Successful Podcasting Beyond The Top 100

Evo Terra
5 min readMay 27, 2021

Podcasters want to be in the Top 100 where all the listening activity takes place. At least that’s what we’re being sold. But the reality is quite a bit different. And a lot more rewarding.

A lot of attention is directed at the Top 100 (or top 50, 10, or pick a number) lists of “most popular” podcasts. Podcasters have a variety of tools and services, some free, some for a fee, that help us keep track of our podcasts’ rankings on various apps and directories. And it’s a rare day that passes where someone isn’t promising to get my show, your show, and anyone’s show at the top of that list of “most popular” podcasts for a modest or exorbitant fee.

I know you’re not foolish enough to fall for scammy behavior, of course. But still, you would probably love to see your show listed in the top 100 “most popular” podcasts, wouldn’t you? Of course you would! We all would.

But I’ve a cryptic message for you. No one listens to all the top 100 most popular podcasts.

Great. Evo’s Going To Make A Point With Math. Again.

I know that statement sits at odds with the entire concept of a list that details the podcasts that are most popular.

I’m not saying the shows on a list of “most popular” podcasts aren’t popular. Indeed, the shows on those lists likely enjoy tens if not hundreds of thousands of downloads on their episodes.

I’m not saying shows on a list of “most popular” podcasts don’t have ardent, die-hard fans who listen intently to each episode and even proselytize the show to others. They do. In droves.

All of the shows on those lists are popular and have many rabbit fans. I’m just saying that no one listens to all of them. In fact, no one listens to most of them.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the 80 million weekly podcast consumers in the US spend more time listening to shows not in the list of top 100 most popular shows than they do listening to shows in the top 100.

Do more people spend more time listening to the top 100 “most popular” podcasts than they do listening to my show? Without a doubt.

Do more people spend more time listening to the top 100 “most popular” podcasts than they do listening to your show? If your show isn’t on that list, then almost certainly.

But the majority-meaning over 50%-of the hours people spend listening to podcasts are spent listening to podcasts not in the top 100.

That’s tricky to wrap your head around, so let me try it another way.

Imagine you had the ability to count literally every hour literally everyone spent listening to podcasts. Imagine you could also identify and discern time spent listening to podcasts in the top 100 versus time spent listening to podcasts not in the top 100.

If you were to total up the hours spent with in each of those categories, the hours spent listening to the not in the top 100 category would greatly exceed the time spent listening to those in the top 100.

Podcasting On The Long Tail

That’s the long tail. It occurs in just about every large data set and isn’t talked about enough. And the true power of podcasting lies in the long tail. Not the short head.

Podcasters with shows not in the top 100 “most popular” lists are often quite successful. Some podcasters with shows not in the top 100 lead luxurious lifestyles. Many podcasters with shows not in the top 100 are able to pay all of their bills with podcasting. Many more podcasters with shows not in the top 100 are living satisfied, completely fulfilled lives. And an even greater number of podcasters with shows not in the top 100 are happily putting their craft out into the world.

Some podcasters with shows not in the top 100, like me, are happy to have found an audience that genuinely enjoys the content we produce and seem hungry for more.

So from me to you; thank you. Thank you very much for listening to, watching, and/or reading my words and ideas about podcasting each day. I truly appreciate it.

More Content Coming Soon!

This was the final episode of the third season of Podcast Pontifications. But just because I’m going on break, it doesn’t mean I’m leaving you without content.

One listener (hi, York!) asked if he could pontificate on a podcasting topic he cares about, so that will go out on the feed probably next week. And if you’d also like to do the same, email me- -and I’ll give you the easy instructions. Note: Those guest pontifications only distributed to podcast apps and directories.

I’m experimenting with some new ideas that might have an audio component. Again, they may be pushed out to podcast apps/directories only, depending on the context.

For those who like to read my words, I’ll be experimenting with some new content on the newsletter as well, so be sure you’re subscribed.

One experiment is already underway. I’ve invited those who’ve purchased a membership on to join me on a new online community where we can talk directly and interact with each other. They’ve been given special “Founding Member” status, which you too can have if you sign up for a membership on

Later today, I’ll invite my one-time coffee supporters to join as well. And when we’ve got all the kinks worked out, I’ll be inviting everyone who’s signed up to receive the newsletter to join us as well. Thanks to Alex from the Ostium Podcast Network and Steph from GeoPats Podcast Editing for graciously offering their skills to keep the community humming!

And with that, thanks again! I shall be back in July of 2021 with Season 4 of Podcast Pontifications.


Originally published at, where it started life as an episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen. Here’s an easy way: 👇

Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler.Media, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.



Evo Terra

Professional contrarian. On a mission to make fiction podcasting better. he/him. คุณ | |