What does it really take to be a consistent podcaster in an industry that seems to be getting crowded? Without a doubt, we are in the golden age of podcasting. For the most part, we can safely say that a new and exciting podcast is born each day. And, you may ask why so many podcasts? Well, it's easy to enter; it's easy to start with little to no cost. All you need is a primary computer with recording capabilities, voice, basic tech knowledge, and internet access. And, unless you are the exception, most people have access to these fundamental requirements. So, people quickly start podcasts! But, just as easy as it is to enter, is it as easy to be consistent when no glory follows?
Many of us listen to popular podcasts and become so inspired and start a podcast of our own. And, amid this burst of new inspiration, one may believe that after starting a new podcast, one can be famous as that popular podcaster, tomorrow. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it goes without saying that some think that after starting a podcast, they would reach a type of notoriety that is Joe Rogan in a relatively short amount of time. And this isn't the case.
We have found that many individuals enter into the world of podcasting with unrealistic expectations. Expectations that, unfortunately, can prove to be a set-up for failure. Below are mini-scenarios of a guy named Mark, who started a new podcast with the expectation of becoming influential and successful - quickly. After this, we will briefly discuss each scenario and, in the end, attempt to provide a realistic resolve.
Scenario A: COMPARING
Mark loves to listen to Drink Champs. Inspired, Mark creates a podcast of his very own. He names the podcast "Mark," where he and his friends and family discuss random topics. Mark establishes an intro and first episode. He is super excited as he is now ready to upload his podcast on a podcasting platform, prepared to be distributed to the many streaming services. His podcast is now live on major streaming platforms. Every day Mark looks at his stats and realize he only had two listens in seven days. Fast forward, it is now almost a year, with over 100 episodes his overall listens total 315. He is disheartened. Mark starts to scurry the internet looking and listening to podcasts that are flourishing and acknowledged. Mark becomes confused. He believes his podcast is just as good or even better and doesn't understand why he isn't getting the numbers and recognition he thinks he should be receiving - by now.
Scenario B: TIME
Mark started his podcast almost a year before Jenny created her podcast. Jenny only put out four podcast episodes. Just after only completing four podcast episodes, one episode got noticed and highlighted from a credible platform. Mark is now furious. He tries to reason why Jenny's podcast would get highlighted so quickly while his podcast that has been out for almost a year has not received support from anyone he deems as credible?
Scenario C: I SHOULD GET THE PUBLICITY
Mark just received an alert from a popular streaming service of their "Top 15 Podcasts to listen to." He scrolls the list. And, the more he scrolls, he gets angrier and angrier. "Wtf? The Brilliant Idiots? They don't need any more publicity. They already have it! Why would they put them on that list? My podcast needs promotion!"
In Scenario A, Mark was angry that his listenership was low after putting out over 100 episodes. He was also upset that no one acknowledged his podcast. Somehow, Mark believed that he should be pulling in similar, if not the same numbers as those popular podcasts that he researched online. However, what Mark failed to do is research the background of these podcasters. He didn't realize that these podcasters, most likely came in with a loyal fan base. For example, someone like Joe Rogan has been out for a gazillion years - since the '80s. Rogan has been making a name for himself for decades, which is why he is sitting on a 100 million dollar contract via Spotify and millions of subscribers. And, so it is with other popular podcasts. Many popular podcasters are comedians, singers, athletes, actors, writers, radio/tv personalities, influencers, and authors. And, these same podcasters bring their followers to their podcast. Therefore, it would be unrealistic to compare your new podcast with podcasters who already entered the podcasting game with a loyal base and firm foundation.
Yes, it's necessary to survey any industry you're about to enter. And it's good to see what's out there. But, if your only reason to research the industry is to point out how better your podcast is as opposed to other podcasts, it will just breathe more discouragement, contempt, and resentment. Instead, we strongly urge podcasters or Mark, in this case, to find podcasts that are doing well and use those podcasts as an inspiration to become a stronger podcaster.
In Scenario B, Mark was upset that a credible platform acknowledged a podcast that started after his podcast. You see, Mark believed that time should have been considered in the selection of podcasts to recognize. However, Mark doesn't realize that it's genuinely the content and not the time the content existed. For example, someone could consistently and with longevity put out subpar, mediocre content. In contrast, someone who just started could put out excellent content and go viral. Let's look at taste and preference. Mark's podcast may not be someone's cup of tea. Maybe that source prefers content that is the total opposite of Mark's content. And, it had no bearing on the content's quality. Let's look at discovery. It could very well be that Mark has excellent content, but people don't know about Mark's podcast yet. Maybe Jenny's podcast marketing strategy was Teflon strong to the point where she could create a buzz and get recognized by credible sources.
In Scenario C, Mark became quite annoyed when he read the "15 Podcasts to listen to" list. He was angry to see podcasts on that list that he believed didn't need the publicity. But, Mark didn't realize that though the podcasts on the list may have some notoriety, it's their notoriety that has gotten them on the list. Again, many of these podcasts or the people behind the podcast have been out for a very long time, and many are familiar with their work. Additionally, one must realize that some platforms don't want to take the chance to promote a podcast or podcaster that they don't know or who haven't been out for a very long time.
While there are platforms such as The Black & Brown Podcast Festival & Collective that will take chances of promoting new podcasters who haven't been out for a very long time, one must realize that many of these platforms are not there to make you popular as a podcaster but rather acknowledge your popularity. Most Media outlets give the people what they want based on numbers and what the masses are promoting.
Let's discuss perception and attitude. Mark's view seems to need a slight adjustment. The podcasting community should be a united front. When one podcast, famous or unknown, receives recognition, we should see it, appreciate it, and use it as an inspiration to continue to work harder and be consistent, especially when it comes to Black and podcasters of color.
Now, let's go back to Joe Rogan. Is it possible to reach Joe Rogan's status as a
podcaster? Yes! Should one expect to be head to head with Rogan on Apple Podcasts in a relatively short amount of time? No.
We wouldn't dare write that podcasting has to be the love of your life, but at the very least, it should be something that you like doing. If you're not in podcasting because you like, love, or enjoy doing it, you will most likely be in the same dilemma as Mark, worrying, watching, comparing, complaining, lurking, shading other podcasters, and asking why not me early on. Discouraged will be your last name, and it will start to show in your content. Even worse, it can cause you to stop podcasting altogether.
Many people enter into podcasting for the wrong reasons. If you're not in podcasting because you have a story or something keen to share with the masses, you might want to re-evaluate why you entered into podcasting, as podcasting is not for the faint of heart. Podcasting has to be something you like doing as it would keep you going despite not receiving the riches or accolades.