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The Podcast Host

Getting Series-ous: Revitalise & Sell Your Podcast | #NMEU 2015 Presentation

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Talk Transcript

The following are my notes from the talk. I’ll replace these with a recording of the whole thing when I can, but my rough notes (the ones I actually used to practice the presentation) will hopefully give you the highlights.

Apologies for lack of clarity, bad grammar, punctuation – this is how I plan a talk. Rapid, rough and ready. I find it’s the only way I can create something that I can present naturally. If I do a full-on script for the whole thing then I become stilted, wooden, unnatural. Hopefully it’s useful all the same!


Hey folks, my name’s colin gray and I’m from The Podcast Host. I want to talk to you about a few things today, but they’re all tied together by one idea, really. And that idea is that, for many people at the moment, The standard way of podcasting is really broken. I’m seeing a lot of people coming into the medium just now, really exicited, keen to mess around with microphones and other shiny things, they’re eager to speak to the world, and create success in whatever it is they do. But there’s a pretty scary number of them that come out 5 or 6 months later, jaded, worn out, having not really made much of a difference to anyone, and not made a penny for themselves either.

I want to tell you today about a different way to go about podcasting. how to ensure you’re making it sustainable. How to make sure you’re making it fun for yourself. How to make sure you’re making it exciting and effective for your audience. And how to make sure that it’s goign to lead to some success for you too, whether that’s earnings or authority.

So, to get there, I want to look at where we are now. Why is podcasting, as it stands, broken

The Problem With Podcasting

No break
No structureMost podcasters just jump in and start talking about anything
Beginners, advanced, intermedia – varied topics
Confuses the audience, no learning
Can’t find anything
Nothing to draw them through to the next episode
Struggling for something every week
No easy way to monetisePeople don’t make plans for this. They just start talking.
Think, maybe I’ll get sponsors, maybe I’ll sell something, and with no plan comes no result
(ps. this applies almost equally to blogging, video, social, and more)

Tell them what – describe my aims

Talk about a better way of podcasting
Gets around all the problems I’ve just talked about
brings a whole lot more benefits besideshelps make things better for you
for your audience
I’m going to give a few examples – I hate it when everything’s just conceptualHopefully prove it’s not just me that this is working for
I’m also going to tell you how to do it.That means how to set up the method and some of the tools I use.
Alright, sorry, I’m a teacher, I gotta do the learning objectives thing – but let’s get into it

