Endings Are As Important As Beginnings

Sometimes things come to an end. Do you want to go out with a bang or simply fade from view?

As ever, this is podcasting so: The Choice is Yours!!!!

If we work on the assumption you’ve started or about to start a podcast, then what steps can you take to avoid the dreaded podfade where you simply cease to be? Step one is to know the stats. The probability of podfading drops dramatically once the seventh show is live. Why this is so is a matter of some discussion in the field.

My own feeling is the wonder of hitting publish, then seeing your latest episode on the podcatcher of your choice is still fresh enough to maintain the excitement. (To be fair, I still get a frisson of wonder and excitement when I publish an episode and see it pop up on Overcast, my podcatcher of choice.) Also by the time you’ve produced seven episodes you have, generally, worked out a fairly successful workflow. It will still be a bit clunky but it will work.

By the point of episode seven, we are aware of the amount of time we need to devote to podcasting and what we will be giving up, if anything. The amount of work does decline with time but not by much in the first seven episodes. So you understand the commitment you’ve made. If it gets too hard early then it’s likely podcasting is not for you, at least not yet. It might be worth mentioning here that a podfade is not necessarily a failure, it might just be a case of not yet. Anyway life has a way of occasionally throwing a spanner in the works when we least expect it.

For the first time in my life, I suffered laryngitis a few months into my first podcast. Murphy’s law at work. I had a couple of emergency episodes ready but my feed still fell silent for a couple of weeks. The point is I was well past the seventh episode not that would have mattered in my case but I was past that point and I couldn’t wait to get back into the saddle. Even when life drops the spanner, it’s not all bad.

Having survived the podfade, there might come a time when ceasing to publish but not ending the show might make sense. I can think of two podcasts off the top of my head that are still live but haven’t had a new episode in years. They are both produced by Lars Brownworth: Norman Centuries and 12 Byzantine Rulers: The History of the Byzantine Empire. They consist of 20 and 19 episodes each. The Norman episodes date from 2014 and the Byzantine from 2007. So they’ve been hanging around for some time. I suspect they still recieve downloads in fairly large numbers. 

The point I’m attempting to make is this: If your podcast covers a specific area of content with a beginning, middle and end, then there’s no point continuing it past the end point. The content may still be of value to listeners and be used to funnel them to your other assets, website, eBook, eCourse or whatever. 

Letting your listeners know the series will be a short run, at least 5 episodes, I would argue, then they know the end is coming. 

A five part audio documentary on the journey of a client from goal creation to implementation with interviews from support staff and soliloquies from the client, edited together sympathetically would be an example of a stand alone series of episodes. 

Just stopping and allowing your rss feed to simply go silent is, to my mind, disrespectful of listeners. This confuses them and damages your organisation’s credibility. If you are going to the effort of producing episodes, why trash that effort and risk the reputational damage of being perceived as an organisation that doesn’t follow through by stopping unannounced?


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