Let me just start by saying: number of downloads is a vanity metric. I know it’s something I love to see grow, and it is a way to measure progress. The more downloads, the more people you can potentially reach. But sweating over the exact number of downloads you can drive your crazy.
You Don’t Need 10,000 Downloads per Episode
People might tell you that you need a certain amount of downloads before you’re featured in Apple Podcasts, or before you start getting downloads. I’m here to tell you that none of that is true.
While is it true that if you have a bigger audience, there can be more opportunities for you, sure. More audience means more people hear your message, and that’s the ultimate goal of a podcast – to reach people. But there’s not magic number tied to success.
My First Sponsor came with ZERO Downloads
Do you know how many downloads I had before I sold my first sponsor spot? ZERO. I sold one sponsor spot for my first episode, and one for my second, before the show even launched.
I landed big names to my show, like Cory Miller and Chris Coiyer, with ZERO downloads.
My very first episode was featured in a popular newsletter for the community I was targeting.
It’s All About Trust
I was able to do this because I built up trust in this community before I launched my show. I had a great network of people, and those people trusted in what I was doing. They liked what I was doing. And they knew I would deliver quality.
Determine Your Target Audience
Did you know that Pat Flynn, host of the hugely popular Smart Passive Income podcast, also had a podcast about Food Trucks? Even with Pat’s massive audience, that podcast got a total of 53 ratings on Apple Podcasts, vs. his over 2,000 ratings for Smart Passive Income.
That’s because the two shows have vastly different audiences. In his keynote speech at Podcast Movement 2018, he talked about this very thing; the stick by which he measured success for the 2 shows was different, because the audiences were different.
Define Your Own Success
If you’re starting a podcast about fans of the show Running Wilde (look it up – it was great), that’s fantastic. Just know it’s not going to pull the same downloads as a behind the scenes podcast about Game of Thrones.
Determine why you’re starting the show, define your audience, and determine how hard you’ll need to work to gain trust in that market. I started my show in a niche where I already made a name for myself. If I were to start a podcast about cigar smoking, as much as it’s a passion of mine, it won’t be nearly as successful starting out. That community doesn’t know who I am.
Don’t Sweat the Downloads
The most important take away here is this: Don’t sweat the downloads. Create good content, and make an effort to interact with the audience. Because even though growing your podcast can be a grind, it becomes a lot easier once you realize you’re reaching people, no matter the number.