Elements of a Strong Show
Let's talk about now not just hosting but let's kind of get into the trenches of some of those things and let's talk about the elements of a strong show. There is this old saying that editors never finish, they surrender. So I'm gonna, I wanted to close with this, but it's such an important element that I kinda moved this slide up a little bit, and it's don't go it alone. And we'll get into this a little bit, but I'm gonna touch on it first is some statistics that I'm gonna show you shortly are just kind of how few podcasters actually make it to a certain point of number of episodes, and that's because there's a lot to do. You're not just sitting down and writing a three paragraph blog post and publishing it online and you're done. There is writing, there is recording, there is editing, there is a conversation to carry on with your listeners. So writing and preparing, let's talk about that first. Take time to prepare. Don't just jump in to record an episode and be like, hey, hey, like,...
let's talk about your weekend, how was your cohost doing and let's do this, like take the time ahead of time to one, share questions with your guests. You don't have to share everything, you don't have to script this, but any time that you and your guest could have a five-minute phone call prior to the recording to get to know one another, to maybe share with them, hey, I'm gonna ask you about this or I'm gonna ask you about that. It's going to create a lot more interaction between the host and your guest. And in that same vein, consider a quick get to know. If you don't want to share your questions, if you don't have a lot of time, just do a little get to know with your guest, the week before you record. Could be a quick phone call, it could be an email back and forth, but any work that you can do ahead of time, is going to limit your editing, and all three of these points lead up to this. The more work you can do to prepare, the more work you can do to get to know your guest and the more work that you can do to maybe let your guest know where you are headed with your episode, is going to make your editing a lot easier. There is going to be a lot more ums and ifs and pauses by preparing ahead of time, and again, we're not talking write a full script, just have an outline. By doing that, you're going to notice that your time in editing your show is going to be less, and almost everyone here has a podcast, anyone that has a podcast that does your own editing? Okay. So just a little under half. And we'll talk about that here now. Recording. There's this whole like let's get good equipment. You need to go out and spend as much money as possible to get a good mic, a good mixer and a good USB preamp, and that's true, like get something decent, and focus on getting good equipment, but then also realize that it's not about the equipment at all. I have listened to shows where I have seen individuals who will have a $500 mic and a $1000 mixer and they are sitting 18 inches or two feet away from the microphone. There is so much to be done with just editing and how you interact with the microphone, that has nothing to do with good equipment. Yes, get some decent equipment, but focus more on understanding that it's not just about the equipment. Consider splurging on one studio session. If you are an individual that wants to do your own editing, a studio session going into a spot that has a professional recording studio can be very helpful, even if you only go once. You're going to get to see how the room is set up, you're going to get to see how the mixer is set up, where the microphone is positioned, there's going to be somebody there to help you and say, actually you want to be this far from the mic at all times. So not to say that you need to go into a professional studio every time, but splurging on one session as you're really getting started with your show is going to give you a lot of insight into how your setup will be at home, or at the office, or in the case of most of us, in a closet. So that studio session can help make your closet great. (audience laughter) Editing. This is where for those, again, that do it or those that maybe did it and gave up, this is where your one-hour show becomes five hours of work. There is value in learning the ropes, and we started off earlier and I said don't go it alone, and this is me kind of getting back to that. There is the value in learning the ropes. You are going to be a better podcaster if you understand the pauses and the breaks and the ums and the ifs and you're going to think about your show differently, because you are like, I don't need to say um as much, because that's going to have to be edited out. So there is value in working with somebody and getting to learn the ropes. There is an even greater value in sharing the load. There are wonderful editors out there that are excited that are professionals at taking an MP3 directly from you and that know exactly what to do, and you can get some phenomenal talent and it's not that expensive, and I'm sure a lot of you have probably already discovered that. You created a show and then found out it's easier and it's better for my time to pass off editing. You are the creator of a podcast. You are the host in most cases. You need to be focusing on being a better host. You need to be focusing on listening better to your guest. Maybe not being in the trenches of editing. I am in no way saying whatsoever don't edit your own show, but there is a reason that getting that help early on will help. Worst case scenario, just outsource your first couple. Let's say that you do wanna do your own editing. You're gonna learn a lot by outsourcing one or two episodes to a professional editor who is going to, you are then going to see the final MP and almost get a good feeling of like, oh, I see what they did there. I understand that. So if you want to keep it and do it all in house, there's no downside, no bad thing with just outsourcing one, two, or three and see how a professional works with your