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What Podcast Listeners Really Want from Your Show Notes


Your podcast is recorded, edited, uploaded, and ready to promote. Now you can sit back and enjoy lots of traffic right? Well, maybe. But don’t forget about writing some show notes! Although blogging is my personal preferred medium, I’m starting to listen to more and more podcasts, and was even previously part of a weekly video game podcast for a few years.

What I’m discovering as I continue to explore the world of podcasting is that everyone has their own style for show notes. From a listener’s perspective, here’s what I like to see in show notes to enhance my podcast experience:

Links: Lots and Lots of Links

I asked my Twitter followers what they consider to be the top characteristic of good show notes, and without fail, everyone said links. I concur. When you’re listening to an episode and the host or guest talks about something but doesn’t provide a link in the show notes, it can be infuriating.

Yes, I can just Google it. But I shouldn’t have to. As a podcaster, your job is to entertain me or teach me, not make me do that work for myself. When I’m forced to look up something by myself, you also run the risk of me finding the wrong information and not really understanding your podcast.

Bottom line, to not have links in your show notes when necessarily is just lazy. It’s a must for any serious podcaster.

Bullet Points

I can appreciate a few paragraphs along with your episode. I’m a writer and I like to read. Just make sure that actual “notes” section of the page is written in bullet points or another format that is extremely easy to skim. I want to know really quickly whether or not the episode is going to interest me.

Times and Topics

Something I’ve noticed that some podcasters do is include not just a list of topics, but also a time when they start talking about this topic during the episode. I absolutely love seeing this as a listener. Sometimes, a specific podcast isn’t super interesting to me, but they are cover one topic that I love or talking to a special guest I want to hear. If I can avoid listening to segments that don’t interest me, I’m a happy camper.

Advertisement Information

Yes, believe it or not, I want ads. If you talk about something on your show, even if a commercial, it might interest me, so I want to know where to find more important about the company. Make sure you note when something is an affiliate link, so I’m not caught off guard. It’s also helpful if you note whether you use the product/service yourself and recommend it or if it’s just a sponsor and you have no opinion on whatever they’re advertising.

Having links to sponsor’s sites in your show notes is not only good for your readers, but it also adds additional value for your sponsors. In some cases, you can up your ad prices significantly or make a lot of affiliate money if you include a link.

A Brief Note About the People in this Episode

Don’t take for granted that I know who you are just because this is your 193rd episode. It might be the first one I’m listening to. At the top of your show notes, include a brief line about each host and guest on the podcast. Don’t assume that new listeners will seek out this information themselves.

Explanations of “Inside” Jokes

I absolutely hate it when I don’t understand a joke and it isn’t explained to me. You can certainly strengthen your community by having inside jokes and references only they “get” because it makes them feel like part of a club, but share that secret handshake with your brand new listeners too. Link to the episode where the joke originated and give a brief explanation.


The best show notes out there have images. As I’m following along with your podcast, I want to see what you’re talking about. Of course, podcast listeners don’t always have show notes in front of them, so you can’t rely on visuals, but having images where relevant is a nice touch.

Your turn to tell us what you want from show notes. Whether you’re a podcaster yourself or just an avid fan, what do you look for in show notes? What makes some podcasters’ show notes better than others? Leave a comment!

9 Questions To Improve Your Podcast


In sports, they watch game film. Corporations use the annual review. Science incorporates the theory evaluation. In the world of podcasting and radio, we call it the aircheck show critique (an aircheck is simply when you record your show so you can listen to it yourself later).

Review your work. It is the best way to improve your show. Listening to the podcast like a member of the audience will reveal things you don’t hear while you’re recording the show. Your review will expose areas that need attention and focus.

There are a few ways to critique your show. One way is to review it yourself. The other is to have a coach review your podcast for you. Both can be very effective if used correctly.

An experienced coach can be very powerful for your show.  Solid coaches have usually mentored many shows. That professional has been exposed to many elements that have effectively attracted and entertained an audience as well as those tactics that haven’t. You will also received unbiased feedback from a coach, because they aren’t as personally close to the content as you may be.

You must be brutally honest with yourself if you hope to effectively review and critique your show on your own. (To help you review your podcast, I’ve created a free series of Podcast Talent Worksheets that you may find helpful.)

It is not easy to separate yourself from your podcast. Becoming an unbiased onlooker to something you’ve worked hard to create is tricky. You will often find yourself justifying things you do on your show because it is personal.

To effectively critique your show, you need to ask yourself if the audience truly understands and is entertained by the content. Then, you need to honestly answer the question and be willing to change if necessary. Force yourself to be honest about every piece of content.

Not everything works. There will be times you fail. That’s ok. That is how you learn.

