Learn How to Start a Successful Podcast
Do you already have a blog, and want to expand into another medium? Then why not start a podcast?
A lot of our Facegroup members have asked questions about starting a podcast, especially about gear, content, engagement, hosting, launching and monetization.
And to help me answer all those questions I called on an expert.
Craig Hewitt is the founder of Podcast Motor and Castos. When Craig started his own podcast, he quickly discovered that audio editing and producing a podcast was a pain. So he started Podcast Motor to help others.
The technicalities of podcasting almost stopped me from starting the ProBlogger podcast. That’s why I turned to Craig and his team to handle them.
Craig shares the nuts and bolts of podcasting:
- Reach existing audience in a different way, or reach an entirely new audience.
- Establish a dedicated hosting platform to store and distribute your media files.
- Differentiate yourself to develop a brand and identity (i.e. your accent).
- Start a podcast with everything you need for less than $100.
- Be comfortable with speaking, and assemble enough content to talk about.
- Identify and prepare guests to be on your podcast.
- Create an intro by recording it yourself or outsourcing it to a voiceover artist.
- Find a room without flat walls and hard spaces to eliminates echoes. (Try a closet).
- Edit audio to match your style (buttoned-up, conversational, etc.)
- Put your podcast on Android and Apple platforms, including Apple Podcast (formerly iTunes), Google Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, and YouTube.
- Get and grow your audience by getting your podcast listed in search engines. Ask listeners to subscribe, submit a rating/review, and share with others.
- Record five episodes before launching. Then launch with two episodes, plus or minus an Episode 0 that offers a description of what listeners can expect from your podcast.
- Engage your listeners by using a call to action through a link in the podcast audio, or continue a podcast discussion and connect with audience via a Facebook group.
- Metrics don’t really matter. Instead, review popularity, downloads and listening duration.
We covered a lot in this episode, but to get all the details you need to successfully start a podcast sign up for Craig’s free course, Launch In A Week:
- Podcasting Microphone and Gear
- Audio Recording and Editing
- Your Ideal Listener and Podcast Personas
- The Perfect Podcast Recipe
- Media Host and Website Setup
- Getting Your Show Ready to Launch
- Launch Planning and Growing Your Audience
Links and Resources for How to Start a Successful Podcast:
- Podcast Motor
- Launch In A Week
- Seriously Simple Podcasting
- Audio-Technica ATR2100
- Shure SM7B
- Focusrite Scarlett Preamp
- Skype Call Recorder (Mac only)
- International Start a Blog Day Class of 2019
- Pat Flynn’s Podcast
- Tim Ferriss’s Podcast
- Gary Vaynerchuk’s Podcast
- RogueStartups Podcast with co-host Dave Rodenbaugh
- Blue – Yeti
- Apple Podcast
- Google Podcast
- Google Play
- Amy Porterfield’s Podcast
Examples of How to Start a Successful Podcast:
Join our Facebook group.
Darren: Hey hey there, ProBlogger listeners. It’s Darren Rowse here from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 276 of the show. For those of you who are new to the show, ProBlogger is a site for bloggers and prebloggers designed to help them to start blogs, to grow those blogs, and to monetize those blogs. You can check out more of what we do over at ProBlogger. Particularly, look out for our courses. Our Start A Blog course which is free, will help you get up and running, and our 31 Days To Build A Better Blog course which is ideal for anyone with a blog who wants to take it up a notch, to have a 31 day intense burst of blogging to grow your blog. Check out the courses tab on problogger.com.
Today, we do something a little bit different on the show. The last six or so shows we’ve been featuring stories from new bloggers as part of our International Start A Blog Day which was last week. We had hundreds of blogs start on the day. It was so exciting to see them. You can check out some of those blogs that were started over on the ProBlogger blog. I’ll put on a link in the show notes today to that.
But many of you already have a blog. That little series we ran, you’re patient with us, and I know many of you enjoyed hearing those stories, but I know some of you have been wondering if you should start something else, some other kind of medium in 2019. So today, I’ve invited Craig Hewitt onto the show to talk about starting a podcast.
While Craig’s name may not be familiar to some of you, you have all heard his work and the work of his team. Every single one of you have heard it because right now, you are listening to something that Craig and his team has been a part of. Craig is the founder of PodcastMotor, the company that edits every episode of this podcast, apart from the first few episodes.
I’ve been working with Craig and his team for a few years now and they have been fantastic at helping us to get this show to you each week. All I do is record it, pop it in a Dropbox, put a few notes into a Google Doc, they take it, they edit it, they put all the little breakers and the musical bits into it, they put the show notes together for us, they put it into a WordPress installation, and they even schedule it for us. They create a social graphic for the show as well. They do everything behind the scenes apart from record it themselves. They’ve really helped a lot to help get this show up and running.
Craig has also started a new service more recently called Castos. I’ll link to them in the show notes today. I so wished this service was around when I started the podcast because it’s a service that hosts your podcast, integrates it with WordPress, and basically does everything you need behind the scenes to put your podcast onto the web. It’s really affordable as well.
When the number of listeners started asking questions about podcasting recently in our Facebook group, Craig was the obvious person to come on to the show. He also tells me that he’s put together a free step-by-step email course to help you launch a podcast as well and we talk about that in the show today. If you do want to check that out, it’s a seven-day or seven-step email sequence that you’ll get. You can sign-up for that at castos.com/problogger. I’ve seen it, it’s really a very helpful guide and something I wish I had when I started this podcast because I had to hack together this podcast using information from all over the place and to have it all into one spot will be fantastic.
In today’s interview, we cover a lot of ground. I basically put up a thread in our Facebook group asking members of our group what they want to know about podcasting and I was amazed how many questions came in. I was inundated with questions and I basically took all those questions and put them to Craig in today’s show. We talk about the why of podcasting, the benefits of it, who should podcast, who shouldn’t. We talk about gear, software that you need to start. We talk about creating the content, recording the content, promoting the content, leveraging your podcast to take readers to take action, to monetize it, and launching a podcast a well.