My story

So, for me it started around 7 years ago when I recorded my first series of Podcraftwasn’t called that then
I was working full time in HE – job to teach lecturers how to use tech
podcasting fashionable at the time – so I had to learn how
the obvious thing – teach by podcasting, so created a seriescalled podschool – changed that a few years later since Dave J had got there first
It was great fun – each term maybe 10 to 20 lecturers would come through the course
Now, I was doing a podcast, but really I planned it like a course.
I was a teacher, a trainer, so it’s what I do.
I planned up front, figured out what I was teaching and set a lesson plan
I’d record them, release an episode a day for 2 weeks, they’d work through and do a task at the end of it
It was pretty simple – I did a lot of it up front – batching as some buzzworders now call it.
To me it was just called being busy, and getting as much done up front as I coudl!
That course ran with 20 or so new folk every term, and I’d update the episodes each timeIt was great, I’d get loads of feedback and build in mew episodes or new info
Plus I was getting better at presenting, at editing, at producing
Beyond HE
I was also honing the skills with some fun podcasts mountain biking, gaming (told you I’m a geek!
During all that time, I started the Podcast Host.
I like to write and just really wanted an outlet for everything I was discovering.
Plus I’m a total equipment geek and wanted to share all the kit I was playing with.
I got the chance to start a doctorate in online business educationSo I started researching the best ways to teach people that are working, that are running businesses.
The aim was to help these crazy busy people learn new skills that help in their work
Alongside that, though, The Podcast Host started becoming a bigger part of my life.
The articles were getting a lot of traction and people were starting to get in touch
–  The 2nd series –
I started the second season of PodCraft to answer these questions, and talk about equipment. Just by teaching habit, really, this ended up following a very similar approach to before
again, I’m a teacher, its what I do – I planned out the subjects, broke it down into little chunks, started creating them
I was also really busy, trying to get the doctorate done alongside some freelance work and writing more for the podcast host.I’m afraid, If you’re thinking about it, phd funding does NOT support a wife and a child!
So I had to do the batches, the planning anyway otherwise it wouldn’t get done
– the end is nigh –
Around this time last year I had been teaching podcasting for about 6 years at that point, the website was doing well, and the end of the phd was looming
And I was toying with how to earn a living after it. Of course, getting a job didn’t even figure…
I had Series 1 and 2 up by then, and series 3 was in planning.
I suddenly realised, I’ve got the beginnings of two really nice products right here.
They were the bones of a class. Add written material, activities, videos, demonstrations, extra material to cover some gaps.
– a course is born –
So I started work on series 1. I expanded out the material, added in some elements that wouldn’t have worked very well, audio only, such as podcast artwork,
and added elements that hadn’t really been needed before, like a launch promotion plan.
I created demos for setting up the kit, activities to figure out aims, strategy, etc.
Because of the base I had in the podcast material, it didn’t take as long as you’d think.
Suddenly I had a sales funel with a product I was really proud of at the end of it.
People found the podcast, they listened to the series.
It gave them really good info, but, as good as audio is, there are some things you like to watch or read.
So people started buying the course after hearing the series.
And that takes us up to today
Take aways

So, just want to draw a few things out of that.
Some of these might sound familiarAt the start…
I was sharing info, informing people, educating
I was also trying to entertain a bit too, though, and keep people coming back for more. Lecturers are hard to keep engaged
I was time limited – working full time – it was a struggle to fit this in and I had to figure out a way to make it work
And by the end I was trying to figure out how to make this at least pay for itself, if not provide an income too.
And that’s really a sumup of all of the problems that this method solves.
And what’s the method – well, I’ve not been subtle.
It’s seasons based podcasting

The Solution

Podcasting in seasons has made it possible for me to keep doing this and it’s made my content so much more useful to the listener.
Here’s why
Breaks!Makes podcasting exciting again
Feels purposeful – moving towards the conclusion
Launches – promote your podcast on a regular basis, not just once
Get excited and plan some great content
Build anticipation
Narrative > Drags the listener through, anticipation, cliffhangers
feedback > Evolution – interviews don’t work as well, prefer solo shows.
Feedback > content – create seasons which are based on listener feedback (will talk about later – top 10s from MoN)
Structure > They’re not jumping around all over.imagine you went to uni and on your first day they gave you an advanced level class.
Next day they gave you a completely different subject, perhaps beginner level. Then they jumped to another subject again, this time intermediate
You’re not going to learn much that way. But that’s how pdocasts tend to work.
Even if you’re not education – you’re entertainment – you’re doing similar. Jumping around all over the place.
There’s little coherence between episodes, nothing really to build a NEED to listen to the next one.
What you want is a Sequence of learning, You start at the beginning and build on previous elements
Makes it much more likely a listener will learn something!
Also, for new listeners, they can find the info they want really easy, don’t have to dig through your back catalog.
You can refer people to these subjects in your back catalog – makes you look like a rockstar with these brilliant courses.
But you’re just doing your normal podcasting – it builds up over time!
*** Done detail to here.

