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How Your Podcast Can Ruin Your Credibility


Shocked Man Wearing Headphones It happened in all of about thirty seconds. The reading of one e-mail and her credibility was shot.

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts. The host will occasionally answer e-mail questions from listeners. This particular show was no different.

Until this fateful e-mail came along.

I’m changing the names here to protect all involved.

She says, “This next e-mail is from Ivan in Waterloo, Iowa”. It wasn’t really Waterloo, but some similar small town. The e-mail author also had a unique name.

She continued on with the e-mail. It appeared Ivan works in his family business. His parents expect him to eventually take over the shop. However, Ivan has no interest in continuing on with this line of work. He as other aspirations. He was asking for advice with regard to telling his parents.

At the end of the e-mail, he says, “Please keep this anonymous.”

Ivan is obviously concerned that his parents would find out before he had the chance to discuss it with them.

The host says, “Well, I didn’t do a very good job of that, did I?”


The host said something to the effect of, “Let’s just hope mom and dad won’t hear this podcast.” How could any host just let that slide?

On the surface, she just let Ivan down. But it goes so much deeper than that. There are six major issues with letting that disclosure remain part of the show.

1. Ivan No Longer Trusts The Host

Ivan just revealed a deep, personal issue to the host. It is a conflict he has between his loyalty to his parents and his own dreams. The problem has obviously created some turmoil in Ivan’s life. Why else would he be e-mailing for help?

The seriousness of the situation is obvious when he asks for anonymity. He surely doesn’t want his parents to be aware of his dilemma until he can explain it on his own terms. If he didn’t have that concern, he wouldn’t have asked to keep his name secret.

By revealing Ivan’s name, the host just shattered any trust she had built with him. Ivan feels betrayed. He can no longer trust that the host will have his best interest at heart. Everything the host has worked to build was just shattered with Ivan.

2. How Many Customers Will The Host Actually Lose?

It is difficult to determine how far-reaching the host’s act will be. When it comes to word-of-mouth, there are as many theories as there are marketers. All agree that an upset customer will tell far more about their experience than a pleased fan.

Pete Blackshaw’s book “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000: Running a Business In Today’s Consumer-Driven World” describes the danger of upsetting clients. The power of social media has allowed upset people to share the story with ease. In today’s connected world, word spreads faster than ever.

It is obvious to see how the host may lose Ivan as a client. Under the surface, the damage could be much worse. By the time the damage to the overall business is known, it will be far too late.

3. Ivan’s Parents Are Not The Host’s Only Concern

There is probably a slim chance that Ivan’s parents will hear the podcast. Podcasts are still a niche medium. Unless Ivan turned his parents onto the podcast, mom and dad probably did not stumble across this one particular episode among the hundreds of thousands of podcasts available.

This show doesn’t need to be heard first person by Ivan’s parents to be damaging.

Maybe somebody else in Waterloo, who knows Ivan’s parents, heard the podcast. It is possible somebody in the same industry familiar with mom and dad heard the show. Word can travel to the business owners in many ways.

The show lives forever on the internet. It isn’t hard to imagine the show eventually finding its way into the hands of Ivan’s parents. Simply assuming they won’t hear the show is ignoring reality.

4. Others Will Have Second Thoughts

Those who heard the show will think twice before they e-mail the host regarding a sensitive subject. If the host was flippant with respect to Ivan’s identity, why would any listener think he or she would be treated differently? Most listeners of the show will find it hard to trust the host with their information.

5. Where Can I Trust You

If I can’t trust you with an e-mail, how can I trust you with my business? On the surface, the anonymity of the e-mail seemed inconsequential. Considering how the action affects the other areas of the business, it is easy to see how this becomes a much bigger issue.

People do business with people they can trust. If it appears you do not have your client’s best interest at heart, it is quite likely they will be looking for a new supplier. Trust is everything.

As is often said, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and minutes to ruin it. An action like this offers quite a blow to the host’s reputation. Rebuilding it will take a long time. The damage to the business could be serious.

6. Your Lack of Editing Skills

This entire issue could have been avoided if the host had simply edited the audio. That is the saddest part of this entire mess. Had she taken the time to edit the intro of the e-mail, the trust would have never been tarnished.

The show wasn’t live. There was no live studio audience. There was no reason the audio couldn’t be changed after the fact.

I realize the podcast is not the primary function of the host’s business. The show is just a part of the overall marketing plan. The host does the podcast once a week as a way to continue to spread the message. That does not excuse the issue.

If the host cannot be trusted with a minor issue like podcast content, she cannot expected to be trusted with larger pieces of business.

As you move forward with your podcast, remember that your show will exist for quite some time. Be careful with the content you choose to include. In most every case, you do not get hurt by what you leave out. Be completely confident with your content before you post your show.

