Home » Series 7: Podcasting Frequently Asked Questions
Category Archives: Series 7: Podcasting Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do when you think you've nothing left to say on your topic?
Matthew: A question coming in though the website from Brian. What if I've run out of topics to cover? What if Brian hadn't got in touch and we'd run out of topics to cover? I'm not even joking there because this whole series is a series where we're answering people's questions. There's a very, very quick win for you. Just start answering questions.
Colin: Yeah, totally. You run out of topics, just get your emails, get your comments on your blog, start answering them. It's a great way to engage with your audience as well isn't it?
Matthew: Yeah. That's 100% your starting point here is okay, let's start with the audience. Straight away you want to find out what do your audience want to know from you rather that what would I just like to talk about. What are some of the ways that you can ask your audience what they want from you and what they want from your episodes?
Colin: Firstly on the podcast just like we did recently. We've been asking people to send us in questions via the podcast and this is a real request actually so send us more questions. You can either email us at email@example.com or you can send us a voice mail which is great at thepodcasthost.com/contact or you can tweet us at thepodcasthost. There's a real life example. You should do that but also, that's what you can do with your own listeners.
Matthew: Asking on your episodes is obviously the most logical route. Something we've done in the past on my own show is very now than then we'll do a survey. You just create a free survey. There's lots of tools online. I think we always use Survey Monkey.
Colin: It's always the popular one.
Matthew: With surveys, I like them as easy and as quick as possible and not too indulgent that's going to take people so long that they won't fill it out. Just use it as an opportunity for people to ask you questions about what they want to hear. Bigger topics, smaller topics, anything. Just get feedback from people and you'll be able to come up with some episodes.
Colin: Yeah, for sure and that works. One of the best ways that we get topics for the podcast but also for the blog, for our videos, for anything is through a survey on our email list. One of the actions that we ask people to do when they get to website, they'll read an article, watch a video, listen to a podcast, and at the end of each one there'll be a little sign up box saying if you want to download our How to Podcast ebook, then put your email address in here.
Obviously, that's a marketing technique for us because it means that we can then start sending them even more good stuff. We can tell them about new blog posts, new podcast articles, all that kind of stuff. We can send them this book which increases our credibility, helps the listener, the subscriber in some way but about three emails into the automated sequence after they sign up, is a survey. I say it's a survey, it's really just a question isn't it? It's just an email that goes out and asks the question what are you struggling with? We get so many good responses to that. We get so many questions, so many issues, so many pains and barriers and struggles that we're never going to run out of topics because people just respond to that. We get probably one every day at least. That's a good way to do it I think.
Matthew: Another way is, even if you've got a very small audience, hopefully you've had some interaction before and you're aware of some listeners that are out there. If you could maybe just approach two or three people who are quite engaged with the show and have spoke to you before, just approach them personally and either say to them “Look, can I ask you some questions over email or, even better, can we jump on Skype for half an hour? I just want to find out how you're getting on, what you're struggling with stuff.” You'll come up with content that way as well because you're essentially speaking to someone who's your target audience.
Colin: It doesn't have to be listeners either. If you're running a business, you have people coming into the shop, into your office and you're going out to visit people, you're a tradesman or something like that. Speak to people. You have to anyway, obviously you're speaking to people but they'll be asking you questions. The mindset to get into is that every time somebody asks you a question about your job, about your trade, about your industry, write it down. Have those questions to hand. Keep a notepad in your pocket and have those questions written down every single time. Then next time you go to create an episode or to plan out your next series or something, you can just look back at that and see, what were the last 10 questions that my customers asked me? That's the best things that you can answer because that's obviously the things that are on your customer's mind. That's what's going to help them find you.
Matthew: You touched on email lists. What's some of the best ways that you can get feedback through you're email list? If you're putting questions out there basically for them.
Colin: I think it's just keeping it simple actually, I've been guilty in the past of emailing my list and giving them five or six different questions, so an actual survey. Asking them to spend some time on it and sending them off to a survey page. We do do that and it does work but the biggest responses we get is just when I literally send an email that actually just says the question just curious, what's troubling you just now? I'd love to write a blog post on it or I'd love to help you out. It's one sentence, less than 20 words and it's written as a personal email so they just hit reply. There's no need to go off to a survey page or anything like that. They just hit reply and they just tell me and I get some great responses from those.
Matthew: Not had anyone pouring their heart out about the cat dying.
Colin: No personal, no marriage breakdowns.
Matthew: Husband had an affair.
Colin: Not quite yet but you never know.
Matthew: Looking online for Facebook communities, forums and things like that in your niche as well is great because people are always going online and asking questions aren't they? You'll maybe see a good discussion and you'll have something to add and you think well why don't we just put the recorder on here and do an episode about it? You're always going to find content just by searching in these communities where people are asking a lot of questions.
Colin: Facebook, Google plus, Linkedin, places like Quora. Quora is a specific website for asking questions and generally you can find a topic which suits your niche. There is a podcasting tag on Quora which we watch and get questions from and use that to inspire our own topics. Loads of places out there you can get them isn't there? Reddit actually. It's not something I use a lot but a lot of people I know do use it quite a bit and apparently, Reddit is just a mine of questions. I keep thinking we should get in there.
I think, definitely the stuff that we've just talked about should be the first stop but what about if you're just actually brainstorming some questions yourself? You just want to sit down for half an hour and try and figure out some topics yourself. Are there any techniques you can use to go about that?
Matthew: I'll tell you what, just with you saying that, one of the best ways that I've found coming up with any sort of ideas is going out for a walk and not taking your phone with you. It's amazing how, when you're constantly sitting looking at your phone or looking at your computer screen, you're brain's not really working at its full capacity so it's actually like going out for walks. It sounds silly but going and doing manual tasks, doing dishes, do a bit of gardening. I don't know if it's the same for everyone but it really works for me when I'm kind of switched off, I'm on autopilot and suddenly wee things just come to you that wouldn't probably come to you if you're sitting looking at a blank word document.
Colin: It's giving yourself the time to think up, to imagine, to daydream and things just come to you. Absolutely. I think the one thing that I've done in the past, maybe more structured than that obviously, not as creative Matthew but, the more structured is to use … There's a chap called Marcus Sheridan who does a great show, a great podcast and a great blog as well. He defined five different categories for customer questions. He's all about customer questions, that's his thing. The big five he calls them and they are cost, versus. Versus being like this product or that product so in his niche he does pools. It would be like a concrete pool versus a fibreglass pool so you write an article or you do a podcast episode on that. Then you've got reviews, so reviewing this particular make of fibreglass pool or for us, it's like reviewing microphones or reviewing the latest Mackie mixer. Then you've got problems so it's common problems like, I've just noticed I was doing it so I'm leaning back a bit, popping my microphone. How do I stop myself from popping my microphone? That's a problem question, then the last one is best so people always asking, as a plumber you'd be like what is the best boiler for my house? You'd write an article around what is the best boiler for my house.
Those five topics. Cost, versus, reviews, problems and best, if you write those headers, I've done this before, get a piece of paper, or get five pieces of paper, even better, write those headers at the top of each and then just spend an hour just writing as many different ideas as you can, inspired by those headings. It's amazing how that little constraint, so those little suggestions at the top of the page, can help you come up with some great ideas for your podcast. I've come up with 50 at a time before using that technique.
Matthew: Another method that I've found myself using in the past is just reading books. I suppose predominantly books in your nice but it's not limited to that and whether it's a fictional book or a self help book, or a factual manual or things like that, there are always wee nuggets. I'm not talking about plagiarising stuff but just mentioning on the show “Look, I was reading this book, linked it in the show notes by the way here. Affiliate link in there but there's a really good section on this and it got me thinking about this and how it relates to this.” You can always relate stuff to your own topics. When you're consuming other content like books, it's keeping your brain working and you're going to come up with ideas.
Colin: It's that mindset isn't it of being a question, a topic hunter I suppose. Of being a person that every time you hear about a question, you hear a topic, you read something, you're always thinking in the back of my mind, how can I turn this into a bit of content for my show? Do you know what? The best thing about books is that you don't have to own them either. I've done this before. You go onto Amazon and you just do the preview thing and you just look through the contents actually. The contents page of a book can be a gold mine for topics. Just find a book around your topic, take all the chapters, chapters might be kind of higher level topics and then you've got little sub chapter headings and they can be great ideas for topics for a show.
Often a book can give you a really good idea for a series because you might do a series of say five to 10 episodes around one particular topic and maybe that will be every chapter in the book or maybe it's actually a chapter and all the sub headings. Go through and start exploring some of the chapter listings from books in your industry.
Matthew: Another wee idea, if you're not an interview podcast is, just to maybe go out and do three or four interviews with people in your niche that you've always wanted to speak to. Maybe not setting out to talk about one particular thing and again, we can't digress on interview skills and things like that but just having a really good conversation with someone from the point of view of your audience. Some of the questions that you think that they would want answered off this person. Just title your episode based on what was the meat of the conversation. You never know, the things that get thrown up in that conversation as well could lead to other topics that you could talk about. Getting other people on the show can help to stimulate that sort of thing.
Colin: Often. If you get somebody who's expert in an area maybe you're not quite so confident in, something in your industry that maybe you don't have so much experience in, then that prompts questions from you. You end up asking them questions and that can prompt a blog post or a podcast episode or something as well. It works well.
Matthew: Any other tips then?
Colin: I think that's about it. I think people worry too much about running out of topics because if you use any of these things, any one of these ideas, especially just talking to your audience, just listening to people, listening to the people you're interacting with every day, it's practically impossible to run out of topics.
Matthew: That's why we'll never stop this season. We'll just keep going. I think this is actually the end of the season isn't it?
Colin: It is, yeah. This is episode 12.
Matthew: We've run out of topics.
Colin: We're thinking about doing a Christmas special before Christmas. We'll see what happens with that, see how we manage but we might do a more light hearted version. This is the official end of season 12. Is this season 12? This is episode 12. The official end of season seven. Episode 12 of season seven. Remember you can always go and get the show notes at podcraft.net/712. That's series seven, episode 12. Thanks for following along with this season. I hope you've enjoyed it. I've enjoyed answering the questions.
