• How podcasters design shows to make money

    Phase 02 : Episode 3 – How podcasters design shows to make money

    How to start planning a podcast that could make money

    Have you seen these comments around the web that say that if you set up a podcast to make money, you will fail?

    You see people write it in podcast forums all the time and then that comment often gets a bunch of enthusiastic likes.

    The thing is unless a podcaster is genuinely making a show just for the “art of it” most people, at least those who are being honest with themselves, want something in return.

    It could be anything.

    It could be to sell a product, an idea, or even their personality. But whatever it is they are “selling” something.

    If you are making a podcast for business, whether it’s for a corporation or for your own small business, this isn’t a joke.

    Podcasting needs to make a return or it’s pointless.

    S02 E03 : All podcasts that try to sell things fail, true or false?

    That doesn’t mean “cheating” people or giving tacky sales messages. You can sell while giving great value and doing it in a way that is honest and authentic to people.

    When you look at the most successful podcasts, you see it all comes to how they deliver their call to action.

    A call to action, as I’m sure you know, is the term used to describe your method of getting people to do what you want. Do it well and if they do what you need, you get what you want.

    At the simplest level, you can see this in podcasts and media productions like the Daily Wire or the Young Turks.

    Both of these organisations are on wildly different sides of the political spectrum but they both ask people to join as paying supporters if they want to back the project.

    None of us like the idea of being sold to but that doesn’t mean we don’t want what is on offer

    They didn’t ask people to do this in some cheesy way. Instead, they ask people if they want to support their work to join as a member and get extra content. People don’t feel they are being “sold” to they feel they are “supporting” the shows.

    Perhaps the reason people jump on these claims that podcasters fail is nothing to do with the statement being correct but more a reflection of the fact that none of us really like the idea of being sold to. We’ve also all heard too many examples of people making terrible and cheesy calls to action.

    But that doesn’t mean we don’t want what is on offer, it just means we don’t like the way it is delivered.

    It’s easy to forget that audio is a far more intimate medium than video or the written word.

    As a presenter, the podcaster is quite literally in your head. What they say can often seep into your unconscious mind. This is because most listeners are doing something else while listening. Our resistance is lowered.

    So when a person to whom we have given our trust then tries to give us some cheesy sales message it grates, like a trying to swallow a cactus.

    The good news is some podcasters show us how to do it well.

    Some, for example, have free tools which grab our email address and draw us into a sales funnel.

    Others make their entire shows in a way that is interesting and valuable to us but is also basically a sales message the whole way through without it feeling like it.

    In this week’s podcast episode then, I run through some of these ideas and techniques.

    As usual, I have a tutorial based on what I have studied to help us all develop our own calls to action.


  • How to use Amazons business model to grow a podcast audience

    Phase 02 : Episode 2 (special)  – How to use Amazon’s business model to grow a podcast audience

    How can we use Amazon’s business model to grow a podcast audience?

    It might seem a strange comparison to make but Amazon can indeed teach us something about how to grow a podcast audience.

    Amazon’s growth wasn’t an accident.

    S02 E02 (special) : How to use Amazon’s business model to grow a podcast audience

    When you look back at the history of the company you can see how a razor sharp focus on their customer’s needs was a big factor in their growth. It might seem obvious now but who could have predicted Amazon’s success at the time.

    This same focus should be able to help us grow our podcast audience too.

    To do this we need to ask what do our “customers”, in our case or our podcast listeners, really want?

    In the early days of Amazon, the executives identified these core things as “cheap prices” and a “huge selection”.

    These were also crucially things that were never likely to change. People will always want cheap price, right? I do!

    They realised that providing they delivered these core things, the rest didn’t really matter.

    So how as podcasters can we work out what these core things are to our audience?

    Noah Kagan did an excellent bit of research in his YouTube show. He pointed to a Youtuber called Mr Beast.

    Mr Beast studies the data from his own videos to see what people react to and then reproduces those same “core” things in the next video he makes.

    That doesn’t mean he makes the same topic but it does mean it has the same “core” elements, such as laughter, people taking part in challenges and huge prizes.

    Just like Amazon, the “core stuff” stays the same, the rest doesn’t matter.

    So his team watch what people “watch”, when they drop off, what they react to and what they don’t like.

    Amazon call it the virtuous circle. How can we use Amazon’s laser focus on what their customers want to help us grow a podcast audience

    That data is then used to produce the next video.

    That video is then analysed to look for the core themes again. Then the next video is made. Each time improving a bit more on the one before.

    It starts what Amazon calls the “virtuous circle”.

    If you like, think of it as a flywheel getting faster and faster.

    In this special podcast episode and video, I look at these principles in more detail and ask how we could apply them to grow a podcast audience.


  • The most important question to ask in order to make a successful podcast

    Phase 02 : Episode 1 – The first question to ask when designing a new podcast

    The first question to ask when working out how to make a successful podcast?

    Before you even start producing a podcast or recording anything, in order to work out how to make a successful podcast, the best thing to do is to put all your equipment away and get out your laptop instead.

    From my research there are around eight questions that help you determine how to make a successful podcast. The first of these is probably the most important.

    S02 E01 : The most important question you can ask when creating a podcast

    It’s the question “why?” Why are you doing this? Before you rush off thinking, “I know that!!!” just pause for a moment.

    Is the reason you have in your head something to do with marketing or promotion?

    Ok, no problem. Do you know how many sales you need to make or how many people you would need to connect with to make your podcast a success?

    If what you have in your mind is a vague idea of this being for marketing then don’t worry as that is how most people start.

    The problem is when you search the internet for reasons to make a podcast you find lots of vague but powerful sounding promises. You can build a network they say, or turn listeners into friends. The reasons all build on your excitement rather than prepare you for success. I’ve fallen into this trap several times.

    if you don’t come up with clear goals, all you’ll have to carry you through will be a vague enthusiasm that will quickly vanish during the early stages when no one is listening

    The reality is these reasons are almost valueless as a starting point. It’s like saying, if you go into business you could make a million dollars. If I said that, you first question would be, ok but how. It needs to be the same with podcasting.

    So forget everything you have read. Instead think about this. The only reasons that matter at the start of making a podcast are yours.

    If a podcast is not going to deliver on YOUR goals then cancel your order for that microphone and save your money right now. Because if you don’t come up with clear goals, all you will have to carry you through will be an enthusiasm based on nothing bur vague dreams. This enthusiasm will vanish very quickly during those early stages when no one is listening to your show.

    So we need to ask the question why do “I” want to make a podcast?

    If you have 14 minutes click play on the episode above. I’ll take you through a tutorial and some of the steps I have learnt studying other podcasters. You can do the whole thing as you listen to the episode.

    If your goal is to fix a podcast that isn’t working or develop one that is going to work, then this episode should help.

    By the way, if you are rushed for time, enter your details in the box below this paragraph. I will then send you the core lessons I learn each time I complete some research, in a bite sized email. That way you’ll be able to see my key findings in a glance.


    Dan Norris “Content Machine”

  • 6 stories to grow your podcast this week

    Why you actually have a much better chance with podcasting than you might think but only if you keep going.

    Why your personality may make you money, even in a topic area which is traditionally very dry and serious.

    Do YouTube “shorts” work? It’s a relatively new style of short format video from YouTube. I share the data.

    More evidence that podcasters should also be public speakers and how it could help your show.

    Could you be a podcast guest from a noisy airport? I look at an app which might be able to help, what do you think? I’ve got the audio in the show.

    And could an appearance on reality TV help your podcast, even if the appearance goes very wrong.


    • Twitter/Instagram @hitpodcast2020
    •  Clubhouse at @rmidson

    All the links for the show

  • Modelling successful podcasters and other news

    How does John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire do it? He’s got a massively succesful podcast in a very clear niche so what can we learn from him? I’ve been looking into how he does it.

    Why the word subscriber is disappearing.

    How some businesses are hyper targeting people with short podcast series.

    One of the secrets of how to turn your podcast into a public speech.

    And the latest research and observations on Clubhouse. Should you be on it when 79% of America hasn’t heard of the app?



    • Twitter/Instagram @hitpodcast2020
    •  Clubhouse at @rmidson

    John Lee Dumas

    Hyper targeted podcasts

    Public Speaking


    Clubhouse research

  • Should you be on Clubhouse? and more…

    Should you be on clubhouse? Is it worth it? Should you stop podcasting and go make live radio instead?

    Can you get media attention for your podcast and promote you work nationally and internationally?


    Why Google could get our podcasts to more people in future.

    Once again I’m joined by the amazing Patricia Curty from Gallery of Ideas (all her links below)

    You can find Patricia here :-

    Google’s Lyra Project

    The Guardian Podcast

  • Could you turn your podcast into a great talk?

    Could your podcast make a great talk?

    Would an event organiser be interested in what you have to say?

    In this week’s episode, we find out that the answer is a resounding… YES!…. but…..

    There are some things you need to think about to make it work.

    Last time I spoke to TEDx speaker and podcaster Liam O’Neill to see whether you should be a public speaker.

    This week we find more about how to do it, from event organiser and speaker herself, Patricia Curty. Patricia runs “Gallery of Ideas”. She has a wealth of experience and plenty of ideas on you can make this work.

    You can find Patricia here :-

  • A public speaker helps podcasters get into public speaking

    I’m asking the question at the moment, as podcasters could we and should we become public speakers to promote our podcasts?

    Can we use that as a medium to help us publicize what we do to reach a bigger audience, get in front of people and build our brand? This is what I’m trying to find out.

    In my research I found this chap called Liam O’Neill. He is a podcaster AND a public speaker. I thought this really sums up what we’re trying to do here. I wondered what has learned from that experience of doing both? What are the mistakes he’s made? What are the good things he’s learned?

    I invited him on the show. We recorded it on YouTube where you can also see the episode but here is an audio version of the show.


    Liam O’neill – The Prove It Guy

    LinkTree –
    Instagram –
    Facebook –
    YouTube –

  • Podcast Public Speaking (step2)


    Can you promote your podcast with public speaking? The next step in this journey was to try to get a big event to accept me as a speaker.

    This episode opens with the result of that attempt and then I go into how I think I managed to get accepted. What were the techniques I used and more.

    Here also is the video I pitched to the event :


  • If advertising doesn’t work, is there another way?


    Over the next 45 minutes or so in this special episode, I think you are going to find some really useful answers to the question of how to get guests that are based not one wild claims designed to get you to buy a course but on real world success…. and spectaclar failures.

    So what you’re about to hear are proven techniques tested with real podcasts in the real world.

    As you know if you follow this show regularly I’ve been trying to test the theory that you can buy podcast listeners with adverts. In my case, I tested the myth that you could ask people to subscribe to your show with targetted Facebook ads. It was a resounding failure but what I found was actually something much nuance and frankly more clever.

    What you are about to hear might throw up some new techniques for you or even if you have thought of them before some new emphasis and perspective on how to get them to work.

    You’ll hear from 3 pannelists.

    Phil Better from Invest in yourself

    Micheal Liddicoat from Dissecting the Deal

    And Tommy Outdors from Toomy outdoors.

    There is so much in this episode, that even though I’ve edited it. I’m still picking out ideas.


  • Can I use public speaking to promote my podcast?


    I’ve always been curious about public speaking but mostly because I’m scared of it. It’s something I want to overcome as a challenge. But I also think there could be good reasons to overcome it from the point of view of podcasting.

    If you’ve watched a TED talk then you’ll know the “power” of public speaking.

    The techniques hook you in right and the view counts show how effective they are. It feels like we could be using these techniques to draw people into our shows and help us promote the ideas we are sharing or the products we are marketing if that’s our aim.

    It would look great in our podcast bios to say “international speaker”, right? I mean would you listen to a podcast by someone just starting out or someone who sounds like they might be about to deliver some real value? A “international speaker” we hope should be a person who is going to deliver that. It’s like saying, “as seen on TV”.

    If the goal of a podcast is to change attitudes or sell products then perhaps speaking would also provide a way for us to connect directly with the people we need to reach outside of the podcast itself.

    Yet few podcasters seem to use public speaking for this purpose.

    As usual in this project, I’m trying to find out if the techniques I’ve seen being used by others could help me promote a podcast.


  • Can I book better and better guests? (special)

    So here’s the problem.

    A lot of the same guests go on a lot of the SAME shows and deliver basically the SAME interview to the SAME people. 

    It’s boring for listeners and while it helps podcasters grow their audience within that “bubble” a bit, it’s not going to be as effective as getting good original guests.

    So what do we need to do to get good original content?

    To some extent that comes down to the guests to say something original but it also comes down to us to pick the right guests and I found one man who is doing just that and so I invited him on the show.

    Mike Fisher lives in LA and has a creative podcast called “Anyway Whatever”. You might think being in LA all he has to do is open his door and creative guests pour in but that’s not the case so what’s his secret?

    This is the second of a special series called “Cracking the Podcast Code” in which I interview a podcaster who is doing ONE thing exceptionally well.

    It could be content, social media, getting guests, any “one” thing.


  • Can I avoid podfade?

    Cracking the Podcast Code is a new series which is part of the project.

    The aim is to talk to people who are doing at least one thing exceptionally well in their podcast project.

    Today I’m talking to Mike Winter from WiseCrackin With Winter about the topic of “Podfade” and how to avoid it.


  • Can I use Facebook ads to promote my podcast?

    Can I get people to listen to my podcast using Facebook ads on a limited budget?

    That was the test. I got some very clear results.

    So for your enjoyment and insight, here’s the results of my tests, all the data and some pretty clear conclusions. If you are thinking of spending money on ads I think this might be of interest to you. Oh and what the big podcast companies are doing with Facebook ads too.


  • Can I create a podcast advert using international marketing techniques?

    So, here’s the ambitious target. Grow my audience 50% with advertising alone.

    To do that I’ve been studying how to make an advert that “works” by looking at international marketing techniques used for the past 100 years.

    So how do you make a podcast ad like that. How do you make a podcast ad like a major advertising agency?

    Well I’ll tell you if you click play on this episode.


  • Are there other ways to make money from podcasting?

    A bite-sized episode looking at alternative ways to make money from podcasting and whether you change your podcast to a news style format.

    Business Insider Australia:-

    Reuters report:-

    Someone reached out to me on Twitter the other day and said about how to increase listeners, which is something I’m working and studying at the moment, but also how to get more advertising revenue.

    And this got me thinking because when I was on YouTube, I was getting about $400USD a year. Which is not exactly enough to live on!

    And then I read this article from Business Insider Australia, about two podcasters, two podcasts shows that are going out, that are making money from Patreon. One.. I think they’re earning $6,000 USD a month. The other $1300USD.

    One is called “Boonta Vista”. The other one is called “A Rational Fear”.

    And it was really interesting because what they’ve done is that they’ve really listened to their listeners and then they’ve delivered that and then people have wanted to give them money.

    So they’re not “upselling”. They’re not doing anything like that. They are literally just delivering the content that people want and people they want to support that. There are loads more details in that article. I’ve done another separate video, a longer one on YouTube with more details as well.

    All the links, of course, in this social media update.

  • Can I learn how to make the perfect podcast advert?

    International marketing firm versus solo podcaster?

    There’s a big difference right.

    But is it still possible for us independent podcasters to learn from there? It might seem a bit far fetched.

    I mean, if you count the number of people in the average podcast production team you’ll get to a figure on one!

    And if you walk into the offices of a major advertising firm you’ll find designers, producers, creative directors coming out of every door.

    So, we are not in the same league right? But having studied advertisers for the past two weeks and in particular a chap by the name of Ogilvy, I think there is a lot we can learn…. and I’m going to try and put his techniques into practice to promote my podcast.

    In this episode, I’m sharing my research as always and putting things to the test to find out what really works.
  • Can I future proof my podcast?

    This is kind of a warning.

    The competition to grab our podcast listeners is growing and it’s not from other independent podcasters but from the big names and it’s going to get worse.

    Almost every day, studying what firms are doing you can see how this is beginning.

    But luckily it’s the big firms and well know individuals who may also perhaps provide us with some of the solutions.

    In this episode, I look at some of the options available to us.
  • Could I get signed by a big podcast company?

    How do you get your podcast signed up by a big company?

    I would love to know the answer to this because I would love to know myself.

    This was something I was asked the other day on Twitter, so as usual with this project I thought I would do some research.

    And I started off by looking at Gimlet.
  • How to be a good podcast guest?

    You don’t have to pay for media training.

    At least that is what I’ve found in my research as I start investigating “guesting” on podcasts.

    A lot of what you learn in traditional media training can be found in other ways. And it’s worth doing.

    Guesting is a powerful way of marketing yourself and your brand but also for networking.

    In this first show looking at Guesting on podcasts, I ask the questions about how to prepare to get started.
  • Can you grow podcast listeners with paid ads?

    Can you grow your podcast listenership with paid adverts?

    I’ve seen a lot of opinions saying adverts don’t work but I’ve also seen opinions saying adverts do work.

    I wanted to know the truth. What were the facts?

    So I conducted a experiment live on YouTube and this is what happened.

  • Editing a hit show (part 1)

    There are 5 hours of audio sitting on my computer which needs editing into a hit show.

    The prospect is daunting.

    I can’t just edit out the ums and errs, I need to edit it in such a way that it becomes a chemically addictive show for the audience.

    So how do you do that without spending months on it and burning yourself out through over work?

    In this week’s episode I look for the shortcuts and hacks that will make editing easier.


    Full transcript here
  • Fixing the show (podcast)

    I’m diving even deeper into the topic of podcast “topics” this week.

    I’m shredding up my own podcast ideas once again as I attempt to emulate the success of the big podcast companies.

    This episode takes me even deeper into one of the topics I touched on last week.

    Plus, this episode might feel different!

    The reason is that I have spent quite a bit of time changing this show based on what I learned last time.

    So the question is, does it “feel” better? Can you tell the difference? Do Gimlet’s techniques actually work? Let me know if you can feel the difference.


    Full transcript and links here
  • Making a podcast unmissable

    Can you make a podcast show that is so appealing to people that they simply can’t help but click play on it? Is it possible?

    I’ve been wondering about the progress of this show “Can I Make A Hit Podcast”. It doesn’t seem to be delivering quite what it originally promised. So can you “repair” a show or start one for the first time that is so addictive people will have to listen?

    In this episode, I look at the techniques from some of the big podcast names to see what they do to make an unmissable show.

    Full transcript and links here
  • Nailing podcast guest interviews

    Guest interviews are a bit like flying an aeroplane. It’s too late to fix them when you are up in the air. It’s all in the preparation.

    This week I set a task to do 4 hours of interviews but I soon began to realise that there was a lot more pressure on me in these interviews than I first thought.

