Why You Shouldn’t Start a Podcast or YouTube Channel (Seriously)

Why You Shouldn’t Start a Podcast or YouTube Channel (Seriously)

by Jon Morrow


You’ve seen it for yourself. These days, there are a gazillion different ways to broadcast your thoughts online.

Blogging, podcasting, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat — the options are overwhelming. Are you supposed to do all of them? If not, which ones are most important? What if you are talented in one medium and terrible in another?

ARGH! It’s so confusing.

Well, here’s the good news:

In this post, I’ll do my best to answer those questions. Even better, I’ll give you answers that include taking things off your plate, not putting more things on.

In other words, everything is about to get a whole lot simpler. Let’s jump in.

Why Trying to Do Everything at Once Is a Mistake

Some influencers are doing it all. They have a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, a bunch of social media accounts with tons of followers — everything.

From the outside, it’s impressive. You might even think that’s what you have to do if you want to make money blogging.

But here’s a little secret:

Behind the scenes, most of those influencers are paying entire teams of helpers. In the rare case where they are doing everything themselves, it also leaves them without any time to monetize all that content, so many “social media influencers” are actually broke.

The reason why?

No one gets more than 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t matter how smart, fast, or multi-talented you are — you’ll never be able to do everything well.

You have to choose. The question is… how?

How to Figure out What to Focus on

Thankfully, this one is simple. Just answer one question:

In what medium can you develop a top 1% skillset?

At first glance, this might seem like a strange question, but let’s break it down.

There are three types of media: the written word, audio, and video. Chances are, you’ll be better at one than the others.

For example, writing has always come naturally to me. Even when I was in school, I could write essays 10X better than everyone else and barely exert myself at all.

For you, maybe it’s something different.

Maybe engaging people with your voice and having interesting conversations comes naturally to you. In that case, you should start a podcast.

Or maybe you’re captivating on video. Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been a natural entertainer.

Wherever you shine, that’s the medium you should focus on.

But here’s the caveat:

Don’t just jump in and expect to be successful. Success with any kind of content marketing isn’t about being good. It’s about being among the best.

Here’s what I mean:

The Staggering Difference between Being Good and Being Great

Once upon a time, I was an NFL (American football) junkie, and I was always intrigued by the pay difference between players.

The star of your team might make $20 million a year. The backup to your star, however, might make $2 million or even less.

Was this because the star was 10X better?

Not even close. In a professional sport, even the backup players are among the best in the world. At best, a star might be 50% better than his replacement.

So why do they pay him 10X more?

Because games are a matter of matchups. One player being just a little bit better than his opponent can mean the difference between winning and losing. If you have an entire team of players who are just a tiny bit better, you win the Super Bowl.

You see the same thing in the Olympics. The silver medal runner might be just a fraction of a second behind the gold medal winner.

And content marketing works the same way.

The rewards go to the best of the best. You can be a good writer or podcaster or YouTuber and have mediocre or even terrible results.

In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say something controversial:

If you’re not prepared to be among the best in your niche, content marketing isn’t going to do anything for you at all. You might as well quit.

Before you get too discouraged though, here’s the other side of the coin:

If you diligently upgrade your skills over time in a medium where you have some natural talent, you can almost always be among the best.

Let me explain…

How I Became One of the Most Popular Writers on the Web

Over the last decade, my work has touched over 200 million people — about 1 out of 8 people in the English-speaking world.

Crazy, right? Obviously, I must have some secret.

But I don’t. I followed the exact method I’m teaching you here.

I recognized I was a naturally talented writer, so then I spent years improving my writing skills to the point of being among the best in the world. After I taught myself how to start a blog, it took me about three years to begin to get noticed and another two years after that for people to start thinking of me as “the blogging guy.”

During those years of practice, I wrote 1,000 words every single day. In the first year, I also wrote 100 headlines per day. Added to that, I spent one or two hours per day reading the work of other top bloggers, dissecting why they were popular, and deliberately practicing incorporating their techniques into my own work.