Matthew: I have too and if I could indulge you for one more minute, I just want to mention the scholarship as well. The Scottish Podcast Scholarship competition, open to all students in Scotland. It's a competition running until the 31st of January 2017. We're inviting you to pitch podcast ideas to us through the website and the winner could win 400 pounds recording equipment, free media hosting, a whole lot of other things. You could find all details about that competition at thepodcasthost.com/pitch.
Colin: Indeed. We'd love to see your ideas. Hoping to get some great podcasts out there.
Whether it's a friend, your employer, or a prospective client, if you think someone has the potential to make a great podcast series, how do you approach the subject with them?
Matthew: Big thanks to Ronnie for this episode's question. How do I convince someone to start a podcast? I suppose the starting point for this is what's your motivation for wanting to get someone to start a podcast? There's a couple of different reasons why that might be isn't there?
Colin: Yeah. Is Ronnie a producer? Is that what you think it's come from?
Matthew: I'm not sure. Yeah. Is he trying to convince someone to start a podcast because he wants to offer a service? Maybe kind of doing what we do so he wants to maybe coach or mentor them or produce it for them or even host it for them. That would be going in from a sort of services point of view where you're selling the podcast as a service essentially.
Colin: We always ended up doing that at events. Well I certainly did. Going along to networking events and talking to people and they'd say “What do you do?” Well, we produce podcasts and they're like well, why? That basically launches into the spiel about why they should run a podcast. It's always a sales pitch. How do you go about that when you meet somebody and they say “Well why would I want to do that? Why should I spend the time and the money?”
Matthew: You've got to be ready to explain. Not just explain the benefits of a podcast but actually ask them questions because you're starting with them. There's no one size fits all pitch that you could give to someone. You turn it back on them and you start to ask them questions about what they do, who are their customers, what do they do for their customers, questions their customers ask. Then you could use that information and go back to them and say “Okay, well here's actually a really good way where you can achieve that. It's very scalable, you could reach an international audience.” You kind of turn it round to them and get your data from them.
Colin: The classic is that you start asking those questions and they say “Well, yeah, we're doing well but we're struggling to reach new people. There's some big competitors in our space. Where we independent and there's some big national companies,” and you're like well, actually, funnily enough podcast, media in general is great way to stand out, to show your personality, for small companies to build trust and compete with the big companies. That's the big starting point for me and then they quite often come up with a whole thing around we've tried writing blogs, we've created videos and we don't get much traction with it. You say to then “Well, are people looking at them regularly? How regularly are you doing them? They say “Well, once a month.” That leads into the fact that podcasting lends itself to a regular weekly format and you get much more attention as well because people subscribe and then they spend half an hour with you or an hour with you as opposed to three minutes or five minutes on a video. That is what builds the engagement and the trust really with their fans and what really makes podcasting powerful. That's the pitch I tend to go through.
Matthew: Obviously it would be relevant sometimes where you'd have to briefly touch on what a podcast is as well, how it works, things like that. We've talked about it a few times on this series but the classic getting somebody's phone out, asking them what sort of shows that they like and having a look that way. I suppose as well, going in not assuming that someone knows what a podcast is. On the contrary. Being prepared to explain it to them as well.
Colin: Stats can help actually. I did a report on last year's podcasting stats. It's on the website. We'll put a link in the show notes for that. You can find the show notes by the way at podcraft.net/711. This is episode 11 isn't it? Am i getting that right?
Matthew: I think it is, yeah.
Colin: I don't often get that right the first time. Podcraft.net/711. Series seven, episode 11. We'll put a link in there to the report and basically, that shows the growth in podcasting. How many people are into podcasting just now, how many people listen on a regular basis, how the growth is looking in the UK particularly so if it's a really local audience they're looking at. There's plenty in there that you can convince people that this isn't just a niche content medium. It's something that they should be thinking about.
Matthew: Before we move on to more, are these details about convincing people, just looking at the motivations again. What about if someone's approaching someone, maybe it's a friend who owns a business or somebody who's got a certain hobby and you're a podcast listener and you say to somebody, and I bet we've all done this, “You could make a really good podcast.” You're motivation there is just genuinely you think they have the expertise to make a really good podcast.
Colin: You're passionate about the medium so you want more good shows to be out there.
Colin: I suppose the other one as well is if you're actually working for a company and you might want to convince your boss to let you start a podcast. Actually, you're having to sell your boss on the benefits of podcasting because you want to run it yourself. You want to have the fun of creating a podcast yourself or actually, you just think it would help you in your job. I mean the benefits aren't just limited to small companies or people who run companies. If you're a sales person, a marketing person within a larger company, a podcast still massively helps you in your role to sell or market that company. I suppose all those roles could be trying to sell podcasts at some point.
Matthew: If you are in the position where you work for maybe a decent sized company then, and you have the thought that our company could do a good podcast, it's something I'd like to get involved with, who do you approach? Is it sales, is it marketing, is it direct to the boss himself or herself? What do you do?
Colin: I mean, I think if you want to get technical about it, podcasting is a content marketing method so marketing is one of the first stops. It's probably easiest to convince marketing that it's a good approach. If they're a good marketing department they should know about the benefits of content marketing, they should know about the benefits of media marketing and podcasting in particular. Then sales tend to be the one that can actually put more money into things as well or they can be sometimes. They maybe have more credibility because they're actually bringing money in whereas marketing gets a bit of a hard time sometimes, because marketing puts a lot of money out, they spend a lot of money but sometimes it's harder to track the tangible benefits. You can't directly link an advert to sales in some ways. Sales and marketing are definitely the first stops but I think it's whoever's got the purse strings isn't it. It's the stake holder in the company that can fund this endeavour. The one that's got the money that can pay for it.
I suppose that's the next thing isn't it. It's the time and the money you've got to invest in it. How do you tell people about that?
Matthew: I think it's all about going to them with a plan. First and foremost, I wouldn't just reach out. This is me personally speaking. I wouldn't just reach out to someone in the company with this massive email with all my data just completely out of the blue and they're like whoa, where did this come from? I would probably try and at least get a meeting where you could talk to someone face to face and, if necessary, if you want to get really serious, you could bring a PowerPoint presentation or you could at least bring some sort of data with you. You want to go in there with a plan and show them some hard stats.
Another wee thing before we get to that that you could maybe have a look at is, are there other companies, your works competitors or anything like that, or people podcasting in the niche that you're going to be podcasting, who are already doing it? If so, check how they're doing. Go on their iTunes page, have a look, see if they've got a few five star reviews. Print that out and show it to them and say “Look at this. Look what they're doing. Here's a screen shot of the episode titles that they're putting out. These are the people they've interviewed. This is what they talking about. This is the feedback they're getting.” That's great evidence that if you put that content out there, this is what you can achieve.
Colin: There's people looking for that material. Yeah, definitely.
Matthew: The big two really that they're going to be wanting to know from you are going to be time and cost. I think you've got to be very open and honest and not say to someone that “It's all right. If we do a podcast it won't take that much time, it won't cost that much and we can just wing it.” Even if they agree to that, it's not going to be a very good podcast. You need to be honest and upfront and say “Look, yeah we're going to have to put a bit of money to this, we're going to have to put a bit of time to it but here's the benefits. Here's how much it might cost us and here's how much time it might take.”
Colin: It can vary as well. It depends how much buy in you can get from your company. If they can budget 500 pounds for the start up of your podcast then you can actually afford some pretty decent kit but if they're saying “Well, we can only risk maybe a hundred quid to start off with,” you can still get a decent set up. It depends a lot on that. You can form the show around the time you have available. If you've got an hour a week, maybe you have to make nice, short and sharp and easily planned. If you have more time, you can put a bit more production value into it. Depends a lot on what you're allowed.
We've got articles on both of these actually. We've got an article on how much does podcasting cost and we also have one on the time cost of podcasting. We'll put them in the show notes as well. Again podcraft.net/711. You'll find both of those. That will give you an idea. The stats article, the cost article and the time article will give you a good basis for the proposal that Matthew's suggesting that you put together. Is there anything else you think we should go in there?
Matthew: One more wee thing. If the discussion's going well and sometimes you have a meeting with somebody, it seems to go well, they say they'll get back to you and then you chase them up a few times and it doesn't go anywhere. You take the next step and just say “Look, give me a couple of hours. I'll go away, I'll make a pilot episode. We'll interview somebody from the company and I'll talk about a topic for a wee while as well. I'll come back with you and just let you hear this pilot episode,” and you never know. They might listen to it and think well actually, this sounds really good. It's something that we'd like to put out there. At least you're taking a bit of action and giving them something, I know it's not tangible literally but an end product that they can review.
Colin: We've kind of been talking the last five minutes about this proposal being maybe internally focused like if you're working for a company but that's exactly what you would do for a client too, if you're a freelancer. You put together a proposal with pretty much all of the same elements as we've just talked about. Time and cost, the benefits you're going to get, the return you might get on it, all that kind of stuff. That's how you sell a client on podcasting as well.
What happens if you don't launch with 3, 5, or 10 episodes? Will your podcast be doomed before it starts?
Matthew: Great question that's came in from Mary on the website. How many episodes do I need launch a podcast? One. Is that us done now? End of the episode?
Colin: Done and finished.
Matthew: Yeah. It's true isn't it?
Colin: Yeah, absolutely.
Matthew: There's a lot of different information out there about this sort of thing. You only need one podcast and that's you up and running.
Colin: One episode. Don't mix up the terminology.
Matthew: One episode.
Colin: We might as well clarify that actually, just in case there's any quite early stage podcasters listening. When we talk about a podcast, we're talking about the whole series aren't we? We’re talking about an entire podcast which could be one episode, it could be 50 episodes. One episode is actually just that one listen. A lot of people mix that up as well.
You can launch. You can submit to iTunes as long as you have one episode live in your podcast feed, in your RSS feed. What's the advantage of doing it with just one then?
Matthew: Because you're up and running. That's you in the game. With every week that passes that you don't launch your podcast, there are people out there, your competitors if you like, who are putting out content, they're getting downloads, they're climbing those iTunes rankings and the longer you hold back, the further you fall behind. Even if you've got 10 amazing episodes recorded, they're not out there so you need to be getting them out there basically. That's why I'm quite a big proponent of just getting it done, getting it launched.
Colin: Just getting something out there.
Matthew: There obviously are benefits from going with the likes of three episodes as well aren't there?
Colin: The other benefit I would say of one episode is that as soon as you've got one out there, like you say, that's you started at least but it's motivation. You've got one live and suddenly, if you think that it's going to take you two weeks to create another episode then that's quite a big gap so it motivates you to get on and just start creating the next one. There's no procrastination.
