Getting Noticed in a Crowded Room

I spoke to you last week about tiered friendship and Project 2220. It refers to a relatively modest goal: onboard 20 engaged contributors into our Discord, 200 early adopters onto our waitlist, and collect 2,000 followers across various social media platforms.

I've started mostly from scratch and headed into the wild with our "Cut Loose" podcast as a calling card, which has given me acute empathy for new podcasters and how it feels to show up in a crowded room with your first few episodes you know aren't perfect but are aspiring to be. Like a teenager on her first day of Freshman year.

Something we talk a lot about at Uncut is the void. More than one podcaster has described to us what it feels like to speak into it. And how amazing it feels when listeners reveal themselves and talk back.

After spending some time in the Wild West of podcast promotion on Instagram it's clear to me that — when it comes to the distribution and discovery and social media marketing side of podcasting, at least — creators aren't so much speaking into a void as vying for attention in a still nascent but very crowded room. To go back to the school analogy, everyone is present for the first day and trying to find their way. Some will make it to a top-tier college and get all the attention and accolades. Others will a different route or even drop out of the school altogether. But there's a sense of optimism and hope and a willingness to lift others up along the way.

In such a crowded space, it's obvious: the way we think about podcast metrics is off. There's a commonly held belief that 20,000 downloads is the golden threshold for success and monetization. But amidst a constant hum of noise, I think people have forgotten that even 200 attentive ears is a real success.

One thing I love about our player is it helps creators visualize their audiences. It's a reminder that each listener is a person. I think it can bring a lot of us back down to earth in the best way: grounded and centered, as opposed to a cycle of desperate scrolling and self-doubt. That more intimate connection is something we're all craving nowadays, especially in a pandemic.

With so much clutter, I'm more interested in getting the word in about our mission, as opposed to out. Joining existing communities and making friends the old fashioned way. Listening as opposed to talking.

If you're a podcaster, which communities have been most valuable to you?