Ep 14 – Getting podcast guests the hard way

Can I Make a Hit Podcast - Podcast logo

Episode 14 – Full transcript

References

  1. Gimlet Academy podcast
  2. The “How Not to Get Old and Boring” logo

(Automated) Full transcript

So here’s the problem. I need six gastro podcasts who can provide such good stories that the audience won’t be able to help, but tell their friends about what they’ve heard. I’ve got three. I need three more, but I’ve tried Facebook groups. I’ve tried Twitter. I’ve tried Instagram and friends. I’m not getting very far.

That was how this week started. And this is what happened next.

This is a story of an attempt to make a hit podcast documented in real time. By me, Richard Madsen, a former news editor and journalist and disillusioned podcaster, the internet claims. It’s still possible to make a hit show from your home, but is it actually true? Can someone with no budget, little time and a full time job still actually make a hit show on a home computer.

I’m documenting this in real time on social media. And rounding up all the week’s events in this podcast with everything I couldn’t fit in there. So follow me on social media. On at hipot podcast, 2020 that’s at hip hop gov 2020 on Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to this weekly show right here. So is it possible to make a hit podcast?

Welcome. If you are a regular to this podcast and welcome back everyone, I `knew that a huge welcome to you as well. I hope you’ve already worked out what this show is all about. If you haven’t worked it out from the title and I hope it’s also gonna help to inspire you and other people

it’s not just about me `documenting what I’m doing here. Don’t forget to listen back to some of the previous episodes as well, especially the last few to get the context of the whole show.

Now something was really bothering me at the start of this week. I found myself wondering why I kept using the phrase that I needed guests, which electrified the show because it didn’t really quite know what I meant by that.

I mean, I knew. I wanted a great guest. I wanted someone that was going to be memorable. I needed someone that was gonna fit the checklists I talked about before, my task for this week was to find three more of these sorts of guests, the kind of people that people would talk about with their friends.

And remember after hearing so on, suddenly I decided to take a day out and go mountain biking again, which I’ve actually found is a really good way to sort of reflect on what you’re doing. And on the way there, I was listening to Eva terrors podcast. He’s got a podcast called podcast pontifications in which he talks about of the advantages of having a season break between podcasts is it gives you a chance to reflect when I wasn’t taking a season break, but I was certainly taking a day out.

And it’s really interesting because the moment you start to just get off podcasting and get away from it, the thoughts do start coming. So in my case, I was quite literally belting down this gravel track, surrounded by this amazing English countryside. It was actually sunny that day. It was really nice and pink.

I felt something go off in my head, slammed on the brakes, pull over to the side, tried to sort of make sense of what I was thinking. And then as usual with this stuff, I grabbed my phone. I recorded this social media update. If you didn’t see it during the week is on Twitter and on Instagram. But as always, I want to explain a little bit more about what occurred to me

so why is it that. We do listen to one guest over another. It sounds like the most sort of stupid question. Well, there’s obvious isn’t it? One’s better than the other, but what is it about that? Because if you make a decision that one guest is better than another, there has to be some clear finite difference between them.

Right? You think about the really successful podcast. I’ve mentioned this before in the social media this week, like cereal or this American life, or, you know, narrative podcasts, like true crime ones.

And he goes, I said, well, why is it that those ones strike us emotionally? And I think the reason is, and this is what was going through my head is because they change the way we think by putting us lit almost literally in scenarios. We wonder how we’d react to that are unfamiliar to us

remember when I was talking about Matthew Lund’s book and he’s this guy from Pixar who wrote the script for like toy story. I was one of those involved in the script for that Ratatouille and things like that. And he talks about the fact that we, as people love to go on emotional journeys.

But through the proxy of other characters, , I mentioned this before. We don’t want to be a secret agent, but we want to know what it’s to have to sort of make those decisions. We want to think we would know what to do in that situation, but we don’t want to do something there’s too familiar to us.

We want to do something that is interesting. That is a bit. Unusual. so let me explain to using the analogy I used on social media this week. Let’s say that my podcast, the premise of my podcast was about going shopping.

