Advice from Pat Flynn on How to Create a Successful Podcast
Today I have a treat for anyone who has ever considered starting a podcast (or already has one), because I’ve just finished a Skype call with Pat Flynn about the art of podcasting.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, Pat’s teaching on podcasting is the number one thing that helped me as I was starting the ProBlogger podcast two years ago. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have started at all.
And so I was very excited when he launched his Power-Up Podcasting course earlier this year, because I knew it would help many more Pre-Podcasters get into this amazing medium.
Pat spoke at our Aussie ProBlogger events earlier in the year (he’ll also be speaking at our Dallas event in October), and during that event we talked about how often I heard ProBlogger readers say things like “I really should start a podcast”.
It’s a statement I hear all the time. But it’s almost always followed up with something like “But I don’t know where to begin”’ or “But I don’t have the right gear” or “But it all seems so overwhelming”.
So I asked Pat if he’d be willing to come on the show and help those in our audience interested in podcasting take their first steps.
Today we jumped on Skype, and I put a lot of your questions and challenges to him in this interview.
Not only that, Pat has also opened up his Power-Up Podcasting course exclusively for ProBlogger listeners. His course opened for just a week in July when a couple of hundred students signed up, but then he shut the doors so he could concentrate on serving that first intake of students.
So this is pretty special. He’s opening it back up for only one week, and only for ProBlogger readers and listeners. You can see what it’s all about over at ProBlogger.com/powerup.
Whether you enroll in the course or not, I encourage you to stay tuned to today’s interview.
In it Pat and I talk about
- A tip for growing your podcast audience through Facebook Groups (it’ll help you grow your blog too)
- What two of his most successful podcast episodes have been
- What microphones he recommends if you’re on different budgets
- Working out which format of podcast is right for you
- Interviewing techniques to help you get conversations flowing
- Surfacing stories in those you interview
- Editing podcasts
- The pros and cons of seasons vs ongoing episodes,
- How to make your episodes sound more alive and energetic
- Much much more.
Pat is incredibly generous with his advice in this episode. So whether you take his course or not, you’ll get a lot of inspiration and ideas from staying with us.
Again, if you’re interested in checking out the Power-Up Podcasting course head to problogger.com/powerup where for the next seven days you can enroll. If you’re listening after that seven-day period there will be an option to join his waitlist until the next time he opens the doors.
Links and Resources
- Pat’s Course (Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Pat’s course but as you’ll hear I’m a genuine fan of what he does.)
- Dallas Event
- ATR2100 from Audio Technica (affiliate)
- Heil PR40 (affiliate)
Expand to view full transcript
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Today, I have a real treat for anyone who has ever considered starting a podcast or anyone who’s already got one, because I’ve jumped on a call today with Pat Flynn to talk about the art of podcasting.
As I mentioned in past episodes, Pat’s teaching on podcasting is probably the number one thing that helped me when I started getting into podcasting. I walked through a lot of his teaching to set up this very podcast. If it wasn’t for him, I have doubts as to whether I would’ve ever started at all.
Earlier this year, when he launched his Power-Up Podcasting course, I was very excited because I knew it was something that would help so many more pre-podcasters, people who wanted to get into this medium. Pat spoke at our Australian ProBlogger event earlier this year. He’ll be speaking at our upcoming Dallas one in October 2, by the way.
At the event earlier in the year, we got to talking about how often we heard ProBlogger readers say things like, “I really should start a podcast”. That is something I hear every week from ProBlogger readers. It’s a statement that comes very regularly, but almost always is followed up with something like, “But I don’t know where to start”. Or “I don’t have the right gear”. Or “It all seems so overwhelming”. These sort of excuses, these challenges, these problems that bloggers face. Sometimes, it’s also followed out with, “But I’m scared. I don’t like the sound of my own voice”.
As a result, I thought it would be good today to get Pat in on this particular episode to talk about some of those first steps that you need to take with podcasting, some of those things that are going to make it a little bit easier for you if you’ve been saying, “I really should start a podcast”.
Earlier today we jumped onto Skype, and I was able to put a lot of the questions that you asked in our Facebook group to Pat and presented some of those challenges that I know many of you have.
Now, Pat was very generous with his time today. We planned to be online for about 45 minutes but we ended up going well over an hour. He just had so much good stuff to say and so I’m very thankful for him. Not only that, he also has opened up his Power-Up Podcasting course exclusively for ProBlogger listeners at the moment. He opened this course earlier in the year. I think it was in July, just for a week, and several hundred students went through that course at that point but he also closed the doors after that week so that he could concentrate on serving that first intake of students.
I’ve twisted Pat’s arm and he is opening the doors just for you. No one else is able to get in at the moment so it’s pretty special that you can have access to that. So if you are interested in taking a course and going a little bit further, head over to problogger.com/powerup.
Whether you enroll in that course or not, I do encourage you to stay tuned to today’s interview because in it, Pat shares a wealth of information. He talks about a tip for growing your podcast audience through Facebook groups that I never thought of myself. I think it would work also in growing your blog. He also reveals what his two most successful podcast episodes have been. He tells us about what microphones he recommends at different budget levels.
We talked about what format of podcast and how to choose the right format for you whether it be an interview or teaching course or something else, more narrative storytelling one. He shares interviewing techniques. I’ve got so much for you out of those interview techniques to get the conversation flowing.
He gives us a question that he asks regularly to help surface stories in those that you interview. We talked about editing podcast. We talked about seasons of podcast, whether you should just go with ongoing episodes. We talked about how to make your episode sound more alive and energetic and we talked about so much more along the way.