Launching with three. The first thing that always comes up when you talk about launching with three is the fact that if somebody subscribes to your show then if there's three episodes there, then if they like the first one, they're more likely to listen to the second one and the third one straight away. That is what starts to build engagement. They spend more time with you and therefore, they're more likely to become fans of your show straight away, subscribe and keep listening next time. They're more likely to just become addicted almost to your content. What else is there do you think about going with three episodes? I say three but it doesn't have to be three. I just mean multiple episodes.
Matthew: If people are spending a bit more time with you like you say, they've just got a chance to settle in with you don't they? If you just listen to one episode of someone, might be a decent episode, there's always a chance that you might just if it's a 10 minute episode, just move on.
Colin: And forget about it. Never listen to it again. I think actually, the bigger question, this is probably one that suits you really well because you've helped a tonne of people launch shows particularly. Launching with three. We're talking about having three live when you launch but actually, is that all you're going to have ready?
Matthew: Well if you're doing something like an interview show I suppose it might be a good idea but again, I'm wary of using this as a procrastination thing. Doing some interviews in the lead up to it. Again there's so many pitfalls with this. You start doing interviews, you start putting them away, you end up with this massive bank of recordings. Another thing as well is, is your podcast evergreen or is it time sensitive because a lot of people if they're doing time sensitive stuff, don't have the opportunity to be getting stuff in the bank. As soon as they're putting out content, maybe it's a sports show or a politics show or a news show.
Colin: It needs to be really up-to-date.
Matthew: There's no point in recording stuff for like three months ago because if you're not putting that out there, it's gone.
Colin: I think the vast majority of people can benefit from having a few episodes queued up at least. Gives them a bit of a buffer. More likely to stay regular I would have said so yeah, it's a good idea. What do we aim for? We tend to think about three live and maybe three or four in the bank so it gives you up to a month buffer.
Matthew: Yeah, and again I think, sounds like I've got no consistency here but, a benefit of doing three is that you've got the experience of recording three podcasts. You probably know more that it is for you. it's something that you want to do. Literally, if you're entire podcasting experience is recording a 10 minute episode, you're still very inexperienced. Maybe it will be halfway through episode two that you realise that you hate it but you've already signed up, you've already launched the podcast, you've told everyone about it. There's that as well. I guess there's no right or wrong answer is there?
Colin: When it comes down to it what we're saying is don't procrastinate. If creating three is going to make you hold back for ages on launching then don't bother. Just put one out and see what happens. If creating three and not having another three ready is going to make you procrastinate again then just create the three and get it ready and then actually just try and keep up beyond that. Whatever helps you get your show out quicker is better. Any last thoughts on that?
Matthew: Just the whole New and Noteworthy thing as well. Don't obsess over that, getting featured on iTunes and that. That's all great.
Colin: It's a wee boost but not much.
Matthew: Exactly but don't make that the crux of your podcast launch. When you're doing a podcast it's a long term thing. It's like getting a dog. It not just for Christmas. The real benefits that you'll get from your podcast are going to come after nine months, 18 months, five years. It's a slow burn and you've got to put the work in and work hard at it. You're not just going to throw two or three episodes out there, start getting thousands of downloads and make loads of money and retire. That's just not going to happen so I suppose be realistic as well. Know that you're going in to this as a long term project.
Colin: That's one of the reasons people procrastinate a bit over having five episodes ready and five in the bank, because they want to make sure they take full advantage of that first eight weeks. I've seen people putting things off for six months or even a year because it's quite a big bit of work to get all of those episodes ready, to feel like if you don't take advantage of that first eight weeks, I say eight weeks because that's what's known as the new and noteworthy period. People thinking if they don't take full advantage of that then they're podcast is scuppered but it's nonsense because we've had lots of evidence in the past which has shown that it doesn't make that much of a difference. Even if you're on the front page of the entire iTunes store, we've not seen it increasing downloads that much. Don't worry about that stuff. Just get an episode out there, try and keep to a regular period and that's about as best you can do.
How do you find new listeners in a niche that traditionally isn't overly technical?
Also mentioned on this episode – our Podcast Scholarship Competition
Matthew: Here's a question that came in through the website thepodcasthost.com from Leslie. What if my target audience isn't technical? What's the starting point for this Colin? You're maybe doing a podcast about something, might be something targeted towards maybe the older generation or some sort of trade maybe that's not known for their smartphones and Facebook use and stuff like that. It's hard enough in the past few years sometimes explaining to someone who's fairly on the ball with that sort of thing, what a podcast is. We're obviously making a bit of progress with that now. When you're approaching a target audience, there's a lot of things that you've got to consider there isn't there?
Colin: Yeah. I think the best thing here is that there's a huge opportunity. If you've got a non-technical audience then it's not that they won't be up for listening to good content on their phones or whatever, it's just that they don't tend to think of that as a first choice for something to fill their time or to learn how to do something. You've got a big opportunity here in your space to get them into podcasting and you'll be the first show that they find and you'll be the first habit that they make in terms of listening to this content. It's a great place to start. I suppose it's getting I front of them. That's the tricky starting point isn't it? How do you find them in the first place? Where have you found for that Matthew?
Matthew: One idea that comes up is like real life events, conferences, that sort of thing. It's all very well you know, we're all guilty of sometimes sitting behind our computer screens trying to grow an audience that way and that's obviously great but you do have to get yourself out there, especially if you're dealing with a group of people who aren't as involved online. Finding out what events are there in your area and if it's going to be worthwhile for you investing a bit of time in and going there and trying to meet people. The etiquette of going, not to digress too much but going to these sort of things is not just go there and hand out business cards and just be selling. Just go and try and make friends with some people and see where it leads.
Colin: Absolutely. I've been to a lot of meet ups and networking events where it's smaller audience so it's a lot easier to meet people, to start talking to them. They're always great for getting people to listen to your show because you make a lot of personal connexion there. You're in a small room of maybe 10, 15 people and you get to talk to them. It feels sometimes like it's a bit small scale. You're just finding one person. Adding one to your listener numbers but actually that one person that turns into a loyal listener tends to always talk about podcasting to other people and converts a lot of other people. It scales much wider than it appears I think.
Going outside of the events side of things, I think that sometimes you can think that if it's a non-technical audience that it's not worth investing in the other digital marketing type approaches. Podcasting, obviously, it's a content marketing technique, it's a way of marketing in the digital world but because podcasting is a smaller, it's a lesser known medium, we're not mainstream. We can't claim to be. Still less than 50% of people know what a podcast is apparently, going by the stats so it's not like YouTube where 99% of people know what it is or blogging where 100% of people pretty much are searching for content through text on the internet. We're not at that stage yet so we need to be found using these other mediums. What do you think? What other ways can we be found using digital marketing methods?
Matthew: A lot of people are on social networks now even if they're not technical aren't they? It's looking at maybe ways you that you could advertise on places like Facebook.
Colin: Yeah. Growing a group there in the first place is always quite good, organically. PPC actually works really well I think for podcasts and we've tried this with a couple of our shows, is setting up some Facebook ads so you can target it really narrowly. You can find your real audience. Say you're doing a plumbing podcast for plumbers, is that a non-technical audience or am I being stereotyping there? You can find people who have listed themselves as plumbers so you can directly advertise to that audience on Facebook. They're great for being able to narrow down the audience to get real value from your advertise spend. If your podcast is a proper content marketed move with your business, then you could invest a little bit of money in those adverts and that can be a really good way to grow your audience. If you can create really compelling adverts that get people to go to your site, and then you can teach them how to listen to a podcast, then that could be a really good way.
Matthew: Writing articles as well. Even if you're not technical, everyone that's used the internet has searched for something. Going back to your content marketing thing there, just answering questions that people in your target audience might be asking. They're going to find you first and foremost, by text. Then if you can kind of direct them, and we'll get into how you might do that on a moment but, direct them towards your podcast as well.
Colin: Absolutely. It’s still the widest way to be found isn't it by writing a blog, by writing an article. It doesn't need to be separate from the podcast. This is your show notes so you create a podcast episode and you write a blog article which covers the same topic. You summarise it, you give the resources, all that kind of stuff. You're creating show notes anyway, so spend an extra 20, 30 minutes actually turning it into a decent quality blog post with a good title at the top and then suddenly that blog post is found in the search. Google actually indexes it and ranks it highly because you've out a bit of effort into it and then people come and find it and they actually see at the top oh look, this isn't actually just a blog post, there's an audio episode attached to it. Maybe I'll listen to that. That can be what converts them into podcast listeners. Even if they've never listened to a podcast before.
Matthew: We've all probably found ourselves in the position of having to explain what a podcast is so you want to be really succinct with that aren't you? The on demand internet radio show I've found works quite well when you're dealing with somebody who's never listened to a podcast before and who has never heard it. Like I say, it's getting better now. A lot of people have heard of podcasts so when it comes up in conversation, just trying to be duly succinct about what it is and why they might want to listen to it as well.
Colin: Yeah definitely. I actually have tried the internet radio show. I think that puts people off sometimes because they think it's complicated to listen to internet radio. Even just saying something like “It's talk radio but on demand. It's like iPlayer but for audio,” or something like that. It's hard to explain sometimes.
Matthew: Do you think it's still important to throw in that it's free?
Colin: It helps, yeah. I think definitely, because everyone has a suspicion as soon as you say there's something good, something valuable out there. They think oh, what's it going to cost me? Yeah, might as well throw that in. How do you go about if you're trying to teach somebody new you're trying to talk into getting a podcast, to listen to a show, how do you teach them how to listen?
Matthew: Showing them is the best way isn't it?
Colin: Just point at their phone.
Matthew: The classic example yeah, is getting somebody's phone out and if they've got the iPhone, the podcast app's right there. It's just so simple. Ask them what sort of stuff they like and within two or three clicks, you're subscribed to a show for them. A lot of people can't believe how simple that is because they imagine it being I have to jump through a lot of hoops and stuff. It's not the case.
Colin: Yeah definitely. For a lot of people the first step is listening on the website isn't it? They'll find an article and there's a play button at the top of the website page, at the top of a blog post and they'll press play there. I think a good way to do it is, for the people that find it that way you have a massive big how do I listen to this show or how do I subscribe to this show? A big button that says something along those lines that takes them to a page which you've created which specifically teaches people how to subscribe to your show.
