I was fortunate enough to be featured as a guest on the Shared Universe Podcast Network this past week. I was able to sit down in their studio and pull out some really worth while advice for new podcasters from Mike Zapcic, Ming Chen, and Michael Pullano. All three of these gentlemen have created content that has been released across major television networks. Mike and Ming, were able to run a tv show featured on AMC for 7 seasons. Mike Pullano ran a podcast that hit hundreds of episodes and had tens of thousands of downloads. Mike and Ming produce almost 10 different podcasts and run the Shared Universe Podcast studio. So if there is a group you want to learn from they are it. Yes Joe Rogan and Tim Ferris have found their niche, but they aren’t experts on the universal rules of podcasting the way these gentlemen are.
After entering the podcast world you quickly learn that every one and their mother is coming out with podcasts now. It makes you wonder, is it too late? Is the market over-saturated with content. I asked Pullano, Mike, and Ming if it was too late to start a podcast. Their answer across the board was a resounding and emphatic no. Ming took the time to make two important points. First of all the amount of obscure information in the world now is at it’s highest point ever. If you can put out a podcast with that kind of information you are ahead of the game. The more obscure the better. Second, even if the information you can release Is not obscure or you think you have nothing to say you are wrong. Someone else may be out there discussing the same things, but their point of view is different from yours. No one else has your perspective or your voice.
I think this is the hardest concept for members of my generation to grasp. I can speak from my own opinion when I say your supporters will be fleeting. When you start out everyone will pat you on the back and tell you how excited they are about your new show. Many of them will come to listen to your first episode and quickly realize the content is not for them. Others will become your initial core supporters. After that you will have surges of supporters based on content shares and guests you have on the show.
Pullano, Mike, and Ming all pointed out that you do not start a podcast for money. You do not start a podcast to become famous immediately. You start it to open other doors. I’ve landed public speaking gigs, interviewed members of the Forbes 30 under 30, and been asked to provide my expertise to some really worthwhile causes because of this podcast. Pullano works with the impractical jokers who are almost a household name and he frequently points out their favorite comment. “We’re the overnight success that took 18 years to become successful.” Above all you should do this for the passion of spreading your message. The side benefits will come later on.
I have noticed it on my own podcast and I have heard it from podcasters all over. If you are not consistent you run the risk of losing listeners. Most independent podcasters will miss an episode or two every once in a while. For the most part the most successful podcasters are consistently releasing one to two podcasts a week. Failing to do so can result in losing listeners. As Pullano pointed out, people come to you because they want to consume content. If you have nothing for them, they will go somewhere else. We want them to build the habit of coming to us for content and not the habit of going to someone else. A part of professionalism is sticking to your word. When you tell your fans you are going to do something like release content every week, you have to stick to it. Failing to do it will make them doubt you.
Mike pointed out that you will eventually find your niche. All it takes to get to the top is a little bit of preparation, and work to say what you want as long as you mean what you say. The barriers to entry no longer exist. Capitalize on that. The people who are more consistent are the ones who are more successful. Cross-pollinate as much as possible. Podcasting is one of the most inclusive industries in the world. Do batch recording and ensure your content is timeless and then continue to market these episodes as much as possible.
One of the things that begins to happen after you start a podcast, is people come to you for various forms of advice. Hopefully you have touched on the questions people come to you for consistently in a podcast episode. If so, share your episode with them and tell them the answer is broken down in depth in episode X. If you haven’t yet created an episode that answers that question you now have an idea for future content. Odds are if one person has that question, multiple people do. Get the episode out so you can market it, and other people can share your content.
Note: Don’t be the guy or gal who is relentlessly pitching his or her podcast. People hate that. That being said when some one asks you your opinion on something, they’ve opened the door to hearing your thoughts. Casually mention, “actually I just released a podcast episode on this very concept.”
Something I think has helped me is having a lot of episodes. Netflix and Amazon have conditioned us to exist within a binge culture. People don’t want to show up to a smattering of 3 episodes in your feed. They want to show up to 20 episodes. My opinion is that you need to release content immediately. It is important to note that you should not use development of initial episodes for launch as an excuse to never launch. On average a podcast never makes it past 6-10 episodes. Why not shoot to record 6 episodes prior to launch, and release all six immediately? Now you’re out working the statistics.
You will learn the following three things as you begin to record episodes. First, you will get better on the microphone over time. Last Podcast on the Left is a wildly successful podcast. If you go back and listen to their initial recordings, they’re awful. Now those guys are releasing books and they all get paid to podcast. Everyone has to start somewhere. Second, dead air on the mic is not a bad thing. Silence from your guests while they contemplate an answer demonstrates they are human and adds to the feel of actually being in the room while people are talking. If you really hate dead air you can always edit it out later. Finally, getting guest is the hardest part of podcasting. It takes me on average 5 e-mails to confirm a date and time for a single guest. I show up to the place of work most of my guests find themselves at. It’s even harder locking down a time to get them to come to a studio.
Good audio can save everything, very few things can save bad audio. Especially on the podcasting platform. I have recorded multiple episodes with bad audio and spent hours trying to treat it to make it more appealing. From a time perspective you will be much more successful with a good recording equipment. If you don’t have the funding then buy the cheap stuff and scale up slowly. At worst you’re building your voice and message. All the while building a proof of concept. I feel confident this post will ease some of the pains of sending your message to the world. Let me know what you think in the comments below or send me an email. Let’s leave a legacy!!
John McCarthy is a Father, Son, Husband and former Marine Infantry Officer. He serves his local community and just wants to push people to be better humans. Check out the Tough Talk Podcast and other writings on this website to learn more.