    Full transcript and links here
  • The final push for “landmark” podcast guests

    If you want “landmark” guests, not “good” or “any” podcast guest then it’s going to take time but time is not something we have as independent podcasters with full-time jobs.

    So can we make the process much more efficient so that it puts the best quality guests within our reach? Can WE get them?

    As usual, not everything went to plan as I put techniques to the test but with 4 guests now booked, a lot of lessons were still learnt.

    In this episode find out what went wrong and how to use those mistakes to your advantage.

    Full transcript and links here
  • Case Study: How a 110 episode podcaster did it

    There is a lot of advice out there on how to create a hit podcast but how much of it is actually true? How much of it is based on real world experience?

    Mike Winter has been making Wisecrackin’ with Winter for 110 episodes now. In this special episode of Can I Make a Hit Podcast, he shares what has kept him going and what advice he has for others trying to do the same.

    It’s brutally honest, funny at times and practical.

    Full transcript here

    Episode Link : To hear the episode of Mike’s show where this was recorded use the following link. Please note, only part of that show was about podcasting.

  • Finding the time to make a hit podcast

    There is no getting away from it, without good time management the chances of making a hit show is looking unlikely.

    But as usual with this show, instead of saying it’s all too much, it’s time to look for solutions and I think I’ve found some.

    In this episode I try out techniques from Ari Meisel’s book “The Art of Less Doing” and the results are really quite impressive.

    Can you use time management techniques for podcasting? Well take a listen.

    Full transcript and links here
  • Which is best? The easy or the hard method of getting guests?

    I have 3 exceptional guests already…. I need 3 more.

    Gimlet Academy said that getting podcast guests is about hitting the phones and reaching out to people but can it be done more easily?

    This week I try the “easy” and the “hard” approach to getting guests to see which produces the most results.

    The answer isn’t as simple as you might think but the lessons which come from this week were really useful.

    Full transcript and links here
  • How to get “good” podcast guests Part 2

    14 people want to appear on the new show but will any of them be able to deliver what is needed to make this a “hit” show?

    In this week’s roundup podcast, I fight with myself to stop trying to do what “feels right” and focus on what others say actually works instead.

    I vet the guests and even “audition” one of them but did this help or cause problems?

    So do we have any guests onboard yet and will their stories inspire and captivate the listeners of the new show enough to make it a hit show.

    It’s been another week with some very valuable lessons on how to make a hit podcast.

    Each episode documents in detail what happened since the last show in a real time effort to create a new “Hit” show.

    Full transcript and links here
  • How to get “good” podcast guests Part 1

    How can I find “good” podcast guests? Picking someone at random just won’t do.

    The only way I can get my listeners to engage with the new show and come away feeling great is if the guests “electrify” them with their stories.

    I’ve already spent enough time defining what I need, so now it’s time to find the people who can deliver that but just how hard is this going to be?

    In part 1 of this process, I discovered a whole load of problems but also some good things too.

    So, have I got any potential guests yet?

    Each episode documents in detail what happened since the last show in a real time effort to create a new “Hit” podcast.

    Full transcript and links here
  • Guest booking – avoiding some huge mistakes

    Episode 11 – Full transcript


    1. OBS Studio
    2. That list of podcast ideas in that post
    3. Gimlet Academy podcast

    Full transcript

    Episode 11

    So the idea was set, right?

    The show structure was ready, right?

    I was ready to start booking guests for my new hit podcast, but then I stopped because there was something very wrong and that’s what this show this week is all about. Hello and welcome to “Can I Make a Hit Podcast”.

    Last year I almost quit podcasting for good after several failed attempts, but I decided to give it one more go and I’m trying to find out whether someone with a full time job and a laptop can still make a hit podcast, which rivals the big production companies. And I’m documenting the journey in this podcast and sharing what I learn. I’m updating Instagram and Twitter as well on almost daily basis.

    At @hitpodcast2020. The username is @hitpodcast2020

    First of all a big welcome if you’re listening for the first time. Thank you very much for all the new people who are following me on social media and for all the many listens that seem to be happening now on this podcast.

    Before I talk about guests though, I just wanted to mention one of the social media updates I did earlier this week, because I think there was a really interesting point that came out of it. I was going cycling in the countryside on a mountain bike and as I was riding around, I realized that there are podcast ideas absolutely everywhere.

    I was riding through this ancient landscape in Britain, where there are stones that are in fact older than Stonehenge, and there’s like this man-made hill and all this. You’ll see it, if you saw the video on social media.

    And it just struck me that there was me getting all excited about cycling amongst history? Well, there was a podcast idea in itself.

    I started having a look around a bit later on in the day, and I saw on Facebook that someone had asked a question in a podcast group and it said, “give us your podcast topic?”

    the list was huge. And as I started scanning through all the comments in there, I started to notice all the different niches that you can go into. So for example, like

    – the history of ultra running or this one I really liked, which was.

    – how to scare millennials? What a great topic?

    – Geo caching

    – Sexy and scandalous people from history .

    – Another one I did like the idea of was, how to find your ancestors through ancestry DNA. I presume that is a service that it’s promoting, but still its another nice niche topic.

    And this all made me think of what Gimlet said and I’ve talked about it in the podcast before about the need to make a story about a book within the library and not the section in the library.

    Richard: So you don’t go to the section about nuns. You go into the section, which is about nuns, but then you look for the book about why they get up at a certain time of morning or why they wear the clothes they do? And it’s those books that make a good podcast episode.


    Also the topics that were in that list that didn’t interest me because you know mentally as you read them you started to drift off. here’s a couple of the ones that I saw.

    One was men’s health. It’s like, okay but what does that mean? Again, think about it. It’s that library section. What within men’s health?

    Breaking stigmas was another topic someone said, and it’s like, what?

    Marketing, now there’s a huge wide scope.

    Entrepreneurship, another one that’s so overdone and it’s like, well, what about it? Why should I listen to that particular thing?

    But it also made me think, well, is my topic too vague?

    If you’ve not been following this show so far, then if you listen back to the previous episodes, you’ll hear that I’m working on a idea for a show, which is about over forties refusing to get old. Now that in itself is pretty vague.

    So I started thinking about this and I narrowed it down and the title that I came up with and not necessarily the one that I’m going to release a show with, but the one that kind of summed up, what I’m trying to do is, “what is the secret of staying young forever?”

    And of course, it’s not quite that because it’s not sort of keeping your body biologically young forever, but it’s certainly a more engaging title and it says far more than just saying “over forties, refusing to get old”. It says more about what you’re actually going to get by listening to the podcast.

    So that helped me this whole process of what I was going through, seeing all these different ideas out there and reading on Facebook about all the different suggestions helped me to define a little bit better, what it was my show was about.

    If you want to follow my social media updates, by the way, there I’m putting stuff out almost every day in fact more than once a day at times. And you can find me on Twitter and on Instagram and also on Facebook, if you can find me on Facebook, the username is @hitpodcast2020, thats @hitpodcast2020 and I would love to hear your comments and conversation.

    Thanks, especially by the way to Neil Veglio this week, I listened to his podcast The Mourning DJ, a radio dramagy, and it was very funny listening to it over lunch. So thank you for his comments and thoughts this week. I would love to engage with you as well.

    Oh, one more thing about guests just before I move on to this whole topic I wanted to go out this week is that the previous episode was all about remote recording and it was all focused on sound quality and about getting a studio quality interview when you weren’t actually in a studio but I was listening to some of the big production companies, again, like This American Life and Gimlet as well and a lot of their interviews actually, aren’t done in studio quality. A lot of them are done on the phone, but phone alone clearly isn’t enough.

    But if you’re doing this sort of edited, narrative podcast, rather than just having one long interview, I think in, certainly get away with having some quality interviews and some which are done over the phone. So I don’t think it’s quite as important as I was talking about last week, but it’s still important to get some of that studio quality.

    Right. Let’s move on to guests because this is something that took me two weeks to work out, which is why I didn’t have a podcast episode last week. So two weeks ago, basically I sat down on my sofa with a laptop.

    and I prepared to start booking guests, but something was really niggling me. I’d already thought about the guests that I needed. So I was pretty sure that was clear. I needed people over 40 who were refusing to get old and boring. Right?

    But there was still something missing. I tried to write a description that I could put out on social media to appeal to these people, but it was just impossible.

    I wrote it and rewrote it and rewrote it.

    And I realized that I needed to get more information and then it struck me again, the Gimlet Academy podcast. Sorry, I keep talking about this, but this is the. the series that really inspired me on all this and this whole focus on story. And I listened again to that particular episode and I realized that the definition of the guests that I need, is not some vague sweeping statement of a general type of person over fourty, but someone who can deliver on the story and the emotional arc, I’m going to explain this in a sec that I need to deliver for the show to actually get an audience to engage with it.

    So my audience are not going to engage with it because I’ve got people on who are over 40 refused to get old and boring.

    They’re only going to engage with it if those guests provide the story and the emotional arc that will engage my audience.

    So this then really got me thinking. Whoa! How the heck do I do this?

    So I started to define my, my story arc, my emotional arc, and I don’t mean a sort of beginning, middle and end in that simple way. I mean, a genuine emotional ride for the audience through the series.

    You know, I need to take people on a journey and leave them desperate to hear what happened as it goes along. So one of the ways I need to do that, is, I need to make a promise to the listener at the beginning of the show, the first episode but it’s a promise that I will only actually resolve and deliver on right at the end of the series. And that then creates an emotional tension that keeps people engaged throughout.

    So tension in a sense is it’s the things that you don’t say . So you set a scene at the beginning of your, first episode, but there’s bits missing or there’s, it’s suggesting that there’s some thing that isn’t quite being explained and it’s that emotional tension that gets us listening to that story as it then builds?

    So let me run through the story arc the emotional arc. Okay. So we’ve obviously got to have a beginning. So that’s the moment that everything changed. What were they doing before hand where they living a boring life? Are they starting to get old?

    And what was it that actually made them change? Then part two would be getting old disgracefully. So this was the fun they had after they decided to change, but hinting at problems to come. So, it’s gotta be an upbeat episode, Its gotta be something that makes you go, “Oh gosh, I could do that too”. But also a suggestion that there were actually some challenges involved.

    And then the next episode, those challenges . Why staying young, isn’t always good? You know, is it, is it that the partners couldn’t relate to them? Is it that friends couldn’t relate to them anymore because all of a sudden they were doing this new activity that seemed to be something for young people or not for someone of their age.

    So they’ve got to overcome that challenge. Then, the benefits that they didn’t realize that they were going to get. So again, I want to lift the story back up on an upbeat towards the end here now.

    And then I finished off the whole show by delivering on the promise of the show. So the secret of eternal youth a positive, upbeat, last section with the advice from the guests on how you as a listener could do the same as them and stay young.

    So you’ve got an emotional journey that I’m developing through there.

    I put that out as a graphic, by the way, on social media as well.

    Now I can’t deliver this story myself. I can’t just talk this, so I have to have my guests deliver it.

    Now they may not be able to tell me all those five points. Each guest may not be able to, but this is what I’m having multiple guests and the only guests who, to put it bluntly who are going to be any use to me at all, are those who can at least deliver several of those elements.

    Someone who’s over 40 whose done something interesting is not good enough. I need someone who can deliver one of those if I’m to take my listeners on a journey.

    So I then the next thing I needed to do was to redo my questions, which I did originally, which were too vague to make it far more clear so that I would get these elements I needed.

    So let’s take the first part. Okay.

    ” The moment everything changed”. Question one for example is what were you doing in your life before that?

    What was happening? Describe it. Were you getting sad or depressed I need to get the guest to describe how they felt so that the listeners can feel that through their eyes. And then I need them to describe the moment that everything changed.

    You know, what happened?

    What did they see?

    Was it someone walked in that day? Did they have an accident? You know, what was it that actually happened? And I need my guests to describe that again, so that we can go on that journey with them.

    So I wrote it down. I won’t go through all the questions here, but I wrote down a series of questions that would allow me to get each of those elements that I need in order to tell my story.

    So that bit was all done. Right? Fantastic. So I had got my definition of my emotional arc. I’ve got the questions I need to ask my guests in order to be able to get my story. The next thing I realized that I need to do though, is to actually now write a description for social media and for putting out anywhere to actually get these guests on board.

    And again, this was not as easy as I thought.

    How do you condense? What, how many questions have I got? Let me just have a quick look in my notes here. There’s what about, uh, 8, 16, I’ve got about, probably about 35 questions. How can I condense that down into a tweet that I can put out on social media?

    This was a challenge. I sat down and I spent literally two days doing this and again, talking about my social media, there was a, I actually put a GIF on there of me holding my head because I was doing so much of this.

    I what I came up in the end was with a compromise. I decided to record a video and then write a short intro that would go into that video, which I could then link them both on social media.

    So a short sentence or a short couple of sentences, and then a video to go with it. And I thought this was kind of probably the best balance. The other thing I wanted to show on there as well in a video was, my credibility. Because I think one of the challenges of getting guests is going to be saying why they should come on. And I think if you’ve got a video and you, uh, and I’m guessing here, but this is what I’m trying if you’re smiling on there and you’re looking confident and you’re sounding like, you know what show you’re trying to make, hopefully it will get people engaged.

    So let me try this out in here. What I’m gonna do is I’m going to read out the actual tweet and then I will play the video clip and see what you think of this.

    here’s the treat I will put out or the, or the main comment. Okay.

    Podcast guests requested. Over 40? Refusing to get old and boring or know someone like that? Did you have a midlife moment and took up a new hobby or lifestyle? Looking for people to share the secret of staying young at heart for a new podcast. And then the email address

    Now here’s the video clip that hopefully people then we’ll click and play and listen to.

    So, what do you think? In fact, I think even listen to that now, I think I can actually condense it down more. This is problem, you keep rewriting it.

    By the way, if you want to make a video like that, I used a free bit of software, which is called OBS studio. It’s opensource again, anyone can use it and I used a green screen. And if you search around on like eBay, you can find green screens now, like 10 british pounds, 20 British pounds. So that’s, you know, it’s going to be very similar in U S dollars for example, or any other currency, very cheap.

    You just get the right color, OBS studio removes that color for you.

    One luxury I do actually have here is it because I’m editing the interviews with clips rather than having like a, you know, a 30 minute interview is that I can pick and choose the bits out of those interviews that I want to make my story. So for example, if I did a 30 minute interview, I might only use five minutes of it. I might only use three minutes of it so I can get the bits I want, but I still don’t want to interview the wrong people and not get those three minutes I need.

    If you’re interested, by the way on that video, set up very happy to share it on social media or with you if you want to message me in one of the comments in one of my posts.

    but here’s the point. Then the last two weeks have been about trying to work out how to get the right guests. What I failed to realize was that finding the right guests was never about just hitting the phones or reaching out to contacts and getting anyone on board that seemed to fit the category.

    It’s about clearly identifying the story that I need to deliver and then finding guests who will fit that.

    Now, it seems really laborious this, but if you think about it, story really is everything. Gimlet Academy again, teaching me that. Story is addictive. It makes people listen. You know, I listened to that…um… alabama democratic party podcast. I don’t care about the Alabama democratic party and yet I spent two and a half hours of my time because I was hooked to it.

    So if I don’t get guests who will leave my listeners wanting to listen to my show and hooked to it, then I might have, well, have never booked the guests in the first place. And I certainly won’t be making a “hit” in quotes podcast.

    So the next step then is to actually get this message out and then start reaching out to potential guests. And one of the ways you’re doing that is obviously going to be through social media, through personal contacts as well. And I’m going to document it all as you would expect on my feeds throughout the week.

    You know, one of the things I thought about this journey is the, I thought being a former journalist, this whole process would be relatively easy for me. But there’s a lot I need to learn. And clearly we all need to learn about modern podcasting if were to make a hit show, particularly now to compete against some of these big production companies. I mentioned before, I used to make three radio packages in that hour for radio news. And that means there was no time for you know, music or sound effects or, or more importantly great editing. if it needed to go in 10 minutes time, it went out in 10 minutes time, even if it wasn’t great. But if you listen to Ira Glass, you know, the real icon of This American Life podcast, you realize how much time is spent in “the edit”. Months sometimes not 10 minutes.

    Now IRA glass has clearly got a huge amount of experience and I’m realizing that I’m lacking in that way. But in a funny way, even if this first podcast isn’t a hit, I think it will be incredibly useful because we’ll be able to learn a lot of lessons from it. And then we can keep changing it and keep adapting it through this show, “Can I make a hit podcast” until hopefully we can find out the secret of making a “hit” show?

    So that’s it for this week. I hope you found this show useful. It has been two weeks since I made the last podcast. So this show has had a lot of information in it. I will of course carry on documenting everything on social media @hitpodcast2020, that’s @hitpodcast2020 and I will be putting all the extra details into the podcast next week. But the next part of this process now is to start reaching out to guests and finding out where I can reach them.

    How can I get these good quality guests that I need if I’m to have any hope of making a great show.

    I want to finish on my standard line, which is this, that there is a lot of advice out there saying you can still make a hit podcast in the 2020s. If it’s right, then you and I could be making one by the end of the year. Speaktoyou next week.

  • How to record a podcast guest remotely

    Episode 10 – Full transcript


    2. Zencastr
    3. CleanFeed
    4. Audacity
    5. Gimlet Academy podcast

    Full transcript

    Episode 10

    You certainly go on a journey when you try to make a podcast the right way.

    I’ve got the idea.

    I’ve been following the course.

    The next stage is to get the guests.

    But I’ve been struggling with distractions, struggling to find the answers to key questions about podcasting, and most importantly, I’ve been trying to work out how to get studio quality interviews with guests when I can’t actually get them in a studio or even visit them. I’m going to explain what I’ve found to deal with all these problems over the next few minutes.

    Richard: Hello and welcome to Can I Make A Hit Podcast.

    Last year. I almost quit podcasting for good after several failed attempts, but I decided to give it one more go. I’m trying to find out whether someone with a full time job and a laptop can still make a hit podcast, which rivals the big production companies. I’m documenting the journey in this podcast and sharing what I learn.

    I’m updating Instagram and Twitter as well at @hitpodcast2020 that’s @hitpodcast2020, almost daily with the tips I learn, in almost real time.

    So this week, my main focus has been on how to record guests, and over the next few minutes, I’m going to take you over what I found the platforms that I tried, and also let you hear some of the audio that I came up with in my tests as well.

    I’m going to ask you a question first though. I was sitting in my car today driving somewhere and listen to a podcast as always, and as I listened to it there was something about that show that triggered off an idea in my mind. All of a sudden I anxiously pulled over and I started furiously typing notes about this new podcast idea.

    I think I was there for like 15 minutes, trying to type with one finger on my phone with enough accuracy to actually have any hope of ever reading it back. Because there was something about this idea. It would market itself. It would engage people and it would potentially could be the next big podcast concept.

