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Why I Podcast


The question comes up a lot, and I recently realized that the answers I’d been giving for the past year or so were unsatisfactory. Before I get into the backstory of how I came to realize this (because it’s fascinating), let’s run down the new list of reasons. I’d suggest taking notes, but this is print form so… yeah. Never mind.

#1. It’s FUN.

It is extraordinarily, massively, awesomely, deliciously fun to talk into a microphone and know that thousands of people will hear what I’m saying. No matter the format, whether it’s a serious interview or just a goofy segment talking about hot dogs, it is always fun for me. I’ve said for years and years that if something isn’t fun, I won’t do it. Life is too short.

Døp hot dog

But not so short that we can’t talk about weird hot dogs.

#2. I’m an introvert and podcasting helps.

Not that being an introvert is something that needs to be helped, I simply mean that I’m not the most gregarious person in the world. I get stage fright. I get nervous introducing myself to crowds of unfamiliar faces. I favor solitary situations in most cases. The thing is… I love to talk. I can do twenty minutes about almost anything. I don’t even like sports very much, but if someone asks me to be on a sports podcast, I’ll say yes and then spend a few hours studying. Podcasting gets me out of my shell.

#3. It’s easy.

Well, it’s sort-of easy. Randy Cantrell, one of the greats as far as I’m concerned, likes to say that something is only hard until it’s easy. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: this ain’t rocket science. I can say that with certainty because I know actual rocket scientists. When you live down the road from NASA in Houston, Texas, you can’t throw a moon rock without hitting a rocket scientist. Podcasting can be daunting at first, but when it comes right down to it, the basics are simple. Press record. Talk. Press stop. Simple. Podcasting is only as complicated as you want it to be.

Moon rock from the Apollo 16 site

Fun fact: moon rocks are easier to throw because they have less gravity than earth rocks. Science, FTW!

#4. It compliments your existing business and it can be your primary gig.

A podcast is a wonderful addition to a blog because it allows readers to hear your voice; unless you write like you talk, this can be a great way to give readers a better sense of who you are. Podcasting also has the potential to be a primary business. Between affiliate marketing, sponsorships and listener donations, it is very possible to launch a podcast or podcast network and make it profitable.

The Backstory…

Last week I was in New York City for Affiliate Summit East 2012. Three major tasks dominated my agenda. One, I was the emcee for the event. Exciting! Second, I was leading the fourth iteration of Affiliate Improv, an educational brainstorming session, and always a lot of fun. Third, I was tapped to speak about podcasting for half an hour during a special adjunct to Summit called the Monetize Your Blog Using Affiliate Marketing Training Course. It’s this third bit that prompted me to write this article for you today.

I had a few dozen slides prepared and my plan of attack was simple. Part one of my presentation would be about why everyone should podcast. Part two, how to podcast—hardware, software, recording… you get the idea. Part three, how to monetize a podcast and how to use a podcast to better monetize your site. The presentation went very well! I was comfortable, the slides looked great, and I believe I hit all my marks. It wasn’t until later that it was brought to my attention how I screwed up one very, very important point.

The Point That Wasn’t Made

Part one of the presentation was half a dozen slides detailing why someone should be a podcaster. These were easily inserted into the mix because I’d used them before. Last year, I did a webinar called 5 Rock Solid Reasons to Podcast (I even adapted the webinar for an article here at Blogworld.com). I tweaked those slides and called it done because that part was not the main focus of the course, monetization was. During my talk, I breezed over the five reasons, then got into the how-to and wrapped up quite nicely with some monetization tips—I even had enough time for Q&A.

Had I thought more about the first part of the talk instead of just repurposing my old slides, I might have saved myself a little jolt of embarrassment later on.

Two days later, I was in the Blogger Lounge at Affiliate Summit when I was approached by Wendy Limauge. She said what a great job all of us presenters did at the monetization course and asked me if I’d be willing to do an interview with her. Being the media who—uh, slave, that I am, I of course said sure. She said, and I’m paraphrasing because I have the memory of a chipmunk, “great, because I’d love to ask you why you’re a podcaster. You didn’t mention that in the presentation on Saturday.”

