When you conduct interviews with guests — particularly high profile guests — you’ve got just one shot to get it right. This episode outlines the best practices for recording good audio for yourself, your guest, and your co-host(s).
This episode is brought to you by StudioPress Sites.
We begin this episode with a quick discussion about how Jon balances being a husband and father with the demands of being a successful serial entrepreneur and running several successful shows.
Then we launch into a discussion about the best ways to record you and your guest during an interview, including:
- Why you shouldn’t panic yet if you notice an issue after recording. (You may be able to correct it in post-production.)
- The importance of focusing on simplicity and lowering the barriers for your guest to come on your show
- Why Skype, warts and all, is still the best option for podcast interviews
- A few tips for overcoming the inevitable Skype issues
- Jon’s surprising system for doing pre-interview audio checks
- When the time is right to invest in a better microphone for people on your show
- How to handle mid-interview audio hiccups
This week’s listener questions comes to us from friend of the show Darren Dematas, who recently launched his own podcast, The Pursuit of Relevance. Darren asks, “When is the right time to launch a podcast network?” There is no simple answer to this question, but we provide some guidelines.
This week’s podcast recommendations are:
- Jerod: The Tim Ferriss Show — How to create a blockbuster podcast with Alex Blumberg
- Jon: Good Job, Brain! — especially the All Quiz Bonanza episodes (like this one)
Listen, learn, enjoy:
Listen to The Showrunner below ...
No. 012 Best Practices for Recording Interview Guests and Co-Hosts
Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.
Jerod Morris: Welcome to The Showrunner, where we have one goal: teach you how to develop, launch, and run a remarkable show. Ready?
Welcome to episode 12 of The Showrunner podcast. I am your host, Jerod Morris, VP of Marketing for Rainmaker.FM. I am joined, as always, by my friend, Jonny Nastor, host of Hack the Entrepreneur and continued defender of humanity. Jon, how are you doing today?
Jonny Nastor: I am doing absolutely awesome.
Jonny’s Hack for Balancing Family Life and Work
Jerod Morris: I just want to say, we started this podcast together, and we’ve become friends. We’d follow each other on social media accounts. I’ve enjoyed following you on Instagram when you and your family went on your big road trip — get to see some pictures of you and your kids and seeing you outside of this realm of podcasting, which is where most of our interaction comes, and seeing you just as a guy and as a family man.
It got me to thinking. I don’t have kids yet, so that obviously gives me a little bit of extra time, I guess you could say, for some of the hobbies and podcasts and things that I do. But you’ve really been able to balance being a successful serial entrepreneur who still has time for podcasts and for hobbies with having a family and raising kids. I know that a lot of our listeners are able to identify with that.
I figured with Father’s Day coming up, it would be a good time to ask you, how do you balance that? Is there a secret to balancing all of that or any hacks, I guess, that you found that help you do that?
Jonny Nastor: I guess the secret that I have would be to make it a priority. One of my most enjoyed things to do is to hang out with my wife and daughter. It’s a priority, but it’s not like it’s a job. It’s not like it’s hard. That being said, I work really, really hard when I’m working. If I find myself getting distracted and just like, “Whoa, I’ve been on Twitter for the last 20 minutes,” then I’ll probably just close my laptop and be like, “Okay, let’s go do something for a couple hours.” I know I’m just going to waste the next couple hours. When I’m working, I want to be working.
Jerod Morris: Wait, so when you say you close the laptop, so you’re saying close the laptop, get away, do something non-work, and then come back more focused?
Jonny Nastor: Totally.
Jerod Morris: Okay.
Jonny Nastor: A couple of years ago, I would have just sat here for eight hours and told myself that I was working, but I didn’t accomplish anything. Now, when I have work time, then I’m working, like hard core. I’ll either have four or five interviews set up to do all in a row and then publish a couple of episodes for the next week, and I’ll do those. Typically, right now, because we’re on holidays for the summer, I’m working Monday to Wednesday, really, really hard, and full days.