    And you probably think I’m going to share that idea with you right now, but no. Well not yet. The problem is I have found that I get these ideas all the time and I’m sure you can relate to that and most of them turn out to be absolute rubbish!

    As I’ve learned more about what makes a hit show, I’ve started to see patterns, which make me question the idea that I’ve already got and I keep coming up with these new ideas. For example, why do people have guests on their shows? Why did they have them on podcasts?

    Sure, because they make great good guests, especially if they’re used to talking already on their own shows, but also because it allows you to reach their audience and market your show to them. Let’s be honest. This is one of the big benefits of doing guests based interview shows you get to market to each other.

    So the very nature of the podcast I make is going to make it more marketable. So let me put it another way. My concept, doesn’t involve interviewing people who have got their own shows, but if I can’t reach other people’s audiences, then how am I going to get the show out there?

    What I obviously then need is word of mouth marketing, so how do I gear up my content to be inherently shareable ? Why will people want to share the content that I make, particularly on social media?

    You know what I found last week was that people share content if it shares their views, perspective and opinions through the proxy of someone else’s voice. In this case as a podcaster, through my voice or through your voice, if you’re doing it.

    I think it’s more complex than just that simple statement.

    But I’m going to try these things out to try and gear up my podcasts so that it is more marketable, more sharable I’m not quite sure how I’ve got a few ideas so far, but I will, of course tell you how I do it, and of course, whether it succeeds or spectacularly fails on this podcast.

    I think the conclusion I come to though is that podcasting is a bit like dating. You’ve got to try a whole series of them until we fall in love with one that really does work for you and for your audience and it’s successful.

    And on the subject of relationships, something that someone asked me this week on social media. Thank you for the question by the way was do I personally work for Spotify? Well, I will let you know in a few moments time plus also some thoughts on how to approach reading up about how to make a hit podcast because I keep going down this rabbit hole, where there is just so much information out there.

    Any way more than that in a second, but first, there is a big glaring problem.

    Like you, I suspect I do not have the time or the money to go out and interview guests, which is what the Gimlet Academy course has been talking about, about getting good tape, getting good guests that can tell great stories.

    If you don’t know what I mean by “the course” then have a listen to the previous episodes . Its the Gimlet Academy course on Spotify.

    For example, unlike national public radio, I, don’t have time to go to Alabama on the off chance of meeting someone and getting great content.

    For all independents like me, that means “remote interviews”, but how, how can I get studio quality interviews when I can’t sit in a studio or go face to face with the guests?

    So my aim this week was to find some software that would allow me to do that. I’ve posted about it on social media. I’ve talked about the different platforms during the week. If you want to have a look back at that @hitpodcast2020, that’s @hitpodcast2020 on Instagram and on Twitter, and it’s well hidden on Facebook, cause you have to pay for advertising on there. So have a look on Twitter or Instagram.

    Richard: So what I want is a reliable system, a high quality system, free ideally, and staggeringly easy to use for guests because if it’s hard youre going to spend hours trying to connect.

    At first I thought just use Skype like I used to in the old days, but it’s always been that sort of tinny audio quality, so it did a bit of Googling, and I found that there are now many products out there with varying features, and also one of the features I wanted was free because who are we kidding the editing software that I’m using cost a lot, and if you’re an independent like me, we don’t want to be spending any more money because we’re not making any money to do it.

    So it didn’t take long to find these main contenders. I started off with zoom and right now we’ve got this covid-19 virus going on, and so many people are using Zoom for video conferencing and the great thing about that is it guests are probably also more familiar with using Zoom, so hopefully they will find it less of a challenge.

    You can get free up to 40 minutes with multiple guests, but if you’re doing one on one, you can get a long, long time. Plus, the most important thing is that you can record the audio and in fact, you can actually record it separately on two separate audio tracks. I will let you hear about the sound quality in just a second. It is not studio quality and it does still have this sort of tinny compressed sound to it, but I’ll let you compare it in a second. I didn’t find there was any dropout, but I think like all these platforms, I would use something like Audacity or Garage Band on the Mac to make sure that I was recording a backup, but it works really well. You just click record it does the job, save it, finished.

    The next one I had to look at was Zencastr.

    Now this records the audio locally on your computer, but the big difference here is that it’s not a recording of the sound that went through the system like Zoom, it’s actually a clean recording of what was heard on your guest’s end and your end. So it’s not that compressed sound that went through the internet, but the actual raw sound quality that was heard on their end. The only downside is the fact that it is only audio, which I talk about more in a second. You can get eight hours per month for free up to two guests. It is quite pricey though at $20 per month, considering that my editing software, which does autotranscripts and a lot, lot more is only $10 a month, but it saves in high quality MP3, but the first problem I found was I couldn’t connect the audio.

    So The laptop I was using for my simulated guest was absolutely having none of it. I couldn’t hear anything. The thing is, I don’t think that was actually a Zencastrs fault, but the Windows sound drivers, which cause so many problems that I found over the years, and once it was working, I recorded a test broadcast, which went fine.

    It gave me two audio tracks, which you can download to your machine. You do have to be a little bit careful and the fact that you make sure you download it before you shut the browser window otherwise you lose everything. There was also no over-modding warning and what I mean by that is that when I’m recording and it’s too loud, it clips and so you get this awful sort of broken up sound.

    and then finally I tried a system called CleanFeed, which I found incredibly simple to use and it works instantly straight away. Completely free, and I liked the way that you can download your audio also as you’re going along. Which gives you, I think a bit more confidence.

    So that’s a summary of the three things I and I don’t want to do now is play the different quality of audio to you so you can decide which you think is best and just to give you an idea of what I did was I set up a laptop in another room to simulate being a guest and first of all I put it on my knee and then I lifted it up to my chest and you can hear the difference as I play the different bits there. So here we go.

    Okay. So now we’re on zoom, and this is going to get the ability to talk via video chat as well as get the audio as well. So I’m recording this in the blue Yeti, first of all, to see how that sounds.

    Now I’m on my guest laptop holding it up to my chest. Again, holding it nice and clear, close to me. I can hit the difference by my waist.

    And now for Zencaster, but this was only recorded on the laptop.

    test-episode_recording-1_2020-05-10–t02-35-07pm–liz: So this is me speaking with a laptop on my knee. It’s obviously the volume is pretty low. It needs to boost up quite a bit to get that matched up. Um, I’m going to hold it a little bit closer to me now. Just so on my chest, so I’m going to try and speak at this sort of level and just to see how it sounding on this.

    Richard: And finally on Cleanfeed

    So this is me recording on my volume now, and this is coming through on the blue Yeti microphone. So this is my normal sort of volume coming through like that. So now I’m going to go across to the laptop.

    What I can see here is I’m not talking into the laptop and I’m actually got the laptop up at my chest height as I tried with Zencaster. .

    Richard: So overall, in terms of sound quality, I would say that CleanFeed wins hands down and it’s free!

    The problem is you can’t see your guest, and I think a key part of interviewing As I said earlier, is being able to see when someone’s about to say an amazing story, which perhaps were a little bit of encouragement will come out and create some amazing audio.

    So then what I did was I actually tried Zoom and muted the sound on Zoom and tried it with CleanFeed so that CleanFeed could do the audio and Zoom would do the video. But no combination I tried seemed to work well. I got an echo. I got weird sounds.

    So then I tried Zencaster and I used the Zencaster setting to disabled voice over IP, and I think what that does is it blocks out recording this “over internet” sound, and it worked beautifully.

    Look, I’m not an expert on these settings, so if you know about a better one, do let me know, but these are the conclusions that I’ve come to so far.

    There are two remaining problems now I’m using a blue Yeti, high quality microphone , as I speak to you, and I was using it in those tests too. But they are obviously not going to be, and the quality from the laptop mic is, as you heard, pretty poor.

    It was vastly improved when using an earbud set of headphones with a microphone built in, so it’s sort of, you know, mobile phone type headphones once that you put in your ear that have a little microphone on the side, but can you expect your guests to buy a microphone. Its going to be a bit of a challenge probably.

    Sso the most important thing I found was to make sure that you get your guests to talk as close to the microphone as possible, and if that means they have to bend over to that tiny little awful mic on the laptops, so be it because the sound quality massively improved when I tried it on the very low quality microphone on my laptop.

    and then the second big problem is this one, and that’s getting a guest set up. It can be a job, particularly if they have got tech fear, or just trying to get him through some of the basic stuff, and I saw on the Zencastr site, that they had done a video to help guests get themselves set up, and it starts off with, like, you have been invited to appear in a podcast. This is how to do it.

    It wasn’t quite what I would want to share with people, so I’m actually gonna record my own. You’ve heard of the sort of personal welcome videos, while I’m going to record a video of myself, showing my guests how to set up, but also really welcome them to the show and thank them for appearing on it, and hopefully that’ll help to create a bit more of a connection with my guests as well. I will share that video with you. Of course, once it’s done too.

    So my choice to go ahead with this project is going to be Zencaster and Zoom combined together with Audacity recording a backup. I may also try to record the backup with Descript, which has the added advantage of automatically transcribing in real time as we actually speak, but I’m a little bit cautious of that after a few crashes before.

    Zencastr, as I say is a bit expensive, $20 per month, but you do get eight hours free. I suppose if you are making a show like this one whereby it’s going to be multiple guests in a short period of time, it may be worth me buying one month to get those extra features on there.

    So we’re nearly ready. The idea is set. The story outline is clear. The technical side is in place. next week it’s time to start finding the guests, but not just any guests, because I need the right guests.

    This I suspect is going to be a big process, and I’m, of course, going to report on every step of the way on social media and in next week’s show, but before I wrap up, there are two more observations I wanted to make this week.

    When you live in the UK like me, if the sun comes out, right? You go outside quick as it may not appear again, this year. I am not kidding. But it is hard to move a studio outside, right.

    So I was sitting in the garden the other day with the laptop on my knee, and I thought I’d research a few more things on podcasting and social media after the last weeks show.

    And I sat down for what was it about 10 minutes I thought it would take to read this article and two hours later my eyes lifted from the screen because once again, I had gone down a rabbit hole of information, because there’s just simply too many articles out there promising the solution to your question on how to make the perfect hit podcast and all the different aspects of it.

    And when you see a link in one article, you tend to just click on it and go on to the next. The problem is most of these articles I found are long and they’re vague and they don’t really add a lot of content. Occasionally you’ll find a corker and I bookmark it straight away, but a lot of it is very vague stuff.

    But the problem is here is that while you’re reading about all this stuff, you’re not actually making a podcast and it was in exasperation that I actually picked up my phone that day, and if you follow my social media as I say, you’ll have seen that I recorded a video and the thought that was in my head was it’s this, this quite simple, right?

    ” if you spend too long reading about how to make it a hit podcast, you are never actually going to make one!”

    And this was what I was saying to myself because it was crazy. There I had spent two hours reading about stuff and not really gaining much information, whereas I could actually been out there doing it for real.

    You know, It’s true, you might miss a key detail that will make a difference. I could gather all these notes together and gradually make the perfect guide but never actually get started doing it. so I’m going to give up on all this extra reading and stay far more focused on what I actually need to do, but yes, I’m going to make more mistakes, I think I have to take this attitude of being prepared to fail and embrace that. The lessons I learn trying and failing perhaps with this first series are going to be far more powerful and far more useful for propelling me forward for success with the next one than anything I can read or months I could spend reading and not actually doing.

    So I’m going to limit myself to I think three links when I read an article, no more following from there.

    and finally I got a really friendly direct message this week asking if I work for Spotify? The answer is, Nope! I don’t. I actually worked for someone completely different. Who knows maybe one day. Um, I just found the Gimlet Academy podcast which appears only on Spotify to be one of the clearest explanations of how to make a great podcast that I’ve heard of. As I say, there’s so much waffle out there but the honest feeling is, I think it’s great. I think he’s really really to the point, so if you haven’t heard it, I would definitely go and have a listen to that.

    So next week then how to find the right guests who are going to bring my story idea to life. How do I find them? How do I persuade them to come on? How do you get people who will get your listeners talking?

    Live updates almost every day on social media with all the developments as they happen. The account name is @hitpodcast2020, thats @hitpodcast2020 and you can find all the links as well Ive been talking about in this podcast on the website at that’s literally all one word.

    There is lots of advice out there saying you can still make a hit podcast in the 2020s. I love saying this if it’s right, then you and I could be making one by the end of this year. Speak to you next week.

  • How will I market the show through social media?

    Episode 9 – Full transcript

    If I am to have any hope of producing a hit podcast and getting people to listen to it then I am going to need to do some serious marketing and that includes learning how to do social media marketing.

    I’ve been looking for some examples to learn from this week as the main show idea starts to come together.

    Some “podcast” social media is great. Some of it is downright unengaging!

    I’ve been making notes as usual and I wanted to share some of my observations and learnings while they are fresh in my mind.

    So this week it’s all about “podcasting and social media”.


    1. Gimlet Academy podcast
    2. What makes social media “share worthy”? (article)
    3. Ira Glass tweet sitting in a cupboard (home made sound studios)

    Full transcript

    Episode 9

    It’s episode nine of my quest to make a hit podcast and this week it’s a bit of a “roundup week” of other observations I’ve been making, which I couldn’t fit into earlier episodes so I will get back to the main process next week, but I think you’re still gonna find some of this useful.

    For example, why getting a blanket off your bed and putting it over your head could transform your podcast sound and what I’m finding actually works on social media and what doesn’t to get engagement.

    hello and welcome to can I make a hit

    Last year I almost quit podcasting for good after several failed attempts, but I decided to give it one more go and I want to answer the question once and for all, “Can someone with a full time job still produce a podcast from their home computer, which becomes a hit and rivals the quality of the big production companies”.

    I’m documenting that journey as I go along and sharing what I learn with you. Live updates most days with one to two observations tips on learning and the story of the whole process on social media at @hitpodcast2020, that’s @hitpodcast2020 on Twitter and Facebook, and Instagram.

    This week I want to tick off a few things, which I have been noticing associated with podcasting but I had another chance to fit in.

    So let me set the scene first of all though, if you are a newcomer to this podcast.

    What I’m trying to do is to make a hit podcast and I’m following along with the Gimlet Academy podcast, which is a podcast series that they put out from Spotify from one of the big podcasts makers.

    These are the people that have come from that whole NPR, Serial, This American Life background. If you’ve heard previous episodes, you’ve heard me say this a million times before.

    But that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to follow their process to see if it actually works.

    So what I did, first of all, was to come up with a concept for the podcast that I want to make, and the basic idea is “how do people stay young and refuse to get old when most of the society kind of expects you to get old and slow and boring as you get old”. “How do you make sure that you stay young for all your days?”

    That’s the concept, so then I started turning that into a story outline, which I was talking about previously and the next thing I need to do is to start thinking about how I’m going to get the guests to bring that story to life.

    Now, certainly I am passionate about this idea because as I add a few more years to my belt, it’s something that I want to hear, how other people avoid that. but I think this one makes sense because it is something I care about and it is something that I think can reasonably and emphasize reasonably be easily be produced in this sort of NPR style from home.

    So I’ve got the concept. I’ve got the storyline. If you’ve missed any of that so far, have a listen back to the previous episodes. The next step is to find the guests who are going to fill in that structure with the color and the detail that Gimlet say you have to have.

    But as I say, I want to get across a couple of other observations I’ve been making over the past few weeks, which I think you will find useful and they center around social media cause I’ve obviously been trying to build up the social media around this feed. “Can I Make a Hit podcast” to try and get more people to be aware of it.

    And I’ve been trying a few different techniques to see what actually works compared to what you think works.

    One of the first ones was to experiment with motivational statements.

    Let me read it to you…

    ” Producing a podcast that rivals major production companies is not going to be easy, but I think it is possible providing we keep saying, yes, it’s hard, but how can we do it anyway?”

    So a motivational comment. There are lots of these out there and perhaps not surprisingly it got a bit of engagement, not a lot, but more than I would normally get on a simple ordinary tweet. Now you see these sorts of motivational quotes on Instagram all the time. They seem to be incredibly popular. You know, the very generic. They’re like “be all you can be”, “just be yourself and you will win” and they get lots of likes because who’s going to argue with something that makes people feel better, but to me, I just skim over them instantly, they don’t stand out or mean anything to me.

    And I think the reason this one had a little bit more impact was the fact that it was geared up to podcasting.

    You can’t miss the fact that this was about podcasting. It wasn’t just a generic “Be all you can be”. It actually referred to the difficulty of making a podcast and I think that really helped.

    So it’s pretty obvious that motivational quotes clearly do work. They are quick to read and who’s going to disagree with a quote that encourages you to be happier or to achieve more in the particular nice that your podcast is all about. So I’m definitely gonna do more motivational quotes , quotes that I’m actually using my own head to motivate me through this process or that I’ve said in the podcast.

    Now, have you seen on Twitter in particular people asking for podcast recommendations?

    Yeah, it’s pretty common isn’t it?

    They seem to come out all the time and they get loads of responses. Lots of people or perhaps bots put out the question. “Anyone got any podcasts recommendations?

    And the tweets get shared widely and they get lots of responses. Podcasters just like me, and I’m sure you anxiously wanting to share our episodes so that people have a look and try and get more people to listen and enjoying our content.

    But you see so much of this, I couldn’t help but think, but that actually, this isn’t about asking for recommendations at all, but about getting exposure for that particular account.

    So I tried an experiment. I put out a tweet with the hashtag #podcastrecommendations and sure enough it reached probably three times as many people as normal within a couple of minutes. It just went boom.

    So clearly there are people watching out for that keyword and it is clearly a way of generating attention to your account.

    But there was another twist with the way I actually put this out. I didn’t just ask for podcast recommendations. Instead, I shared an observation about them, and I think a lot of podcasters are doing this wrong.

    This is what I said in my graphic.

    ” it’s a shame. I was looking for new podcasts to try, but most social media just says my new episode is out. I want someone to tell me WHY their episode is great or why I should listen. It’s a shame because I know there’s a lot of great content out there.”

    Now I was genuinely looking for podcasts to listen to

    Now this then really got me thinking about what actually works on social media, what grabs my attention ? So what I did one night this week was I sat down with my phone and I started going through my social media feed, and I actually recorded myself so here’s some observations first.

    got a little video of some people talking into microphones. Don’t know what it’s about an entrepreneur mindset during covid-19.

    It sounds like every other podcasts out there about entrepreneurs.

    Got picture of someone on a bicycle, another picture of someone holding a microphone I’ve got a little video clip.

    So there’s a couple of guys having a bit of fun talking about. Some equipment or something. someone sitting on a sofa. I’m so excited to announce a skin is in podcast. What does that mean?

