As creatives, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and Showrunners, we have a tendency to get an idea, follow our gut, and jump straight into it without planning. As Showrunners, we agree that this can be sometimes be necessary, but not always the best plan.
We begin this episode by with a quick discussion on the upcoming Podcast Movement conference, and how you can join us without flying to Texas.
Then we dive into the topic of the week: how much research is enough and how much is too much? As you will learn in this episode, this is more art than science, but we give you some key metrics to help you along your journey.
In this episode we discuss:
- Jonny’s three month idea incubation period from idea to hitting record
- How to find unique podcasting opportunities in any market
- Why it is essential that you understand your audience of one
- Jerod clarifies the exact time when you need to get to work on your show
Our listener question this week is brought to you by Podcast Movement’s virtual ticket. Both Jerod and I will be presenting at Podcast Movement (July 31-August 2 in Fort Worth, Texas), and for those of you who can’t attend the conference in person, this is a way to still benefit from all of the great content that will be presented.
Go to podcastmovement.com/register for details on the virtual ticket.
And this week’s listener question comes to use from Kelsey Jones (@wonderwall7). She asks how do you get exposure and an audience for a podcast that’s starting from scratch. Jerod and I provide our answers.
And finally, this week’s podcast recommendation.
- Jerod: This American Life Episode 403: — NUMMI
- Jonny: The Unmistakable Creative with Srini Rao The Pillars of a Meaningful Life with Phillip Mckernan
Listen, learn, enjoy …
No. 018 The Art of Planning Before Podcasting
Jerod Morris: 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.
Welcome to The Showrunner where we have one goal: teach you how to develop, launch, and run a remarkable show. Ready?
Jerod Morris: Welcome back, everybody, to The Showrunner. This is episode No. 18. I’m your host, Jerod Morris. I’m joined by my trusty co-host, Jonny Nastor, defender of humanity, host of Hack the Entrepreneur.
He’s apparently currently shivering because it’s chilly where he is right now, but, Jonny, I can tell you it is not going to be chilly where you’re going to be here in about three days because you’re going to be in Fort Worth for Podcast Movement with me, with Demian Farnworth, and with a bunch of the other Copyblogger crew. It is hot, just so you know, so dress accordingly.
Jonny Nastor: Really anywhere you, Demian, and the Rainmaker crew are is probably pretty hot.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, not to make this awkward or anything.
Jonny Nastor: I don’t mean it in that way. I just mean you just guys warm up the place.
Jerod Morris: Always. Well, thank you.
Jonny Nastor: You guys have lively vibes and good spirits. I think even in the coldest of places, you guys would warm it up.
Jerod Morris: That’s a very nice thing to say, Jonny, thank you very much.
Jonny Nastor: Well, it was getting weird for a bit. I thought I should save it.
Jerod Morris: Well, it’s very much appreciated. Frankly, you and I, we just don’t have that much time for the casual opening right now. When you think about all the stuff that we’ve got going on, we’ve got to travel to Fort Worth, we’ve got The Showrunner meet-up on Friday, Podcast Movement, the course is opening next week. It’s crazy. It’s packed.
I love it. It’s in a very intense time, but it’s packed, which means we’ve got to move forward and hop right into our topic for today. This is actually a topic that you have planned and have organized. I’m very excited to participate in.
Jonny Nastor: Awesome. Let’s do it.
Jonny’s Three-Month Idea Incubation Period, From Idea to Hitting Record
Jonny Nastor: All right. Now the main section. I did plan this, but not as much as I maybe should have. This is the art of planning before podcasting. A big thing that we all probably struggle with as people who want to be creative — we’re creatives in general, we can be entrepreneurs with their own business, or just showrunners in general — we have a tendency to want to jump right into things without really planning it out. I am 100 percent a supporter of that in every other thing you do — don’t overthink it, just go for it.
But when you’re going to start a podcast and you want to become a showrunner — a successful showrunner with a remarkable podcast — then I really feel that you need to plan first. My story goes, last year in March, I was at a conference. I got to talk to some really, really smart podcasters and some really, really smart people. The idea of Hack the Entrepreneur was planted. That seed was planted. Then I spent three months really, really thinking about title, topics, formats, who my audience of one was, and what I was going to do.
I devoured hundreds and hundreds of podcasts within the market I wanted to reach and within markets around it to get ideas for formats. I think that it’s very, very, very important that we do. I think we should spend this episode going through this.