Be sure you do not damage your reputation by one lapse in judgement. Your entire show and corresponding business is built on that trust. Protect your trust with everything you have.

I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Erik@PodcastTalentCoach.com. Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

Image credit: Bigstock

Don’t Tell Me Your Podcast Is Funny


funny podcast Don’t tell me your podcast is funny.

Being funny is not easy. It is also not something everyone should try.

Some people are naturally funny.

Some people are not. Those are the people who should not try to be funny.

There are few things less entertaining than someone trying to tell you they are funny. You never hear great comedians saying, “Thanks for coming out tonight. I’m funny.” If a comedian is truly funny, there is no reason to tell the audience he is funny.

Just be funny.

Or don’t.

You ruin your credibility when you tell me you’re funny. It is like saying, “To be honest with you …” When I hear that, I instantly think, “Have you been dishonest with me up to this point?” Don’t tell my you are honest. Just be honest. Don’t tell me you are funny. Just be funny.

Average television hosts will often say, “We have a great show for you tonight.” Have you ever heard a host say, “Tonight’s show is pretty average, but thanks for showing up anyway”? There is no need to tell me the show tonight is great. That is assumed.

If you feel the need to tell me you are going to be funny, you probably are not as funny as you think. Let the audience decide if your content is actually funny. Saying you’re funny does nothing to make your content any funnier.

This rule holds true for laughing at your own jokes.

When you laugh at your own jokes, it is as if you are telling me you think you are funny. Some of the best comedians deliver their jokes with a straight face. That makes the joke even funnier.

If you say something off the cuff that makes you laugh sincerely, that is natural and perfectly acceptable. When you are trying hard to be funny and simply laughing to encourage others to laugh, you cease being funny. You become the annoying guy at the party that keeps trying to be funny when the rest of the guests are tired of the routine.

Sitting alone in a room talking into a microphone to an audience you cannot see is one of the most difficult things you’ll attempt. You have no idea if the audience finds you amusing. It is nearly impossible to tell if the audience is understanding what you’re saying. Are they crying with you? Do they find your material funny? Is the audience as upset as you are? It is hard to tell. Every host faces the same dilemma.

You can only trust yourself. If you are passionate about what you’re saying, the audience will follow. You don’t need to tell them to be angry or sad. You don’t need to tell your audience to laugh. You don’t need to hold their hand and lead them. If you have faith in yourself and believe what you are saying, they will get it. Trust your words.

It takes practice to be confident enough to deliver your content without reacting as if you are also the audience. Hold back. Use restraint. Pause where you think the laughter would be … then move on. No need to acknowledge the laughter. No need to laugh yourself. Just move on.

When you simply move on, you allow the audience to decide if your content is amusing. Either they laughed or they didn’t. If they laughed and you moved on, perfect. Your joke worked. If they didn’t laugh and you moved on, perfect. You didn’t make reference to laughter anyway.

If you are laughing and your audience is not, you are laughing at a joke they didn’t find funny. You sound silly. If they are laughing at a joke and you are not, they are entertained and you are now focused on the next entertaining piece. Nothing lost. The audience doesn’t expect you to laugh at your own joke. If you didn’t think it was funny, you wouldn’t have said it in the first place.

Let’s back up a step.

If you’re not funny, that’s ok. You don’t need to be funny. You only need to be entertaining. Entertaining doesn’t necessarily mean funny.

Think about movies. Not all movies are written to be funny. On the other hand, all movies are written to be entertaining. Some are action flicks. Some movies are romantic. There are scary movies and suspense thrillers and mysteries. There may be some naturally funny scenes in the movies. But, not all movies are funny.

Not all podcasts need to be funny either. They only need to be entertaining. Know your limitations. If people find you funny, then knock yourself out. Be funny. Make people laugh. Some people have that talent. But, if you’re not funny, find another angle. Don’t try to be funny if you are not naturally funny. You’ll just become annoying.

How do you know if you’re funny?

People that love you will tell you if you are funny or not. Find people who love you enough to tell you the truth. A causal friend will not admit you are not funny. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. Casual friends won’t tell you that you look fat in those jeans, they hate your new haircut or you are not funny. Only people who have your best interest at heart will care enough to hurt your feelings in order to save you from yourself.

You can determine what is funny by listening to your show with others present. Don’t tell them where the funny parts occur. Just notice if and when they laugh. Over time, you’ll get a feeling of which parts are truly funny.

To figure out what is funny, you could also hire a coach. When you’re paying a good coach, you’re paying them to tell you the truth. A poor coach will tell you what you want to hear, so you don’t fire them. A good coach will tell you the truth. Your coach should tell you which parts are funny and which are not. You should also learn how to spot those areas, how to improve your show to make it more entertaining, and whether or not you should even attempt to be funny. A good coach will go beyond pointing out your weaknesses and help refine your skills, abilities and talents.

