Is Podcast Success Only For Celebrities?

“Is podcast success only for celebrities?” This is a question many podcasters ask themselves after they start their podcast and find out how much work it really takes to make it successful. Listeners don't care if you're an established celebrity or not. They want good content.

You Can Compete on a Global Scale

I'm at an award ceremony in 2017 at Podcast Movement. My School of Podcasting show is up against many other top-notch shows. These include:
BuzzFeed's Internet Explorer
First Look
Mac OS Ken
Note to Self
Reply All
The Audacity to Podcast
The Feed – Libsyn
This Week In Tech
Today in iOS

and the winner is…

Reply All. So why am I bringing up this story of me losing? BECAUSE I WAS ABLE TO COMPETE. I was IN THE ARENA. President Roosevelt in 1910 gave one of his best speeches.

In it, he said,” The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer,” he said. “A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities—all these are marks, not … of superiority but weakness.” Then he would go on to say,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Today, we will talk about podcast Success and the steps you need to take to achieve success – regardless of how famous you are.

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So Many People Think Joe Rogan is Popular Because He Brought an Audience

In 2009 Joe Rogan had 379 people watching him end his first live stream. He barely understood how the Internet worked but said he would be doing 2 hours of streaming once a week. Fast forward 11 years, and he was getting millions of downloads. Move a little further, and he was reportedly paid 100 million dollars to go exclusive on Spotify.

Joe Provides Dinner Party Talk

Joe Rogan often provides something I call “Dinner party talk.” For example, did you know one of Ted Nugent's children is vegan? Then Joe Rogan provides something you can't find anywhere these days. They are mighty when done right. What is it?

A dialogue. Here again, Joe talked about his use of drugs. Ted Nugent talked about why he never did any. Again, two different opinions are expressed in a calm, educational manner. Before America's past time became recreational outrage, people use to have dialogues and actually learn things from each other.

I just listened to a show called Dumb People with Terrible Ideas and enjoyed it. It was full of “Dinner Party Talk. ”

But Joe Rogan Had All That YouTube Promotion

Joe's miniature YouTube clips were popular because they didn't include the endless drug-induced tangents. However, when you edit Joe Rogan to be tighter with his content, I feel he is much better.

The Rebel Television Show Had TONS of Exposure – and Failed.

First, promoting something that isn't good does not make it good. I've enjoyed seeing the actress Katey Sagal (Peg Bundy) in such shows as Sons of Anarchy. She has talent. She had a new show on a major network in the states called Rebel, written by Krista Vernoff, known for her Grays Anatomy and Charmed work. She's won three Emmys. The life of Erin Brockovich inspired the show. The show was canceled after 5 episodes.

Joe Rogan's Advice on Starting a Podcast

In an episode where he interviews Adam Curry of the No Agenda Show, Joe said, “What I tell people about podcasting is you can't make money in podcasting if you're trying to do podcasting to make money. But if you want to do a good job, just want to make a great podcast and you just keep doing it, I can't guarantee, but you probably will make money.”

Mike Rowe discussed this in Episode 205: A King and a Crouch and Me on a Couch. He mentioned how his teacher had him focus on WHAT he was doing, and not to worry about HOW he was doing. After all, if you're doing the wrong thing it doesn't matter HOW you are doing it. For me, we need to focus on WHAT we are doing in our podcast (serving our audience) and less time on HOW we are doing (stats).

People Will Click Because The Podcast Is By a Celebrity

While this is true, you might get one click. It's not enough of getting them to click; it's about getting them to subscribe/follow. It's about getting them to click the second time. 

The Magic That is Paris Hilton…

For example, Paris Hilton has 17 million Instagram followers. She launched the “This is Paris” podcast in February of 2021. While being a middle-aged white male, I am admittedly not her target audience. However, as someone who follows lots of podcasting news, I've not heard anyone talk about her show. So when I listened to her trailer, it was going to be Paris talking about herself.

In addition to her sharing about her life, she will be talking about “love relationships, pop culture, gossip, what's happening in the world what TV shows are bingeing fashion, beauty tips, life advice, any problems you're having in life, if your boyfriend or girlfriend is being beyond, and so much more, and it's just going to be really fun and entertaining, and I just can't wait.” I, on the other hand, can wait.