Jerod Morris: I agree. Even though this is something that, in my podcasting past, which we may get into, I haven’t always done, I am a convert to this philosophy. I think you can ultimately create a remarkable show if you don’t plan ahead. You just start out further behind than you need to, and it will take you longer to get to where you could get much more efficiently if you have a good plan in place. I’m excited about this topic.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, and of course you can do that. Of course you could still end up with a really good show. You could get lucky. It’s hard. That’s why most podcasts don’t go past seven episodes. They don’t get any traction at the beginning because they’re still sorting out and going through the planning phases, but they’re live. We just get really discouraged quickly. If you’ve done that prior, and you can hit with more momentum, even a little bit of momentum, really gets the wind behind our sails, and we really, really get excited about it. It pushes us forward because it is a lot of work.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, agreed.
Jonny Nastor: Do you want to start us off on this? Do you want to take us of why we should be doing this mostly?
How to Find Unique Podcasting Opportunities in Any Market
Jerod Morris: Yeah. The why I think comes back to what I just said. You hit the nail on the head there with so many podcasts fail, and there are so many false starts. Why does that happen? A big part of the reason why it happens is because there’s not enough momentum to keep you going when you hit those dips that we often talk about around the seven to 10 episode range, around the 20 to 25 episode range.
Why does that happen? A couple big reasons why it happens, number one, is we get into a topic, we get those first five or six episodes out that maybe come out naturally because we just have this pent-up information or stuff we want to say about the topic. But then we get past those episodes. Maybe the next one requires research, or we don’t know exactly where to go next. We hit a brick wall. This momentum, just shot out of the gates like we were, it stops, and we don’t necessarily know how to take the next step.
That definitely can come from not planning, not having a clear direction with where we’re going. The other thing is not really understanding who we’re talking to. This is where we get into this idea of authenticity, which is understanding ourselves, understanding our experiences, our knowledge, what we’re passionate about talking about, finding out where that intersects with an audience’s dreams, goals, obstacles. How do we help move them from where they are right now to where they want to be? Finding that intersection.
If we don’t understand that from the audience’s perspective, well, now, maybe these early episodes that we’re creating, they’re not connecting with anybody. People aren’t listening. We don’t get any of that momentum. Really making sure that there’s a clear direction from a content standpoint, where we want to go past seven to 10 episodes, to help get us past that without really facing a crisis of, “Oh crap, what am I going to create next?”
We need a plan that helps power through that. Then understanding the audience so that we make sure that initial content we put out there is really speaking to the right person, so it has a chance to connect. I’m a sports guy. You know that. I liken this to, in the NFL, they often talk about coaches who script out the first 15 plays of a game. They will have a script of the plays that they want to do. They do that based on what they know of the opponent, what they know that they’re good at — where’s that intersection?
“Okay, we’re going to script these first 15 plays. Based on what happens in those plays, how the defense adjusts, how we do, how our guys are working, then we’ll maybe run seven of them again. Ditch eight of the other ones, and that will give us our plan for moving forward.” It’s a very, very similar philosophy. Putting that planning time in early will help you start out well. Then, it will allow you to have some momentum so that, once that feedback loop is open and you’ve taken the information, now you can make some good decisions and continue moving forward in a good direction.
As opposed to you got out, it’s this false start. You don’t really know what you’re doing. Maybe you can get it corrected, but you sure made things harder on yourself than it needs to be.
Why It Is Essential That You Understand Your Audience of One
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. I love that, first 15 plays. To me, that really ties back to my launch. I had 22 episodes completely done. I had gotten rid of some at that point. I had worked with the format — all before going live. Re-edited some things. Just tried so many things, and let people listen to them. That was my first 22 plays, you could say, before I started the game. That’s when you want to do it. That’s when you need to do it because your focus really does get pulled away once you go live.
You’re going to get feedback, or you’re not going to get feedback. It’s going to dishearten you — all those kind of things. You have to be able to go into it confidently knowing what you’re up to. That’s really key. Then, I love how you say, ‘knowing your audience.’ This is why I say devour as many podcasts as you can. I honestly feel that no matter how big or how saturated the market is that you want to hit, that there is a place for a new show. There is a place for you to go in there with the show and be successful if you do it right.
