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PodSchool Podcast | How do your download numbers compare to other podcasts?

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How to tell if your podcast is a success from your download numbers

It seems the two topics most people are interested in when it comes to podcasting is money and numbers.

So, I thought I’d focus on the latter to hopefully make you feel a bit better if you’ve been looking at your analytics thinking “Is that it??”

Since download numbers aren’t public, when you’re a new podcaster it can feel like the only message you hear is from other shows yelling “We’ve hit (insert gigantic number here)!”

This can be disheartening if your numbers are small but if you compare your downloads to what most podcasters are getting your little show is probably a lot more successful than you think it is.

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Is there a download number that means your podcast is a success?

Since every show is different, you can’t compare download numbers across the board because a podcast about healthy eating is obviously going to have a larger potential audience than a podcast about yurts (not that there’s anything wrong with yurts).

Numbers also don’t mean much if your audience isn’t engaged.

The power of your listeners comes from how much they buy into you and how attached they are to your show.  This passion is what means people will subscribe, listen to every episode, turn up to your live events and support your advertisers to make sure you stay on the air.

When you’re starting out, thinking about absolute numbers isn’t very helpful.  What’s more helpful is looking at how your podcast compares to the rest of the industry.

How to promote your podcast

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How many downloads do most podcasts get?

On Libsyn’s podcast, The Feed, co-host and VP of Podcast Relations, Rob Walch, often shares updated stats based on Libsyn’s analytics.

While these numbers reflect the downloads of podcasts on a single host, Libsyn is one of the biggest so when you’re looking at a sample size of tens of thousands of shows it’s fair to say it’s probably a good measure of the rest of the industry.

So, ready to hear the numbers they revealed in a recent episode?

If, after 30 days, your podcast episode has over…

123 downloads you’re in the top 50% of podcasts (I hope you’re feeling better already)

1000 downloads you’re in the top 20% of podcasts

2900 downloads you’re in the top 10% of podcasts

6600 downloads you’re in the top 5% of podcasts

17,000 downloads you’re in the top 2% of podcasts

30,000 downloads you’re in the top 1% of podcasts

How to make money from your podcast

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The best way to think about your download numbers

When you’re starting out don’t get lost comparing yourself to other shows just focus on the people turning up every week to listen to you.

If that’s 20 people then make your show the best damn thing those 20 people have ever heard.

And when you think about your audience, don’t think of them like a random crowd.

When your numbers are small it’s better to think about your audience like people you’re presenting to in a room.

100 downloads might not seem like much but if you were to put on an event where you were speaking, would you be happy if 100 people turned up?

Of course you would!

If you think of your show like this it can help you realise it’s a lot more powerful than you thought it was.

So, turn up for your listeners, no matter how many there are, and if you keep delivering and promoting content consistently your numbers will grow.

How to get your podcast featured in New & Noteworthy

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Remember who you’re comparing yourself too

When you’re only a few episodes in, it doesn’t serve you to compare yourself to shows who’ve been pumping out content for months or years.

It takes time and hard work to build an audience and people who’ve got millions of listeners were once where you are now.

Also, avoid comparing yourself to podcasts from major networks.

Networks are content businesses with full-time staff dedicated to making, selling and promoting their podcasts.  They’ve often got big email lists, huge social media followings and budgets to push their content out into the world.

They’ve also got much bigger overheads than you do so often they need way more downloads to monetise their shows effectively.

The numbers listed above should give you some peace of mind that small download numbers aren’t a disaster and I’ve seen plenty of podcasters with smaller audiences build really powerful communities, get featured in the podcast charts and monetise their show.

It’s important to focus on the people who are turning up to listen to you every week and make sure your show is the best it possibly can be for them.

Got any other great ideas for how to promote your show?  Write them in the comments below!

