Why open rates, keywords and Twitter are the past — and podcasting has a great future

It's time to stop clinging to the publishing wisdom of the past. And the decline in new podcasts is not the bad news it looks on the surface.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

What you need to give up in 2023

This morning I published a long-gestating piece about four things I really needed to get off my chest. Or, more accurately, the four things I think publishers and journalists need to realign their thinking about, but that's not as attractive a headline, is it?

The things I think you need to change your approach to are:

  • Newsletter open rates
  • Keywords for SEO
  • Twitter
  • TikTok

Yes, I expect some of those will be controversial. I look forward to hearing why you think I'm wrong… 😇

What publishers need to give up in 2023
Open rates? Dead. Keywords? Dying. Twitter and TikTok? Traps. Here’s how to navigate publishing in 2023
I've literally just come from recording an episode of Charlotte Henry's The Addition podcast about that piece, where she forces me to defend my views — especially about TikTok. Subscribe to hear it when it drops tomorrow.

What's going on with podcasting?

After years of boom times, the number of podcasts being created is dropping rapidly. Why?

Where did all the new podcasts go?
The number of new podcasts launched fell by nearly 80% between 2020 and 2022 — and seems to keep dropping. Has podcasting moved from gold rush to mature market?

Esther had some thoughts in this morning's Media Roundup newsletter:

I don't know to what extent this is amateurs realising growing and sustaining podcast audiences is quite a challenge - after all, if you were going to launch a podcast, lockdown was the time to do it. Certainly I haven't noticed much of a slowdown in publishers launching new shows.

Having been around long enough to have seen both the first and the second podcast boom, and now the first and second blogging boom (the second being the blog/newsletter hybrid approach), I'm not at all surprised that this is happening. It always does.

It's gold rush behaviour: technology opens up a field, some of the early movers do very well out of it, and so lots of other people follow in their footsteps. As the field gets more crowded, fewer people succeed, and the incentive to keep trying decreases. People drop away, and the rate of new publication creation drops as well.

The real surprise is how long it's taken for us to pass the peak — given how much harder podcasting is than blogging, newsletter writing or even YouTubing. The fact we've had such a sustained boom is a really good sign that we'll have a healthy podcast ecosystem for a long time to come.

It's also worth noting that what we refer to as “podcasting” is actually just a slice of a rapidly broadening field of online audio — with live audio being the real growth area right now, as this piece from the tail end of last year pointed out:

2022: The Year That Podcasting Died
Podcasting is no longer a useful term — here’s why

(That's a level of clickbait headlining I can't quite bring myself to match…)


A tweet to think on


Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.