To do it right, you need to really, really know that market. Not just the top five shows in that market, maybe go through the top 50. Not that you have to listen to them all, but watch for a week or two. See which ones are in there a lot. Choose shows that aren’t at the very top because they might have really interesting things that they’re doing in them. For some reason, they’re missing the mark in some other way. You can pull ideas from other people’s shows. This is a great way to start creating a really interesting valuable format.
Then, as Jerod said, you have to really know that audience. Not the audience of ten thousands of people that you want, but that one person who’s going to listen to your show and have you in their ear buds or have you in their car with you. You have to know who that person is. You have to be able to speak to them. Then, again, as Jerod said, their dreams, their goals, their obstacles, and be able to take them through a process, what you want to take them through, and how you’re going to do that.
When you’re hitting any market — whether it’s a large market or a smaller market — you need that USP, which, in marketing, is your unique selling proposition. When you’re showrunning, it’s your unique show proposition. That’s how you can hit big markets in a unique way and still stand out. People told me leading up to launching Hack the Entrepreneur that, “Why are you going after the entrepreneur interview market. It’s saturated. There’s way too many shows.” I was like, “Yeah there’s a ton of shows. Some are really, really good. Most of them aren’t. There’s a massive amount of listeners who want to devour those shows, so I’m going to just hit it in a unique way.”
That’s what I did — through the art of planning it before I did it, which is very much against my nature, but I did. I do think it’s key. I found a fairly decent-sized spot in the market that was unique and that stood out from what was happening. You get things that are very popular and ideas and formats that are very popular in a marketplace, and you can really tell. The top 10 will sound fairly similar a lot of times. There’s ways to fit into that. You just have to be creative and smart. You, planning to be a showrunner, are creative and smart. Just go into that confidently by knowing your audience and knowing your market.
Jerod Morris: Can I make one edit to a term that you used several minutes ago?
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, of course.
Jerod Morris: Actually, I want to quote one of the smartest guys that I’ve ever heard speak about podcasting to do this. His name is Jonny Nastor. He once took the idea the unique show proposition and actually changed it to unique show ‘positioning’ instead of proposition.
Jonny Nastor: Right, that’s even better.
Jerod Morris: I know, yeah, positioning. Well it is, and the reason why is because it’s really important that when you think about this — especially if you’re a visual person — think about it like a spectrum or something else visually. I’m not really a visual person, but even I like to think of it like this. You put all the other shows in your niche up on a wall or along a spectrum. Where does yours fit? Where is its positioning? It’s really important to understand that.
I can’t stress that enough — to understand going into it, and be able to articulate to yourself and to somebody else, the whole elevator pitch idea, what is your unique show positioning? Again, we’ve talked about this a lot. Assembly Call, it’s the only postgame show that goes live immediately after every Indiana basketball game. Hack the Entrepreneur, it’s the only interview show about entrepreneurs that ‘hacks’ the entrepreneur that it is featuring in every episode. The Showrunner is the only podcast about podcasting that uses this idea of a showrunner to suggest a bigger, bolder, more inspiring idea.
What is that unique show positioning? I honestly think, if you don’t understand what it is, that is something to be able to write down in a sentence, say it over and over again. If you’re talking to someone on the street, if you’re in that elevator, if you’re sending an email, if you’re sending a Tweet that you can really articulate it. It helps as much for you to understand what that positioning is, to make sure that you always maintain that differentiation. It’s as important for doing that as it is just for explaining it to somebody else.
I want to underscore this. We’ve done an entire episode on this idea of unique show positioning. We’ll link to it in the show notes. It’s something we probably come back to every five or six episodes, and we probably should. For us, Jonny, in our personal experiences and in our professional podcasting experiences, this is what has allowed us to be successful. I know when I’ve done shows in the past, like when I was doing Midwest Sports Fans before starting out with podcasting, it was just a basic interview show.
There was no real unique show positioning there. There was nothing. It’s not a coincidence that never really took off. I was doing a fantasy football picks. Fine, there’s lot of other ones. There was nothing unique there. Again, not a coincidence that these fell off. Since then, since I’ve been very specific about what unique element the following shows I’ve been doing have been following, have been presenting to the audience. It’s not a coincidence that those have been successful. That was my longwinded way of just underscoring that point of unique show positioning.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, and I thank you. I actually don’t know how I missed that considering I had said that prior, and unique show positioning makes a lot more sense. To clarify, too, when I talk about this being the art of it, I mean that it was the art of it. I’m not a good planner. I don’t expect you to have spreadsheets, listen to a hundred shows, and have spreadsheets about all the different parts. That wasn’t what I did.
