In July 2019, freelance journalist Jennifer Miller dropped a bomb of a headline on the podcasting community:
Her article lasered in on a few data points that might concern anyone thinking of launching a podcast in the near future:
- She reported that there are over 700,000 podcasts, with as many as 3,000 new shows launching every month.
- She also noted that metrics don’t yet mean much in the podcasting universe. You can measure the number of reviews you get in Apple’s Podcasts directory, or the number of downloads each episode enjoys, but those numbers are pretty easy to fudge.
- And she supplied this direct quote: “Industry analysts and production companies say that so-called ‘bantercasts,’ in which the host and guests chitchat for an hour or more, likely comprise the bulk of new productions.” (Plenty of bantercasters took personal offense to this one, but the accusation isn’t off the mark.)
Critics of the piece noted Miller’s own framing of the rise and fall of blogs as a reason to be wary of her judgement. Most of us who moved from traditional media to online media in the late 1990s and early 2000s reveled in the scene’s opportunities.
Then we watched as the ecosystem got swamped with low-quality content mills, clickbait headlines, and AI bots that overwhelmed authentic voices. Finally, the arrival of social media platforms meant the end of most microblogging and personal blogging (with the possible exception of mommyblogging — a subculture unto itself). So many of the best websites of that early era have faded away as folks started tweeting instead of posting, or as trolls stole the joy from commenting.
So it’s no wonder some folks are skeptical about podcasting.
But here’s why, in my experience, podcasting’s set up for success in a way that blogs aren’t.
- Podcasting draws on the best traditions of radio and audio production. It’s a format designed for intimate conversations, powerful storytelling, and deep relationship-building.
- Even when podcasts contain ads, they’re nowhere near as unfocused and distracting as most other forms of online media. You’re not getting a pop-up in the middle of your article, or “one weird trick” ads floating up in the sidebar.
- The lack of standardized metrics for success are exactly what makes podcasting a great space to operate in. You don’t have to “win the time slot” or “dominate the charts.” An audience of a few hundred listeners can support your work via patronage, or by buying your books, becoming customers of your company, or through dozens of other measurable paths.
- Even though it’s debatable whether humans can multitask, audio is the one form of content that we can consistently enjoy while we’re driving, walking, exercising, or even working.
The NYT piece dwelled on podcasters who launched their podcasts to attract advertisers or to become influencers. But that doesn’t reflect the reality of why I think you might find yourself compelled to sit in front of a microphone, telling stories to strangers.
Let’s factor out the traditional media companies pushing a ton of new podcasts into the world and focus on independents. A quick glance at iTunes most popular podcasts shows who’s really gaining traction using this format:
- Authors who have discovered that they can grow communities of readers, eager to dive deeper into ideas together.
- Entertainers, especially comedians, actors, and musicians, who bring their natural talents to interviews and conversations.
- Business professionals who share how they’re overcoming huge challenges for themselves and for their customers.
Yet, even when you’ve got a strong business case for launching a podcast, that fear of “podfading” remains real.
Just as you’ve likely discovered with your own career, the more you stay focused in your zone of genius, the more you’re able to deliver lasting value to your community.
Podcast hosts burn out because of production tasks, not because of a lack of passion. Terry Gross and Howard Stern both make interviewing look effortless. That’s from decades of experience. Yet, Terry Gross probably rolls three minutes of footage for every minute of Fresh Air that makes it to the network. Howard Stern, like most “live” radio hosts, relies on a team of producers and researchers that ensure he’s got the right details and data to make his show keep moving along.
“Very few people are talented enough to be interesting without extensive production. You are probably not one of them. But it’s OK. Production is the great equalizer. Put the work in and your show can be great.” Roman Mars, 99% Invisible
It’s the level of preparation, polish, and care that separates successful podcasters from hobbyists. While there’s nothing wrong at all about wanting to just hop on the microphone and rant, that path won’t ever lead you to the kind of audience that can help you make the kind of impact you really want.
In fact, your competition for audience isn’t other podcasters. It’s Netflix. Or Fortnite. Audiences demand production value, compelling stories, and personal engagement. Podcasting’s capable of delivering all of that, provided that you’ve got the production on lock.
That’s where we come in.
For the launch of Podcast Taxi, we’ve recruited a team of experienced radio producers, audio engineers, and content professionals. They’re all committed to helping you craft your perfect sound, while eliminating the resistance that causes “podfading.”
Research and Planning. If you’re producing a “solo” show, we’ll help you organize and research your topics, so you’re operating with an audience-focused content strategy. If you’re interviewing guests, we’ll help you confirm logistics and we’ll supply background research and starter questions to ensure your show goes way beyond surface-level chatter.
Broadcast Quality Editing and Engineering. Once your raw audio’s “in the can,” we’ll edit it for clarity and master it for radio-ready playback.
Distribution and Amplification. Your podcast isn’t just about the audio. We’ll produce detailed, time-stamped show notes that help listeners enjoy your show even more. We’ll generate and proofread a full transcript of your recording, so your show’s fully accessible to all audiences. We’ll stage and schedule publication of your show to your preferred podcasting platform (and we’ll help you set yours up if you don’t yet have one). We’ll even generate and schedule the social media posts you’ll need to get more listeners.
We developed all of our processes and systems while making podcasts, audiobooks, and other audio products for ourselves and for our clients over the past five years. Whether you’re struggling to keep your podcast fresh or you’re aspiring to get your show off the ground, we’re eager to help.