A very important point that most podcasters encounter at one time or another is podcasting fears, of which there are at least three: 1) the inertia of podcasting where you have all this anxiety of starting and recording that first episode, 2) the fear from thinking guests might not want to come on your show, 3) the last being the question of, “Is anybody actually going to listen to me?” There are some tactics and tools that people can use to get through these. There is a process we use to help push through those fears and get to that great place where you find your voice. It might surprise you to know that some of the smaller podcasts, the podcasts that have tight niches, are the ones that do the best in terms of transaction and conversion. You just need to speak from the heart and have something unique to say. Always realize that there are many benefits to podcasting and there is a path to achieving that.
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Facing Your Podcasting Fears
We had a great interview with John Livesay who’s one of our favorite people. He brought up something really interesting that we thought we should dive deeper in an episode, also because we have some tactics to help people get through it that we didn’t really go into when we were talking with John. He was talking about the fear of getting started podcasting. We know a lot of you that listen to this podcast are already existing podcasters and maybe you’ve overcome that fear, but there’s also a lot of people listening to this who are considering podcasting. We do think that even the existing podcasters, some of our clients, are having issues with getting new guests. Mainly, because they’re just not putting themselves out there and asking. They think their show is too new or they still have a fear factor going on. That’s what we want to really help address today and give you some tactics and tools and things that we use. If you aren’t our clients, some of the advice that we give them, the process we use to help push through those fears and get to the great place where you find your voice.
We’re going to give a couple of examples. We’re going to cover at least three major fears that people have podcasting that really hold them back. Let’s talk about the first one, which is really what we call the inertia of podcasting. It’s people who understand the potential and the value of podcasting. They really are looking forward to doing it. A lot of them, even of our clients, they’ll work with us and then pay us to set up a podcast for them, we do all of our part, but then the one part we can’t do for them is make them record their first episode. They really get almost stuck in the mud or this quicksand. A lot of them feel like they’re drowning in quicksand, all this anxiety of starting, recording that first episode.
Because people pay us to set up their podcast for them, it’s actually less likely to happen with us. We see it happen more often with those that don’t pay or those that find a friend who will do them a favor. When you don’t pay, you don’t have that commitment level. One key thing is if you shell out the money, it has to hurt enough to make you want to do it, to make you feel compelled to do it, to give you that nudge or that shove that you need. If you’re not paying for it, that’s a very, very big problem that we see very often when someone does something in trade. We see that all the time with those that come to us eventually.
We hear similar stories from these types of clients again and again, which is that they decided they wanted to do it on their own. They were going to research it, investigate it. They buy their own equipment. They watch all the videos, listen to all the podcasts, watch a bunch of webinars and listen to podcasts about podcasting. Then two years later and they’re still not podcasting.
I’m going to go out there and just say I have the same problem with writing a book. I have three drafts for a book. Three full complete manuscripts that just needed to be edited. The problem is that I’m a really avid reader. I read everything. I’ve read some years 300 plus books. That’s not an exaggeration. I’m grateful that I do get a lot of free books because I write a column. I get a lot of free books from people who want me to review their books and they’re always giving me books at events. Luckily, I do get that. Otherwise, it’s a costly thing. It’s a combination of two things. One, because there’s a whole lot of them that I read that are just so bad that it makes be afraid that if I put one out, it will be bad. On the other hand, there are some that are so good that I think I can’t live up to that. You start to self-talk yourself right out of doing it. I have come 80% of the way. I have to do one round of editing on my own and then it goes to professional editors from there. I have to get through that and that is the same inertia problem though.
I want to put that out that this is a really common problem in all kinds of areas of it. You have to sit back and as John put it, you have to examine where that’s coming from. That’s what I really liked about our conversation with John Livesay. He had to really sit back and examine where that’s coming from. For me, it’s coming from this place of, I’m a writer and I feel like I’m being held to a higher standard and I’m holding myself to a higher standard than perhaps I should be. That maybe I need to let go a little bit and just let somebody else do the whole editing process and not even do the one pass. That’s probably the best solution for me.
