Everyone loves to parrot advice about the importance of consistency for growing a podcast.
And it’s true, it’s hard to overstate the value of consistency.
Unfortunately, most advice about consistency only addresses one of the three types of consistency that are necessary to grow.
So what are the the other two and how can you put them to work for your show?
The Consistency Trifecta
When people talk about consistency they’re usually referring to publishing new episodes on a consistent schedule.
The problem is that consistent publishing without consistency in quality and listener experience won’t get you very far.
In order to grow a show that keeps people coming back, you need to be consistent all three of these fronts.
I think of them as the consistency trifecta.
Let’s look more closely at each.
Consistent (High) Quality
More important than consistency of schedule is consistently publishing episodes that are well above the average quality in your niche.
In fact, if you can achieve consistency on this front, your publishing schedule doesn’t really matter much at all.
Consider the description of one of my favourite podcasts of all time, Brains.
During their first year of the show, hosts Julian and Courtland released only 7 episodes, usually with months between releases.
And you know what?
Every single one of their episodes ranks among my personal favourite podcast episodes of all time.
That quality I associate with both Julian & Courtland as well as the show keeps them top of mind for me in the months (or years) between episodes.
I constantly refer the show to others, quote sections of individual episodes, and check the feed weekly just to make sure they haven’t released anything new.
Hardcore History is another, better known example of the same phenomenon.
Host Dan Carlin regularly goes months without publishing.
But when he does, you can count on the episode to be among the very best historical podcast episodes ever recorded.
Dan has clearly optimized for consistent quality above all else. And he’s been rewarded for it with millions upon millions of downloads.
On the one hand, these shows have established a quality expectation among their audience that might feel hard to live up to.
But that same level of expectation is exactly what make these shows so referable.
As a listener, you know you’re not going out on a limb and risking your reputation by recommending either of these shows to a friend or colleague.
You already know any episode they listen to will be a banger, making it easy to recommend these shows far and wide with impunity!
Keep in mind that while “quality” certainly includes the production values of the show, more important is the quality and originality of the ideas being presented.
Consistency of Listener Experience
The second type of consistency to consider is consistency in the experience you deliver listeners.
One of the reasons people choose podcasts over reading blog posts or newsletters is the different type of experience they provide—perhaps while delivering the exact same information.
Podcasts are an experiential medium.
Which means we as creators need to take that listener experience into account when constructing our shows.
Much of the experience we create revolves around the quality of our episodes.
But beyond the quality of the ideas being presented, experience is about the manner in which they’re presented.
Part of the magic of narrative shows like This American Life or 99% Invisible is that they’re able to maintain a consistent listener experience even when different producers are present on the different segments of the shows.
- Part of this comes down to the type of people who are present on the show. In your case, this will likely be you and any guests or cohosts you have on.
- Part of it is having clarity on who your listeners are and what they’re looking for from a show like yours.
- Part of it is about topic selection, ensuring that the topics you’re choosing to cover align with the experience of the show you seek to create.
The final piece is about how you explore those topics. The unique manner in which you inquire into and present them.
A thoughtful pondering 60-minute interview probing gently into a topic is a much different experience than a “cut-the-BS-10-minute-breakdown” of the same topic, after all.
Of course, before you can work toward creating any type of experience for your listeners, you need to decide on the type of experience you want to create.
Then, ensure every aspect of your show serves that desired experience.
Consistency of Publishing
I said earlier that consistency of publishing might be the least important of the Consistency Trifecta.
But it still is important. For 3 key reasons:
- Getting your reps in — It will take creating dozens or hundreds of episode before you actually understand how to create a quality show. Making a commitment to publish regularly helps you push past perfectionism, ship episodes regularly, and improve rapidly.
- Listener Mindshare – Podcasting has a unique way of becoming a core part of listeners’ lives and routines which helps you stay top of mind and relevant as long as you maintain that space in their lives.
- An indication of your reliability – If you can’t keep your promise to put out a new episode consistently on your self-imposed release schedule, why should anyone expect you to deliver on the promises of your paid offers?
Achieving consistency across all three facets of the Consistency Trifecta will likely take years.
But if you want to create a show with the potential to grow sustainably and generate reliable ROI, this is your target.