The Bad

So, it’s not quite all roses, of course.
Restrictiveideas for shows that don’t fit
opportunity for interviews that don’t fit
Talk about a solution later
Advance planning requiredLet’s be honest – you should be doing this anyway
Some people argue it can lose you listeners.People move on to something else
I argue that if it’s done right, it’s fine
In fact, it makes me look forward to shows more when they do seasons. You don’t get bored

Other examples

I’ve aready talked about my own podcast, how it’s structured
Others do it too
First I’d heard of, BoagworldSeries 12
Similar, This is Your Life by Michael Hyatt – just started season 5
99% invisible – end of 2013 started funding for season 4 (at episode 90-odd)
New breed – Gimlet Media, Serial,


Seasons Definition

Nothing fancy
Pick a topiceducation – pick something you can cover over a certain amount of episodesEg. monetisation – I’ll be doing 8 to 10 eps
Perhaps choose a unique format too
Entertainment – Choose a theme that you’ll doeg. Masters of None – Top 10s.
eg. Games Podcast – Games of our Childhood
LengthNot so important – my seasons vary
Split the learning, or topics into sensible chunks
End with really clear instructions – when you’re back, what the topic is OR a call for listeners to inform it
End of season show? Can remove this when the next season starts – or use as a the text shows in iTunes if someone finds the new show while you’re on a break
eg. Seasons X is coming soon! Create a short highlights show to draw them in.)

Solutions for Season Cons


Tim Ferriss
Aside from the main season
different category, so not listed with the others
on the main feed too

Regular Segments

Do your meat of the show as a season based topic, but always have a news section (brief I’d advise, perhaps at the end). Allows you to slip in interviews, or keep people up to date on general stuff.


Easy to set up in WordPress
PowerpressCategory podcasting
Can list the season by category
Can publish shows by category
Inbetween-isodes can be a separate category
but main feed contains everything


There are two quite different approaches –
Start selling your podcast content itself
Keep it free and use it to sell something else
Sell the Seasons

the great thing about seasons – evergreen content
defined topics, solving a problem
easy to market as a result
Some shows have successfully sold old content.
Newest season always availabe
eg. 99% Invisible
eg. Simply SyndicatedNetflix style for everything
selling old material as seasons
eg. Audiobook!

Free Product – Publish Your Seasons Separately

if you don’t want to sell, make them free products and upsell something else
Separate iTunes seasons -Benefits from search traffic in iTuensReally defined keywords
New chance to rank in New and Noteworthy
lead-gen – direct the listener to your website, something valuableoffer enhancements
study guide – summary sheet – tools list
an action! get involved in community (pat flynn)
Email optin magnets – get them on your list
So, why do seasons lend themselves so well to monetisation?

Extra Material

built up material to accompany the show. Many people sell episode acoompanyments.
Radio lingua, for example.
But this works really with a season.
People less likely to buy a thing every episode, arguably.
Bit, create a set of season accompanyments.
Could be sold as a package, to accomany whole season – arguably more desirable, more substantial.
Certianly easier.

Acollated product – Boagworld

a book to accompany the season (back to front creation, book first)
ebook for you? Printed book?
Audiobook of the entire season?
People do pay for easy to access, collated content

Full course – Podcraft

The season gives some of the material, in audio form only.
Course includes video tutorials , activities, documentation

Tonnes of methods – I hate it when people don’t give me somewhere to start
To start with get PrettyLinks – that lets you link to seasons, products and courses really easy from your show
To sell…
I love Woocommerce and Stripe – so easy
Please do’nt go with paypal – theur dashboard is awful
Not the cheapest
For courses, Coursepress from WPMUDEV, and partners with Marketpress for selling
So, lot of stuff in there. Here’s what I wanted you to take awa
If you’re podcasting, stop now and take stock
take a break, get some feedback, plan a season which will offer a brilliant resource to your listenersworks for ed, for entertainment (story? run of Qs?)
If you’re not, use this plan your attack
Work out your product for the season – what is a natural fit?sell the season itself collated?
sell it as another collated product?
Sell something to support it?
Sell an expansion of the whole concept?
Create it!
In that season work out your your funnellget them on the site, onto email list, straight to cart!
Push it! Be nice, but ask, at least.
Be honest – this is how this show is sustained