This was literally me walking with my dog, just listening to shows and picking out parts of looking for themes that I could either go against because that’s what so many people were doing or that I could pick, especially when I went into other markets after and looked for interesting things of things they did within the format that I could then use in my show.
It wasn’t spreadsheets. It wasn’t me documenting everything and writing everything down. It was literally me just completely listening to so much of it and taking so much of it in, consuming so much of it that it just became normalized to it. Then I could feel for the themes. It wasn’t in any way super-calculated, and it doesn’t have to be for you. But it’s absolutely valuable to consume all that there is in your market and then around it.
Jerod Morris: See, I’m glad you said that. I think we are more on the same page about this than perhaps we thought. We talk about how you planned yours out more, and I kind of jumped into mine. But I was still doing a lot of the planning that you’re talking about. I’ve told the story of The Assembly Call before, that it was pretty early before the season and just had this idea, “Hey, there’s no pregame show. Let’s start one.” We spun up a blog talk radio account, launched it, and just went into it.
That was after many years of being a consumer of content in that niche, understanding what was available, what was not available. Having had some practice before podcasting and creating some audio on Midwest Sports Fans and some other shows. Preparing enough to get two co-hosts with them. Even though it was a spur-of-the-moment thought and the execution happened pretty quickly, there was actually a lot of thought and planning that had gone into it before that.
Jonny Nastor: Oh yeah, and my execution happened immediately. All of sudden, one weekend, I was like, “Tuesday when I get home from this cottage, I’m starting my podcast. That’s it, I’m ready.” That was it, but there had been a lot of planning. I knew what I was doing at that point. It just had to start.
Jerod Clarifies the Exact Time When You Need to Get to Work on Your Show
Jerod Morris: Okay, and that’s good. Here’s where I hesitate with this topic, and I’m glad that we’re hitting this because I think we’re going to be able to prevent people from doing this. Is when you get that spark of inspiration to start creating the content, I think people should follow that. That spark is so valuable when it happens and when we have that intersection between something we know, something we’re exciting about. The lightning bolt of inspiration, which is like, “I have to get this out right now.”
I think people should do that and create the content. That doesn’t mean that you have to release it. That doesn’t mean that you’ve officially started your show yet. If you haven’t done some of this planning, you may want to take a step or two back and make sure, “Okay, does this fit for what the show is? What actually is the unique show positioning of this? Can I take what I just created, mold it, and make it a little bit better before it goes out?”
Too often, there’s this problem that people run into of paralysis by analysis, which we’ve talked about before. It’s like you’re planning so much that you never actually get out there and do it. There is a fine line there. With Jonny and I, this experience that we’ve been sharing right now before we start our shows, we’ve been doing this research and planning on them for a while. The starting of the show was almost a natural outcome of our content consumption, where our careers were headed, and the things that we liked to do and that we wanted to do.
If you’re listening to The Showrunner and you’re thinking about getting into podcasting but maybe you haven’t done some of that, that’s where you want to step back then and say, “Okay, I’ve got to make sure that I listen to some podcasts, that I really study this niche that I’m going to go into,” XYZ, whatever else it is. Make sure that planning part is done. We were fortunate that a lot of that was just natural stuff we had already done. Either way, you want to make sure that you do it. I want to stress, in any episode or discussion about planning, just make sure you’re cognizant of the line of over-planning.
If you never actually put episodes out and let an audience listen to it, even if it’s not perfect, you’ll never open the feedback loop. You’ll never get better. You’ll crush your enthusiasm. You’ll kill your idea, and it’ll never happen. There’s no perfect description of where that line is. I think you’ll know it. Anyway, that’s another point on this that I wanted to stress.
Why Your Approach to Interviewing Can Make or Break Your Podcast (and Why Planning Helps Make It)
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, it is. It’s a really hard, convoluted topic: planning. I get a little bit frustrated sometimes. I get approached by a lot of people across social media and email now telling me about their shows or asking me if they’re starting it. I was guilty of this, too. I’ve had podcasts before that I didn’t do this, and they weren’t successful. It’s hard. Like, “Oh, I’m doing an interview show with entrepreneurs.” “Okay great, so what questions are you asking?” “Well, I’m not going to ask any. I don’t have any questions planned. That’s how I do it. I just roll with it.”
