In light of a very crazy 2017 for a variety of reasons, it seems difficult to narrow my focus to self-reflect on only Discover Pods stuff. But, I’ll try. This post is intended to be both a highlight reel of some of my favorite stuff we’ve done this past year, but also a post-mortem on what we could do better, and where we want to take the site from here.
Fun fact: Discover Pods was launched March 31st, 2017. That means it’s not even been a full year since we got started. Some days it feels like we literally just started, other times it feels like we’ve been around for ages.
A Look Back
I think I’ve mentioned this in a couple places, but I started Discover Pods after sharing podcast recommendations with some friends and realizing despite being close friends we had never really shared our podcast interests.
After doing some brief research, I found there wasn’t quite exactly what I was looking for online. There are absolutely amazing pockets, groups, and channels tangential to my goal, but still extremely valuable in perpetuating podcast news and recommendations. Some of my favorites include:
- Hot Pod Newsletter
- New York Times Facebook Group
- /r/Podcasts Subreddit
- Earbuds Podcast Collective
- Hashtag Podcasts Slack Group
What Didn’t Work
The benefit of hindsight is we only really talk about those things that did work out.
Yes, except for this. I believe only in hindsight do you realize how stupid some of your mistakes are and how easily they could have been fixed — or in some cases, never pursued.
If I could go back, the first thing I would fix is the design of the blog. Unfortunately (luckily), it was such short-lived that even the Wayback Machine didn’t crawl and record the site. It was ugly, disjointed, and more importantly, didn’t present the content in a way that made it enjoyable to read. You know sometimes when you go to a frozen yogurt place and pile on toppings you love with a flavor you like, and then when you’re all done you think “wow, these make no sense together”? Think that, but in a website.
The second regrettable choice was starting the Discover Pods Slack channel. I love Slack. In my opinion, it’s the best tool out there that digitizes organized conversation and fosters engagement. That said, I should have never started the DP Slack channel for a number of reasons. The most glaring is time. It takes a good amount of time, resources, and effort to build, and more importantly, sustain a great community. Though the channel grew fairly rapidly, I wasn’t dedicating the effort needed to turn it into a spot I had imagined. It ended up a wasteland with little conversation and just automated new post notifications. Luckily, Jonathan over at Hashtag Podcasters Slack has created the community I wanted, and I encourage you all to join if this is something you’re interested in.
The third change I would do is process-oriented. I don’t want this to sound like a humblebrag, but the site, most notably the Podcast Spotlight Series, grew faster than I was able to keep up. I first posted about the Spotlights in the /r/podcasts subreddit thinking I could get started with a few submissions. I wasn’t prepared. There are A LOT of eager podcasters out there looking to get some exposure. The good news: this is EXACTLY why I built the site. The bad news: unless I posted multiple times per day these Spotlights won’t come out in a prompt manner. I currently have an ok system in place — it’s at least manageable — but if you’re a process-oriented person who can help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really want to make this better.
What Did Work
Nice, now we’re on to the fun stuff!
Podcast Spotlight Series
The first example of success is the aforementioned Podcast Spotlight Series. So far, we’ve posted 71 Spotlights, going out every Tuesday and Thursday, and as you’ve likely concluded A LOT more to come.
I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to speak with podcasters about how they got started, where they want to take their podcast, their challenges, and more. It’s truly inspiring. It’s also great to see the wide breadth of subjects these podcasts tackle. We’ve had Star Wars, comic books, entrepreneurial efforts, politics, audio drama, comedy, Harry Potter, sports, and nearly everything in between.
Podcast Features are a bit different from Spotlights in that they go much deeper and cover a wider range of topics. Not to mention, they are incredibly time consuming. I started doing features from podcasts I had already regularly enjoyed such as Binge Mode, Twenty Thousand Hertz, Why We Eat What We Eat, and an upcoming one with Jonathan Goldstein of Heavyweight. Meeting the people behind some of your favorite podcasts is incredibly humbling, and I get nervous every time without fail. There’s a reason these are written interviews and not recorded because you’d hear me stammering and probably feel the nerves oozing through your headphones.
That said, these are some of my favorites. Geek out about podcasts with some of the best in the business. I’ve only done a few so far, but excited to do more in the future.
Podcast Trends Report
As a nerd at heart, I get unreasonably excited for data analysis. From time to time I see trends reports, state of ___, etc. and I read every one. They fascinate me.