When I finally pressed play on her episode titled, “This is … Anitta.” It started with 1 minute of Paris doing ads. Then Anitta and Paris talked about the weather. Then Paris talked about how she was going to be a DJ at a bitcoin conference. Then Paris asked her guest to explain how she got into the entertainment industry. That's when I pressed stop.

Insights from Rob Greenlee

Rob is the VP of Content and Partnerships at Rob previously worked for Podcast One (where he worked with some celebrity podcasts).

You need more than celebrities to hold an audience. He shares how some A-List celebrities failed when it came to podcasting. They didn't understand the personal nature of the medium, or (in some cases) were good on the mic (as they were used to reading words off a page). Some celebrities were not fun to work with (so keep that in mind and be nice to the engineers in addition to your audience). Some hosts just want to show up and talk (and feel their status will make their content interesting).

Rob has been podcasting since 2004 and is an Academy of Podcasters Hall of Fame Inductee. He currently is the co-host of the New Media Show with Todd Cochran where he discusses the latest news and insights into podcasting.

The Promotional Techniques of Comedians

One thing that comedians do (assuming there isn't a pandemic) is tour. They go into a room of people who have paid to see them, and hopefully, bring people who have not seen them. They then (assuming they are good ) leave them wanting more. The fan has two options, wait until their tour comes around next year or start listening to their podcast. Most comedians aren't testing jokes on their podcast audience. Instead, they are using it to build a relationship with the audience so that audience members will come (again) and see them live when they are in town.

Now you might be thinking, “but I don't tour?” You can. You can do the homework and try to be a guest on other podcasts. You can ask to speak at conferences about your genre. You can participate in Facebook Groups/Reddit/Quora conversations and serve your audience and see what is being discussed, and talk about that on your show.

But Dave, that takes work?!

Yes. Yes, it does. Joe Rogan started his career in 1988. Do you think he just got a microphone, and an audience showed up? Some people call this “paying your dues.” You don't know if you're funny or offensive until you try a joke on stage (see Jerry Seinfeld). You don't know if you're audience is engaged by your content until you make it available. You can improve something that has never been released. If you're worried about your first few episodes being bad, everybody cringes when you hear their first episode.

Matt Wakeling's Niche Audience Has TWO Sponsors Without Massive Downloads

Matt Wakeling hosts the Guitar Speak Podcast. Matt has an audience you really want. He has a great word that everyone wants: consistent. Yes, they are growing, but more importantly, they come back episode after episode.

Matti is now in year five of his podcast and thanks to his hyper-focused topic (Guitar players) he has landed two sponsors who have products for, you guessed it, guitar players.

Matt has landed some big guests on his show. One strategy he issued is if someone was on tour (he lives in Australia) he would check any posters/flyers/marketing content and check to see who the promoters or agencies behind the event and contact them and ask if the artists were doing any press for the tour. They didn't ask about his downloads as Matt has what they want – guitarists who would be interested in coming to the event (so again, you don't need giant numbers – you need ENGAGED listeners).

Matt also shares insights into how he landed his sponsors (spoiler, relationships are involved) and what kind of paperwork comes along when you have sponsors.

My Audience Isn't Growing Because I'm Not a Celebrity

We can always find a reason, no matter the subject. We can find a reason why we're not losing weight, finding a job, enjoying a relationship. I feel this is because it is easier to blame someone else than take a look at ourselves, our surroundings, our podcast and see that maybe we aren't perfect, maybe we haven't done everything. There is always room for improvement in my book (but my background is in teaching, every problem looks like something that can be fixed with some knowledge, and a little action).

Ready to Get Into the Arena With a Podcast?

I would love to help you get a professional-sounding, super targeted, extra-engaging podcast off the ground. Let me take my 16 years of podcasting experience to help you avoid the common pitfalls. Come work with me.

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Mentioned In This Episode

Joe Rogan's first live stream

Joe Rogan Interviews Adam Curry

No Agenda Show,

Mike Rowe – What Not How Episode

Paris Hilton Podcast

New Media Show

Jerry Seinfeld Video

Guitar Speak Podcast

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About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.

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