It’s like, “Well great, yeah Marc Maron does that, but the guy’s been doing it for 25 years. He’s good. He’s got the experience. He can do that. When you’re just starting with nothing and you want to be the pro interviewer but you’ve never interviewed anybody before, sorry, it’s probably not going to work. It’s a really hard thing to do. You’re not willing to put in the time, to come up with questions that create a unique show position for you. That’s hard. That’s really hard for the market to get interested in that show. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.”
That’s what I really wanted to clarify. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people telling me that now. “Jon, I don’t know why my show’s not doing really well.” “Well, tell me about it.” The questions are always in their interview show, “I don’t have questions. That’s how I roll.” “Well, that’s why your show isn’t good. That’s why you have three people listening every time — both of your parents and your sister. They’re probably just downloading it to be nice.”
It’s frustrating to me because I worked so hard on that part of it. My unique show positioning for Hack the Entrepreneur, the one thing that I saw, was that everybody in my marketplace was going after tactics. Somebody started a business on Facebook marketing, and they would come on and tell you the 12 tips to Facebook marketing. Or this person would write a book on ‘The Miracle Morning,’ and they would come on and tell you about that. It was all tactics. That’s awesome. That’s great. People love it.
I was like, “Why don’t I do one that is absolutely not tactics. Everyone’s going to be different. The person’s on the show because they’ve done something cool in the entrepreneurial space. But from that point on, we’re only talking about the person. Everything’s going to be same, and it’s going to be that person. I don’t care what their expertise is. I just want to know how they deal with being an entrepreneur.” That was it. That was the simplest thing. No tactics. We’re just talking. When I ask you a question, don’t tell me what entrepreneurs should do. Tell me what you do. That’s all I want to know.
That was it. That uniquely positioned me, but that took thinking. That took working. That took coming up with questions. If you’re going to do an interview show, please come up with questions. You can follow-up with whatever you want. You can do that, but you need this to make your show unique. It’s just the way it is. The pros can do it because they have massive audiences. They’ve been doing it for decades and decades across television and professional radio. Now they’re podcasters. To just start and never done it before, it’s really hard.
Planning, Preparation, Experience, and Execution in Action
Jerod Morris: Right, and part of this planning is getting the experience you need. I think I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I mentioned it on a Showrunner Huddle, this new idea for a show that I had. I decided to start doing it last week. Basically, it’s a morning show. I do it on my site Primility. It’s called A Primility Primer. I realized how much I enjoy doing a live show. Basically, it’s 6:30 Central time every day. I just hit Start Broadcast. I have a topic that I want to talk about, and I give this little bite-sized morning talk about something relevant to this idea of ‘primility,’ balancing pride and humility.
Part of the planning for that show to do a live show like that, a free-form live show with a topic — and it’s not scripted, but still to be able to explain it in a way that’s understandable and interesting, I’m not stumbling all over myself — is the four years that I’ve done The Assembly Call, doing a live show 35 times a year. Without that, I wouldn’t be prepared to do this show right now. That was all part of the planning. “Okay, that’s my unique show positioning. I’m going to do this every day. There’s going to be a live component. I’m going to turn it into a podcast. It’s about this topic that is a completely unique topic.”
All these things were unique show positioning, but for it to work, I had to have planned and prepared to be able to actually carry out the execution. Part of that is being able to handle a live broadcast. For you and the example that you were just using with interviewing, it’s about being able to structure a good interview. For you and for most interviewers, that means writing out questions, having a system, having a plan. Now, someone, again, you talked about Marc Maron, maybe after four or five years of doing Hack the Entrepreneur, you will be able to wing it more in interviews.
Maybe, but that’s only because of the four or five years of planning and preparation that came before that. We can’t put the cart before the horse. But we also need to understand that planning doesn’t just mean, “Okay, I’ve got the idea now, and it’s everything that I do from here on out.” Also, look back at your experience. What have your experiences prepared you to do? That could be part of the plan for the next great show that you do. Look for ways to apply your experiences and your skills in new ways to a new market. That can be the way that you find your unique show positioning.
This is how it’s happened for me. I don’t want to say this will happen for you, but a lot of show ideas like that, positioning ideas, or format ideas, I’ll have a general idea for a show or whatever. Then, on walks, working out, in the shower, that kind of stuff will just come when the subconscious is working. If you have a general idea or a general framework for what you want to do, then let some of that stuff coalesce. Let your past experiences really help guide you for what could really help you for this new show.
