Quiet no more?

Sheryl and I are both very quiet and seldom talk about our experiences or accomplishments outside of this blog. We don’t “do” marketing, in contrast to many others trying to meet similar goals.

I remember years ago when I had just wrapped up an art exhibition at the old Hsinchu Railway terminal, when a colleague said, “This is great, but it’s too bad no one knows you.” The implication being that I would enjoy greater success if I didn’t work in obscurity. I didn’t change due to this comment despite it coming from someone I respected, but perhaps it’s time to find a way that suits my socially introverted personality.

These past few months, I have generally avoided looking at our download numbers. Our relationship with iHeart and their required server changes have meant that we have lost easy access to trends. I was nervous to focus on a purely quantitative measurement for fear of bad news, so I’ve looked at rankings, engagement, and revenue, which are all positive.

Bad news comes whether you want to look at it or not. Today, I noticed our numbers are way down from a year ago. If this rate of decline continues, we might cease to exist or, more likely, fail to meet our obligations to our partners.

Since we started podcasting, our growth has been constant, but that growth has slowed, and on Apple Podcasts, at least, it dropped dramatically in May.

The reasons are in part due to increased choice. There have always been podcasts creating audio for kids superior to what we can do, and many have teams of talent supporting them. What has changed is the sheer number of shows that are now being produced. It feels like the difference between broadcast TV and Netflix. There is so much choice you get tired of scrolling for a show and watch whatever is recommended. This is fantastic for the industry but requires the producer to find ways to stand out.

Standing out is increasingly difficult because on Apple Podcasts, at least, they have started to curate what makes it to their main pages aggressively. This curation is partly provided by an American non-profit called Common Sense Media, which I hear is woefully underfunded and backed up with requests. We reached out to them a number of times years ago and never got a response. The other curation is created by a small team within Apple Podcasts, who create categories like “trusted providers,” “essentials,” and “new and noteworthy.” I have no idea how one becomes a trusted provider.

Podcast growth is extremely time-consuming and can be wildly expensive. We have never had the time, money, or need until now. While we still have little time or money, it is obvious that we need to get out there and do something. We can no longer afford to work in relative obscurity.