In order to properly critique the show, you need to listen to it in real time like an average listener. A few days after you’ve recorded the show, when the excitement of the new show has dimmed, go back and listen to your podcast. Play it in real time while taking notes.

Waiting a few days will remove many of the justifications you would normally use to explain away things that need to be adjusted. The content won’t be so fresh to you. The excuses will fade. You will find it much easier to be unbiased.

Actually listening to the audio rather than just remembering it in your head will make your critique more authentic. You never remember a show exactly as it happened. By listening to the audio, you will hear the exact words you used. It will be much easier to honestly review what really happened.

Listening to your own voice won’t be easy at first. That is alright. Most people do not enjoy the sound of their own voice. That is natural. Listen anyway. You will get more comfortable with it the more you listen.

When you critique your own show, you need to know where to look to find areas that will make a difference. If you understand and find the content that will engage your audience, you will begin making strides to add more of that content. Determine the goal for the show. Know what content will make a connection with your audience. Then, create a plan to add more of that powerful content.

Here are 9 questions you can ask as you critique your show.

1. Did you accomplish your goal for the show?

Every show should have a goal. You should have an idea of what you hope to accomplish before you even open the mic. Be specific.  Create a purpose.

What do you hope to make your audience feel? Is there something they should better understand? Are you incorporating a call-to-action?

Write down your goal before the show begins. A written goal makes the show critique easier and more effective when you return to the audio for the critique. As you review the show, find the areas that did and did not help you accomplish your goal.

2. What did you like about the show?

What parts of the show really jumped out at you as you were reviewing your podcast? Jot those parts down on a sheet of paper. If you can find ways to recreate similar experiences in future shows, you will be well on your way to creating a podcast that is consistently entertaining.

3. What was memorable about the show?

Your listener needs to remember your podcast, so they can return and listen again. That is the way to build a following. If each show has a few more listeners than the previous episode, you eventually build a solid audience.

It really doesn’t matter how many people listen today. What builds a strong podcast is the number of listeners that come back the next time, and the next time, and the time after that. You build your audience slowly with more listeners this week than you had last week.

Get your listener to remember to return. Most people will remember one or two things about any particular show. Find the big parts of your podcast episode that are memorable.

4. How did you make the audience care about your topic?

Nobody wants to watch our home movies unless they are in them. People will only care about your topic if it affects them. How does your topic relate to your audience?

The best way to make people care is to first care about them. Show your audience that you have their best interest at heart. They will come back again and again. Start in the world of your listener.

If you truly want to engage your listener, put her in your story. This doesn’t mean create a fictitious part of your story where she becomes a fake character. Include details that are so vivid that your listener feels like she is right there in the moment.

Stir the passion within your listener with great emotion. You create strong engagement with emotion. Find the parts of your show where you made a connection and made your audience care.

5. Where did you surprise your audience?

You will delight your audience when you surprise them. When the show is predictable, your audience will get bored. Find ways to make them say “oh wow.”

This doesn’t mean your show shouldn’t be consistent. You can use benchmarks and bits that regularly appear on every show. You should simply find ways to keep them fresh with unique content.

Great comedians delight their audience, because the punchlines of their jokes aren’t expected. The material takes turns you don’t see coming. Great movies do the same thing with their plots. That is what makes movies and comedians entertaining.

Find the great surprises in your podcast. Make your audience say, “Oh, wow.” Add that same movie experience to your podcast more often.

6. What did you reveal about yourself?

When you tell stories during your podcast, you reveal things about yourself. Self-revelation is the beginning of great friendships. Friends will support you every chance they can.

People like to do business with people they like. Find those little nuggets that reveal wonderful details about you. That content will make you more approachable and human to your audience.

7. Where were the powerful words?

Storytelling is an important step to revealing details about yourself. Vivid details are a vital part of great stories. Your listener will enjoy your podcast stories more when you include very vivid details.

The more vivid the details, the more your listener will enjoy the story. Make your audience see the story in their mind. Draw the mental picture for them. Details help your listener experience the story rather than just hearing it.

Details are powerful words. Find those words in your podcast. Learn to recognize them. Then, add powerful words more often.

8. What could have been better?

There are always part of your show that could be better. You need to find those parts. Become aware of your weaknesses. That will be the only way to improve.

Your shortcomings could be the introduction of the show. It might be the way you transition from one topic to another. You may find yourself using jargon and cliches most people do not use in natural conversation. Find the areas of your podcast that do not fully support the goal for the show. Those are typically the areas that need work.

9. What is your plan to make the next show better?

To improve, you need to develop a plan. Discovering the areas that need adjustment is only half the battle. You then need to figure out how to improve those areas. Put it in a plan.

The improvement plan is where a coach can be incredibly effective. A good coach has worked with successful shows. They know what works and what doesn’t when trying to attract and engage an audience. A solid coach can review your show and provide you an unbiased opinion. Sometimes that tough love is just the prescription necessary to break through to true improvement.