It’s the same process an athlete uses to become an elite player in their sport. Identify natural talent, practice like hell, and then do your best to be in the right place at the right time.

Content marketing is no different. It’s a sport, and there are winners and losers.

The medium doesn’t matter. Blogging, podcasting, YouTube — the vast majority of the rewards go to the people at the top.

The question is, are you willing to put in the work to get there?

It doesn’t always have to take three years as it did for me. I spent a lot of time running in circles because I didn’t have anyone to guide me. With the right coach, you can progress much, much faster.

And that brings me to my most important point.

The Formula for Being an Insanely Successful Person

It’s all about stacking top 1% skills.

Let’s say you have some natural talent as a writer. You invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% writer.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Now you’re getting lots of traffic, but you’re not making much money, and you realize it’s because your marketing sucks. So again, you invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% marketer.

Again though, it’s not the end of the story.

Because now, you’re making some pretty good money, but you’re working night and day, and you want to hire someone to help you. Problem is, you’re a terrible manager and leader, but again, you decide to suck it up, invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% CEO.

The above story isn’t a fairytale, by the way. It’s the story of the last 10 years of my life.

And it’s actually a pretty common story. Regardless of profession, the most successful people in any field get there by stacking 1% skills on top of each other.

So, let’s bring this full circle:

When to Branch out into Podcasting or YouTube

Assuming you’re a blogger, you should wait until you’ve mastered blogging.

Let’s take me as an example.

I’ve spent the last couple of years improving my skills as a CEO. It’s been a painful, gradual process, but I think I’m starting to “get it,” and that’s one of the reasons why the company is now growing faster than it has in years.

Am I among the top 1%? Not quite, but according to these stats, I’m getting pretty close. I think it’s just a matter of time.

So, what’s next?

I’ll pick another media and become the top 1% there. I have some natural talent with podcasting as well, so that’s probably the next skill to stack on top. On the other hand, I don’t think I have much natural talent with video, so the chances of me starting a YouTube channel where I’m the star are pretty slim.

And that’s fine. We don’t have to be great at everything.

The key is to be great at one thing… and then another thing… and then another thing.

If your first “thing” is writing, I’m your man. We have some of the best training there is for writers, and we’re expanding it all the time.

But do me a favor…

Don’t start a podcast or YouTube channel while you’re trying to learn how to write. That’s the equivalent of someone training for an Olympic marathon deciding to become an Olympic swimmer and skier all at the same time.

That’s never going to happen. Not unless you’re inhuman, anyway.

So, pick just one medium. Focus on it. Get really, really, really great at it.

And then enjoy the rewards of being at the top.

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Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger.


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Written by Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger.

72 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Start a Podcast or YouTube Channel (Seriously)”

  1. Hey Jon,

    That’s a crucial point. I’ll take it from a different perspective. I remember when I started my blog, I wanted to drive as much traffic as possible. I started 10 different techniques thinking that I’m able to master them all at once.

    Big mistake, hundreds of hours trying to get meaningful results resulted in almost nothing. When I analyzed the results after a few months, I realized, one simple technique brought me more traffic than the other nine together.

    As you said, be master at one thing and then move to the other.

  2. This clears out all the confusion in me as blog beginner on planning to do things all at the same time. You’re really a great writer Jon.

  3. Jon, thank you. Stellar info. This article totally bulls-eyed a question I’ve been wrestling with for a while now.

    Question: if we actually don’t know which of the above we’re best at, or if we think we might have the ability to run in either direction, then from a purely financial perspective, do you see one field as more easily lucrative than another?

    Eg, do you see podcasting as less competitive/cluttered than blogging these days, or creating good YouTube vids as more in demand/valuable than podcasts?

    • They are all highly lucrative if you are skilled. There are people doing eight or even nine figures in each.

      And never worry about a space being too crowded. I actually need to write a post about that.

      If you’re not sure which one to choose, try them all for a short period of time (like a month or less) and see which one seems to fit you the best.

  4. When you say to read other blogs as a way to learn and improve, do they need to be in the same niche? Most of the blogs I’ve read in my niche are pretty amateurish, and what I’ve learned from them is what not to do.