Pat has been so generous with his advice in this episode so whether you take that course, Power-Up Podcasting or not, you’ll get a lot of inspiration and ideas from staying with us for this episode today. Again, if you’re interested in checking out that course, Power-Up podcasting, head over to problogger.com/powerup where for the next seven days only, you can enroll. If you are listening to this after that seven day period, there will be a waitlist there that you can sign up for and he will let you know the next time the doors open.
Today’s show notes are also over at problogger.com/podcast/211. I’ll link there to all the resources and gear that Pat mentions in the show. Thanks for listening and I’ll talk with you at the end of this episode to wrap things up.
Darren: Pat, you’ve just returned home from Lisbon, one of my favorite cities in the world. I’m curious, when you were filling in your departure and arrival forms, what did you put in your occupation?
Pat: It’s hard. I never know how to answer that question. To answer that question for a nation, I just put entrepreneur and that’s really what I am. Man, Lisbon was amazing. That was my first time in Europe ever. I’m 34 years old and I finally made it to Europe. I was there to speak at an event. It was just beautiful. I attempted to vlog the whole thing, which is an interesting experiment and people seem to be enjoying that although it took a lot of hard work to edit all that stuff.
This is the year of international travel for me. I was at the ProBlogger event. My family and I came over and I spoke in Brisbane, in Melbourne, which was amazing. Thank you again for inviting me. It’s obviously just an amazing time with your people there. And then, later this year, I’m headed over to see Chris Ducker and what he’s got going on in London. I’m traveling, man, this year.
Darren: That’s great. One of the reasons I wanted to get you on the podcast today was the amount of people that came up to me at our event who said, “I came here because I either listen to your podcast or I listen to Pat’s podcast”. Podcasting was a massive reason that people came to our event this year and so I wanted to really drill in on podcasting because it’s something that you’ve been at now since was it 2009, 2010 you started out?
Pat: 2010 although I wanted to start one year earlier. I just got kind of scared of the whole thing. But yeah, I remember doing the workshops. The workshops were fantastic, by the way, where you did these little mastermind groups on day two of the event and a lot of the people who I was sitting at with in the tables were asking me about podcasting so your audience is hungry for it. I’m ready to give you as much as I can.
Darren: Yeah. My first question is do you see yourself more these days as a podcaster or as a blogger?
Pat: As a podcaster for sure. It was interesting because when I started podcasting, it was only every other week that I was coming out with a show. Because again, I was just kind of dipping my toes into it and it was a little bit difficult for me at first to figure things out on my own and I was still blogging three times a week.
But even six or seven months later, I went to an event and I started to meet a lot of fans and people who have read my blog and have gone to my site. They could not stop talking about the podcast. “Pat, the podcast was amazing. I love when you told that story about this.” Or “Oh, when you had that guest on your show, that was amazing”. I’m like, “What about my blog? I blog so much more”. But everyone I was speaking to was talking about the podcast.
That gave me a good clue that okay, maybe I should podcast a little bit more often and then I started to see amazing results from it. This sort of relationship building that happened because of it felt so much stronger than the relationships I was building from the blog. People were coming up to me and they would tell me these amazing things and I wouldn’t even know their name. They would talk to me like we’ve been friends forever and that’s really what the power of podcasting is. So yes, I primarily identify myself now as a podcaster, an award-winning podcaster and a teacher of podcasting and just somebody who’s just fallen in love with the medium.
Darren: You’ve just mentioned a few of the benefits, I guess, there from your experience. But from your students, you’ve now been teaching people how to podcast for a while now. What are some of the benefits that you see in those students of starting podcasts?
Pat: The different students have different results depending on what they’re looking for. The big one, I had a student from my previous enrollment period launch his podcast last week. It’s called Sober Together. He went through a period in his life where he was dealing with addiction and whatnot and he came out with this podcast, which was really hard for him to do.
And already, he’s getting emails from people who he would’ve never reached otherwise, saying, “Thank you so much for creating this. I feel like I have a place of a friend. I have a person I can look up to and who’s helping me through this tough time of my life”.
He was sending me messages of how incredibly thankful he was to have this medium that connect with people on such a serious topic. There are other people out there who have had brands already, who have now seen influxes of traffic come to their site. Many people have been finally able to contact and reach an authority level or an influencer in their space to invite them on their show when otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to have that conversation with them.
Other people are now seeing clients. If you do any coaching or do any courses, online courses or things like that, it’s a great way a podcast is to get in front of an audience and give them a taste of what it’s like to learn from them. And then of course, if you offer coaching, it’s like, “Hey, you’ve heard me coach this other person or you heard me talk about this stuff. If you want to work with me further, you can get my coaching package”.
Everybody who has gone through my course, who has finished and completed it, is seeing results and it varies depending on what they do and what their offers are. But yeah, it inspires me so much to see people do the podcast much faster than I did when I started because like I said, I had so many hurdles to overcome. I was scared of what my voice was going to sound like. I was scared people who weren’t going to listen or if they did listen, they thought maybe I wasn’t qualified to talk about what I was talking about or they would just stop the show and listen to somebody else but to help new students through that is amazing. I’m just trying to pay it forward.
Darren: That’s great. You’ve mentioned there a few reasons that put you off podcasting when you first started. I’m actually interested in whether you think there are certain people who shouldn’t podcast. I’m trying to give, I guess, a realistic expectation here of is podcasting right for people. Is there anything that you would get people to ask before they decide to start a podcast in terms of things that might actually put them off and should put them off from podcasting? Or do you think it’s for everyone?
