2020 Year in Review: 20 of the Best Podcast Success Stories

2020 is a year most of us want to forget. In fact, so many (dare we say) unprecedented things happened this year that it all feels like a bit of a blur. 

While we’re looking forward to waving bye to this year for good, we still want to acknowledge all the cool podcasting stuff that’s been able to happen over the past 12 months. 

2020 has been a really big year for podcasting and our community. We more than surpassed 1,000,000 podcasts and listening was up 51% from 2019. Google started indexing shows and we made moves to secure podcasting against piracy and privacy violations. 

In this roundup, we want to highlight some of the great work our podcasters have produced and share their podcast success stories big and small. From all corners of the globe, you were able to create and build brilliant podcasts, brands, businesses and communities. Out of everything, that’s worth celebrating, right?

We’ve split the roundup up into two sections:

  1. 6 things that we’ve done that we’re really proud of this year
  2. 14 stunning success stories from YOU, our Captivate podcasters

That’s 20 success stories to see out 2020, which is really rather pleasing.

Let’s goooo!

6 things that the Captivate team is proud of in 2020

We were able to make so many things happen this year all thanks to our podcasters and partners who shared their feedback and gave their support. Because of you, we’ve been able to evolve Captivate into the platform it is today. 

We owe these achievements to you, the ever-present and ever-helpful podcaster who (along with our brilliant developers) helped us to release over 160 updates and upgrades to Captivate this year – some big, some small, but all of them to help you as a podcaster. 

Here are some of our faves:

1. We developed even more powerful analytics and marketing tools for podcasters

After launching in August 2019, we released the very first analytics, hosting and marketing tools that form the basis of Captivate. 

Our Single Subscription Link, podcast analytics, embeddable players, Captivate Sites and One-Click Sponsor Kit were all born because we needed simple, effective tools to grow our own podcasts.

Now they’re used by thousands of podcasters every day to measure, market and grow successful shows across the globe. Thanks to your feedback, we’re constantly developing these tools to make them as useful and effective as possible. 

Captivate IAB Certification - Podcast Analytics banner featuring the IAB Tech Lab official verification sticker

2. Captivate got IAB Certified

In May 2020, we became the first UK-based podcasting company and the youngest worldwide to achieve IAB Certification. We’re really proud of this, because we were able to do it without any significant changes to podcasters’ reported download numbers. For geeks like us, that’s a big deal!

It’s important to us that we help set the standard for podcast measurement and have a seat at the table for big decisions on analytics and the medium as a whole. Read more about our decision to work with IAB Tech Lab in our statement. 

3. We made podcast coaching and education accessible

A strong community is key to any podcasting success. Being able to ask for feedback and support is hugely valuable when you’re creating a podcast from scratch. Free access to experts and experienced podcasters is even more of a bonus. 

This year, we’ve worked hard to give our podcasters free, easy-to-understand, hands-on podcasting education and coaching. As well as bi-weekly deep-dive Q&A sessions, we’ve also hosted free webinars, written detailed tutorials on everything from starting a podcast to marketing and SEO

We also started recording The Podcast Accelerator for YouTube, so go over and watch hundreds of free tutorials and coaching sessions right now!

ready set grow promotional banner

4. We celebrated one year of Captivate

In August, we celebrated Captivate’s first birthday with a free, virtual event on podcast growth and marketing. The event featured 3 sessions that you can watch on our YouTube:

  1. Chris Ducker: The Powerful Personal Brand Eco-System for Podcasters
  2. Kelly Forst: Growing Your Podcast (and Revenue!) Using Email Marketing
  3. Jordan Harbinger: Becoming The Ultimate Podcast Interviewer

5. We dropped some pretty giant upgrades to help you to grow your podcast, and made them all free

This year, we’ve managed to release over 160 new features, upgrades, integrations and additions to Captivate, including:

