning what your audience likes, you're learning about your audience over time. It means that soft launches allow your audience to know, like, and trust you over time.
Lastly, I think soft launches are just way less stressful than a hard launch.
Now let's flip over to the other side and talk about hard launches.
Hard launches aren't necessarily bad, but they're not necessarily the most ideal for some people. I mean, they're hard launches for a reason. In fact, hard launches can actually be a really good thing if you have the right pieces in place. It's just going to depend on your objective of what you're trying to do with your podcast.
If you have set a hard launch date for your podcast, likely there is a reason that there is a objective way down the line. You may be trying to achieve or something in order to get a specific result.
Typically, a hard launch has some type of metric that is associated with it. These metrics could be the amount of downloads you're trying to get or you might be selling something and using the podcast as the vehicle to promote that product or service.
You can go real deep when it comes down to hard launches because when you set a specific day to launch, you're trying to get more people to listen to the podcast for metrics. As an example, you might be getting more people to listen to your podcast so you can "fill the top of the sales funnel" to hopefully get people to purchase products, services or get sponsorships. Maybe you have your podcast because you have a book you want to sell on the back end of the podcast. This is where hard launches come in handy.
Questions I would ask would be, "Am I looking for downloads or do I really need to do a soft launch instead so that you can get a handle on the idea of trying to do a podcast?"
One thing that comes with hard launches is that they are generally associated with affiliations and advertising. What do I mean by that "affiliations"? In other words, the podcaster has reached out to their network so they can inform l their network of the launch to make noise in the marketplace. It's generally a coordinated campaign and has a specific time frame to promote the launch of your podcast.
Additionally, hard launches can incorporate Facebook advertising, YouTube advertising, Twitter advertising and the like. It just all depends.
One thing you have to be careful of when it comes to a hard launch is that you can get a lot of people that come in and listen to the podcast, but you may see a drop off in listenership. Some people will stay loyal to you, but you might also get people that will just drop off because maybe they find the content doesn't resonate with them.
It doesn't mean that this method won't get your loyal listeners, but it's important to know that you won't keep all listeners.
You might hear some people say that you have to get a lot of downloads in order to show up on the front page of Apple Podcasts so that you can get more downloads Personally, I'm not a big hype guy.
What I do believe in is delivering value and more value over time because podcasting is more of a long game.
I take this idea from the fitness world where each days is a part of the process of building strength over time. Subsequently, I think of podcasting the same way.
The thing that is going to make or break you and your podcast is consistency. You have to stay consistent over time.
I do realize that podcasters do get burned out and need to take breaks. But you have to plan ahead to take those breaks. This is why I recommend you batch your content so that when you decide you want to go on a vacation or take a hiatus, you have content still being delivered.
Build loyalty and trust with consistency.
Whether you're feeling inspired to make a podcast like mine or you're just trying to figure out where to start, my FREE PDF GUIDE will show you where to get started in under 15 minutes.
Shannon will share his 20+ years of radio broadcasting knowledge and show you how strategies in radio relate directly to podcast creation and strategy!