If I told a story about going shopping in which due to the coronavirus, I couldn’t get enough toilet paper. That’s not very interesting because so many people can relate to that at the moment. But what if I arrived at the supermarket and as I arrived, there was a child that was walking out in front of the road, in front of a delivery, Lori, and was about to be hit.

And I dived in front of the lorry, grabbed the child and threw it to its mother. In that particular situation, it’s a bit unusual. It’s different from what we expect, but it still is relatable enough to actually to feel what we do in that situation. So we are looking for not just great stories, but ones that we can put ourselves into so that we wonder what we would do.

So if I bring this back to my podcast, I could have someone that fits perfectly with the checklist I’ve got but if they’re not telling a story, which is a bit new and different, it’s not going to be memorable.

People want the unusual, the unexpected or the different, So that was the challenge I needed to do. I needed to find three more people who were not just going to be great storytellers, but we’re going to have something that was a bit different to offer Now that’s all well and good, but as I drove home from the bike ride, I started wondering if this was actually going to be possible by randomly tweeting, doing it the easy way or what I actually have to do the legwork, the Gimlet media talk about in their podcast Academy podcast series.

Do I need to hit the phones after all? And if so, where do I find the time to do that too? Well, as always with the show, I want to put this to the test. I thought I’ll do an easy approach. And a harder approach and see which works. So let’s look, first of all, the easy approach, the first thing I did here was I went on to a website that I remembered seeing mentioned on social media and it’s called matchmaker.fm.

And you have to sign up with a social media account. I’m not so keen on, I’d prefer to do with email addresses. but I guess the logic there is that they’re creating a database of, of podcasts. And what it does is it matches up you with potential guests. And it’s a bit like frankly, a dating app. So I searched for age because obviously the podcast I’m making is called not to get old and boring documentary.

and I tried different search terms to see if I could find people who were going to relate to the checklist that I need. Remembering the checklist I need is people over 40. You’ve had a midlife moment that has changed everything and they’ve then gone and done something unusual.

But the problem was I found that it just wasn’t specific enough. I think if I had been making the show, which was just based on one, on one interviews, in a general niche, like entrepreneurship or something like that, then it would be no problem at all.

but because I’m looking for people who are quite specific. So in terms of age and the life that they’ve lived. I couldn’t find anything that way.

sticking with another easy approach. And there was the podcast guest connection group, which I talked about before.

do you remember? I mentioned a marathon runner that took up marathon running in her sixties and I never heard back well, I did. So that was definitely a win for the easy approach here. There was one concern on that though. And that was, I couldn’t find any videos or any podcasts, that this person had been in.

And as I said before, I really want to make sure that I can vet them. And you remember, I was talking about auditioning before and give them that media talk about auditioning. I wanted to make sure that they were going to be good. So I messaged them back and I said, well, have you done anything like this before?

And there wasn’t anything, but there was some reassurances that they’d taken part in various speaking events and this kind of thing. So, I’m a little bit nervous on that one, but I am going to take a risk because I think it is such a great story

so that was the first two approaches I did on easy process weight. And then there was the third one, and this was to tweet out to digital nomads. Now I’ve mentioned before, I like the idea of digital nomads, because a lot of these people have given up a normal work-life and then grab that laptop and they’ve gone and you know, they live in Thailand or something like this.

So there’s a real life change there. And I wrote a tweet. And I timed it so that it would match up with tie-down, which is one of the real popular places for digital nomads to be in. And I shared to that tweet to go out. And I will tell you in a moment what happened with that one so that was three things. There was one final thing that happened on the, the easy approach to getting guests that I was not expecting. This also came from that Facebook guest connection group on Facebook. And that was a psychologist reached out to me and said, well, would you like someone to come on and give a sort of expert medical opinion on why we go through changes in our lives and why we get motivated to do things completely differently.

And I thought, wow. What a great idea. So I did my due diligence, had a look, found, some videos, found that the person was a good talker and said, great. I would love to get you on. So the easy approach is certainly producing some results. Basically I put out some simple appeals, I got some responses and I’d say probably what sort of 20% of the people that responded to me are good for the show.

So what about the hard way did that work any better? I started on Tuesday looking at this. And the first question I had to ask myself, instead of just sort of putting something out there generally, and seeing who responded was to actually say, well, what particular areas on these niches do I want to target?