Because you can't obviously get out there and reach everyone. It's absolutely great if you can get somebody in person but even just a video. There's some good videos out there and we've created our own resource actually, called The Listener's Guide to Podcasting which you can find at thepodcasthost.com/listeners-guide. The aim of that was really to make it easier for people to talk other folk into listening and subscribing to podcasts. To show them how to subscribe on an iPhone, on an android phone, on a website, on a whatever. We're building that out over time as well to try and make it more and more comprehensive, to help anyone listen to our show. If you couldn't create a quick video yourself, just giving a one or a two minute explanation, then that's great as well.
Matthew: One more thing to mention kind of on that is that, and Libysn are big proponents of this, having your own app for your show because if somebody, maybe if you have got them to subscribe to something in the podcast, app or an overcast or whatever, they've kind of got to remember. I know you can get notifications but they've got to be remembering to go back to that. If they see your app, your show on their phone all the time it's just going to keep it more fresh in their mind and a bit more obvious. It might be worth, if you're in that position, investing a few extra dollars a month and just getting your app and just sending everyone to that.
Colin: That's a really easy way to get people into it, when especially they're not technical like we're talking about. A lot of people know how to download an app at least so it's a handy way. I think at this point, it’s a lot about building a habit so with a non-technical audience, it's about teaching them, it's about conditioning them. It's a terrible word to use but it's about conditioning them to come back week after week and listen to your show every single week. A lot of that is just good practise in terms of how you should create a podcast anyway. This isn't even non-technical audiences, around putting in teasers at the end of every episode for the next episode, that gives them a reason to come back.
Seasons work really well for this because you end up creating a season of content which maybe covers one topic bit by bit every episode, and that gives people a really good reason to come back every single week. Giving them actions as well. Actually saying to them “Here's something to do and we'd love to recap on this next week, find out what you're doing so send us some feedback based on what you do or what happens based on these actions and we'll read it out in the next episode.” Those listener interactions I think, are really valuable in any podcasting situation but for a non-technical audience, it kind of brings them back to radio where that's a big way that radio engages with people. It makes them want to come back week after week, start building that podcast listening habit because they want to hear themselves on there, their colleagues on there you know, their fellow audience members.
It's about listener interaction, teasing every single episode, getting them to come back week after week and building that habit.
How do you put your show on hiatus without losing a chunk of your audience?
Matthew: So this was a question that we got in through the website from Derek and to be honest this is something that I've wrestled with in the past as well with my own podcast, so what if you need to take a break from your podcasts? So for example, I don't know Derek’s situation, but I'm sure it might be quite similar. My own show, we were putting out weekly episodes. Sometimes life gets in the way, other commitments get in the way. So we made the decision to switch to fortnightly then we were able to get back to weekly and then we went a spell where it was almost monthly and there are certain points around the festive period or the summer holidays where you have to say to your listeners that we're going to take a month off.
so it's difficult isn't it. Colin, you're a big advocate of podcasting and seasons so this is something you might argue can help you to get around that sort of treadmill feeling isn't it.
Colin: I think so. I mean before we jump into the seasons stuff, I think it's the biggest… it's arguably the biggest problem I think people have with podcasting. The most common problem they have with podcasting. It's the thing that people get in touch with us more often than not about. It's like how do I keep coming up with ideas, how do I keep consistent, how do I keep regular? I just feel like I'm running and not keeping up with the schedule.
So even if you don't jump into seasons, you said the exact right answer there I think, which is to communicate with your audience. So many people get to the stage where they get up on a Monday morning and they think “oh, I should record a podcast this week, I'm just not feeling it. I'm too busy, I can't do it…” and they just leave it. And then they leave it the next week and then they leave it the next week and that's when the trouble starts. It's because listeners are going “What's going on? The last episode everything was normal. It was going weekly until then and now suddenly there's been nothing for three weeks…” but if you tell them what's going on, you just communicate… it might be that you're in that situation so you didn't say it on your previous episode but you say “do you know what, I do need to take a break” and you just record a quick two minute clip.
you just say “Hey folks, thanks for listening. Do you know what, we're going to take a break on the podcast for the next month or so. So today's date is blah blah blah. The reason is I'm struggling for time, what I'm going to do is I'm going to come back even bigger and even better, more motivated. Here's some topics we might talk about so stay tuned, don't unsubscribe. We will be back, we'll see you on December 25th…” That's a bad day [laughs]. But you know, communicate, tell people what's going on. Just tell them what's happening and then they'll hear that and they'll go “Ah, that's fine. I can understand that…” and they'll stay around and they'll not unsubscribe, or a few of them will.
Did you get any responses from that when you did that on your show?
Matthew: When we told them we were taking a break?
Matthew: Yeah I mean we've got a pretty good active community so we're fortunate in that sense and everyone understands from our point of view, we're doing a podcast, talking about making audio drama but we're also making audio drama's and we've got to try and juggle it. If we never make audio drama, how are going to talk about making audio drama. Again, before we get on to the seasonal thing another thing that I should probably mention is just because you need to personally take a break, does that necessarily mean that your podcasts need to take a break too? What I mean by that is, if you have developed enough audience, there might be the opportunity to find someone in the audience that you know and trust, that you could get to maybe take over as a temporary presenter or ask some of your listeners if they wouldn't mind doing some interviews with people and your topic.
You might get a batch of these back and you could just put them out, so you're still getting stuff out there. Again, it's not possible for everyone but just because you need to personally take a break, there are still ways that you could get stuff out there. But again, make sure it's going to be good stuff. There's not point putting stuff out there just for the sake of it.
Colin: Don't do padding, absolutely. There's always easier ways to do episodes too isn't there. Maybe you normally do a 30 minute interview with somebody or an hour long conversation with your three co hosts and that is what's taking up the time because it's either just logistics of organising it or getting everyone together, whatever it is. Maybe you can just get together one time, spend an hour recording three, four, five ten minute topics and just get them all cued up and tell people “we're going on a break for a month and a half but we've recorded these responses to commonly asked questions or listener queries” or something like that and put them out. Schedule them for a month and a half or two months or whatever so you're still getting stuff out but you're doing it in an easier way.
Matthew: I like the idea of that, doing short episodes answering a question you've received in. Clever idea.
Colin: But yeah, to go over the seasons stuff quickly. You find loads of materials around seasons on the website. If you just go on to thepodcasthost.com and search ‘seasons' in the top right hand search box you'll find it there. We'll link to it in the show notes as well. Show notes are at podcraft.net/708. But I mean, seasons I think they help with that whole treadmill problem like your just running to keep up with your schedule for a few different reasons.
The first of which is planning I think is the big one because it means that you can plan out say 8, 10, 12, 15 episodes all at once because you just choose a topic. You choose like one of our previous ones was monetization. So I said “I'm going to talk about monetization on season 6” and I just sat down for an hour and I just wrote down all the different aspects of monetization that I could think of. I spent a bit of time fleshing them out, putting four or five different bullet points in each one and by the end of that I had a plan for a season which had, I think there was about 7 or 8 episodes in it and that was that plan done.
Then every week I just sat down, I just pulled open that plan and I spoke for 30 minutes and it was easy because there was no procrastinating over choosing a topic, over planning it out or for doing a bit of research. All of that had been done ahead of time.
So once you've got that, you can do that batching as well so once you've got that plan I mean you can batch those. You can record three or four of them at once and that makes the whole keeping up with your schedule so much easier.
Next beyond planning you've got obviously the fact that you're working towards the end. So you're working towards an actual legitimate break and it makes much more sense to do a break between a couple of seasons doesn't it. You finish a season of a TV series and you expect there to be a break before the next one comes out and there's just something really motivational actually about you working towards the end of a season. Like we were working towards the end of this season just now. Once we finish this we've done 8 episodes, answered 8 questions and that feels quite significant. You've finished a chunk of work about one topic and we're working towards that.
So it motivates you to get up and record those episodes every single week and we're working towards that break as well so we know we're going to take a rest for a few weeks. Re cooperate, evolve it , ask for feedback from the audience, think about what we're going to do next time and be really excited about starting the next season because it's a new topic, it's something new to talk about. It's something that your listeners have maybe inputted into as well.
I think there's a bunch of reasons that seasons are great but yeah here's just a few of them. Go on and get more on the articles on the website if you want to know my full arguments about them.
Matthew: Yeah and I suppose like if you aren't doing seasons and your dealing with different topics, it could be completely disconnected from one week to the next. You could review your back catalogue and work out some seasons going forward. You can always make the change cannot you.
Colin: Absolutely yeah. You can stop at any point and say “right, we're going to start… that was season 0, those first 100 episodes. Now we're going onto season one, or even season two” whatever you want to say. There's plenty of examples of that. Micheal Hyatt is a pretty high profile podcaster who did that. He stopped on his 100th episode and then said “right, we're starting again, we're going to a seasons format and we're now starting season 2. Episode 101 is the first episode of season 2.”
So yeah it's never too late to move on to that format.
Matthew: It's never too late.
Colin: Never too late [Laughs]
Matthew: Maybe one day for my own show we'll get round to that.
Colin: But do you know, the communication thing still stands with seasons too so you still need to make it clear that “this is a season on this topic, this is how many episodes it's going to be” and on the last episode of that season say “right, thank you so much for listening through this season.” Give them a call to action, whether you want to ask for feedback, suggestions for the next season, whatever it is but tell them how long your taking a break. Tell them when you’re coming back and that cuts down massively on any unsubscribes or anything like that or even people that find your show during that season break. That's probably the biggest concern, people that are brand new to your show. They find you, they see that you've not put anything out in 3 weeks, but if you explain why in that most latest episode, they're going to listen to that and they're going to find out why. They'll maybe go back and listen to the rest of that previous season.
So final thing I'll say on that is we've got resources on this stuff in the community to. So in fanfission.com that's our community based on all the work we do at the podcast host and we've got some resources in there recorded webinars on how to run seasons. All the different ways you can use seasons as well and also we're doing a lot of support and helping people create seasons. Actually move to that approach. Like in the forums, just chatting people through what their topics might be, what their plans might be, all that kind of stuff.
So if you need some help with this, by all means pop over to the community. Join us in there and we can talk you through it all and help you get the most out of it.
Your website is your podcast's home online. So what should you have on there?
