Podcasting Is Alive and Well

A podcasting company called Podango announced a couple of days ago that they’re going under (rudely giving all their podcasters just three days notice — during the holidays — to back up and move their files). And now a few people in the industry are wringing their hands that podcasting is dead.

The Quick and Dirty Tips Network is Thriving and Growing

It’s kind of ridiculous, but I feel as if I need to come out and say my podcasting network is doing great. I’m always uncomfortable tooting my own horn, but really, we had a FANTASTIC 2008.

  • Traffic and revenue more than doubled.
  • We’ve seen an increase in interest and commitments from advertisers, and the people who advertise with us say they are very happy and come back to advertise again.
  • We used the podcasts as a base to launch a New York Times best-selling book, and in the process proved that we could use our podcasts to turn out people in the real world for book tour events.
  • Our new show launches have been very well received. For example, The Sacramento Bee called one of our newest shows, The Nutrition Diva, “the best nutrition podcast available.”

There Are Many Success Stories

It’s not just Quick and Dirty Tips that is doing well. I keep wondering why nobody is asking me to be a guest to balance out all this talk of doom and gloom, but they could also talk to other successful podcasters — Todd Cochrane (of RawVoice, Geek News Central, and more), Leo Laporte (of TWiT and more), Rob Walch (of Wizzard, Today in iPhone, and more), or Andy McCaskey (of SlashDot Review), just to name a few. These people are making money.

People should ask what we are doing right in addition to what the few failures are doing wrong.

Interesting Twitter Success Stories

I posted my frustration to Twitter and got a few great comments that I’ll share here. They seem to fall into categories:

Maybe It’s Just a Few Bad Companies or Business Models

mehwolfy @GrammarGirl they say that about blogging. It’s crap. the only podcast/blog that’s dead is lame marketing blog/cast junk.

corkymc @GrammarGirl Could it be blame shifting by those who have failed or are just too lazy to make the effort?

mattdattilo @GrammarGirl There will always be someone who wants to be on the edge by claiming some medium is dying. More people listen than ever, IMHO.

nycwatchdog @GrammarGirl Your comment on the Jaffe Juice article was absolutely dead on. Podcasting is far from “dead”. It is just evolving.

braindouche @GrammarGirl it looks to me like a contraction of podcast *services*.

WickedGood @GrammarGirl Podcasting’s clearly not dead. I think the question is whether networks that grab unrelated shows to sell ad space are dead.

Podcasting Meets All My Needs Very Well, Thank You

docdez @GrammarGirl Podcasting is dead? Someone should tell my iPod. It will be quite disappointed to hear that.

andycaster @GrammarGirl I think the “old” school idea of podcasting replacing radio is dead. I hope it rests in peace and people smarte[n] up! 🙂

xinli11 @GrammarGirl Who is saying Podcasting is dead? My ipod usage time is 60% podcasts, 30% Audible, and 10% music.

dpeach @GrammarGirl Podcasting is doing fine. It may not have the new factor going for it, but there are still new shows and excellent old ones.

artful72 @GrammarGirl i agree, i think podcasts are great and more and more people are using them its like an instant interview or mini seminar!

My Podcast Has Been A Success

jeremyfrandsen @GrammarGirl I totally agree. My podcast was the sole reason we we made 6 figures last year. Podcasting is dead for crummy podcasts maybe.

CostaVidaFred @GrammarGirl as a matter of fact my GoFarPodcast Podfaded and I still had the most downloads of any year.

CostaVidaFred @GrammarGirl plus got asked to be official media for primal quest 2008 and 2009. guess I need to keep it going

darklyfey @GrammarGirl – Me too! My show keeps growing, for cryin’ out loud. No funeral march for me!

snoonan @GrammarGirl I wholeheartedly agree! Learning Indonesian had its 2nd biggest $$ in dec-We’re *TINY* and we pay the bills on it. marketing???

Small Companies Are Always at Risk

I don’t know why Podango failed or Podshow needed to change its direction, but I’m reminded of some of the best advice I’ve ever received at a venture capital seminar many years ago: Don’t be afraid to fire people.

At a startup (and I still consider every podcasting company a startup), one bad apple can bring the entire company down. It’s even more important in a bad economy. One non-performing salesperson, incompetent programmer, or bumbling manager can be enough to tip the scales against success.

We had a problem with a person in early 2007 that held us back. When that person was gone, things quickly picked up.

So maybe Podango and Podshow had bad business models, but it could have just as easily been poor execution by one or two key people. It’s usually impossible to know unless you were there.

If you have an opinion or a success story, please post it in the comments.

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11 Responses to Podcasting Is Alive and Well

  1. Shaun Noonan says:

    2009 is the year people need to treat it like a proper business, that’s my first and last point on this topic. We bring in plenty of revenue. Here’s how:

    1. We produce unique, valuable content for our free and premium sites. Value as measured by the community, not us.
    2. We treat it like a business and constructed a sustainable free+premium model.
    3. We love out audience and do what they want us to do as long as it doesn’t conflict with #2
    4. We practice good, effective (Internet) marketing and do it in a friendly way.

    If you’re measuring success based on revenue, that will get you there. The audience is hungry for this stuff and the channel is alive and well.

    And who cares about a few poorly run hangers-on web 2.0 platform companies? They aren’t content producers and need to be lean and mean if they want some of the pie. They have to be great companies to live in that space long-term. (Libsyn anyone??) Good luck to those that don’t take that to heart.

  2. Dead? I shake my head every time I hear or read this. On the contrary, I believe that podcasting is still on the verge of even further growth, as the name becomes more understood by those “non-tech” people who realize what it is, and how easy and accessible they are.