Pat: I feel like everyone could start a podcast but should everybody start a podcast? I don’t know. It sort of depends. Just coming from a very honest place, somebody who sells a course on this stuff, it’s like if you know that the podcast is there because it’s a bright, shiny, new object that’s going to take you away from what you know you should be doing because you’re scared of some other thing that you should be doing and it’s hard that you’re just trying something new, then I would say don’t do it because the last thing you want to do is start to fill your brain with all this extra stuff that’s going to take you away from where your focus needs to be.
However, I will say that a number of people have joined the course having lost a lot of focus and then now have refocused that energy into a content medium and a platform that they really feel energized about too. On one hand, it’s like, “Hey, don’t distract yourself”. But on the other hand, it’s like, if you have been struggling to find something that is really helping you spread your message. helping you create a connection, helping you meet other influencers, well then this is the one that maybe you can take energy away from something else and put all that energy into…
And the other thing I would say is that it is not just, “Alright, I’m going to start a podcast. I’m going to click a button and have a podcast of my own”. No. There’s a lot of work involved. There’s a lot of questions that need to be asked and there’s a lot of planning that needs to happen. This is why I created this course. I had a free tutorial for a long time, showing people how to do this but people still needed a little bit of handholding, some office hours to get questions answered.
I would say that if you’re somebody who isn’t going to really commit to the process of getting this up, then I wouldn’t do it. But I think most of your audience, they’re following you because they know that you have the information and that if they take action with that, most of them are committed to do that, then they should be okay.
Darren: Britney asked in our Facebook group about how much time it’s actually going to take. She said she’s busy with other forms of content creation. Do you have an amount of time if you want to do a weekly show that you need to be putting into it and to set it up? Realistically, is it going to take a week, two weeks, a month?
Pat: Well, setting it up, typically, all the students that have gone through my course were just getting all the information they need up front. I’ve had people do it as quickly as two weeks after purchasing Power-Up Podcasting and then I’ve had people spend six months because life has been so busy and they’ve been just consuming one lesson as they can. With lifetime access, there’s no worries there in terms of not getting enough in a short period of time.
Typically, I guess on average, it would take about a month to get set up. Potentially less if you work really hard at it and just devote all your energy to it. You can do it within two weeks. But I would actually say a month is actually perfect because what I teach in the course is not just how to set up your podcast. It’s also how to get found. That’s where a lot of other podcasting courses sort of miss out.
I think that’s my specialty, the marketing put on top of the podcast to make sure that you’re not wasting your time with getting your show up but you’re actually getting results from it like we talked about earlier. What I would recommend is having a couple of weeks to actually start building buzz for your show. Even though you might have it ready and set up, you’re still going to want to tease a little bit.
What I recommend is to create an event out of the launch of your podcast. This is for anything, if you’re creating a blog, if you’re creating a video blog, or a YouTube channel. When ProBlogger happens, Darren, you don’t just open up the doors and say, “Alright guys, come on in.” You tell people months at a time because it’s such a big thing. You don’t need to tell people months ahead of time about your podcast but a few weeks is great to get people excited about it.
You can start teasing clips here and there and you get people ready to subscribe and you might even want to do a contest or a giveaway in the beginning to get some ratings and reviews and more downloads that’s going to help you in the rankings in iTunes.
The nice thing about podcasting is once you get everything set up up front, then all you have to worry now, and you know this Darren, is just producing each individual episode. Everything almost happens automatically after you publish that episode from there. There’s no having to go into iTunes every time and upload an episode every time. It doesn’t work like that.
Your audience knows what feeds are. Podcasts work with feeds and you give iTunes, you give Stitcher, you give Google Play your feed. Every time that feed updates, those directories automatically update and then everybody who’s subscribed to your show will automatically see it in their device the next time that show comes out after they subscribe.
That’s the beauty of the podcasting thing. Your episodes get pushed out similar to how people used to follow blog content on the RSS readers that we all used to have. It’s the same way with podcasting.
But the other cool thing about podcasting specifically is that the way that people consume that content is different than any other content out there, for example, video or blogging. People are consuming podcasts on the go while walking their dog, at the gym, on the plane, on a commute. It’s an amazing way to get in front of an audience where no other content medium can.
Not only that. It’s not just the content type, it’s how long they’re listening. Most people are listening for 30 minutes to an hour. That’s way more than a person would spend on your blog. If you look at the average time people spend on your blog, it’s probably 5 to 10 minutes, on average. People watching a video, it might be anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes for those longer ones. Most videos that are consumed on YouTube are probably within 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Tim Ferriss has a show that some of the episodes go over two hours. There’s a Joe Rogan podcast, each episode is an hour and a half. There’s a great podcast called Hardcore History. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that one. Some of those episodes are five and a half hours long and I think that’s too long. I tried listening to that show.
The point of this is people are listening. They’re putting the podcast into their daily lives while they’re doing other things and you talk about a way to build a relationship. They’re listening to your voice. They’re hearing and feeling your emotion. It’s just so, so powerful. Once you get up and running, I would say, and I teach you these techniques. You could probably get an episode out every week on your own in two and half to three hours each week. Almost the same amount of time that might take you to produce a blog post.
I feel now, now that I’ve been doing this for a while, the podcast is just far easier to produce than a blog post.
Darren: I’m completely with you. I know I can outline a teaching episode in 20, 30 minutes particularly if you’ve already written on the topic and you’ve already got a blog post there that you can base it off and update and then you speak to it and people will forgive the mumbles or the little stumbles or you can edit them out later and it takes as long to record it as it takes you to speak it.
