On the Origin of Podcasts

In this newsletter, I explain how to record your own podcast and what would Darwin say about it (although I didn’t ask him).

It seems like everywhere you turn, somebody is recommending their newsletter or a podcast. Did you know that in April, iTunes has crossed 1 million registered podcasts? During the pandemic, more people started their podcasting careers – this is a great shelter-in-place activity, and an excellent excuse to interview your best friend! And in case you want to invite an expert – it’s easier than ever before because they are not busy traveling all the time.

I have recently published „How to start your own podcast” on WordPress.com blog. In the guide, I outline the steps needed to get your show off the ground. Here is a quick summary:

  • You don’t need new gear or a studio. A good video-call headset is enough and you can record via Zoom. Stop browsing those fancy microphones! 
  • You don’t need to do any fancy audio editing. In the article, I explain how to do what you need in iTunes and Garageband.
  • You can publish your podcasts via your blog, or a dedicated service. What matters is the RSS feed  (explained in the article). You submit this RSS feed to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all the others. New episodes appear automatically once you publish it at the source (your blog or the podcasting service you use )

Doesn’t it mean more competition?

Attention is indeed a finite resource. You can listen to only as many podcasts during the day, and your cognitive load is further limiting that number. If more podcasts are fighting for the same listenership, doesn’t it mean there is no point in producing a new one?

There are more weird niches on the Internet than you realize, even if you account for the fact that there are more niches on the Internet then you realize (see David Perrell’s version). People are roughly the same but have infinite idiosyncrasies, tastes, and life experiences. They want to hear about different topics and may become enamored with a topic that others find mundane.

And for some people – you’re the expert! While the unimaginative „current events” podcast format is saturated, try finding a niche – the more quirky and unusual, the better:

When the obvious ideas are taken, it makes us explore a more unusual and interesting approach. By trial-and-error, you may discover a hungry audience that didn’t know what they craved. Everything on the Internet evolved until it “started working”, and we have a long way to go still.

This concept was novel on November 24, 1859, when Charles Darwin published „On the origin of species”:

“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”

Civilization and the social support system we created removed life-or-death struggle as a daily occurrence. I’m sure everybody reading this newsletter will not have to worry about starvation. Instead, civilization has created a framework for the development of ideas. When more creators can release their’s into the world, they can compete, cross-pollinate, and evolve until all that’s left are the most beautiful and valuable ones. 

Painters like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael didn’t produce the most famous art pieces in history despite the competition of 16th century Florence – they did so, because of healthy competition nudging them to create something better.

You can, too.