My wife and daughter, I brought them to a beautiful city, so it makes me really happy that they are out at a pool, swimming outside right now, hanging out, having lunch — just enjoying themselves. That makes me happy. Then I’ll spend all evening and late afternoon. They come home around 3. I’ll be done, and we’ll spend the rest of the day together — then Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Thursday, Friday, I still work, but I’ll only work for maybe four hours a day. Then the weekends I’m totally off.
I make it a priority because it has to. Otherwise, it’s just a spiral of work, work, work, work, work — which I’ve been through and you have to go through at certain times — but it’s just something you got to work with. This structure doesn’t stay all the time. During the winter, while there’s not as much cool stuff to do outside anyways, I will work harder. Or, if a launch is coming up, like we might have one, then I have to work harder for the next couple of weeks. That’s totally cool. That’s just how I structured my life. My family’s totally good with it and happy with it.
Jerod Morris: Did you just slip in some breaking news there about a launch?
Jonny Nastor: I may have.
Jerod Morris: Interesting. All right. Maybe we’ll talk about that a little bit later. What do you say?
Jonny Nastor: Yes, let’s do it.
Jerod Morris: Okay. For now, let’s get to the main topic of this week’s episode. Really last week’s episode, Showrunner episode 11, is a good precursor to this one. Certainly listen to that one if you haven’t. We’re going to talk about the best ways to record yourself and a guest during an interview. We will get into that main topic right now.
Let’s talk about this, Jon. Again, for people who listened to our last episode, we regaled you with the stories of our audio misadventures that we went through recording episode 11. If you add up all the frustrations from that one episode, it by far outpaces the rest of any frustrations we’ve dealt with recording all of the other episodes of this show. We really haven’t had any. Then we had all of these hurdles. You’re going to have that at times when you are doing interviews and you’re doing interviews online over Skype.
There’s a lot of different variables, things that could potentially go wrong during the interview. Let’s spend this episode talking about, what are some of the best ways to record, because you’ve got to balance making it easy for your guest, but also getting the best audio. You, having done as many interviews as you have, and me having done as many as I have, I’m sure that we have some good lessons that we can share.
Let me kick it over to you. Any opening thoughts on this general topic of the best way to record you and your guest?
Why You Shouldn’t Panic Yet If You Notice an Issue After Recording (You May Be Able to Correct It in Post-Production)
Jonny Nastor: Just to backtrack a little bit. We had that crazy amount of issues recording the last episode. It took us four tries, I believe. Then after we recorded it the final time, we actually both heard, one from the editor of Rainmaker.FM and then one from my editor for my show — we were getting this white noise in the background, and we were both totally worried about it — both of the editors were like, “Nah, don’t worry about that. We’ll get rid of that instantly.”
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: Which is funny, right? If you are either an editor yourself or you learn Audacity or GarageBand or Audition really well, then you can do these things yourself. Or you can hire editors who can get rid of a lot of things and really make your sound a lot better. That was just an interesting thing because we really struggled with it. We tried so many times, like, “We can’t record like this. This white noise, it’ll be terrible.” Then both editors like, “Nah, don’t worry about it.”
Jerod Morris: Yeah. Some of the misadventures were self-inflicted, but it was a good learning experience.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, now we have that noise in our ears right now, and it just doesn’t matter to us. It’s an interesting thing.
The Importance of Focusing on Simplicity and Lowering the Barriers for Your Guest to Come on Your Show
Jonny Nastor: Let’s get to recording. To me, a big part of recording an interview is simplicity for my guest. As with every stage of getting a guest to come on my show — from reaching out the first time, to them booking, to them finding out about my show, to being on it — I have to lower the barriers to entry for them.