I… didn’t? But I have those five rock solid reasons… how did I not…?

As I started to talk in the interview, I realized what a terrible mistake I’d made. I never did explain why I’m a podcaster. Yes, a lack of FCC oversight is a great thing about podcasting. Sure, being an inexpensive endeavour makes podcasting attractive. The trouble is, my five rock solid reasons aren’t reasons. Saying that podcasts are the most portable form of communication is true, but it’s like saying you should buy a Miata because it will get you from Point A to Point B. That’s not a reason to buy a Miata—a Pinto will get you from Point A to Point B, too.

Car Fire


So, now I toss it to you, dear reader. Do you podcast? Why?

Main image credit

Three Steps To The Art Of The Tease


Photo Credit: Tiom

When you want your listeners to stick around and listen to what you have to say, you need to give them a compelling reason.Your listener needs to anticipate what is to come later in the show. You need to excite them. You need to tease them.

Anticipation is a key feature to storytelling. Your story should build just like a good plot builds in a movie. You need to make your audience anticipate the content that is on the way.

Your story is similar to a vacation you are planning to take. The fantastic anticipation for the trip is almost as pleasurable as the trip itself. You can’t wait for it to arrive. You want your listener to feel the same way about your story.

When your listener can’t wait for the story to arrive, you have created some great content with a powerful tease. Your listeners will get more enjoyment from your show when they get the tease payoff more often. The pleasure of the “oh wow” factor will be increased. The joy of anticipation will keep your audience coming back for more.

There are three steps to creating an effective tease.

1. Intrigue me.

When you promote content that is coming up later in the show, you must give your audience an intriguing reason to stick around. It isn’t enough to simply say, “A great story about this weekend is coming up.” Few will stick around for the payoff. The tease lacks stickiness. It doesn’t hook the listener.

A creative tease produces anticipation. Instead, use something like, “You’re never gonna believe what I found in the attic this past weekend. My world is about to take a wild turn.” With that statement, your imagination begins to work.

What could it be? A wasp nest? An antique? A structural problem with the house? Imagination is the magic of a creative tease. Stir the imagination of your audience to truly engage them with your content.

When possible, intrigue by incorporating the listeners world. “This weekend, I discovered a way to save $100 a month on my grocery bill by changing one thing in the way we shop. I’ll tell you how you can do it too.” It answers “what’s in it for me” for your listener.

2. Give them 80%.

To create an effective tease, give your listener 80% of the story while leaving out the most important 20%. It is similar to giving the setup for a joke without providing the punchline. Lead your listener right up to the line, but make them wait to step over.

The key to an effective tease is to withhold the most important 20%. Let’s use our previous example of the attic weekend. I could say, “You’re not gonna believe it, but I found a $25,000 antique painting in the attic this weekend. I’ll tell you what’s on it coming up.”

This is a perfect example of withholding the wrong 20%. Who cares who is on it. If it’s worth $25,000, it could be a painting of the sky. It wouldn’t matter to me. I’d only be asking where I could sell it.

Twenty-five thousand dollars is the most exciting piece of information in the entire story. That is the piece that I need to withhold to create some excitement. To properly tease, I need to say, “In the attic this weekend, I found an antique painting of Napoleon. You’re never gonna believe how much it is worth.” You are more likely to stick around to see if I can retire on my winnings when I set it up in this fashion.

3. Make it impossible to search online.

You want your listener to keep listening for the payoff to your set up. If I can simply search on Google for the answer to your tease, there is no reason to keep listening. I can just look it up and be done with it.

You need to get creative to make your tease unsearchable.

Let’s say I have a story about Joe Celebrity getting drunk at High Profile Bar in Las Vegas over the weekend where he got arrested for assault. I could say, “Another movie star got arrested this weekend after he got in a fight with a customer at High Profile Bar in Las Vegas. I’ll tell you who it is coming up.”

