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Published on May 05, 2020 08:00 am:

Busting The Myth Of Podcast Exceptionalism [Episode 306]

It’s getting easier every day to make a podcast. Yet the act is shrouded in a sea of exceptionalism. Not from the general public or a pool of would-be-listeners. No, the shroud of exceptionalism I’m speaking of comes from within the podcasting community.

Podcasting has always had a strong sense of community among creators. For every podcaster who views other podcasters as competition, I can find a dozen who view other podcasters as comrades in arms. Or pick a less-militaristic metaphor if you like. The point is, we tend to be a supportive bunch.

So we’re clear: I'm not suggesting that it be made harder to create a podcast. I’m not suggesting that we institute gatekeepers who determine who can and who cannot have a podcast. 

I'm just saying (and I hate sentences that start with that phrase) that the act of having a podcast is not exceptional. 

Podcasting isn’t the only creative art where that harsh statement applies. I'm a published author with five books to my credit. I know that it’s often hard, scary, and frustrating to write a book. But writing the book -- the first draft, especially -- wasn't anything exceptional.

The same goes for photographers, artists, and every other creative person out there. None of those creative pursuits require exceptionalism. 

Having a community to turn to sure is helpful when you’re just getting started and doubting yourself. A lot. Luckily for those who need it, there are podcast-specific support communities and community-minded people all over the internet.

But there’s a dark underbelly in all that collective high-fiving. It’s easy to assume that since all these nice people in this community are gushing with praise that every new person who listens to your podcast will also be amazed at your exceptional output.

They won’t. Because, chances are, your podcast is not exceptional. 

This big kumbaya hug we’ve developed in the podcasting community -- of which I've been a part of and encouraged -- is vexing. I’m concerned that we’re confusing worthy-of-effort with worthy-of-praise. And I think that even the most community-forward podcaster feels the same way and reacts with dismay when, after getting lavish praise for an early effort, the newbie podcaster wants to move immediately to promotion and monetization. 

Sturgeon's law applies in all things, and no one likes to discover that their baby is ugly.

But who’s to say what constitutes a beautiful baby? Again, you decide. If you find podcasting hard, rewarding, and fun for you; keep podcasting. There’s plenty of room.

Just remember that making a podcast is nothing special. Hundreds of thousands of people have done it.

I know this article was a little harsh. But sometimes harsh things need to be said. No, I don’t think you should send this episode to a brand new podcaster just because you didn’t like their first episode. That’s just mean. But I do hope that you’ll share Podcast Pontifications with that new person so they can keep the future of podcasting in mind. 

And if you like the harsh dose of reality I bring from time to time to the program, throw me a little support over at


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Podcast Pontifications is published by Evo Terra four times a week and is aimed at the working podcaster. The purpose of this show is to make podcasting better, not just easier.

Follow Evo on Twitter for more podcasting insights as they come.

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