If there’s too much friction, they’re not going to come on my show. It’s hard for them already. They’re busy people. I always hear this talk from people, “Well Skype isn’t very good, so what if I use this new fancy thing I heard about?” Or, “What if I get them to record on their end?” If you’re in a technical space and that’s not a big deal for your guest, but I’m in an entrepreneur space. People who work online, but in spreadsheets and stuff. Not in like, “What? Now I have to download something and record and then email it?” You know what I mean?
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: It would be way too much. I think 90 percent of my guests would be like, “I can’t do that, Jon,” and I would totally understand. To me, there’s a balance where you’ve got to make it so it’s good enough. Skype, for me, out of 90-something episodes now, has been totally good enough because my editor is good, and he can make the sound. People always tell me, “Your show sounds great.” It’s always done via Skype with people all around the world and myself all around the world. It’s been totally fine.
Why Skype, Warts and All, Is Still the Best Option for Podcast Interviews
Jerod Morris: I agree with Skype. I’ve gone through the same thing. Look, if you use Skype, you know you’re going to run into some frustrations every now and then with the white noise or whatever it is, a connection that just isn’t that great. We’ve all heard the Skype war stories, but like you said, it’s worth using because so many people use it.
I like Google Hangouts. I don’t think you get quite as good of audio from Google Hangouts, so if you’re doing an audio-only podcast, it’s not the best option. The other thing with Google Hangouts is it raises the barrier for the audience a lot of times. Most people are comfortable with Skype, but Google Hangouts, for a lot of people, is kind of a new thing. It’s different, and it’s a little bit trickier to get set up.
Jonny Nastor: It’s goofy.
Jerod Morris: It is a little goofy. Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: Every time I have to follow somebody’s link to get … it’s always something. I think that I’m pretty technically adept in that way, but it’s like, “Why is this so hard?”
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: But it’s Google.
Jerod Morris: Here’s the thing. You’ve got to know that, whatever your process is, understand what the weak points of it are and have a system in place to overcome those when they go wrong — because they will. An example with Google Hangouts is they’ll crash every now and then, and it can be tricky to get back into the Hangout. You don’t want to have to, while you’re hosting, invite the person again.
That’s why before every Hangout, like I do with you when we do our Showrunner Huddles, I just send the link to your email. That way, you don’t have to go into Google+ and look for the invite. You can just click the link, and if I’ve already invited you, you can get in. If you get knocked out, you can get back in, and it doesn’t disrupt the host or whoever’s talking. You don’t need a producer there to handle all of this. I think it’s important to understand whatever the weak points are.
Another example is with Skype with Call Recorder, having both people, if they can — like on a show like this where we can both record — have both people roll the Call Recorder. Just in case something goes wrong on one end, you’ve got another one. Just whatever you can do, wherever there are potential weak points, try to have something in place to help you overcome those.
A Few Tips for Overcoming the Inevitable Skype Issues
Jerod Morris: I want to get back to something you said with Skype. You mentioned something that, “Hey, we can record with Skype. We can have this white noise because we have editors who can fix that.” Most people don’t have an editor as we’re able to use that we can throw an audio file to that doesn’t sound the best, but that’s not necessary in Skype. Whether you’re using GarageBand or Audacity, whatever it is, you don’t have to necessarily have some editor to throw it to, to help you fix some little issue that happens.
I want to make sure people don’t get scared away, like, “Oh, I need this great software, this great editor, to be able to throw it to, to use this.” You don’t. For most interviews, I think the standard is Skype, and it’s for that very reason, like you said, lowering the barriers for your guests. If you want to get good guests, you need do that. Plus, you want to lower the barriers for yourself, have a process you can follow time in, time out, just so that it’s easier for you, which I know that you have.
Jonny Nastor: Totally. Exactly. That’s a good thing to mention about the editors because we’re both lucky in that way now. I did my first 30-something shows myself, taught myself GarageBand, free software, in my laptop, with Skype, that’s free software, in addition to, I think it’s called LineIn, which you have to download for Mac, and Soundflower. Those were all free software. It was all completely free, and I taught myself GarageBand, edited my own.