There’s a lot in today’s show. I’m sure you’ll find it useful. Some of you might want to check out the transcript as well because there’s a lot of information in it. You can find the show notes today and that transcript at problogger.com/podcast/276. Again, you can get Craig’s free email course at castos.com/problogger. That’s a seven-day course. I’ll talk a little bit more about that after the interview.
Lastly, if you know someone who you think should start a podcast, please tell them about this episode. Not only it will help to grow the ProBlogger podcast but could also end up changing their life as well as they discover this medium for themselves. I’m going to get back into the interview now. This is a fun one for me to record because I hadn’t really spoken to Craig a lot even though we’ve been working for years. It was great to hear his voice and he had a lot of really great things to share as well.
Hey, Craig. Good to have you with us today. Welcome to the ProBlogger podcast.
Craig: Hey, how are you doing? Thanks so much for having me.
Darren: It’s good to have you and we’ve obviously enjoyed having you work with us on the ProBlogger podcast for a while and you seem like an ideal person to get on. Many of our listeners at this time of year are thinking about new types of content for the year ahead and I know we get a lot of questions around podcasting. I thought you’d be ideal to talk to us about how to start a podcast and any tips for the early days of podcasting. What I thought I might do before we get into our reader’s questions is to get you to introduce your backstory and how did you end up in the podcasting space.
Craig: I think it’s always funny. Everybody has their kind of secret story of how they got to where they are now. Mine was coming around the long way into podcasting when I started getting into online business and entrepreneurship. I wanted to start a podcast because I listen to ones like yours and Pat Flynn. I can just at least document what I’m doing and share along the way what’s working and what’s not. I started my own podcast four years ago now—I can’t believe it’s been that long—and really quickly saw that audio editing and producing a podcast is frankly a pain. It’s really difficult and I think that if you talk to anybody who started podcast, they say, “This is the reason that it took us so long to get into this. This is by far the biggest pain point we have.” It’s not like spinning up a blog where you just go and you sign up for a SiteGround hosting, install WordPress and you start typing, you can do a bit of it on your phone. With podcasting, you at least need a little bit of equipment, some software a little bit of skills around how to edit, what an RSS feed is, and all these things.
I said, “I bet some people who are really busy would pay for this if I could take care of all of this stuff for them.” So, we started PodcastMotor almost four years ago now, here at the end of 2018. What PodcastMotor is aimed at is taking all of the backend podcast editing and production work off of people’s hands, like yourself, who are busy professionals, entrepreneurs, startups, businesses. They have a lot better things to do with their time than to learn how to be a semi pro audio editor.
Darren: And it’s a dream come true for me. I have to say that the first months of me starting a podcast, I did it all myself. Then I hired someone to do it for me and it’s still was quite a bit of to-and-froing with that person to try and to map them to get it just the way I wanted. When we started working with you guys, it was amazing to be able to just record the podcast—the part that I enjoy the most—then to put it into Dropbox, and the next thing I knew, it’s live on the site with the show notes, with the featured image, transcript, and all those things. That’s a great service to have.
You also got another product as well which might be probably more interesting to some of our listeners as well. Maybe just talk about that right out front and then we’ll get into the questions because I think it will be something that listeners might enjoy.
Craig: About two years ago now, I had the opportunity to get into the product space a little bit in podcasting and purchased a WordPress plugin called Seriously Simple Podcasting. From them, we’ve built the Castos hosting platform. I will probably talk about the nuts and bolts of podcasting a little but later in the episode but you really want a dedicated hosting platform to store and distribute all the media files for your podcast. You don’t want that living in the same server where your WordPress site lives. So we’ve built the Castos platform that integrated with WordPress really tightly. That’s another product we have in the podcasting space.
For people who are getting started with podcasting, we’ve built a really cool getting started email and video course called Launch In A Week. The idea is to take you from, “Hey I want to start a podcast,” to the podcast actually being live with episodes and in iTunes and all that stuff in just a week. If you have folks who want to check that out, they can go go to castos.com/problogger. I’m sure we’ll have link in the show notes.
Darren: We shall. This isn’t about selling to our listeners. I just wanted to get that upfront because you bring a lot of credibility to this topic and a lot of experience, particularly in that area of editing and helping podcasts to get up and running with the hosting side of things, the technicalities of podcasting which, to be honest, almost killed me and almost stopped my podcast before I even started. That’s the perspective we’re coming to this interview today.
Now I asked our Facebook group listeners to ask any questions that they had about podcasting and I was amazed how many questions came in. I was going to prepare a whole lot of questions but I think our listeners probably are the best ones to ask the questions. I’m going to throw the podcast over to them and I ordered them in a way that I hope makes sense. A lot of the questions that I want to start off with are around the why of podcasting. I said it at the start of the show, this is the time of year where we see a lot of readers starting new blogs but also new podcast or new YouTube channel. For those listening, who are wondering is a podcast right for me, why do you love podcasting? Why do you think it’s a medium our listeners should be considering?
Craig: Anybody that is creating content, and that typically means they’re blogging already but like you said, they could have a YouTube channel or big social media following already, I think podcasting is a natural extension to that, in that it’s an additive type of content addition to what they’re doing instead of saying, “I’m in a podcast. Instead of blogging or instead of doing a YouTube channel, I’m going to start a podcast,” because we always say you can do two different things with a podcast than you can say a blog and it is to reach the existing audience in a little bit different way or reach an entirely new audience that might not just a blog reader.
What it looks like in the first aspect is, the reaching your existing audience in a different way is having usually different types of conversations or covering different topics around your main area of focus that is just more appropriate for an audio medium. You and I having this conversation in a blog would be really weird. But having this conversation, having really a dialogue, having your Facebook group members to have questions, and things like that is really natural in this audio medium.
People looking to start a podcast that already have some other type of content say to themselves, maybe, “What am I covering in my blog that’s great and what can I cover in an audio medium that could be different and additive?” Things like interviews, case studies, and things like that tend to lend themselves to the audio medium much better than written.