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Welcome to the show!. Today we’re talking about numbers. Everybody's favourite topic behind monetisation. Money and numbers. That's what everybody wants to know about in podcasting. Because podcast download numbers are secret and you hear about people’s numbers when they’re shouting that they’ve got “hundreds of thousands of listeners” it’s easy to think you’re only little podcaster in the whole wide world with a small audience. So today I wanted to put your mind at ease. I get asked the question about podcast download numbers a lot from people, and I think it really does get to podcasters when they're starting out and can make you feel a bit crummy when you look at your numbers and you're like, “Oh, I thought I was going to have a 1,000,000 people in here” and instead it's very, very small. But you will be very surprised to know that your numbers are probably a lot better than you think.
There is no ideal number of downloads. There is no number that you say “if you are at this level, you are a good podcaster.” But there are some numbers that we can look at that are relative. Robb Walsh is VP of podcast relations at Libsyn and he does a podcast with another host, Elsie, and they often talk about the stats they’re seeing at Libsyn. Libsyn is one of the biggest podcasting platforms with thousands of podcasts so their numbers are a pretty good reflection of the industry as a whole. So take a seat because something tells me you are going to be a surprised, and I'm hoping delighted, when you hear what Rob revealed in his latest stats rundown. If you have over 123 downloads after 30 days of releasing a podcast episode, your show is better than 50% of podcasts out there. That's right. 123 downloads. Immediately upon hearing that one stat, I’m hoping that you realise that your show is not as bad as you may have thought it was.
The fact you only really hear people’s numbers when they hit stratospheric heights can make you feel like your small show isn’t good enough. But I'm here to tell you that it is.
If you have 123 listeners and they are engaged and interested and love your content, then that is something worth turning up every week for. I often say to people that you are better off thinking about your audience as a room full of people than thinking about it as like masses of numbers. Think about if you were going to just speak at an event and you wanted to turn up and you had 50 people in a room. Would you be happy? You probably would. If you had 300 people in a room. Would you be happy? You'd probably be super happy. When you're starting out, think about it like that. Don't get so caught up in this idea of needing tens of thousands of listeners. It's important to note that some of the shows that are doing that I have been chipping away at it for a long time and delivering content consistently, and it takes a long time to build up that audience. In other cases, they are shows that a part of major networks that have big relationships with Apple and get constantly featured and their shows are constantly topping into the charts. They often have huge email lists and social media networks and all of that stuff that helps increase the number of downloads you have.
So if you're an independent podcaster, don't compare yourself to a big professional network. Really think about your audience. Do you have people that love your show? Are they turning up consistently? Are they engaging with you in other ways? Via social media, your review section or email? If they are then turn up and make show as good as you can for them. If you are getting 123 downloads, you are better than 50% of podcasts out there and to continue with those numbers. If you have over 1000 listens for each episode, you are better than 80% so you’re in the top 20% of podcasts. If you have over 2900 you're better than 90%. If you've got over 6600 you're better than 95%. If you’ve got over 17,000 you're better than 98% and with over 30,000 you are in the top 1% of podcasts. So go a little easy on yourself. Cut yourself some slack if you've just started out and you're growing your audience slowly. Don't think that just because you've got 100 listens that your show is not a success and turn up for those 100 people. If you had them in a room, that would be a pumping event. So think about it that way and keep on showing up for them and creating great content. And don't get down on yourself because there are people out there piping up about their hundreds and thousands of downloads. I hate to break it to you but some people are very successful, and some people lie so just look at your own analytics, engage with your own audience, think about your numbers compared to the industry and feel a little better about yourself.
I hope that's talked you out of throwing in the towel. If you were thinking “Stuff this! When am I going to get my 1,000,000 listeners?” Do not worry. Your small audience is fine.
If you’d like a little help with your podcast and you want to be taken through things step by step, make sure you check out my online podcasting course PodSchool. You’ll find all of the details at PodSchool.com.au. I'll see you next week, and until then, happy podcasting.

2 Comments
  1. Liz Beardsell says:

    So helpful and encouraging to see these numbers. Thanks for the insight.

  2. Kevin Rosenquist says:

    Great article…really helps keeps things in perspective. Thanks for posting!

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