The biggest trick with Skype is — it’s the most basic of all computer tricks — if you and I, Jerod, call each other and the first connection’s bad, what do we do? We hang up the call. We try again. Usually, we’ll get a better connection. If it’s still bad, we’ll both restart Skype. That usually fixes almost every issue. There’s lots of interviews where I go on the first call, and it’s like, “Whoa, this is a terrible connection.” Try it again. We try it again, perfect. Let’s do it.
If it sounds good, if you sound good to me when I’m talking to you right now through Skype, then the recording’s going to come out pretty solid, and you don’t have to do a lot in post-production. Nothing tricks you after. It’s not like something pops up later like, “Whoa, this sounds way worse than I thought.”
Jerod Morris: Yeah. If you want to be extra safe, you could also have both people record directly into GarageBand on each side, and then put those two tracks together, which we tried on one of our recordings. We didn’t end up having to use it. I know that’s something some people use. I try to not do that just for the simplicity of having everything on the one track, just for the efficiency of it. Is that something that you’ve done or heard positive experiences from, from other people who do it that way?
Jonny Nastor: I’ve heard positive experiences. The two of us are podcasters, right? That’s nothing for us to do that, but, to me, with Hack the Entrepreneur, I would never even think to ask my guest to figure that out. It doesn’t make sense. Again, they have half an hour to be on my show, so we can’t take 15 minutes setting up the recording with them. I have to get on. I have to be taking care of recording. I record straight into GarageBand with a backup going to Call Recorder so that I have two copies in case something goes wrong.
There will be failure at some point. I know that there’s probably going to be probably about a one percent failure rate because I’ve had one failure already, and I’m hitting 100th episode. That’ll be a one percent failure rate, which isn’t that bad for completely free software that’s easy to use. To me, it’s just get in your head that Skype works, and then stop thinking about that part of it.
There’s so much other stuff in making a good show involved that, to me, my brain just doesn’t think about things that are unnecessary anymore. Like I’m not like, “Oh, I wonder if there’s a better way now than Skype.” It doesn’t matter to me. It’ll become so prevalent and everyone will start using it when this new technology comes out someday that I’ll just hear about it and be like, “Okay, I’ll try it out then.” Until then, it’s just like, “Let’s just keep podcasting, through Skype, recording, and making really, really good content.” That’s what’s going to work.
Jerod Morris: Tell me if you agree with this. Like you said, sometimes you only have a half hour window to interview, so you want as little time between when you get on the call with them and hitting record to start the interview as possible. If you can, it’s like when we’re hosting episodes of The Assembly Call, I try to get everybody there at least five to 10 minutes early so we can do a quick audio check. Make sure your mic’s plugged in. Make sure the levels are okay. Make sure that people have headphones in so that there’s no feedback.
Do you have a checklist of things like that, that you go over with yourself or with guests beforehand, if time willing?
Jon’s Surprising System for Doing Pre-Interview Audio Checks
Jonny Nastor: Not at all.
Jerod Morris: Do you think it’s important to?
Jonny Nastor: To me, it’s friction, and I don’t want that. To me, it’s daunting. My guests, lots of them have assistants that set up a computer for them to get on to Skype. If they then saw this … You know what I mean?
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: I get on the call immediately, and instantly, I can tell if they don’t have headphones on because I can hear my voice bouncing back. I’ll just be like, “Can you grab headphones?” They’re like, “Oh yeah, I have headphones right here on the desk.” They put them in and it’s perfect, great. Almost every laptop now has a pretty decent microphone built into it. You wouldn’t want to be the host with that microphone, but as a guest, the technology’s there. It really, really is there.