    From an advertising perspective, the shift is slowly starting to take place where advertisers will soon start to realize the benefits of placing ads/sponsoring a podcast over “traditional” media. The days of newspapers and print ads are what is going away. The returns can not only be small percentage-wise, but they are impossible to track. Terrestrial radio? Now that is where the death knell is sounding. Whereas an ad on the radio can only be heard from 9:03 to 9:04 a.m., ads on podcasts can last ad infinitum. And for every new listener that emails me and says they are going back and listening to old shows, my advertisers ads still remain.

    The shift is quietly happening. The days of waiting for content to be delivered to you will soon be over, as on-demand movies, TV, etc. will become the accepted norm. No longer will schedules be dictated, the user will control the programming schedule to accommodate their needs, and podcasting is just one of the many mediums that people will continue to turn to. (knocks wood) My show’s numbers have continued to rise, with new listeners being turned on to the concept as a whole every day.

    Podcasting is dead? I think not.

  3. Xin Li says:

    Podcasting, like so many other trends developing on the Internet, is a reflection of our need to make our voices heard, without the filter, agenda and bias of big media. The printing press, way back when, used to fulfill that role, giving voice to anyone who had something to say. And today, newspapers are run by international media conglomerates. But that hasn’t changed our people’s inherent need for unfettered debate. So today, the Internet has stepped in to become the printing press of 21st century. So long as we, as a society, remain engaged and involved, podcasting, blogging and any other form of free expression will thrive, evolve and live on.

  4. Sam Bradley says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I had just convinced myself to add a podcast to my blog (making communication research relevant to media folks), and then I saw Chris Brogan’s obituary for podcasts.

    You have restored hope. I owe you one. Again.

  5. admin says:

    We actually don’t leave ads in our podcasts forever; we usually leave them in for about three months.

    Quick and Dirty Tips podcasts are unusual in that more than half of our traffic comes from our archived shows, so if we kept ads in forever, advertisers would essentially be getting 50% of their impressions free since they seem to want to pay for ads for a set amount of time as opposed to accruing charges forever.

    In other words, our advertisers get what they pay for and, for now, an additional few months of free impressions as a courtesy.

    We sell new ads in our “older” shows (I consider “older” to be unimportant because what matters is when someone downloads a show, not when it is produced) or we use the space to promote our own product or make announcements.

  6. The timing of this post is great. At nearly the same time that this was posted I asked the Twitterverse if they felt that 2008 was the end of plentiful podcasts.

    I had not heard the news of Pondango’s failure at the time. My question was generated by looking at my iTunes podcast library this weekend. At least one-third of my list had not seen a new podcast in six months, and of those that had many had only released one new podcast in that time period. RSS is a wonderful delivery mechanism because I continue to remain “subscribed” to many podcasts with hope that someday the podcaster will start producing new material.

    I theorize that many of the early podcasters jumped in with both feet and quit because they ran out of new ideas, never realized the amount of work necessary to produce content, or expected to make a living from podcast production and came to the realization that they may not.

    fiw- I have been a long-time subscriber to many of the Quick and Dirty Tips podcasts and hope that you remain prosperous.

  7. admin says:

    I’ve often said that I believe consistently delivering a podcast on a set schedule is a critical factor in success.

    It’s difficult to get out a show every week at the same time. Occasionally, I have to do reruns, but I always do everything humanly possible to get our shows out on time.

    It’s easy to kid yourself and say people can download podcasts any time, so why knock yourself out to meet a schedule; but if you want people to be subscribers and anticipate getting your next show, you have to give it to them on a schedule.

    I’m always really disappointed when my favorite shows miss their release deadline, even if it’s just by a day.

  8. Ralph Graves says:

    Our podcast (“The DCD Classical ‘Cast”) is strictly business. It’s designed to showcase and promote the independent classical music artists and labels we carry. But despite our incredibly small musical niche, our audience has grown. We’re seeing a corresponding rise in sales, too — especially of those selections featured on the podcast.

    Most public radio stations have a very slow rotation for classical recordings. They generally wait about six weeks between airings. If we had put the same amount of effort into getting our music played on the radio, we would still have virtually nothing to show for it save an empty promo locker.

    We see podcasting as nothing but a growth market for us. At least, that’s what the numbers are telling us.

  9. Jim says:

    This comment above is interesting: “At least one-third of my list had not seen a new podcast in six months, and of those that had many had only released one new podcast in that time period.”

    This is why…..this month Leo Laporte (the TWIT king) was talking to Steve Gibson on their Security Now podcast, and Steve was emphasizing they keep new content coming every week. They were pre-recording shows for the holidays. In that show Leo admitted last year he did not produce new content (pre-recorded for holidays) for some Radio Leo shows for the holiday weeks. Leo conceded subscriptions fell off, and he’d learned.

  10. Karl Bimshas says:

    I just finished listening to Joseph Jaffe’s New Year’s Eve podcast on the death of podcasting. Great conversations, but lost in much of the bravado was the success of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network. To me, that was where more conversation needed to be – learning about your team’s success and business model. It prompted me to find https://behindthegrammar.com/ and I’m glad. Now I subscribe and I look forward to learning the things you have to say about business, marketing and writing. Success leave clues and I’m following them. You’re doing great work.

  11. Sarah says:

    I came across your podcast GG on iTunes recently. This is the one and only podcast I like so far. I love the way you speak. Maybe because I am not a native English speaker.

    Personally, I don’t think that podcast is dead, at least not for GG.

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