In this episode I talk to Andrew Clews of The Motoring Podcast about how they’ve gone about breaking into very non-podcasting niche.

We also delved a little into how they’ve gone about structuring their show, to allow for different types of content and different types of listener: particularly news vs industry stories.

If you’re curious how to find new listeners in the non-podcasting world, or whether you should be thinking about starting a new show to talk about something else, then you’ll learn a lot from Andrew’s story.

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Andrew admits that his podcast, like many podcasts, came about simply because of his fascination over cars and motoring. After listening to podcasts (with his now co-host Alan Bradley) and repeatedly making the same comment – “no-one is making a podcast we want to listen to” – they decided to make their own.

The pair record the show remotely, over Skype or Google Hangouts, rather in person – with Google Hangouts becoming their more favoured option of recent times because of the ability to make a video version.

“It’s the people who are interested in the car industry – the ones who are a bit geeky about it” who listen to Andrew’s show. The podcast does go into a lot of detailed stuff, like car registration figures and things like that – which admittedly only a certain level of ‘geeks’ can accept.

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“We discuss what we feel is an important news item and then give our opinion on it. We know that we have people from industry, interested members of the public who are not part of the industry, and we have PR people – all these people have got in touch with us.

We’re a bit more old-school Top Gear than new Top Gear. We’re the 80s and 90s Top Gear. Less charging across a desert and more talking about what the door handles are like.”

Is it be fair to argue that the motoring industry is less aware of podcasting? Could this be because of the demographics of the potential audience?

“We’ve approached all the major manufacturers to say ‘hello, this is us, this is what we’re hoping to do. Hopefully in time we can maybe do interviews or test a car or something like that.’ Some manufacturers have come back and were positive and it was great to see something different. Others have said they don’t know what a podcast is and nor do their digital media consultants.

We tried to establish ourselves a bit first and not ask for anything yet, but perhaps ask what their criteria and that sort of thing – the grown up business questions that they can respond to.

We already have good relationships with some of the manufacturers who have loaned us card and we’ve tested them which is great.”

Andrew added:

“It comes about 50/50 where people have asked ‘what’s a podcast’ and others have been happy to listen to it. I’m sad enough to carry business cards for the podcast with all the details so if someone is interested then they can give it a listen.  

It’s been interesting because I don’t think general members of the public understand how easy it is to start a podcast, so they can be quite impressed that we’ve taken that step. We explain it to people as talk radio and they seem to understand.

We’ve actually created a video to show people how to subscribe. We do Tweet out occasionally just to show how easy it is and this is how you do it, and a lot of people have been really thankful for that.”

What about monetizing the podcast?

“Ultimately we want to make money off the podcast. Sponsorship is one of the things that is going to be down the line but we won’t go to manufacturers for that.

We’ve made a conscious effort to say that we wish to be independent, so we don’t want there to be any thought that if we’re taking money from a manufacturer that it may impair our reviews and opinions.

There is quite a vast market of relatable products [not cars themselves] for us to approach and say this is what we do, this is who we reach etc.”

The show was given a big boost after a manufacturer commented on an episode around six months in. “This was the first time we realised ‘important’ people were listening, and that just really gave us a lot of confidence.”

Andrew and Alan have been very proactive in doing their outreach, contacting a lot of people and, in their own words, ‘asking the adult questions’.

“We’ve taken very much baby steps in this, in the sense that we’d take on one manufacturer and test their car, then take a step back and question whether we have the capability to move onto another manufacturer. Do we have the space in our diaries to do a good job?”

So how has Andrew gone about trying to draw his industry towards the podcast?

“Not only have we done it the hard way going into an industry that didn’t really know the medium, but we’ve also not done the traditional things that you see online like having campaigns through Facebook.

My only social media is Twitter so what we’ve gained so far has been through word of mouth and through Twitter.

I think what’s helped us is, from last year, we started a second show (called Rear View) where we interview people from the motoring universe. From those people then discussing the show, and others visiting to hear them, then people are going on to listen to some of our other stuff.

It’s all organic. We’ve never paid for anything and we’re very happy about that.”

Andrew also admitted that meeting manufacturers and potential audience members at in-person events has been key into helping people understand the podcasting medium and help them reach the show.

His show also contains a break in the middle, where he invited the audience to donate to the Patreon account, review the show and pass it on through word of mouth.

What’s the plans for the future of growing the show?

“At the minute we’re trying to expand what we produce on the original news show. In the news show we have our news items from the last seven days that we discuss and report on.

We then also have ‘special editions’, so on those can be a car review or where we have a round table session with designers or car journalists. So we’re hoping to expand those to interest people – stuff to help educate us and educate other people and let them know just how much goes into getting a car onto the road.”

Why did you go about creating a second show? Why not just keep it as one podcast?

“Rear View, our interview show, is the one I always wanted to do and the one I kept quiet for a while. I wanted to find out how people got into the industry, what they do and why they do it.

However when we got together, we said let’s do the news show together while we learn how to podcast and all the pitfalls. From that information, then we would learn if we were ready to do another show or decide if it wasn’t manageable.

Rear View is significantly different in terms of content that we felt it deserved its own feed. Some people may be happy to come along to listen to certain personalities from the motoring world but they weren’t bothered about the news show, so we didn’t want to make that a barrier.

We also found that the shows are listened to in very different ways. The news show is mainly listened to on mobile phones while Rear View is mainly listened via our website.”

That’s all for this week’s show. Thanks for coming along to this episode of Podcraft and we hope to see you back next time!

Remember you can find Andrew’s show on The Motoring Podcast website and on Twitter.

Also, let us here at The Podcast Host know any topics you want us to cover on Podcraft. We’ve also got a new series coming out called Hostile Worlds, so check that out too!