    Any thoughts on this?

    By the way…great post! Really hit what I’ve been struggling with since I’m being encouraged to set up a YouTube channel, but honestly, video is just not my thing! 🙂

    • It depends what you’re studying. If you’re researching what topics are popular, then yes, read the blogs in your space. If you’re learning how to structure your posts, design your site, build your email list, etc, those skills apply across niches, so you want to learn from whoever is best, regardless of what they are writing about.

  5. Thanks, Jon, for a thought provoking post. You are right, dammit. I’ve been learning too many things recently, including shooting and editing videos, creating podcast, YouTube optimisation and more. It’s exhausting!! I need to focus…

  6. Thank you Jon, I’ve been all over the place … which means, I get nothing done because my focus is everywhere. I’m taking your advice starting today and just focus on my writing. And start your training course again.

  7. Hi Jon,
    It’s taken me a year to come to the same conclusion. After much soul searching, not to mention financial losses and migraines. Yada Yada.
    You are right on the money.

  8. Hey Jon,

    Great post. Great thoughts. Reading it reminded me of advice you gave a couple years ago regarding social media: Don’t try to be on Facebook… and Twitter… and Google Plus… and (fill in the blank) all at once. Pick one and focus. Spreading yourself between ten different platforms is a recipe for failure.

    I’m paraphrasing, but that was my takeaway.

    Unfortunately, it’s the common trap many bloggers fall into. We try to be everywhere and do everything. And, as a result, we’re average (at best) in several things instead of being truly great at ONE thing.

    We’re Bobby Bonilla, basically.

    Remember him? He could play third base, first base, left field, and right field on the baseball diamond. He was versatile. That and a decent bat led him to some big paydays in his career. Thing was he pretty much sucked at all those positions. Sure, he could play a lot of positions. He just played them poorly.

    Thanks for the reminder, Jon. Top 1%, here I come! 😀

    Off to tweet…

  9. Just what I needed to hear today! This applies to other life skills as well. Jon, thank you for laying it out so clearly 🙂

  10. Great post John. I was going to try blogging, but I’ve always been a better speaker than writer. I am a former pastor, so speaking is more natural. However, I have know clue how to monitize a podcast. Nor am I able to vision a clear path to success with a podcast. How in the world does SEO relate to a podcast?
    Anyway, I will be recovering from back surgery next month and will have allot of time on my hands. I hope you start a podcast and offer a course on podcasting as I would be first in line to sign up

  11. Hey Jon,

    really loved this post! Can’t thank you enough for motivating me to focus on one thing at a time. As a DIY blogger this will be Pinterest – so image related content rather than video, audio or wrtiting. I’ll rest my other channels which – of course – I started all at once because I thought it’s a must. Let’s see how it works out.

  12. Hi, Jon

    As someone who kind of lacks focus, this came at the right time. I follow a top digital marketing agency and they seem to do everything right! Podcasting, blogging, social media, etc. but you’re right, that’s because they have a team behind them and they started out with being good at one thing.

  13. This post speaks to all of the overachievers in the world (like me) who want to do All The Things. Today.

    BTW, public speaking and book writing might be added to the list of 1% skills for building an audience.

  14. Hey Jon,

    Awesome post. I’ve went the Podcast route thru JDL’s course, I’m sure you know what it is.

    I’ve had a blog now for 4 years, Have some content, but I’m just not passionate about writing. I am on FM radio here in South Florida have my ‘radio voice’ I feel would transfer right into podcasting. Now I’m thinking If I post the show notes and maybe a quick vid on a blog post I might just get some traction with the blog.

    Thanks so much for all you do! 🙂

  15. Jon,

    Great advice that is real and proven and should be followed. Many new bloggers get FOMO (fear of missing out) and that’s hard to shake off!

    But, if you put your head down, focus on what you know you do well and that generates income, you will succeed. I opened up my plate two years ago after I got a handle on freelance writing. Now I have several blogs and am learning & mastering new things!

    Thanks for this timely post!