Our free course on how to build a peerless podcasting website can be found here.
Matthew: So this was a question that came in through the website from Reese asking about his podcast website. Of course when you setup a podcast you don't actually need a website do you but it's really good to have one. There's many reasons as to why you should have a website. I don't think we have to go through them all but a good…
Colin: If your aim is only ever to have fun, to talk about something that you enjoy talking about. If the aim is actually to do podcasting for podcasting sake then fine, no website required but as soon as you go beyond that and you want to monetize really in any way, even sort of try and move people… if you're not trying to monetize but your trying to promote a charity or inspire people into doing something, anything then that's when you need somewhere to point them to isn't it. You need them to go somewhere where they can see more information or take an action or anything like that.
That's the whole point of a website. It's getting them to take action on something think.
Matthew: Yeah so when you maybe discover a podcast and you have a listen to it and you want to go and check out their website, what are some of the things that you look for Colin when you go on to a podcasts website?
Colin: The most common thing that I go to a podcast website for is the resources, the show notes. So you go on there, you're trying to get the things that they talked about on the show. So I'll go there, I'll be inspired to go there by their call to action as in “go and check out the resources, go and check out the information” but then I suppose a big point in the website is you want to try and guide them elsewhere. So you want to try and guide them through the rest of your information. So the about page for example. That's always quite important because if it's the first time somebodies listening to your show then you want them to buy into who you. You want them to buy into your personality, that's the power of podcasting is that you're putting yourself across.
Matthew: With the about page, I've heard this quite a lot that it's traditionally the most viewed section of a website. If somebody lands on a website for the first time they'll tend to click there. An about page is an opportunity isn't it to tell your audience what your all about but I think there's maybe a difference between talking about you extensively. Obviously there's differences, is it about the podcast, is it about you personally? But what you want to talk about in your about page, a lot of it has to do with about what your listener can get from listening. So it's from their perspective rather than here's my favourite food. Well it depends on your podcast, that might be relevant but you know a huge biography about yourself personally might be completely unnecessary.
Colin: It's about the listener. First thing is what are the benefits for the listener? What are the benefits to listening to the show, as in how are you going to solve those pains but beyond that you’re starting to delve into what the shows about really, the aims of the show and then why you’re the person best positioned to solve that problem for them I think.
So here's a problem, here's a solution that the shows offering and here's why I'm qualified to actually do this and that's when you can start getting into your background and your personality I think.
Matthew: Then you can also use your about page to link to maybe some of the best stuff that you've got out there. Maybe you've got a really good interview with somebody and you might want to point them to that. If you've not heard the show before, check out this interview with such and such, maybe somebody quite well known and it went really well. Link it to some of the best stuff on your site. A couple of good articles or things like that.
Take advantage of the fact that people are landing there.
Colin: One of those actions is the contact isn't it. The contact page is obvious I suppose. You want somewhere where people can get in touch with you but get you contact details on there. Get your social media details, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook links, get a form on there so people can email you. A lot of people list speak pipe link so that people can leave you a voice mail or maybe a google voice number, or phone number of some sort so that people can leave you a voice message. We've used a Skype number in the past so people can call you on the Skype number and leave a voice message and you can bring that into the show. So I think that's probably a good second step. If you get somebody to your website, quite often a big aim for early stage shows, even late shows actually is getting some contact, getting to know their listeners and building that engagement with them.
Matthew: The thing about having whatever your podcast is.com/contact is when you are finishing your episodes and you want somebody to get in touch, you don't sit there and read them your email, your Twitter, your Facebook all that stuff, you just send them to one place and it's all there isn't it. A really important thing for podcasters to put on their website is a subscribe section because you cannot assume that everyone who's landing on your site is already subscribed to your show. In most cases they probably haven't so they want a clearly labelled subscribe section where they can go in. You don't just want to have an iTunes link, you want to have links to every single directory that you could be found in, even if you put your content up on Youtube, have your Youtube link. Let them listen at where they want to listen and use this section to let them know that's all there.
Colin: You’re not talking about putting it on like 300 different podcast directories but you pick the ones you want to target the best, the most effectively. Your moving here to the other reason for a website.
The first reason for a website is that it's somewhere where your existing listeners go to either pick up a resource, to look at more information about what you've talked about, to engage with you more by contacting you, to build more fans basically. You're bringing them back to a home for your show. But the second reason to have a website is that people will find your show not through podcasting, not through iTunes, not through tune in, they'll find it through the web if you do it right, if you have good show notes. Every single episode you put out you create a blog post for it essentially.
Show notes are nothing more than a blog post with an audio file attached and if you do it right as in you create reasonably substantial bit of text, 400/500 words at least talking about the resources, summarising what the shows about, showing some of the takeaways and giving people some good information so that those show notes actually stand by itself then that ranks in google. People van find that in google and that brings more people to your show because they'll read those show notes, they'll think this is good information, I might listen to episode two and then absolutely your subscribe buttons. That's when you want to get them subscribing to the audio of it as well.
Matthew: Yeah when your episode posts you want a good title. Show notes, you could go down the transcription route. We've been doing that for this series. Rev.com they've just been transcribing our conversations and that means if somebody was to search for a particular thing, it might come up in Google whereas at the moment Google’s not really searching for audio. It will happen in the future… and your episode posts as well. You want the media player in there. Any media host you use is probably going to give you a player, the Libsyn one, the Powerpress one with Blubrry is good, if you use Soundcloud… they've got a nice player I'll admit that. You're basically wanting to give the listener the capability or the person on your website the capability to hit play and listen to a bit of your episode. They might not consume the whole thing at that point and then a download button as well where they could download it.
So if you have that in your posts…
Colin: A lot of people forget… listening to Podcraft, it's likely that you're an avid podcast listener so it's very likely that you listen on a podcasting app. It might even be that you're not on the standard apple app, you might have gone as far as to download pocket cast or beyond pod or something and when we do that, when we're that into the medium, you forget that there's a lot of people out there that aren't so into the tech and we have a surprising amount of people listen to the show on the web. They come on the website, they play it on the website player and that's how they listen to it. They don't subscribe, they just come along and listen when they want to and of course your job is to try and make content that's so compelling that your able to talk them into downloading the app or just going on their iPhone and opening up the podcast app and subscribing but you can't take that for granted.
So some people do still download the show and put it onto an MP3 Player or something like that. Some people do just want to listen on the web every time. So you want to make that experience as good as possible.
The other one that we use is simple podcast press by Hani Mourro and it's a really good player actually. It offers some great tools and there's a new version just out that's got some good upgrades that I haven't tried out yet but yeah it's worth checking that out too.
Matthew: I just want to pick up on something that you said there and it goes back to the subscribe section. Depending on your topic, your topic and your target audience might not be technical at all and in fact we're going to do an episode on this in this series. If for example your episode, none of them know what podcast is, it's good on that section of your site maybe to have a video explaining what a podcast is and how you subscribe to it. Again that's topic dependent. If you're a really ‘techy' podcast you probably aren't going to have to do that but it all comes down to your audience.
One more thing on the episode post is that share buttons are good as well. You want people to share your episodes so make it easy for them.
Colin: Click to tweet or something to let them tweet a quote. Your absolutely right, I've seen some great examples of that about teaching people how to subscribe so if they find your post via google and it's just text then have a think, have a button on there saying ‘what is a podcast?' That takes them to a page on your site that explains what it is and the benefits of subscribing.
Matthew: Another thing that I'm a big fan of is for podcasters to have a full episode list on their website so that you can at a glance just look at the back catalogue. When you've been doing a podcast for a long time, I'm not sure the number that iTunes caps it at now, I think it displays 100 or is it more now?
Colin: I think it was 300 last time I checked.
Matthew: So it does take you a while to hit that but don't assume that your entire catalogue is available on places like iTunes because sometimes they're going to put a cap on it. You’re not wanting that to be the go to place that they go, you’re wanting it to be your own website. When people are thinking ‘this podcast has the information that I'm looking for' they want to be going there and searching through your episodes.
Colin: You want to make it as easy to navigate as possible too. So an episode list is a good idea, it's a good start, but even using things like categories and tags to really smartly categorise the topics within your show. So when we are talking about podcasting for example, we've got categories on the show about… like WordPress. So we're talking about websites just now so I'm sure I've got a tag that is WordPress. So it’s every episode that I've ever talked about word press on is tagged word press so they can click that tag and they can see all of the shows that are related to that.
We do pod craft in a seasons based format so actually our categories are the seasons but it means they're really well categorised towards those topics. The last season was about presentation skills, creating engaging episodes so they can click that category and they can list just the episodes on that category whereas even if you are not doing seasons, you’re a text show, you could have a category which is apple and then that would bring up all of the episodes that talk about apple products.
Its offering that navigation through your back catalogue that lets people see what you've done around certain topics and browse the stuff they want to.
Matthew: A couple of other wee details that we need to cover, things like domain names. When you want to get a website for your podcast, is there any sort of do's and dont's do you think for choosing a domain name?
Colin: I think as short as possible whilst still making it memorable. You can go a bit over the top and make it something quite abstract to make it very short… it's not even that important these days because you can have quite long domain and actually people are used to remembering these things. You could have audiodramaproductionpodcast.com and that is a relatively long domain but people will remember it won't they because it's the name of the show. So I don't think these days there's too many hard and fast rules. Getting a ‘.com' is really valuable because that's the first thing people go for.
There's a lot more extensions out these days, like you've got ‘.club' , ‘.bike' , ‘.members', ‘.xyz', you've got all these extensions which can be a bit more expensive but give you a lot more options as well.
So don't spend too long on it. I think a lot of people spend ages trying to find a good domain and actually…
Matthew: I don't know if this is just me but if I listen to a podcast and wanted to visit their website, the chances are I'd probably just type it into google and it would come up anyway but it's certainly something to think about is domain names. Perhaps more important nowadays is to make sure you've got website that works on a phone. It's 2016 at the time of recording and you still come across websites, some of them for big companies, that don't really work on your phone. You have to expand it with your finger tips and navigate through it because it's designed of a desktop. A lot of people now just won't put up with that, they'll just leave the site. WordPress is really good for this now and most of their, if not all of their themes ….
Colin: Are responsive yeah. If you build your site on square space or Wix or any of the new services that make building a website so easy, then they pretty much all have responsive templates too. But your right, it's worth keeping an eye on because you could choose a template in WordPress that doesn't respond to being viewed on a mobile and it's a bad experience for folk.