Jerod Morris: You’re more deal with a problem if it’s there, but just proceed assuming everything’s going to be okay. Take the detour only if you have to.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. I’m like that in everything, though. I can’t sit here and be paralyzed with the fact that all these things could go wrong today in my next four interviews, one that starts in 24 minutes. I’ll deal with it if it happens, but it probably won’t happen. Let’s just roll with it. It’s fun, and it works. The technology is amazing. This is all made by brilliant people, all this software, way smarter than me.
Jerod Morris: No, you’re right. It’s not necessarily the technology that I fault. It’s just human error that I’m sometimes afraid of. I agree with you. I think when you’re doing an interview with somebody else, it’s probably best to just to do it that way, proceed like everything is going to be okay.
On some type of recurring show, if you can get everybody there a few minutes early just to make sure, I just know that, when there’s a lot of variables — having your mic plugged in, having this or that setting, having two or three people’s levels the same — if you can do it with a recurring group of people to where it doesn’t create friction that would prevent them from even being on the show in the first place, I like it as just a natural process. But then again, I told you the horror story from before when I did an interview with someone with my mic unplugged. Ever since then, I’ve been paranoid about just overly checking stuff beforehand.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. I agree. If there was more people, like when we do our webinars for the course, you and I get on in advance because there is more stuff, especially with the Google Hangout, then video, lighting. But with just straight audio across Skype, I call the person and it’s either going to sound good or not. My GarageBand, literally, it’s a template already set up for Skype recording. I just have to open up that template, hit record, and I’m good to go. I just save it as the person’s name after. It’s a very simplified process at this point. It depends on what you’re doing.
Jerod Morris: All right. I’ve got two more questions for you before we get to our listener question. Maybe you already answered this. You talked about how even computer mics, in a lot of cases, are good enough for a guest. I’ve also heard of people who, even just as a thank you for guests, will send them a $25 headset or will require certain things. Do you do any of that? Do you recommend any of that for your guests — like you should have this or that — or again, you just let it fly and only if it’s below a certain threshold do you even think about it?
When the Time Is Right to Invest in a Better Microphone for People on Your Show
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. I don’t do any of that. Again, it’s daunting for people. At least in my market, it is daunting for the guest. They’re going to look at all this stuff and be like, “I’m just going to say no. I’m just going to cancel it and just … ” You know what I mean? It’s just the way it is. I’m not having issues with it. Headsets work well. Headsets work great for recording. I’ve had lots of guests use headsets, but I’m not going to send them one. I send them a book after with my signature in it and stuff because it builds a relationship.
Jerod Morris: That’s right. Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: But me sending a headset is like, meh, if I send a headset to somebody, it’s going to be at their house. Then they’re going to be at work, and they’re not going to have it anyways. You know what I mean?
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: You can do these things if you really want. If there’s not enough work to producing your show already, then by all means, get into this, but there’s a lot of work already. If your end is good, you have good headphones in, and when that person comes on Skype, if they don’t sound good, there’s simple ways to fix it usually.
If not, then you can just not release it or not record it right then and tell them, “Let’s try again.” If it’s really that bad — which I haven’t had that issue, but maybe I’m not as picky as some people — but I don’t know. People keep telling me my show sounds great.
Jerod Morris: Probably the place to think about doing that is if you’re going to have a recurring guest or a co-host, you want to make sure that they have good enough.
Jonny Nastor: Oh, of course.
Jerod Morris: Right?
Jonny Nastor: Of course.
Jerod Morris: Like the guys that I host with on The Assembly Call, I’m going to get them set up this season with better microphones just so that the sound is better. If you are the showrunner of a show and there are recurring guests, that’s where to think about doing that. I guess that’s where I was leading with that question.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah.
Jerod Morris: You kind of answered my second question, too, which was going to be, as you’re going through an interview — we’ve all had this happen — where you get the little digital noise in Skype, or maybe they’re on a phone and their connection starts breaking up because maybe they’re driving and they’re losing connection. At what point do you stop it or say, “Hey, we got to take a break,” or “We’ve got to get a better connection”? Or do you just try and ride it through, especially with a one-time busy guest?