Celebrity name is part of the correct 20% I’m withholding. However, I can look this story up on Google in a heartbeat. If I search “Arrest High Profile Bar Las Vegas” the chances are good that I will find the story in the first few search results. The tease isn’t effective. It is too easy to search.

To make the tease more powerful, make it impossible to search. “Another bar fight over the weekend landed another celebrity in jail. The story is coming up.” This tease makes it much more difficult to search. If you entered “celebrity bar fight weekend” in Google, 70 million results show up. It will be much easier to wait for my payoff than to begin searching 70 million Google entries.

The three steps to powerful teases will help you begin to engage your audience on the way to building powerful relationships. Use the three steps to entice people to listen to the episode. Then, use them again during the introduction of the show to get listeners to enjoy the entire recording.

You’ve worked hard to create your content. A lot of effort has been exerted on your part while writing and recording your show. Make your content intriguing by using these three steps to intrigue your audience.

When you use the art of the tease, your listeners will spend more time with your show. The increased frequency of the tease payoffs will help your audience enjoy your content more. When your show is more entertaining, it becomes more engaging. When you truly engage your audience with your content, you can begin building powerful relationships. That’s where trust and influence with your listener begins.

6 Steps to Get Your Listeners To Stick Around

to do list

(photo by Cossac)

To keep your listener coming back for more, make her comfortable. It is like she is meeting an old friend again. Most people know what they like and like what they know. To get your listeners to stick with your show, build a solid structure. Then, be creative within it.

Think of your favorite talk show. Can you see the structure? Late night talk hosts like Jay Leno and David Letterman follow a structure with an opening monologue, a comedy segment, two guest interviews and a band performance. Radio call-in shows like “The Dave Ramsey Show” and “The Clark Howard Show” will structure their show with an opening and monologue followed by calls from listeners. Successful shows follow a format.

I often hear podcasters say, “We don’t have a format. We just talk about whatever is on our minds.” This is a mistake. Your listener expects quality and consistency. They want to be assured they are getting what they expect. Consistency makes your listener comfortable.

Structure doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and ad lib on your show. A structure simply means you have a well-defined plan. You need to know where you’re going and how you plan to get there. More importantly, your listener needs to know that you know. A consistent structure conveys that message.

Here are six elements you can add to your show to quickly build some structure:

1. Include an Intriguing introduction

New listeners will constantly join your podcast. You cannot assume every listener has heard the first episode or any episode that happened before this one. Tell your new listener what to expect from your show every time you record a new podcast.

Your introduction should be succinct and intriguing. You have about thirty seconds to convince your listener to stick around for the rest of the show. Tell them who you are and what you do in a general sense. Next, tell them what to expect from this specific show. Finally, tell them how to get involved with the podcast.

“Welcome to the Podcasters Podcast. My name is Erik K. Johnson. Over the next 30 minutes, we will answer your questions about transforming your podcast from average information into engaging entertainment and we will turn your relationships into cash.”

With that quick introduction, I told you exactly what to expect. You know the name of my fictitious podcast. You know the name of the host, exactly how long the podcast will run, and the goal for the show. I’ve also put you in the mix by referencing your dreams and how my podcast will help you. In those brief seconds, I’ve told you who, what, when and why.

Your introduction must be intriguing. On his show “48 Days Podcast,Dan Miller discusses the possibility of finding work you love. He hooks his listeners right from the start.

“Today we are going to talk about work” is not intriguing. That will not create any desire to stick around to hear what you have to say, especially for 30 minutes or an hour. For many, talking about work is like watching paint dry. Dan opens with “Do you love your work? Do you think it’s possible? Well, you’re about to find out.” Dan is intriguing.

“Today we are going to answer four e-mails to help these individuals escape their dreaded 9-to-5 and get into their dream jobs.” That is a statement that will stir some emotion and make people listen through to the end.

A great introduction welcomes new listeners to the group while making regular listeners feel comfortable.