If you hope to improve your podcast, you need to review your show on a consistent basis.  Listen like a listener.  Be brutally honest with yourself.  Find the areas that need improvement.

It is possible to critique and improve your podcast yourself. You should learn from others who have done it successfully. You will also need the ability to be extremely honest with yourself.

If you have studied successful shows to the point where you can consistently recognize quality content, you may be able to effectively critique your show.

Let me know how I can help.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

The Importance Of Planning When Producing Your Podcast


One of the many fun things about “making a plan” is that once you have your baseline, it’s very easy to go beyond that and find something magical. But recently, I’ve been using the power of planning to do something else. To make sure my podcast went out when I had no idea what I was going to do.

Some background is needed for this one. Firstly about the podcast, and then why the pre-existing plan was so important because of, well, life.

This was my eighth year of covering the Edinburgh Festival Fringe through a daily audio podcast. The Fringe itself is mind-bogglingly huge (42,000 performances by 2,695 shows, almost 280 stages), and many years ago I wondered if one podcaster could cover enough of the Fringe to make a daily show feel comprehensive.

The clue, of course, is that eight years later I’m still doing the show to critical acclaim. This year I put out 26 episodes, each running over 40 minutes, the majority of them having four guests and a musical number (preferably recorded live) to finish the show. It’s not an easy show to put together, as it all needs to be recorded around Edinburgh, between all the shows, and then of course edited and social media’ed every day to succeed.

And I look forward to it every single year.

Except this year. 2012 has seen a little complication. The month or two that I would normally spend researching and prepping for the August run was taken up with far more important matters at home – #BlameVikkisCancer. For anyone keeping track, Vikki’s operation was a success, but with the Fringe approaching, I was facing a blank sheet of paper.

Here’s where the power of planning came in very useful, because I reached back to 2011 for all the planning documents, notes, and diary schedules from last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Show. While the names were different, and the days were a little bit out of sync, this was something that I could simply trust that would let me deliver.

“Follow the plan, and the show will follow,” was my mantra at the end of July as I organized the interviews, reached out to various PR people, booked in shows to review, and sorted out the cross promotion arrangements with other sites. As I followed my diary and reports from 2011, if it happened last year on Wednesday 27th July, it was done on Wednesday 25th July this year.

Would this make for a show with any new ideas for 2012, that would really push the format boundary out? Probably not. But it would deliver a show, which was vitally important as the show is a co-production with The Stage newspaper and I had made the commitment to them many months ago.

It also matches up with one of my philosophies – every show needs a constant. In the case of the Edinburgh Fringe podcast this is myself, as the host. I’m the one conducting the interviews, reading the news, the voice that people would come back for.

The other constant is the structure of the show. It’s no coincidence that the format of the show follows the late night chat show template pioneered by Johnny Carson. That means the show itself was able to use all the same production notes, jingle beds, and interview grid layout as last year.

Because I had a well thought out plan that I could follow, I was able to build the foundations of the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Podcast while my brain, frankly, was focused elsewhere. Each morning, when I came to produce that day’s show, there were more than enough interviews and musical numbers to choose from, and I could focus on putting together and presenting some great content.

All because I had a pretty comprehensive plan.

Making a plan is essential, not just for a business or starting up a new website, podcast, or blog, but for every project you do. And not just a few headers, really sit down, think through every element, document it, and make sure it’s clear enough for others to read and understand, yes even yourself in twelve months time!

Was I expecting to use the 2011 plan in 2012? Not particularly, but I’m glad I could.

And the results? Why not listen for yourself.

6 Ways to Add the “Show” to Your “Business”


Imagination. It is the wonderful result of recorded audio. When you listen to the radio, podcasts, audiobooks or other recorded audio, the imagination is in full motion. Your imagination belongs to you and you alone. You have full control. Your imagination is unlike any other.

Your imagination is used for your sole benefit. The characters and scenes created in your “Theater of the Mind” are exactly how you want them to look. The images are created in your mind in a way that gives you the greatest pleasure. It is all to benefit you.

The wonderful details in a story can stir the imagination in magical ways.

Video typically doesn’t stimulate the imagination the way audio does. When you see a car in a video, you know exactly what it looks like. If you and I both see a car in a video, we would both describe it in very similar ways. There is not much left to interpretation.

If I describe a cherry red 1968 Ford Mustang to you, I couldn’t possibly describe every detail. What does the interior look like? Where is it parked, or was it moving? Is there anybody in it? What kind of tires are on it? Hard top or convertible? There are many details to the story left to your interpretation.

Your imagination creates the car in a way that adds the most to your story and vision. That is the magic of recorded audio. Vivid details take your stories to another level of engagement that video cannot.

