10 Hard-Learned Podcasting Lessons I’ve Learned After 3 Years Of Recording (Sorta)
After 3 years of on-and-off podcasting, I’ve finally hit a rhythm. And after those 3 years, I learned a lot about how to do it right. Here’s what I learned…
I have had quite the colorful history when it comes to podcasting. And I’ve made just about every mistake one could make.
See, I began podcasting in February 2012 with what is perhaps the most creative podcast title ever – The Blog Program. I got into New and Noteworthy and then…
I stopped podcasting.
Then I started again.
Then I stopped again.
You can see the pattern here. It wasn’t until the beginning of November 2014 that I actually began to take the podcast seriously. It was around then that I rebranded the show to Coffee Break Blogging and actually approached the thing with a strategy. Before then, I wasn’t taking it seriously at all.
Here is what the downloads have looked like over this entire span of time…
So, it has been one hell of a roller coaster ride – and it wasn’t until I actually got consistent about it that it started to build any momentum. Big lesson, right there.
So, let’s jump right into what I’ve learned (or been reminded of) during this whole thing…
#1 – The Key To Podcasting Success Is Consistency
This one simply has to go first. The ONLY reason my podcast isn’t way more popular today than it could have been is because I was so grossly inconsistent about putting out new episodes. The moment I got consistent about it, the stats began trending upward noticeably.
There certainly isn’t any rocket science to this. 🙂 But, even knowing it doesn’t mean you actually do it, I guess.
So, my recommendation to all new podcasters is not to begin your show until you know you can remain consistent about it. There isn’t a single successful podcast out there which only releases episodes sporadically. John Lee Dumas, of Entrepreneur On Fire, has gotten the success he has because he releases EVERY DAY and he’s insanely consistent about it.
#2 – Don’t Squander New & Noteworthy
When you launch a new podcast, it isn’t all that hard to get into the New & Noteworthy section of iTunes for your category. Being featured there will give you additional exposure and help propel you forward.
But, you can’t be an idiot like I was and then stop producing shows! I fully admit that I squandered the opportunity. And you only get featured there once.
My advice to any new podcaster is to prepare several shows in advance before you ever publish the first episode. Then, when you publish, post at least 5 of them simultaneously. Then, once you get it into New & Noteworthy, you want to maintain an aggressive publishing schedule during that feature time. Then, afterward, settle back into your normal publishing schedule (which should probably be at least weekly).
#3 – Have A Unique Selling Proposition
When my show was called The Blog Program, not only did it have the most boring title in the world, but the show wasn’t all that unique. At least that’s my opinion and, quite frankly, that’s a big reason why I was so inconsistent about it.
In my niche especially, there are many high quality podcasts out there. And even though I have my own style and voice, I still tried to figure out why somebody would listen to my show when it could so easily be just like everybody else’s.
When I relaunched it as Coffee Break Blogging, I did it with a plan.
- The episodes are short.
- It comes out twice per week.
- It will be a full-on course, delivered in order, via podcast.
And that was my USP. In fact, just recently, I re-did the landing page for it with this headline…
See, in my space, everybody does interviews. And when they do a solo show, the topics are all over the place. So, I wanted to do it in order so there’s a logical sequence to it.
It also happens to fit my brand. This is the Blog Marketing Academy. What I do is teach. So, delivering a course via podcast just makes sense for me.
#4 – There’s Something To The Serial Format
Part of the USP of my podcast is that the episodes go in a logical sequence – and I base it on the 7 Stages to Building An Online Business. And we’re literally progressing through all 7 stages, in order.
This gives a logical progression to the show, but guess what else it does…
It drives up downloads. 🙂
By making this fact clear to new listeners, then it increases the likelihood that they’re going to want to go back to the beginning and begin listening forward. And that drives up downloads – which, in turn, helps me in the rankings in iTunes.
#5 – Don’t Just Rebrand an Existing (Dead) Podcast
Now, here I must address another screwup. And quite frankly, this one still pisses me off, but I can’t really change it now.