How to Handle Mid-Interview Audio Hiccups
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. If it’s a one-time busy guest that I really, really need on the show, then I’ll ignore it as much as I can. The most popular podcast we all listen to, we’re all so used to right now hearing that little bit of digital breakup sometimes for two seconds across a voice. We know it’s Skype. It’s a Skype connection. They’re around the world. It’s crazy technology involved. We’re just okay with it, and that’s totally good. It’s just part of podcasting at this point.
I don’t think that it’s a bad thing. I really don’t like breaking up the flow of my interview with, “Oh, okay, let’s stop.” It has happened, and sometimes it’s happened a couple times during a thing, and I usually don’t even end up releasing that episode because it’s all us trying to go back, remember exactly where we were — it never seems to be right at the beginning of an answer. It’s always right in the middle of a good answer. Then they try and repeat themselves. I would rather just go with the flow.
I also have this sheet that I work off of when I’m doing interviews where I’m taking notes always. So I have a giant section of time-stamped places for edits. When there are little things like that going on, I’ll just mark down the time off GarageBand, so my editor can really notice those parts and be like, “Okay.” Then he’ll work to either cut them out, like we’ll see if we can maybe get rid of that question sometimes, or else we’ll just tighten it up or try and make it as good as we can.
I like the flow. To me, the content is way more important. Once you’re at a certain level, the content is so important. The content has to be so engaging. It has to be a real conversation. The more you break that up because it sounds bad, then the sound’s great, but the content’s all jagged and bad. I know listening to myself, I would just rather have good, good, good solid conversations recorded not quite as well or with tiny errors in them here and there. Podcasting’s about the content. It really is.
Jerod Morris: I think it’s time to get to our listener question, which also means it’s time to provide some details about the breaking news that you alluded to earlier. Are you ready?
Jonny Nastor: Yes.
The Showrunner Podcasting Course Re-Launch
Jerod Morris: Okay. The listener question for this episode is sponsored by The Showrunner Podcasting Course. It is sponsored by The Showrunner Podcasting Course because we now have a date for when we are re-launching the course, but this is not yet the full launch to everybody.
We are going to be launching the course only to the people who are on The Showrunner email list. It’s going to start on Thursday, June 25th. It’ll end Friday, July 2nd. There will be one week. It will be going out to the people who are on the list, and you will get the best price that it will ever be available for again. Before we do the big launch later this summer, the price will go up.
What you need to do is go to Showrunner.FM. There is a giant call to action box that you can’t miss. All you have to do is add your email address, get on the list, and not only will you be eligible for this soft launch of the podcasting course and get the best price, but you’ll also get Showrunner updates on The Showrunner podcast as well.
We’re going to have a lot more details coming out about the course and the launch and everything, but we have a date. We know that it’s only going to go to the email list, so we want to give you as much time as you need. You got a couple of weeks, but no reason to wait. Go to Showrunner.FM. Get on the email list. Jon, anything that you would like to add about the upcoming soft launch of the course?
Jonny Nastor: I guess I could just briefly say what The Showrunner Podcasting Course is.
Jerod Morris: Oh, yeah, why don’t we?
Jonny Nastor: It’s your step-by-step guide for developing, launching, and running a remarkable show that builds an audience in the age of on-demand audio content.
Jerod Morris: It is. It’s awesome.
Jonny Nastor: There’s 200, almost 250 people in it in the first little mini-launch we did. The Facebook group is amazing.
Jerod Morris: It is.
Jonny Nastor: Just that part of it. The course itself is also awesome, but we have this private Facebook group, and it’s, wow, such an amazing group of people.
Jerod Morris: It is. That community has blown me away. It’s my favorite part about being affiliated with the course. We’re really looking forward to adding new people to it. Again, we’ll have more details about what you can expect from the course, what’s in it. We’ll have some testimonials so that you know what other people are saying, not just us. All of that is to come, but go to Showrunner.FM and get on that email list.