    156 likes, so clearly they’ve got a lot of followers. But I don’t know what that’s related to or why I should be listening.

    here’s one that grabbed my attention. It said a true crime podcast. Men’s rain. I don’t know what mens REA means. So I’m clicking open on the message and it says, I love checking out new podcasts. Each have their own style and flair, but first what this means right mean, which was my first observation, men’s razor, legal principle of intent. That must be proved. It means literally guilty mind.

    Got a graphic here saying turn on post notifications to never miss valuable content, but, I’ve absolutely no idea what the podcast is about someone smiling again.

    Now here’s one that’s grabbing my attention. It says, going live in one minute stick around my guests died once. Now that in a short sentence has grabbed my attention.

    Here’s another good one. Would you watch a 12 hour Harry Potter film? If every detail from the book was kept in you can’t help but read it and then find yourself wanting to answer. Yes or no. So a question is clearly a good way of engaging.

    And here’s another question. Have you ever been drawn into a true crime case or conspiracy theory or event or topic? We all have haven’t we it says I have my theories. Do you have yours too, so it starts to get you engaged with it with questions .

    Good. I like that.

    So this is me back now with a normal episode. So what did I get from spending an hour going through my social media feeds?

    One thing was ask questions and be relatable. Ask questions, which your target audience might have thought of before whether that was about the Harry Potter one or about the true crime one as well.

    Say why people should listen to your podcast. Just saying I’ve got new episode out is completely meaningless unless you’ve got a big following and you don’t want any new audience .

    clearly you do need something that you could glance at and fully understand in a couple of seconds.

    If there is too much writing, which I probably do with mine, then it’s too much effort to read it. I saw one graphic in there which had different boxes all over the place. I didn’t know which one to look at first, and I found myself skimming over.

    So there’s a few observations on social media. One thing I would say is what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for you, but if we are a reflection of the audience that we’re trying to reach, then if it works us, theoretically, it should also work for the kind of people that we’re trying to reach as well.

    There is another twist to this as well because you don’t want to just say listen to our episode as I say that’s meaningless, but also you don’t want to sound like you just blatantly plugging because that gets a bit boring, so I started looking around for podcasts who plugged their episodes, but “without” plugging their episodes.

    So there was a great one I found from, I think it was from NPR and it had a quote that said something like “this has to be one of the most moving pieces of content this year”, and that was the entire quote, and then it had some audio which you had to click to listen to and it was this really powerful quote from this person had been through quite a serious situation.

    They’d actually given a reason to get emotionally involved in it, and I thought that was brilliant. I want to look for more ways of doing that.

    I did have a quick look as well for articles about the main characteristics of making content shareable, and I will share one of the articles in the show notes on this but I’ll give you the quick bullet points off it as well.

    The main reason that people share content is because it allows them to share their own opinions, ideas and actions through someone else by proxy. So if you say something like this person is wrong and they agree with that, they’re more likely to share it because it helps to provide evidence to support their view to their friends.

    It also acts as a sort of badge and statement to their friends that they come from this perspective on an issue. So it leads to social validation.

    It’s going to have visual appeal. It’s gotta be easy to see, easy to digest for both them and for the people that they’re going to share it with as well.

    It’s got to appeal to their particular interest. There is no point for example, giving a left-wing point of view and hoping that someone on the right politically is going to share it. So it’s gotta be targeted to that niche.

    As much as possible. It should be practical. So it should have some kind of tip that someone could use people like to share things which have value.

    Now that doesn’t actually have to appear in that content that you’re sharing, but it should contain the promise of a reward. So your content might say the secret to X is to do this, but you will need to click through to a link to get there, but the point is it promises that reward.

    And that just about sums it up. Those are the key points and as I say, I will put a link to that in the show notes.

    So a couple more things I just want to round up before we get back to the main process next week, and the first one is how to make your voice sound a little bit better.

    When I was in radio, we used to use these beautiful soundproof rooms and you couldn’t hear a thing out of. And it helped to a add a real sort of clarity and depth to your voice, because there was no echo coming off it.

    Well, if you’ve not heard of Ira Glass, he is one of the key figures in the NPR, national public radio movement that created these amazing shows and he put on his Twitter account a while back a picture of him sitting in his cupboard surrounded by clothes, and the reason was is because it creates a sort of soundproof booth.

    Now, this week I shared on social media, a little video of me climbing inside a blanket, which I’m actually inside right now to try and reduce the echo on my podcast recordings too. And it is really cheap and simple way of actually doing this. And when I was in radio, when I was a reporter out in the streets, you used to put your coat over your head and your microphone underneath it to try and create a “studio on the move”. So it is a very cheap and very simple way of getting a sort of clearer, more defined, more bass’y, more in-depth sound without you having to buy an entire studio.

    Two more things to cover before I round up today, and the first one is about Google Search Console. Now, when I set up my website for this particular show, I didn’t register for Google Search Console and I advise people to do this all the time in my day to day job. I finally got around to it the other day, put it in there, set it up, and the first thing I could see is that the number of impressions, so this is where search engines serve my website as a result of people searching for other things, has started to go up dramatically. And that means that a couple of people have also started clicking through as well.

    But the great thing with Google search console is you can also see what it was that got people searching for you so that you can start targeting those phrases and targeting those areas.

    So I started clicking through the different parts of the platform and I spotted that 50 people had seen a mention of my site because of one particular search phrase. So I clicked on it to find out what it was and the search term was “Gimlet Media” and the show “Heavyweight”. So again, I was kind of curious, well how had Google found that I’d said that had it listened to my show?

    Google now, supposedly has started to index podcasts by auto transcribing them. Now, I don’t know whether it’s done now, but I searched my site specifically in Google, which you can do by putting in the word “site:” and then your site, and it came up with the transcript page for that particular episode.

    So if you have any doubts why transcripts are worth it because they can be painfully boring to make , but for the sake of SEO and being found on Google the figures speak for themselves. People found that episode because I had mentioned the Gimlet Media podcast “Heavyweight” and there are other search terms that are starting to appear as well.

    I have to say my dislike of transcribing things suddenly started to change and that software I’ve been using. Descript does a really good job actually of automatically transcribing the podcast as well. You’ve got to clean up quite a bit, but a lot of it’s already done.

    So that’s it for this week the next step is going to be very much to identify where to get the guests from for, the main podcast here, but one of the things they’re going to ask, as soon as I get in contact with them, is where, and how do we do it.

    As I said before, unlike NPR. I don’t have time to go to Alabama on the off chance of finding someone, so all my interviews need to be done over the internet from home.

    There are a lot of tools out there to do this and I’ve used Skype, I’ve used Zencaster and Zoom before with varying degrees of success.

    So over the next week, I want to test some of these platforms and compare them. So when the guest says where and how? I can simply send them a link.

    The week after that, finally, it’ll be time to start reaching out for some guests and I’m really looking forward to documenting that whole process of how to get them and how to persuade them to come on and give great stories.

    Don’t forget to subscribe. Join me on social media. It is @hitpodcast2020, @hitpodcast2020. I’ve got updates on those social media accounts one time, two times a day with everything that I’m learning as I go along and the progress that I make, which I then round up in the podcast episode, so it’s @hitpodcast2020, @hitpodcast2020.

    And I always love to finish off with this one statement. There is a lot of advice out there saying you can still make a hit podcast in the 2020s. If it’s right, then you and I could be making one by the end of this year. Speak next week.

  • Without a story it’s going to be boring

    Episode 8 – Full transcript

    It’s all about the power of story in Episode 8. I’m looking at what Gimlet Media suggest and what they actually do plus I look at the problems of making a story too without losing all the spontaneity.


    1. Gimlet Academy podcast
    2. Mystery Show – episode 2

    Full transcript

    In 1992 bill Clinton used the phrase, “It’s the economy stupid!” as part of his campaign.

    In 2020 Gimlet Media make it pretty clear for podcast success, “It’s the story stupid!” That’s what I’m focusing on this week. How can we turn our podcast into a story that is so addictive? People can’t stop listening.

    Hello and welcome to, Can I Make a Hit Podcast? Last year I almost quit podcasting for good after several failed attempts, but I decided to give it one more go. I want to answer the question once and for all. Can someone with a full time job still produce a podcast from their home computer, which becomes a hit and rivals the quality of the big production companies?

    I’m documenting that journey as I go along and sharing what I learn with you. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you’re listening to this now and on Instagram and on Twitter at @ @hitpodcast2020 that’s @hitpodcast2020 I think it was about 20 years ago, and I was at a wedding and this room was full with people. And the wine and the beer of course, was flying and people had been celebrating the marriage of, of two of my friends and after the bride’s father spoke, as obviously you always have the speeches after dinner, right? I was the next person up because they decided that I was going to be a best man.

    And so I stood up and I remember opening my mouth to start to speak. and with each word that I spoke, I remember looking at the audience looking for reaction. You know, did they like what I was saying or didn’t they?

    After a few minutes there wasn’t much of a reaction, but I wasn’t too worried because my story was gradually building up to it’s punchline. I delivered my punchline and the crowd, well to be honest they carried on talking amongst themselves. My joke went down like a lead balloon, such a heavy lead balloon in fact that I could almost imagine it in front of my face, crashing out on the floor and smashing through the ground at the actual venue.

    I had to accept that I was a naff storyteller. But if this podcast, the one I’m working on now is to have any chance of success according to Gimlet, I’m going to have to turn that ability around and become a great storyteller. Like NPR.

    If you didn’t know two weeks ago, I listened to the Gimlet Academy podcast from one of the world’s big podcasts makers and to hook people in, to stand out from the rest of the podcast out there, the answer to that according to Gimlet comes from the story and the structure that you put in your podcast.

    You know, NPR, Serial, This American Life, the podcast people talk about and not effective because of a long interview, they’re effective because of the story.

    Now, that’s not just narrative based podcasts. You know, Joe Rogan might talk for hours, but when you listen to what he does, he immediately, the moment he gets his guests in, he gets them talking about a story which engages people straightaway. But story-based narrative podcasts, according to Gimlet, then take this to a whole other level.

    And if you look at the success of like S-town and Serial, you can see what they mean.

    So I’ve got an idea. I’ve got some great editing software that I was talking about last week as well to help speed up this whole process. There’s a lot of other things we still need to tackle as well from production point of view.

    But the next thing I need to do is to try and turn these ideas into some sort of reality. But before I can interview anyone or even search for guests, I need to think about, who I need to talk to?

    And I’m going to waste my time approaching people at random if I don’t have some idea about who I need, but how am I going to do that?

    Well, the answer comes obviously from the story.

    Just a reminder. What is a story? According to the Gimlet Academy, remember this is a podcast series on Spotify, completely free you can listen to, got a link in the show notes, but what is story?

    Basically it starts at the beginning, as you might expect, then it builds through a series of steps, series of sequences that build up to a point to the end, and within that you’ve got emotion, you’ve got color and description and stuff like that, but it is a beginning, steps that progress up to a point, which is the end. So how do I build that for my podcast? To get started, I’m going to need some sort of story outline right.

    So I sat down and I brainstormed what would be the story behind my podcast idea. Let me just remind you of the pitch for the podcast again.

    When you get old, will you gradually give up on life or will you get a second wind and live your later years like a kid agai. We hear from people who refuse to get old and share the secrets of staying young forever with us.

    So that’s the pitch of the podcast. That’s the main idea. So then I need to start building this structure in my head. So I sat down and I brainstorm what would be the core things I would want to know in order to explain to me that pitch. So the idea that you can stay young forever and how to do it. And I came up with six areas I suppose. The first one was the moment that everything changed.

    So for someone who’s going through this, cause remember we need to get some guests who are going to talk around this.

    So the moment everything changed when they decided I’m not going to get old.

    The activities they do and seeing it through their eyes as a person of their age. You know if your taking up skateboarding in your sixties how does it feel looking at all these 20 year olds around your or even teenagers?

    Number three, the challenge you faced in making it work. You know it’s not easy refusing to get old. People expect you to get old. You know are you losing friends because they get old and boring. What did your partner say?

    Number four, regrets. Other things they wish they’d done earlier in their life. I’d love to hear what people thought about that and how they would do it differently now based on the experience now.

    Number five, what are the secrets of staying young? You know is it fitness? Is it mental attitude? How can they give advice to us on how we can stay young?

    And number six, it’s just an all out indulgence of the feeling of why is it great to stay young?

    I think that sort of covers it. You know whether you’re interested in this topic or not, you think about those areas, I think that kind of covers the topics I need to do.

    But the moment I wrote these down, I said, I think, okay, well, you know what. The problem with this is I’m writing a story before I even know what my guests are gonna say. And this is something that I came across in journalism. If you didn’t know, I used to be a news editor and a journalist many years ago on the radio, and one of the problems you had was that you had to get a story.

    So if you went out for a day to find a story, or if you went out for an hour, you needed to come back with something. So you tended to end up having in your head written a story already and you just went looking for the evidence to fit into that story.

    You know, there was a, there was a phrase that used to go around newsrooms, which hopefully was just a joke, but it was “never let the facts get in the way of a good story”.

    And there was an element of truth in that because if the facts came back really boring, what are you going to do with your day’s work when there’s nothing to fill the air time?

    Anyway, I digress.

    But it got me thinking about the story. How far do I want to take it, writing it down in advance? And I think the thing here, the first stage with the podcast is to say what are those core areas and just leave that as an outline initially and fill it in with a few ideas.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re a bit bored just hearing those six points there. But the next thing is how do we bring this to life?

    Each of those points really is going to be completely empty without a story, without some account we can follow along too and get emotionally involved with. So with each section, I started to brainstorm the kind of stories that I wanted to hear. Not a specific thing, but the kind of areas that I would like to hear so that the guests can still provide the direction

    So how do I apply that to my podcast? Well, let’s take the example of area three, which was, it’s not easy refusing to get old.

    So what kinds of things might I want to ask around here? The kind of stories that I’m looking for?

    I need stories through people’s eyes as a say. It’s societal expectations. Do people treat you differently if you refuse to get old and boring? Do you lose friends as your interests stay young and theirs get older. You know, what is the attitude of the 20 year olds or the teenagers looking at you as an older person? What does your partner say?

    It’s those stories that I want to hear from other people who are better storytellers than me about what it’s like to refuse to get old.

    So I’ve jotted down a few ideas of the kind of people I’m looking for, but it’s going to be very much down to them, the actual stories that they tell. but it’s given me a framework.

    So that’s my approach. But what I was wondering is Gimlet Academy talk about all this, but what does that actually do in practice? So I had to listen to a show that I’m listening to at the moment, which is quite an old one called Mystery Show which Gimlet themselves made and it was actually axed one of the reasons being, because they considered it to be a little bit too ambitious. But in the same sense because it was too ambitious maybe also, it’s a great test case of what can be done when you throw resources at things.

    The episode was actually about an unsuccessful book author who discovered a photo of Britney Spears holding her book.

    The presenter tries all manner of attempts to speak to Brittany and eventually does. It is a great story. If you want to see the transcript by the way, and you want to listen to the show, I will put a link in the show notes, but within the opening few seconds then, we’ve got this sort of situation presented.

    It’s a bit of a downer though, because the author is unsuccessful.

    Then bam, we get the next development. So this next step in the story, Brittany Spears reads the book.

    You then start the investigation and she describes what she sees looking at the photo Brittany and looking for clothes and each one building, building, building to that point, at the end of the story where she meets Brittany Spears and she finds out about the book.

    Now if you look at the overall basic structure with which they would have probably started before they actually went out to try and find Brittany. The overall strcuture was, if you think about it, a scenario, an unsuccessful author, we have a case to investigate.

    The aim is to see if we can get hold of Brittany Spears. Try to reach out to Brittany and document the steps and finish with a conclusion.

    So it’s the same situation as I’m talking about with mine. On its own that outline structure’s a bit flat, but what brings it to life is the story within each of those elements. The color of what actually happens.

    And that’s exactly what I’ve got to do. I need to achieve exactly that.

    I’ve got to get my guests great stories to get people hooked in.

    One final thing I want to say before I move on to the next bit is when I first wrote down my five to six areas for the show overall, I thought, hang on, these are my episodes, but if fact actually, I don’t know how much content I’m going to get for each one, so I think that progression of six main areas could condense down into three episodes, or it could be six episodes, or it could be 12 episodes depending on how much good content I get.

    So what do I need next?

    Well, I need someone to deliver those stories and as Gimlet Academy says, that can’t just be me for this to really work. So the next thing is to get hold of some guests. Don’t forget to subscribe on this podcast app that you are listening to me on right now. Join me on social media too. I’m on Twitter and on Instagram at @hitpodcast2020 that’s @hitpodcast2020 and you can find all the links as well on the website at It’s literally all one word.

    There is, as I always say every week, a lot of advice out there saying you can still make a Hit podcast in the 2020s. If it’s right then you and I could be making one by the end of the year. Speak next week.

  • Yes, but where do I find the time?

    Episode 7 – Full transcript

    How do you grab people’s attention from the first word and can I keep you listening to this episode.


    1. Gimlet Academy podcast
    2. Descript audio editor

    Full transcript

    Richard: What a week!

    I followed the Gimlet Academy course on podcasting. The idea is set. I’m pretty sure that this idea’s going to work. The problem now is how to find the time to do it.

    This week then I’ve been trying to work out how to make a hit podcast like NPR, but while also holding down a full time, intense, day job…

    And I think I found a few answers which I’m going to share with you now.

    Hello and welcome to Can I Make A Hit Podcast.

    Last year. I almost quit podcasting for good after several failed attempts, but I decided to give it one more go. I’m trying to find out whether someone with a full time job and a laptop can still make a hit podcast, which rivals the big production companies. I’m documenting the journey in this podcast and sharing what I learn.

    I’m updating Instagram and Twitter as well at @hitpodcast2020 that’s @hitpodcast2020, almost daily with the tips I learn, in almost real time.

    Hello again. If you missed the way I worked out my podcast idea, then do have a listen back to the last episode. I’ve been going through the Gimlet Academy podcast on Spotify, one of the big production companies for podcasts and they have an excellent course which I talked about before. So if you want to find out all the details about that, have a listen to the previous episode.

    So this week started with the podcast idea. Now, Gimlet talk about the need to get guests and multiple edits to make a show that is really going to engage people and take you to a much higher level than a straight interview show.

    But if you’re a full time production company, this is going to be easy, right? And this kept going round in my head.

    You know, how can “I” possibly do it? How can I do all this editing? How can I reach out to all these guests if I’ve also got what’s pretty intense at the moment… a full time job. And I’m trying to do this in my spare time and evenings like I’m sure, many independent podcasters are trying to do. How can we honestly emulate what Gimlet say you need to do to make a hit podcast if you’re in that situation, like a normal person who isn’t doing it full time who isn’t working in podcast production full time.