There are ways to include recorded production elements within your show that will enhance your listener’s imagination and experience. When you add recorded elements, the imagination of your listener will be further stimulated. You will help create elements within your listener’s “Theater of the Mind.”

Here are a few recorded elements you could easily add to your podcast to spice up the listening experience.

1. Intro/Outro

This is show biz. You produce your show to entertain just as much as inform. Your podcast is just as much “show” as it is “business.” Add some sizzle to your show.

A produced “intro” and “outro” for your podcast is an easy first step. The “intro” opens the show, as in “introduction.” The “outro” closes the show, similar to a conclusion. At a minimum, find a great piece of music that will open and close your show. You can find many sites on the internet that sell music clips for less than a few dollars.


2. Interviews

Guest interviews are a great way to add depth to your audio. A second voice on the show will stir the imagination. Listeners will wonder what your guest looks like. The stories told during the interview will create visions in the mind of your listener.

Listeners enjoy eavesdropping on other conversations more than listening to a lecture. By adding interviews to your show, you allow your listener this pleasure. Sure, you could provide the information yourself rather than going through all the work to secure, arrange and conduct the interview. If you are hoping to develop a relationship with your listener using content that will be engaging, go the extra step by including interviews within your podcast.


3. Listeners

Adding listener audio to your show is another way to juice up your podcast. When you simply read a listener e-mail, the question typically lacks the passion that would come from the listener. The inflection is a little different than the caller would use. The question is also asked in the same cadence, style and voice that you ask every other question.

When you add listener audio, a second dimension is added to the show. Though the caller isn’t actually there, the second voice almost creates a conversation. Your audience is now listening to a conversation rather than a monologue. The question will also be asked in a way unique to the caller.

Similar to the way interviews stimulate the listener’s imagination, callers can add to the “Theater of the Mind.

You don’t need to include the entire phone call. It is show biz. Use the part of the call that will most add to your show. If the call includes a bunch of details not relevant to the question or the show, feel free to edit those parts out of the call. As long as you are not changing the intention of the caller, or making it sound like they are saying something they didn’t say, editing the call is perfectly acceptable.


4. Audio Examples

When you make reference to a piece of audio, play a sample. If you are talking about an interview that Jimmy Johnson gave after a race, play a clip of that interview. Your listeners will be further engaged by the additional voice. Audio examples are just another way to add that additional level of production to your show.

Additional audio will take your listener to another place. An interview clip will transport your listener to the interview location. An old television clip with create memories of seeing the show. A sample of a classic speech may elicit visions of the orator. Use audio to enhance the listening experience.


5. Celebrity Endorsements

People like to have their decisions validated. That is why many companies hire celebrities to endorse their products. If Michael Jordan wears Hanes, it should be alright for me to wear Hanes as well. I don’t feel like I’m the only one doing it when I see Michael Jordan doing it.

You can use this concept to benefit your podcast. If you can get a well-known name in your area of expertise to record a quick endorsement for your show, that piece of audio will add an element of credibility to your podcast. Your listeners will feel like they are not alone in liking your show. They will be validated.


6. Sound Effects

Sound effects can easily enhance the imagination. You need to be careful that you don’t overuse sound effects. Too many effects can make your show sound amateur. However, a well-placed effect here and there can add to the delight of listening.

Adam Carolla has a producer who is responsible for adding sound effects to the show. If you haven’t spent time with Adam’s podcast, listen to one episode simply for the production elements. His content may not be your cup of tea. However, the production of the show must be admired.

The magic of recorded audio comes from the imagination. When you stir wonderful visions in the “Theater of the Mind” of your listener, you will truly begin to engage your audience. You can then begin to build meaningful relationships with your listeners and keep them coming back again and again. Use these ideas to add a little “show biz” to your podcast today.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

What Small Businesses Can Learn from the Hospitality Industry


The world of social media, blogging and podcasting provides an unprecedented opportunity for brands to provide unique, personal experiences for customers past, present and future. The hospitality industry in particular has been able to take advantage of these opportunities to market in innovative ways.

The definition of hospitality is “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.” For a sector that is distinctly characterized by providing excellent customer service, the incorporation of social media to marketing and branding strategies is a perfect union.

Aside from day-to-day Twitter and Facebook posts, supplemental initiatives like Foursquare check-in perks, Pinterest promotions, Instagram presences and hotel blogs have allowed businesses to stay connected and build relationships with their consumers like never before. Many in the industry are finding unique means of implementing these tools in manners which are universally applicable to any type of business.

The Rise of Visual Content

Pinterest is extremely suitable for travel marketing since there are so many (independent and collaborative) components people consider when planning a vacation.