The same thing happens for a podcaster when you haven’t really sat down and recorded an episode and you sit down to do it. Especially, if you’re not going to interview somebody for your first episode. Maybe you’re going to sit down and talk about what the mission for your show is or why you’ve decided to create a podcast, something like that, usually your first episode. That’s really daunting. It is tough and it is intimidating. That’s why we have this tactic that we use, which we encourage our podcasters to start from the interview episode first, because interviewing somebody’s a deadline. You put a calendar appointment together. You’re going to have it. It’s going to happen. Even if you wing it or you’re going to be forced to prepare ten minutes before it starts, but it’s going to force you to do it. You’re going to do it and then you’re going to realize, “That wasn’t so bad. That was actually fun.” You’re going to get through that ripping the band-aid off part of just getting going there. You’re going to try.
Then, we go back after the interview episode, we recommend they do the question and/or issue that is the one that they answer every single time they talk to someone. It’s always the thing that you go to. In product launching, if we’re talking to inventors, they always are afraid of their IP being stolen. I can’t tell you how many times we have that conversation, probably 99% of the time in front of inventors’ groups. We know that’s a topic. We know it’s going to come up. Because it comes up so often, you could talk about it all day long. If you can talk about it all day long, then it’s your best opening episode.
You’re going interview, topic, and now you have a little more sense of what your show is about and who it’s for. Now, you can dive a little bit deeper into the mission episode. We never recommend anyone writes more than an outline, outline only. Bullet points are great. Keywords you want to address if you’re into that are great but don’t script it. Don’t write any sentences out because it will be obvious to the listener that you’ve scripted it. That’s never really a good thing. Podcast audiences like when their hosts are real, are really authentically them. You just need to be speaking from the heart. That’s why we start a mission episode. It’s going to get buried. After you hit 100 episodes, it drops off and people won’t see it anymore. You can do it again. You can replace it later. The format of your show or some of the focus of it changes overtime, which happens. Shows pivot or they just evolve. You may want to rerecord, “My podcast really is about this now instead of what it was. Let’s rerecord that primary episode.” You can certainly do that.
The big thing is if you’re new to podcasting, don’t get stuck in this inertia of being too consumed in your head over what it is that you’re going to do in those first couple episodes. Schedule an interview with someone that you think your audience would be really interested to hear from, preferably somebody with a very big social media following. You can go hear some of those episodes. Just go ahead and prepare a few questions, not all of them, and start to ask those questions and have a conversation with that guest. Let that interview or discussion go where it ends up going. Don’t truncate it and make it artificially short. Don’t stretch it and make it artificially long. Just have that conversation. When it feels complete, end it. After that interview, you could do a different episode of the topic. Even after you record that interview, you could go back and record your introduction to that guest and maybe do some final thoughts about that interview.
That’s a strategy. For those of you who are on your own, you want to limit the amount of editing. When you’re doing it on your own and that’s why we don’t recommend it, that’s why we had it done for us to begin with and that’s how we started this whole Brandcasting business, because it’s so much less spontaneous. It requires so much more planning, so much more effort in the process when you have to plan out your introduction, do it then record the interview, then do a post and/or people don’t even do that. They just basically, “Welcome to the show and here’s so and so,” and they dive right into it. Those shows are less successful than the ones that have an analysis, “Here’s what happened on the interview. Here’s what we were thinking about. Here’s why it’s relevant to you. Here’s why I’m bringing this guest on.” When you have those things, for our podcasters, we have the full ability to edit. They can record them completely separate. You can have your interview, see where it leads, then record your introduction.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with recording it all in one take. If you’re good at that, that’s your game, more power to you, which you’re probably not one of the ones who has fear. That’s what we’re talking about today. That’s a very positive thing. If you’ve got that fear and you need multiple takes and you want to have edits and that makes you comfortable, then you better find yourself an editor. You better find yourself a done-for-you service. That’s just the way to get over that. Make it more comfortable for you.
We also think that audiences do tend to really like it when their host, who they listen to week after week, offers them some critical analysis or some sort of what is their true feelings, takeaways from a certain interview rather than talking about it while you still have that guest on the line. They tend to feel, “Are you just being nice to this guest? Do you really think that that was valuable?” Or, “Why did you share this guest with us?” These sorts of things, listeners tend to ask themselves. We prefer that critical analysis. It’s a little easier for us because we’re co-hosts. We can have a conversation, a discussion, a dialogue about it, a little easier than a monologue, which is another great way to get over that fear.