The occasional e-mail from a listener that says you’re funny is NOT a way to determine if you are funny. Three e-mails do not constitute a valid sample when you have hundreds or thousands listening to your show. Those e-mails only tell you three people find you funny.

Your mom will always find you funny. That doesn’t mean it’s true. You will never get an e-mail that says, “Hey, that line about the piano that you laughed at made me chuckle.” People don’t have time for that.

If you are unfunny to the point of annoying, you may begin to get hate mail. It takes a lot to get that kind of mail. Don’t take hate mail too seriously. Armchair critics are usually not very talented. They can’t do it, so they criticize it. Ignore them.

I’ve coached radio hosts for almost 20 years. One of the most difficult pieces of coaching is getting talent to trust themselves. They learn by doing and trying and failing and trying again. Over time, after reviewing many, many shows, the trust slowly builds. Confidence grows. Shows become stronger. The audience becomes larger. The influence of the host becomes greater. That’s when your show becomes truly powerful.

As you record your podcast, be confident in your content. Just put it out there. Trust that people will find it entertaining and amusing. Laughing at it won’t make it funnier. It also won’t make me laugh just because you’re laughing.

Just be funny. Or don’t. But whatever you do, don’t tell me your podcast is funny.

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for some funny podcasts for inspiration, try this list of the top funniest podcasts as picked by comedian Jordan Cooper.

The Only Four Things Your Really Need to Start Video Podcasting


At NMX 2013, Perry Lawrence gave a great presentation on how to get started video podcasting. When you break it down, there are only four things you really need to begin:

  1. An Idea
  2. The Desire
  3. A Budget
  4. Discipline

Let’s take a close look at these four necessities to help you on the road to video podcasting.

An Idea

Every business online starts with a good idea. Your idea needs to be something you feel passionate about, especially if you’re creating a weekly podcast, but it also needs to be an idea that has the opportunity for a community.

In other words, pick a niche. You don’t want to go too broad, as it will be extremely hard to compete with established names if your podcast is simply about all things tech, for example, but you also don’t want to go too narrow, since it will be hard to find an audience that way.

Along with choosing the topic matter, your idea also should include a way to present that topic matter in a fresh way. Will your podcast present the news in a humorous way? Will your podcast feature new guests every week to talk about the topic? Will your podcast be politically slanted? Think outside the box and try to come up with an idea for your podcast that your target audience can’t get elsewhere.

The Desire

Do you really want to start a video podcast? No, really. Ask yourself this question. Because video podcasting takes both time and money. Don’t do it because you think you have to.

And don’t do it because you think it will make you money. Any video series or podcast can make you money, but this isn’t going to happen right away, and the time you put into it is likely going to far exceed the time you should be putting into it based on your income. Do if for the love first, the money second.

A Budget

You don’t need a million-dollar budget, but you do need a budget. If your budget means recording videos on your iPhone from your home office, that’s okay. If it means getting the latest and best video equipment money can buy and converting your guest bedroom into a studio, that’s okay too. But you need to set a budget and stick to it.

Video podcasting isn’t cheap. You need mics, cameras, editing software, and more. If you plan to podcast at events, you’ll need a kit for the road, and you may also want to invest invest in professional lighting, new clothing, backdrops, and other things that will make you look good on camera.

Don’t forget a budget for travel, hosting, and other miscellaneous costs.

The bigger your budget, obviously, the better the final product will be. However, don’t let finances keep you from getting started. Like I said, you can get started simply shooting with an iPhone and doing most of the work yourself.


Lastly, you need discipline. Don’t start video podcasting unless you can commit to recording every single week for at least three months. You also need to set aside time for editing, uploading, and promoting.

If you aren’t consistent, your audience won’t be consistent either. Doing this for fun? Have at it! Post once a month or even just once a year in that case. But if you actually want to build a following and maybe even make a little money at this, you have to have the discipline to podcast regularly and release new episodes on a regular basis.

Perry’s session at NMX 2013 of course covered many other tips on getting started video podcasting, including what kind of equipment to buy, how to set up shots for the best lighting, what to shoot, and what editing and distribution tools you’ll need. For more information or to get access to Perry’s session, check out NMX University today!

Podcasting isn’t Dead


In his post titled The Resurrection of Podcasting, Mitch Joel asks the question “Does anyone listen to podcasts anymore? Does anyone even care?”

Yes Joel, I’m listening, I care. So do nearly twice the number of people who have Twitter accounts. According to Edison Research, 17% of the U.S. population has listened/viewed a podcast in the last month and 29% have listened to a podcast at some point in the past. For comparison, only 10% of the U.S. population have Twitter accounts. Is Twitter dead?  The “Resurrection of Podcasting” title makes it sound as if podcasting was dead. Podcasting was never dead! Awkward teenage phase, maybe. But never dead.