Jonny Nastor: Definitely, and then use it. Use that past experience. Use anything you can take now with your planning phase, however long you want that to be. Understand your market. Figure out your audience of one. Create your unique show position. Name your show. Create your artwork, intros — everything for that one person that you’re looking to attract. Then take this information and get to work.
Why Planning Before Podcasting Is an Art, Not a Science
Jerod Morris: Let me make one more point here. We were talking about it before we started recording, the art of planning before podcasting. Is this a good title? Is it more art or science? What we’ve described is why it is more art than science. I suppose we could create a checklist for people like, “X and Y and Z. Fill this in. Answer these questions,” and then come out with a formula for a good show. There’s probably something we could do that would be reasonable, but it is more art.
It’s not just about, “Have this idea. Follow these steps. Success will come.” There is an art to it. There is a combination of understanding an audience that maybe you don’t perfectly know yet. Understanding your own interests and experiences, but you don’t know perfectly what you’ll be feeling like in 20 to 25 episodes. But you’ve got to start somewhere. It is an art to get to the place where you’re going to start and then to refine that to continue to move forward and keep the momentum going.
You’ve just got to get yourself to the starting point in a place where you feel comfortable, where you’ve got that plan. Get going. Then adjust from there. Know that you can adjust, but you don’t want to put too much faith in the ability to adjust. You do want to start out from a good, firm place where you’ve done this planning that we’ve been talking about.
Again, that’s where it comes back to it’s an art. There’s no perfect, set line. There’s no set of steps you can do to do this. You’ve got to know when you’re ready. Just make sure that you put in this time and followed some of this advice to get yourself as ready as you can be to go out and set yourself up for success.
Jonny Nastor: Absolutely.
Jerod Morris: You want to do a listener question?
Jonny Nastor: Totally.
Jerod Morris: Let’s do it.
Jonny Nastor: Let’s do it.
Jerod Morris: This week’s listener question is sponsored by the Podcast Movement Virtual Ticket because, Jonny, you and I are going to be at Podcast Movement July 31st, August 1st, August 2nd. We’re both presenting. I know that it’s very much late notice for anybody who doesn’t already have a ticket and a plane ticket to Fort Worth. You’re probably not going to be able to get out there, but if you want to be able to experience all of the information and the speakers from Podcast Movement, you can go to PodcastMovement.com/Register.
There is a little button for a virtual ticket. It’s $297. You’ll get on-demand audio and video recordings of every breakout session, panel discussion, and most of the keynote speakers at Podcast Movement 2015.
The keynote speakers are Marc Maron, Aisha Tyler, and Sarah Koenig. There’s a bunch of them, and they all should be really good.
That you will be able to access or download via a private virtual ticket within 30 to 45 days of the end of the event. You may not be able to be there. You may not be able to get all the networking benefits, but you can get the information benefits and watch them on-demand whenever you want to. Again, it’s PodcastMovement.com/Register. Go check out the virtual ticket.
Listener Question: How do you get exposure and an audience for a podcast that’s starting from scratch?
Our listener question for this week comes from Kelsey Jones, @WonderWall7 on Twitter. She works for Search Engine Journal. I had the opportunity to meet her at an event that I spoke at in Dallas that she was helping to run and moderated. Very, very smart, sharp online marketer. She asks, “How do you get exposure and an audience for a podcast that’s starting from scratch?” Look at that. See how that dovetails nicely with our topic.
Jonny, what do you think? How do you get exposure and an audience for a podcast that’s starting from scratch?
Jonny Nastor: You understand the audience that you’re trying to attract, and you create a unique show positioning.
Jerod Morris: Excellent, excellent answer.
Jonny Nastor: You really do. You find that balance between art and science of the planning you need to do. You have to particularly find that one perfect person that you want to find tens of thousands of — that one person, everything that they know, all their dreams, their goals, their obstacles. You create a show particularly for them that is uniquely positioned within the market you are trying to enter.
Jerod Morris: Let me add a little bit to that because you’re absolutely right. Then to take it to the next step, once you have your episodes and now you’re trying to get attention to them, now go find where that audience is. Join the conversation.
When Assembly Call had no listeners, the way that we got people to listen was the #IUBB hashtag. That’s what everyone Tweets about, or that’s the hashtag people use when they’re Tweeting about IU basketball. I would live-Tweet during the games, get 25 to 50 followers every game. I still do it today. Now, all of those people then are there when we Tweet out the link to the postgame show. They’re there.