audio file. Also one thing that you can do with a host is sharing the load. So this is currently an admin panel inside Simplecast that allows me to invite multiple individuals to work on my show. I can have somebody that has the permissions to literally log in and only look at analytics. I can have somebody else that can log in and they can't do anything. They are my proofreader. They can just log in and make sure that everything looks good for my show. I can also give somebody full admin access, so they can go and publish my show and edit my show notes and make sure that what I put in there does not have typos and everything in it. So it doesn't always have to be you, and having a platform that is going to let you share that load, if you do have an editor, they're going to love that they don't have to send back a final MP3 file to you for you to upload. You could create them an account and give them permissions to just to be able to go in and upload the episode. Continuing the conversations. So we talked about writing and preparing, recording, editing, and how to streamline that process, but one of the most important then is continuing the conversation. So what you want to really do is treat each episode as it is a large event, a concert, something that you want reference back to and that you want to talk about. Episodes are always better when they promote other episodes. I don't care if it's an episode three months ago, if something relevant comes up in your conversation with your host, reference that old episode. There is a high likelihood that people who have discovered your show may have not gone back to the very beginning and listened. Reference it. If it's your last show, say hey, we talked about we were gonna get into this. Same thing goes for the end of the show. Always focus on what's coming up. Engage conversation, just don't share, and this is one large mistake that I see a lot of podcasters make, when you have your episode, it's live on the Internet, you can listen to it on all the different apps and devices, your website's updated, and then literally I just see links get posted to Twitter. There is a lot to be said about not just sharing links, but creating a conversation on social media around your episode. If there was a quote, if there was a comment made, ask people on social media what they thought about what you just said in the episode. Don't just share, try to really engage them and bring them in, and kind of give them the feeling of being a part of the episode, because that is going to help your show grow. The more conversation that you can create on Twitter or on Facebook around your show, people are going to recognize that and be like, what's this podcaster talking about? I should check it out. So engage in the conversation, just don't offload links onto the Internet, try to start a conversation with your listeners. So speaking of listeners then, let's talk about how to enhance their experience. One thing that a team member of mine actually shared with me yesterday as I was walking through this deck with them is a big common mistake is how when you are interviewing somebody, you try to talk to everybody. One thing that me as a listener that connects me to the host when I'm listening to a show is they are not saying hello everybody. They're talking to me. And that is the intimacy of podcasting that the host is having a conversation with me, not an entire room of people. So all the effort that you can put into try to speak to a singular person instead of hey, all my listeners, hey everybody out there, make it about that person, because it's going to create a connection with you as a host and them as a listener. Another thing to do is share your experience and relate to the guest. You're not there to just ask a list of questions and get an answer and move on. If a guest says something and you have feedback and you have comments, engage that conversation. I don't care if it is a show where all you do is bring somebody in and you have 10 set questions and you interview them and you ask the same guest this question. It is going to create a better feel and consistency around your show if you truly bring all of those in and offer your own feedback and insights. People are listening to your show, yes for your guest, but they're there first for you, so share your insights, share your thoughts. And then I said this before, but to get back to it again, tease the next episode, always be trailering. If you know what your next episode is, if you know that you're doing something on peanut butter in three episodes and you don't know when it's coming out yet, say in an upcoming episode, we're gonna talk about peanut butter. Anything you can do to give that flow of your show this living, breathing thing, is going to be good for you. One big element that I see mistakes on a lot, which, honestly I'm seeing a lot of improvement across the industry on too is episode notes are not an afterthought (chuckles). It's almost better if you kind of take your original outline that I said you could kind of craft your show first, and use that to kind of control the flow of your episode notes. Your episode notes are your top level overview. They are the table of contents for your show. I see so many shows that will have one sentence that is the overview of what their show is about, this is Brad show and he talks about peanut butter way too much. And then the show notes will literally be a copy and paste of, this is Brad's show and he talks about peanut butter way too much. That is not show notes. That is a show overview. Give your listeners the ability to see what your show is about. The best way to do it is to have a template. Always keep your show notes the same. If you have an overview and then you'd like to do a short paragraph of who the host is, and then links, links, links, as much as possible. If you talk about something 18 minutes in and you are like, you've gotta really try this peanut butter, put a link to it. Even better if it's on Amazon or anything else, use an affiliate