Get yourself a partner. If you’ve got a partner first off, you’ve got an accountability partner who’s going to make you do it. Secondly, you’ve got this person who’s got your back. If you’re not so good, they’re going to pick up the slack. You’re going to feel more and more comfortable in the position when you have that situation. It’s been great for us. It really helps us in terms of also back-up when I got sick for two weeks and I really couldn’t record. Tom can take over and it’s not the worst thing that ever happened for us to have one solo episode now and again. We’ll do that and especially when one of us is ill, which actually has happened quite a bit lately. On our other shows, we’ve done even more solo. Tracy had the worst case of bronchitis in the last month and she just could not record anything so I had to pick it up and do it. We didn’t want the poor editors editing out the hacking that I was doing every five seconds. It was too much. It was not practical.
Let’s move on to another common fear. That’s a fear of to ask. That’s the guest problem. That’s a common problem at all stages of it. We get into that situation where we hire virtual assistants or new marketing assistants and they’re afraid to ask. It happens all around. You have to really be, “I’ve got a great show. I’m providing a great service.” You have to sit in that knowledge. You’ve got to ask from that place. “I’m doing both the guest a service by inviting them on my show. It’s free publicity. I’m not charging them so it’s free. How is that bad?” Hopefully, you have great blog posts. We’ve talked about that enough already on Feed Your Brand that you better have a blog post that goes along with it. There are lots of digital backlinking. There are lots of power to it. It’s of great benefit to both of you. There really is no reason to think that they shouldn’t come on your show.
Scheduling is an issue and all of those things. We’ve done almost 500 episodes on WTFFF and at least more than a quarter of them are interviews. When you look at that for our purposes, we’ve got well-over 125 interviews. I don’t think I was turned down ever by anyone. I had a couple of people who got cold feet. They were scared of being interviewed and they cancelled. Some of them I chased down. I kept saying, “I don’t think you understand how good it’s going to be for you. You should do the show.” Some of them I didn’t because it was not that big a deal to me. We only had one difficult ask and that was because it was a corporation. When you go through a corporation, you’ve got to go through PR layers, the publicists and the marketing firms. Sometimes you have to go through that. Otherwise, it’s usually pretty easy.
Don’t over emphasize those less than ideal situations because really they were the ultra minority. Most of the time, you ask people if they’d like to be a guest on your podcast and they say, “Okay, when?” It’s really not that difficult. In fact, we only allow them to book on our calendar on two days a month. Our booking calendar doesn’t allow them to book any other day of the month. If they can’t make those two days this month, they have to wait another month and do one of the two days that we have available next month. They work around our schedule.
When John Livesay mentions that he’s booked out, he’s recorded his episodes and his interviews all the way for the next six months. When somebody comes on his show and they’re going to come on his show, they’ve got to wait until next year to hear it. That’s a scarcity model. You want to get on the show as fast as possible. The interesting thing what John has done lately is he’s had a few guests that were pretty high profile. He didn’t want to make them wait for six months. Now, he’s actually, for four or five of the next week, he’s put a second episode out in the same week just so he could move them up sooner. You can do that as the host and make that exception. You have a weekly show but you can decide you’re going to make it twice a week if you’ve got so many great interviews. Don’t worry about that. Stack them up and don’t be afraid to ask. You are doing them a benefit.
Don’t underestimate the influence value of being a podcast host. Don’t underestimate the media opportunity you’re giving somebody else for free, even if it’s an early episode. You don’t have an audience yet. Don’t be dishonest with someone. “Obviously, we’re a startup. You can’t listen to any of my episodes because you’re going to be in my first month of episodes,” or whatever that is. Be honest about it. You can also say to them, “Here’s how I plan to market it. Here’s how I plan to grow my show and you’re an integral part to that. Of that, I will be happy to invite you back in six months or a year when I’ve got an even bigger listenership and I would like to reward you with that.” Also be bold and say, “You’re going to be one of the first guests on the show ever. While it doesn’t have a big audience now, it will have a big audience in the future.” It is very common for new podcast listeners, even six months a year later, to go back and listen to the first episodes after they’ve listened to a current one if they like the show. They’re going to go back and listen to it.
