The Art and Science behind Mastering Crowded Creator Markets

How to hack a full time living in the creator economy  
The Art and Science behind Mastering Crowded Creator Markets
Jake McNeill
June 30, 2021
5 min read
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Want to have a podcast in the top 1%?

Feel that you’re too late? That the market is too crowded?

You’d be wrong. 

There are 2 million podcasts. 

If you produce and publish 21 episodes you will be in the top percentile globally.


Here are the stats: 

90% of podcasts don’t get past episode 3. That’s 1.8 million who quit.

Of the 200,000 left, 90% will quit after 20 episodes. That’s another 180,000 gone.

To be in the top 1% of podcasts in the world you only need to publish 21 episodes of your podcast.

Your competition is not the 2 million podcasts. It’s the 20,000 that didn’t quit.

Let that sink in for a moment. 

Does that guarantee you an audience? No. 

Of course not. But it gives you control of the situation. 

If you have some talent and you put in deliberate practice you will get good. Good content + consistency will always, always, get you an audience. 

Success is just hard work compounded by consistency — Noah Kagan, AppSumo

Time Anxiety

People think it’s too late to start a YouTube, a blog, a podcast or a newsletter. 

They get anxious about it. 

Is it harder than it was 5/10 years ago? Yes. But you need to look at the bigger picture. 

When weighing up the competition in crowded markets that require a lot of effort; you can discount circa 90% of your competitors. 


Most people are quitters. 

92% of people fail their New Years Resolution every year. 

Success in the creator economy is first about consistency and then talent. It’s a numbers game. 

The top 8% of bloggers make a full-time living.

The top 8% of YouTube Creators make a full-time living

The top 11% of gamers on Twitch earn a full-time living

Your competition is not the entire market. It’s the 10- 12% that don’t quit. They’re your real competition. 

It’s not a sprint, it’s not even a marathon, it’s an Iron Man endurance race. 

The creator that can stick it out long enough will win. 

The negative side to thinking positively

Gabriele Oettingen PhD is a scientist and Professor of Psychology at NYU.

She has dedicated over 20 years of research into motivation and positive thinking. 

In 1991, Gabriele conducted a study of women who wanted to lose weight. 

Gabriele had the woman fantasising about losing weight, fitting into their favourite jeans, and wearing bikinis on the beach. 

The results were astonishing:

women who had strong positive fantasies about slimming down... lost twenty-four pounds LESS than those who pictured themselves more negatively

“Dreaming about achieving a goal apparently didn’t help that goal come to fruition. It impeded it from happening. The starry-eyed dreamers in the study were less energized to behave in ways that helped them lose weight.” — Gabriele Oettingen

Positive thinking actually stopped them from achieving their goal. 

Gabriele has tested the theory with numerous different groups and all the results were the same.

Why does thinking positively impede and not promote success?

There are 4 reasons:

  • Gabrielle tested the blood pressure of people who were positively fantasising about their goals. She found that fantasising actually relaxes the body. 
  • She discovered, that students who engaged in positive fantasy performed worse in tasks that require deliberate effort. Fantasising makes us unprepared for challenging tasks. The reality simply doesn’t live up to the fantasy. People get discouraged and quit. 
  • Research has also proven, that our minds can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. When we fantasise about success, our brain is releasing dopamine as though we have already achieved the goal in reality. Our minds no longer believe we need to work hard as we have already achieved it. 
  • Our minds remain stuck in relaxation and false achievement. We continue fantasising about success as it feels good and never actually starts the task. 

Mental Contrasting

Gabrielle created a system called Mental contrasting to combat positive fantasising. 

It has been proven to increase your chances of success by up to 60%

This is fantasising about the positive outcomes of your creative project. But, crucially, also focusing on all the obstacles that will stop you from achieving the goal.

This is of course the reality of what it will take to reach the outcome. 

To be successful in crowded markets, you need positive + negative visualisation.

You need to know the successful outcome AND the negative obstacles it will take to achieve the goal. 

WOOP: The Mental Model

Here’s the mental model to apply to all your goals:


Wish — Which goal do you want to achieve? 

Outcome — How will you feel when you achieve the goal?

Obstacle — What are your main obstacles?

Plan — How are you going to overcome the obstacles?

WOOP is similar to inversion thinking. The most important part of successfully completing the goals is removing the obstacles that get in our way. 

For example, let’s say you want to launch your Podcast.

Wish — To have a successful podcast with high profile guests

Outcome — Validated and proud to be a top podcaster with a respected voice in the community. 

Obstacles — Nobody really interested in the early days. It will be a struggle to get good guests with no listeners. Finding the time and motivation to carry on when seemingly no one cares. Self doubt.

Plan — Every podcast starts out with no listeners. Getting guests is a constant struggle in the beginning. 

We will commit to doing a minimum of 21 shows. This will get us into the top 1% of podcasts. How to achieve that.

Process goal —Spend 10 hours per week on the podcast regardless whether it gets any listeners or not. 

By setting a process goals you are in control. All you have to do is do 10 hours per week, every week for 21 weeks and  you can re-assess your goals then. 

Gabrielle tested WOOP and this was her results:

She had two groups of students about to take a standardised test.

She gave one group the WOOP method and the other a placebo

The results? The WOOP group answered 60% more more questions correctly. 

The key to achieving your goals is not positive thinking. It is important but it’s more important to have a plan in place to overcome all the obstacles in advance.

This way you are prepared for the inevitable struggle. 


The key to having a successful career as an artist or a creator is endurance.

You need some talent to get to the top but more so you need the mental toughness to keep showing up week after week when things aren’t going well. 

The key to that is setting realistic process goals, having a pre-arrange strategy to overcome the inevitable obstacles you will face and being consistent.

A bit about me

I help maverick artists and creators make a racket in crowded markets, crush the creative blocks that hold them back, and turn audiences into superfans

Every Creative Rebel’s worst enemy?

Lack of strategy. Creative mediocrity: Being bland. Staying in our lane. Creating in our comfort zone and following the crowds.

The Goal?

To create authentic work that matters. Take creative risks, avoid creative burnout, and make a full time living with our passions.

I’m a former multi-platinum artist manager who got burnt out and became a creative blogger, coach, and consultant.

I’ve challenged myself to write 50 articles in 50 working days. 25 down, 25 to go.

You can read more in the archives here. Find out more information on my website or connect on my LinkedIn

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