In reaching a new audience, there’s a lot of people that don’t have time to read blog posts. I’m one of those people. When I was working in corporate, I would have hours a day in the car that I just listen to podcasts. I could never spend hours a day reading a blog. So, you kind of think about people maybe in those situations.
Darren: That’s so true and then as to my experience really is by starting this podcast, I grew my audience, so there were certainly new people who came into the audience, but I really like what you said about reaching your current audience in a different way as well because it seem to deepen that relationship with old-time readers or reignite the spark with those readers as well.
I actually had a question from Liso which I think build on what you’re saying. Liso said, “I’m an artist and have a blog which is about art, which is very visual. I’m wondering if I should do a podcast? How could I do a podcast with such a visual topic?” Any thoughts on that for Liso?
Craig: I interviewed a fellow for our podcast at Castos who was an artist. He’s an Irish fellow that has one of our most popular podcast that we host at Castos. I can see that just by download numbers he gets 20,000 or 30,000 downloads per episode. I asked him this exact question. I said, “This is a really visual medium that you live in. This goes back to why would you podcast instead of have a blog or something?” He says, “Yeah, but I can tell the story of the artist so much better in a podcast than I ever could in a blog.” He blogs as well, obviously.
I think for her to say, “Could you get the artist on and talk about just the artist themselves, their story, their journey, challenges they’re having, and things they’re up to?” Talk about the art, of course, but even in a medium like art where everything is so visual, telling the story of the artist and people themselves is really unique. Very few people probably are doing that and it would be a way for her to send out and tell a different story of the art world to their audience.
Darren: Yeah and I think you can then drive people back to your blog post which might show the art of the artist in the show notes or in a separate blog post. That ought to be a good combination.
Tula asked an interesting question. She said, “Would you suggest a person with a foreign accent do a podcast?” She’s got a popular YouTube channel in spite of the accent that she has, but she’s wondering because podcast is purely audio and not visual, would it be a challenge for her?
Craig: Absolutely. I think that it gives you a chance to differentiate yourself from everyone else that’s American or British. If you look at the high-level podcast statistics, it’s really dominated by the North American, at least, and some of the European demographics. If you’re Australian, or Irish, or Latin American, or whatever, I think it gives you a chance to really show who you are and stand out like that. I don’t know, Darren. Have you seen being Australian that people are surprised or have different reactions to your accent? Some are really surprised that you’re Australian, right?
Darren: I do. It’s amazing how many long-time readers of the blog said, “I never knew that you were an Aussie,” even though I talked about Australia quite a bit. Certainly my Twitter account’s most active during Australian hours. It’s a surprise to some people. It’s also been attractive to other people and that it’s interesting. I get a lot of comments from people saying, “My kids love your podcast because they love the accent and the crazy words that you use that you don’t even know you’re using.” Yeah, I actually get it’s part of the branding, I guess as well.
I guess it really probably depends on how different your accent is and if you find that people do struggle to understand your English. Maybe if your English is a second language, maybe it could be a challenge, but I actually think, like you it’s a good thing, too.
Craig: And I think a bit of a higher level thing is, is having a brand and an identity. Your accent and being Australian is part of your brand and identity. For her as well, if she’s comfortable with it, she’s got to get comfortable with hearing her voice. That’s a really weird thing. The first time you hear yourself recorded, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I sound like an idiot,” or, “I never knew my voice was like this.” Once you get comfortable with it and have confidence in it, which honestly is a hard thing for a lot of people, you’re going to embrace it, love it, and go with it. That’s part of the brand of your podcast.
Darren: Yeah, so go for it, Tula. Before we move on to some of the logistics of starting a podcast, do you have any examples that come to mind of bloggers that you’ve worked with, that have launched the podcast in addition to their blog? I would be interested to hear of any examples that you’ve gotten and things that you say that they’ve done well.
Craig: One of the shining examples of this for us at PodcastMotor, we’ve been working with CoSchedule. CoSchedule is a marketing automation tool for WordPress and we’ve been working with them for a long time now, a couple of years. We’ve asked them, “Hey, you guys write such amazing blog content.” If you’ve never checked out the CoSchedule blog, go check it out. You’ll be blown away at the depth of articles that they write. So, they came back to us and said, “Yeah, we can write really great in-depth blog post, but what we can’t do is hear the story of these people and have organic, natural conversations with them about what’s going on in their business, why they’re doing this, how, and get the story behind it.”
What they’ve found is that the podcast now is the main—in marketing terms—top of the funnel area where new people find their brand, then come in and they link back to the website—like all good podcasters should is link back to your home base, wherever that is, business, personal brand, website, or whatever—but a lot of people are finding CoSchedule through their podcast now and not through their blog. Then they go, see the blog, and say, “Holy cow.” Their blog content is so great, this company really knows what they’re doing, and then ultimately become customers.
That’s kind of the flow I think that a lot of podcasters that are in business or have a brand of whatever type, that they want to get peeled back to their site. To learn more about them is to knock people’s socks off with the quality, depth, and authenticity of their podcast content, then get them back to their site to find out more, and hopefully engage with them there. But yeah, CoSchedule’s had a really positive experience with podcasting the last couple of years.
Darren: And are they telling stories or the thing that you mentioned earlier in a podcast, is that what it’s all about for them?
Craig: They’re doing case studies and a fair amount of nitty-gritty how-to stuff because that’s their MO. But just doing it in an audio medium, I think, tells the story, if you will, better they can than a blog.
Darren: That’s great and I think their content on the blog would lend itself to repurpose to the podcast as well and to be able to link their content together in that way would work. I’m not sure whether they’re doing that but that’s certainly something that works well on ProBlogger because we do the how-to content to be able to tackle the same topic in a slightly different way, or to bring on a guest is something that our listeners seem to enjoy, too.
Craig: Yup. Very smart.