    Now when I was in broadcasting, I was a news editor and a journalist, and one of the things that we learnt in commercial broadcasting compared to public broadcasting is that we had to be a lot more efficient.

    So in the UK we have a major national broadcaster I’m sure you’ve heard of called the BBC, and then we have an ITN who are commercial news organization that rival it. But the budgets are completely different, so we had to learn to be incredibly efficient. So the BBC journalists would be producing like one package a day, package as in a sort of radio report to go out on the air. We were producing three of them per hour!

    So we had to find efficiency savings and ways of editing things together really fast, and I think that whole learning experience I went through will help to actually overcome a lot of the barriers that we’re going to have here.

    So what are these barriers?

    As I say, first of all, I’ve got to think about getting hold of multiple guests. It’s obviously going to be a lot harder than reaching out to one guest. I can’t just go online and say, look, does anyone know about horse racing? You know? Because then I got to get 10 guests who know about horse racing. And then once I’ve got that audio, so instead of editing, say, 30 minutes or one hour of raw audio from a conversation with them. I’m going to have 10 guests. So that’s 10 hours of audio.

    So how am I honestly going to turn 10 X times the amount of content and work into something that is actually manageable.

    How do we overcome this pretty obvious extra workload?

    One of the first things I noticed with the NPR/Serial and “This American Life”, S-town type podcast is a lot of it is done on location and it would be wonderful to be able to just go and sit in Alabama for a couple of weeks and follow a story and get bits of audio here and there. Obviously, that’s not possible if you’ve got a full time job. So a lot of these interviews are going to have to be done over the internet for speed. That’s kind of a given, I think compared to what Gimlet and NPR do.

    The next question then is how do you get 10 times as many guests since just organizing one can be, to put it bluntly, an absolute pain in the ass when you get all the to and fro of trying to find the times that you can actually meet up.

    When I used to work in a newsroom, for example, when one of the shifts I used to do, you would start at 11 o’clock in the morning. And you would start looking at the stories of the day and you would look at, who’s been commenting on the stories, who are some of the experts who are making the noise, who’s appeared on other news programs as well, and also you would then start digging around in your own contacts book and you’d try and find people that could talk about an issue in a good way.

    But the big advantage you had with that was generally you had these people in the contacts book already, and when you rang them up, you could say, “hi, my name is Richard I’m from this station”, which they would instantly recognize and think, “Oh yeah that’s big”. Would you like to come on and talk about X? But the fact that you’re calling from that big outlet means that you’ve got some credibility already. You you’re reaching a lot of people, but if you are, and this is my concern with reaching 10 times as many guests. If you’re saying that I’m coming from a podcast, which has got currently no listeners, why should anyone bother taking the time to appear on your program?

    I can reach out to friends. I can reach out to contacts. I can reach out to Facebook groups. I can search news articles in the same way as I used to when I was a journalist looking for people, website, Instagram accounts, and things like that but it’s not going to be as easy as coming from someone that has got that credibility already.

    So I’m going to document that whole process because I think there’s going to be an awful lot to learn about how to get guests on board, that number of guests that you need and cutting down the production time on it.

    I don’t know whether you ever heard a podcast called the mystery show, which was one that was being released by Gimlet, and it was a weekly program where the reporter in it would actually go out and investigate something that couldn’t be solved on the internet. But the problem was each week they’d have to go somewhere and try and find some information and they either got lucky or didn’t but they still had to release an episode . There was a huge amount of travel time involved.

    And then you’ve got a massive amount of editing on top of that.

    So even with a full time job of that reporter, they were still going to be up against it and perhaps that’s why that program dropped.

    So that’s a few of the problems. I think that are inherent in this Gimlet approach however successful it sounds like this approach is going to be and I’m certainly not knocking it. I’m not saying, look, this is too hard. I think there are some real and serious roadblocks that do need to be got over, but I think it is possible. If I stick with that original commercial news approach to this and say, how can we make it more efficient?

    But there is certainly a lot more involved in making an NPR style show.

    So how can we start this process? I sat down and I started thinking, okay, well, this is, this is going to be a lot of work. How can we actually make it more efficient.

    Well, the first one is the editing process. I don’t know about you, but for me, I love interviewing people. I love researching. I love finding people and discussing and hearing about new stories, but the actual sitting down and cutting up at audio I find painfully boring and I’m pretty sure that anyone listeneing to this podcast now has probably spent many hours doing audio editing. If not, it is tedious, it’s slow and it’s boring. You have got to be paid well to enjoy it.

    I love tools like Audacity, which are completely free, but they still use an approach to editing that I used in newsrooms 15 years ago. Recently, I discovered Descript, I’ve mentioned it before. It’s a new style of editing program. It is not cheap. It’s $10 per month and the other features I’m going to mention in a moment, which I think could help a lot too, almost doubles that price, but what I like about it is it’s an audio editor that works like a word processor.

    So you see the transcript on the screen. The words that you actually want to go through. If you want to find a word to to get rid of it, you just highlight that word and click the delete key, like a word processor. No more endless, shifting, backwards and forwards, and listening to sound waves to try and find that bit that you were trying to edit out.

    It’s there. You click it, delete it. So it massively speeds up the editing process.

    Remember, it’s efficiency. I really want to get here.

    By the way, I’m not being sponsored to say this I’m forking out every penny of this subscription myself to test this stuff. I wish it was being sponsored. So going back to the idea of the NPR podcast and the style of, of having multiple guests, we need to grab clips from lots of different people. Now that normally means sifting through long interviews to find a clip that someone said.

    Now in the old days you wrote down the time that they said it roughly, and then you’d have to scroll through your audio file to find where they did that, but now, let’s say I’ve got 10 different audio files in different transcripts. I can go straight into it. Look for the bit they said in the words and copy and paste it into my main script.

    It certainly works in my experiments, but now it’s time like everything to put it into practice and see if it really does work, but I think in theory, this could massively speed up the ability to produce something like an NPR style podcasts at home, and that’s the goal.

    but there’s also one more tool, which I hinted out a second ago that I think is really interesting. And I tried it last night. Imagine you recorded your voice track for your podcast, and you said “yesterday” instead of “today”, or you said “40 years ago” instead of “10 years ago”.

    And then when he went to listen back to it, I was like, Oh no, what did I do there? What if you could repair that?

    I’m not going to say which order they’re in. Have a listen to see if you can work out on both of those two.

    It was 40 years ago that it happened. It was ten years ago that it happened.

    When I thought about the idea yesterday, I didn’t know what to do. When I thought about the idea today , I didn’t know what to do.

    So what it’s done there is to synthesize my voice to repair the error. I didn’t say the words, the second time. It is not perfect by a long way, and you can hear that, but I make these sort of smaller errors all the time.

    Now I forked out a pretty high 99 us dollars to try this for a year on top of the standard Descript subscription. I don’t know if it’s worth it yet. They’re developing all the time and had a really good chat with one of the people from the system last night, but the potential of it I think is enormous. I will, of course include links to Descript and this Overdub thing in the show notes as well.

    So what’s next? Well, I need to work on my story for my podcast idea, and it’s not just about saying, “Oh, it’s about getting older and feeling young again”. I mean, it’s so vague. It doesn’t help at all. Gimlet make it very clear that a story is a structured and planned thing, but when it’s done well, it’s addictive and people can’t stop listening.

    I hope you found this episode interesting. There are certainly a lot of challenges to making this style a podcast, but I think a lot of them can be overcome with tools like the ones I’ve just been mentioning.

    Don’t forget to follow on social media for my almost daily updates. You can find it at @hitpodcast2020, so it’s all one word, @hitpodcast2020 on Twitter and on Instagram. It’s also on Facebook as well and on the website at It’s literally all one word.

    There’s a lot of advice out there saying you can still make a hit podcast in the 2020s that rivals the big production companies. If that’s right, then you and I could be making one by the end of this year. But you said,

  • Cracking the Hit Podcast CODE using the Gimlet Academy

    Episode 6 – Full transcript

    How do you grab people’s attention from the first word and can I keep you listening to this episode.


    1. Matthew Luhn (bio)
    2. The Best Story Wins book
    3. Gimlet Academy podcast
    4. Descript audio editor

    Full transcript

    This week, how I’ve found a new approach to make a podcast.

    How I realized podcasting has changed in the days of the influencers and how I’m probably doing it wrong.

    I found a way to repair mistakes automatically when you mess up your podcast voice recording and what do you think of my show idea? Will it be a hit? I’d love to know your thoughts.

    Hello and welcome to can I make a hit podcast last year? I almost quit podcasting for good after several failed attempts, but I decided to give it one more go. I want to answer the question once and for all can someone with a full time job still produce a podcast from that home computer, which becomes a hit and rivals the quality of the big production companies.

    I’m documenting that journey as I go along and sharing what I learn with you. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you listen to this and on Instagram and Twitter at @hitpodcast2020 that’s @hitpodcast2020.

    Hello and welcome to the latest episode then of Can I Make a Hit Podcast and it has been a really interesting week this week. I was talking last time about the book by Matthew Luhn about the importance of story, and also I mentioned about Gimlet, the production company that was bought by Spotify.

    And how they have managed to make these podcasts, which are listened to by millions and millions of people and about how they use the power of story to grab people in and to the whole psychology is that it actually hooks you in with the story because he wants to know what’s coming up next. So I’d mentioned the fact that I had seen this Gimlet Academy podcast, but I haven’t really listened to it in full and this week I decided to go through it and I got absolutely hooked to it. So I want to run through in a few moments time, some of the key lessons that I learned, but really have a listen to it. Just go to Spotify. It’s completely free. You don’t have to sign up to anything and listen to the Gimlet Academy podcast cause there’s so much interesting stuff in there.

    Now I know most podcasters are going to be making interview based shows because they are by far the easiest ones to do, but if we want to make a hit, is it worth us actually just sucking it up, making a series, putting in a lot of work and putting out six episodes that people love rather than a hundred episodes that get lost in the noise and no one ever listens to.

    Anyway? I want to talk about that in just a couple of seconds, but first of all, I just wanted to mention a couple of other things that I’ve noticed this week.

    The first one is actually a psychology one again, and when I was in radio, you’d use to use the word YOU all the time. So you would say like, as you may find, this is happening or one of the things that you’ll experience when you’re going out in the streets today . So we used to use that phrase to make it feel like we were involving them like it was. They were in the room with you and you were trying to involve them in the story.

    But when I started looking at influencers and modern social media marketing, it actually seems to be the other way. Instead of talking about YOU and trying to relate to the audience, it’s all about ME. So influencers almost begrudgingly share this stuff on there and they always seem to sigh at the start of their videos.

    They have this sort of almost begrudging acceptance of the fact that you’re going to want to see into their life and yet these people are being followed by millions of people. So what is it about that? Is it the feeling of voyeurism? Is it because we kind of want a piece of their life? Is it because we believe if we follow them, we will be able to work at how to live that ideal, probably fantasy life, that they’re portraying on Instagram or on Twitter or wherever else. Why is it that it’s now all about ME and yet it works.

    I think one of the things about using the word you is that there’s an element of authority about it. When I was on the radio, you kind of have this elevated position because you were talking to tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people, and you were kind of seen with an element of like this is someone that you can trust.

    And I think if you use YOU when you’re starting out as a podcast, it makes it sound like your some kind of guru. It’s like you’re lecturing down to someone. Whereas if you go, “I” learnt this, I experienced it. There’s an element of people feeling that your like them. There’s not a sort of hierarchy in there of you looking down on them.

    So I think I have something to learn from that as well. So instead of saying you when it comes across as being some kind of guru, it’s actually talking about just me. What I’m learning, what I’m experiencing and you can pick from that what you like and whether you feel you can relate to that.

    Another thing I wanted to talk about was repairing mistakes automatically. Now, you know what it’s like, you sit down and you start recording your voice and make some fluff ups. I’m doing it right now and I’m having to edit them out and sometimes you record something and then you listen back to it and you’ve done the whole programand it just doesn’t sound right and you want to change a word.

    Well, there’s a new editor out there, which it’s not cheap because they’re certainly free editors out there. This does cost quite a bit of money called Descript and it works like a word processor and it makes a transcript of what you’re saying, which is exactly what I’m doing right now by the way, and then you can edit the words in order to edit the sound.

    So instead of trying to find what the words were in your sound waves, which is a traditional way of editing, you can literally find the words on the screen and cut a bit out automatically. The other thing they’ve got is this feature called Overdub and this is a beta feature which I’m actually having a session with one of the people from that team next week to see whether it works for me and I’ve recorded about 15 minutes of my voice in order to see whether it actually works.

    But what it does is it uses your voice and recreates it. Little bit scary perhaps, but it should in theory use a recreation, a simulation of your voice to repair that sound. I am going to be really interested to see how well that works, and of course, I will share that with you as well.

    So that’s a couple of things, but let’s get to the Gimlet Academy podcast because I just think this is really interesting stuff and then I want to share with you my idea that came out of following those steps. I was listening to the reading, Matthew Luhns book about story, and then I started listening to the Gimlet Academy podcast and I started to realize the importance and power of story. And the point they make in that series is that story is actually addictive.

    When I start telling a story, so if I say something like I woke up this morning. And I went to the window. And outside the window was a sound of a bird singing.

    Now, if I just stop there, there’s an element of well, what, what was happening with that bird? What was about to happen next? Which you don’t get with a fact-based podcast, but if you start to tell a story, people get hooked into it because they want to know what the next step is and they talk about this in the Gimlet Academy podcast, and you can see why it’s so addictive.

    I actually sat down and I listened to gosh what was it, an hour and a half to two hours, two and a quarter hours of a podcast from Gimlet about the Alabama democratic party!

    Now I’m not even in the United States and I was absolutely hooked to this three episode series about what was going on down there because it was a great story and you can’t help but get hooked in when you listen to this to see how you could turn that and develop something at home, rather than trying to pump something out every week into podcast, which has an equal level of quality than something that these well off production houses are doing.

    So how do they do it?

    I made a bunch of notes, seriously, just listened to their podcast to get more of this, but I’ll just try and run through a couple of them.

    The first one is the idea. You need to think about the “so what!”

    Why would people actually give a damn about what you’re doing? What they say is think about it a bit like a library. History is a topic. So don’t say I want to make a podcast about “history”. For each episode, you want to talk about a book within that section. So is it the history of the second world war on the 4th of July 1943. Or is it a particular incident that happened? Or if you’re talking about “nuns”, is the example they give, what about nuns? What is it? Is it what time do they get up in the morning and why? So it’s something specific that you have to have.

    The next thing is you need a character. You need a guest. They emphasize this that in order to make it addictive, it can’t just be you talking.

    They talk about avoiding important stories because unless it the actual topic entertains and informs, no one’s going to listen. It needs to “entertain”, and this is the thing they really emphasize .

    Only do it. If you personally give a damn about the story, I was going to insert another word there. If you’re not motivated by it personally, then you’re not going to follow through on it.

    So the idea needs the “so what?!?!” sorted.

    It needs a character or more.

    It needs to be a specific topic rather than just a general thing.

    It needs to be entertaining and it can be important.

    It needs to have a good pitch and you need to give a damn about it yourself.

    The next bit is story and structuring the whole thing and thinking about how you can make a story.

    So what is a story? It’s a sequence of actions rather than just listing some facts. So it is like…

    I got up this morning.

    I went to the window.

    It feels weird to stop there after those bits. A good story must build up to a point. It actually has to have some end point because if it just peters out then you feel like you’ve been left “short changed”.

    Vivid compelling details. It needs a description of how the guest or you felt in that moment and it ideally needs to build up to an emotion and have emotions in there. You can hear that through the sound of someone’s voice.

    In order to book guests, they give a whole bunch of techniques on this and I’m going to have to try this when I make my podcast. So I will cover that stuff then.

    You need to get “good tape”. Now “good tape” just means in terms of getting good content that you can then turn into something. You need to have an interview aim when you do an interview, so what is the main point you’re trying to get from it?

    They talk about the “beats” of a story. So the key parts of a story as it moves on and about how you need to get the content that will help those beats move forward. If when you’re doing an interview, you don’t get them. You need to keep interviewing the person until you get those bits.

    There was some final bits about interview prep as well, which were really good as well like how to break the ice, how to share something about yourself in order to get people to open up to.

    Then they talk about editing and again I’m going to cover this when I actually make my Hit Podcast in detail, but they talk about the fact that you need to have a beginning, a middle and an end.

    The beginning can be anything from like posing a question, but the most important thing is it needs to promise you’re going to get something interesting out of listening to the podcast.

    I was talking about that before Mathew Luhn about the whole thing about the question, posing what you would get the value from it.

    The middle is again, a sequence. Now, if you look at that, what they say they say about these beats and the beats are the building of the story. So one thing follows the next and builds on top of the next bet.

    And they’re saying that you should have one of these roughly every 45 to 90 seconds, so in a 30 minute show that’s something like 26 beats. It’s got to build 26 times or in a 20 minute show 17 times.

    With the ending its quite interesting. They don’t really overemphasize this. They say that the most important thing is to just round things up “gracefully”.

    You shouldn’t really try and make some big grand point because it’s going to sound like you’re lecturing. You should let the audience come to that conclusion , but you should gently round up with some final emotion from the characters and let the audience feel satisfied that they’ve made their own decision.

    So that’s an absolutely rapid run through the points that they make in that entire series. I seriously would listen to it if you can. “Gimlet Academy podcast” on Spotify.

    Anyone can listen to it and it is really, really interesting.

    So what I’m going to do is cover those individual points in more detail when I make my show and what I did was I started off with that first section about what should be a Hit Podcast. What should be the topic?

    And want to come up with and I shared this on social media this week as well, so I don’t know whether you saw my post on that and what you thought about it. 100% of people said that they liked the idea, so let me run that by you now in fact.

    So here’s the pitch and I will explain how I got to this in just a second using the Gimlet Academy podcast ideas. Here’s the pitch. See what you think.

    When you get old will you gradually give up on life or will you get a second wind and live your later years like a kid again. We hear from people who refused to get old and share the secrets of staying young.

    So that’s my pitch.

    Do you like it?

    Do you not?

    The reason I was interested in this is because sadly, I am over 40, and one of the things I always wonder about is, well, what do you do for the second half of your life?

    Whether you’re 10 years old, or whether you’re 60 years old, unless you’re actually on your final final few days, you’re still going to be getting older and you’ve still get more opportunity to do stuff. And I think that a lot of people just settle down and become really boring.

    So I want to make something which is going to inspire not just me, but others.

    The other thing that the Gimlet Academy podcast says is why should people listen?

    Well, I want to make it funny. I want to have stories of being old in young situations.

