“You have to put in the time in order for content to work.”
This is common advice. This is a common-sense type of thing, but the idea has really been driven home to here at Heard over the past few months and we’ve come to the hypothesis that it takes a solid 18 months for you to KNOW if something has resonated with your audience and is going to be successful or not.
You can tell if something fails in less time
You can tell within a month or two if something has completely failed if no one has ever shown any interest and you just missed creatively. Maybe you’re a company like ours or an agency and you decided you had to go make a Dungeons & Dragons/fantasy football podcast. Okay, maybe that doesn’t work. You see after a month it doesn’t work, it fails. Fine, but you won’t realize the full benefit or value of what that content could produce for you, your brand, or (most importantly) your audience until about 18 months.
That’s true for a couple of reasons.
#1 — Finding your brand voice
The first is the compounding effect that takes place when you continue to create content over time. When you create your first episode, there’s a lot of effort that gets put into that, probably a lot of thought, but you probably haven’t found your brand voice. Between the concept you’re running with and what your audience’s real problem is, you may have not found a project market fit yet either. It may be close, but it may not have totally congealed yet.
#2 — Finding project/market fit
The second is the compounding effect that happens on the internet. When you upload to YouTube every single day, the algorithm begins to pick up your content and show it to more people because Google knows it can rely on you as a creator. People have seen that for years with writing and blog posts: if you are a regular writer, you’re going to receive the benefit of that versus just writing here or there, coming off, going on, etc.
#3 — Getting reps to become good
Part of it is you’re still getting reps as a creator, as a writer, as a podcaster, as a video maker, whatever it is. You’re still refining your execution. You’re obviously going to get better over time as you continue to put in the work, so that’s one big element of it.
About four and a half years ago, Adam and Derek, two of our team members, began a podcast called The Startup Show and it went really well. Heard got a lot of attention because of it, but Adam and Derek ran out of time to keep up with it. Without help, the show kind of fell by the wayside, but people have continued to listen to those old episodes.
Over the past four years—whether it be because they’re referring to it, it got linked somewhere where they discovered it for the first time, or whatever it is—people continue to go back to those episodes. They’re four years old but people are still listening to them. Meanwhile, if they liked what they heard, there was no new content now for them to sink their teeth into or attach to because we didn’t take advantage of that over the past couple of years.
We missed out, but our audience size is still decent and stayed pretty consistent despite the fact that we weren’t creating for four years. If we had been, how much growth would we have seen? We left a lot of meat on the bone, but hopefully our pain will be your lesson and you’ll see and understand that content is a marathon, not a sprint.
Whatever you’re working on now, give it 18 months, give it two years to fully vet out if it’s successful or not before you decide to throw in the towel.