Darren: A lot of the questions we’ve got were around a gear, microphones, the most commonly thing that people ask. Stewart, I’ll take for example, says, “What microphones and other recording equipment do you recommend for those starting out?” A lot of the questions were around on a budget, what’s the first one you should get that doesn’t break the bank. If you’ve got any advice on what microphone to get, I’m sure that would be appreciated.
Craig: This is by far the top question. To go back just a little bit to our Launch In A Week email and videos course, the goal we put together with it is to say, “There are a million ways to do this and there are 872 blog post about the best podcasting mic out there,” and you really can. Unfortunately, a lot of folks do say, “I’m going to do all the research and spend a month doing this,” and then they never get started because they just get overwhelmed with all of the stuff out there, conflicting opinions, and all this stuff about how you should start a podcast. We try to say, “Forget it. We’re going to tell you one or two ways to do this.” You can just go and follow the Launch In A Week course and say, “Okay, this is great. Craig is taking all of the questions out of my head and keeping me from doing this so that I can actually start the podcast.”
But all that preamble to say, I have two recommendations when it comes to podcasting mics. One is the one using right now and I’ve been using for 3½ years, is the Audio-Technica ATR2100. It is a USB mic that plugs right into my MacBook. I record usually on Skype, like we are doing now or on Zoom, both of which are basically free. If you want to go up one notch from there, The Shure SM7B is a really high-quality mic. It cost about $300-$400.
You need another piece of equipment called a preamp to go in-between that and your computer. We like the Scarlett Focusrite, which is about another $100. It gives you a little more depth of vocal quality. I think the Audio-Technica mic, which is $60-$70 on Amazon, is great. It’s great for a lot of people. I know Tim Ferriss uses this or used it at some point for all his interviews. If it’s good enough for him, I think it’s good enough for pretty much everybody. But don’t let microphones hang you up and keep you from getting started.
Darren: That’s right. We’ll compile a list of links to all these microphones and gear in the show notes as well. Similar question, what software do you recommend? You just mentioned Skype and Zoom. I presume that’s more for interviewing guests?
Darren: Do you have any other software that people should try, particularly if maybe they’re maybe doing a talking head podcast?
Craig: Yeah. For remote interviews like this, Skype or Zoom. There’s an add-on for Skype called Call Recorder if you’re on a Mac. That gets the remote interviews done. If you’re just recording it locally, there’s a free open source cross-platform tool that works on Windows or Mac called Audacity. Again, it is perfectly good. It’s the tool I use still all the time when I need to edit stuff. It’s really high-quality and being open source, it’s free. So, audacity.org I think it is, for recording locally and for editing. You can do both on the same tool there and it’s wonderful.
Darren: I just used GarageBand because it was on my Mac, but Audacity is certainly one that most of my friends seem to be using these days as well.
Frank asked for some advice on hosting. Now we have to disclaim that you actually offer that sort of service, so maybe go check out Castos would be a good way to go. But I guess maybe if you could talk to what you mentioned earlier about not using your blog hosting. Maybe if you could just expand on that a little as to why that might be.
Craig: I think having a dedicated media hosting platform is a good idea. Say you release your podcast episodes every Tuesday morning. If you’re hosting your podcast media files on the same server that your website is served from, and you have, hopefully, thousands of listeners every Tuesday that subscribe to your podcast, new episode comes out of iTunes, they’re all downloading your episode at eight o’clock on Tuesday morning. If you have a bunch of people on your website as well, your website is going to crash maybe, perform really slowly. Those files might not download because they’re all getting sucked out of the same server. If you can separate those two resources onto different platforms, then your website will perform much better and consistently, and your podcast listeners will be able to stream and download your episodes much more smoothly. So separating these two resources onto different platforms is just the best practice really in podcasting.
When it comes to podcast hosting platforms, I’m of course biased, I think Castos is great especially if using WordPress because it lets you do everything in one place. If you’re not or you want to check other things out, I really like what the folks at Simplecast are doing these days. simplecast.com is a really great platform. The tool that a lot of people have heard of probably is Libsyn. They’ve been around probably the longest and they’re probably the biggest player in the industry. So, maybe check out Libsyn as well.
Darren: And it’s not that expensive really. Monte actually asked how much does it cost to get into podcasting. Maybe you could speak to that. There’s hosting, obviously your microphone, what else do people need to be considering?
Craig: Hosting, a good microphone because it is worth spending the $60-$70 that the Audio-Technica might cost. If that’s too much, I know a lot of people that use their Apple earbuds that come with an iPhone or Android phone. Just something so that you have some microphone close to your mouth is really important. I think that’s the one thing you have to have is some kind of microphone. A hosting plan cost $10-$20 a month. You can go all-in for less than $100 to start with. These hosting platforms are all on a monthly basis just like your WordPress hosting platform would be.
There’s some other things that are nice to have when it comes to Audio gear. If you’re using a microphone like the Shure SM7B or the Audio-Technica, having a pop filter which is a little screen that sits between your mouth and the microphone, cuts down all what’s called ‘plosives,’ these really harsh P and T sounds. If you don’t have this, every time you say, “Can I please go take…” these words that start with P and T, they’re really harsh and sound really bad in your recording. The pop filter mechanically filters those out, so it’s really a nice thing.
Another thing that I really like is having a boom arm which is this articulating arm that attaches to your desk or table and then holds the mic up at the vertical level of your mouth so that you can sit comfortably and talk into the mic without stooping down or holding the mic in your hand and having all sorts of uncomfortable ergonomics for podcasting. Your voice actually sounds different if you’re talking down or talking up so having it right at level with your mouth is really nice. Those two pieces together will cost you another $30-$40. Again, you’re right at $100 getting started.
Darren: That’s great. The boom mic also allows you to stand up, which is what I like to do when I’m podcasting because it seems to give bit more energy to what you’re doing as well.
Let’s talk a little bit about content. Let’s start with Florence’s question. Is it best to have a script for your podcast or to go with bullet points or just ad lib? What’s your preference? What do you do?
