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In the spirit of Christmas, I want to inspire you find new ways to give back to your listeners, if you aren’t already.

After talking about Christmas gifts for podcasters, I was inspired by Elise from Knit Misadventures to talk about giving back to your listeners.

1. Be a linchpin and giver

I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s Linchpin. While Godin primarily seeks to inspire employees and would-be entrepreneurs to be indispensable artists. The chapter “The Powerful Culture of Gifts” stood out to me regarding podcasting and my work.

Art is a gift. A real gift, not part of a deal, not a transaction entered into with reciprocity in mind. The culture of gifts has a long history on this planet, and understanding how it brings people together is a critical step in becoming indispensable. [Seth Godin, Linchpin, page ix]

What makes us podcasters stand out is our ability to give more personally than any TV-network show can. I fully believe Jesus’s words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, NASB) and “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38, NASB). When we give and create a “culture of gifts,” we build relationships of trust and gratitude.

2. Be passionate

Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. Unless you’re “big media,” you can’t build loyal following without giving enthusiasm. Be passionate over what you’re podcasting about! If you’re not passionate about it (or getting paid a ton of money), then find something else to podcast about. Yes, sometimes the passion will wane, due to current stress, difficulty for developing content, and other reasons. But passion is renewable and contagious. Give your enthusiasm and your listeners will get excited, too.

3. Respond and interact

One thing that sets us apart from “big media” is our ability to personally interact with our audience. Don’t forget this! Remember the POD of podcasting (passion, organization, dialog)? Give to your listeners by interacting with them.

Share and respond to feedback within your podcastConverse with blog commentersRespond to personal communications: email, tweets, etc.4. Invite listeners as guests

Have you ever considered inviting one of your loyal listeners as a guest? I relied on my loyal listeners to my clean-comedy podcast the Ramen Noodle when I was getting married and going on honeymoon. I invited several listeners to join us as guest cohosts and we had a great time and strengthened the community.

Yes, you may not have the technology to support an offsite guest cohost, but look for other ways to incorporate your listeners, especially their feedback.

5. Make leaving feedback easy

You should already be inviting feedback from your listeners. Although this is something you ask from them, be generous by giving your listeners easy ways to contact and interact with you.

Install the CryptX WordPress plugin so you can clearly write your email address instead of “feedback [ at ]” (I hate that!). CryptX will encrypt your email address so bots can’t harvest the address for spam.Avoid Captcha or other cumbersome spam-prevention. Instead, use effective spam-filtering like Akismet, Disqus, or IntenseDebate (my preference).Clearly and slowly speak phone numbers.Clearly and slowly spell ambiguous or difficult-to-spell URLs. Many names and words may not be obvious in their spelling: too, to, two, and 2; effect and affect; John and Jon; etc.Do not require moderation before comments appear.6. Listen to feedback

When someone provides constructive critical feedback, the greatest gift you can give them is your attention and effort to change when necessary. You don’t have to change every detail of your show when someone complains, but consider constructive critical feedback as valuable as gold. Those people have taken time out of their day to generously share something with you (perhaps even one of their “secrets”) that can improve yourself or your work. Respect and appreciate others’ opinions, but change for improvement, not opinion.

7. Consider playing promos

Depending on the format of your show, considering promoting what your community is doing. Even if you charge a nominal “advertising fee” (I list the Ramen Noodle for this on giving listeners an inexpensive opportunity to promote themselves in your podcast can make you their hero.

Certainly, not all shows are appropriate for promos or ads, and many times you may want to encourage a promo-swap. You play their promo and they play yours. Don’t concern yourself over whether they have many listeners because your goal is to give!

8. Host contests

Contests are a fun way to give back to your community. Whether its something small (like my recent Tron: Legacy poster giveaway) or something huge (like a free iPad), make it fun and mutually beneficial for your community to participate.

9. Thank them

Genuine words of gratefulness go a long way. Don’t forget those simple words, “thank you.”

10. Be yourself

Your listeners want to listen to you, not someone else or else they would listen to someone else instead. This is profoundly obvious, but easily forgotten. Don’t try to be another Leo Laporte, Larry King, or even another Daniel Lewis. Be yourself! My friend Cliff Ravenscraft has often said, “I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.”

How else can you give back to your listeners?

Mine is not an exhaustive list, so I would love to hear ways you can think to give back to your listeners! Either comment here or email (audio files welcome) or call (859) 353-4332.

No episode next week

In honor of Christmas and New Year’s Day, there will be no live episode on December 27 or an episode for that week. I’ll record episode 27 live at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Monday, January 3. Please have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

BONUS: Zoom H4n “Manslater” translates woman-speak

A new firmware update to the Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder can revolutionize your marriage or dating! Watch this funny video.

Got questions or feedback?

Please ask your questions or share your thoughts here in the comments, email, or call our listener voicemail line at (859) 353-4332. Also follow me on Twitter and please consider leaving a five-star review for the show in iTunes. You can contact me through the same methods if you’re interested in my design, production, or consultation services.

If you enjoy The Audacity to Podcast, please subscribe to our other podcasts on the Network: Are You Just Watching? and the Ramen Noodle.