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4 min read

Launch week

The first episode of the podcast went “live” on Tuesday. I’m putting that in quotes because the episode had been up for about a month, which brings up an interesting point that was also recently discussed on LibSyn’s The Feed podcast: you never have to worry about being discovered too soon.

So, with applications to Apple and Amazon sent off, along with pitches to podcasting newsletters and relevant blogs for our niche, let’s not bury the lead.

Actually, quick caveat if I may, and a piece of advice for any low-budget indie podcaster seeking guidance:

This podcast is two days old. I’m looking at the stats so you don’t have to. You cannot judge the success of a podcast or a first episode by the numbers it gets in 48 hours. Also, a creative project isn’t validated by the number of people who consume it. We’re hard-wired to look at the numbers, but the figure below isn’t intended as comparison against anyone else’s.

OK, make with the numbers

So, after 48 hours, we got 19 downloads. That’s on top of those we counted in last week’s post.

So, not an impressive start, but there are some important things to bear in mind.

Firstly, I’ll get it out of the way – we were passed over by Apple and Amazon, which is unfair and unfortunate. It would be pointless to speculate why that is, and anything I say would come off as sour grapes. Our particular podcast will only really get one shot at this, so it’s a shame that they biffed it, when we put the effort in. ¯*(ツ)*/¯

Next up, much of the effort I put in has still yet to take effect. I don’t think any of the newsletters I pitched to have published in the time between launch and now, and I made a thing of asking people not to mention the podcast until the launch date. Some of them are fortnightly too.

We did get one nod from a newsletter on Twitter a week earlier than we’d asked for, but it’s OK as not a single person listened to the episode as a result, so our secret remained safe. 😉

I feel uneasy about calling publications out by name, not just because I’m snarky (see above) but because as I mentioned previously, this isn’t an evaluation of newsletter editors, and I don’t want readers to think one newsletter is more friendly than another.

But the majority of downloads did come from a widely-read newsletter that had an issue out on Tuesday. That was nice, especially as it’s 100% not the target demographic.

What does this mean?

Not a lot right now. No-one at Apple nor at Amazon listened to the episode, so the pitch lived and died on the copy and, if we’re being honest, the fact they didn’t recognise any familiar names. This landscape is hugely competitive with limited slots for consideration, and the curation team can’t be across the entire cultural landscape for every category and territory, so they have to make a judgement on what they can glean from a pitch.

There’s more I could have done, outside vying for New & Noteworthy. I chose not to spend huge amounts of time with social media promo, as I’m not convinced it really works. But of course, you win 100% of the shots you don’t take.

I could’ve prepared the ground, sought interviews on other podcasts, or asked our writer and narrator to get involved. I could’ve looked into promo swaps – although to be honest, there are so few indie podcasts in this space that it’d be unlikely.

That aside, there were always more bloggers I could email, more influencers I could track down, but at some point, a man’s got to sleep. Part of the purpose of documenting this launch is to demonstrate good practise, and running yourself into the ground isn’t that. Plus, I don’t think influencers like to be emailed about things unless there’s an exchange of money.

If Ashley wants to spend some money on podcast advertising, that’s a solid option. I’m quite bullish on ads in podcast apps, and new opportunities do pop up occasionally.

This is… not exactly a hobby project, but no-one’s career is hanging on it. That meant we can take guesses, and maybe place bets on things I wouldn’t advise others take bets on, like being featured in apps without money changing hands.

We’re nowhere near finished

This is only episode one. I put emphasis on the launch mainly because we only have 14 episodes, so limited time to create buzz. I wouldn’t want this post to discourage anyone and think that a) their launch is set for a similar fate, or b) that they have to put all their eggs in the launch basket. It was a guess; it didn’t pay off this time.

Every episode is an opportunity to grow your podcast, and this show is no different. I’m excited for people to hear the next episode, and the conversations I’ve had with people so far have given me little tickles of delight. That. Is. The. Whole. Point. And, because it’s a limited series, it doesn’t go away after 14 episodes – it remains something people can discover for themselves.

Final thoughts

I’m not blind to the fact I’ve been writing with a good deal of confidence about the project. I’m aware that I’m pretty close to it, so my judgement might be impaired. But I don’t think I’m wrong, and you’re welcome to judge for yourself.

I’m going to put out another 5 posts so we have the first 6 weeks of the launch covered. What I think we have here is not unrepresentative of a low-budget indie launch, and the last thing I’ll say is what I said up top:

This podcast is two days old. I’m looking at the stats so you don’t have to.

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