Matthew: And it's just about checking isn't it. You could sit and perfect your website on your computer and it looks brilliant but make sure you run through it on your phone. Even better, give your phone to someone else and ask them to navigate it. If you've got an iPhone, make sure you're having a look on a Samsung phone as well. Just making sure that it looks good across all platforms. On tablet and everything. Don't just assume that because…
Colin: Last thing we'll say on this one I think is a couple of extra resources that you can go to. One of which is an article you wrote on websites in your promotion series wasn't it?
Matthew: Yeah that's right yeah. So we'll put links to that in the show notes.
Colin: You can find the show notes at podcraft.net/707 . so we'll link to Matthews article there. You can also check out our free course. So we've got a free course called ‘Peerless podcasting website'. So it's how to setup your own website using WordPress. So if you decide you want to self-host a website, you use power-press to deliver it or alternative tools as well then you can see exactly how to do that within the course. So you see that over at podcraft.net/websites.
How do you sell the idea of sponsoring your show to someone?
Matthew: So this is a question that came in from Graham.
How do I approach potential advertisers or sponsors?
So I suppose you've maybe started a podcast, you've been doing it a wee while. You're spending some money on it and you're getting decent downloads and you start to think to yourself, “could I maybe make some pocket money out of this? Could I cover my hosting costs? Could I even afford to go out for a pint at the weekend off the back of my podcast money?”. So what's really the first step for someone who's in that position then?
Colin: I think the first thing is finding the right people isn't it. Its finding sponsors or advertisers that would actually be relevant to your show. I mean how do you think you do that, what's the first thing you think about when you think about who would actually pay some money to be on the show?
Matthew: It's topic relevant isn't it. If you're a podcast about skateboarding you probably aren't going to want an advertiser who does knitting needles or something like that so straight away you've got to be thinking “what are my audience interested in?” If you're a type of podcast that offers help or advice, what kind of questions, problems, things like that do your audience have? And then try and think of a sponsor who might be able to cater to their needs?
Colin: Yeah, I mean there are some industries that have got it easy don't they. Associate skateboarding, your example there, they can just get a skateboard company or skateboard shoes. Some topics have really obvious tie ins, products that are directly related to what they do but other ones have to think outside the box. Especially if you’re a coach or something like that. A good example of this is the Tim Ferriss show. Tim Ferriss just does interviews with experts in their fields. So he talks to anyone and everyone around the world that's just world class in their field so there's no particular product directly related to that is there? It could be anything really but he thinks about his audience. He actually thinks about the people who listen to the show, thinks about the demographics of his listens, thinks about the questions they send him, the comments they send him, the shares they send him for things that they think he'd like.
Things that he like because he know that he's quite honest and open on his show and therefore his listeners are probably quite like him so he advertises things like wealth front is one of his sponsors because he's interested in investment and a lot of his listeners are interested in investment. He has stuff like me undies which is a lifestyle design thing where you just try and get yourself better underwear which makes your life better. If you've not got direct products related to it I think it’s just thinking really closely about who your audience are and outside of your topic, what are the vast majority of them interested in?
I suppose the last thing you want is to be talking about something that just bores them isn't it. Like getting an advert for some random thing that actually it's just something they want to skip past.
Matthew: Yeah, there's a lot of… generics maybe a hard word but there are lot of sponsors out there in some of the bigger podcasts that just cover everything. Is it Harry's Razors? And Audible traditionally have been very good at sponsoring podcasts but to be honest nowadays your hard pushed to find a podcast listener without an Audible account. So the whole sign up to audible thing is a bit mute now.
So it’s trying to target down more into your topic as well.
You're not just wanting to fire off a hopeful email to somebody, asking them to sponsor a podcast and it's all a bit vague and on their terms. I'd imagine you're wanting to go to them with a lot of details about your show, your audience. Straight away, if you're approaching somebody who's maybe not too familiar with podcasting, they're probably going to be thinking advertising in terms of TV, Radio, Newspapers where the numbers are very very big but the engagements actually really small. So you might be going to someone with your 200 listeners. Now that's going to seem like a small number to them so your job is to firstly explained how this is an engaged audience. This is an audience that deliberately is tuning into every word that you are saying, rather than the 40,000 listens a local radio station gets by somebody jumping in a car for two minutes.
Colin: And totally not targeted towards their product.
Matthew: So there's a bit of education that might need to be done there isn't there?
Colin: Yeah, I think you mentioned this before, is the whole… going in there with a bit of prep around the engagement so you setup some testing. Before you start advertising if you’re thinking about advertising you can setup a call to action at the end of your show which is deliberately designed to test how engaged your audience is can't you.
Matthew: Yeah, so if you were asking your audience to do something, to follow a link, to sign up to something at the end of your episode and 30% of your audience did, which I'd imagine would b e a really good conversion rate then you've got that. It's hard evidence isn't it. You could say that these listeners will go click something.
Colin: If I ask them to do something at the end of my show then it tend to be that 35% of them actually do it. So it's great to go in with that detail because it just makes you look more professional more prepared, a bit more research has gone into it so yeah definitely a good approach.
Matthew: So what is the best way to actually reach out. Is it just going on the company’s website and send a hopeful email? Do you try and find a human rather or do you go old school and pick up the phone or try and arrange a meeting?
Colin: Yeah I think all them work. I mean the email is a good first start I think still but try and not send it to their generic support@ or hello@ the company.com or whatever. This is where LinkedIn comes in isn't it. You try and find the marketing manager, or the sales manager or somebody who's involved in trying to promote a company. Maybe a content marketer, maybe something like that, somebody who has some kind of input into the marketing that goes on, the advertising that goes on.
so quite often I'll go on LinkedIn and I'll search for a company. You've already identified some companies that are relevant going by what we said earlier, so I'll go on there and I'll search for that company and search or employees of that company and try and find somebody relevant. You can send a message on LinkedIn or you can actually try some of the sneaky ways of finding their email like having a tool like ReportEev on Gmail. So if you just test out all of the variations.
So say it's somebody like Craig Smith and they work for Google. So you try C. Smith @ google.com and your little ReportEev thing in google if it's the right one it will actually show up his profile because it'll link all the accounts and stuff and you can keep trying it. Usually if they're involved in marketing or sales they'll have their contact details somewhere on the web anyway but I always get a better response if I try and find somebody direct like that.
You mentioned phone. There's nothing wrong with actually phoning somebody too.
Matthew: so if your picking up the phone you want to be succinct. You want to be going on there and not kind of… 5 minutes have gone by and the persons thinking “so what's he actually asking”
Colin: Yeah. Events are great for this as well. When I was out at podcast movement this year, I made a bunch of contacts that now I have these personal emails, personal phone numbers that I can phone up and a couple of sponsorship's and reviews have come out of that for us actually. So get along to events in your industry. It could show the folk that are spending money on marketing themselves. It demonstrates that they are putting a better budget into visibility an you can talk to people especially because the people on those stands at these events, these trade shows, they're the ones that are probably going to have a sway in where the marketing spend goes as well.
So events are a big one actually. I know it costs a bit of money to get to them but it can be really worth the investment.
There are lots of great options out there for recording in-person interviews.
Mentioned on this episode
- Fan Fission – our membership community
- Zoom H5 – digital recorder
- Zoom H1 – digital recorder
- ATR3350 – lav mic
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 – preamp
- Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 – preamp
- SM58 – dynamic mic
- MXL990 – condenser mic
- Samson Q2U – dynamic mic
- Yamaha MG10 – mixer
- Rode Smartlav Plus – lav mic
- What are polar patterns? – article
Matthew: So this question came in from Uzma and she was asking about face to face, I don't know if you use it, it's a question we get asked a lot actually so it's definitely worth talking about. First thing to consider here Colin is really are you going to be doing your face to face interviews in a permanent or semi permanent studio or home environment?
Matthew: Or are you thinking about going out and getting interviews just as and when. So whether that's in a car, at an event, in a café or a pub. So you're probably looking at two kind of different setups here aren't you?
Colin: Yeah, definitely aye. I mean if you have the luxury of having a regular place to record then it's great because you can setup your room stands and you can have it all arranged perfectly so you can just turn up and press the record button can't you. I think the consideration there is that you can go a bit more complex obviously when you've got a permanent setup where as you're kind of looking for something that's really easy and quick to setup if you're out at a pub or an event space or something like that all the time.
But then again, when you're out and about there's two different methods to it isn't there. You might want to setup for a few hours and you actually still want the stands and things or I mean you just have a simple digital recorder and you're just actually pointing it from person to person.
So where do you want to start? Shall we start maybe from out and about?
Matthew: Yeah, so out and about… I mean my own podcast, the audio drama production podcast, for the last year or so myself and my co-host Robert, we've always got together and recorded in the car because it suited us. Meeting in a car park at a half way point.
Colin: Surprisingly sound proofed environment as well…
Matthew: Yeah, cars a good wee studio, apart from when there's grass cutting going on outside.
Colin: You could just drive though, a movable studio.
Matthew: Yeah exactly yeah. So initially we were using the old Zoom H2 and I had a screw in handle for that and I was basically sitting in the passenger seat, the driver seat and I'm just passing this mic back and forward like a television reporter. So obvious cons from that were I got a bit of a sore wrist from sitting in a car with a guy for a couple of hours
Colin: [laughter] yeah you didn't tell your wife that.
Matthew: Again, you've got the mono track as well so you are both on if you record. You're both on the same channel basically. We wanted a better setup so we went down the route of… we got the Zoom H5 and a couple of lav mics that we tend to talk about quite a lot here at the podcast host. The ATR3350's, we've got a review of them on the site as well, put a link to them in the show notes. So we were able to get a couple of 3.5mm to quarter inch adapters, plugged them into the zoom H5, got audio on both channels and immediately it became a much better conversation because I didn't have to worry about the audio because it was all feeding into the recorder. We could sit back, we could move around a bit more and it just really improved our setup and it's a good sound quality too.
Colin: Yeah I mean that's a really good setup isn't it. The H5 is a bit of an expensive piece of kit but it's so versatile isn't it? You can use it in so many different places. I mean we've got it sitting in front of us here, we've got an H5 right in front of us which is recording this session. So it's not just for out and about, you can use it for studio recording too but yeah the lav mics are just great because you forget they're there don't you. You want a much more natural conversation and especially if your talking about interviewing people who aren't particularly used to speaking on mic.