See, I took the Blog Program – a podcast which was statistically irrelevant – and I simply rebranded it as Coffee Break Blogging and moved forward with it. What I should have done is created a whole new podcast. Here’s why…
- Coffee Break Blogging has never been featured in New & Noteworthy. Because the same feed was already featured there and I had already screwed that up, iTunes doesn’t see my show as new anymore. And technically… it isn’t. So, I sacrificed that initial publicity that can come with New & Noteworthy.
- It leads to episode number confusions. I started the Coffee Break concept around episode 30. So, now, if somebody is interested in just the course, I have to specifically tell them to start around episode 30. If they go back to #1, they’re going to get an entirely different thing.
So, I guess this goes back to consistency. And not introducing brand confusion.
#6 – Plan The Podcast In Advance
My biggest problem with The Blog Program is that I was constantly at a loss about what to talk about. I had no plan.
With Coffee Break, I have a plan. I’m following the 7 Stages. Not only that, I actually took a planning trip out in the RV and took the time to plan out every episode of CBB through the end of 2015. I might not have the contents of all of that lined out, but I know what I’ll be talking about all the way through episode #146.
That saves me an enormous amount of work! It is so much easier to record the show when I don’t have to sit around and rack my brain about what I’m talking about.
#7 – You Don’t Have To Do Interviews
I wrote a whole post about the potential pitfalls of doing interview shows: How To Make Your Interview-Style Podcast Blend Into the Scenery And Get Noticed By Nobody.
Here’s the thing… if you want to be the expert, then BE the expert. On top of that, if you’re in a niche where everybody does interviews (as I am), what’s different about me doing another interview? Answer: NOTHING.
It doesn’t matter who my guest is… there’s not a lot I’m going to add to the conversation because that same person has likely been on a bunch of other shows than mine.
Now, I realize I could go a completely different way and specifically bring on guests who aren’t the usual fare – and that’s something I may do at some point (after the 7 stages). But, there’s also this…
It is a helluva lot easier to run the podcast without guests. 🙂 There’s no schedule conflicts. No recording snafus. It is just… easy.
#8 – Get Somebody Else To Do The Tedious Work
Podcasting involves a lot more than just talking into a mic. It is also the time and effort it takes to do all the other stuff. Audio editing, uploading to Libsyn, setting up the blog post, transcription, etc.
One of the best moves I made was getting my virtual assistant involved with editing the podcast.
Here’s what I do…
- Record and export the podcast (with essentially no editing)
- Create a simple still-shot video to repurpose onto Youtube (I’ll be soon handing this off to my VA, too).
- Uploading to Dropbox.
- Assign the task in Trello, along with episode description.
Then, this is what she does…
- Edits the audio (using pre-created intro and outro reels)
- Sets up in Libsyn
- Creates the blog post
- Uploads to Youtube and sets up all fields and annotations
- Uploads to SoundCloud
Also, a quick note about outsourcing to a general VA…
I put off doing this for a little while because I didn’t think my general VA (who is based in the Philippines) would be able to edit audio. After all, you need an audio guy for that, right?
Not at all.
What I found was that if I systematized the process down enough, she most certainly could do it. I just pointed her to a Youtube video which showed her how to do some basic edits in Audacity… and she took right to it. If you systematize things – as well as get to a point where you can talk off the cuff without a ton of verbal filler – then you can most certainly have a general VA take care of your podcast.
#9 – Track Your ROI
I know that my podcast helps my business. After all, you can build a solid relationship with the listener because no other form of media will maintain attention as well as a podcast. All other forms of online media cannot be done simultaneously with something else. Podcasting can. In fact, I do my best podcast listening when I’m driving or exercising.
I’ve also anecdotally had people tell me they found me via the podcast. So, from that perspective, I can see that the podcast has a great level of listener engagement and marketing power.
The problem is… I couldn’t quantify it.
Well, I’ve recently began using Improvely to track my marketing efforts. And with Improvely, you can set up special tracking links to send people through and then follow those people all the way through to conversion. So, among other things, I am also now using Improvely to track calls to action specifically from the podcast.