Pat: Yeah. Keep those uhms in there. Keep those kinds of things that I just did in there because that makes it more real. I remember when I first started, I tried to remove every uhm, every weird pause, every breath and I listened to the episode and it just didn’t sound real because when you talk to people in real life, nobody speaks perfectly. If they do, I don’t know, it just sounds different and it’s real life. It makes your life easier too because you don’t have to edit all that stuff out and you get better over time.
That’s another sort of side benefit I found of podcasting. I wasn’t a great communicator at first. I loved blogging because I can write and delete and edit and write and delete and edit again. With podcasting, you can do that. But forcing myself to just go, A) saves me time with editing but B) I’ve now been practicing communication by talking into the microphone and now, it’s given me confidence to get up on stage. It’s given me confidence to have conversations and be able to deliver a story much better in a more impactful way. I still stumble every once in a while but like we were saying, that’s how it is in real life.
Darren: A few other questions that we got in the Facebook group for you centered around gear. I know gear is not the most important thing that we need to talk about really.
Pat: It’s so fun to talk about gear, right?
Darren: Let’s talk about gear for a few minutes. Particularly, it’s interesting, Imogen in the group said if you’re a complete beginner and money is tight, do you have any recommendations for why gear would be I guess necessary at first because when money is tight, we need the bare minimum and then maybe if you’ve then got the next level up, do you have any next steps in terms of the improving sound quality and recording?
Pat: The sound quality is really important. People can find your show and you might have the best, most helpful content in the world, but if it’s not sounding great, most people in the podcasting world expect a great sound. Luckily for us, it doesn’t cost very much to do that.
When I teach podcasting, I want to give you the bare minimum amount that you’ll need to spend in addition to whatever it is you might be already investing. People have really loved me for that because I know how it is. It’s tough. But if you’re going to invest in taking the time to do a podcast, you want to invest just a little bit more than a $20 microphone to have great sounding audio because you want people on the other end to really enjoy the audio of your show.
I’m just going to give you the microphone right now that you should be using. It’s called ATR2100 by Audio-Technica. The beauty about this microphone, actually let me click on the link now. I believe it is right now $60 on Amazon, which is amazing. Plus the idea that you don’t have to buy a mixer and all these other boxes with all the dials and stuff. You don’t need any of that stuff. All you need is a computer with a USB plug in and this microphone will work.
It sounds just as good to non-professional broadcasters as this microphone that I’m using right now, which is a higher level one. It’s about $400. It’s called a Hiel PR-40. It sounds just like this one. It’s mobile. This microphone that I have right now, that I’m using here at my office, it’s not portable. It needs a mixer because it has what’s called an XLR connection, which uses a giant cable connection that has these three prongs at the end of it. The Audio-Technica ATR2100 is a USB mic and it sounds fantastic.
That, a microphone stand, you can edit using your free GarageBand or there’s another tool called Audacity out there. That, you can use to edit your show and really, that’s all you need. That and a little foam ball that goes over your mic so that the ‘p’ sounds and the ‘b’ sounds don’t pop in people’s ears when they’re listening. That it. Less than $100. And then for hosting for your audio, $7 a month. That’s it and it’s really, really inexpensive these days to get high quality sound.
Back in the day, when podcasting started, podcasting has been around since the early 2000s and it was for the nerds and the geeks who understood feeds, audio and broadcasting. Now, we’re in an age where anybody can do it and you’re seeing it. You’re seeing shows from people with regular brands up on iTunes competing and beating the big names and now building an audience, building relationships.
As much as I would love for everybody to have the top level equipment, you don’t need that. You can save that money or spend it on going to a conference to build relationships and then invite those people on your podcast, for example, instead.
Darren: You mentioned at hosting, a big no-no is to host it alongside your blog on those servers.
Pat: Don’t host it on your own. Where you host your blog, don’t host your audio for your podcast there too because it’s going to eat up a lot of bandwidth and of course, it’s going to also affect the speed of your website. It might crash it. For whatever reason, you might get for example, an influencer one day might link to your show because they really enjoyed it or maybe you featured them on your show and they were like, “Hey, listen to my show or listen to me on Darren’s show”. And then boom, you get this influx of traffic. Everybody’s downloading at the same time and you’re wondering why your website is slow. And people are listening to your show and they’re going to your website and they’re like, “Why is this website not working? It’s too good to be true. I’m going to move on to somebody else”.
You don’t want that kind of scenario so always best to host your audio files on a server that is specifically for the audio files. There are two that I recommend. The one that I recommend, that I trust more than any other is Libsyn. They’re great. They have been in this arena for over a decade and they’re very reliable. Everything is super smooth and fast there so that’s who I would go with if you’re going to start a podcast. The other one is Buzzsprout.
Darren: Okay. It’s amazing how cheap it is, really, when you think about the bandwidth that’s getting tuned up on a fairly large scale. It’s very affordable to get into. Bret asked how important is it to have things like music, professionally recorded intros, outros, breakers, outwork? How much should you be investing into that? Can you do it all yourself or would you recommend that that’s an area to invest in?
Pat: You can do it all yourself. I did my own voiceover for a while and I produced music in GarageBand and I tested that for a little bit and then I hired somebody else to do it for me. Actually, the intro to The Smart Passive Income, I produced it myself. I just grabbed an audio file from a royalty free audio site and then I just hired a guy to do the voiceover on top of it. You can find people on Fiverr now who are great, for $5 to $10.
There are obviously people at an upper level who can do voiceover treatment for you. There’s a company called Music Radio Creative that can give you the whole package with the music and the intro, the outro, and the sounds and the sound effects and stuff. But honestly, you don’t need that. That’s going to add a little bit of flavor to your show in the beginning and a little bit of professionalism but honestly, if you are there in the beginning telling a great story, you don’t need any of that stuff.