link. You can make money off of that. So try to treat your episode notes not as like this little afterthought, but something that truly accompanies the audio that they're listening to. One big thing that's really going to be changing show notes is chapter marks. And Apple's newest operating system, iOS 12, for the first time ever, you are now able to be in the podcast app, swipe up and you can see individual chapters that the creator of the show has put in there. You can title your chapters on your own and the most exciting thing is you can change the artwork. So as somebody's listening, I see excitement, (laughs) as somebody is listening to your show, the artwork will dynamically change out when they get to a new chapter. So when you get to peanut butter, you know what I'm gonna have a picture of? (audience laughs) So that was a visual. Let's talk about it really quick. It's new in iOS 12. It also, in addition to show notes, provides a stellar outline. For somebody that's already listened to your show, and they're like, hey Bob, you really gotta go listen to this, it gives me, instead of saying, hey listen at eight minutes and 19 seconds, I say you should really jump into the chapter on blah blah blah. So it provides a great outline and a learning point for everybody. It pairs perfectly with show notes, because now in your show notes, you can say, in chapter three, Jane divulges her soul and her love of peanut butter. So you can actually use these in line with each other, and it's really probably one of the most exciting things, especially for a platform like Apple who has such a market of listeners to be rolling out in RSS feeds. It's also easier to resume. There's a reason, if we go back a few years and everything was on DVDs, DVDs had chapters. The reason was you stop, you get to have a point to where you pick back up. It's easier to resume, it's easier to go back and listen to different content. And, I got clicky. It allows chapter artworks and links. Like I said, the artwork can dynamically change based on every chapter. You can also now have links for each chapter. One link per chapter. How do you make those? How do you make chapters in your MP3? One of the most commonly used ways right now is an app called Forecast made by Marco Arment. Marco also makes Overcast, if you're familiar with that listening app. This is something that you utilize after your editing, after you've exported the MP3, before you are ready to upload, you can toss it into here, you can create your individual time marks. Here is where you can upload the custom artwork. You can also include links, and if you want to have me show you after the show, it's very exciting because I can be listening to a show, artwork changes, a link changes. Anything like this creates a more engaging experience for your listeners and that is one of the biggest most important things that's going to keep them listening. You're not just an MP3 file having a conversation. Give them ways to engage and be a part of your show. So that's Forecast. And since I said engaging, let's talk about engaging episode artwork. Keep it simple. Always. I saw show a couple weeks ago and I literally think they tried to like take the entire, they basically made a movie trailer for their show and tried to visualize it in their artwork. There was text, a tagline, a logo, a picture, a picture of their most recent guest, and it looked fine until you make it this big like it's going to look on a phone, and then you are like, oh, my God, what is that? I can't even tell. So one thing to do is to keep it simple, and by keeping it simple, simple typically always equals memorable. Take out your listening app of choice and scroll through there and just look at the artwork that catches your eye, it's typically going to be only a few colors. It's going to be a title, maybe a clean photo of the guest of that week, but definitely I like that quick scrolling idea and see what catches your eye, and then go in and go, okay, that's something I should focus on. Artwork says a lot. It is the recognizable part of when people are looking at your show, and when I am browsing like the popular shows on iTunes, on my desktop, I can actually go through and there is artwork that stands out to me versus the ones that are busy, so keep it simple as much as possible, and then like I said, once you're done, look at it at all sizes, AKA especially small, because you are seeing it on your screen, as you're building it this big, it's going to the size of a dime on somebody's phone, maybe smaller. See how it scales and works. Engaging artwork is also going to make your show memorable. Next, make it easy to find. One website or URL to rule them all. I got a chuckle there, okay. The ring, right, did good, all right, good. (audience chuckles) So yes, be everywhere, be on all platforms, make it easy for anybody, no matter what obscure Android app that they're using, be on those platforms. Someone like Simplecast, our platform, does all the distribution for you, so you don't have to think about it. So be everywhere. But at the same time, when you talk about your show, do not go, oh, well, you can listen to us on Overcast, or we're on Spotify, you can also Apple Podcast, or if you've got a Mac, you can listen to iTunes or on your Windows machine, don't do that. The reason being is you need to be conscious of onboarding new listeners. What we need in the industry most right now is more individuals discovering podcasts and learning podcasts and being excited about podcasts and listening to more podcasts, and most of them do not have 19 different listening apps on their phone. They have an iPhone and it has Apple Podcast, or they have an Android device with Google Podcast. That is it. So definitely be everywhere, but really be conscious about when you are sharing your show, have a website URL that you can just say go there, and then on that side, you can have all of the links for everybody to go to, but again, just as we said let's keep the artwork simple, let's keep our links simple as well.