For instance, when I send people to “CoffeeBreakBlogging.com”, I can actually track the activity. I simply used Namecheap’s URL forwarding to direct calls to that domain right through my Improvely tracking link.
This goes way beyond simple click-through’s like I would get by using Bitly or Pretty Link. Improvely allows me to track those individuals to conversion. Whether they simply opt-in or end up enrolling in the Blog Monetization Lab, I’ll be able to tell if they came from the podcast or not.
#10 – Invest In Your Asset
I’ve said before that you should look at each blog post you write as an asset. Something that will serve you long-term.
Well, a podcast isn’t any different. Even a year or two from now, these podcast episodes will still be out there to be downloaded. They’ll still be out there to drive traffic back to this site. And I’ve already mentioned that a podcast ranks incredibly high in terms of building up that KLT factor (that’s Know, Like and Trust).
Like an asset, it can pay to invest money into it. It is a pure ROI play. Put money into it, do it right, and you reap the benefits.
Well, I had long since invested some money into good equipment. And if you’re interested in what I use, check out the Toolkit page.
But, I’m also spending a little bit of money into paid traffic right into the podcast. I’m actually using Facebook Advertising to amplify my podcast and get more people into the mix. Here’s what the ad looks like:
NOTE: This post is being written roughly two weeks before it is being published, so it may look different by the time this post goes live.
I haven’t done any split testing on it yet. The ad was kind of an experiment. I’m currently spending just $7/day on it and I’m driving click-throughs at $0.40/click.
I am using a LeadBox for the opt-in on there and getting a 93% opt-in rate. Of course, the way LeadBoxes tracks, that only counts the people who actually click the button to open the box. In terms of actual page opt-in rate, it is about 9%. Not stellar, but at the same time this isn’t a standard squeeze page.
What I really want them to do is subscribe to the podcast. iTunes doesn’t provide any way to track that, so I can only judge by the download stats of the show.
As of this writing, this ad has only been running for about 10 days. And since then, I have hit the second highest download count for a single day. The only other day that was greater was back in June 2014 – and I can’t even remember what to attribute that to. But, just judging from the stats since the ad began… I’d say it is working.
But, ROI remains to be seen. The way I see it, however, this rate of spending only adds up to about $200/month. And if I can’t invest $200/month into this asset, then I might as well not bother.
The Journey Continues…
I’m sure there are more lessons to come. And I think I will continue to hone in on my system. For instance…
- I’m going to create a system for myself for calls to actions and requests for reviews, etc. I sometimes tend to forget stuff like that during my one-take recordings. 🙂
- I’m probably going to have some more professional intros done.
- And other stuff. 😉
It is a learning experience.
But, as my grandfather told me… the only sure-fire way not to catch a fish is not to have your hook in the water. So, I don’t shoot for perfection. I shoot from the hip, really. And I’ll get better a I go. But, in the meantime, my show is out there. It is consistent (finally). And the stats are reflecting the fact that I’m actually not asleep at the switch with it.
Hope this helps any of my other fellow podcasters (or soon-to-be podcasters) out there.
Your Monetization Coach,
P.S. BTW, if you’re not subscribed to Coffee Break Blogging yourself, why don’t you go do so.
And if you’re already a listener, please click this link and post an honest review of the show for me in iTunes, will you? It would help me get the word out and I’d really appreciate it. Thanks. 🙂
Hey David, I had no idea you had this new (or rebranded) podcast man, looks great and I actually prefer shorter podcasts rather than the ones that go for an entire hour or even longer than that.
I subscribed to your CBB podcast and the first episode I could reach, was the TBP028 (it made sense and I understood why as soon as I kept reading your blog post here).
So anyway, good job man, plenty of podcasting tips here (I wasn’t aware you can only get featured once on New & Noteworthy) and will leave you some feedback in form of a review as soon as I listen 2 or 3 podcasts to get the vibe out of it.
Cheers and speak soon!
Thanks, man. And I’d appreciate it. 🙂