Is it too late to become a podcaster?

There are 2 million podcasts out there, so what hope have you got? Well actually, quite a lot. 

I’ve created multiple podcasts over the years. Some failed because I didn’t plan them well enough and some because no one wanted to listen to them. But others have worked really well. The last episode in the second season of my current podcast was listened to over 2100 times to date. 

I’ve been through the highs and lows of podcasting and in this article I want to explain why I think there has never been a better time to start podcasting. 

Let’s look at some numbers. 

There are indeed 2 million’ish podcasts out there. But that doesn’t mean you have 2 million rivals. 

There are only 808 podcasts relating to physics in the entire world and there are certainly more than 808 aspects of physics that could be covered. (Source)

Self improvement is one of the biggest categories on iTunes with nearly 83,000 podcasts, which might sound like a lot but it’s much smaller than 2 million. 

However, if that figure is still sounding too big, consider this interesting (though unfortunate) fact: Around 90% of podcasts don’t reach their 10th episode. 

Some podcasters never wanted to make more than a few episodes, others gave up. But whatever the reason, it means that most of your rivals will drop out at some point. This is often the result of “podfade” – meaning that people simply run out of steam, enthusiasm, or an interest in creating their podcast. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ensure podfade never happens to you and I’ll explain in a moment how WordPress can be a major factor in that. 

The other important thing to ask yourself is: How many people do you know with your exact perspective and your unique experience of your topic? Probably just you, right? Which means that you have the power to create a unique experience that no one else can. That factor alone will help you cut through whatever remaining, active rivals your podcast niche might have.

So, the first point I want to emphasize is that the numbers are actually on your side. 

Think small, grow big

One of the secrets of podcasting is to find a small niche group of people, make a show they love and then grow from there. That’s what it means to think small and then become big. 

Too many people try to be the next Joe Rogan or Michelle Obama from the start. They make a general interview show about general topics. But by doing that you’re literally trying to compete against Rogan and Obama! That’s going to be a challenge when there are multi-million dollar companies behind them and you’re probably still trying to figure out how to get the best sound from your microphone.

So, don’t think big right at the start. Think small, grow big. 

Instead of thinking: I want to podcast about “stuff”. Think about what specific topic really excites you. Then consider what it is that really excites you within that topic. Get specific. Really specific.

The process is called niching. It means finding a segment within a topic.

Let’s practice niching

For example, say I want to make a podcast about sports. Do I love all sports? No! I don’t like soccer but I love rally driving. 

Okay, so what do I enjoy about rally driving? Is it the atmosphere, or watching drivers from the stands? No. I enjoy the driving techniques and skills. I like competing. 

Again, I’ve narrowed it down. There’s no point in making a “fans” podcast, that’s too broad and not the specific segment that excites me. So, I need to make one for drivers. 

I can then narrow it down even more by considering what level of the sport I enjoy. Is it world championship level, or club level?

The point is to keep niching down on your topic to find a clear focus for your show.

This is why this works

If I’m a rally driver, which show do I listen to? Do I listen to the one about the fans or the one that “talks” to me and my interests? 

By being clear on what I’m making, I can help corner that market and make my show stand out to a small group of followers. As word spreads, they start building my audience for me. 

But is podcasting under threat from major broadcasters?

No, and here’s why. 

Big broadcasters need big numbers to justify what they do. They’re never going to make a podcast about “free-running”, or knitting, or some aspect of JavaScript, because the audience is just too small. 

That means the big companies are leaving a big gap that niche podcasters can fill. 

For example, can you imagine the BBC or CBS making a comedy podcast aimed at the scuba diving market? Of course not, it’s too niche. But you could do it. It’s reckoned that 2.59 million people took part in scuba diving in 2020. (Source) That’s a pretty big niche market for someone to start out with and then expand on if desired, once it gets momentum. 

Provided you get specific within a niche, the opportunities in podcasting are not under threat from the big broadcasters.

The podcasting market is far from mature

New areas of the world are opening up to podcasts every year. 40 million extra new podcast listeners are thought to be listening to podcasts each year around the globe. (Source) Even changes to mobile phones, and the costs associated with them, are increasing the podcasting market to new audiences.

In 2020, Hindi podcasts increased 14 times faster than English, and Spanish podcasts increased seven times faster. If you can enter new language markets, you would be joining at the start of the growth of podcasting and benefit in the same way as the early podcasters did in English. 

People want your content and especially in places where traditional broadcasters are limited in the content they put out. Podcasting provides a way of speaking up. 

How does WordPress help?

Remember I mentioned “podfade”, where lots of people give up?

One of the first questions I ask new podcasters is why are you doing this? 

For many, they say for fun, but ask yourself if that’s really why you’re doing it?

It’s a bit like traditional goal setting. If you don’t have a goal it’s hard to know if you’ve reached it. But more importantly, there’s nothing to motivate you toward getting results if you don’t know why you’re doing it.

If you’re going to put time into this, wouldn’t you like to see results?

Perhaps you want to build a mailing list, or sell merchandise to people, or provide extra features to premium subscribers. Podcasts gain the attention of people but how are you going to turn that attention into action if all you have is a simplified listing of your show?

This is where your WordPress site is a vital part of your podcast project. People sometimes forget just how far WordPress has come since it started. It’s now possible to have your website, podcast, mailing list, and more, all within one dashboard. Making it easier to manage all the pieces, while working toward a defined goal, and keeping you motivated to avoid podfade.

It’s a great time to become a podcaster

Yes, there are 2 million podcasts out there but if you niche down, focus on goals, and really use your WordPress site to your benefit, then the chances of success are magnified immensely. 

Don’t forget you are sitting at the beginning of a curve. Advertisers are coming into podcasting fast. If you can develop and grow your show now, you could be the one who is about to create the next “must listen to” show.

The place to start is with the Intro to Podcasting course and you might find this lesson on Finding your niche particularly useful.

Photo by Gigxels com

Published by Richard Midson

Podcaster, former journalist and news editor, public relations officer and techie

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