Just tell a great story. Get people into your world and show them what it is that you have to offer them and they’re going to be hooked. From there, then you can add maybe later on, some music and other things like that.
The artwork however, as you mentioned, is really important because people before they listen to your show, they’re actually going to see it first. They’re going to see the artwork and the artwork is sort of like just the first impression so you want it to be great. You can do it on your own. A lot of my students do it on their own using something like Canva or I think PicMonkey is the other one.
I don’t remember the other one that somebody used but you can do it on your own. The file size is quite large actually because it’s for all the systems that podcasts run on including Apple TV. A 3,000 x 3,000 pixel, which is a lot, but what Apple automatically does is shrink that down and make it for iPad, for iPhone, etc.
A couple of things for artwork, you want it to stand out so look at the categories on iTunes and find what other shows are going to be there and find one that stands out. The person I mentioned earlier, Michael, he is in the self-help category and he really smartly chose a yellow color when all the other colors are not yellow at all. His show stands out very, very well.
You also want to keep the text on your artwork minimal because again, when it’s shrunken down and most people are finding them either on a website or most likely on their phones, a lot of times, when there’s too much text, it’s going to be illegible. And then finally, you want to make sure that there’s just something there that resembles what the show is about. It could be a picture of you. It could be a picture of your logo, like yours. It could be a symbol that represents what it is that you do. It can be anything. Really, you just need to get it up there, make it look great and then move on with your show from there.
It’s just kind of a one0-time decision up front and you can invest as much as you want in that but you don’t have to get too crazy.
Darren: With all those things, you can add, change, and upgrade and refresh them later on so don’t get too stuck on that. I’ll show you a way out. I think it’s probably more important.
Pat: Just like starting a blog. How many times do we waste like four weeks on, I just the perfect theme or I just need to get this logo designed. Get it out there. You can perfect those things later.
Darren: Format is another question that I got asked a few times. Interview, panels, co-host, talking head, narrative, there are all these different kinds of podcast and as soon as you dig into iTunes, you can see there’s a huge variety. How do you make that decision? Is it about your personality? Is it what you like listening to? Is it the topic or is it all of those things together? How do you make that decision?
Pat: What I would recommend is go into iTunes. Start listening to a few podcasts and start paying attention and being conscious to the format, the structure, the style, the pacing, those kinds of things. Over time, even just over a day, you’re going to start to realize, well I like this or I don’t like this. You can incorporate those into your own show too and put your own voice, your own spin, your own personality and character into it.
Interview shows are typically the ones that most people do because approaching that, you’re like, “Oh, this is easy. I just have to talk and ask questions and have the other person who I invite in the show produce the content for me”. That’s kind of half true because yes, the other person is going to answer your questions but the most important things when it comes to an interview show is asking the right questions.
I teach a lot of interview techniques and how to go deeper. The one thing I would recommend is don’t just have a list of questions that you want to ask and just only stick to those. My pet peeve, and there’s a lot of popular shows that do this, but my big pet peeve is when you go, “Okay, question number one… Okay. Thank you. Question number two…”. Don’t do that. After they answer question number one, what about like, “How did you feel when that happened?” Just like a regular interview would be, a regular conversation.
When you go to a café with a friend and you’re literally talking to them and trying to discover more things about them, first of all, you’re not presenting them a list of questions and secondly, you’re not just moving on from topic to topic after every answer. You’re going deeper. You’re having a real conversation. That’s a frame of mind that I like to offer people. When you get into an interview with somebody, you could even say this to the person you’re interviewing. It’s a great way to make them feel better about what they’re about to do with you in terms of the interview.
I always say when I bring a guest on, I say, “Let’s just pretend we’re in a coffee shop. I’m getting to know you and we’re just chatting. Don’t worry about the audience. They’re just a fly on the wall”. That typically will get people a little more comfortable to that point where they’re going to share deeper information. The gold really comes three or four levels deep after you ask an initial question. If you move on to the next question too soon, you might not get to that good stuff that’s going to make your show unique versus when other people perhaps try to interview that person too.
Speaking of getting people to say yes to interviews, that can be very difficult. A few tips there I just want to give to you. First of all, asking authors or people coming out with promotions of some kind, they’re likely going to say “Yes” during those times so you can ask them because they’re going to be wanting to get in front of as many people as possible.
I remember when I launched my book ‘Will It Fly?’ In 2016, I wanted to get on every single podcast that I could and so I was saying yes to everybody. Look for authors. If you want to look for a big name, that’s where I would start. The other thing is look for other people who have already done podcasts. They kind of know what that’s about. People who seem to be on many shows are going to be more likely to say “Yes” to new ones.
Also, from there, you can then begin to name drop. If you find an author, for example, and you promoted his book because it was coming out, you reach out to somebody else and you can say, “Oh, I’ve interviewed people like Tim Ferriss or Gary Vaynerchuk”. These people who came onto my show when they were doing certain promotions because I knew they would be more likely to say “Yes” then.
But now, people are like, “Ooh, you interviewed Tim Ferriss? You interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk? You interviewed Darren Rowse? Okay, I will say yes to your show”. The final tip I have for you, related to who to interview would be, you don’t have to interview A-listers. I think this is a big misconception, is “Oh, I have to get the top guys on the show and that’s how I’m going to be popular”.