  16. Hi Jon Morrow,

    This is a great advice for everyone who is attempting to start a podcast and Youtube channel. But through trial and error process that blogger should either follow or unfollow their path to success. It’s the result of hard work and learning from failure. Just keep moving

  17. Hello Jonh
    Wow. Really enjoy this article, it keeps me want to read and read more.
    Thank you for the clear and straightforward advice:
    – ” So, pick just one medium. Focus on it. Get really, really, really great at it” –
    I’m a yoga educator, on an endless journey to teach in English or Spanish, I love helping people to shine with their light and freedom, proud to be the wonderful person as they are, connecting, enjoying the simplicity of life, without prejudice, with strong, safe yoga foundations.
    But sometimes I’ve been struggling to communicate with the proper words, editing, rewriting. I feel stuck, waisting hours to find the appropriate words to use in my IG. Also, I’m being encouraged to start a YouTube channel, because people like my voice tune, but again I’m afraid of my communications skills. I need to focus on my writing now, it’s imperative for me, I’ll like to start a course or something that helps me with my writing. Can you help me out? Thank you in advance!

  18. Oh, boy. You hit the nail on the head about the 24 hours per day. The list of things I would love to do (that I feel I should do) would take at least 48 hours per day. That doesn’t count sleep. And podcasting and YouTube aren’t even on that list! You really have to choose what to focus on.

    What gives the biggest bang for your buck?

    And also what smaller things can you fit in when a few spare minutes suddenly show up (surprise!)? Or when your mind is like a jellyfish trampled by the annual wildebeest migration, then left to bake in the hot sun, and you need something less taxing than being creative.

  19. Great post Jon!
    There you said “During those years of practice, I wrote 1,000 words every single day.” Did you use any speaking software to speed your typing? Or what tools did you use for writing?
    Thanks for your time.

  20. Hello, Jon. You have shared plenty of knowledge in one post. I accept the fact that no one can be perfect in all fields but being great in at least one is of great use. I can relate too close with the fact that practice makes a man perfect, what you were doing all these years. Thanks a lot for publishing this article.

  21. very nice ! by the way We believe that our general contractors are your best choice when it comes to home remodeling, home improvement and construction services, and there are many reasons for that. Our general contractors know the job from a-to-z, they know to listen closely to your needs and desires and will act properly. We will handle it all for you!

  22. Fantastic post Jon! I agree you don’t have to everywhere and on every social media platform out there to be successful.

    People end up spreading themselves thin, without ever going deep on one thing until its successful.

    F.O.C.U.S = focus on-one course until successful like you said, be a 1%er in 1 thing until moving on the next

    Great post

  23. Hey jon,Im a newbie in Seo world.Your post has been really helpful to me and it’s really comprehensible.Just landed on this page out of nowhere only to find such goodness. Thank you anyway.And keep us updated with more of these helpful and interesting posts.

  24. 🙂 Jon, it makes a lot of sense for a content creator to invest their time in their strongest trait (Whether it be blogging, vlogging or podcasting).

    Besides, it is very time-consuming to be everywhere at once.

  25. Your guide is quite helpful for the people who want to start a podcast. Thank you so much for posting this blog. Your blog was very helpful and interesting at the same time.

  26. “Honest And Controversial Comment”

    Hey Mr. Jon,

    I’m 16 today, but I’ve been following you since I was 13. Haven’t been around for a while, but I notice you’ve gotten subtler, more respectful and clearer. (Some part of me thinks it’s because of Ev Williams, and the Medium’s ‘no-loudspeaker & marketing’ movement.) There’s a lot, lot of deep thought and concise skimmed cream in what you say to give us your best.

    I wanted to express something as a reader, honestly. I was a kid when I jumped into the world of blogging, because I loved the idea of responses to my stories and global interconnection.