While many brands are still sorting out the tracking implications of Pinterest and how best to execute promotions there, a few have already emerged with authentic and captivating administration. Aqua Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii asked fans to “Pin Hawaii” – create a bucket list on Pinterest of their ideal Hawaiian vacation.

The process involved having users share at least one of Aqua’s pins (thereby sharing the brand name, along with the link to their website); using the #PinHawaii hashtag (spreading the word of the contest); and submitting their boards to a sign-up page (allowing for more accurate tracking).

Pin Hawaii was successful because it accomplished many things.

  • It got people fantasizing about a Hawaii vacation.
  • It got people spreading the word voluntarily.
  • It got people exploring the website (or partner sites).
  • It got people thinking outside the box.

These are qualities that any company can embrace with the right project, and a little fine tuning to each’s needs.

The Range of Written Content

Blogging is a great way to educate consumers about your brand, and many hotels do a fantastic job of utilizing this multi-layered platform.

First, more broad blogs on overall categories are a great way to provide an umbrella of information about a particular niche.

Hotel Chatter does this for hotels. Their goal is to cover everything related to hotels and lodging around the world, including hotel deals and reviews, which celebrities are staying where, hotel industry news, tips for booking online, the hotels you should stay away from, the hotels you should book, and more.

The site is supplemented by regularly updated Twitter and Facebook pages, allowing followers (over 120K on Twitter and 12K on Facebook) to be consistently updated with the latest information.

To curate content and keep everything as fresh as possible, Hotel Chatter encourages visitors to become members and submit their own stories. This allows not only for a substantial variety of material, but also for users to have a first-hand experience with the brand.

Second, many individual hotels themselves maintain blogs. Hotel blogs can serve many purposes, from being a forum for guest feedback, to being an online concierge, to boosting search engine optimization. They can also provide inside information about happenings in the area or on site, and really allow each property to showcase their distinct personality.

The Hollywood Hotel sets the bar high. Aligning with the hotel’s overall image, their blog does an excellent job providing visitors inside information. The right sidebar contains a calendar and tag cloud, making it easy for future travelers to search for specific items if they so desire, along with a variety of content – everything from upcoming events, to videos, to photos and general weekend happenings.

One thing that is also worth noting is that the blog itself contains very little actual promotion for the property. While the top contains the regular options presented on the website (accommodations, dining, etc.), the blog itself is not situated as a sales tool or advertising piece, making it more naturally alluring to visitors (who are used to be inundated with advertisements on a regular basis).

This is brilliant because not only does it show support for the community and other businesses, but it also depicts WHY the area is worth visiting, and therefore, why a visit to Hollywood Hotel would be worthwhile. When you can attract business without actually having to hard sell, it’s a win/win for all involved.

The Application of Audible Content

With the fast-paced advancing of technology, it’s vital for hotels to stay ahead of the curve in any and all ways possible. Some have even begun tying in podcasting to the online experience.

The Dearborn Inn, a Marriott hotel in Dearborn, MI, provides a podcast allowing listeners to take a tour of the celebrated hotel, learn about its unique history and the people who influenced it. The host, Alan Osborne, reveals the chronicles of the hotel from his 20 years of knowledge. How cool is this? Rather than sift through photos of the hotel, which all hotel websites provide, users can listen in to a passionate insider and hear intimidate details of the environment.

Small businesses could utilize podcasts in the same way. While we are an extremely visual culture and we are used to reading information online on a regular basis, it’s a refreshing shift to be able to ignite an additional sense and listen to someone’s first-hand experience.

These are just a few of the ways the hospitality industry is thinking outside the box when it comes to new media initiatives. What others have caught your attention?

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Working with Sponsors for your Podcast [Video Series]


If you’re a podcaster, one of the ways you can make money with your content is by working with sponsors. Yet, if you simply wait for the sponsors to come to you, you might be waiting a long time! In this three-part video series, we’ll cover what sponsors are looking for, how to evaluate and work with sponsors, and how to set your prices and treat your podcast like a business.

Part One: The Three Things Every Sponsor Wants (and where to find them) – Straight from the Mouth of a Sponsor! with Mark Fuccio


Part Two: Evaluating Sponsors: The Courtship and Marriage with David Sparks


Part Three: Treating Your Podcast Like a Business and Setting Your Sponsorship Prices with Lou Mongello


If you love this video series, you can find even more information about working with sponsors for your podcast (or blog) by picking up our FREE 130-page ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship.

5 Ways To Generate Content Topics


As I coach talent, people often ask me, “Where do I find good topics?” It’s often a struggle of new talent and veterans alike.

Creating an entertaining podcast show after show, week after week, is a challenge (and the tips below can apply to blogs and video episodes, too!). You need to find a topic that holds your interest. Your topic must also be attractive to your audience. Finally, you need to present it in a way that is engaging. Every topic, every time. Even the most seasoned talent run into a sort of writer’s block from time to time.