Listener Question: When Is Starting a Podcast Network the Right Move?
Now, on to today’s listener question. It comes to us from Darren DeMatas, who just launched his own podcast, and I’ll put the link to Darren’s podcast in the show notes.
He asks a really big question that we’re only going to be able to give an overview answer. I don’t think there’s really a way to delve too deeply into this: “When is starting a podcast network the right move?”
What do you think, Jon? Can you boil that down into a simple answer?
Jonny Nastor: I don’t think I can. It’s not something that has ever crossed my mind. I know it’s crossed a lot of people’s mind who have failed miserably at it because there’s a lot to it, but I don’t know. If you happen to be surrounded by a whole bunch of people that you could get to podcast on a niche or a topic, but otherwise, I don’t know.
I’ve seen and heard about so many podcast networks over the years. They come out with 20 great shows. They all don’t really do anything, and the network doesn’t really help.
People think that it’s this great business model maybe, where, “Well if all the shows were all promoting my network, then I can get sponsors for all of them and make all this money and take a cut off the top.” I just don’t know. The Rainmaker network is completely different. Copyblogger has a massive audience and also a lot of brilliant people working within the company that could create really great shows, and there already was podcasts around, like The Lede and New Rainmaker show, right?
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: Those were there. Those existed. Then it was like, “Oh, what if we just got more people within the company to make new shows?” It’s a totally different reason. That completely makes sense to me, but most people aren’t in that situation.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, and I think the error that people make thinking about podcast networks is they think about the potential direct profitability from them, right? “We’ll get this big network. We’ll be able to get sponsors. All boats rise.” I think that’s a great idea in theory, but it’s a lot harder to get legitimate, long-term, high-paying sponsorships than people think.
Podcasting just isn’t quite there yet. There needs to be more. The network needs to be built around a goal bigger than just sponsorships, which, obviously, Rainmaker.FM is successful because it is. We don’t need the individual shows to be ‘profitable.’ They don’t have to make money because they’re leading to the Platform. It’s a vehicle for indirect profit for a bigger entity than the network, and each individual show has a very defined role within that.
The network needs to be about something bigger, and then it needs to offer the shows themselves something more. If you’re starting a network, presumably it’s not a network like Rainmaker.FM where everything is internal to a company.
Maybe you have a niche like skateboarding or whatever, and you want to bring the eight biggest skateboarding shows together. Is there something bigger? Is there a digital commerce reason why these shows are coming together because there’s an end game beyond just sponsorships? If you can answer that definitively and have a plan, a network might be the right move. If you can’t, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of work, but disappointment with the end result.
Jonny Nastor: I’ve never even thought of it in that way. Like with Rainmaker, I know that’s a vehicle for selling the Platform, but thinking of it would just start another network of … That is. It’s true. Sponsorship takes a long time, no matter what, to get. You can’t just start and all of a sudden have sponsors — no matter how many shows — if they’re all flailing or just starting, there’s still not an audience there.
That being said, I think from every podcast network I know in existence right now, if any other podcasting network in the world would have asked me to join it, I wouldn’t have. I’ve been a fan of Copyblogger for years. I totally know and like and trust all of it and what you guys teach. It just made sense and because of the deal that I got structured, where I’m part of the network but only in the most beneficial ways. I still get to keep my sponsorships and do all that, which is amazing.
Because people are like, “Why are you joining a network?” It’s like, “Well, I’m joining ‘this’ network.” I wasn’t looking for a network, and I’m not just joining some guy who’s like, “Oh, I got a network. I’m going to put a whole bunch of your shows together,” because my show was doing well by itself. I liked the independence, but I still totally have my independence. That’s just the process behind my thinking of why I even joined a network myself.