  1. 7 new integrations with international podcast streaming platforms and directories to help our podcasters achieve global reach and visibility! 
  2. Major upgrades to our powerful podcast websites, which now include email marketing integrations and more customization options
  3. Enhancements to our advanced analytics suite, which now lets you compare episodes, access episode-level stats and web player analytics
  4. 3 sweet integrations with AWeber, Mailchimp and Zapier to make your podcasting and marketing workflows that much smoother
  5. The introduction of private podcast feeds for everyone, at no extra cost, meaning any podcaster can start offering premium/exclusive content or internal podcasts for free!
Introducing AMIE, Captivate's Audio Mastering and Integration Engine

6. We unveiled the plans for our Dynamic Content tech, AMIE

2021 has some more big feature releases lined up already, but one we’re really excited for is AMIE – our Audio Mastering and Integration Engine currently in private beta. 

Featuring dynamic content insertion at its core, AMIE allows for much more than dynamic ads and will help podcasters to grow their listenership, audio influence and brand. Yay!

Read more about AMIE and watch out for its release next year.

14 Captivate podcasters share their 2020 success stories

Enough about us, what have YOU achieved this year as a podcaster?! 

We asked you for your podcast success stories, wins and achievements big and small, and here are just a few of the highlights.

You’ve found meaningful communities 

John Joines from The Uprooted Podcast
“We successfully launched four shows with potentially more in the near future and have amassed close to 10,000 total listens in our first year! Beyond that, we have become quite good at audio editing and have successfully offered our services for other podcasters.”
Listen here

A pull quote reading “Men and women from all walks of life and locales contact me to tell me I've made a difference in their lives”

Nicole Johnson from Found Down Podcast
“My podcast is a raw, vulnerable show where we tell nursing stories that are sometimes hilarious, dark, insane or anything in between. I’m about to hit 10K and I started it this summer. However, it has created a community during the most difficult time in our profession. It feels great to have this outlet and to give nurses a voice.”
Listen here

Eric Payne from Dating After Divorce
“I launched my podcast last November. My goal was to create a resource for divorced men to get through the rough patches to become better men, fathers, future boyfriends, husbands, etc. Fast forward to today and it’s been downloaded 28k+ times, average download per show per 28 days is hovering at 800 and it’s listened to in 66 countries. My goal was to hit 25k downloads by the one-year anniversary on November 4.

Men and women from all walks of life and locales contact me to tell me I’ve made a difference in their lives as they navigate being newly single, going through the holidays sometimes without their kids, and just making it from one day to the next.”
Listen here

Tina Konstant from Waffle-Free Storytelling
“I’ve just celebrated Waffle-Free Storytelling’s FIRST BIRTHDAY! As a result of the podcast, I’ve released two books and opened a little Waffle-Free Storytelling shop. It’s been a wild, crazy year!”
Listen here

Rob Blake from Strange Phenomenon
“Launching in late August, we’re about to cross 10,000 downloads, have consistently charted on the top 100 documentary podcast on iTunes, been featured on MentalFloss as a top Halloween podcast as well as syndicated news sites as a paranormal podcast for adults.”
Listen here

You’ve won prestigious podcasting awards and accolades 

A pull quote reading “We’ve built a loyal listenership and have been named Best Branded Podcast at the 2020 International Content Marketing Awards”

Mark Spence from the Pets at Home Puppy Podcast
“Since launching back in March, I’m delighted to say the Pets at Home Puppy Podcast has gone from strength to strength. As a business we’d been looking at podcasts as a new way to talk to customers and communicate the wealth of expertise we have within the Pets at Home Group. 

We’ve achieved a 4.8 out of 5 star rating on iTunes, with the number of downloads performing well for such a new initiative. We’ve built a loyal and dedicated listenership and we’ve recently been named Best Branded Podcast at the 2020 International Content Marketing Awards.