Since 2005 the podcast audience has had a steady growth from 11% in 2006 up to 29% in 2012. The number and quality of podcasts has also grown. In 2005 I had a hard time finding enough podcasts to fill up my iRiver MP3 player. Now my iTunes account has 14 days worth of podcasts waiting for my ears.

It’s true that for a while in podcasting’s earlier days some “gurus” put podcasting in a pretty dress and tiara and sent her out on stage calling her “The Next Big Thing.” I blame the gurus for that one. Quite frankly those folks soured many in the podcasting community against conferences such as NMX. A lot of podcasters felt that if making money and replacing established radio was going to be the primary focus of a conference then that conference wasn’t for them. I am on a mission to change this.

Many podcasters were and are quite happy just talking into their mic and having an audience that appreciates their work. There is no plan to take over the broadcasting world (say it like Pinky and the Brain) among most podcasters. That was just the “gurus” talking.

Today podcasting is stronger than ever and getting stronger each day. There is room for the entire range of podcasters. From the full time pros and networks like TWIT and Nerdist to the hobbyist that just wants to talk about blue widgets. Not green ones, not purple ones and not about selling them. Just wants to enjoy the awesomeness that is blue widgets and share his blue widget love with his audience of other blue widget aficionados. There is room for everyone along this spectrum.

Tom Merrit (of TWIT network fame) stated on a recent panel that he knew podcasting was hitting the mainstream when he saw it used as an insult on HBO’s Newsroom. It was being used much in the same way that the term “blog” had been used in the years before blogging became so popular. Imagine boss to the fired journalist…”good luck with your ‘blog’.” We are on the road to mainstream. It’s the same road blogging took, podcasting just got a later start.

4 Things Your Podcast Can Learn From The Super Bowl


Watching the Super Bowl, the championship of the National Football League in America, I was reminded of a few things you can do to improve your podcast.

Your podcast can mimic a lot of the steps taken by the NFL to create a successful show. Here are four:

It’s Always Showbiz

Regardless of the topic of your show, it is always show business. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about movie reviews or mortgage reduction, it must be entertaining.

Entertaining doesn’t necessarily mean funny. To be entertaining, you need to make a connection with your listener. Find a way to stir the emotions of your audience. Emotions make it entertaining.

Think of great movies. Some make you laugh. Some make you cry. Some make you angry. Some make you think. Some make you question authority. Strong emotions make those movies great. The exceptional movies elicit multiple emotions.

Show business is about the “larger than life.” Show business makes you forget your problems and worries. Great entertainment takes you to another place and time. It stirs your imagination.

There is also a bit of amazement, sparkle and glamour in show business. Add some flash and pizzazz. Sound effects, big name guests, professional announcers, and quality production are ways you can add a touch of show business to your podcast.

The content of the Super Bowl isn’t the critical element. The two teams playing are simply the foundation of the game. Most people are not big fans of either team. They are watching to be entertained.

People watch the Super Bowl for the entertainment value. They watch for the pomp and circumstance. People want to see the half time show. They want to see the commercials. They want to have the same experience their friends have. Year-to-year, the viewing audience of the Super Bowl is roughly the same regardless of the game’s participants. It’s all about the entertainment.

If the content of the Super Bowl isn’t the critical piece, what does that say about the content of your podcast?  Your content is just your admission to the game.  You need to have more to set your show apart from others.

Create A Story

Stories help create relationships with your listener. Great stories reveal thing about the storyteller. They also engage the audience. A great story can make an average topic compelling.

The NFL puts great effort into the story of the Super Bowl. The organization works to find the stories that will captivate the imaginations of America. Then, they do all they can to spread that story.

This year, the stories included the Harbaugh brothers competing against each other, along with Ray Lewis’ final year.

Most of the headlines involved the Harbaugh siblings. It is the first time two brothers have been the head coaches of opposing Super Bowl teams. There have been many story angles. Which team color will their parents wear to the game? Have the brothers discussed the game with each other? Will they treat the game differently with a brother across the field? How will the post-game handshake play out?  The stories are endless.

The stories make the game personal. Tales create a connection between the spectators and the participants. A human feel is created about the game when personal details are revealed with great stories.

Great story lines also create interest amongst the cursory fan who would not normally be interested in the game. Fans of teams not participating in the game suddenly find themselves sucked into the drama of the stories. Those fans want to see how the stories play out.

Make Every Piece Entertaining

Every part of your show should add to the entertainment value. If you make a throwaway comment, your listener will also throw it away. Your listener should be delighted by every element of your podcast. Do not air anything on your show that doesn’t add value.