When you hit a wall and have no topic readily at hand, where do you turn? How do you get past the block to create engaging entertainment? Where does the next captivating topic originate?

There are five primary methods I teach my clients to get past the topic block. These five questions will help you find quality topics for your show. If you take a few minutes before each episode to brainstorm these questions, you will have plenty of material for your show.

The key to each of these questions is awareness. Be aware when events, comments and ideas throughout your day capture your attention. If you are interested in something, you can usually deliver it in a way that will be interesting to your audience.

Keep these questions in your mind as you go through your day. I would also suggest you keep a little notebook in your pocket to jot down ideas. You never know when the next interesting topic might pop up.

1. What daily happenings capture my attention?

Things are happening all around you everyday. You may find yourself wondering why things happen like they do. Something might spark a laugh. You might learn something new. All of these things can lead to great topics. Be aware.

Jot down people you meet, things you see and ideas you learn that capture your attention. It is possible to turn it all into great topics.

2. What has happened in my past that created vivid memories?

You have tremendous experience in your field. That is why you create your podcast in the first place. Put it to work.

What are the things in your past that generate clear memories? Remember, many listeners that are learning from you are staring at the very beginning. They are in the same place you were when you began years ago. Help them learn.

Even if your listeners already know the information, your podcast will serve as a refresher course. Be confident in your material. Deliver it with passion, and your listeners will love you.

3. What articles have caputure your attention?

Read many articles from a variety of industries. Your topic ideas won’t always come from information within your field. Simply look for statements within the article that pique your interest.

Read with a highlighter. Whenever you come across a word, phrase or sentence that captures your attention, highlight it. When you’re done with the article, scan the highlighted parts for the most interesting one or two. Use that word, phrase or sentence to begin brainstorming. You never know where it may lead.

Let’s say you read an article about the correlation between the location of churches and bars. As you highlight the article, you highlight a phrase where a local councilman wants to pass an ordinance to keep bars at least 500 yards from any church. Your podcast is about hockey. How do we make the link to a great topic?

When you begin brainstorming, your thoughts will lead in many directions. Within your freeform writing as you are considering new laws, you write, “People are always looking to change the rules of the game. Are more rules really good for the growth of the sport?”

Suddenly, you’ve gone from church and liquor to the rules of hockey. You now have a great topic. Topics can come from anywhere.

4. What conversations have you had today that were truly engaging?

If a conversation engaged both you and your counterpart, there is a good chance it will also engage your audience.

Conversations tend to wander in many directions. You might start discussing the news of the day. That may lead the discussion into a movie you want to see. Suddenly, you’re discussing classic leading men. Any part of the discussion might lead to a good topic. You simply need to be aware of the parts of the discussion that are most interesting.

5. What questions are people in your industry asking?

You can find questions on a daily basis even if you aren’t regularly talking to people. The internet is your friend. Search the discussion boards to find the questions.

Help those in your industry solve their problems. You don’t need to answer the question verbatim. Let the question lead you to great topics.

If you find a question interesting, but not completely engaging, rephrase it. Mold the question a bit until it becomes an entertaining topic. It doesn’t matter that the question is not exact. It only matters that it is compelling.

When your listeners e-mail questions to you, answer the question as it is stated and give credit to the individual that asked. If you feel the need to change the question to make it more engaging, briefly answer the original question, then move on to the rephrased version. Say something such as, “Yes, it is possible to do that. However, the more important question is ‘should you do that?’”.

Brainstorm your notes

Great topics can originate in many places. The topic might not jump out at first. However, you can brainstorm the topic until it becomes engaging.

If you get curious about something, there is a good chance your audience might be just as curious. Jot down things that strike your interest as they happen in daily life. Then, brainstorm a bit to really flush out the idea.

As you write, let your thoughts flow. Don’t critique.  Simply write.  Let the ideas flow to the paper.

You may start writing about your experience at a restaurant and by the end of your brainstorm wonder why we learn calculus. That’s ok. You simply want to find the most interesting topic related to your podcast. It doesn’t necessarily need to have any relationship to your original observation. Your topic only needs to be interesting.

Be aware of all that happens around you. That next great topic could come from anywhere. You’ll miss it unless you are looking.

Keep a notepad in your pocket. Write down everything that captures your imagination. Take ten minutes before your podcast to brainstorm your topic. You will get past the podcast topic block and create engaging entertainment with your content.

5 Reasons I Prefer Audio to Video


It has taken me a long, long time to jump into video production. Even now, I am not enthusiastic about it, and I much prefer audio. Video versions of my podcasts have been put up on YouTube, but not in the past many weeks…I just can’t seem to commit to it. I thought long and hard about this for about 15 minutes and came up with five reasons I prefer audio podcasting to video podcasting and web TV.

