This post is a companion post to the actual audio episode. (There’s little to no overlap in content!)
Here’s what you’ll find by listening!
- How we find and choose guests
- Our top to bottom production process
- Podcasting metrics, goals and KPIs
- What makes a good podcast
- Podcast promotion strategies
- Incorporating storytelling into an educational/actionable oriented show
- Sticking to the interview ‘script’ vs improv
- Important lessons learned!
The topics in this episode basically came from these two Twitter threads:
Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes!
OK, onto the written content:
How ‘Experts’ All Began
In late 2015, Anthony and I here at Evolving first started discussing the idea of doing some sort of ‘show’. It’s something I’d wanted to do for a while, and would finally be able to with his help. We saw it as a great way to help marketing Evolving SEO, do something I would be passionate about, while adding value to the SEO community.
But aside from calling it a ‘show’, I had no idea if it was going to be live or pre-recorded, video or just audio, with guests or just solo.
So … without much of a plan on January 20th 2016, I messaged Marie Haynes to try out doing an interview.
As you can see, this resulted in a fast “yes”. (Thanks Marie!)
But now the real work begins:
What should I even ask her?
When will the first episode air?
Will it be live?
How long should it be?
What if it doesn’t go well?
How was I literally going to record it?
My confession is (and I don’t even know if I’ve told Marie … surprise Marie!)… I didn’t even have software to record a Skype interview until … 2 minutes before our Skype call.
I was quickly Googling “record Skype calls” seconds before our call, found Skype Call Recorder, paid the $30 bucks … and we were on our way. (And it’s the software I still use today).
As you can see … I’m really good at planning ahead.
BUT despite my shortcomings, I’ve generally been good at acting on something when I’m super excited about it.
And when I finished recording Marie’s interview, I realized, ‘Wow! That was … fun! I wanted to do more of that.’
So I was just so damn excited to capture that feeling again, I immediately invited and booked the next SEVEN guests within the next 24 hours:
They all said yes, and we had momentum.
Two months later, we launched.
Launch Date: March 15th, 2016
After 2+ months of work we’re launching “Experts On The Wire” a Digital Marketing Podcast. Listen to the intro here https://t.co/5MerjsDzPG
— Dan Shure (@dan_shure) March 15, 2016
By the time we launched the show and I tweeted that, the next 4-5 interviews were already recorded and queued up. (That was a smart, early decision. Although I’ve sometimes fallen behind with the post-production, we’ve always had a full queue of guests planned ahead of time.)
I’m going to stop this story here for now (I’ll share many more anecdotes in the future) – and now I will share some metrics from our first year ‘on the air’.
Our Podcasting Stats Revealed
Episodes Published In One Year
A Quick Note About Podcast ‘Downloads’
A Podcast ‘download’ can mean either
- Someone downloaded the file from a Podcast player to their device (ie: iTunes to their phone), and will listen later.
- Or someone streamed the file from any Podcast player or the player widget on this website.
Podcasting metrics are shockingly primitive, so all we really have is a ‘download’ which as you see needs to be understood as a rather abstract metric.
Despite doubts that downloads mean much, many studies have shown that podcast listeners are super engaged. Also, most listen through to the whole episode. We also know how many downloads huge, scuccess, shows get – so there’s a lot a relative industry comparison.
Downloads By Month
(Note: March will probably hit 10,000+ since this screenshot is from the 15th)
Top 10 Episodes
Interesting to note that the most listened episodes have a few factors in common:
- They are recent (not too surprising)
- They are about SEO specifically (unlike some shows about broader marketing topics)
- The outlier “45 Copywriting Tips” is because this show was also syndicated on CopyBlogger’s ‘Elsewhere‘ show
February 27th is the day Jeff Sauer’s episode about Analytics for SEO came out. I’m not sure the episode specifically had to do with it being the best day. We could have just hit a nice peak of subscribers, and exposure from communities like Growth Hackers.
Best Day: Update!
Since I actually didn’t get around to posting this by the 15th … our new best day is … March 16th!
Yes, the day after our anniversary was our first day with 1,000+ downloads.
The funny thing is, everytime we hit a new peak, I always get nervous it’s the best we’re going to do. I can’t fathom a 2,000+ download day right now, but it will probably seem like nothing when it comes!
I really thought this was going to be closer to launch! Weirdly June 16th was a Thursday, not even a weekend (which tend to be the slowest days).
Those are the top 10, and people have tuned in from over 100 countries total!
Single Episode Listening Trends
I wanted to share a screenshot of a random early episode. Most people listen to a show when it first comes out. Not many go back to it.