Find ways to make the generic content on your show compelling content. If you need to convey general “don’t forget” messages, find creative ways to make those announcements. In his School of Podcasting podcast, Dave Jackson has his “Morning Announcements.” It is simply a clever way to make his general messages.  It makes his information a little more captivating.

The Super Bowl does a tremendous job of creating entertainment out of every piece of their show.

Some people watch the Super Bowl just to see the commercials. In every other show broadcast on television, people sigh, groan and moan when the commercials air. During the Super Bowl, you find others in the room quieting guests so they can hear those advertisements.

The NFL also adds sizzle to other pedestrian elements of the game. The coin toss handled by an honorary coin flipper and is executed with a special coin. Intermission in play (half time) is turned into an over-the-top music performance by the biggest superstars, each year bigger than the last. They players don’t just show up on the sideline ready to play. They are introduced with an opening video piece and fireworks.

Every piece of the Super Bowl adds to the entertainment. The field is customized. The exterior of the stadium is customized. The jerseys are customized. Every detail is special.

Make every part of your podcast memorable.

Create Multiple Streams Of Income

As the saying goes, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. If you only have one income source, you leave yourself vulnerable. If that source disappears, your revenue drops to zero. Play it safe.

With multiple streams of income, your revenue isn’t greatly affected by fluctuation in any one particular source. You have some buffer room. When one stream is diminished, you have time to make adjustments any of the others to get the revenue back.

The NFL has monetized every part of the game possible. If something can be sold or sponsored in conjunction to the Super Bowl, it usually is. The NFL makes money in many, many different ways.

Sources say the average price of a 30-second commercial airing during the Super Bowl is $4 million. That revenue is received by the broadcasting network. However, the NFL is paid a hefty sum for the broadcast rights.

The pre-game show, half time show and broadcast studios are sponsored. The coin flip, game clock and replays are all sponsored. Even the NFL donations are sponsored. The Super Bowl Champion t-shirts and hats are for sale as soon as the game ends. There was even a Mercedes Benz emblem on the ceiling of the Superdome.

Revenue comes from many different streams. Create some consistency in your income by creating multiple streams of revenue.

Copy a few of these NFL Super Bowl tactics with your podcast. You will make the relationships with your audience much stronger. You will create more consistent revenue streams. Your show will also be more consistently entertaining and successful.

The Top 10 Funniest Podcasts


Not only are podcasts a great source of information, they also provide lots of entertainment options. I wanted to share with you the top 10 funniest podcasts out there, so I went to comedian Jordan Cooper of Blenderhead Media to get his recommendations on the best comedy podcasts.

Here’s Jordan’s take:

1. Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast

Comedian Bill Burr rants and rambles Monday mornings via cell phone for cynical insights into the world of comedy and touring.

2. Penn’s Sunday School

Examining religious news, talk about monkeys, and anything else that seems funny or makes Penn Jillette mad.

3. WTF with Marc Maron

Marc tackles the most complex philosophical question of our day – WTF? He gets to the bottom of it with help from comedian friends, celebrity guests and the voices in his own heard.

4. The Blenderhead Podcast

A dark, cynical and humorous take on the week’s news in technology, business and media with rants from the warped pessimistic mind of stand-up comedian Jordan Cooper.

5. The Nerdist

Comedian Chris Hardwick talks about all things nerdy with someone typically more famous than him.

6. Comedy Cellar Live From The Table

A weekly peek into the happening at the Comedy Cellar’s comedian table.

7. You Made It Weird

Comedian Pete Holmes asks other comedians to reveal and talk about their weirdest secrets.

8. No Agenda

Hosted by Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak, the show is a free-flowing conversation that deconstructs recent news and media memes.

9. Never Not Funny

A party conversation with comedian Jimmy Pardo as he shoots the breeze with guests from the world of comedy, share stories and laugh at life.

10. Doug Loves Movies

Taped regularly at the UCB Theater in Los Angeles, comedian Doug Benson’s sits with guest comics to talk movies and play movie-themed games.

Have you listened to any of Jordan’s picks? If not, what your favorite comedy podcast?

Ten Reasons Your Blog Needs a Podcast


Okay, I have to admit it: After attending NMX 2013, I kind of want to start a podcast. About what, I don’t know, but the podcaster presence there rocked, and the Podcast Awards was one of my favorite parts of the whole show. I’ve been involved in podcasts in the past, but I never realized just how much I miss it.

