A year ago, I started the Austin Podcasters Meetup. A year later, I’ve teamed up with three other leaders serving nearly five-hundred members online.
It’s been a year.
Red Pill, Blue Pill
The first step is always the hardest. Even if you already know what you want, what you seek to gain, and, in my case, a general idea of how to run a user group. And so, I sat there, staring at the search results for the term “podcast”. Though there were other Meetup groups listed but their focus wasn’t on podcasting alone. For that, there was a blank rectangle telling me that X number of nearby users were interested in podcasts.
I thought this was a mistake. Surely in the live music capital, the home of SXSW, and film festivals, there was an active podcasting Meetup group. And despite the varying search terms I gave Meetup, it told me that there wasn’t. Even Google, who I rely on daily to answer my questions, showed me old Austin focused shows or get-togethers that haven’t happened since 2014. There truly was no such community, or at least, there wasn’t on the surface.
Half a year later, the white box remained. Half a year later, I continued to juggle two pills in the palm of my hand. One telling me to wait; that someone else would do it. The other beckoning me with its promise of an experience I would never forget. I decided that after a year of searching, and a year of prolonging, to take the red pill.
What I had missed most was a community to share ideas and conversation with. This was ever more evident as I found myself smiling from ear to ear as I chatted with every new person that stepped off the elevator looking for the Austin Podcasters Meetup. And from our conversation over big greasy slices of New York styled pizza, I learned that they too craved that same conversation. That same need to exchange ideas and learn from others.
The year that followed, our community grew. New and old faces filled the chairs as we discussed everything from idea curation, and editing, to monetization. Members came with ideas and hesitation to launch, to building their websites, recording, and publishing. Others came looking for a break into podcast editing and writing, to partnering on soon-to-be podcasts.
The most significant of a change to the community entailed finding our other half.
Unbeknownst to me, another had spent his time searching for an Austin podcast community and after finding no such community he created one on Facebook. Like the Meetup, more and more joined hoping to converse with others that shared their passions and to learn tips to help their recording go smoothly. All while being invisible to my eye.
Months later, Todd and Moby, the Austin Facebook admins, reached out to me, and we decided to meet. After two combined events, we decided to do the most obvious thing: Work together. Not only was this the best decision but it was the right decision. Most users on Facebook were not on Meetup and most users on Meetup were not on Facebook. And more and more users didn’t know where to go for the next event or the latest news. We thought that if we worked as one, we could better serve the community.
The Road Ahead
How can we help the Austin community grow and learn in all the ways that they expect?
I asked myself that very question about the community when I sat down to do planning for the year. I had previously planned things for a month or two-month increment, never thinking about the full year. And in doing so, things that I wanted to do, never got done.
All of that is changing in 2018.
As we finish March, I’ve already completed several things that I wanted to get accomplished: Survey? Done. Design update? Done. Newsletter? Done.
Taking the time to sit with a cup of coffee and write down all my ideas, wants and wishes, helped me create a plan of where I want this community to be by the end of this year, and years to come.
Though I have only checked off three items on my roadmap for the community so far this year, I can’t wait to announce what else we have in store and check off even bigger items for the year.
In closing, I just have to give thanks to everyone that I have met since starting this journey. Learning about your passions, listening to the work you produce, and simply being motivated by you have helped push me forward.
Thank you all for your participation, your passion, and your support because, without you, there would be no Austin Podcast Community.
The Austin Podcast Community is managed by Mark (me), Thomas, Moby, and Todd. If you’re in Austin, be sure to check out an event.