That’s just one example. Your people may not be on Twitter. They may be in a Facebook group. They may be Pinterest. They may be wherever. Maybe it’s the kind of thing where you want to go to a local networking event. Your show is going to be good for them, and you can meet people in person. Tell them about your show.
That’s the next step. Once you’ve got the episodes out there, you want to get the exposure for it, and you’re starting from scratch — you don’t just have an email list of 25,000 people to send it to, to get it going — well, you’ve got to start building your list.
You start doing that the same way that you do with any other piece of content. The first thing is really to identify where your people are, where the conversations are. This is important. Don’t hijack the conversation. Join the conversation. Too many people just, “Oh, here’s a Facebook group, or here’s a Twitter hashtag, links, links, link,” and they just try and drop all their links. That doesn’t do anything. It really doesn’t. It will just annoy people. Instead of that, join the conversation. Let people get to know you. Build some good will.
Then, when you really have something relevant that fits in the conversation, tell people. Instead of them thinking, “Oh, here’s this person who’s just trying to hijack people from the conversation for their audience.” “Oh here’s someone who’s always helping giving good information. Let me check this out as well.” If you can do that, that’ll really put you on the track to getting the exposure and building that audience that you want.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, that’s a great point, and there’s other places, obviously, to find that audience. Episode 16, we talked about applying the principles of guest blogging to building your audience. That’s going on to other people’s podcasts within your markets — both small, medium, and large shows, not just the biggest shows in the market — and asking if you can either trade, be on each other’s shows, or if you can be a guest on other shows. If they have a market that is similar or the same market as the one you’re trying to attract, that’s a perfect place to find those people. You’re already in the right medium because they’re already listening to podcasts.
Jerod Morris: Absolutely. Speaking of listening to podcasts, let’s do some podcast recommendations, Jonny.
Jonny Nastor: All right. Yeah?
Jerod Morris: Would you like to go first with your podcast recommendation?
Podcast Recommendations of the Week
Jonny Nastor: I would love to go first. My recommendation today is the Unmistakable Creative by Srini Rao. This episode is from a few weeks ago. He’s releasing two episodes a week. He has an archive of over 500 episodes now. This guy has been doing this for a long time, and he’s good. He’s an excellent interviewer. He has amazing guests on. This one’s called The Pillars of a Meaningful Life with Philip McKernan. It came out a couple of weeks ago. We’ll link to it in the show notes. The Unmistakable Creative is a great show if you’re in your research stage. This guy knows how to interview.
Plus, he’s got excellent artwork for his show. He’s got excellent music. Everything is very, very unique. He’s positioned himself in this market space very, very, very well. Plus, he’s also done over 500 episodes, so he’s come a long ways. You can listen to now, and you can go back to the archive and listen to earlier ones and see how he’s evolved and grown — which is also beneficial. It helps us when we’re starting to know that everybody doesn’t start at 500 episodes with that behind them. Unmistakable Creative. Check it out, and we will link to it in the show notes.
Jerod Morris: Excellent recommendation. I am going to go with a show that also has 500+ episodes. It’s one that I’m sure most people know, and that is This American Life. I want to recommend an episode that they recently reran. It’s the NUMMI episode. NUMMI was an automobile manufacturing plant that was run by GM and Toyota, starting in 1984 and went all the way to about 2012 I think. No, I think it was about 2010 or 2008. Something like that. Anyway, they shut it down. It’s an incredible story about this plant, which was once literally the worst automobile manufacturing plant in the world.
They talk about this in the episode and how, by this joint venture with GM and Toyota and adopting some of Toyota’s lean manufacturing methodologies, it became this incredibly efficient and successful plant. This episode of This American Life tells the story. I want to recommend this, number one, because it’s a great example of pulling an episode from your archive and replaying it. I’ve been a fan of This American Life for a while, but I’d never seen this episode, which originally aired in 2010. Here we are five years later. They’re pulling it back out. It’s still exceedingly relevant. I really enjoyed it.
Especially as you get a bigger and bigger archive, remember that. You can pull your best stuff back out and use. Not just for a vacation, but just to make sure that your audience is getting your best stuff. The other reason I want to highlight this episode is that, when we talk about usefulness, we talk about how your episodes need to entertain, educate, or inspire based on what your audience is expecting. Your audience is expecting at least one of those things. You’ve got to make sure that you deliver at least that one thing based on the expectations. The best shows are really able to do two of them or three of them.