Craig: This will change as your journey as a podcaster evolves. As you’re just getting started, it is much easier to have a little more content prepared and a little better idea of what you’re trying to do. As you evolve, there are a lot of podcasters that I know that say, “Let’s just hit record and see where this goes.” That’s perfectly fine when you as interviewer have some more confidence and skills. But as you’re just getting started, at least having an outline of, “Okay, I’m going to interview Craig today, I’m going to ask him these six or seven questions generally,” so that if there’s a dead point or weird transition in the interview, you can say, “Okay, I’m going to go next to this one because it’s next on my list.”
I think for most people, scripting out an entire monologue or series of questions is really difficult. For me and for a lot of people, the hardest thing in podcasting is to just talk for 5 or 10 or 30 minutes by yourself, reading something, and having it sound natural. For you and me to sit down and have this conversation for an hour is no problem and for most people it probably isn’t.
This is not the question but I would say, in terms of format of podcast, I think if people are considering having a solo show where they are the only one talking, I would make sure that you’re very comfortable speaking because it’s just hard. It’s just hard as opposed to having a co-host doing an interview-type show.
Darren: Yeah and a few people did ask what are the pros and cons of having a co-host. As someone who predominantly does just talking head, me alone in a room, it is an awkward, strange thing to do to just sit there and talk.
I don’t have a script for mine, but I certainly have fairly comprehensive bullet points, so that I know I can fill up 20 minutes. I couldn’t just adlib for 20 or 30 minutes. Someone like Gary V. probably could, but I need to have thought about the journey that I’m going to take my readers on. A script really doesn’t work for me. I think some of the early podcast, if we go back and listen to the first few, I didn’t read them, but I almost was and it comes across in the style I guess of the podcast. Any tips on finding a co-host should you find someone that compliments your personality? Any tips on that? I’ve never had one, so I don’t know what I’d be looking for.
Craig: My personal podcast that I started four years ago started as a solo show where I was planning on interviewing people. I think my third or fourth interview, I interviewed a fellow, Dave Rodenbaugh, who’s now my co-host. We started down one path and went to another after he came on the show. He compliments my style, experience, and personality quite a bit. Not so much that it’s awkward, or confrontational, or anything like that. I think that’s important because it’s not quite like running a business together or getting married.
I think you and your co-host are going to be spending a lot of time together and talking about a lot of things that hopefully are really important to you and your audience. I would say, if you’re considering having a co-host and you don’t have somebody in mind for it already, look around at your world that you live in, and people that you find interesting and have complimentary but similar perspectives to you. Time zone is an important one. Dave lives in Colorado and I live in France now. I’m American but I’ve been living in France for the last two years. We’re eight hours apart and that’s challenging. We start the podcast at 9:00 at night. It’s definitely something to think about.
Darren: Yeah. The one thing I’d add in having talked to a few of my friends is that, some point of tension can actually be a good thing. I think you want to have similar values, but having different perspective or life experiences sometimes can make for an interesting discussion. I’m thinking of one podcast host that I know of, she’s quiet straight, she’s quite matter-of-fact, and the other one is all over the place and disorganized, and I think that makes for an interesting discussion.
I think something along those lines can sometimes work, too. It just adds a little bit of tension. You never quite know where it’s going to go. Ollie asks about finding guests for your podcast. If you are going to do an interview, (1) how do you find a guest, and (2) what’s your approach in preparing the guest for the interview?
Craig: Most people find when they start out, finding guests is not that hard. You have a dream team list of the top 10 or 20 people that you want to have on the show. Getting through that first couple of months is typically pretty easy for folks. All the people in your industry you really look up to, or have worked with in the past or something, a really high quality candidate for your podcast.
Coincidentally, for people that are more on the business-to-business side of content in the worlds that they live in, one of the things that very few people realize I think in this hidden gem of podcasting is the networking opportunity. If you’re a business you’re saying, “Why would I start a podcast? There’s going to be 30 people that listen to my podcast.” Don’t discount the fact that if you go and ask all the leaders in your industry if they want to come on your podcast, you’re going to instantly become an authority in your space, and you’re going to have whatever 30 or 100 people that you’ve spent an hour talking to that you very likely couldn’t have had that hour to talk with them in another manner.
I mean, just to be able to say, “Darren, would you like to come on my podcast? I’d love to talk to you about blogging and how it can grow your brand, all this kind of stuff,” and you’d be like, “Wow, that’s great. I’m going to get to go on a podcast and talk about this thing that I love, that I’m an authority on, and that Craig and all of his readers and listeners are going to think that I know what I’m talking about,” If you’re looking at getting into podcasting from the B2B space, I would definitely consider it as the biggest opportunity is just for networking. Audience-building for sure, but networking is huge.
As far as preparing your guest, I think having a quick call before the podcast, it can be the day, or a couple of days before, or a week before is really helpful. It could just be 10 or 15 minutes, “Hey, we’re going to talk about these few things. Do you have any questions? Do you have gear?” That’s really important. “Do you have a mic? Do you at least have ear buds that you can put in?” because one of the biggest challenges from an audio perspective is, you as the podcast hosts are going to have your gear, your setup, and your recording figured out, but are you going to be able to prepare your guest so that they can record high quality audio too?
Figuring out a way and a system to do that every time is really important. Otherwise, you’re going to have a great sounding audio and your guest are going to sound like they’re in a trash can, and that’s horrible for your listeners. Then using scheduling tools like Calendly, or many others that are available out there that just let you say, “Hey, I’d love to have you on the podcast. Click here to grab a time on my calendar,” it takes all of the back and forth, time zone guessing, and all of this stuff out of the equation.
Darren: Great tips. Ahmed asks, where should you get an intro or outro made for your podcast? I guess he’s talking about the music or the intro that goes at the start that introduces you. Any places that you would look?
Craig: I think when it comes to intros, you have two choices really, you can record it yourself which is perfectly fine and a lot of people do this, and you don’t have to go and get it outsourced to a voiceover artist. If you do for whatever reason, either you do you want some kind of vocal diversity in your podcast, or you don’t like the sound of your voice, so you want somebody else to bring you in, we actually had really good luck with some folks on Fiverr, so fiverr.com.