2. Details That Delight

Details captivate the imagination of your listener. Your podcast should contain great stories that engage your audience. Put your listener in the story by adding delightful details.

“It was a muggy, hot lunchtime. We ducked into the cool, dark shade of the thick woods where the sun was barely visible through the dense leaves. My eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the leaf-covered path when I lost my footing near the edge of an embankment. I ended up landing on my hip and rolling head-over-feet down the fairly steep, 10-foot drop where I promptly landed on my butt in the muddy mess below. My legs were completely covered in mud as if I had been rolling in it for hours.”

With the delightful details of that story, you can almost feel yourself in the woods. You can see the muddy mess in your mind. You can smell the thick, wooded area. Details help your listener experience the story rather than just hearing it.

3. Call To Action

Your podcast should encourage your listener to take action. The most common action we desire is listening again. Other possibilities include buying our product, visiting our website, or getting involved with our cause.

To get our listeners to act, we must include a call to action. It seems logical. However, many podcasters believe, “If I build it, they will come.” It simply doesn’t happen that way. Remember to always include a call to action. People won’t buy unless you ask them to buy.

4. Remove The Breaks

Be sure your show flows. Do not break the podcast into parts. When you make one segment sound like it ends, making a break appear, the listener has a chance to exit.

When you say, “Now it’s time for…” you have just made one segment end and another begin. You’ve given the audience the signal that the portion of the show they were just enjoying is now over, and you’re moving on to something different. If they want to get out, now is the time.

Avoid giving them the chance to leave by keeping the show one continuous, smooth piece of work. Simply start the next element without setting it up with a qualifier.

5. Help Your Audience

If your entire product and marketing strategy is focused on you, it will be very difficult to retain listeners. People are interested in themselves. As good as you might be, your listener will still wonder what is in it for them.

As Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Make it clear how your listener benefits by your content. Focus on helping your audience.

Your customer is not interested in your product. She is interested in what your product can do for her. The content of your podcast must relate to your listener at all times. Make sure you position your content from the point of view of your listener. Nobody wants to watch your home movies unless they are in them.

6. A Powerful Conclusion

When you reach the end, thank your audience. Give them a nice conclusion summarizing the show, and let them know where they can get more. You might send them to your website, invite them to join your group on a social media site, or simply remind them when the next podcast will be posted.

Just like speech class, your conclusion should restate your introduction almost word-for-word. It should also contain your call to action.

Put It In Place

Follow these six steps, and you will quickly add some solid structure to your show. Even if you don’t have the desire to grow your audience to huge levels, you will need to replace the natural attrition your podcast will experience. You will always have listeners who stop listening for various reasons, such as no need, replaced by another, no longer entertained, or replaced the computer/phone with the rss feed.

As you attract new listeners to continue to fill the funnel, you must immediately hook and welcome these people to the party. A structure will help you do that. Make your listener comfortable. Most people know what they like and like what they know. Build your structure. Then, be creative within it.

What have you added to your podcast to create structure? How has it helped your audience grow? Share it below, and help others learn.

Um… Er… Ah… 7 Speech Tips for Podcasters


So, um, you know, there’s something that tends to worry new podcasters and even sometimes fluster experienced talkers. It has to do with, you know, effective speech and uh, verbal crutches. There are, ah, um, a lot of ways that a podcaster… okay, I can’t keep this up. Even typing “um” is driving me crazy.

Here’s the thing. You speak the way you speak. When you’re podcasting, you have a choice: you can speak in your own natural way, or you can try to alter your speech—if necessary—to remove verbal crutches and filler words. Heck, maybe your natural way of speaking makes you sound like Brian Williams or Katie Couric.