This was a great example of that. Obviously, with This American Life, you’re going there for entertainment, for storytelling. The story is riveting. I think you’ll really enjoy just seeing how this whole thing progresses and seeing why, ultimately, ridiculously, GM never instituted these incredible ideas into the rest of their company and why that happened. There’s even some suspense there. Then, it’s also educational. You’re learning a lot of the history of the automobile industry in America and how a lot of this works. That part is good.
It’s even inspiring. There are some bigger-picture lessons that you get from this episode. It’s one of the reasons why I talked about it on an episode of Primility Primer. I think you get a lot from it. This is a great example of a show that actually melds all three elements of usefulness into it without at all sacrificing its main element, which is entertainment. That’s my recommendation, This American Life, the NUMMI episode. We’ll put that link in the show notes as well.
Jonny Nastor: Two things I need to add please.
Jerod Morris: Yes.
Jon’s Rebroadcasting Test
Jonny Nastor: One, I should probably start a show called This Canadian Life because that This American Life seems really popular down there with you guys. Two, rebroadcasting. I did my first rebroadcast two weeks ago. I was going to miss an episode, and I decided to rebroadcast the second episode I ever put out because I think it’s really, really, really awesome. This did two things for me. One, it showed me how rebroadcasting works with my audience, and another one, it showed me that downloads aren’t just coming from automatic subscribers. I posted this one, and it clearly said ‘rebroadcast’ in the title. I posted it two weeks ago yesterday. It’s had 121 downloads.
Jerod Morris: Wow.
Jonny Nastor: The shows before it and after it have closer to 10,000 downloads. I was like, “Wow!” One thing, that’s awesome, the people it’s not just auto-downloading these shows, but it’s like, “Wow! Only 121 people actually want to go back that far. Either they’ve already listened to them or … .” It was just interesting to me because I’d never tried it.
We had been talking about it on episodes. I was like, “I’m going to try it. I just want to see how it works.” Oh, because I made a recommendation to Freakonomics, and it was a rebroadcast. Then I was like, “I’m going to try it.” I literally tried it the next day or something — 121 downloads
My first test with rebroadcasting has not worked, but I think it’s probably something I have to play with. I was thinking of calling it a ‘Greatest Hacks’ and doing a good 10-part series or something, but I didn’t at this time. I wanted to make it really clear until I explain it to my audience what Greatest Hacks would mean. That’s just the statistical thing I found.
Jerod Morris: No, that’s good. Thanks. Thanks for sharing that. Something else that you could do, too, is put together a content series delivered via email for your audience that has some of your best, biggest ideas. Maybe choose five, six, 10 episodes of Hack the Entrepreneur that you think are representative of the big ideas you’re trying to get across. When people sign up for your email list, you can ship that out to them — much like we did with The Showrunner. I want to mention that here as we transition out of this episode and into Podcast Movement here in a couple of days.
If you’re not on the email list yet, go to Showrunner.FM. Sign up, and you will immediately get our content series, The Four Essential Elements of a Remarkable Podcast series. It’s dripped out over the course of a week. We will explain what we mean when we talk about authenticity, usefulness, sustainability, profitability, and unique show positioning, explain it in our words, and also give you some links to additional resources so that you can really understand these topics and add them to your own show.
These are the pillars of the curriculum that we teach in The Showrunner Podcasting Course and that we talk about here on The Showrunner. If you like this episode and you plan on listening tomorrow, if you’ve listened to four or five already, we really recommend this. It will help provide the overall context and framework for everything we’ve talked about before and everything we’ll talk about in the future. Again, Showrunner.FM. The email sign up form is right there. You can’t miss it. Put your email address in, and you’ll get it immediately.
Jonny Nastor: Possibly I am biased. Jerod wrote all of the series except for I get to write one, one great one, at the end. I reread all of his series, and there was three or four times where I was like, “I think we’re giving away too much because it’s really, really good.” It’s thorough. It’s like, “Wow!” These are like full-on, thorough blog posts,” some of them. It’s like, “Wow! This is not thinly veiled sales.” The lessons are awesome. If you want to learn the four essential elements, this is definitely one way.
Jerod Morris: Well, hey, thanks for that, Jonny. I appreciate that. All right, on that note, let’s get out of here. You travel safely to Fort Worth. I will drive safely over there, and we’ll see each other for The Showrunner Huddle on Friday.
Jonny Nastor: Excellent. Take care.
Jerod Morris: Later.