So as went on Google, and I searched for the phrase life changing experiences to see if it’s suggested the kind of areas that inspire people to make a big change.

And well, that came up with holiday lists for life changing experiences. Like. To around China. So that was no years. I then found a website which was called complex.com and they had the topic was 10 or some experiences that will change your life forever. So the first one was protesting, which I thought was quite interesting, but the problem with protesters and having been in news for quite a few years is that they just want to talk about the issue.

They don’t want to talk about the experience of themselves. I don’t know. Rolling that one out. Then I found skydiving. I thought, okay. That sounds interesting. So I found a new story. about a hundred year old, who sky dive. And I thought, great. Wonder if I can find that particular person found a few videos, seemed like an absolutely lovely person, but wouldn’t really hold up in a podcast.

Then I found another one, another sky diving. , I think it was a granddad, but he’d sadly passed away. But an amazing 103 though, he actually skydived at a hundred years old. I mean, it’s incredible. Isn’t it. Then I found skydiving grandmas and more granddads. And frankly, I never realized how many skydiving grandma’s and granddads are actually are.

the problem with skydiving though, is that they weren’t having one off experiences. These weren’t life changing moments. So skydiving, no, I wasn’t working. Then I searched for the phrase change life forever, which came up with teenagers and people in their early twenties saying that their life had changed forever after an experience.

not really quite it. They got a long way to go before they ever. The midlife moment that, that I need for this podcast.

Then I tried searching for blog inferences over 40 to see if I could find bloggers. and I got articles about mastering aging and living healthy longer and looking after your body. And what I’m looking for here are people who have gone to put it bluntly to hell with age, I’m going to act like a 20 year old still.

rather than getting old gracefully. then I stumbled on a travel website with an article about 10 extreme activities for the over sixties and the first. Well, scuba diving. you know, with an Aqualung. so I Googled scuba diving for the over sixties and I ended up on Quora then I found a name, no contact details, but in their mention on Quora, they actually say they’re 72 years old. So I Googled. That name. And I found a person that is very similar to that on Facebook and that particular person has been doing it all their life, but I thought, okay, I’ll reach out anyway and see if they know someone because they said in their comment on Ancora that they’d actually trained for people in their sixties in the past year.

So that could be really interesting. so I’ll tell you what happened in just a moment, but the basics are the harder approaches I put in a lot of time researching and searching for topic areas. And it was a very time consuming approach. You’ve got to take the initiative, you need to know what you need.

You need to actively search for people, and then you need to vet them and then reach out to them and see whether they’re even interested. Remember, unlike the podcast, guest connection group, these are people that aren’t actively looking to appear on a podcast right now. So you’ve got to persuade them as well.

So, how did both approaches compare? Well, the easy approach to getting guests like the matchmaker fan, like the Facebook groups. I think if you wanted to fill one on one interview shows would be. Extremely useful. You know, you could go into that and you could feel 20 shows just to, in a heartbeat.

The other easy approach I was talking about was the tweet that I put out to digital nomads. I’ve done this a couple of times. Now I’ve directly tried to tweet groups. And let me tell you what happened with the digital nomads. I got 163 views of the tweet, which is my Newt, considering the hashtags that I used and zero response.

so in terms of the technique of getting guests, I think a tweet even to a targeted audience is just completely pointless and a waste of time. It just hasn’t worked at all. For me, the easy Prostar has got me a psychologist. It’s got me a marathon runner. It’s got me three other really great guests. So it is quite effective and it’s certainly time efficient, but can I get three more landmark guests who will electrify the show?

One of the things I found with easy approach is it starts getting repetitive. You start getting similar stories. So I need to find three more different stories. As I was saying earlier.

Now the harder approach didn’t get anyone at all, nothing from the diver yet, but I don’t think you can roll it out on that basis because the first.

Week, frankly, of working on that was just about research with easy approach. You throw it out there and get whatever you get. But with this, I actually had to start researching and looking for niches and looking for terms, which took a lot of time. so is one of those approaches better than the other?

