The Carolla Comparison
By Brian Baltosiewich
A few weeks ago, I got to talk to Adam Carolla about podcasting, for the print edition of Radio Ink that was distributed at the Convergence Conference in June. I'm going to write in depth about my talk with Carolla in the next couple weeks, but there's something I think that needs to be addressed regarding my discussion with him first.
I don't have to tell you that Carolla is considered the top of the pile when it comes to podcasting -- it's his name that comes up in nearly every conversation about podcasting -- and that's all earned. He is what every podcaster aspires to be.
But that shouldn't be the case. Adam Carolla, for all his success, for as good as he is at what he is doing, is just like you and me. Stick with me on this.
Talking to Adam Carolla is just what you might think it would be. I don't know if he was "on" for the interview, or if he's just always "on" but his tangents and rants were quick and funny during our 25-minute conversation -- and inside those rants was great insight into who he is and his philosophy towards podcasting and his success.
At one point he said podcasting wasn't "rocket science." He went on "it's not even science science…it's whatever kind of science I would have been good at in high school."
That's when it clicked for me. I'm not sure Carolla understands why, for most of us, it really is "rocket science."
Here's the thing. I don't think he gets it. I don't think he understands that for the vast majority of us, it IS rocket science.
Carolla opened up his tent in April of 2009 and a quarter of a million people walked in. Imagine that for a moment, then think about how you would look at that statistic and wonder why everyone can't be successful at this thing. For Adam Carolla, this is "easy." He works hard at it, I know that -- his work ethic is legendary and he's very good at what he does.
But he hasn't had to scrape by. After that first show he never sat in front of his mic and wondered if he was talking to himself.
And here's where it gets weird. You're playing on the exact same field Carolla is.
Carolla, in addition to a handful of paid advertisers, has all the same affiliate agreements the rest of us have. Amazon, Pro Flowers, Sheri's Berries, Go Daddy, Legal Zoom…yadda yadda yadda. Here's the difference: When Carolla does a live read for Amazon and five percent of his audience goes to Amazon and buys something…that's 2,500 listeners spending money at Amazon and sending a percentage of that purchase Carolla's way.
What Carolla has that the rest of us covet, is volume. Sheer, huge, massive numbers. Does it help that he's Adam Carolla? Of course. Again, I'm not discounting that.
All I am saying is that comparing yourself to Carolla and getting frustrated when you don't have what he has is unfair to yourself. You're not Adam Carolla, and the best thing is you don't have to be.
Just be yourself. Be consistent, be there when you say you are going to be there and you will develop an audience. Be a relentless self-promoter. Use other ways to reach out to your audience from terrestrial radio and grow your audience virally. Keep making personal appearances, tell everyone you meet about your podcast. Develop a relationship with the media critics and writers in the markets you worked in and see if you can get them to write about your podcast. Make promoting yourself your full-time job. The podcast part? You can do that in your sleep, that's the easy par, the part you were born for. The hard work is in getting the word out.
Do me this favor: Stop comparing yourself and every other podcaster to Adam Carolla. Just do your thing. Let Carolla do his.
It's a great big Internet and there's room enough for all of us.
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