No. Interview amazing people. There are amazing people in this world who have amazing stories to share, who nobody has even heard of yet. My most popular episodes are not the one with Tim Ferriss or Gary Vaynerchuk or other big names. It’s the one with somebody that nobody has ever heard of before like Shane and Jocelyn Sams from episode I think 122, who are just two people from Kentucky, in the United States, who happen to find Smart Passive Income and talk about how they then transition from being a teachers to online entrepreneurs. That is one of the most downloaded episodes ever because not only are people listening to it because people can feel like they can relate to them because they’re only just a couple of steps ahead versus the A-listers who are out and in stratosphere.
They also are more likely to share it because those people represent the major part of my audience. Don’t just interview A-listers. Interview non A-listers, the B- and C-listers out there. The people who are trying to be up and coming in that space. They’re going to be likely to say “Yes” because they want to be getting that exposure.
Also, if you have a brand already, interview success stories that you’ve helped to create. This something that actually helped promote in my last launch for the podcasting course. I interviewed three students. I interviewed them about what it was like to start a podcast and some of the struggles that they had and of course, just naturally through that, they’re saying, “Oh, and your course was so great because of this and that”. It’s essentially just a testimonial.
Right now, you could probably think of one or two people who you know you’ve helped if you’ve already have a band out there in your blog or videos. Invite that person on your podcast and have them tell the story. It’s so much more powerful than you telling your audience, “Hey, this is why my stuff is great”. Somebody is saying it for you and they’re telling the stories behind it. Listening to their voice, nothing is more powerful in marketing.
Going back to one of the questions related to structure. The other structure to do that’s very easy is just solo episodes where you are by yourself and you are essentially doing what’s almost like a presentation. I remember when I used to do those. I used to script every single word that I was going to say because I was so afraid of missing something or saying something incorrectly or all the random pauses. I didn’t trust myself to share those things.
Some tips I have for you is one, is to understand first what is it that transformation you want your audience to go through? They’re one way and then they listen to your show and they come out a new way. What is that transformation you want them to go through? And then just bullet point the stories you want to tell, the facts, the case studies, the examples, all the things that then support that transformation happening from the point that a person starts to listen to your show to the point that a person ends.
And then, because you have those bullet points and because you’re trusting yourself just like you would in a conversation when those topics come up, you just go. You just let yourself talk about those things. If there are important things like quotes you want to mention, write those down or specific like five items that you want to cover. Write those down too. Don’t script out the whole thing. It sounds completely robotic. You’re going to put your audience to sleep if you do that. Just be natural. Try it.
Also, I need to say this. Your first episodes are going to be terrible. That’s okay. You have to get through that. I think it was John Lee Dumas who has I think 1,700 episodes now. He said that every master started as a disaster. I love that quote. That’s with everything not just podcasting. In order to get to the good stuff, you have to get through that disaster. Just get started.
Those are the two formats that I would recommend starting with. There are other ones such as, there are some people who have a fiction, ones where they’re just literally telling a story as if it’s a book. Other ones are more what’s called MPR style, documentary, journalistic style with interviews on the street with background music. I’ve done that kind of episode before. I think it was episode 138.
I took a recorder to Columbus, Ohio, where my team is and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to interview my team. I’m going to talk about this trip”. The episode ended up being 25 minutes. It was a good episode. There’s a lot of music. It felt like you were in Columbus interviews. You got to meet my team. It took eight hours to edit that episode. That’s why I haven’t done many of those. Because when you record an interview, you record the interview and then you can record maybe the formal intro later and boom! You have it ready to go. That’s formatting.
Darren: Pat, you were just so easy to interview. I said this at our event. You just answered six of my questions without me even asking one. But here’s my next question then. What happens when that doesn’t happen? When you have an interviewee who is awkward or is having a bad day or is just not in the flow with you, haven’t had that coffee? Sometimes, it just grinds and it’s hard to get them to reveal. It’s hard to get them to share something of themselves. It’s hard to get them talking. Do you have any tips for getting the flow going with someone particularly when you’re interviewing them?
Pat: Thank you for the compliment, first of all. Secondly, I’ve gone through that process of interviewing and having it be very difficult to get great information to get great information from them. One word answers even if it’s an open-ended question. Just a couple of sentences and then that’s it and then kind of a random pause. It’s difficult sometimes and honestly, I’ve done a couple of interviews where at the end, I’m just like, “Wow. Okay. That’s actually probably wasn’t a good recording”.
I’m not saying this to this person but I’m thinking it and then I often go back to them and I say, “You know what, I don’t know what it was. It was probably me”. It’s like I’m breaking up with them. “It wasn’t you. It was me. I just didn’t feel the energy. I’m really sorry. I’d love to perhaps reschedule this with you or perhaps find a way to make you more comfortable with the show but the way the content played out during our interview, I can’t publish it. I have really high standards for the content that I deliver and again, I think it was mostly my fault.” That’s typically the way that I do it. I’ve only had to do that twice out of over 300 interviews that I’ve done.
It doesn’t happen very often because I know some other strategies. For example, like I mentioned earlier, you’re making people feel comfortable with you when they are getting on the Skype call with you if you’re using Skype to record, which is what we’re using right now actually. Making them feel comfortable about that.
When I get people onto the show, I say, “Okay, we’re not recording yet because I want people to know when I’m going to hit record so just really quickly, an example might be like, “Hey Darren, thanks for coming on the show today. I’m not recording yet. I just want to check our levels first. Make sure you’re comfortable and again, remember, we’re just going to have a casual conversation just like we’re in a coffee shop so no worries there. Can I answer any question for you before I hit record?”
Again, this is like really setting this person up for comfortability, a little bit of control. You’re able to ask a few questions if there are any. “Oh, how long is this going to go for?” “Oh, 30 minutes.” “Okay, great.” Again, you’re just answering all their concerns up front.
