My co-host Marco has written about the genesis of our podcast in two great posts in the last week. His first posits that podcast networks are not necessary for exposure and to gain listeners. His second doubles down on this, contrasting with one of the networks we respect most: 5by5.
I’m mostly calling attention to these posts because Marco discusses some of the history and motivations behind both ATP and our retired show Neutral.
In his posts, something Marco keeps talking about is that networks aren’t necessary. I tend to agree; we’ve made it work without a network since the first episode of Neutral. This, understandably, is met with a lot of skepticism from those who aren’t as well known as John and Marco were in 2013 when Neutral started. These people seem to immediately attribute ATP’s success to their prior fame.
We can all agree that the fame we they had made it easier for ATP to get recognized. But, as Marco said, it didn’t much help for Neutral. Our first episode received around 10,000 downloads. That’s probably directly attributable to Marco and John’s fame. However, as Marco noted, the last regular episode got around 1,000 downloads.
Having an established audience is having a head start in a race. It makes it easier at the beginning, but you have to work to keep going. On our shows, we have to re-earn our audience every episode. Our audience pays us with the ultimate currency: time. If we waste our audience’s time, they’ll stop paying us. It’s as simple as that.
This has worked well for ATP. It didn’t for Neutral.
A great example of why a podcast network isn’t necessary is _David Smith’s wonderful podcast Developing Perspective. Dave has never been a part of a network. He had some modicum of fame when it was launched, but certainly considerably less than he does today. However, he plugged himself into the community, consistently produced great content, and was patient. Over time, that great content found its way into the light. As Dave slowly grew his audience, he occasionally caught the attention of someone like Marco. In talking to Dave, he told me links to Developing Perspective, and mentions on other shows such as Marco’s Build & Analyze, would nearly double his audience. Now, thanks to Dave’s hard work, and occasional links from his friend/peer “networks”, Dave measures downloads in thousands instead of hundreds.
Because it’s a damned good show. One that you should listen to as well, if you like ATP.
Being a part of a network can, sometimes, be a boost to get you noticed more quickly. The same can be said for having an audience before you start a podcast. Neither are requisite.