If Podcasting Can't Please Everyone, Should We Even Try? [S3E83]

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This episode is based on a tweet from Andrew Wilkinson, co-founder of Tiny Capital and an investor in several podcasting businesses like Castro, Supercast, and Ride Home Media, who said (and I’m paraphrasing) that he’s stopped listening to podcasts on his phone because they’re all the same, and he’s picking up audiobooks to take their place.

Clearly, Andrew is painting all podcasts with a very broad brush, which is a bit unfair. I could use that same broad brush call TV, radio, newspapers, and even books as all the same.

But that doesn’t mean we should discount Andrew’s tweet. It’s helpful evidence that lets us better understand why ~70% of the population have yet to pick up the podcasting habit.

Podcasting has a vicious cycle of over-optimization that leads to the “sameness” quality I picked up from Andrew’s tweet. The same guests answering the same questions on multiple shows. The same breaking news covered in the same way to squeeze as much Google juice as possible.

All that sameness leads to podcast listening fatigue. Even I’m feeling it. With the exception of Post Reports and Techmeme Ride Home, I’m almost exclusively listening to serialized podcasts.

Why? Because they end.

As with audiobooks, turning the metaphorical page to reading “the end” on a serialized podcast is an incredibly satisfying sense of accomplishment. We can’t do that with episodic podcasts. Too bad serialized podcasts arent better packaged. Still, I’d encourage you to explore the serialized style of podcasting and see if it’s right for you.

There are some other lessons to be learned so that the podcast you make doesn’t fall into that trap.

  • Fact-check your uniqueness. That means listening to other podcasts. Yes, podcasts that are similar to yours. But also podcasts that are not similar. And if you’re interviewing guests, spend time listening to that guest on other podcasts and ask them something different.
  • Get off the SEO hamster wheel. Chasing keyword rankings or hitting the same trending topic is, for most, a losing game. Spend some time looking at what really is attracting new listeners to your site/show and double-down on developing your own voice.

Remember, you cannot please everyone with your podcast. So focus on what pleases the audience you have, the audience you want, and what pleases you. Stay focused on what is true and unique to your show and buck the trend of uniformity in podcasting.

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Podcast Pontifications is published by Evo Terra four times a week and is designed to make podcasting better, not just easier.


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