And then one great tip I have during the show. If it’s not going very well, try to lead people to a story that they’re interested in telling. A lot of the times, people aren’t excited about answering facts or talking about case studies or things like that. People love to talk about stories about themselves. And so a great tip I have for you if you’re trying to get a story from somebody, and I learned this from the person who created the podcast called Startup, he said, “If you’re trying to get a story from somebody, just simply ask them hey, tell me about a time when _____”.
Don’t say blank but talk about the topic. “Hey Darren, tell me about a time when you were trying to write a blog post and it just wasn’t going well.” That just opens up Pandora’s Box because then, you’re giving that person permission, essentially to talk about themselves. People love to talk about themselves and moments in their life that happened and things that they can remember.
If it’s even still a struggle from there, you might have to kind of guide them a little bit. “Maybe not a blog post that you struggle with. Let’s go the opposite way, Darren instead. What about when you just felt like you’re in the flow? What allowed you to get into that state of mind where it was just so easy for you to write a blog post?” If it didn’t work out on that first one, I might flip the switch and try to find one that was the opposite.
Again, interview techniques come over time. I teach the stuff but it’s a great way to start to hone in on those strategies that you can get to really make your episode stand out.
Darren: Great tips. Interestingly, I’ve got to tell me about times my potential questions which leads me to I guess potential questions. When you’re going to an interview, you’ve already said don’t go through your list of questions, but do you go in with some general questions and some follow up questions?
The other part of that is do you do pre-interviews? Because I’ve noticed I’m getting asked to do more and more pre-interviews before shows where you either jump on with a post and he’s going to interview you and talk about what they’re going to interview you about or a producer of this. I’ve noticed more and more podcasters are using other people to prepare for the podcast. Have you done pre-interviews? Would you recommend them? Do you go in with those sort of questions based on those interviews or your own research?
Pat: Research and prepping for an interview, great topic. I don’t do pre-interviews myself. I feel like the pre-interview happens as we are coming up with the ideas or as I’m researching that person. In terms of research, it’s typically not a lot of research. Take somebody who has written a book for example. I want to know just what the book is about and a little bit about that person because when I ask questions, I want to be in the shoes of my audience.
I’ve listened to podcast episodes before where a person, I can tell has just done so much research about their guest so much so that I feel left out. They didn’t set it up properly. I’m feeling left out. And so, I don’t want my audience to feel that way. I want my audience to tell me later while you ask the exact same questions that I had in my head. That’s my favorite compliment to get as an interviewer, which is, “Oh man, I had that question in my head and then you asked it”. That’s such a good compliment.
By not doing a ton of research, you still have to do some. You don’t just want to be like, “Hey, I heard you were great. Why are you great?” You don’t want to approach the show like that. Use a little bit of common sense. I have been on other people’s shows where they have done pre-interviews and typically, these shows that do those are really, really high up their shows that are very difficult to get into that have a lot of people in their audience and they just want to make sure that their standards are going to be really high.
You don’t necessarily need to do them yourself, especially when you’re just starting out, but it is something you could incorporate. One thing I think you could potentially do to help prepare your person that you’re interviewing before you get them on to is just to, even some of my students have done this even on their own, is to send an informational email beforehand, that gives them some tips related to the microphone that they might be using and to make sure that the door is closed and that your phone is off. All those kinds of things.
That’s not necessarily pre-interview but it’s just prepping the person to have a better time with you also. That’s research for me. List of questions, I do have a few often when I’m interviewing somebody because I just know I want to get a story from them or I am just really curious about something. The cool thing about podcasting is it’s your show. You can run it any way you want. You are more than welcome to ask any questions that you like but obviously, you are speaking to somebody if you’re doing an interview so you know, you’re also talking to them at the same time so common sense, courtesy, and respect also play a role.
But you’re allowed to, if you’re feeling it, to push that person a little bit and to start to ask a little bit. Again, that’s where the gold comes out. There’s that line of comfortability just like put your toe in on that other side a little bit just to see and test okay, well how much can I get out of this person. When I select a guest to come on the show or when a person asks to be on my show, I will determine whether or not that person is right because A) they aren’t somebody who’s going to share something that anybody else has shared before on the show. B) I know that they have something of value to offer. If those two things are true, then I can often get those stories out and to help people through that transformation by asking the right questions.
Darren: That’s great information. I think that it’s amazing how many people would just accept any interviewee and don’t do that refining all of is this the right person for my show. Sometimes, I get pitched quite a bit by the celebrity’s issues and I push back on those because I know they’ve been everywhere and they’ve got an agenda that they’re going to push in the podcast and so I’m much more interested in getting an everyday person, someone that can relate to the audience to get on.
Pat: Can I offer another tip Darren? I typically just share this one with my students but I mean, I’m just so thankful to be talking about podcasting and Power-Up Podcasting, my course, today. I just want to give this to you because this is great and it’s great for bloggers, it’s great for video people, it’s great for podcasting so I don’t want to hold it back. That is a great person to interview is the owner of a forum.
In your niche, go to Facebook. Type in a keyword, maybe it’s knitting or something and look at the groups. When you type in that keyword, there’s another selection after that to just find all the groups. You’re going to find groups that have thousands of members. Click on that group. You don’t even have to join. It’ll tell you exactly who admin of that group is.