    So you know, are there any skateboarding 50 year olds when they first went to a skate park and the way that everyone looked at them. So I want to take the listener through the eyes of that person.

    You know, it’s about putting you in that, and it’s about using that same principle that Matthew Luhn was saying in the book I was discussing. Is that when you have a character who goes through a journey, you as the listener cannot help but go on that journey with them, but emotionally within yourself.

    So if you’re feeling like your getting to a bit of a tired state, you actually go through that transformation with them, So the whole thing should be quite inspiring.

    I don’t know. What do you think? Do you like the idea? I’ve used the Gimlet Academy podcast ideas to come up with that idea and that concept? Do you think it worked?

    So can we actually make this Gimlet style. NPR, This American Life, Serial style podcast that will rival those other companies?

    I know there’s an awful lot in this week’s podcast about podcasting.

    Thank you very much for listening. Do join me on social media at @hitpodcast2020 @hitpodcast2020 on Twitter and on Instagram. I’m updating there quite regularly.

    If you are working on a project as well, I would love to hear about it, particularly if we can share this experience together. It would be fantastic to do that.

    My bottom line principle and I’ve said this before is that there’s a lot of advice out there on the internet about how to make a hit podcast in the 2020s claiming that you can do it. I want to find out if it’s possible and if it is then in theory, there’s no reason why you and I can’t have one in the next year or two.

    I will speak to you hopefully, very soon.

  • Can I grab people’s attention?

    Episode 5 – Full transcript

    How do you grab people’s attention from the first word and can I keep you listening to this episode.


    1. Matthew Luhn (bio)
    2. The Best Story Wins book
    3. Boeing Verses Airbus
    4. The UFO one – Reply All 151
    5. Stuff you should know – 666
    6. The Membership Guys – 247
    7. Tony Robbins – Stand Guard at the door
    8. Joe Rogan – Dr Peter Hotez

    Full transcript (automated, not checked transcript)

    How do big podcasts hook us in?

    if I could tell you how to grab people’s attention so they would listen to every word of your podcast, would you like to know how to do it? If that line grabbed your attention, then what I learned this week is working. Maybe I’ve not got it quite right yet, but I’ve been fascinated since the last episode about why the top podcast companies are so focused on story to find out how the principles of stories work.

    [00:00:22] Now, I haven’t worked out how to apply to my own podcast yet, but I wanted to understand how it hooks people, how you create that first impression, and that’s the aim of this week’s podcast.

    [00:00:34] in a moment. I want to talk about a book I’ve been reading for quite a while now because I think it’s really interesting, but first, if you’d like to join me on this exploration in what makes a podcast work in 2020 and how we as independents could make one too.

    [00:00:48] Then don’t forget to subscribe. Now. This show is called, can I make a hit podcast? Can I make a hit podcast? Literally those words and you can find the website. Can I make a hit?

    [00:01:00]So the book I’ve been reading is by a chap called Matthew Luhn, who actually saw us speak at an event last summer, and he really did impress me. What he talks about is the power of story. His background, if you check on his website, by the way, his, his surname is spelled L. U. H. N. so Matthew London’s is his website.

    [00:01:17] He’s animated for like the Simpsons. He’s written screenplays and worked with the teams and screenplays at Pixar. So he was one of the people behind toy story. Um, I think it was the film up he was involved in as well. Ratatouille, monsters, inc, all these, these sort of big ones. And he’s now doing this lecturing and talking a big event about how to use the power of story, particularly in marketing, but so much of what he says in that book can be applied to podcasting.

    [00:01:44] I think. So what I’ve been doing is I’ve been looking through this book again, sort of analyzing it and seeing how that applies to the way we grab people into our podcasts and how the big names, the big producers, the big production companies, again, are using these techniques to get us hooked in. Because as we found in the last episode or at least I found in the last episode story is huge with the big podcast makers. They really focus on it. So let’s just talk about the first bit. Which is the hook,

    [00:02:13] so what is the only line that will grab people and get them hooked in so that they will then get excited and want to know what else is coming along. And I think this is particularly important for independence like me and probably like you, because people aren’t going to give us as much of a chance to impress them.

    [00:02:28] So What he says is that the sentence needs to include something which is, or the sentence is needs to include something which is unusual, unexpected action driven. So a bang car crash or some kind of event or raises a clear conflict between people or presents a danger to them.

    [00:02:45]Or that they could lose out if they don’t hear the information that you’re about to provide. So it’s got to have one of those elements to grab people in. And he actually says a hook should last eight seconds. But I think certainly listen to different podcasts. You can hear that it varies quite a lot, but eight seconds is people’s attention span, roughly according to him.

    [00:03:03] So unusual, unexpected action driven. Raises a clear conflict between people or presents a danger to them, or that they could lose out if they don’t listen to what you’re about to say. The easiest way he says to start with, this is where the question or sort of sort of, what if X happened? As I say, can’t be the usual.

    [00:03:23] He makes that very clear. Can’t be something that you expect to happen. So, one of the things we used to say in journalism when I was in his editor. Was the a story. A new story is not dog bites, man, because that’s quite possible. A story is man bites dog because that’s unusual. So it’s critical to break the pattern of their expectations.

    [00:03:44] He says the expectations of our ordinary world. And throw up something different. , which leaves you wondering how does this work? or how can you solve that? , how can we get over this problem that we’re expecting to be there? So one of the classic things we’re podcasting is how do you get more audience?

    [00:03:58] Everyone asked that question, including me. So if someone offers an answer as to how to do that, we would like to know .

    [00:04:04] One thing. Steve jobs was a master at this, and in fact, Matthew Luhn worked with Steve jobs and Steve jobs, for example, launched the iPad by not saying it’s got two, two gigabytes of data or whatever.

    [00:04:14] He said, what if you could put a thousand songs in your pocket? It never been done before that. So what if you could, there’s a immediate sentence that grabs your attention. It makes you go, Ooh, how do we overcome this obstacle and he’s going to offer a solution to it.

    [00:04:28]you can also do this through the power of a story. If you open a book, it’s got to grab you, hasn’t it?

    [00:04:34] Straight away that So they present very quickly a scene, a scenario, something that’s going on with someone involved in it. and then within moments I started painting that picture a little bit more and leave you wondering about what might happen next and then something happens or some prospect of conflict, and you know that then your going on a journey where you’re going to find out what is the result of that.

    [00:04:56] So hooks can obviously also be visual as well. They need to be images you don’t expect and exactly the same way. So a model, for example, in a catwalk model, but with no makeup or with makeup streaming down their face, that’s going to grab your attention far more than what you expect.

    [00:05:11] Which is a model made up perfectly. A podcast microphone with the top broken off. that’s going to grab your attention farm on the picture of a normal regular working microphone. And sound also in an audio that’s deliberately sounds terrible, like recording your voice from a distance could grab people’s attention as well.

    [00:05:30] And lung talks about the eight second pitch. and you need within that four key elements, and that is a hero, it could be the listener themselves, or it could be someone else, a goal, something to achieve, or the prospect of a goal that seems obvious that you’d want to achieve in a situation.

    [00:05:46] An obstacle. That’s getting in the way, and then the promise at least of a transformation. If you’re selling something or if you’re doing a strong opening line, then you want to say what that transformation is that you’re going to offer. You know, I’m going to get you more listeners,

    [00:06:02]the point is your audience has to want to wonder what they would do in that scenario, or you’re gonna lose them. So they have to willingly want to go along with the story or the value proposition that you’re offering to them.

    [00:06:13] It could be that they want to learn what the hero learns or they want to learn the information that you’re going to give, or they genuinely wonder what they would do. I mean, there’s quite a few podcasts out there that have this sort of principle. A title would be something like, could you survive on Mars?

    [00:06:27] Could you, how did they get fit despite being overweight for years? Each of those are a sentence that tells a story. So is anyone else using these principles of the, the hero, the obstacle, the transformation? Well, kind of put it to the test. I’m going to stop recording this podcast for a second. Listen to some podcasts.

    [00:06:47] I will report back to you in just a moment. So that was really interesting. I can’t obviously use clips and podcast here and I really don’t have time to ask permission from all these podcasters. So. Here’s the first one I listened to and I mentioned this one in the last episode as well cause this really got me thinking about story.

    [00:07:03] And this is from an episode called Boeing versus Airbus from the production company Wondery and this was from their business Wars series. And this episode, one of that, if you want to hear that, I’ll put a link on the website to this. I just got to read a little bit the the script, and I’m going to paraphrase it a little bit, but to give you an idea, so this is how that episode starts.

    [00:07:22] It’s an overcast day in 1954. A small fishing boat. Bob’s on the water of the lagoon sea off the Northeast coast of Italy. Jeff Varney DeMarco has been a fisherman all his life, and he knows his water as well. It goes on. He looks up hoping to grab a glimpse of one of those new airliners, but then he hears a boom.

    [00:07:43] He looks up and he spots something. A large metallic object falls from the sky. So it’s not going to take long to realize that here’s a very obvious story opener. And the whole series of the business was, episodes on Wondery are really based around this. The only line isn’t the grab line, but it does create that curiosity and that mystery.

    [00:08:04]It’s no promise of a value proposition that you’re going to get some tips or something, but it does make you wonder, well, what happens next? We love stories more and listen in the next episode, but let’s stick with the opening line for the moment. This hook line, let’s run, I listen to was reply all from Gimlet episode one 51 and here’s the inline in their show notes, and this is a killer line here.

    [00:08:24]A listener finds a UFO floating in the sky over a leather store, and Alex sets out to find the man who put it there. What a great opener. I mean, you’re wondering what’s happened. A UFO over a leather store. Great one. Another one from a podcast called “Stuff You Should Know”, the question is posed in the title stuff, you know, so you know you’re going F it’s about things that you wonder and the answers to it. So the episode I just listened to was about the number six six, six. The show title asks the question, stuff that you should know, and the title of the episode six six six tells you what you’re going to learn about.

    [00:08:58]Where those numbers came from. There’s hound dog training works from them as well. Can nuclear fusion reactors save the world? Our next one I listened to was the membership guys podcast. I know this is about a company who are helping people to set up membership websites, episode two, four, seven to them.

    [00:09:16] And what they say very quickly in the only few words is this is a number one place for proven practical advice on growing a successful membership business. Then he says how you can find new ideas. So in the first couple of sentences, there’s the clear value proposition in there, the hook line. So if you want to know how to find new ideas.

    [00:09:34] For your membership site. You know that that’s the episode that’s now going to deliver you with those ideas. Hopefully, the next one I listened to was a Tony Robbins podcast, and the episode title was stand guard at the door of your mind and the opening of this show.

    [00:09:47] After the advert talks about how social media and mass information today can bombard you with negative thoughts, the thing immediately realized that it fits really well with the whole principle of the hero, a goal, an obstacle, a transformation, and how the hero changes principle in this case, the way they are.

    [00:10:03] Meaning it is that you are the hero. The goal for you is a happier life. The obstacle they talk about is fair. The transformation is what they’re going to be offering to you as a result of listening to the podcast, which you know, with Tony Robbins. Cause you know the brand that you’re going to

    [00:10:19] I also had a lesson to another reply all episode from Gimlet episode one 60 and this was about the Corona virus. And it starts off with a promise of stories about the Corona virus.

    [00:10:30] They tell you within a few sentences that they spoke to lots of people this week and got a snapshot of what the world felt like this week. So what are they saying? They’re, they’re saying that we’re going to deliver stories to you over the next few minutes and lots of short stories. So it’s easily digestible as well.

    [00:10:44] It’s really interesting to see how the different approaches are done here. You know, you can see that everyone’s using that same principle of , they’re giving some sort of story that you’re going to have to follow and conflict and find out what the transformation is.

    [00:10:56] But it’s, it’s interesting that the, the smaller scale, the more niche the podcast, the more blatant that value proposition is at the, at the beginning, the bigger the podcast, the longer they waffle until they actually give a a clear idea of what you’re going to get from it. And even then, it’s still. Can be quite vague.

    [00:11:13] So I think as I said earlier, the better known you are, the more leeway people are going to give you. If you are lesser known and independent, you need to get it straight out there,

    [00:11:24] a strong hook is something that I learned as a journalist years ago, although clearly forgotten how to do it myself, but that opening bit clearly needs to tell the hero the goal, the obstacle, and the promise of a transformation.

    [00:11:36] Whether that is done through a story or through a blatant sentence. There is a lot more stuff in Matthew Don’s book, and I’m going to carry on reading it and I will share that with you and keep comparing it with what. Major podcasters are doing to see how we can apply that to our own podcast as well, and I will get that to you next week.

    [00:11:54] Don’t forget to subscribe. Can I make a hip hop kind of make a hip hop wherever you are, whatever podcast app you’re on, if you would like to follow over my exploration into how all the big podcasters are actually doing it and how are we going to apply it to our own podcast too.

  • Don’t listen to what they say, look at what they do

    Episode 4 – Full transcript


    1. Gimlet shows
    2. Gimlet’s mystery show trailer
    3. Wondery
    4. Earwolf shows

    Full transcript

    Is it possible to make a hit podcast in the year 2020 with limited time and resources of a hobbyist at home? There’s probably a big names in podcasting now and investment is rolling in.

    So is there still a place for independent podcasters like you and me? And if there is, how do we do it? The question is, can I make it a hit podcast?

    Welcome back to episode four of this podcast. There has been a bit of a break, not surprisingly, perhaps with all that’s going on at the moment, and I hope you are safe and well considering the Corona virus, but, uh, perhaps this is the time, perhaps this is the best time ever to be thinking about doing some podcasting.

    It’s got a little bit disrupted my normal flow things. So my daily updates on social media, aren’t coming out quite as often as I would like them to. But I got thinking the other day about this whole question of what sort of topic you should do if you want to make a hit podcast. One of the bits of advice I’ve always quite liked is this idea of don’t look at what people say you should do, because there’s an awful lot of people giving a lot of advice. Look at what they’re actually doing.

    So I decided to have a look at what some of the most well known podcast companies are doing, some of the big companies to see if perhaps we could recreate it as independent podcasters.

    The whole idea started off after I listened to a podcast called Business Wars in the car. It was about Airbus versus Boeing. The big aircraft manufacturers, and don’t get me wrong, it was really enjoyable, but you could feel it was podcasting by numbers. There was a clear formula to what was being made.

    And as I started looking at other podcasts, you could start to see this as well. So let me give you an example. In this particular program, it would start each episode with a story. For example, it began with a fisherman was watching a plane flew over. He was twiddling with his beard. He’d catched a certain number of fish that day, and as he looked up, he saw an explosion and the plane falling from the sky.

    So what they did was they brought to life the facts rather than just reading off the facts and saying it.

    You know, in 1969X did X, they brought it to life by throwing in these stories, which they just narrated. Now, when you actually listened to the program, the information in it wasn’t particularly deep. In fact, you could have probably pulled everything in there from a few books or magazines or frankly, online, about the airlines.

    But the way they put it together made it into an entertaining revelation of a story about how these two companies fought each other. But it certainly felt when you listened to carefully that you could feel that it had a low production cost.

    Now I say this because when I worked in broadcasting, I worked for commercial broadcasting and we usedto have people from the big national broadcasters and they simply couldn’t cope with the way we worked. You know, they would have one radio package to make in a day. We would have to do three in the next hour, and it was a different way of working, but it forced you to become highly efficient and how to produce something of the same quality.

    But in a fraction of a time with often zero to even less budget, where you ended up having to pay for things yourself.

    So listening to these podcasts. I couldn’t help but start to try and analyze a little bit how they’d done it.

    One of the, perhaps best known ones is a company called Gimlet. Now this, if you don’t know, it was set up by someone from national public radio, from NPR in America, and he started a series called startup about the creation of this company. And of course it became very successful and it’s now been bought by Spotify.

    So if anyone knows what you need to do to make a podcast that is going to attract people in the year 2020 they should certainly know. So I went onto their website and I had a look at the shows they’re actually making, and I noticed straight away there was a series called Gimlet Academy. I subscribed to this.

    Why? Because it was all about how to make podcasts so immediately, I guess from a personal point of view, I want to know what they know. It seems like it’s going to contain all sorts of tips that will be useful to me, so I didn’t even listen to it. I just immediately clicked to subscribe to it because I thought, that’s what I’m going to want to know.

    I think there’s a slight element as well when clicking on podcasts, but if you think you’re going to get value from it, you subscribe it . It’s a bit like clicking. I want to later to a YouTube video, but you probably are never going to get around to it. So what actual programs did they have?

    Well, there are a lot of crime stories, conviction, satanic cults, crimetown, which reports on crime cultures in different US cities. Crime, as I think we know is a very popular thing. Then there was one called every little thing, which was an interesting facts podcast. The sort of short bite sized things that you might not know.

    There was a podcast called Heavyweight, which is about powerful real life stories. Certainly NPR are very good at getting people to tell their stories and you get engaged with interesting stories of people. There was another one, which was called mogul, about stories from the world of hip hop. So again, it had that sense of what happened in the world of hip hop behind the scenes.

    So there’s a big focus on stories. there was another one where a therapist goes into offices to understand the office dynamics by talking to people there. So again, real life stories. Again, there was a couples therapy one where couples tell their real life stories.

    There was also one about motherhood. And this is a psychiatrist who talks to people, not surprisingly, mothers, getting them to tell their stories again so that you as a listener can relate to it. there was one called mystery show, and this was perhaps more appealing to me as well because of the whole investigation behind it, which is something that I used to enjoy doing.

    So what they do here is that they investigate cases. But in return for the person that they investigating it with telling their story. So you tell the story of the investigation, but you also get the personal insight of that person that is being investigated for.

    So it’s basically like a detective, but interestingly, it’s not just crime on this one, but all kinds of different things. So things from the past. So there was a one I was listening to whereby the presenter had seen a number play on a car, which said something like, I love nine 11. Interesting number plate to have, and this was years ago, and they wanted to try and find the person who had that number plate and they had nothing beyond having seen the type of car where it was and that was it.

    so that’s a few of them, but one thing I noticed about all of them is that they all tend to be series, so six episodes, maybe eight episodes, something like that.

    And I think. The psychological thing behind that is it’s a manageable series. It’s like, yeah, I can get through six episodes if the show is an ongoing show. It was one story per episode, so I think that gave people an opportunity to jump into him. One of the things I think with ongoing rambling shows is you don’t really know what you’re going to get from each episode.

    It’s kind of a you to drop in and get lucky, but that also means that it’s far less tempting to subscribe or to follow it.

    Then I moved onto another company called Wondery. Now, these were the people behind the Airbus Boeing podcast I’d been listening to, and I wondered if there was something in the title, in fact, giving us a clue as to the kind of podcast we should make and the title being the company named Wondery. Is it that a good podcast is about a topic that people wonder about?

