I keep a journal. Every now and then I look back at previous entries and one day was short and quick: “I don’t know what to write.”
The good news is that writer’s block is far and few between these days, at least professionally. When it does happen, my go-to solutions are get out of my seat and do something else. Walk, laundry, put headphones on and listen to music, call a friend. As Kevin Costner said in the movie “For Love of the Game,” “Clear the mechanism.” By the way he’s done a lot of baseball movies. The best was “Bull Durham,” IMHO.
I’ve spent my entire career putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. Today, we have many means of communication to tell industry stories. Sometimes it’s social media posts, as in concise messages with a very limited word—or character—count. Then there are podcasts, which are the total opposite of writing.
In writing, I can define where the story goes. With podcasts, it’s more about allowing the story to breath, and that takes a different set of creative muscles, which we have exercised since 2016.
We debuted the Convenience Matters podcast seven years ago. The first episode was 28 minutes of my colleagues at NACS and the Fuels Institute talking about new cars and new fuels, recapping the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I have to say, you wouldn’t know that was our first podcast—dare I say they sounded like pros!
We didn’t know where podcasting was going to take us. We saw it as a new platform for our members to consume interesting content. Something you could enjoy while driving into work, walking the dog or jogging. We didn’t want five minutes episodes, nor did we want three-hour James Cameron sagas.
When we launched Convenience Matters, there were 547,969 podcasts. Today there are more than 4.4 million podcasts, according to podnews.net, so there’s definitely an appetite for the medium. As long as you tell compelling stories, which I believe we are.
As a result, our listenership has rapidly grown. In 2016, we aired 42 episodes for a total of 4,060 downloads. In 2022, we had a handful of episodes that each topped our total for all of 2016.
Let me go back to writer’s block for a minute. It exists with podcasts, but not in the same way. When you don’t know what to say, you can switch gears and listen. The story comes to you, and it is happening in real time. That’s when I switch to learning mode because for some episodes the topic is new, like ESG.
Here’s other episodes where I found myself listening more than conversing because our guests and the topics were so friggin’ interesting!
Most Convenience Matters downloads come from Apple Podcasts or Chrome. For those who follow our podcast, their preferred podcast player will serve up new episodes by the time they wake up on Monday mornings. All you gotta do is hit play and listen to Convenience Matters. That’s why we try to keep each episode to 25 minutes or less.
Podcasts give us another tool to share content that appeals to our industry. Looking at the download numbers, we’re seeing the growth and to us that translates into audience interest. So, if you’re a listener and you like our content, let us know what you want to hear. If it’s a topic we haven’t covered yet, we’re all ears.
After all, we can’t have writer’s block on topics with a new episode airing every week.