Typically with these type of marketplace, if you search for the top level providers there, they’re pretty solid. It would cost between $5, and $20, or $30 for a voiceover, and it’s done in a couple of days. Just send them a script and they record it and send it back to you.
Darren: Kathy is asking about making the audio less echoey in her room. She says she can’t alter her room too much because it’s her living room the rest of the time, but any tips on helping to deaden that echo?
Craig: Looking at your microphone very well may be the answer. There are some mics out there that are really popular, that are frankly just not ideal for podcasting. The Blue Yeti is one of those. It’s a really great high quality mic if you’re in a sound booth. It works beautifully there. If you’re not and you’re in your living room, or in a conference room, or something with a bunch of flat walls and hard spaces, the echo is going to be really bad, and a really sensitive mic like that is going to pick all that up.
For Kathy I would say, if she can move, that would probably be the best thing. As strange as it sounds, a lot of people record podcasts in their closets. It sounds really bizarre, but trust me, some of the best broadcasters you know podcast in their closet and it’s because it’s a small space with a lot of soft stuff, all your clothes, shoes, bags, and stuff, and you can isolate yourself in a really sound-dampened environment. If you’re able to move to somewhere like that, then do it. I podcast in my office which is the top floor of our house and has wood paneling and angled ceilings. It’s a really good room for podcasting. Things like a conference room with just this giant glass table is just the worst.
Darren: Hard surfaces aren’t great, are they?
Darren: I find the best room in my house is my 12-year-olds bedroom because it’s just a complete mess. There’s stuff everywhere. I’ve gone in there a couple of times and I may do so more often because our next door neighbors have just demolished their house and are about to start building. I suspect it’s going to get noisy around here, unfortunately. Sorry to our listeners for that upcoming. It might give the editors of this podcast a little bit more of a challenge. Which leads me to my next question from Ron. How much editing is too much?
Craig: This should match the style that you have overall. If you are really buttoned up and want everything to flow really quickly and sequentially, and have a really tight podcast, then spending more time removing all the ums and uhs, slight pauses, misspeakings, and things like that is going to be consistent with yourself and your brand. If you want to have a show that is more conversational, Darren and I are just having a conversation, it sounds like two of your friends talking about something you enjoy, then it’s perfectly fine. Honestly, you don’t need to spend a lot of time at all, editing.
I know a lot of people that edit their podcast while they’re doing email, or spending time on Twitter, and stuff like that, and only make a half a dozen maybe small edits to the podcast, and trimming off the top and the bottom, and adding music, and things like that. Editing doesn’t have to be that hard. I think there definitely is a point to the spirit of the question where too much editing makes it sound artificial and not like a conversation. I think you want to clean it up a little bit, make it sound professional, but if you do it too much, it’s going to sound unnatural. Nobody has conversations without pauses and saying um. It’s okay to say um every once in awhile, but just don’t overdo it. Don’t take out all the spirit of the conversation.
Daren: I was talking to a few friends about this the other day. Most of my friends listen to podcasts on 1.5 speed, or 1.3 speed, or double speed, and it doesn’t sound natural that way. I don’t think too many people are really worried about the ums and the uhs, and the slight gaps in the conversation.
Craig: I think the other part of this that again, people are getting held up with getting in the podcasting is, you are not Gimlet Media, you’re not NPR, no offense, none of us are probably going to be award-winning podcasters, we want to do this for our hobby or for our business and an additional thing to our blog, but don’t be afraid to just do it and get started. If it’s not perfect, or it doesn’t sound like the Gimlet guys, it’s great, it’s fine, it’s you. It doesn’t matter. That’s not the end-game.
Darren: They’re spending a fortune on it. I heard one, I can’t remember whether it was Radiolab maybe did an episode, and they talked about how one of their episodes cost $100,000. That’s just one of their episodes, and I do weekly shows. Don’t compare yourselves to them because you’re not on a par at all.
Launching your podcast. Where should you be submitting your podcast? You’ve got it up on your hosting now, Apple is the obvious one, Paul asks, “Is Spotify worth it? Should you be putting it into all the different networks? Is there an easy way to do that?”
Craig: Yes. I think there’s four places now where you really need to have your podcast and maybe five. Apple Podcast formerly known as iTunes is still the biggest one and will be forever maybe. Google Podcast, Google Play for strictly Android users is a big one. And folks in the US who say, “Android users. Nobody uses Android.” Android is much more popular on a global basis than the Apple platform.
Don’t discount giving your Android friends a chance to listen to your podcast. Stitcher is a cross podcasting platform. People on Apple and on Android can listen on Stitcher, and has some cool streaming features. The fourth I would say is Spotify. It is definitely worth it. Some data that we’ve heard in the industry is that it’s constituting 10%+ of listeners for a lot of popular shows. It’s definitely worth getting your show on Spotify.
You can submit to them independently if you want, most of the time, it’s done through an integration in your hosting platform. If you’re on Castos, or Libsyn, or Simplecast, it’s just a click of a button. Once you’ve created your feed and published your first podcast, just click a button and it goes to Spotify automatically. The fifth one I would say maybe is YouTube. A lot of people don’t consider repurposing their audio content into video to YouTube, but I think it’s definitely something to consider.
It goes back to how people consume content in different ways. It might be that the people that you want to reach love being on YouTube and watching stuff, and they could find your podcast on YouTube instead of in Apple Podcast or on your blog. There are some tools out there that let you do this automatically. We do it automatically at Castos to repurpose your audio content into video and publish it to YouTube for you automatically. It’s definitely something to consider.
Darren: Putting it on YouTube is really smart, because it is such a massive search engine, and people will find you for the first time there. They may not listen to all of your podcast there, but they may discover you for the first time. Paul and Muthani both asked how to get found as a podcast. Obviously, putting yourself into the search engines can get you some new readers, but any other tips on growing that audience?