Jerod Morris: If you’re going to start a network, and that’s what the question is — when is starting a network the right move — you got to think about that. You’re going to need to attract good shows, like yours, Jon, so you have to be able to offer something of value, which Rainmaker.FM was able for you. That’s why I think this network is working.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. I think if you were starting one, if you had a massive show yourself, and you were independent, then you could maybe be like, “Oh, what if I talked to some other people whose shows aren’t doing as well? They might start a network with me, and I can obviously use their audiences to help promote my stuff,” but people would be willing and wanting to come and be part of your network because you have this massive show and an audience. It’s the audience, people, that’s why they want to join, right?
Jerod Morris: Yup. Absolutely. Let’s move on to the section of the show that everybody loves, podcast recommendations. We’ll do that next.
Podcast Recommendations of the Week
All right, Jon, what podcast recommendation do you have for us this week? It’s not like some volcanic explosion or the world’s ending, please.
Jonny Nastor: No, this one’s way more fun. A group of four people, and they are out of San Francisco. I believe they’re on a podcast network, but this is a total amazing road trip podcast. It’s called Good Job, Brain! They have episodes specific to a topic, and they create quizzes. They just talk about all the different ideas around a topic, but they also have these ones, which they number separately now.
We listened to the high 20s, I think they go into the low 30s, of All Quiz Bonanza they’re called. Each of the four people all comes up with their own small quiz. They’ll ask the questions, and then the other three people will be answering. But you also listening along get to participate, so it’s amazing road trip stuff. The whole family was trying to guess stuff and cheering each other on. They’re super. They’re great podcasters — great voices, really energetic. It’s a really, really great show, so Good Job, Brain! All Quiz Bonanzas is where I would start because they seemed a little more upbeat. They change topics, so it keeps you engaged a lot more.
Jerod Morris: Very nice. My recommendation this week comes from The Tim Ferriss Show. Really, I should probably just have to say the two names, and that’s all that it should need to get you excited, which is Tim Ferriss and Alex Blumberg. Alex Blumberg, of course, Planet Money, This American Life, and now with StartUp. The episode is How to Create a Blockbuster Podcast. It’s terrific.
I know some people feel different ways about Tim Ferriss. I’m not a proponent of everything that he recommends, but I do love him as an interviewer. He does a great job as a podcast interviewer, getting the high-achieving people to really open up and give you more than you get when you hear them talk other places.
I love listening to Alex Blumberg talk and just talk about storytelling and how to create compelling audio. It’s really, really good. Give that a listen. Again, How to Create a Blockbuster Podcast, Tim Ferriss and Alex Blumberg, and the links for both of these will be available in the show notes when you go to Showrunner.FM. Of course, when you do go to Showrunner.FM for these show notes, make sure that you sign up on that email list like we told you about earlier.
Not only will you get the updates from us, the weekly updates from The Showrunner podcast and when we do special Showrunner Short episodes, but you will be on the list so that when we do re-launch The Showrunner Podcasting Course, you will have the option to get it at the best price that it will ever be available for. Again, we’ll have more details on that coming up.
It’s been a pleasure talking with you again, Jon.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to getting the course out to some people again.
Jerod Morris: I am, too. I definitely am.
Jonny Nastor: It’s going to be great.
Jerod Morris: Yes, it is. Well I know you have an interview to get to. You schedule your time very tight, so I guess I need to let you go.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah.
Jerod Morris: No secret audio at the end of this one, huh?
Jonny Nastor: No secret audio. No time. No time. No time.
Jerod Morris: No time.
Jonny Nastor: Unless it’s a whole Hack the Entrepreneur interview.
Jerod Morris: Hey, that’d be kind of fun. We’ll just keep rolling and we’ll just listen in. We’ll be audio voyeurs on your next Hack the Entrepreneur episode. No, no, no, okay. Go get prepared for your interview.
Jonny Nastor: Excellent. I will.
Jerod Morris: Talk to you next week.
Jonny Nastor: Take care, Jerod.
Jerod Morris: All right.