The Counterintuitive Math Behind Podcast Growth

By Jeremy Enns

By Jeremy Enns

By Jeremy Enns

Depending on the positioning of the planets in relation to each other, it’s around 225,000,000 kilometers (140,000,000 miles) to Mars.

As with all spaceflight, one of the most difficult challenges facing any voyage to Mars is fuel.

225 million kilometers is more than just a walk down the block after all.

Despite what you might think, however, the problem isn’t so much the total distance of the journey.

Instead, the vast majority of the challenge of fuelling up for a journey to Mars revolves around just 0.00016% of the total distance traveled.

This is all thanks to the Earth’s gravitational field.

In fact, it takes just as much fuel to travel the first 400 kilometers to break free of Earth’s gravitational pull as it does all the remaining 249,999,600 to Mars.

Essentially, this means that if you can get past that first 400 km and achieve escape velocity, the universe opens up to you.

All of a sudden, each extra drop of fuel gives you an outsized reward.

The same concept applies to podcasting.

Achieving success with any show is likely to be a years long journey, but the vast majority of the effort comes early on.

Most new shows start without any momentum, planted firmly on the ground within the clutches of gravity.

From a launch pad, it takes several seconds of a rocket’s boosters firing at full power to generate any significant upward momentum at all. And even then, that momentum is only one hiccough away from sending us crashing back to earth.

Which is exactly what happens to most creators.

They produce five, or ten, or even fifty episodes before running out of fuel.

If we want to avoid this fate for ourselves, our task is twofold.

First, we have to understand that achieving escape velocity is always going to be a slog.

It will require us to work impossibly hard with little momentum (and almost certainly no financial reward) to show for it for a significant amount of time.

Knowing this, we can prepare for it.

We can set our expectations accordingly and ensure we have the fuel reserves on hand.

Secondly, we can shed as much weight as possible to reduce the amount of fuel required to escape gravity.

For one, this means choosing a topic and format that energizes instead of drains us.

If we don’t love the process of creating our shows, they’re going to be almost impossible to sustain long enough to achieve escape velocity.

Additionally, we can streamline and systematize the process of creation to reduce unnecessary friction.

Part of this involves outsourcing any tasks that don’t require us to do them personally.

But there’s a lot we can achieve through automation and systems.

On the production side, tools like Alitu, Resound, and Descript can drastically help reduce the time it takes to produce episodes by automating large portions of your production process.

Others, like Castmagic can help us streamline our show notes creation process.

For non-production streamlining, Zapier can save hours per episode by automating dozens of tasks that would otherwise require your time and attention.

Eliminating small repetitive tasks might not feel like much in the moment.

But when it comes to achieving escape velocity, every gram matters.

The more we can offload, the longer our runway becomes and the greater our chances of breaking free into open space where we can really cover some distance.

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