Tracy had been a guest on a lot of podcasts and we still get people coming and seeking her out a year, year and a half after she was interviewed on the podcast. They just found the podcast now. They’re interested to talk to her about business or something she talked about on that show and they seek her out. It happens all the time, especially if a show has a blog post because it’s indexed. It’s indexed by Google and they’ll always find the episode. There’s no reason not to ask someone and this is a fear that you just really got to push through. Just push through because this is the biggest growth factor and the most fun you will have in your podcast. The lesson is just ask.
It’s reminding me of one of the mothers of one of my childhood friends back in Rye, New York where I grew up, when I was having all this anxiety about asking a girl out to a dance. She said, “If you don’t ask, it’s definitely a no. But if you ask, you have at least got a shot of it being yes.” That was just me asking a girl to a dance and maybe I was nobody back then or whatever. This is different. You have a podcast. You’re out there to media opportunity. Don’t have fear over that. Be bold. Go out there and ask. It’s a great way.
The third common fear is, “Is anybody actually going to listen to me? Is anybody going to listen to my podcast once I put it out there?” I thought that when we first started our WTFFF podcast. It’s 3D printing. It’s pretty geeky. It’s a very niche topic. It was like one of those talk show hosts who would be like, “We’re going to reward our eight listeners today,” or whatever that is. That was the kind of thing. I was like, “We’re going to have eight people and that’s going to be it.” Very quickly, we had thousands of listeners and from all over the world. Even in the early days when it was really you couldn’t tell there was a hundred listeners or a hundred plays so you didn’t really know quite how many listeners it was in the early days. We’ve had some that were giving us feedback and were so excited about it. They were from Brazil, from Africa and other places like that. We were like, “Wow, we’ve got some reach.” It gave us the confidence and the momentum and the excitement to keep going for them. That led to just more and more business, more and more growth, more and more listeners.
It is the case study where lots of new podcasts are coming up and especially if you’re in a crowded market. If you have something in your category that’s really unique, you have something unique to say, there’s people out there looking for answers. They are looking for new shows all the time. They’re not as loyal to podcasts all the time as you think they are. There are some that don’t ever miss. It is critical to who you are and your growth and what you’re doing, but you’re always looking for something new that’s coming up. Even ones that have been in an area which the show has been there for hundreds and hundreds of episodes might be getting stale and their audience might be looking for something new. It’s not a reason to be afraid in a crowded niche area or category.
You always have the opportunity to put your unique perspective on a subject area, a category, a market, an industry. You have your unique perspective. You have your unique vision to share, your style too. When you first look at a category, if it seems to be a crowded niche, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. That actually means there’s a big audience looking to consume information. That’s as, “There’s an audience to be had there.” People don’t really care about the rankings on iTunes. People don’t really even notice for the most part the way that people find podcast. They are not necessarily checking rankings and ratings and all of those things. They have no idea how many plays you have. They definitely don’t have any idea how many plays you have because no one can see that data unless you’ve allowed it to be seen on certain hosting platforms will display it. We don’t do that on purpose. We don’t recommend you allow that to be displayed because the mystery is better for you. That’s just a little side tip.
At least in the United States, we won’t speak for other countries, there has been this review culture of reviews of products on Amazon. Amazon recently changed the whole process and made it much more difficult to get reviews of your products because there were people that were gaming the system and getting positive reviews up there that weren’t necessarily authentic from real purchasers. There’s a bit of a similar thing happening on iTunes and places like this. While it’s great to see that there are twenty reviews and they’re average of 4.5 out of 5 stars, but the reality is that doesn’t mean as much to them. People tend to just, “It’s going to take me five minutes to start to listen the beginning of this podcast. I’ll try it out and make my own decision.” For the most part, sometimes the browsers and the things that you use when it’s on your mobile device and other things, you don’t even see that if you don’t dive deeper into the descriptions of the show and some stuff. You don’t even notice it there. You can’t even leave a review on a mobile device. It’s really difficult to leave a review on a show on iTunes or Stitcher or any of those. Nobody does it. We don’t think anyone really holds a lot of weight in that.