    People don’t need to know it. It’s not going to necessarily change their life, but they’re curious about it. Perhaps the best podcast topic is simply to look at Google and see what people are searching for and make a show about that. So what shows were they making? What? What are people interested in?

    What Joe exotic was one about an eccentric, exotic cat center owner and a feud with another center owner. Again, real life stories, they seem to match the whole idea of Gimlet hair, even the rich real life stories about the rich and famous and their craziest moments, the eccentric stories that we all want to know.

    They did have some fictional stories in there as well. So if you like writing stories, perhaps you can turn that into a podcast. Then I thought, okay, what other companies are there? Because Gimlet and wondering a very similar, there was another one called Earwolf. and this company focuses on personality podcast.

    It’s you listen to it because you want to hear that person. One of the things I noticed was a lot of the people involved in those podcasts are people working in Hollywood. And immediately you see that listed in their names. You start to get curious. So, there was a producer from the bill Meyer show.

    So you start to listen to just as a, see what these people are like.

    But from our point of view. Oh, are you a personality? Are you a known personality?

    In which case that approach is not going to work. Perhaps if you’re a hairdresser and you’re going to reveal the secrets behind hairdressing that that might make you unique, but it’s very hard to go down that sort of Earwolf approach unless you’ve got an existing personality or brand. So what can we pull out of all these?

    One. It’s all about in the rated stories, either fictional or real life, but it is about a structured story , number two, you need to find something that people don’t need to know, but wonder about.

    Wondery remember was the name of that company, so something that is a mystery. The next one, the episodes need to feel bite sized or the series needs to feel by size, so it’s not too much of a commitment, either one episode at a time with a specific story in each that you can grab in it, or a short series, three to six, eight episodes, something like that, which will tell the story throughout that series.

    and realized stories. People clearly like real life stories with the voices of those real people involved in it. Now, whether you’re using archive clips or whether you’re interviewing people for real or whether you’re going out there and actually investigating something yourself and talking to people as you do it, that kind of stuff seems to be attractive as well.

    So how can we apply that to what we do? Certainly if you take the low budget approach, you could go and research a story like the airline and you could narrate that yourself.

    Or if you aren’t involved in something, I mentioned this before, if you’re doing a job or if you’re doing a career or a hobby, you can record and document what you’re doing and talk to other people in it to give that real life story. But the key thing, the key thing of all of this was story. Not just narration, not just stating facts, but having a story with a beginning and a middle and an end, and it’s that.

    But I think I really want to look at next time.

  • Stop! Logo first. Audio comes second

    Episode 3 – Full transcript


    1. Some great book covers for inspiration
    2. Tips on book covers
    3. Interesting article from Podcast buddy
    4. A few interesting points here from Buzzsprout too
    5. One service offering designs but also a few tips
    6. Again loads of great examples which I drew lessons from. Just Google

    Full transcript

    There’s a lot of advice out there on how to make a hit podcast at home on your computer in the 2020s but does it still work? Can you and I still make a hit podcast, and if so, how? That’s what I’m trying to find out in this podcast.


    [00:00:17] Hello, welcome back. So far we’ve looked at how to stop giving up before you’ve started a podcast.

    [00:00:21] This is something that I was about to do when I started this project. I was about to pod fade, as I’ve mentioned before, and somehow I seem to have kept going this time using all those techniques that I talked about before, so I hope that’s going well for you too. We also talked about how to cut down production time and how to make podcasting far more manageable as well.

    [00:00:41] This week I started to planned to start researching what topics to pick to make a hit podcast, but I got sidetracked and ended up going down a rabbit hole and I really want to share what I’ve found with you.

    [00:00:51] I simply didn’t realize how important podcasts logos and images were, and although that sounds like a sort of step down the line, I think it’s actually something that I should’ve thought about long before I started making this podcast even because it helps to define the whole image of what you’re talking about and what you should be focused on.

    [00:01:13] Anyway, I’m going to cover all that in this weeks show. By the way, if you want to catch up with all the other topics, make sure you subscribe to the podcast for the past two episodes and my social media feeds as well, where I do very short daily updates of what I’m learning, as I actually learn it during the week.

    [00:01:27] And you can find that @hitpodcast2020 @hitpodcast2020 on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

    [00:01:36] So one conclusion that I came to is that the podcast imagery, the logo is actually critical because it’s a bit like a book cover.

    [00:01:43] If people aren’t attracted to that image and they can’t work out what your podcast is about from that image, they’re never even gonna listen. So in a way there is no point making a show unless you’d get the actual picture right. Does your podcast image then does the logo you pitch actually reflect what you are about?

    [00:02:02]My previous project was called the Midson project and had a picture of my face and just the words. It didn’t even say what it was about. You didn’t know whether it was politics or whether it was science, it told people, nothing. So a podcast logo from all the research I’ve done this week needs to show in a glance, I mean literally in an instant what it is your podcast is about and the angle it’s about as well.

    [00:02:24]If you look like everyone else, then why bother listening to your show? Why not listen to everyone else who’s already there?

    [00:02:32]So even if you were doing athletics or sport or football coverage or soccer or whatever you want to call it, it’s still got to show in that image why you’re different? Because just showing a picture of a football. So what? How many other podcasts are there about soccer or football out there? If it needs to be a bit edgy, it needs to show that in the graphic.

    [00:02:51] So I started off by searching for book covers because I figured book covers are actually a really good place to think about techniques for making something that looks attractive. Because at the end of the day, if you, you’re in a bookstore and you see a book cover.

    [00:03:04] You know. What’s going to make you pick that up and even buy it? So I did a whole load of research around this. I found actually a really good acronym, which was, AIDA – attention, interest, desire, action. So I’ll put a link to some of this stuff on the website as well. So the first one is, how are you going to grab their attention?

    [00:03:21] One of the popular techniques I saw was to use bold lettering. Clear lettering, so white on a dark color rather than a sort of blurred mixed image, which looks a bit abstract. Then the interest putting in that pictures are just said about what the topic is about, the desire, what is it they’re going to get from this?

    [00:03:39] You know, is it quirky? Is it funny? Why is it different to every everyone else? And then the action is in terms of, well. What’s the delivery of it? What are you going to say with those other words on there? Now you’ve got their attention that is going to tell them what they will get by listening. So I thought that was a really good one.

    [00:04:00] There’s loads of other stuff out there, and as I say, I put some links on the website too.

    [00:04:04]Another thing that I saw was to keep the wording simple as well. Try not to add too many words, just a couple of keywords that send across the message. What they were saying as well is that additional words need to be used carefully. So for example, like there’s a podcast called Rebel Force Radio. So why does that grab your attention?

    [00:04:21] Rebel force sounds like Star Wars, but “radio”, it kind of almost sounds like you’re listening to the rebel forces. Radio. It’s almost like you’re getting a inside listen to it. So a very careful choice of words of the name of your podcast as well can make a difference.

    [00:04:37] Another technique I found when looking particularly at podcasts was to look at your podcast app.

    [00:04:43] I did this too as well, and I shared it during the week on social media and to see what actually jumps out at you on your podcast app. Which are those images which attract you because if you are your target audience ultimately, the kinds of things that are going to appeal to you should be a fair bet of what your audience will be interested in.

    [00:05:00]The ones I like, for example, had really clear writing. And what I posted on social media was like, there was one from LBC from a guy called Nick Ferrari. There was Recode Decode. All these had clear white letters. Very clear. Good fonts on a dark background.

    [00:05:16]That’s what grabbed my attention. But then those were the words, and then it was the imagery. So there’s one, for example, like “App Masters” podcast with Steve Young, where you’ve got a picture of him looking like he’s being fun. So you know it’s going to be entertaining, or you’ve got Dan Snow’s history hit podcast where he looks serious.

    [00:05:35] He looks like he’s outdoors, he’s standing by a cliff so you kind of feel like you’re going to get drawn out into the country by that.

    [00:05:41] What else? Just looking through my podcast app now, I mean Masters of Scale. I love that podcast, but I do not find the podcast logo attractive. You’ve got this sort of black and white image of Reid Hoffman’s head or half his head and it all kind of becomes a bit blurred, but then you look at someone like Noah Kagan, Noah Kagan presents. He’s got his arms crossed, he’s wearing a tee shirt. So he’s showing these casual, he’s got a smile. It, it gets across his whole idea of a friendly, warm podcast,

    [00:06:13]And let’s just put one more Recode Decode. There you’ve got a sort of dark, very dark background, very clear writing on there, and you’ve got someone wearing sunglasses with a bit of a smile. So it kind of seems professional, but it seems kind of devious behind the scenes as well. And also with that one, it’s got the name of the presenter in smaller letters.

    [00:06:32]and one of the things about adding “with….” is it kind of implied, even if you’ve never heard of the person that you should know their name.

    [00:06:40] so the other thing to think about is the exact wording as well. So with my one, when I did my logo originally, I put in. “Can I make a hit podcast?” and I emphasize the words a hit podcast because I figured that was the thing that would grab people’s attention.

    [00:06:57]. Don’t use quirky or hard to read fonts, or I was just talking about that you want bold, clear fonts and it can be tempting to use quirky ones. And I think that’s where I’ve gone wrong with mine.

    [00:07:07] And what about the technical side of things? Well, from a production point of view, one thing I found a lot of articles recommending was to use Canva, which is a free design piece of software that you can use. Just kind of look for that is C, a, N, V, a.

    [00:07:20] And if you have a look at book covers, which I searched on during the week on social media, there’s some brilliant ideas, there’s also another great bit of free software called gimp, which is basically Photoshop for free. So there’s plenty of ways to create really good artwork, but Canva with all its preexisting designs is a real, real winner for that one.

    [00:07:40]So there’s a few ideas on how to create your podcast artwork. First of all, the name really needs to grab people’s attention. It’s got to be bold and clear lettering. If you’re a personality, then put a picture of yourself on there, but make sure it’s a good picture of you on there with a smile or some kind of angle that shows what it is, what the quirk is about you. So if you’re a comedy podcast, are you smiling with a grin rather than just a natural smile? Have you got sunglasses on? Because what you’re doing is sort of secret and behind the scenes. What is it about that image that is going to say, the angle that you’re delivering in your podcast?

    [00:08:14] And then also in terms of the software’s as I say, you can use like Canva for free. There’s also gimp. free as well, , making sure that your images at least 1400 by 1400.

    [00:08:26] So next week as I say, my plan is to start talking about the topic, but if the same happens as happened this week, I’m going to end up getting stuck in some other topic but I will cover that because there’s so many things that I want to get right to try and make a successful hit podcast.

    [00:08:40] I just want to very quickly touch on goals, cause we talked about this a week before, three month goals and two week goals. My two week goal was to keep up to date with all the updates and refine them based on what you’ve been saying or what I’m finding.

    [00:08:51] I’ve been doing that. I’ve been putting out my social media every day. I want to have 50 regular listeners after three months. It sounds small, as I mentioned before, if you had the previous episode, but what I’ve found with podcasting is you always start off with a tiny audience and then it starts to build.

    [00:09:05] So 50 regular listeners, it is gradually climbing up. I won’t tell you exactly how many at the moment. It’s just too embarrassing to say, but it is gradually climbing up, and that’s the key thing, because I know that once you hit a certain level, it starts to go up exponentially. So that’s it for this week.

    [00:09:20] Don’t forget the account name is @hitpodcast2020 that’s @hitpodcast2020 which you can find on all the social media, the Twitter, the Instagram, and Facebook. So the key ones.

    [00:09:32] There’s also a website it’s literally one word.

    [00:09:38] Next week I shall continue with the mission to find out if it really is possible to make a Hit podcast in the 2020s because if the internet says it is possible it must be possible for you and me. I speak to you next week.

  • Don’t quit podcasting!

    Episode 2 – Full transcript


    1. Gary Vaynerchuk – Generally
    2. Gary Vaynerchuk on “Document, don’t create”
    3. Energy and coffee
    4. The 20 Second Rule
    5. Harvard Medical School
    6. Telegraph
    7. ……..many others. Just google for hundreds of articles.

    Full transcript

    So this is a podcast about how to make a hit podcast in the 2020s from your home computer while holding down a full time job and not having the backing of a production company. The internet says it’s possible. I’m trying to find out if it is, and if so, how.

    [00:00:17] Hello and welcome to the second edition of this new format podcast that I’m doing.

    [00:00:21] So far, we’ve looked at the immediate failure you are heading for if you tried to set up a podcast, certainly from my experience and for 99% of other podcasts is this whole problem of pod fade where people give up after, on average, eight to 10 episodes.

    [00:00:35] I’m covering this in detail at the beginning because it’s something I’ve experienced several times before, and if we can’t get through that, if we make a few episodes and give up, we are never going to make a hit podcast.

    [00:00:45] So it’s almost irrelevant picking the topic until we’ve covered these things. So what I’m doing with this particular podcast is I’m testing everything out on myself. I’m looking at all the advice out there on the internet, and I’m saying what actually works.

    [00:00:58] I’m about a cynical and jaded as you can be now with podcasting. I’ve tried it, and as I say a few times, my first ever project went on for a year, and it was a YouTube show, which kind of was mixed with all kinds of media and that did quite well. Got over a million views by the end of it over the series. But then since then, I’ve done five other podcasts and all of them have petered out at different levels.

    [00:01:19] So what I’m trying to do is find out how to get over pod fade. So let’s talk about the Roundup of the past two weeks of the updates I’ve been doing on my social media where I’ve shared each of the core tips.

    [00:01:30] So let’s, let’s just run through some of this. The first one, is the one arrow, and this is one of the things that I came across right at the beginning of, I think the first week of covering this particular issue.

    [00:01:42] The one hour role goes like this. You can do no more. Absolutely no more than one hour on podcasting per day. You stop whatever happens after one hour stop, completely. And the difference this makes is that with podcasting, you naturally start to think of all the different things that you can do with a podcast and you just make this gigantic to-do list, this massive to do this and every time you sit down at the end of a long day at work, you’ve just got to yourself – “Oh my gosh, you know, how am I going to do all this?” And all it takes is one moment of that of you saying “Oh my gosh”, and you’ll never do it. And you quickly give up and you quickly fade.

    [00:02:18] But setting one hour, it creates this sort of, energetic tension in yourself. It sounds like a bit of an airy fairy word, but quite literally you get to the end of it and you’re frustrated because you are having to stop and that makes you then want to start the next session. And I have found this has been the most powerful and simple technique I’ve found. It’s actually quite difficult to stick to, but it’s been really good.

    [00:02:39] But look, there are loads more techniques I’m going to run through from the past two weeks. The second one I learned from week one was “document don’t create”.

    [00:02:47] So if you want to sit down and spend years, as some people have that I’ve mentioned before, building a series of podcasts, like one particular example I gave was they spent two years building an episode series and if you want to do that, then great. That’s your motivation. But for me, I need to get stuff out. I need to see little bits of success. And I think this is true for a lot of people. You want to see something moving and something happening. So instead of sitting down and trying to create this grand podcast, or trying to organize the most amazing guests and spending weeks trying to get it on there, one of the easiest ways of starting is by documenting rather than creating.

    [00:03:23] Creating is where you. Create all that extra content document is where you literally live the life that you’re trying to get across in your podcast. So if you are an entrepreneur, this is the idea I got from Gary Vaynerchuk, who I mentioned previous in the social media. If you are generally living a life, which is learning things which you can share with others, then you don’t have to write a grand script.

    [00:03:47] You can literally share what you are learning as you do it. So you document it. In an easier sense, you make an audio diary of what you’re doing, and as a result, you don’t have to sit down and plan. You just literally, get across what you are doing.

    [00:04:01]A podcast to me, I think for a lot like new year’s resolutions. When you start them, and you have this great grand idea about what you want to achieve with it, and yet after a short amount of time, you stop.

    [00:04:12] So what I’ve done over the past two weeks is I really focused on some of the techniques that are advised by some of the big medical organizations and psychology organizations on how to keep going with our new year’s resolutions. Because as I say, I think they’re very, very similar. And I’ve been trying them out on myself.


    [00:04:29] Let me give you a couple of examples of the sources I actually looked at. So there’s like Harvard medical school, there’s the American psychology association. There were all kinds of books on motivation, like the, happiness advantage.

    [00:04:40]So let me pull out some of these other techniques that I’ve tried on myself over the past two weeks, and you might want to actually pause the audio and write down your own answers as well.

    [00:04:49] The first technique was that everyone said dream big first. And I know that sounds like a contradiction to the whole idea of simplifying things that I was talking about in the first week, but for example, Harvard medical school says you really have to dream big first. You know, what is your grand vision? What will it be like when you have success? So what I did here was I wrote down three to four sentences, which summed up my vision, the big vision. At the end of it.

    [00:05:14] And in fact it actually took me a lot, lot longer to write than I thought it would. I sat down initially and I did it in two minutes, and I suspect if you pause the audio now and you write down three, four sentences on your grand vision, you’d probably think I’ve got it. I know what it is. But it’s interesting because over the next 24 hours before I reported back on social media about what I came up with, I actually found myself rewriting it and tweaking it and tweaking it again, because it starts to play around in your head.

    [00:05:37] It’s like, “what actually do I want from my podcast?” Let me read you what I came up with and maybe it’ll compare with you. It could be completely different. So what I said was in two years time, I want to have a show with a thousand regular listeners.

    [00:05:51] Who’ve got genuine value from the work and research I’ve done. What that means is that the show would have inspired at least 50 ordinary people to take up podcasting who’ve also kept going with their podcast too. I want to be a champion of the ordinary podcaster doing it from their home. I also want to be able to talk at podcast events around the world about what I learned on how ordinary people can succeed, assuming of course that I do!

    [00:06:13] This is my goal remember, this is my vision of what I would like. It’s not necessarily what I’m going to achieve, but this is what my goal, this is what’s going to drive me. This is so that I can share ideas with people like me, but also so I can learn from the best and test their ideas and share what I find with you, the audience.

    [00:06:29] So that’s my two year vision. What’s yours? If you like pause the audio and write down yours. I’ve got nothing against big production companies. By the way, I used to work for big news outlets.

    [00:06:39] It’s just, it’s a market that is very well served with expertise and I want to help get more voices heard in this cause you can feel that podcasting could get very centralized into a few well-off production companies.

    [00:06:52] I also got given a voucher at Christmas for an organization called “The School of Life” in London, UK, in fact, around the world. And one of the questions that they asked on this course, which was kind of about assessing your life, was if you could not fail, what would you do? And I think it’s a really simple question that, but one which I found to be really useful.

    [00:07:13] So the big vision is done. So what do you do next? And next step is the small vision. So it’s doing the complete opposite. It is writing down, starting to write down how are you going to get to that big vision? So what I did was I took a two week goal and a three month goal.

