Last week the podcast industry reported that there are now two million active podcasts, up from one million a year ago and up from the ~190,000 that existed when I started podcasting 8 years ago.
Are you about to get drowned out?
Podcasting is too big for you
Two million is a lot of podcasts. Right?
Sure it is. And while it's brilliant for the industry (read: money in the industry) it's a statistic that is terrifying for the independent, day-to-day podcaster like you and I.
Think about it: content production companies in podcasting are springing up everywhere at a rate that I've never seen before.
Many of them are funded and can move quickly by hiring teams to create stunningly produced content and more importantly, invest money into marketing that podcast very, very heavily.
These companies are media companies, not just podcasting companies and they're focussed on creating amazing content for brands that want to get into the space or they're focussed on building original content with the intent of selling that IP to studios to be made into TV shows, movies, books, graphic novels, merch and so much more.
They're advanced, too.
They make money right away from sponsors thanks to dynamic content, monetising their entire episode inventory and bagging a range of stars to voice their stories.
They invest in high concept artwork, photography and don't just sound great, but look wonderful too.
In short: they're crushing it and they began crushing it pretty darn quickly!
One of my favourite books is Factfulness by Hans Rosling. It's a delightfully data-driven book that looks at how much the world has and continues to get better, overall, without dressing up the fact that bad things still happen.
The main takeaways from that book for me were that 1. the media only reports on stories and 2. the real stories are in the breadth of data, not the extremes that get the headlines and the clicks.
That happens in podcasting, too.
It's much more useful to the industry overall for the headlines to be about the latest acquisition, major show launch or startup faux pas than it is for the industry to hear "Mark's Star Wars Show Hits 100 Downloads Per Episode!".
But it's those data that make up the vast majority of podcasting!
The significant majority of the podcasting industry is made up of people like you and I who create content because we love doing it and who love engaging with the real people who ALSO love what we produce.
When we, the day-to-day podcast enthusiasts, see big headlines about the podcasting industry it's so easy to become disheartened but remember: we're the soul of podcasting and our podcast is something very special. Your show is something special.
Your podcast is a scalable personal experience that connects like-minded people from all over the world through a shared love.
Our job as podcasters isn't to worry about the size of the industry or to try to emulate the headline-grabbing projects.
Our job as podcasters is to continue on our own path and to keep producing content that connects people to the things that they adore.
By staying in lane, focussing on what we do well and what we can control, podcasting will continue to work for us, regardless of what else is happening in the audio world.
Podcasting anxiety is a reality!
I get so many emails from podcasters who do great work but who feel disheartened every single time they hear about a new "big" development in the industry.
They get disheartened because they worry about how they can compete; they're concerned about how they can get the attention of prospective listeners when the ever-expanding list of "big" shows can put so much money into marketing those shows - it's a valid concern but not anything that we can control.
We can't stop any of that activity from happening so, instead, we should focus on what we can control: the quality of our content, the quality of our marketing, the focus on our messaging and the ease of listening that we deliver to our new listeners.
Make the podcasting industry small for yourself
Being a podcaster right now reminds me of a scene in one of the most underrated Superman movies ever, Man of Steel.
During a flashback scene, the young Clark Kent is struggling to handle his rapidly developing powers, picking up every sound and sight around him and feeling overwhelmed by it all until the point that he decides it's just too much and it's easier to run away.
His mother, Martha, makes Clark comfortable by slowly talking him through an exercise where she encourages him to just focus on her voice so that he has a way to learn what to be concerned with, and when.
She teaches him how to make the world small again.
This reduces his fear, his anxiety and gives him a way to focus on what is happening around him, even when it feels too big to handle.
Be like Clark: if you find the world of podcasting is getting too big for you, simply make it small: focus on your voice, your audience and your content.
Day by day, your show can grow. You just have to be confident in not looking over the fence and in making sure that you're doing the very best that you can for your podcast, for yourself and for your listeners.
Let me know how I can help :)
Your next steps
I teach podcasting a lot, and usually for free. So, here's what I'd recommend you do next:
P.S. you can start engaging with your listeners using AWeber. It's free, no credit card required: https://www.MarkAsquith.com/AWeber