1. I have bad hair days

If you have seen me at various conferences or seen any of the videos that I’ve produced, you’ll recognize the hat that I always wear (it’s in my profile photo at the end of this very article as well). It’s become a bit of a running joke that nobody has ever seen me without it. Well, there’s a reason for that.

Bad Hair Day

Me, last Tuesday.

I’m not the most self-conscious person in the world about these things, but just enough that I am not often eager to jump in front of a camera—not without my trusty black Kangol, at least.

2. Video is more expensive to produce

Well, yes, you could do a video podcast with a camera built into a laptop and the internal microphone. You could do one using that camera and a cheap USB headset, certainly. It won’t look very good, but you can do it. If we’re talking high-quality audio podcasts vs. high-quality video podcasts though, video is more expensive. You’ll want to get a decent camera for a hundred dollars or more. Storage is going to be an issue, unless you want to use YouTube or a similar service. Video files run very, very large. Storing and serving them from a media host or from a service like Amazon S3 can add up. You may want to spend some money building or decorating a set, whether it’s just a room in your house or someplace else. Don’t forget lighting! Without proper lights, your video will look grainy, washed out or out-of-balance, and that can have strange effects on your appearance.

Bad Hair Day

This is also me in poor lighting.

Everything that will be seen on camera needs to be considered.

3. There’s more acting involved with video

You’ve seen it on television and in movies. A character is talking on the phone to someone he is not enjoying talking to, so he starts rolling his eyes, making gestures and generally expressing himself in ways he wouldn’t want the caller to see. No doubt you’ve done this yourself—who among us hasn’t silently mimed smashing the phone to bits when talking to a girlfriend or boyfriend? Nobody, that’s who.

Web TV or video podcasts make it impossible to express annoyance, irritation or “OMG WHY AM I TALKING TO THIS IDIOT?!” with a guest or co-host because that camera is always on. Even if you’re not doing the conversation via live video, your show will be seen by the other party later on. Every moment of your show now requires you to be an actor. You can’t look disinterested. Your gaze can’t wander the room, you need to look like you’re paying attention at all times because it’s not enough to pay attention in your headphones, now you have viewers judging your performance. I myself have considered acting lessons.

But Clooney won’t return my calls.

4. Video takes longer to produce…

Different audio setups will have different files to work with, but for my setup, I record a WAV file that turns out to be anywhere from 500-800 MB per show, depending on the length of the episode. I edit that WAV file in Adobe Audition, apply a filter or two, and export the show to MP3. The whole process takes maybe five minutes, and that’s if I stop to check Facebook while I’m working. Video, on the other hand…

The first time estimate. I’m not waiting for the update to get a more dramatic screenshot, sorry.

This is Adobe Premiere rendering an episode. The show was a bit over an hour long, and it took three days to finish. Each video file (mine and each of my two co-hosts) was over 2 GB. My computer isn’t state-of-the-art, it’s a 2009 Macbook Pro with 8 GB of RAM, but still…three days. Sure, I can make the video’s dimensions smaller, or I could just not do picture-in-picture with my co-hosts, or I could skip the intro and the graphics…but if you’re not doing a good-looking video, what’s the point?

5. …because video is more complicated

Well, it’s like I said. Picture-in-picture, intros, graphics. In order to make a professional-looking video podcast, you need professional-level elements, and you need to be able to put them together. Editing video is a lot like editing audio; it’s all done in multitrack editors. The software is a lot more complicated when editing video, however. Audio and video tracks are often separated, insertion of elements is more complicated with video. Filters, transitions and effects abound in video editing, whereas audio filters and effects are less numerous.

Convince me.

So, here I am, audio podcasting guy totally dissing video (though totally not dissing people that do it because frankly, I’m jealous). What do you have to say to someone like me that isn’t really keen on video? Do you think you can convince me to double down and push video versions of my shows? I want to hear from you in the comments below. Let’s talk about video.

Introducing Our Brand New Free Ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship


If you’re a blogger or podcaster wondering how in the world others in your field have caught the attention of major sponsors, you aren’t alone. Working with brands can take your content monetization to the next level, but sponsors don’t just materialize out of thin air and offer you cash for your blog or podcast – at least, not most of the time.

I get email questions about sponsorships at least once or twice a week: How do I find brands who want to sponsor me? Should I work with such-and-such a brand or will it make my fans angry? What can I do to make more money working with sponsors?

Our newest free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship, answers all of these questions and more.

I’m not going to sugar-coat things; working with brands can sometimes be a challenge. Many brands don’t fully understanding blogging and podcasting, so you often have to be an educator as much as a salesperson. Our ebook is all about helping you learn these skills so you can be successful when working with brands.

Let me give you a little sneak preview of the ebook with a quick FAQ about sponsorship!