I think that many bloggers out there could benefit from and would really enjoy having a podcast – and I’m not the only one with this opinion. At NMX 2013, Peder Aadahl, Dustin Hartzler, P.J. Jonas, and Jenn Swanson spoke on this very topic, with their panel presenting ten reasons why every blogger should have a podcast. Here are their ten reasons

  1. Podcasts can help you attract a new type of follower, expanding your audience beyond your current community.
  2. Podcasting often helps you improve your speaking skills, which allows you to get more speaking gigs and opens other opportunities to you.
  3. You can build loyalty with your voice that you don’t get with text, as it makes it easier for people to connect to you and trust you.
  4. Podcasting is not as hard as you think!
  5. With a podcast, you get the opportunity to talk to others in your niche, which helps you become a master of your subject.
  6. Podcasts are easy to consume, since you can listen in the car, at the gym, etc.
  7. You can recycle some of your best written content ideas by recording a podcast about these same topics.
  8. Podcasts allow you to tap into a new community.
  9. Having a regular podcast helps you improve perceived credibility.
  10. You can make money with a podcast.

To their reasons, I would add one of my own: podcasts are fun! When I used to be part of a video game podcast with a few friends, recording together was one of the highlights of our week.

If you still aren’t convinced, I recommend checking out the entire presentation at NMX University via our 2013 Virtual Ticket, which also gives you access to this and dozens of other sessions, including a number of presentations that will help you get started podcasting.

Bloggers, have you ever considered podcasting? Podcasters, what reasons can you add to this list?

How to Create Podcast Artwork – and Why it Needs to Be Good


You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and you shouldn’t judge a podcast by its artwork—but you know what we do all the time? We judge books by their covers and podcasts by their artwork. We do it so frequently that we actually had to come up with a cliché bit of advice about not judging things by their visuals. Books, podcasts, albums, magazines, even entire websites. We almost always base our very first decision completely on visuals: the decision to read, listen, or check the thing out further.

You wouldn’t read a single word on a site that used this.

Sorry about that. I just got back from visiting 1996. I’ve got a Collective Soul song stuck in my head now.

We judge websites by their visuals before we start reading their content and we judge podcasts by the artwork that we are presented with in the iTunes podcast directory, the Zune marketplace, in our mobile podcast apps, and everywhere else podcasts live. Make yours good.

How to Make Yours Good

First of all, your artwork needs to be square. Why square? Because square is a good shape. You can’t argue that. Try it, I dare you. You’ll lose. Your podcast artwork needs to be square because… well, because iTunes requires it to be square, really. That’s what it comes down to in the end. iTunes is the 800 pound gorilla, and as such, gets to set standards for these kinds of things.

The current recommendation from Apple is for your artwork to be a JPG at 1400 x 1400 pixels. Let’s talk about what that means and why you shouldn’t do it that way.


This is pretty simple. JPGs are generally better for photo-based artwork or art with many gradients. PNGs are generally better for line art, non-photo graphics, and images with few gradients or colors. What we’re concerned about here is file size—not the dimensions, the amount of space it takes up on your hard drive. We’re looking for the smallest file size with the best quality. Sometimes, that’s a JPG. Sometimes, that’s a PNG. So, what does that mean for iTunes’ recommendation about using JPG?

Use whichever one makes your art look its best. iTunes accepts both. Create your art, save it as a JPG then save it again as a PNG. Your eyes won’t lie to you.


Once upon a time, the recommended dimensions for podcast artwork were 300 x 300 pixels. Then, Apple raised it to 600 x 600 pixels, and everyone freaked out and had to redo their artwork because they didn’t save it in a larger size to begin with. Okay, not everyone. But a lot of people. That wasn’t the end, because Apple raised it yet again… and naturally, a bunch of people freaked out and had to go back and redo their artwork. Let’s futureproof your artwork a bit, shall we?

Create your podcast artwork at 3000 x 3000 pixels, and then save it off at varying sizes depending on your needs.

Even better, create your art as a vector image. But that’s a conversation for another day.

I created a checklist of sizes that I find handy, and when creating artwork for a new show, I start large. I create the base image, then I save it at the largest size I need. I reduce the image size to the next on the list, then save it again. I reduce the image size to the next on the list, then save it again. I reduce the image size… you get the idea. Here’s my list:

  • 3,000 x 3,000. Excellent for t-shirt printing and most print-on-demand items you find at places like Zazzle.com.
  • 1,400 x 1,400. iTunes.
  • 1,000 x 1,000. Not super handy, but a nice round number in case anyone asks for it at that size.
  • 600 x 600. I’ve used this sparingly on web projects, it’s also great for Twitter and Facebook profile pictures, if you want to use show art for that purpose.
  • 300 x 300. This is an important one. It gets used a lot in ad spaces on sites.
  • 250 x 250. Same as the 300, this gets used in ad spaces.

The next set of sizes are somewhat less important to me for show art, but I have my QAQN logo art sized to all of these because they’re all used on one site or another for profile pictures, category images, forum avatars—all kinds of web work.

