My absolute marketing fail

I've spent thousands of dollars to sell seven $20 subscriptions

No #vanlife of podcast publications today. We’re getting right to it.

I’ve been torn about whether to write this because part of me wants to be an endlessly optimistic entrepreneur, but the other, maybe bigger part of me wants to be real with you. There’s something happening that’s is surprising and frustrating me, and I’m going to let you in on it.

We can’t get anyone to join The Edit. I’ve been selling various things to various people for most of my career and I have never had as much trouble selling anything as I am with this podcast feedback service. I swear I could sell body odor scented deodorant more easily than The Edit. WTAF?

Since we launched The Edit at the beginning of June, it has been featured everywhere from Facebook Groups to well-read newsletters. We’ve paid for advertising in podcasts, on Hot Pod, and in the trashfire of society that is Facebook and Google advertising.

All of that netted us a handful of brave souls (literally 7) that have been loving the help they’re getting. They are getting focused attention from some of the top tastemakers and producers in the business for lunch money.

There’s a guy out there that if you’ve spent time in podcasting Facebook groups, you’ve come across. His name is Dave Jackson, and he talked about The Edit in his podcast Ask the Podcast Coach. He said, “I’ll be interested to see if this goes, because I’m not 100% sold on the fact that people want feedback on their podcast.”

Dave, we weren’t even trying to make it go big! We just wanted a few dozen people to be the seed of something special. Wow, was I wrong. Dave was right. We can’t find anybody who wants feedback on their show.

People that work for big studios or NPR-type podcasts have feedback built into the creative process. They have these meetings called “edits” where everyone listens to a draft and gives notes. Supposedly it can be brutal. But it is very effective at making shows better. When producers learn what parts of a show are confusing or boring, they can make adjustments. Because of those adjustments, they make a better product. Those better products get more listeners and make more money.

But I get it. I did Mobycast with Chris for two years without getting any feedback. We just believed that we were smart and it was obviously coming through in the audio. This was incorrect. Listening back, we needed editing.

Later, I was working on a personal project, trying my hand at making a little documentary, and at that point I had made friends with some very good podcast producers. I asked one of them, Caroline Crampton, if I could pay her to listen to two episodes and give me notes. The fee she charged to listen and give notes on an hour of audio was way more than $20. And the result of the process was honestly about the same as what we’re doing in The Edit. She heard things I didn’t. She saw potential for improvement in places I didn’t. And perhaps most importantly, she inspired confidence in my work. She let me know that I was on the right track, and I loved hearing that.

I want to reproduce that feeling for other podcasters. It’s such a joy to see the small gaps between what you produce by yourself with your headphones on and what your show could be if you made a few adjustments.

Why won’t people join? Overconfident? Too nervous? Don’t like doing work? When I talk about our difficulties getting signups with Chris, he says, “You’re literally giving away free money!” He’s right. We are. We’re giving away free money.

I guess working on your show and collaborating with smart people isn’t the message that resonates. Maybe the only kind of marketing that works is:

Who’s ready to get famous? Join The Edit and you’re guaranteed Rogan money! *not guaranteed.

Eric Johnson ranted a little about this kind of marketing recently too, and I hate it. He hates it. Do you hate it!? F$ck hustle economy marketing and everyone that does it.


Feedback and vulnerability

Ironically, I wrote this and realized I should get feedback before publishing, but I sort of didn’t want to. It feels vulnerable. It would be easier to just close my eyes and hit send. But I asked a few people read it, and Chris asked what I hoped to get from it. Good question. I’m not sure. Maybe just to connect with people that have tried to grow things from nothing and had similar difficulties.

The other reason I might have written it is to lead by example. I’m putting something difficult out there, and it makes me feel vulnerable. You can do the same thing but on a much smaller scale by getting feedback on your pod.

Join The Edit or don’t. I’m not giving up on it, but I’m not holding my breath that we’re going have to make a waiting list.

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See you back in the van next week. I promise not to write another long read about The Edit. Thanks for being here with me for this.

—Jon Christensen