Well, the honest answer is I don’t think I can answer yet. I think I need to try. And both of them more, so I think I need to keep going,

but I am aware that the guests I’ve got already are waiting now. And this whole issue of time just keeps coming up. So I don’t want to end the show here this week, because I think we have to talk about time. I’m really starting to wonder over the past couple of days, whether a hit show can actually be done this way in a series in a narrative way with multiple high, high quality guests, because the alternative, is to do one on one interviews, but almost every show is like that. Now there’s just hundreds of thousands of shows, which are one on one interviews. So I think we have to try this approach of making a hit show by making a narrative series but in which case to get them, we’ve got to somehow find some more time or a better method for reaching out to these exceptional guests. you know, someone said to me on Twitter this week, in fact, it’s known as my winter, he said, just enjoy the hobby. After I made a comment about getting guests that have only got big audiences. And I think he’s absolutely right. I can feel the pressure of time. I remember when I was a journalist and I would turn up for work in the morning and I would have to fill a two hour show with guests in 45 minutes.

But this is totally different here because I’ve got a series which I can take my time over. Going back to the original point in the very first episode about pod fade is if you’re not enjoying it, you’re never going to make a hit show because you’re actually just going to give up anyway.

So I think the reality is the hard way, I think, which is the technique, which is likely to get me those final few guests that are going to really nail the collection of guests.

I’ve gone is going to be the way that I’m going to have to go. And that is just simply going to take some time.

you know, if, if I was doing the full time, I could have done it in two days. But I’m really keen to make a show, which tests this concept of whether we can make a hit podcast at home in this situation. So I’ve got to be more clever and I’ve got to be more efficient about how I approach this process.

one other thing about social media is that, and this is great because we’ve, we cannot make a hip hop because there are more people that are listening to the show and commenting, and that’s fantastic.

But when I first started, I was doing something and then the actual tweet or the update video was going out a week later, which gave me loads of buffer time. But as you start to get a more immediate reaction back from people. You can’t then do an update the next day, which contradicts something that you had a discussion about the day before.

So there’s a pressure to be more in the moment and to be more immediate. And that again is time consuming for this show. And also in terms of the hit show that you’re trying to make as well.

So overall I’m going to start looking at some time management books. You know, there’s like the four hour work week. And, um, I can’t remember his name, but there’s the art of doing, doing less, something like that. The book is called and I’m going to start looking at these and seeing if I can apply it to podcasting, I will, of course, report back in future episodes on how that is actually going.

One other social media update. I just want to mention, and I watched pod Fest live. They had an interview with James Cridland of pod news fame. If you haven’t heard of him before, check him out because he does an amazing newsletter, which rounds up everything that’s going on in podcasting.

And he was asked about what are the big things currently in podcasting? And James said, yes, The true crime is huge, which I guess we all know, but interesting that fiction is growing fast too. And comedy is also big on Spotify as well. And I do wonder on this point about fiction and when we’re talking about what makes hit shows, whether there’s an opportunity for fiction bloggers, and I’ll explain a little bit more about why that, that concept fascinates me more in relation to my day job as well in a future episode, too.

So, let me round up lots of stuff as usual in this show, did I get three more guests? No, I didn’t. Did I conclude that the easy or harder approach is better? No, I didn’t. What it did determine though, is that the hard approach does take longer, but could produce more unusual, more talked about stories and also that time is an issue and I need to find a way I have to find a way to be more efficient and more effective with reaching out to guests and this whole process. And that’s gotta become an active partner. I think of this project moving forward.

It’s been a really interesting week. I think this line that I keep ending the shows with about the fact that the internet claims that you can make a hit show with limited time resources.

It’s perhaps not as easy to throw out there as it was before, because when you look at the tutorials and you look at the articles and the claims, how, how many of them always based in reality, because I am certainly find some challenges here. Maybe I’m pushing the limits. But the most important thing is that we keep going.

because if a hit podcast is possible to make, which I think it is, then there must be a solution out there. And I hope that you and I, if we keep going, we’ll be making one before the end of this year, or perhaps next I’ll speak to you next week.

Published by RicksWP

Former YouTuber, former news editor, a former journalist, former political social media content creator, now an engineer of happiness at Automattic.

Leave a Reply