Craig: Yeah, I would love to hear some of your experience on this. I’ll give my take on it as well, but starting with your existing audiences is a natural and an obvious place to start. Go to your tribe and ask for two things, “Could you subscribe?” so they get every episode automatically, and then, “Leave a rating and review,” which gives you some of that social proof. I think it probably helps the iTunes or Apple Podcast algorithm a little bit too, but subscribe leave a rating or review to give that social proof that 30 other people think that this is a good show. I should probably check it out too if new people are finding you organically.
I think the best and biggest opportunity for growing your audience with podcasts is to ask your existing listeners to share it with somebody else and that’s a call-to-action that we’re finding more and more popular is not in the show itself to say, “Hey, go subscribe, or leave a rating, or a review on iTunes,” but, “Hey, if you’re enjoying this podcast, share it with somebody else from our world that you think might enjoy it. It helps spread the word,” That’s kind of the new twist I would have on that, but I’d love hear, Darren, what have you found particularly effective to spreading the word about your podcast?
Darren: I did all of those things, I’ve promoted it to a network, email their list, promoted it on social media, all that works to some degree, but probably the thing that’s brought the biggest bumps in new downloads and listeners has been appearing on other people’s podcasts. If you want to find podcast listeners, it’s better to be on a podcast than to be on a guest blog. I think you want to go into the that medium in some ways. That can be a challenge when you’re just starting out, maybe no one else knows you, but interviewing other podcasters on your podcast sometimes gets you an invitation back to be on theirs, particularly if you are an interesting, engaging interviewer. I think that’s probably something I’ll be aiming for.
It’s amazing when I go into conference, people will often say to me, “ I heard you on Amy Porterfield’s podcast,” or, “I heard you on this interview that you did with someone that you can’t even remember doing an interview with,” but that’s actually what made the big impression for people.
One last question on launching, how many episodes should you record before you launch? I know you’ve got a bit of an answer on this on your course, because I took a look at that today, but have you got any advice for people?
Craig: There’s two answers. The question was, “How many should you record?” and I think that is something like five episodes and you want to have all those done so that when it’s time to launch, you don’t have to worry about going in creating more content. If you can go in and get five episodes, interviews or monologues or with your co-host done, then you know, “Okay, all of the content I need to really launch my show for the first month, give or take, is done. I don’t want to worry about that anymore, I can worry just about launching, promoting, and connecting with my audience,” and things like that.
When it comes to the mechanics of launching, what we really like to do is to launch with two episode, typically, and then plus or minus, what’s called an episode zero. A lot of shows will have just a quick five or ten-minute, just you or you and your co-host talking about what the show is about on a meta-level, so it gives people an opportunity to hear, “Okay, the show is going to come up every week, or every other week, on Thursdays and it’s going to be about this, this, and this, and we’re going to interview this type of people,” or whatever the format is going to be.
You’re maybe talking about video games, you’re maybe talking about gardening, or whatever it is, and why people should listen and what they can expect, and things like that. An episode zero is a really nice way to set your listeners up for what’s coming on the podcast. Two episodes is a nice balance of two areas of these approaches, you want to give more than one episode so that your audience has a chance to connect with you in a little bit different way. The first two episodes should be slightly different in format, maybe one is a monologue and one is like an interview. Or if you have a co-host, maybe you guys talk about really different subtopics within your main world that you’re living in, so that if somebody listens to both episodes, they may hate the first one and love the second one, but if they’re exactly the same you don’t have that opportunity.
Within the same theme that you have for your podcast as a whole, having a slightly different twist on the first two episodes is really good. I think if you have an interview-style podcast, having one of those episodes where you’re real, kind of gangbuster, out of the gates high caliber guest, is probably a good move because it’s that first impression.
Darren: That’s great and also I think having more than one gives people something to binge on a little bit. There’s nothing worse than finding something that you just love and then you’ve got a wait for another week, so hooking people in with you know two or even three, we did 31 in 31 Days, that’s probably overkill, but it enabled you to build a bit of momentum as well. I think sometimes going hard or up front, and then pulling back a little bit can work, too.
Craig: Yeah. Just to add to that, I think the balance of creating a bunch of content once is if you’re able to, I think more content is almost always better, so Darren, you and your team are capable of creating a lot of content and for you that was really easy. What we coach our customers on is if creating content is difficult for you, or you’re busy, or you have interviews, schedules to work on stuff like that, don’t put too much out at first because a lot of people would want to listen to a couple of podcasts but almost nobody is going to listen to 10 podcast in a day.
People will say, “I’m going to launch with 10 podcasts on the first day.” Unfortunately, they’re throwing away eight of those podcasts or they could just save them and release them later. That’s the balance that we want to strike, is how able are you to create podcast content and how much do you think your audience really can consume at a time, so 31 in 31 Days is perfect. Probably 31 episodes on day one would not have been as effective.
Darren: No, it wouldn’t. It’s also one of things I wish I’ve known it’s how popular those first episodes can be. I guess take your time with them because the number one episode I’ve ever done is the number one podcast I’ve ever recorded. A lot of people go back and listen to that first one. I worked through it again, which I cringe at a little bit because it was good, but I’m kind of on the other hand really glad that I did those 31 because they built on each other as well. Those who do go back, get to go on that journey with you from one episode into another, into another as well. Don’t just think that no one will ever listen to you, only once I do.
A couple of last questions that I want to key on in. Selfishly, these are questions that I’ve got as well. I know a lot of podcasters really struggle with is how do you actually turn your podcast listeners into more engaged customers, or subscribers, or visitors to your blog? I think the big challenge a lot of podcasters have is that anyone listening to a podcast is usually doing something else. They’re on their phone, on a walk, they’re doing their dishes, or they’re doing the ironing while they’re in the car driving somewhere. They’re not always in a position to go and buy your product, or go and click on a link and download something. Do you have any advice on how to turn those listeners into a more engaged audience?