    [00:07:29] So my three month goal is this, I want to have 50 regular listeners. After three months, that might sound small, but when I started my first project, it took months for the listeners to even start to register seriously.

    [00:07:43] And then it got, as I say, over a million views. So it starts off small and then explodes from there. I want to release at least six weeks of updates to the podcast weekly and update the daily social media updates as well. I’d also like to go to two podcasts meetups and try to speak at one of them as well about what I’ve learned if I’ve actually learned something of value as well.

    [00:08:03] My two weeks goal, is to keep up to date with the daily updates and refine them based on what you’re saying and what I’m finding works, and to , test every exercise on myself, every single one to overcome pod fade.

    [00:08:15] And as I say, so far that’s been working for me. So what are your two week and three month goals? Maybe you like to pause the audio and have a look at that.

    [00:08:23]So let’s have a look at some of the other techniques. The next one actually came from an article I was reading from a place called mental floss, but it was about a technique called the “20 second” rule and this comes from a guy called Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage and what he discovered is that just 20 extra seconds of activation effort, the energy it takes to get started is enough to cause most people not to do an activity.

    [00:08:50] So the faster, easier you make it to set up what you’re doing, the more likely you are to continue. So for me, setting up my video each day. Was a process, but now I’ve got the camera in place and I’ve literally got a power bank next to me and I can click six five switches and it switches on all the lights, all the camera, everything for me.

    [00:09:09] So I can actually get started for my daily update really quickly. And that has definitely made me more likely to do it because it is so much easier.

    [00:09:17]Another technique I found was remember why you want to do this? Write it on the wall, add it to your calendar. There’s a reason why you wanted to make this show, so don’t forget it.

    [00:09:26] What I’ve done is I’ve literally added it to my weekly schedule so that I read the points about why I wanted to make this on a weekly basis.

    [00:09:34] If you miss an episode, don’t beat yourself up, but ask yourself why you missed that episode. This is another technique. Was it other pressures in life? Was it because you felt things were too much? Was it a lack of time? Lack of response in the audience, lack of support from your partner, lack of guests?

    [00:09:50] Why was it? Just make a note of it, but don’t beat yourself up about it and just see if there’s a pattern that you can overcome.

    [00:09:56] Another technique was about energy. And, I’ve actually got a… I don’t know whether you can hear that…. I’ve got a can of energy drink with me now. Hmm. Excuse me. but what the University of Kent found in a 2016 study was that anyone struggling to exercise, so again, this focus on new year’s resolution, should drink coffee or energy drinks to up their enthusiasm and up their motivation because they found it did improve motivation. So drink coffee, drink energy drinks, whatever you need, get that little kick to help get you started.

    [00:10:29]So that’s some of the techniques I found out so far on pod fade.

    [00:10:33] There’s one other observation I made during the, during the past two weeks that I wanted to elaborate a little bit on as well, and I don’t know whether you spotted this on social media when I put a picture on there of some empty chairs .

    [00:10:43] And it’s how to cope with no audience at the beginning, because the reality is when you first launch apart from your friends, no one’s going to listen unless you get really lucky and someone just happened to bump into you. As I say, when my first project started, I had, I think it was 30 people at first, and then it was like 60 people over the first three shows, and then it expanded from there and reached over a million views across the series by the end of it. That was my experience, but at the beginning it’s silent, there’s nothing there, and it’s really, really demotivating when nothing seems to be happening.

    [00:11:17] Well, one technique I have found is to make a show that works for an audience of one. You! Because if the show you’re making acts as a recap for yourself to motivate you and to give you techniques and remind you of techniques, it actually is more motivating.

    [00:11:35] So this show, to be honest, if no one else listens to it, I’m actually finding it really useful to listen back to myself. Because it’s acting as a great recap on all the stuff I’m reading . I can get in the car, I can listen to it. I can be reminded of all those techniques. So to keep yourself motivated, make sure that it’s a show that you actually want to listen to as well for an audience of one, until everyone else starts pouring in.

    [00:11:59]So the roundup, there are more techniques and all these medical journals and all these books, and there’s quite a few of them that I’m going to start sharing with you gradually now over the next couple of weeks, but I want to move on to some other topics.

    [00:12:10] The biggest revelation for me, the most effective technique for me is the one hour role.

    [00:12:15] There’s no question that has made such a difference to me and my motivation and keep me coming back but I do want to move on to something else next week.

    [00:12:23] And that’s about some of the things you need to avoid when you start to think about the topic and about your approach to podcasting. Because I’ve made a lot of mistakes in both my former career as a, broadcaster. And in podcasting, and I want to share some of those with you to try and make sure you don’t make them as well.

    [00:12:41] We will eventually get to the topic. We will start talking about what it is we’re going to make. But I think we have to get over these initial barriers first because without clearing these, the chances of success are going to be a lot, lot smaller. Remember, the vast majority of people give up, and I don’t want you or I to do that this time.

    [00:13:02] The account name on social media is at @hitpodcast2020 @hitpodcast2020 you can find all the details on there. You can also find the website. “”. It’s literally all one word. I’m not an expert in this.

    [00:13:18] I’m just trying to stuff out myself. I’m trying to share it with you. I’m learning, but I would like to learn with you as well, so please tell me what works for you, what doesn’t work for you as well, so I can gather all this information together.

    [00:13:30] The bottom line is the internet says we can make a hit podcast as independent podcast makers in the 2020s without money and with a full time job.

    [00:13:39] Well, if the internet says it, let’s find out if that’s true, because if it is, there has to be a way to do it and I want you and I to succeed. I will speak to you soon.

  • Confronting podfade head on

    Episode 1 – Full transcript


    1. Gary Vaynerchuk – Generally
    2. Gary Vaynerchuk on “Document, don’t create”
    3. Tony Robbins – Complexity is the Enemy of Execution

    Full transcript

    hello and welcome back to “Can I Make A Hit Podcast” in the 2020s that’s what this show is all about, and I’m going to break every rule in trying to do this series. I don’t want to stick with one format. I want to try and find out what works and if that means adapting what I’m doing so be it. What I’ve realized, just starting off this new show is I’m facing “Podfade” yet again.

    [00:00:24] I’ve talked about pod fade before, but what is it in simple terms, the vast majority of podcasts that get started stop within eight to 10 episodes, and if we’re to have any hope of making a hit podcast, we’ve got to actually keep going right?

    [00:00:39] Lots of people, thousands of people every week, dream of setting up a podcast and there is a really high chance, I don’t know what it is, but it’s well over 90% of all podcasts will stop very soon after they start.

    [00:00:51] I’ve set up five podcasts myself and they’ve all varied in different lengths. One of them lasted for a whole year, which was also a YouTube show, and other ones have lasted even shorter time. But I know personally what it’s like to pod fade, and I’ve got to that point now where I know that I’m not alone.

    [00:01:07] I want to try and work out why, because before we work out what the topic is that we need to do , we’ve got to try and overcome this problem so that I and everyone else out there who’s clearly making the same mistakes as me, don’t go down that path. If you’ve never made a podcast before, I really urge you to listen to this stuff, to realize just what kind of thing you are facing so that you can overcome it.

    [00:01:29]you’ve got to ask yourself, why is it the people like you and me who are genuinely passionate about a topic give up after eight to 10 episodes? You know, the mantra always is, if you love what you’re doing, you will keep going. But to me it feels a little bit like a new year’s resolution. You know that getting fit or eating well or seeing your friends or anything like that is going to make you happier, but then you don’t actually do it and you give up.

    [00:01:53] So to me, podcasting is a little bit like that. You know, the fun you could have, you know, the excitement you could have from podcasting. And yet for some reason, so many of us still give up.

    [00:02:04] So what I’d been looking for this week are some answers to this, how do we actually make this work? One simple trick I tried this week, and really I got to the edge of pod fade, was to set a stopwatch and to do no more than one hour of podcasting per night. It’s very easy to make a huge list of the things that you really want to do at the beginning and all the advice out there seems to say in a launch with a huge bang and you’ll get success. And that’s great if you’re working full time and you’ve got a production company, but it is far better to just get started and to do something gently and build it up so that it is sustainable.

    [00:02:41] Because if you launch with a bang and fade eight to 10 episodes later, that’s achieved nothing.

    [00:02:47]so what I found by doing one hour a night is that it feels manageable. Instead of me having a gigantic list, I feel overwhelmed by, if I’m honest with myself, one hour is bite size. It makes you focus on the things you actually need to do rather than creating all of these extra tasks that just don’t need doing. It gets you really focused in there and when you get to the end you, it’s quite hard to stop. In fact I’ve really struggled myself to stop, you feel like you really want to do the next day and that motivation keeps you moving on. I’ve only done it for a week so far. But I really suggest you try that one. If you are experiencing pod fade is to cut it down and say, I will do no more than one hour or two hours, or whatever it is.

    [00:03:26] You know, all my podcasts have been way too complex and I think this is a problem for all new podcasters and that makes it way too time consuming. You know, Tony Robbins, whether you like the guy or not, I think this statement that he makes is really relevant here to podcasting and that is that “complexity is the enemy of execution”.

    [00:03:47] So the more complex you make something, the more chance you are to give up on it, even if it’s a brilliant idea and you love the idea of doing it, complexity stops things!

    [00:03:57] So there’s nothing to do with the topic, nothing to do with finding the right topic. It’s the way you actually approach it.

    [00:04:03] I’ve been a bit presumptive because I’ve only been testing this for a week, but I put it out on social media, on, Saturday, the 22nd of February and I wrote of graphic on there, which I said, “pod fade doesn’t mean you have the wrong topic, it means you’re approaching podcasting wrong”. And I’m becoming quite convinced that that is the case.

    [00:04:24] So as well as using a stopwatch trick to try and sort of force yourself to feel more excited about what you’re doing and not overwhelm yourself and make sure you focus only on the tasks that actually need doing,I think it’s important to get across a podcasting is hard.

    [00:04:38] It’s not something that you just magically do. One of the problems with video, for example, is that people assume that when you make a video, all it takes in terms of production is from the time you press the record button to the time they stop.

    [00:04:50]simply doesn’t work like that. There is so much more extra production to do and you’ve got social media to do. You’ve got to answering queries, you’ve got to get guests on board, you’ve got to set up the equipment. You’ve got to design your graphics. There is so much more to do and that’s not a problem, but you need to make sure your account for this in your daily life.

    [00:05:09] So when I started this latest podcast, which is this, “Can I make a Hit Podcast” in the 2020s I started doing 45 minutes shows and I did a live YouTube show, and then I was trying to edit that all down into audio, and it’s just too much work.

    [00:05:23]Remember that a one hour podcast for an example will take roughly two to three times the length of that to edit it, you’ve got to get out all the ums and errs or the bits where you messed up. So a one hour program could take you three hours. And that’s just the program. Then you need to edit it and as I say, the social media sections create the graphics, write the show notes. Do the website, add another one or two hours at least for that, uh, two or three, maybe with the social media, the whole thing together and your one hour podcasts can mean a commitment of eight hours a week. That’s a full working day! And let’s say you do two hours a night, that’s basically your evening every single night of the week and a bit more.

    [00:06:04] Can you actually deliver on that when you have a full time, difficult job and tiring job, as I’m sure all of us do.

    [00:06:12]Yes, you can improve your efficiency by planning your show better. I use an editing piece of software called descript. I think it’s fantastic, um, which deletes all the ums and errs but editing takes time. It’s easy to think also that you can find that time and it’s like, Oh yeah. Eight hours. No problem. I can, I can squeeze it in here. I can do a bit before work. I could do a but in my evening, I could do a bit of my lunchtime. But are you really gonna be able to sustain now on a regular basis? I’m not saying don’t do it here. I’m just saying be realistic.

    [00:06:41] You know if you’re a gym fan, how are those three hours at the gym a week going if you committed to that at the beginning of the year? Now that’s less time commitment by a lot than setting up a podcast and yet I’m sure for the vast majority of people who committed to go into the gym in the beginning of this year, that’s also gone by the wayside, and that’s half the time, less than half the time.

    [00:07:03] Maybe it’s not as much fun, but the point I’m making is the amount of time commitment, you need to think that this is going to take. So you need to get motivated and you can’t do that by telling yourself it’s going to be something that you truly want to do deep down. Yes, for sure. But you’ve also got to gear everything up for your success is what I’m coming to the conclusion of.

    [00:07:22] So these were some of the lessons that I learned this week and you can follow me on social media because I’m recording these on the days I actually get them and then I’m rounding it up in this podcast.

    [00:07:31] So the first thing I realized at the beginning of this week was that I’m trying to produce or was trying to produce a 45 minute live show, and it was just too hard, too long, too much work.

    [00:07:40] So then I thought, okay, well how can I do it differently? How can I make a podcast that is not going to take so much time. I’m a raised this idea from this guy called Gary Vaynerchuk, and he pumps out good quality content at a staggering rate. He’s one of these sort of entrepreneurial gurus, but he’s actually done it.

    [00:07:58] Instead of just delivering how you should do it, he really has built a genuine business, a marketing business in the States, and he produces all this stuff on YouTube and social media accounts, and…it’s good. I mean it’s actually good content.

    [00:08:11] And his principle is, it’s a question of documenting, not creating.

    [00:08:16] There’s naturally a temptation, I think with podcast to want to create content, and I do this. , I’m just as much to blame. And then you create this huge complexity. You create all these ideas and you start doing all this research and it just takes even more time to do.

    [00:08:30] So your eight hours becomes 16 hours. It just goes on and on.

    [00:08:33] But. If you aren’t genuinely living the life of the value proposition you’re giving across. So if someone wants to become an entrepreneur and you are an entrepreneur who is living that life, so if you’re genuinely living that life and you can literally pass on the lessons you are learning on those days, through your social media and then round it up in a podcast so you document, you don’t create, and that means that you’re not spending hours planning. You just literally record, almost like keeping a diary of what you’re doing.

    [00:09:04] And that’s the approach I’m trying to take and it’s certainly more exciting and, and feels more “real” to be honest as well. So for me, it’s a question of documenting my process of learning about podcasting.

    [00:09:15]So what I concluded with the way I make mine is that I would record and update each day. So I would document, not create five days a week with observations of what I was learning about podcasting and how to make a hit podcast and then I would round those up. So I would add an introduction at the beginning and I’d add an outro at the end.

    [00:09:33] And then those five days would provide the content of my podcast, and I would literally just record it from the notes I’ve made during the week, and that is exactly what I’m doing right now.

    [00:09:44]So for me, so far this week, it does seem to be working, but as I say, it’s an ongoing process. There’s two more observations that I wanted to make and one is how hard it has been to stop working after one hour. Really, really hard because my natural temptation is to come up with all these ideas. I mean, one idea, I started writing a couple of notes this morning for this.

    [00:10:02] And I immediately thought, Oh, I wonder if this could work as an app on your phone and wonder if I could write an app so that it could provide this sort of learnings I’m having as a course. But think about the complexity of actually designing that and doing it. So limiting it to one hour and forcing yourself to do that, I think is really important because it’s making me excited.

    [00:10:23] And I started today because I knew I’d only got one hour instead of faffing around and then going, Oh, I could start this podcast today in two hours time, actually got on with it within minutes of the time I’d assigned to my calendar for today for this one hour of podcasting, I immediately got on with it. So I think this is a great technique from my, my experience.

    [00:10:40] The other thing I did, and I’m going to pass on more of these lessons next week cause I’m going to try them out and then pass them on once I know, which I think work, is that going along the same lines of the idea of podcasting is about like a new year’s resolution.

    [00:10:52] I started looking at how you motivate yourself to keep going with new year’s resolutions. I’ve been looking at documentation from like the American psychology association, Harvard medical school, and many others, lots of internet sites as well. And there were five key principles I’ve come up with so far.

    [00:11:08] Number one, dream big first. It sounds like a bit of a contradiction when I’m saying complexity is the enemy of execution, but first Harvard medical school actually said, you need to dream big first.

    [00:11:18] What is your grand vision? Get in touch with it. Know what it is that you want to see. Not just, I want to make a podcast cause it’d be fun, but why? What do you see? What do you see you or have after you’ve been doing this for. Five years for one year, whatever.

    [00:11:32] Number two is dream small. So the complete opposite. You break up that vision into the first few goals that you need to achieve and make them incredibly simple. Number two, three, make each goal measurable so you know when you’ve achieved it. Number four, be realistic. Do things that you know you can achieve. Don’t just set huge goals. Like, I’m going to be famous on TV by next week.

    [00:11:52] It isn’t going to happen.

    [00:11:54] Um, what did we get to? Number five. Oh, actually there’s more than five points here on it. Talk about it. Join others experiencing the same thing and work together to find that motivation and forget anyone that says you just don’t like your topic enough. I just don’t believe that anymore. from the reading I’ve done this week. It’s far, far more complex than that.

    [00:12:12] don’t believe anyone that says it is just simply because you don’t love your topic enough . So talk to other people. Talk to me on my social media if you like.

    [00:12:19] Let’s do this together. It will be really nice to share the experiences together and push ourselves for any barriers we hit.

    [00:12:25] And finally, if you miss an episode of your show, don’t beat yourself up, but do ask yourself why you missed it. Was it other pressures in life? Was it because it felt all too much? Did you feel overwhelmed? Was it the lack of response from the audience? Was it the lack of response from guests? Why was it, just make a note of why and finally there are far more than on five points. Make a plan. So for me. Here are my ones.

    [00:12:51] So the first one is reassessed my huge to do list and make it more manageable. I’ve done it.

    [00:12:55] Set a time limit of one hour per night for podcasting. I’m doing that now.

    [00:13:00] Next one, read up on “Document, don’t create” and make notes for the next podcast. I’ve done that.

    [00:13:06] Design a weekly approach, which includes both my social media and podcast in one hour per day max. I’m doing that. I’m in the middle of doing that, testing it now.

    [00:13:14] Study at least five websites for motivation techniques around new year’s resolutions and see how they can apply to podcasting. I’m doing that and I’m going to round that up during next week on my social media

    [00:13:24] and finally do at least two weeks of this new approach and see how it works.

    [00:13:28] Those are my short term goals. That’s what I’m working on next week. I hope you will join me on social media, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

    [00:13:36] The account name is @hitpodcast2020, @hitpodcast2020 and you can find all the links as well on the website at It’s literally all one word. Can I make a hit podcast .com. I’m looking forward to working on this project with you directly as well, because I’m no expert on this. I’m just learning, but I’m trying to pull all these resources together so that I have success and if I have success, you will have success too, theoretically, because if other people can make a hit podcast in 2020 and all across the internet, it says you can, there must be a way, and if there is a way, there’s no reason why you and I can’t do it right.

    [00:14:15] I’ll speak to you next week.

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