  • 200 x 200
  • 150 x 150
  • 100 x 100
  • 80 x 80

So, yes, when it’s all said and done, I have ten separate files for my show’s artwork. Better this than to have only “large” and “small” and let the various web services handle increasing or decreasing the dimensions depending on their needs. That rarely works out well.

Aesthetically speaking…

Calling your show’s artwork “art” is actually a little bit improper. Art is subjective, can mean different things to different people, and it’s been said that all art is valid. Not so with podcast artwork. Podcast artwork is far more like an advertisement than art—if you can’t convey what your show is about, your artwork fails. It has also been said that there is no wrong way to make art. This is definitely not the case with your show’s artwork.

If your artwork does not incorporate the name of your podcast, you’ve done it wrong. Aside from that one hard and fast rule, I have a few guidelines that I suggest considering.

  • Don’t crowd the image. Try to leave as much whitespace around text as possible while still keeping text large and legible.
  • Speaking of text, try not to have too many words in your artwork. Remember that it needs to look good at 100 x 100 pixels, and more words means less legibility at small sizes.
  • Don’t overcomplicate the image. Too many graphical elements fighting for attention is bad.
  • You can add a lot of fine detail at the 3000 x 3000 pixels size that will be completely lost when the image is shrunk down.
  • Unimportant words can be small, important words should be larger. Think of the covers of books with titles like “The Fate of Kings”. The words “the” and “of” are always very small next to “Fate” and “Kings”. You can use that same trick with your show’s name if necessary.

Lastly, the most important thing to be said about your show’s artwork must be this:

Your artwork should generally match the tone of your show. A podcast about My Little Pony should not have artwork inspired by H.R. Giger. Unless that’s the tone of your show, in which case, let me know because I would totally listen to a Giger-inspired pony podcast.

Rainbow Dash? Is… is that you?

The #1 Best Way to Understand Your Audience—And Why This Matters for Your Content


“The best way to understand the mind, the hopes, the fear, the dreams, the desires—everything that’s inside your clients, you’re customer’s brain—the best way to understand it is to actually be it.” – Dino Dogan

We often talk about creating a profile, an avatar of sorts, for your audience members so you understand who you’re creating content for. This is important whether you’re a blogger, podcaster, web series creator, or even business owner. If you don’t know who your audience is, it’s extremely hard to create content for them.

Click to tweet this quote!

At NMX 2013, Dino Dogan spoke on turning your audience into extremely loyal fans, and this is one of the topics he covered during his session. But he took a step farther. Don’t just think about who your customer is. Be your customer.

The NMX Story

If you’ve ever seen our NMX co-founder Rick Calvert speak before a keynote or if you’ve ever had a personal conversation with him, you might have heard him talk about why he decided to start NMX (previously BlogWorld). Rick was a blogger himself in the early 2000s and being someone who has always worked in the trade show and conference industry, he decided to attend whatever trade show or conference was out there for bloggers.

Except there wasn’t one.

Rick was astounded to find that there was no event out there to provide more education for bloggers and others in the new media industry. So, he decided to create one. This was the birth of BlogWorld, which has now evolved into NMX. Rick is his own customer, and this is one of the things that lends to the success of this conference.

Why Being Your Customer Matters

I use the term customer as Dino has in his presentation, but very loosely, to also not just mean people who are buying from you, but to also mean people who are doing anything you want them to do (read a blog post, listen to your podcast, etc.). You have to be this person to truly understand this person.

Creating an avatar is great, but it’s impossible to truly understand another person through research. You don’t understand what it’s like to be a mother until you’re a mother (or so I’ve been told…I am not a mother). You don’t understand how it feels to lose a loved one until you’ve experienced that loss yourself. You don’t understand the frustration of not finding clothes that fit if you’re someone who always walks into a store and finds several options.

And if you don’t understand what your customers are going through, what they truly feel, you can’t do the best possible job creating content or products for them.

Over the past two(ish) years, I’ve watching the freelance writing industry change drastically from what it was like back in 2005-2006, when I first started writing online. At that time, it was very easy to find content writing jobs. To make ends meet as a recent college grad, I wrote about everything from lawn care to oil rig jobs. Today, those jobs are nearly non-existent. Why? Because people realized that someone who doesn’t own a home with a yard can never truly write a great article about lawn care, no matter how much research she does. At least not compared to someone who is passionate about that topic.

Become your customer if you aren’t already. You’ll be amazed at what you learn and how that affects your decisions.

More from Dino

Being your own customer was just a small piece of Dino’s 2013 NMX presentation on insane loyalty. But the good news is that you can still attend the session virtually, even if you missed attending live in Las Vegas! Become an NMX University Premium Member and you’ll get access to our complete 2013 Virtual Ticket, which includes a recording of Dino’s session, along with sessions from hundreds of other speakers!