So somebody in your industry, they're not used to being interviewed, they're not used to being on media then you put a mike in front of them, even if it's an H2 on a handle and they can totally freeze up or be really formal. They feel like they have to speak all like lawyer speak and sort of use big words and make themselves look impressive where as a lav mic, you stick it on their shirt and they just forget it's there and it becomes much more natural throughout the conversation. So yeah it just leads to better content I think. Better conversations.
Matthew: Yeah and you don't have to do as much of the coaching about the mike technique. Repeatedly telling them you know “you better come closer a bit” or “stop looking away when your answering a question…” all that goes out the window. Like you say it's just so much easier.
So that setup, the ATR3350 will have mics running into the H5 but most recorders will accommodate that.
Colin: Aye, we talk about the Zoom recorders more than anything else, just because we like them, they're good and the Zoom H1 is their basic one for about £60 isn't it? We've done lav mic interviews with that using a splitter. So using something which lets you plug a few different mics into the one input. We've got a lot of these setups shown in our community actually and fanfission. So if you over to fanfission.com then you can get full instructions on a lot of these setups over there but there's lots of different ways to do it from a cheap ‘bodgy' way… so with the H1 you only get it in one channel obviously like you were talking about don't you? You don't get to split it out…
Matthew: Yeah the sounds not quite as good…
Colin: But with an H5 you can have a lav mic in each channel. You can separate people out. You can work on them much more. You're a lot more flexible in how you work with that audio track.
Just quickly, the other option there is actually a similar one. H5 with two hand held mikes. The down side, maybe one of the cons of the lav mikes is that if you're in a more noisy environment, they are relatively omni-directional kind of. I know maybe technically they're not but they do pick up a lot of background noise. So if you're in a noisy environment it can not produce the greatest sound. So if you're at a conference for example, maybe you want an H5 with two dynamic mics, like an SM58 which are really good at cutting out the background noise. You can get them to hold the SM58 right up to their mouth. You do the same and suddenly you have really good interview quality but with a little bit of the background buzz but not too much and you can do that with an H5 as well because you can plug the pro version XLR mikes into that.
Matthew: Yeah, you've got a trade off there. Like you say your lav mikes are always omni-directional, they're going to pick up the environment. When you plug a dynamic directional mic in… the issue with dynamic mics going into these recorders tends to be that your noise floor immediately raises. I think its because of the pre-amps so again your priority is going to be to capture the vocals so that's the better option in my opinion there than getting a lower noise floor but your background noise is so loud that you can't actually here what somebodies saying.
You're sometimes going to have to make these decisions aren't you, when you're not recording in an actual recording studio
Colin: Yeah, what about in the studio then? So I think they are the two that we would recommend for out and about isn't it. You've either got your lav mics or if you really want to you can use some hand held mikes or the basic, just a digital recorder back and forth or one microphone between 2 people as well.
So what about if you are in the studio like we are just now. If you're watching the video then you can see that we've got two mics in front of us, boom stands all set up, the mixer in front of us. This is a full studio setup. So do you want to talk us through this?
Matthew: Yeah, well in the studio here we're running through the Yamaha MG10 mixer. So we've got our mikes plugged into that and the audio is coming out of the mixer into the Zoom point 5. This is the sort of setup that… we have it setup all the time. We can come in here and just switch everything on and we're ready to go but if your studio is maybe your kitchen table or a table in your bedroom or something like that, that also has different purposes. Colin I think your old recording studio, was it not your son's bedroom as well back in the day?
Colin: Yeah, you cannot leave the mikes setup in there…
Matthew: Most people don't have the luxury of a permanent setup. One of the best bits of kit in my opinion and I've had one of these for a couple of years now, is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. It's not actually a mixer, it's a little pre-amp but it's got two XLR inputs, again I'll put a link to this in the show notes. To be honest, I didn't get this for podcast recording, I got it for audio drama recording because when we were getting together recording our dramas I wanted to have two actors being able to act together at the same time and record the audio straight into the computer and with this it gives you that capability. I was able to record two actors on two different channels. It's a USB device so it plugs directly into your computer. These are famous for they're well priced and their sound quality is a lot better I've heard than your standard mixer of the same price.
Obviously with a mixer your going to get a bit more flexibility if you also want to do things like mix minus and things like that, you know recording online. But if your always just recording on person, the sound quality on this if your a bit of an audiophile, they are a bit better than mixers which are priced at the same level.
Colin: Aye, I mean saying that I mean the MG10 I found, this is one of the only mixers I've found in the under £200 range that actually gives a similar kind of quality. The noise floor in this is brilliant I find. But then it's not USB so it does add a bit of complications, it's maybe a less quality. It depends on your sound card in your computer when you're bringing in the sound into it. There's all sorts of different factors but yeah the focus rite is a great simple solution I think for a couple of mikes and in fact for even more than that isn't it because they've got their bigger versions.
Matthew: Yeah, so you get the 18i8, again we've got a review of this on the site so that's if you want to bring in 4 people. It's got the capability to plug in some more mikes as well so you can get these USB devices that have 8 or possibly more channels and if you've got something like Reaper or Adobe Audition, you can sit and record all these into their own independent channels.
What about in terms of microphones because what I've tended to use with the Scarlet 2i2 is the SM58's which are famously indestructible mikes, very versatile and you get a really good sound quality with them. Again you've got that issue of, they are dynamic and you do get that wee bit more noise floor underneath so recently I went and bought a couple of condenser mikes. The AKG C214's I think they're called…
Colin: Cannot remember the codes…
Matthew: Yeah because the names of mikes always roll off the tongue don't they, just numbers and letters but these mikes are really high end. Again, it's audio drama production I'm looking at here and I've found that they're exceptional in the studio but when I'm in my house, even though I've got a nice little sound treated what I would call studio, it's actually a cupboard, if my wife's watching the TV like 2 rooms away with a really low volume, these will still pick them up because they're so sensitive.
Colin: Yeah, same with any condenser mike isn't it. They've just got so much more sensitivity. I'm using right now the MXL 990 and that is a condenser mike that I've found that actually, it's got a good balance between giving you a bit more richness than a dynamic mike but not picking up a ridiculous amount of the background noise. It's quite good value as well, I mean it's only £80 in the UK, maybe $100 US and it's a great mike.
So yeah that's a good option I think if you've got a room at home with a bit of treatment so there's little reverb, little background noise, all that kind of stuff, you can get a really good quality out of the MXL 990. Two of them in the studio with a Focusrite 2i2 and suddenly you've got pretty pro level quality.
Matthew: And of course we can't do this episode without mentioning our old friend the Samson Q2U. One of our favourite mikes definitely. I'm recording into one now so the Q2U if you're not familiar with it, a hand held dynamic mike, you can use it as a USB mike, you could use it as an XLR mike. It's got the cardioid pattern so it's going to reject a lot of the background noise around you and they're just exceptional value. I checked yesterday, they're set at £54 at the moment.
Colin: Including headphones and a stand as well.
Matthew: Yeah that's right. So if you're on a budget… what I would say to somebody generally is go with the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 and get 2 Samsung Q2U's. That's a brilliant setup if you want to record at home with two people.
Colin: Yeah, you can both monitor with a wee headphone splitter. You can both stand them up with the wee stands as well so you've basically got a mobile studio straight away with that.
Matthew: And that is the sort of the kit if you don't mind taking your laptop with you, that you can setup quite easily on location as well.
Colin: Simple as anything yeah definitely. Cool okay. Well I think the Samsung Q2U is a kind of budget one, maybe a digital recorder for on the go. A mixer or the Focusrite with some condenser mikes for a more studio setup. We've covered way too much here.
Matthew: It's also worth mentioning the iRig stuff as well. You get a lot of good iRig stuff…
Colin: You mean for recording on a mobile phone?
Matthew: Yeah for recording on your phone. Again I was looking on Amazon at an iRig pre-amp. So you could actually plug this iRig pre-amp into your iPhone and plug in an XLR mike to that pre amp so that's going to give you some options if you want to go down that route.
And also we've talked about lav mikes, smart mikes are also a very good option and it means if you're using your phone, you don't need as much gear on you do you.
Colin: Yeah, two road smart lavs, smart lav plus, I should say, the newer ones. And there's a little adapter called the Rode NC6 I think and that lets you plug two smart lavs into one phone and basically have the same setup we talk about earlier doesn't it. For as cheap as anything. That's about £95 for the two smart lavs and the splitter so that's actually a really good quality, quite good value setup.
Matthew: so we've given you loads of options there so get on Amazon or wherever you shop and start having a look at some of this gear and like I say we'll add the links to everything we've mentioned. We've reviewed most of it so we'll add those to the show notes as well.
Colin: So this is episode 5 isn't it? So this will be podcraft.net/705 so that's season 7 episode 5.
For some aspiring podcasters, picking something to talk about is the biggest challenge of them all.
Matthew: This question came in from Joan, and it's an interesting one, Colin, because a lot of people call at the podcast and because they have a topic in mind, but then there's also a large majority of folk that come in to podcast, and because they want to do a podcast but they don't have a topic. When you arrived in podcast without your topic what are the first steps that you should take in your opinion?
Colin: I don't know. I always find it quite confusing when people first get in touch with that. They just want to start a podcast but they don't know what to speak about. I suppose it makes sense doesn't it? People can get into their medium and then decide that they want to contribute to it and think, “Oh, what's the best thing to speak about?” Actually, often it's not that they don't have a topic to speak about, it's that they've got loads of passions, or lots of things they're interested in or lots of work topics and they just aren't sure just which one to choose. It's like amongst a various choice.
For me, the first thing that I think about is, this the cliché isn't it, find your passion, so what is it that you're most interested in. Why did you chose to start talking about audio drama?
Matthew: We were already making audio drama and it just made so much sense because we were podcasting not to make a podcast about doing it, and yeah, it was something that we were passionate about and it was something that we saw would benefit ourselves and benefit the small community that we knew at that point, so it worked out really well for us.
Colin: Why not football or your various other hobbies?
Matthew: Yeah. I don't know if I can answer that. I've thought about podcast on all sorts of things. There's always topics that come up that you think that would make a great podcast, but when you get a bit more experience you realise the work involved in doing a podcast, you don't want to end up with ten not very good shows. It's better to do one good show, isn't it?
