A Numbers Game: Can Indie Podcasters Still Make It To The Top In The UK?

Dec 02nd

Another day, another debate. In a recent discussion within the podcasting community, numbers took centre stage. So, in this article, we’re sharing the numbers that could bag you the top spot as we explore if indie podcasters can still make it to the top in UK podcasting. 

Competing with the giants 

With the likes of Joe Rogan, Kim Kardashian West and the Obamas signing multimillion-dollar deals, what does that mean for indie podcasters? In an article titled “listen up: why indie podcasts are in peril” [Guardian, August 2021], Miranda Sawyer said: “Podcasting, which has been around for about 15 years, is getting its moment in the fiscal sun. We’ve all heard the argument for big money: if cash goes in at the top of a culture, it eventually swirls down and benefits the smaller people.” 

She continued, “Still, Big Money does have a tendency to invest in names it understands (celebrities), or take smaller ideas, brush them up (add celebrities) and make them commercial. In doing so, it can stomp on cultural ecosystems and creative support networks that have been built up over the years. Money skews attention, brings in PR and marketing teams against which smaller shows cannot compete.” 

While Miranda presents some valid points, there’s no need to throw in the towel because the space is becoming more competitive. There are plenty of indie podcasts killing it right now, and you absolutely can too.

At the time of writing, the Chartable Top Spotify Podcasts in Great Britain is peppered with independent podcasts. Today [18 Nov 2021], Sweet Bobby sits at number 10, while The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett takes the 13th spot (You can read our article of The Five Lessons you can learn from Steven here). The Girls Bathroom is number 26 and For You From Eve is number 30, climbing 11 places this week. One of the most significant climbs up the podcasting ranks comes from Girls That Invest, which currently sits at 36, climbing an impressive 22 spots, while Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee sits at 46. 

What do these podcasts have in common? They’re all independent, and thanks to their loyal listeners, consistently in the charts. Are you ready to join them? 

The Numbers
In a 2020 episode of Buzzcast with Tom Rossi – co-founder of podcast hosting platform, Buzzsprout – they explored how many downloads the average podcaster using Buzzsprout gets in 2020. 

 According to their data, in a 30-day period:

  • 98 downloads put you in the Top 50% of podcasts
  • 302 downloads put you in the Top 25% of podcasts
  • 982 downloads put you in the Top 10% of podcasts
  • 2,373 downloads put you in the Top 5% of podcasts
  • 14,959 downloads put you in the Top 1% of podcasts 

While numbers aren’t everything, these stats are a useful gauge of where you’re at now and the kind of numbers that will get you where you want to be. Of course, to get there, you’ve got to do the work and the shameless self-promotion that goes alongside.  

Advocating for your indie podcast   

If you’re keen to move up the ranks and take on the podcasting giants, you need to be your own biggest fan. If you just want to get your message out there, that’s also fine. 

Here are some tips / advice / thoughts from some members of our network. 

‘As independent podcasters without a celebrity host, we know we have to work twice as hard as others to get attention. First things first: we’re dedicated to making a good podcast with a unique format and high-quality production. That’s easily within our control. Beyond that, we’ve worked hard to build our audience through making connections with like-minded organisations and individuals, on social media and offline. Sometimes this is through the people we interview for the podcast, sometimes it’s ‘only’ for audience development. For The Log Books to work, it has to be from and for our community. It’d be a mistake to think we could get an audience without putting in the work to develop connections with our community.’

Adam Zmith, co-producer of The Log Books podcast

‘I think with The Breakup Monologues, my initial priority was to have a consistent brand across different platforms. I always hoped that the podcast would also become a book, audiobook and a live show. Given that they have the same title, each can bring people to the other strands. I also set about using my PR skills acquired during my time as a freelance publicist to get press coverage for the show. A strong clippings folder of reviews and features seemed like a good piece of ammunition to have.’ 

Rosie Wilby from The Breakup Monologues 

‘We are very much resistant to the ‘market of podcasting’ and neoliberal projections of growth. We are interested in broadcasting inclusive political education in a conversational format that makes academic research accessible. Our ambition isn’t to compete with celebrity-facing podcasts, nor are we concerned with chasing downloads or streams. We record and produce our podcast in a hope that it might help people who broadly agree on most aspects of social and political life to better understand the structures and histories instrumental to the shaping of society and how the proliferation of local and global inequalities persist. Emancipatory education is our priority and if more people join us whilst we keep this at the forefront of our work – great!’ 

Chantelle Lewis, Tissot Regis & George Ofori-Addo from Surviving Society 

If you’re ready to take your podcasts to the next level with the support of Content is Queen and our incredible community of indie podcasters, find out more about our membership options here