Thursday, December 08, 2005

Why Podcast Alley ruins podcasts

Please, save me from podcasts that every month get on the "Hey, go vote for us at Podcast Alley" bandwagon. Every time I hear this, one of a few things is going to happen:

  • I'm going to unsubscribe.

  • I'm going to hit Next and be done with that episode.

  • I'm going to fast forward past it.

You'll notice I didn't say "I'll go vote for you." Why? Because not only is there no value in it for me (I already subscribe!), there's negative value -- because whether I vote for you or not I have to listen to you waste show time with this nonsense. If I like your show, I will talk to my friends about it, I will talk about it on my blogs, and in general I will promote it the best I can. But I will not vote for you on podcast alley, or any other directory. Never have, don't plan on starting.

Why is it important to vote? What do podcasters win? There are no prizes - they win traffic. The higher up you are, the better the traffic you get. Fair enough assessment? My point is that we should be coming up with more creative ways to drive up traffic. I think it's funny that on the one hand, podcasts aren't competitive with each other - after all, they play each other's promos all the time -- but yet they all whore for votes, when we all know for you to be on the top ten someplace means that someone else is not. So you are competing with your brethren using the "vote for me" approach. There's only room at the top for a few.

Here's what I want. I want a feed that periodically tells me about podcasts I don't already know about. Maybe they are brand new and worth a listen, or maybe they've been around since the beginning and I've just never heard of them. For some I will be able to tell if I want it or not just by a description. For some, I'll need to download a sample. I don't plan on voting for anybody that I find this way. I don't mind reviewing them, and saying why I like or don't like them. I'll even go so far as to give a Tivo-style thumbs up or down for them so that my rotating sampler knows which ones it has already given me. But I will not vote for you. Especially not every month.

You want traffic, learn to promote your show in new ways. Right now it seems like every podcast under the sun only has two moves -- whore for votes, or send feedback to Adam Curry pretending to have something interesting to say but really just to get your name out there. Take some public relations lessons. Go hang out on some freelance writers groups, because they all have the same issues. How do you guerilla market yourself? Call up a local radio station and see if you can get an interview spot. Podcasting is the next big thing, everybody knows it, and if you call around you're going to find people who want to talk to you. They don't just want to talk to Dawn and Drew. Especially if you've got something of value to say.

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