Perhaps this reveals an opportunity to re-promote older episodes.
I realize 21 doesn’t seem like a lot of reviews. However, I’m proud to say we’ve never directly solicited for any reviews. These were all organically written (contrary to most other podcasts, in which reviews are obtained very pro-actively, or even with tactics like Fiverr etc).
Grand Total: Downloads
The grand finale! On the exact day of our one year anniversary, we topped 50,000 total downloads (50,087 to be exact).
A fantastic coincidence I love, which I planned. #Not
Top To Bottom Show Creation Process
Many people have been curious how we produce this show – here’s a quick list of our process!
- Find Guests
- Book Interview
- Finalize Show Agenda & Questions
- Record Interview
- Upload Audio To DropBox
- Create Show Notes
- Record Audio Intro
- Edit Audio (This is the part that varies the most).
- Write Titles, Description and Intro Text
- Create Actual Audio File For Upload
- Upload File To Libsyn
Publishing & Promotion
- Publish Episode Post
- Tweet Episode
- Share On LinkedIn
- Post In Relevant Communities
- Growth Hackers
- Product Hunt
- Email Guest Link
How Long Does Each Episode Take?
I’ve calculated it, and it takes us about 10 total hours (between the two of us), to produce one show.
Sound like a lot? Well, consider a highly produced show like Radiolab can take a whole month of 10+ people working full time.
Some episodes, though, have taken easily over 15 hours. That’s generally because they required extra audio editing (like episode 60 with Tyler, who’s volume was so quiet, it took a lot of post production to fix – or Roberto’s, which was plagued with Skype glitches).
About The Audio Production
I wanted to take a quick moment, to go ‘behind the curtain’ and share some of the audio production efforts.
This is mostly because I’m just super passionate about it, and am proud of achieving (what I think) is pretty damn good audio quality, for an entirely self produced show without any budget at all.
Hear The Before & After!
You can watch this 4-minute video OR check out the screenshots below!
Recording Skype Calls
Calls are recorded with Skype Call recorder.
It’s a low cost, simple solution. However I may switch to a higher quality tool soon (This method simply gives you one audio file – whereas other solutions can give you a separate audio file for each person – meaning you can way more easily edit them.)
Post Audio Production – Tracking
I use Propellerhead Reason 7 to actually produce the show (shown above).
It’s not common Podcasting software, and version 7 is three years old at this point, but I was using it to make music. So it was familiar.
The above shows the three simple tracks that make up a show – my intro voice, music and the actual interview.
(Fun fact: shows like Radioloab are often layering 10-20+ tracks all at once).
Processing For Volume & Sound Quality
You know when you hear Podcasts – and the volume is all over the place or super quiet? Annoying right??
Well I take a lot of care to make the audio as professional as possible. We don’t have a fancy studio, or expensive NPR style microphones, but you can clean a lot of that up in production.
This means running things through a series of compressors, EQ and volume maximizers (above).
My Favorite Tool: A Noise Gate
Finally things come into the mixers – which is where I add a final level of compression.
And my favor “trick” of a all, a noise gate. The noise gate simply mutes any extraneous sound below a certain volume level, which really cleans up the sound.
Biggest Lesson Learned?
Anthony and I go into detail on many lessons learned in the audio portion of this post (definitely take a listen! The content is almost entirely different than what’s in this written portion).
BUT, I did want to share my biggest ‘lesson’ learned:
There are no ‘Rules’
Not in podcasting, not in content, not in marketing, not in business.
There’s no ‘rule’ that you really have to follow.
For example, a really well known 10+ year veteran of podcasting told me:
“Dan, you have to tease the next episode at the end of the prior episode. It’s how you get people to keep listen to your podcast. Mention who next week’s guest is, what the topic is…”
I said to myself “oh wow, I HAVE to do this. This guy’s an expert and he must be right.”
I tried it.
I hated it.
(If you listen back to some of the early episodes, you can hear it)
This meant I had to know what the next episode was, what the topics was, record this as an extra outro … what a huge headache! It made me dread finishing each episode, and I didn’t want to do it.
So I stopped. And what happened?
The way I see it – making a GREAT show is going to get people to listen to the next episode. When people organically share the show and tell their friend about it, people will keep tuning in.
As long as we keep pushing ourselves, never get ‘satisfied’ and constantly experiment and keep reinventing ourselves – people will tune in.
So when you’re creating your own content, marketing or running your business.
There’s no rules. You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t feel right and bring you true satisfaction.
Til next year…
But in the meantime, you can subscribe on iTunes to get all new episodes instantly as they publish.