What is blog/podcast sponsorship? Is it right for my blog/podcast?

Brands want to advertise their products and build their communities, and they can do so by working with influential bloggers and podcasters. This can be in the form of advertising, or you can work more in an ambassador type of relationship. Sponsorship is not right for every blogger or podcaster, but there are so many different options for sponsorship deals that you should definitely consider the options before writing it off completely.

What kind of sponsorship deals can I offer?

Depending on your type of content and niche, you can offer anything from banner ads on your sidebar to travel sponsorship deals where a company will pay to send you to a trade show. Other common sponsorship options include spoken ads (like commercials) , sponsored posts, sponsored social media messages, and wallpaper sponsorship.

How can I make myself attractive to sponsors?

The best case scenario is a sponsor emailing you with interest in working out a deal. This will never happen, however, if you’re unattractive to sponsors. You have to have quality content, decent traffic numbers, and a media kit. It can also help to create an advertising page and use language on your blog or in your show notes that will help sponsors find you when they’re searching for opportunities.

When will sponsors start contacting me?

You might be sitting around and waiting by the phone for a pretty long time. Instead, take matters into your own hands! Our ebook goes over five great techniques you can test out in order to find sponsorship deals instead of just waiting for them to happen. Be proactive!

Should I work with Brand XYZ?

In every niche, there are certain brands you want to avoid. It’s important to evaluate every potential sponsor, rather than just saying yes every time money is offered. There are several types of sponsorship deals you should avoid at all costs – and when you say no, you can definitely do so  in a way that doesn’t burn any bridges, so you can potentially work with the sponsor in the future on a different deal.

How much should I charge?

That’s a huge question, and the answer depends on several factors, including your traffic, the type of sponsorship, and your niche. Our free ebook covers this question in much more detail, along with some step-by-step options for setting prices.

How can I make even more money working with sponsors?

Are you offering package deals? Have you reminded brands already working with you about their sponsorship options? Have you created a relationship that will last long-term? Yes, you can make hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month with a single sponsor if you’re smart about it!

These FAQs are just a brief taste of what you’ll get in the full 130-page ebook we’ve created. So, if you’re ready to take your monetization strategy to the next level, download The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship today!

8th Annual Podcasting Awards to Be Held at New Media Expo (#NMX)


New Media Expo ’13 is going to be a great time for podcasters. In addition to a stellar podcasting track put together by Cliff Ravenscraft, we’re happy to report that we’ll also be holding the 8th annual Podcasting Awards ceremony at our event.

That’s right. We’re going to feature one night where we celebrate all things podcasting and pay homage to some pretty special people.

To make it easy for all nominees to attend, NMX is offering:

  • A free exhibits pass or 50% off Content Creator pass for every finalist
  • A 50% off or exhibits pass for every nominee
  • Special speaking and live podcasting opportunities

Stay tuned for announcements regarding nominees and the date, time and location of the 8th Annual Podcasting Awards. If you’re interested is sponsoring the podcasting awards, please contact the intrepid Patti Hosking at patti@blogworldexpo.com

NMX ’13 Podcasting Track Lineup

We also think you’ll be pretty pleased with the lineup track leader Cliff Ravenscraft put together to form our Podcasting Track. Check out our speakers:

  • Cesar Abed – The Benefits Of Being The First To Podcast Within Your Niche
  • Darnell Darnell – Tips and Techniques for Building a Successful Fan Podcast
  • Craig Duswalt – How to Create New Content & Think Outside the Box When Podcasting
  • Gordon Firemark – Ten Legal Cases Every Podcaster, Blogger or Media Producer Should Know About
  • Erik Fisher – What You Need To Know To Reach Your Audience On Facebook: Understand Facebook Edgerank For Content Creators
  • Rob Greenlee – Learn About The Largest And Fastest Growing “Must Be On” Distribution Platforms In 2013
  • Karin Hoegh – How To Effectively Podcast To A Global Audience
  • Perry Lawrence – Video Podcasting – What You Need To Know To Get Started
  • Lou Mongello – 7 Ways to Find, Sign and Profit from Sponsors for your Brand
  • Leslie Samuel – How To Podcast Like A Pro And Never Edit – Say Goodbye To Post Production
  • Jonathan Shank – How To Use A Virtual Assistant To Produce Your Podcast
  • Jaime Tardy – How to Create Amazing Interviews for your Podcast
  • Jason Van Orden– Media Money: 5 Action Plans for Profiting from Your Blog, Podcast or WebTV Show
  • Rob Walch – Audio Podcasting – Doing it all from your iPad

Hope to see you in January. And don’t forget – Early bird pricing for New Media Expo ’13 ends this Friday, September 28th. Act quickly to save up to 50% on all pricing. REGISTER NOW!


Learn About NMX


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