So when the idea sprung up to do a podcast trends report, I was very, very excited. With some feedback, we crafted the survey and sent it out into the world. With tremendous community support for spreading the awareness, the data started coming in. The findings were incredibly encouraging, including some highlights:
- 55.7% of respondents spend more time listening to podcasts than watching TV
- 66.8% of people listen to more than 7 hours of podcasts each week
- 71.2% of people consider podcast discovery as a major issue facing podcasts today
- 66.2% of podcasters rank marketing and building an audience among their top challenges
Discover Pods Awards
To be perfectly honest, we created our own awards because it just felt like something we should do. We’re not trying to own any market space or make money like some awards do, we just thought we should recognize some of ours (and the community’s) favorite podcasts and episodes.
Holy crap, talk about response rate. Over 6,000 people voted. SIX. THOUSAND. You people really love podcasts, and the podcasters out there campaigned like crazy.
Congrats again to our 2017 Discover Pods Awards winners:
- Best Overall Podcast — S-Town
- Best New Podcast — S-Town
- Best Podcast Episode — S-Town Chapter 2
- Most Innovative Podcast — Casefile
- Desert Island Podcast — True Crime Garage
- People’s Choice — Small Town Murder
- Best Podcast Production Company — NPR
- Best True Crime Podcast — S-Town
- Best Sports Podcast — Crime in Sports
- Best News Podcast — Pod Save America
- Best Interview Style Podcast — The Nerdist
- Best Comedy Podcast — My Dad Wrote a Porno
- Best Kids & Family Podcast — Stuff You Should Know
- Best Society & Culture Podcast — This American Life
- Best Entertainment Podcast — Bitch Sesh
- Best Technology & Science Podcast — Stuff You Should Know
- Best Audio Drama — Welcome to Night Vale
- Best Business Podcast — Freakonomics
Favorite Articles of 2017
I really can’t give enough credit to the contributors on Discover Pods. There are some EXCELLENT writers who have decided to use Discover Pods as their platform to push out their thoughts. In no specific order, Brendan, Arielle, Melanie, Charlie, Randall, Lauren, and Joe, you are all super dope and I can’t thank you enough. Here are some of my favorite articles from them:
- How To Join The Growing Podcast Listening Movement
- Crooked Media and Pod Save America are the official voices of the “Resistance”
- New. Old. Light. Heavy. – Music and Growing Old
- Pacific Northwest Stories’ “Rabbits” combines mystery and gamer nostalgia
- StartUp takes a new route with StartupBus
- Binge and Purge: Confessions of a Podcast Hoarder
- Zoe Nightingale: More Than Just a Quick Wit and a Dirty Mouth
- Was The #TryPod Campaign A Success?
- Q&A: Deliberations Brings a Fresh Format to True Crime
- Good Podcast Ads Work, Bad Ones Don’t.
Look, I’m far from an expert at this. We’re going to (hopefully) do more of what’s working and less of what’s not. That’s the idea, right?
If you have any ideas, feedback, etc. no matter how stupid you might think I’d love to hear from you. Even if it’s just to call out one of my many grammar errors or typos — it’s good to know someone’s reading. email@example.com.
So lastly, here’s to you, the readers. Honestly, every time I look at Google Analytics I’m amazed that people regularly read the site and I can’t even begin to tell you how humbling and gratifying that is. I do this is in my spare time because I enjoy it, I’m glad there are others out there that have similar interests. Have a fantastic and safe New Years. Be safe, tell your friends and family you love them, and let’s ring in 2018 together. Cheers!
My New Year’s Resolution For You
- Give Thanks. Tell your favorite podcast hosts how much you enjoy listening and to keep up the great work, they often work in these isolated silos and though we, as listeners, think they hear it all the time — it’s never enough.
- Support. If you can afford to support them financially through Patreon or some other route, do it! In my experience, so many of these podcasters are just like you, spending countless hours working on their hobby, their passion, only to wake up and go back to their day job. If you can afford it, show them thanks.
- Spread the Word. Again, talking to so many podcasters the same pain point came up time and time again (and also a reason this site exists) — it’s very hard to be discovered and get new listeners. The Podcast Trends Report reinforced and quantified this pain point. If you like a podcast, tell others who might enjoy it too. You’ll directly support the podcast and also (hopefully) create a new fan.