I saw something this weekend that shocked and upset me.
It’s been 2-3 months since I have checked my ratings and reviews in iTunes for the Get Busy Living podcast. Last time I checked, I had a good amount of five-star ratings and reviews (thank you to those who left one) and less than five one-star ratings.
Though even just one one-star rating hurt, I understood that maybe the podcast wasn’t for everyone. No negative reviews were left, just someone giving me one-star. So I didn’t know why someone didn’t like it. No big deal though. I would just keep focusing on the listeners that do enjoy it.
On Saturday night, I decided to check iTunes after I finished recording a new episode. I was shocked by what I saw.
Forty-one one-star ratings left! Forty-one??
I know I’m not a pro at this, but I don’t think I’m that bad to warrant that many one-star ratings.
I checked the most critical reviews, and they were left in August and September.
After doing some digging this is what I found:
- Each called me amateur, which I found kind of odd that they use the same description. Their reviews were very amateurish though. I highly suspect fake names as well.
- One account only reviewed my podcast.
- One account only reviewed two podcasts (mine and the School of Greatness).
- One account only reviewed four podcasts (I got one-star. The three others got five-stars).
- One review said my interviews are recycled guests. Clearly this person hadn’t bothered to listen or look because I’ve only done four interviews and they aren’t guests you find on every single podcast. That’s why they were chosen.
- One mentioned a podcast called the Art of Charm in the review, while another account left a five-star review for it.
- One mentioned the School of Greatness in the review, while another account only reviewed only my podcast and that one.
First of all, I’m not sure why my podcast is being compared to The Art of Charm or the School of Greatness. The formats are different. Theirs are interview based. Out of twenty-eight episodes, I’ve only done four. I like to focus more on solo shows.
I’m sure they’re fine podcasts, cause they’re highly ranked, but I don’t listen to their podcasts so I don’t know how they are similar nor do I try to emulate them.
Those two podcasts are ranked in the top ten of the self-help category. At the time of this post I’m ranked 163. I’m a small fish. So why the comparisons? I don’t even think I’m in the same level as them. I’m certainly no threat to them.
There are many other solo show type self-help podcasts in top 200. Why not compare me to those? Why no reviews of one of those as well in addition to mine?
I clicked on other podcasts in the self-help category just to see if others had gotten this many one-star ratings. I didn’t click every single one, but in my research only four out of 200 had more than 30 one-star ratings. Most had ten or less one-star ratings. Some had zero. Some have been podcasting for years.
I started in January and already have 41 one-stars ratings.
(Note: When I say ratings, what I mean is that someone just has to click how many stars they want to give. 1-5 stars. That’s it. Completely anonymous. A review and rating must have the person logged into their iTunes account. Whatever is written will be shown along with their account name.)
Brendon Burchard’s podcast, The Charged Life, has 34 one-star ratings. However not a single person who gave it one-star left a review for it. When I filter for the “most critical” reviews, only five-star reviews are shown.
I enjoy his podcast, and his books, so I was surprised to see so many one-stars.
I found three other podcasts that have hundreds of five-star ratings, but also 40+ one-star ratings. For two of them, when I went to read the most critical reviews, again not a single person who wrote a one-star review. Zero. Zlich.
One podcast had three one-star reviews, but they were left in 2009 and 2010.
These podcasts are all in the top thirty of the category. Meaning lots of daily downloads and a huge listening audience.
I’m unsure if they are being negatively targeted, or those are genuine since they have thousands of downloads a day and therefore a much higher listener base and negative ratings are bound to happen.
What I do know is that I’m in this rare category of having 40+ one-star ratings.
What to think of this?
I’ll be honest, I was pretty hurt by seeing so many one-star ratings at first. Forty-one? That’s more than half of the five star ratings I’ve gotten. What was going on?
My first thought was maybe I should quit. Maybe my podcasting skills are terrible. Maybe these are legitimate.
Then I thought that it was so odd that I’ve gotten one-star by forty-one different people, while podcasts ranked above and below me, don’t come close to having that many. Of course except those four I mentioned above, but they are ranked way higher up.
Then I started to get angry because what if this was someone deliberately doing this?
I emailed Pat Flynn at Smartpassiveincome.com to ask what he thought. He strongly believed I was getting hit with a campaign to negatively rate my podcast. He said he has never seen anything like it before.
Does someone want to see me fail?
I don’t believe these ratings and reviews are independent of one another. I believe they’re coming from one individual, who’s gotten others to help. Why then is my podcast being targeted when there are hundreds in the self-help category? Did I piss someone off?
Whoever is doing this wants to see my podcast fail. I suppose with more negative reviews iTunes will not rank it as high if someone was searching in the store. I’m not sure how much weight it carries though.
Or they just want people who are thinking about my podcast see the crap load of one-star reviews and move on.
Again, either I’m really the worst podcaster in the category or someone is doing this deliberately.
Who could I have pissed off that would do this? Is it someone who suggested I interview them for my podcast, but I declined?
This was when my podcast was in New & Noteworthy and therefore getting great exposure. I reached the top 3 of the self-help category at one point. That’s when this person contacted to say I should interview him. He has a very popular podcast.
He offered to promote the interview to their audience and in turn getting me more exposure. I was open to the idea, but said I couldn’t promise anything. After some more emails, I declined cause I felt interviewing him wasn’t a good fit for my audience. Also I didn’t like that he kept pressuring me to do it. This was in March.
Later when I wasn’t featured anymore, the podcast ranking naturally slid. I knew that would happen so I wasn’t surprised or disappointed.
Then in June got an email out of the blue with only this sentence, “How’s the show going bud? ;)”
How did I interpret it? Based on past conversations, the fact that I didn’t want to interview him, the randomness of the email, and the winking face, I took it as “Look at your podcast now ranked down in the 150’s while I’m still ranked up high. LOL. You should have interviewed me while I offered.”
Almost two months between emails and he sends that?
I replied back pretending I thought it was a genuine question, when in fact, I felt it was not. I said how I was enjoying podcasting, getting great email from listeners, and been in Taipei so hadn’t been doing it regularly but look forward to when I get home.
I wanted to see how he would reply.
Never heard back from that person. Nothing. Therefore reinforced my feeling that the email wasn’t genuine. That was in June.
Would this person months later plot to leave these ratings and reviews? Seems odd, but maybe.
What to do next?
- Forget about it and just keep on going.
- Create a survey to get feedback on how to do better because maybe I am that bad.
- Ask for real reviews and ratings from listeners that do enjoy the podcast to counter these one-star reviews.
It was hard for me to just forget about it and keep going. I couldn’t just ignore it and move on. So I wanted to blog about it.
I created a survey to get feedback from those of you who do listen to my podcast. I’m always looking to improve. I know your time is valuable, so I want to make sure I’m giving you great content.
I’ve created a quick survey. Completely anonymous unless you want to leave your name. Just some questions about you and the podcast. Click here to fill out the survey.
Finally, if you don’t think I’m the worst podcaster in self-help, and you do enjoy it, please take a moment to leave a five-star rating and review to counter these negative ones.
Write a review from your Mac or PC:
- Click here to open the podcast in iTunes.
- Click the Ratings and Reviews tab and click Write a Review.
- if you’re not signed in, sign in with your Apple ID.
- Enter a title, select a star rating, write your review, and click Submit.
If you’re on your iPhone or iPad:
- Click here to open the podcast
- Tap the Reviews tab and tap Write a Review.
If this were you, what would you think? What would you do in this situation?