The reality is that it’s going to be how they found you. Were they Googling something that’s a pain point for them? Did they type it into the search of iTunes? That’s why you show up. If you show up in reference to something they need, they’re going to take a listen. Especially with the adoption of different devices like the Amazon Echo, “Alexa, play me the latest episode of Feed Your Brand podcast.” You can do that with our podcast and any podcast that we produce. We put on the tune-in platform, which is playable on Alexa. There is also Google Play podcast will play on the Hey Google device. People aren’t saying, “Hey, Google, how many reviews are there of this podcast?” before they go and listen. We’re actually not even sure that information is searchable or playable over those devices but nobody is going to check out reviews over those devices.
More often than not, people are searching in Google search bar for pain points or areas of interest, things they want to listen to or an iTunes search or Stitcher search. On Google search, your blog post is going to come up first if you have one for your episode, which you need to have. 80% of our listenership comes from Google alone, Google search. It doesn’t come from iTunes. It doesn’t come from Stitcher. Those are much lower percentages. Once we started really putting those full blog posts in, that’s when our listenership started to grow at a very expanded high growth rate. When we first started, we were doing this so long ago, we didn’t put up the long form blog post than we did today. We did the silly PDF thing that all the gurus recommended, which was stupid. We stopped doing that very quickly. We learned it really had no value and then we learned the benefit of the long form written blog post and all the keyword ranking. That’s the way people are going to find you and they’re going to take a listen because what does it hurt?
Let’s step back to this fear about nobody listening. I fear that every time I write an article, “Nobody’s going to read it.” I don’t have a huge readership on my articles. I can see. If I get a few thousand reads on it, it’s a good article. That doesn’t mean it’s not having impact and that doesn’t mean that those aren’t the right readers or the right listeners for you. That’s really where I think some of the smaller podcasts, the podcast that have really tight niches, those are the ones that really do the best in terms of transaction and conversion in getting you where you want to go. I have appeared multiple times on the On The Shelf podcast, a good friend of ours Tim Bush who we adore and who we refer a lot of business too because this is about getting products into retail shelves. I’m a regular guest on this panel that he has once a month. We have a lot of fun doing it. It’s us hanging out all morning and chatting about some subject matter. It’s really fun. I would do it anyway. The reality is that I’ve gotten a lot of clients from that and his show does not have a gigantic listener base. It’s frustrating to him that it doesn’t but I said, “It doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, you’re getting the right listeners.”
There are many benefits to podcasting. Some people do, they want that big audience and they want to monetize that. If that’s your goal, that’s great. There is a path to doing that. For others that maybe the huge audience isn’t the primary goal, maybe it is just creating content for your website that is going to attract traffic and cast a wide net for you marketing your business over Google and that’s great. There are others that even that isn’t the primary goal. They have different missions. Some of them are actually not primarily motivated by money. They’re motivated by connecting people or they’re motivated by storytelling or they’re motivated to, as medical professionals, provide much needed advice and to help people with their pain or what that might be. We have several doctors that we produce podcasts for and they get actually quite a number of new patients as a result of their podcast. That’s where the value is for them. It’s not the volume of listeners. It’s the quality. It’s connecting with them. It actually helps them close new patients quicker because they’re listening to them and they develop trust and they haven’t even met them yet.
What we want to really say here is that, if your fear is that no one will listen, it’s not going to be no one. It’s going to be someone. Even if you don’t put any marketing dollars into your show in the beginning and we’ve done that. We organically started this podcast. We just did it to see what would happen. We’ve been growing in listeners very consistently since we started it. We didn’t throw any marketing dollars in it at all. Even just word of mouth, people finding it, spreading it out to your network, growing it that way, there’s going to be listeners. There’s going to be people that are curious. More importantly, if you are in a hot topic area, something people are searching for, something they’re struggling with, they’re out there looking for you and they’re going to find you. When you’re a little bit more successful, throw some marketing dollars in it and really boost it.
You can really accelerate and build that audience, reach a bigger audience much more quickly when you have that base to start from. Those are some pretty good fear points, fear busters. If any of you have any other fears about podcasting or anything related to Feed Your Brand, please reach out to us on social media, on Facebook @FeedYourBrand and/or come to BrandcastingYou.com and leave us a comment. If we get enough of those topics, then we’ll address it in the future episode and we’ll have a part two, fears part two.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode everyone. Thanks so much for listening. This has been Tom and Tracy on Feed Your Brand.
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