Labeling Podcasters: Amateur vs. Skilled
Published May 26, 2020
31 min
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    How serious are you about improving and growing your podcast?

    In this miniseries, I'll explore the different labels used to describe podcasters.

    The labels “amateur” and “skilled” do indicate quality. So while it's okay to stay in one group and own it with pride, I do encourage you to seek to move into the “skilled” group.

    What are amateur podcasters?

    The late Steve Jobs once referred to podcasts as “amateur hour” in one of his last Apple keynotes. But don't let the term “amateur” be demeaning. Instead, consider it a way to describe where you might be now, but not where you're staying.

    1. Amateur podcasters accept where they are

    They may not be content with where their podcasts are, but they often don't consider how they need to improve and grow themselves.

    2. Amateur podcasters have vague or no goals

    If an amateur podcaster has goals, they're often rather vague, such as growing or monetizing.

    Vague goals look for vague successes.

    For example, if an amateur podcaster says merely, “I want to grow my audience.” Then if they get even one more person listening, then they accomplished their goal. But did they really want only one additional listener?

    Or if they say merely, “I want to monetize my podcast,” and they make 3¢. Then they monetized their podcast.

    3. Amateur podcasters ask broad questions

    I often see the same overly broad questions asked in online podcasting groups. For example, “How do I grow my podcast?” “What's the best microphone?” “Who is the best podcast host?”

    4. Amateur podcasters say “good enough”

    There are big differences between being resourceful under limitations and quitting when something seems “good enough.”

    When something is “good enough,” it probably actually isn't.

    5. Amateur podcasters want free options

    Yes, there are many budget constraints on podcasters of all types. There's nothing wrong with using free options. But I think looking for only free options can indicate commitment levels.

    For example, Anchor currently hosts almost half of all valid podcast feeds in Apple Podcasts, but more than half of those shows have 3 or fewer episodes. And there are more 1-episode shows on Anchor than the total number of shows any other podcast-hosting provider hosts. [Private data via My Podcast Reviews.]

    The first time I revealed this data in “What New Data Suggests about Podcast-Hosting Customers” from December 2018, I suggested that the tool itself is not creating dead shows, but the extremely low barriers to entry (and with very little education) was probably making it easier for low-commitment people to start podcasts.

    Does simply paying for something help you be more committed? Perhaps. Or maybe more-committed people are already willing to pay for stuff.

    6. Amateur podcasters are jealous of others' success

    Spotify has been making some big moves in the podcasting industry. They started getting disruptive with the recent announcement that The Joe Rogan Experience will soon become exclusive to Spotify—not simply be on Spotify, but be only on Spotify and nowhere else: not Apple Podcast...
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