You can reach out to that admin and even message them directly through Facebook and say, “Hey Marissa, I see you have this knitting group here. Awesome community you’ve built. I’d love to feature you on my podcast about knitting and talk about how you came up with this idea and your specialty in knitting. What do you say?” More than likely, these people, the forum admins and owners are going to say “Yes”. They’re going to be flattered that somebody had reached out to them because more often than not, they’re not getting any exposure for what it is that they do.
Now, what are the chances, Darren, do you think that that person, when you feature them, when you make them the hero of that podcast, that they’re going to share that with their 5,000 plus members in their community? It is very, very likely. I’ve had students who have gone from zero audience to thousands of downloads per episode now just using this one strategy alone.
And so if you’re a blogger, you can do the same thing. “Hey, I’d love to feature your knitting community on my blog and talk about maybe if you have two or three tips and techniques to offer. My audience, I’d love to send them your way”.
But of course, what’s going to happen, they’re going to send their people your way as well. It’s just been one of the best tips. I share a lot of cool things like that that can help you get exposure but I just wanted to give that one away.
Darren: That’s gold. It struck me that someone who is admin of a forum or a group is possibly a different kind of person to someone who’s a big blogger. They may not be quite as self-promotional. They’re much more interested in the community. It’s a different kind of person to get on as well. Yeah, gold. Love it.
Pat: Writing it down.
Darren: Listeners, just move across to editing a little bit because I think editing is something that a lot of bloggers who are considering podcasting get caught up on, is how do you edit? What tools should you use to edit? But also, how much should you edit? This is one thing I’m interested to hear with you. In your interviews of people, are you editing the interview or do you just let it play? Are you chopping out parts? Are you rearranging it in any way or you’re just someone who just lets it run from start to finish?
Pat: Every time they say something great about me, that’s all I include. That’s it. No. I’m just kidding. I keep the interviews straight away the whole time unless there’s something in the middle that happens like a disconnect and we have to reconnect later or I’ve actually had a coughing fit one time where it lasted for like 30 seconds. I’m not going to leave that in the show. Sometimes, I’ll sneeze and I’ll just leave it in and I’ll be like, “That’s real life”. People comment on that. They’re like, “I love how you left that sneeze in there. It’s kind of an interesting reset button”.
Most of the time, I just leave it all the way and I don’t chop it up. I don’t want to only show the best parts. I try to do my best as an interviewer to keep it interesting the whole time and on path. Sometimes, when you interview somebody, your line of sight is down this one line and then all of a sudden, something happens and then you’re like way and left feel here. You’re in another country talking about some random other topic, which is fine. It’s okay to do that every once in a while.
As long as you know what that transformation is you want or what the stories you want them to tell you, you can always add a stopping point. “Alright, we’re off of the tangent here. Let’s go back to what we were initially talking about earlier and blah, blah, blah.” You can take it there. Yeah, I don’t chop up these interviews. I leave them all the way in. That of course makes it so much easier when it comes to editing.
I do chop up however when I’m recording on my own. This is funny. I had a guy, actually, he attended ProBlogger event, Jason Skinner, amazing guy. He came up with a podcast and he was just so excited about it. He’s doing great. I remember when he was first recording his show, he was saying something like, “Man, I did like ten takes of my first episode. I just can’t get it right. What’s going on?” And then the final sentence was something like, “I just can’t record for 15 minutes straight without making an error”. I was like, “What? You’re trying to record a 15…” Nobody can record a 15 minutes straight without making an error. That’s insane. He’s like, “What do you mean?” I said, “Record as much as you can and when you fumble, just click stop and then edit that part out where you fumbled and just pick up where you left of and keep going. When people listen to the final version at the other end, they would have no idea that you fumbled and messed up”.
I even show this in my course. If you look at my timeline in GarageBand for one episode that I do, you’ll see it’s chopped up into a couple dozen pieces because it took a couple dozen tries for different parts to get it in there but never have I done ever one episode straight through when it’s a solo episode of my own. Sometimes, I’ll tell a story and then I forget where I’m going and then I just okay, wait, I got to redo that. Let me go back to where I was or back to that middle part before I get to that closing part and then let’s click record and go again. It always happens. That’s how you edit your show when you’re doing it on your own.
Darren: That’s great. There are no rules for this stuff either. I think it’s good to communicate that to a new podcast, is you can stop halfway. You can edit. You can do it in one take if you’re good at that. It’s totally fine. One of the thing I’ve learned to do is to listen back to my podcast before I pass them off to my editor. They look up where the energy is and where the flow is. If there is a dead patch in an interview, it’s okay if you want to, to chop that part out. The same for you. As you listen to yourself, you’re going to go, “I really slumped there. I’m going to chop that out. I’m going to re-record that. There’s no harm in it doing it again.” So great advice.
Pat: You learned a lot about yourself when you podcast. By listening to your show specifically as well. My first episode is still online on iTunes and I can’t listen to it because it’s just terrible and so I feel like I speak so slowly and there’s a lot of uhms and I’m counting everyone of them. You can sort of as you go through all the episode, over time, you start to see the progression. You start to notice how I tell stories differently. You start to feel the confidence.
A good tip I have for all of you is to stand up while you’re podcasting. I remember somebody told me, “Oh Pat, you got to stand up while you podcast”. I’m like, “Why would I do that? That would be like standing for an hour. My feet would hurt”. They’re like, “No. Try to get a mat on your feet if you don’t want them to hurt”. I said, “Okay, I’ll try it”.
I didn’t tell my audience that I did this. I didn’t tell my podcast listening audience that I stood up during this episode. However, I must have gotten a couple dozen messages from listeners saying, “Pat, I don’t know what it was about this episode but you seem to have a little bit more energy”. I knew it was because I stood up because when you stand up, you are in sort o