Craig: This is the tough one. Doing this and measuring this is really tough. I think a lot of savvy marketer say, “I’m going to do a podcast, but I want to make sure I get good ROI on my podcast.” Again, we’re good at having our thing that is like the call-to-action here. The best thing I’ve heard is actually from the folks at CoSchedule. What they do is—this goes back to attribution a little bit—they have a link in the podcast, in the audio itself that is not in the show notes that is usually really easy for people to be able to follow.
For a particular episode, they’ll build a page where they can say, “Okay, if you want to find out more about how we scheduled this Instagram scheduling tool, go to coschedule.com/instagramscheduling.” That’s a way that they know that anybody who comes to that page was a listener to the podcast. It’s not linked in the show notes, it’s not anywhere else. It’s a way that people listening to the podcast can go find this resource that they talked about in the podcast. For them as a business, they know, we had 100, or 100,000, or whatever it is, visits to this page. It absolutely only has to be coming from the podcast. It’s not coming from somewhere else organically on the blog. I think that’s a really savvy way to do it.
The other thing is kind of on a high level. The goal really I think of connecting with your audience in between podcast episodes is to continue the discussion that you started in the podcast. Darren, I know you have a Facebook group. We have one as well, and they’re absolutely fantastic. If you don’t have a Facebook group already, start one today. Say what you will about Facebook, and privacy, and things like that, I won’t get into that here today, but just a community.
Whether it’s Facebook or somewhere else, a community where you can go and have a dialogue with your podcast listeners, your audience members, in between episodes, or in between blog posts, a way to continue that discussion, and for them to have discussions themselves. You don’t have to be the only one starting it. It’s really transformative in the ability and depth of conversation that you can have with folks in your audience. It’s like email but really 2-way and multi-way, because they start talking with each other. Everybody participates all at once. If you don’t have a community of some sort, it’s really worth looking into.
Darren: I agree with that. I think for us, that has actually turned out to be the place that we do connect with our audience the most is in our group. With live video in between episodes, polls, discussions, chats, and those types of things, the more engagement you get there, the better. I don’t tend to hard-sell on the backend of my podcast, because I know people aren’t going to take too much action, but I do you say the podcast is a place to build a good first impression to showcase my personality, and then all of that then drives people towards the community, which then enables you to do other things there. I think that’s a great advice for people.
Maybe one last one is from Patrice. What metrics should we be paying attention to? Maybe you can talk about what you offer with your service as well in terms of metrics.
Craig: This is right behind what microphone should I use. This is a really popular question. I hate to say, “It doesn’t really matter,” but it doesn’t really matter. You should be looking at things like total downloads. That should be going up over time, every episode should be getting a little more popular, but I say that it doesn’t really matter because everybody’s podcast is different. They’re doing it for different reasons, and it fits into the rest of their business or brand and world a little bit differently.
I absolutely wouldn’t get hung up on metrics to say that, “Darren gets 30,000 downloads per episode, I only get 500, but my podcast is in the B2B space talking about CNC machines,” or something. In those 500 people that listen to that podcast, frankly are really valuable, maybe more valuable than 30,000 listeners that Darren gets. You want to keep an eye on your metrics. Total downloads is probably a really good one. Some kind of surrogate of subscribers. You might say downloads for an episode in the first 72 hours after it comes out is like a good gauge of the number of subscribers you have.
The one that Apple Podcast has introduced recently in their platform and we have at Castos is listening duration. How long are people listening is an interesting thing to look at. It’s a little bit segmented, so Apple Podcast only gives you that data for the people that listen to your podcast in iTunes, or in the Apple Podcast app. At Castos, we’re only able to give that data on plays that happen in the browser with our player. It’s never going to be a total comprehensive view of how long people are listening to your podcast, but I think generally when it comes to analytics—people love analytics and it’s a way to measure ourselves versus everybody else—it’s apples. It’s totally apples and oranges. Don’t get hung up on it for yourself. Just say, “Yup, I’m doing better than I was last month. That’s great.” We should always strive for that but don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s just not a fair comparison.
Darren: That’s right. That’s a great advice Craig, and really, we could have gone for a lot longer this time, any more questions that I could have gotten to, but I think we will wrap it up at that. I do want to really emphasize people should sign up for that course Launch In A Week at castos.com/problogger which will really walk you through that process. I love the idea of Launch In A Week because a lot of people do have these goal of doing something one day, and then they’ve actually put an end date on it. Whether it does take you a week, or whether it takes you nine days, having that process lined out for you is great. As I said before, I’ve come and gone through the course, and looked at it myself, and it does answer all the key questions. Congratulations on putting that together.
Craig: Cool. It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me on there, I appreciate it.
Darren: Yeah, no problem. We’ll certainly link to that and the other things that you do at PodcastMotor in the show notes as well. We’ll chat with you soon.
Craig: Okay, thanks Darren.
Darren: Thanks so much to Craig Hewitt for sharing with us for that interview today. You can check out his 7-step course to launching a podcast at castos.com/problogger. Check out today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/276. There’s a full transcript there and you can also see the links to the things that he mentioned during the show today as well. Just we’ll mention briefly the outline of that 7-step course. It’s arranged in seven days, but you can take longer to go through it if you like.
Day one is about podcasting microphones and gear. Day two is audio recording and editing. Number three is your ideal listener and podcast persona, something we didn’t really touch on in great depth in the interview today. Day four is the perfect podcast recipe which is a great lesson. I actually got a few things out of that myself. Day five is media host and website set up, so you’re getting into more of the technicalities of getting your podcast up on the internet. Day six is getting your show ready to launch. Day seven is launch planning and growing your audience.
We did touch on some of those things, but if you do want something that’s organized in a way that will take you through the process, just head over to castos.com/problogger. We’ll have a link to that and to the other things that Craig does at PodcastMotor in the show notes as well.
Thanks so much for listening today. It’s been a long one, but I hope you got some value out of it. Again, if you think there’s someone in your network that you think would benefit from hearing today’s show, please do share it with them. Send them a link to our show notes at problogger.com/podcast/276. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.
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