Three Steps to Your Audience of One


Would you like to create a deeper connection and relationship with your audience?

There is one adjustment you can make to your podcast to help you achieve your podcasting goals. Whether you hope to motivate your audience to action, entertain them with a story or simply get them to listen again, one change to your approach can help you succeed. This small modification to your approach will have a big impact on creating a trusting relationship with your audience.

Treat every listener as an audience of one.

When creating a podcast, it is critical to your success to address each member of your audience as an individual rather than a group, regardless of the size of your audience.

Many podcasters and broadcasters address their audience as a group. “Hello, everyone.” “Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.” “You guys are the best.”

Your listeners are not engaged with your show as a group. They are each listening as individuals with unique imaginations. You need to treat them that way.

Addressing your audience as a group is impersonal. Your listener doesn’t feel special. Speaking to a group allows each listener to feel like you are speaking to someone else. It is typical for your listener to feel like it’s alright to not take action, because another member of the group will handle it.

This style began back when radio began. When radio broadcasting started, station owners needed something to broadcast. The content was typically stage performances broadcast over the airwaves. The “Ladies and Gentlemen” salutation was meant for the live audience in the theater. It was not intended for the listening audience at home.

At the time, radio was the primary source of entertainment at the family home. Prior to the introduction of television, families gathered around the radio in the family room each evening for their entertainment. Addressing the audience as a group made sense. Listening was taking place as a group.

As radio broadcasts moved from stage performances on the radio to “made-for-radio” dramas that were produced in a studio rather than on the stage, the salutations didn’t change. The live audience was no longer present. The audience however was still gathered together in the family room. The announcer continued to address the listening audience as a group, simply because it had always been done that way.

When television was introduced to the family room, long-form radio programming moved to television. Great radio stories like The Lone Ranger, Abbott & Costello and The Green Hornet left the radio for the promised land of television. Radio was quickly being replaced as the nightly family activity in the home.

Eventually, the radio performance was replaced with a disc jockey playing recorded music for the listening audience. Radios also progressed with the introduction of the transistor. Small, portable transistor radios took the place of the large console radios that once occupied the family room. Listening moved from being a group activity in the family room to being a personal experience with these portable radios. Even as listening changed, most on-air personalities continued to address their audience as a group. It had always been done that way.

Today, podcast listening has become even more personal. Podcast listening typically takes place alone in a car or with headphones. People are no longer listening as a group. They are alone with your voice.

Even if your listeners are with others while they are listening, each individual is creating unique images in their head. Those images are different from the images created in the imagination of any other person in the audience. Audio is a very personal medium.

Since they are listening as individuals, you should address them as such. Your show should be a one-on-one conversation with your listener.

If most of your listeners are listening alone, it sounds out of place when you say, “Hello, everyone.” Your listener is then saying in their head, “Everyone? It’s just me. Who are you talking to?” “Everyone” is directed at no one. Adjust your language to fit your audience.

If I describe a car making a left turn at a busy intersection, you will envision it much differently than any other person listening to the same story. Television leaves very little to the imagination. Audio helps create wonderful stories and stirs the imagination. The more personal and individual you can be with your stories, the stronger your connection and relationship will become.

Finally, when you address a group, it is easy for your listener to shirk their responsibilities while expecting somebody else to take care of the tasks.

Let’s say you want your audience to visit you website. You say, “I would really appreciate it if you guys would log onto my website this week and let me know what you think.” Who exactly do you want to take action? You’re addressing the entire group. I don’t need to do it. There will be plenty of others that take action. It won’t make much difference if I don’t do it.

Unfortunately, most listeners are thinking the same thing. When you check your web stats, they’ve barely moved. Very few have taken action. Why? Because you didn’t address them individually. It was easy to assume somebody else would handle it.

There are three steps to treat your listeners as an audience of one.

First, get rid of the collective, group talk. Change your nouns and pronouns from plural to singular. Instead of using “ladies and gentlemen” or “you guys”, use “you”, “me” and “I.” Talk to one person. Most everything you say will apply to one person just like it will apply to a group of people.

Second, be personable. Reveal things to your audience that you would reveal to your friends. When you have trust in your listener, she will begin to feel appreciated. Your relationships will become stronger and more meaningful.

Third, be real. Speak like a real person and not an announcer. Replace announcer words with words real people use. Instead of using “good evening” like a network news anchor from 1975, use “hi” like you would use when you call a friend.

If you hope to make your call-to-action effective, you need to create strong relationships with your listeners. If you want to create strong, meaningful relationships with your audience, you must treat each person in your audience as an individual. Make each listener feel special. Talk directly to them one-on-one. Use words that sound like you are speaking to one person. Be personable. Be real. Create wonderful relationships as you create multiple audiences of one.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

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