Colin: Yeah, and focus on it. I think everybody's got a topic they can talk about. There's always something that you talk about more to your friends than anything else. It's more about finding the focus of that topic, isn't it? Finding what you're going to focus on within that niche. For me, the first place that starts often is, it's the problem, isn't it? It's what is the pain that's out there, so I always talk about the mountain biking show that I do, which is just a hobby of mine. It's a passion of mine, and I wanted talk about mountain biking, and I was trying to figure out, what particular thing can I concentrate on.
The thing that people always ask me about when it comes to mountain biking is the kit. It's always about what's the best wheels to get these days, or what's the best gear set to get, or you know what the new shiny, fancy bits? That's kind of what I started focusing on, on the show because it was the most commonly asked question within that niche. It's the problem that follows you back. It's the stuff that really causes people pain because they're trying to figure out how to get about a bike how to improve their bike, but they cannot navigate their way through all of this various, you know hundreds and dozens of choices out there to build up grade. That's always the first bit isn't it. Finding that pain, I think.
Matthew: Do you think it comes down motivations of whether you want to be a business with your podcast where you want to make money or whether it's just a hobby, or do you think now a days these things are so overlapped that you know it's pretty much just the same thing?
Colin: Yeah. I think for the people that are coming into it as a hobby, a lot of them want to turn into a business. A lot of them want to talk about what they are passionate about anyway. They'll think about how to monetize it through sponsorship and things like that, but then you've got those people, they're just talking about the stuff they find interesting. They find fun. They're passionate about, but then there's a whole other group of people who come into it with the main view that it's going to be to promote a business. In that case, you're not coming at it necessarily because it's something you love, not something that you're really passionate about, it's something that you love to work in maybe?
I think then it's more important to find that pain, to find that real problem that people struggle with. Has to be something that really keeps people up at night, it bugs them, it's something that you say you can solve it for them then they're going to jump on it basically. That's what is going to grab people in and drag them into listening to your show, isn't it? If you can prove you can really fix something for them.
Matthew: You think that this solving a problem thing, is it not enough just to have something that you want to talk about? Or again does that come down to your motivations?
Colin: Well, there's various different problems isn't there, there's a problem where you're teaching, so with the mountain biking one it was talking about how to upgrade you bike, how to navigate all the bits and parts and all that kind of stuff. Another problem is just being bored I suppose. There's lots of entertainment shows out there so finding a topic. I think a big part of it is to sell the benefits isn't it, if you have that problem that you're solving so, if it's entertainment for example, obviously it's harder to find the particular problem. It's more about, if you're bored come and listen to us we're funny, this is why. You're selling the benefits, it's also the particular reasons why.
Okay, to go back to the problem solution thing. Problems, you've got a problem, you've found the pain you finding and we're going to figure out how to solve it. Here's the solution, that's the benefits that you're selling to the people, but then the next step if you're a teaching show or a business show or anything like that, it's why you are uniquely served to solve it, so why people should listen to your show as opposed to other people's shows.
I think that applies more to the entertainment niche more than anything else because then suddenly you're selling yourself. If it's entertainment, why are is the topic you're choosing out most interesting to listen to? It's tricky that way because in a lot of ways that's very subjective so it's trickier with entertainment. That's the one you can't really answer this black and white. I think still, there's still a definitely a bit of a problem solution pair in there, and definitely why you are unique to that.
Matthew: Just to get us wrapped up then, looking towards if someone's got a couple of topics in their mind you might want to sit down and jot out a few potential episodes. We talk about seasons here a lot of the podcast hosts, so you're looking at some common themes that they could batch into seasons? What sort of advice would you have on that front?
Colin: I know you always talk about it, that's when of your tests that you go through the people you work with is, how many episodes can you think up in ten to fifteen minutes, something like that.
Matthew: Yeah, aye, if you can only think of two then that's a bit of a warning bell isn't it?
Colin: Most people that come in they can think up the episodes, I think that helps with topic as well, doesn't it? If you tell them you want to talk about mountain biking in general, lets write down as many topics as you can in the next ten minutes. Then there's these, they tend to start to group into categories, you can get all of those episode ideas, you can group them into categories and you suddenly start to see the areas of that topic of that larger topic that you can niche down into, and that finds you specific topic I suppose. I think that's a good idea to test out the idea, isn't it. To zero in on the bit that you're most interested in.
Matthew: Yeah, I've said to a few people in the past, “Imagine you've started your show a year ago and you went on iTunes and looked at your podcast, what are some of the episodes that you'd like to see appear in there are you scroll through the feed?”
Colin: Yeah, it's never an easy answer on how to choose a topic, it's down to a whole bunch of reasons isn't it? I think the whole follow your passion, thing is flawed. You need to make sure it's a passion that other people struggle with as well, gives them motivation and that's where the problem solution pair comes in. Think about that, mostly and that validates the idea most effectively.
Batching your podcasts basically means that you record and produce in bulk. There are many benefits to doing things this way, but is it a good idea when you're just starting out?
Matthew: Here's a great question that comes in from Thomas, is batching a good idea for new pod casters? Before we answer that question Colin, what is batching?
Colin: What is batching? Batching is doing a whole bunch of stuff all at once basically.
Matthew: The reason behind doing that is to save time I suppose? Like we're doing now.
Colin: Yeah, totally, lets explain. We are currently, this is obviously season … What is it? Season seven isn't it? Season seven of Podcraft, and we are currently recording the first four episodes of Podcraft of this season all together. We've been sitting here for the last 20 minutes, half an hour and we're on episode four now but we recorded one two and three right before this, so we recording them all at once. That's batching isn't it? Basically taking four or five tasks and turning them into a batch and doing them all at once.
Matthew: Instead of setting up and taking down your equipment four different times, you're doing it once.
Colin: Exactly, yeah.
Matthew: At face value if you're coming in as a new pod caster you might look at that and think this is a really good idea, but there maybe some things that you should consider before you dive in and record ten episodes isn't there?
Colin: Shall we go through? We started on the upsides there, you're absolutely right there are certainly some downsides too, so let’s go through them. Upsides, time saving is a big one, equipment, especially your average pod caster doesn't have a studio all set up, so you've got to get your kit out, you've got to plug your cables in, you've got to get your notes out all that kind of stuff and all that takes time to set up and break it all down again. If you do it all at once then you're only doing that once, that saves a bunch of time.
There's also time saving in planning too I think, because you plan out a set of episodes, if you plan out four episodes all at once, there's a certain mindset you have to get into in terms of planning out episodes and creating your notes all that kind of stuff. I think that by episode two, three, four you are in the flow and you're creating them, the ideas start coming. I always feel that when you're being creative like that, you're creating scripts or planning something out, it always takes me a little while to get in to it. I feel if I do a bunch of episodes, plan them all at once, I tend to get better results and I get it all out quicker.
Matthew: You know that is why a lot of people increasingly now in podcasts are batching their shows. One very famous example is John Lee Dumas, isn't it who does a seven day a week podcast but he spends a Tuesday recording his shows, he's recording one day a week for seven podcasts a week.
Colin: Yeah, he does eight hours in a day, getting them all out in one day, which is hard work. I suppose that's one of the down sides. The last one I wanted to say actually about thinking about benefits, was around practise actually. I don't know, I find … This could be a personal thing, I don't know, you can tell me what you think after. I find that if I spend … If I was to record one twenty minute episode … One minute how am I going to explain this?
Say I was doing a daily show, and I was doing one ten minute show each day. Then I think I find my practise and getting better at something improving at something, I get better or more effective practise spending a longer time once every week, say. If I spend three or four hours just practising one thing rather than a little bit every day. That's probably a bit of a personal thing, I find that I just improve better if I batch things, because I just spend longer on it, it kind of embeds itself in my head more effectively. Just for me that's another benefit, I don't know about yourself?
Matthew: Yeah I guess that's a good point, everyone is different aren't they? You get some people who are like you, a feeling that they're getting better, getting more into their flow the more they do. You'll maybe get other people who when they get to maybe to their third or fourth episode start to feel a wee bit jaded, and their contents suffering from that. When you start out though, I guess it's a really good idea just to make sure that you're confident enough to record an episode because it's a smaller bite to make isn't it?
Matthew: It's less intimidating to record one episode than it is to do ten and it's the sort of thing that could cause procrastination if someone's waiting on that perfect moment to get ten brilliant episodes recorded.
Colin: Yeah, another downside is that I think that I talked about practise there, but maybe that's a little incremental improvements, whereas often when you do an episode, it's a good idea to go away and listen to it and to think about it and spend a bit of time mulling over what went well, what went badly. Just thinking about how you can improve it for next the time. If you batch four, five, six different episodes all at once then they're all going to be the same kind of in terms of your skill, maybe I'm contradicting my practise thing earlier. I think the evolution is a big thing isn't it? Making sure you are picking up on what you did.
You mentioned earlier on that you didn't listen to your own episodes enough. I always recommend people go back and listen to previous episodes, think about what they can improve on, and if you batch stuff too much then you're just not doing that enough I think. You could go if you recorded eight episodes that means you could go two months, where there's really not much improvement in terms of the podcast itself.
Matthew: Yeah, it will depend on your release frequency as well. You're talking about somebody potentially recording two month’s worth of content. What is in that period you were getting a lot of feedback for listeners. Maybe you got a couple of emails in that were really quite interesting, what things you wanted to bring up on the show. You've actually recorded the content for the next two months. The listener thinks they're being ignored and your podcast is denied of this good content for another couple of months, there's that to consider as well. You maybe don't always want to have the next two months content recorded, no matter how experienced you are.
Colin: It's a balance isn't it, it depends about on the type of show you're doing. Sometimes you'll do a show which is designed to be as efficient as possible in that you’re not going to do any time sensitive stuff, no news no updates, you're just literally do one thing that's basically reading through a script. That's the only way keep it efficient, that's the only way to keep it consistent, some people have to do this is a really limited time. That's fine, I think batching is perfect for that I think. If you're trying to do a more dynamic show, react to people's feedback and really try and change it up each time and prove things. Test things, maybe it's not necessarily good for you. I think that latter is probably more suited to new pod casters, maybe that makes the answer to this, is a batching a good idea to new podcasters? No, but you might find it fits really well into you processes later on in your podcasting career.