My name is Suzanne and I'm a podcast addict.
Sadly, I don't have enough hours in the day to listen to every podcast that I want to listen to, but I listen to enough to have noticed a very weird phenomenon: Podcasters are crazy collaborative and supportive of each other. I'll be listening to an episode of the true crime hit In Sight, and they'll say "if you want to learn more listen to this fabulous episode on Generation Why."
They aren't the only ones. Every time I turn on an independent podcast, they are talking about people who should be their competitors. I mean, you don't hear McDonald's saying, "If you really liked that burger, you should try Burger King's! They have a great one too!"
Of course not, you'd say, once you've had lunch, you don't need another hamburger. While this is true, it's not like we all have unlimited time to listen to podcasts either.
Josh Hallmark, whose podcasts include Our Americana and The Karen and Ellen Letters, started Two Pods a Day, with the goal of introducing people to the wonderful world of independent podcasts. Again, think about that: he does podcasting and instead of focusing on how to get more downloads on his own shows, he wants you to listen to other shows.
It's not all selfless, though. Hallmark told me that when he collaborates with other podcasts, he ends up increasing his own downloads--sometimes by thousands.
Podcasts We Listen To is a podcast all about podcasts and they run a Facebook page with over 18,000 members, including me. I asked, on that Facebook page, about collaboration and expected a few responses, but got blown away.
Billy Dunham from We Watched a Thing said:
We're only relatively new podcasters having been at it about 3 months, but already I can't believe the huge support from other podcasters. We've made some great friends all over the world, and everyone is always willing to swap promos, reviews, shout outs etc. What amazes me most is as you said the complete non-competitiveness of it all. Most of the friends we've made are from within our own genre which is fantastic. Nobody ever gets sparky about who's getting more downloads or anything like that.
Shannon Martin, director of communications for Podbean (who, admittedly, has professional reasons for wanting people to create and listen to podcasts), said that it's not just the podcasters who are collaborative: it's the whole industry. She said:
I was on a panel with four of my competitors at Podfest and a guy from another industry said we could never do this in our field, a fistfight would break out.
Podcaster after podcaster named others who had helped. How they gave each other shoutouts, technical advice, came on as guests, and generally acted like a big family.
It's totally bizarre, but could it transfer to other industries?
In a way, other industries do this through conventions and white papers and other areas in which we present and publish things that can help others out. But, the straight up collaboration among people who would qualify as competitors doesn't happen as blatantly as it does in the podcast world.
You don't want to give your competitor a leg up, but what if we remembered that the world is really quite large and perhaps there is room for all of us? With individuals, we call this mentoring, but could we be more collaborative across industries as well?
Look at Kaci Burr, host of Southern Grimoire. She explained that as someone new to podcasting, she needed help, and people who she would be competing against directly helped her out. She said
The listeners notice and love it. Megan Norsworthy told me:
The Minds Of Madness ran a fantastic Halloween episode which is probably my favorite episode of any podcast to date.
So many of my favorite podcasters took part and I was introduced to new ones as well. It was such a collaborative power house! I don't know how anyone can surpass it but it turned my favorite holiday into a memorable one and I look forward to the next.
Goodwill can go a long way in building success. So maybe the next time you think about smashing your competitor, you should take a page out of the podcasters book, and collaborate instead.