The Puppy Podcast has really demonstrated the potential for podcasts with our target audience and we’re currently exploring some new and exciting projects for 2021!”
Listen here

Jacob Roberts-Mensah, co-creator and co-writer of DEM TIMES
“DEM TIMES is a young adult comedy-drama following the re-education of British-born troublemaker, Samuel Adjei, in a Ghanaian boarding school. Since its premier, DEM TIMES has been featured among the New & Noteworthy on Apple Podcasts, the Best Podcasts of the Week and Top Podcasts of 2020 for Spotify UK and one of The 79 Best Podcasts You Can Listen To In 2020 by Esquire.com. We were also recommended by The Guardian and were featured on The Black Culture Channel at Deezer!”
Listen here

Heloiza Barbosa from Faxina Podcast
“I am the creator and producer of Faxina Podcast, a portuguese language podcast produced in Boston about the hidden lives of Brazilian house-cleaners in America. This year it was listed among the best narrative podcasts in Brazil by Spotify in 2020!” 
Listen here

You’ve kept connected during the pandemic

David Brady from the Vitamin D&D Podcast
“My D&D podcast I do with my friend is a way for us to keep in touch. I taught him to play while we were roommates in college. D&D and podcasting has kept us together and brought me together with new friends! Which, this past year, staying in touch (and staying sane) has been a great success.”
Listen here

Philip Rowe from the History of European Theatre Podcast
“Launching in May, keeping to a weekly schedule and getting a first season complete and second season started are my successes. All of which helped keep me sane in this crazy year!”
Listen here

A pull quote reading “D&D and podcasting has kept us together! Staying in touch (and staying sane) has been a great success”

Megan Brooks-Planck from Riverdale High AV Club
“My podcast has been a lifeline throughout 2020, we launched in December of last year, and this year we’ve seen amazing growth, discovered a wonderful international following, and connected with our listeners on a personal level. It’s been amazing to be a part of this community!”
Listen here

You’ve achieved global reach from listeners all over the world

Marco North from Songbird Podcast
“I happily launched a few weeks ago, and am amazed to have listeners in places like India, Brazil, etc – not just the places I hoped/expected to connect.”
Listen here

Phil Street from Hospitality Meets 
“Launching was a success in itself but I’ve been getting great feedback and the numbers continue to go up. I’m also amazed to have a strong listener base in places I never intended, most notably, Peru.”
Listen here

A pull quote reading “Our biggest growth in new listeners? India! It beat out our downloads in the US over the last 28 days by almost 200 downloads”

Tim Cronin from Stats Don’t Matter
“We do a lot of US sports and recently split into two weekly episodes. One for the weekend NFL recap and the second for sports news. Our biggest growth in new listeners? India! It beat out our downloads in the US over the last 28 days by almost 200 downloads. 
Listen here

What did YOU achieve?

We want to highlight as many podcaster successes as possible! 

Not on the list? Tweet us with your podcaster success story and we’ll give you a shout out, too!

Start and learn to market a podcast the right way with Captivate in 2021

Congratulations to the hundreds of people who started, launched and kept podcasting this year! Big or small, we’re proud that we could support you on your podcasting journey and we’re excited to see what you do next.

If you’re thinking of starting a podcast next year, we’ve got your back with hundreds of hours of free podcasting education:

  1. Sign up to our FREE Podcast Launch Accelerator course at the Podcast Success Academy to start your podcast in 28 days. Get hours of one-on-one coaching from CEO Mark Asquith, free resources, checklists and recommendations – coming Jan 2021!
  2. Read our How to Start A Podcast tutorial for to-the-point guidance on launching your very first show, without being overwhelmed by the details.
  3. Watch The Podcast Accelerator on YouTube for twice-weekly podcast marketing, monetization and growth advice.

Here’s to a badass 2021!

Rachel

Rachel is Captivate's Marketing Coordinator and works closely with podcasters to ensure that the content that Captivate creates is genuinely helpful and easy to understand.