    Through your well tweaked marketing I’m sure, “Boost Blog Traffic” was the first place I landed on. And I took your word as God-sent. I made notes and notes on crimson journal pages, and spent hours reading your “$1 Serious Bloggers Only Giveaway” (dang boy, you know how to make an offer!) at midnight with bleary eyes. 14 years old, and I was paralysed with the big questions of “Monetising Your Blog”, “Ethical Bribe to Subscribe” and “Coaching Clients.” I didn’t publish for two years. And it wasn’t even about traffic, you know? It was my happiness.

    Your voice was so strong, your worldview so loud – how could it not be the truth? Your techniques and tips, deep observations and advice came from sweat and a grand vision.

    That helped me, but it also trapped me.

    I was young and impressionable, that’s my truth. And you told me what to want, before I knew what I needed. You told me where I needed to get. You etched lines in stone, rights and wrong, what I had to do – and I didn’t even want to make money, be a CEO, or spend hours upon hours “marketing” – well at least, not like you do. It’s not bad, it’s just not me. I’m a writer. A novelist. An International Fiction Contest winner, and I’ve been published in 35 publications worldwide, Washington Post & NY. (No shade intended, just hoping you show you I’m a serious writer. 🙂 )

    You created a world made of stakes, of fear and pressure, where only the toughest survive. You’ve gave me so, so much – but Mr. Jon, you also imprisoned me with your superior, addicting writing voice into believing your worldview was the only one that existed.

    That’s why I’ve distanced myself a bit from you now. I check in every once in a while, because you truly are empathic and helpful and so flippin’ knowledgeable. I need you – but do I like you?

    Ah. Sometimes what you give to me feels like: The most detailed, generous advice in the world clothed in urgency and fear motivated dictatorship.

    Yet, because I came to you when you were the only voice I knew – you’ve undoubtedly shaped me and made me stronger. You have my endless gratitude. I know the story of yourself you’ve shared, and the way you’ve risen above odds and I look up to you for that. Just thought of telling you, the world doesn’t have to be so hard and bad and competitive though – you know? You let me assume that for a long time before I went and created a different paradigm for myself. I’m not sure you will, but there’s a hope you get my meaning.

    Thank you for reading this. Would you respond? 🙂

    From the heart,

    • Thank you for this. Insightful, self-aware, honest and respectful. I’ll think about what you’ve said.

  27. After buying countless domains over the years, trying out different niches (simultaneously) and only making a few dollars from each one, suddenly i dropped 90% of that nonsense.

    My success / income has steadily increased ever since. These days im placing most of my effort into my website and its numerous features. I’m still not great at keeping focused, but i sure as hell will continue climbing the ladder and improving.

    Keep it up, Jon.
    P.S. I don’t normally comment much here, but i absolutely love reading your stuff as a lurker.

    Enjoy the rest of your week, my virtual friend.


  28. Oh! Jon! As much as it pains me to agree with you, the past few years combined since I started blogging now makes sense.
    My conscience is now clear, I have to focus and horn my skills, at least one skill at a time! This article is awesome!

  29. This is so helpful, because my problem is that I love video, love YouTube, learn so much from that medium – but I’m a writer of prose, through and through. I am a very introverted, interior-ly living sort of person and I need to respect that and just blog, even if it makes me a bit of an internet granny.

  30. Still i am struggling to find the topic of my channel for my webdesign website. Your in depth explanation clear my hesitation from my mind. Really eye opening post for new and pro youtuber.

  31. I’m still confused which topic is best for me, I’ve created my channel 6 months ago and still, I unable to complete my 500 subscribers.
    Your post gives me some hope.

  32. Great post. Articles that have meaningful and insightful comments are more enjoyable, at least to me. Needo also share some good articles needo (dot)com/blog

  33. Spreading your mental energy and time will not end well. Many companies that don’t spend enough time on their product will suffer the same problem as the blogger. Not to mention, the learning curve for all these platforms. I’ve recently cut back to just using Pinterest and Twitter. Once, I’m ready, I’ll just outsource my social media to someone who can execute the other platforms for me. Thanks for a great article!

  34. I’m blown away by the amount of truth you’ve put out to the public via this article. I believe it’s always best to master one technique before moving on to another, though this may not always be the case if a person can multitask properly. Or don’t you think so?


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