Brian Williams

Hasn’t said “um” since 1981. Image source

If your voice isn’t silky smooth and free of verbal hiccups, maybe a few things I’ve learned will be helpful. Oh, I’m not perfect. I still drop an “ah” on my listeners or a “you know” here and there. Still though, I’m ah, you know, a lot better than I used to be. Try on these seven tips for eliminating verbal fillers. To get started, you need to have a baseline—a measure of your speech patterns. That means you need to…

#1. Really Pay Attention

Although you can certainly go back and listen to past recordings you’ve made and pick apart your speech patterns, nothing beats paying attention to what you’re saying as you’re saying it. This is tricky because it requires you to do three things simultaneously: talk, think in the moment, and think about what you’re going to say next. The goal with Really Paying Attention isn’t so much to change your speech patterns but to recognize your speech patterns. Change comes later, when you decide perhaps to…

#2. Slow Down

The best advice I ever got for eliminating filler words from your speech is to sloooooooow dowwwwwwwn. Filler words can creep in when your mouth and brain aren’t moving at the same speed. In my experience it happens because my mouth can’t keep up with my brain. As I’m speaking, I’m sometimes on the next train of thought before my mouth has finished getting off the first. For others, it might be the opposite: you finish speaking your thought before you line up exactly what you want to say next, so you fill that gap between thoughts with an “um.”

Slowing down your speech when your brain races ahead can force you to slow your thinking down-which is not as bad as it sounds. You’ll trip over fewer words, use fewer fillers, and sound generally more coherent. Slowing down your speech when you’re having trouble figuring out what to say next can help you make that transition without needing filler. You’re buying yourself a little bit of time to get where you need to go.

#3. Learn to Love Silence

You know what’s better than saying “um”? Nothing. Literally, nothing—silence. Try it. Press record, and start talking. Make a concerted effort to simply stop talking instead of saying “um” or “uh.” This exercise doesn’t have to happen while you’re recording a show, but give it a shot under the same circumstances.

Be careful not to overdo it. I recorded a show shortly after trying this technique out, and later realized I had a 20 second pause in the recording. I was slowing down, I was using silence rather than fillers…and wow, was it bad. I had gaps in there you could drive the Batmobile through. Pausing for a breath, pausing for a moment, that’s fine. If your pauses go on for longer than it would take to say “um,” then you have a whole new thing to worry about-kinda like if you took up drinking to help you quit doing drugs.

Stare at this for 20 seconds and tell me it doesn’t feel like an eternity.

#4. Have Confidence in What You’re Saying

If you have no confidence in what goes into your mouth, you shouldn’t stick it in there. Same with what comes out. If you’re lacking confidence in what you’re saying, it might be better left unsaid. Sometimes though, we like to “think out loud” and come up with theories, concepts or ideas on the fly…while sitting behind a live microphone and device that records every noise we make. This is not necessarily a bad thing—a lot of really great material has been born of improv. The trick is to realize that even improv takes practice. With practice comes comes confidence. With confidence comes the elimination of the dreaded filler words.

#5. Talk With Your Hands

You don’t need to start conducting an invisible orchestra, but gesticulating while you’re speaking can be a great help. According to studies that I made up for this article, talking with your hands can help you cut down on filler words by up to 37.67%. Gesturing while you’re talking invests you in what you’re talking about. Have you ever spoken with someone who talks with their hands? Do they ever seem like they’re unconfident about what they’re saying? Gesturing invests you in your subject which makes you more confident which improves your speech.

Talking with your hands

Pictured: someone not saying “um” Image source

#6. Embrace the Fillers

Wait, what? No, don’t embrace the fillers that we’re trying to eliminate, but embrace a method of using them for good instead of evil. This might be a hard one to explain in print, but here goes. Voice modulation and inflection can help tell a story, and using interesting inflections—even on filler—can be entertaining or can help drive a point. This is something I’ve noticed a few comedians do when telling certain types of jokes. The premise gets set up, then there’s a protracted “ahhhhhhh” with a hint of a chuckle in it, then BAM, punchline.

There can be a lot of personality in an “um” or ” you know,” but only if you really pay attention to how you’re using the fillers.

#7. No, Really, Embrace the Fillers

Having said all of this about eliminating these kinds of verbal crutches, it’s important to note that they’re not all bad. When I was first getting started, I spent hours editing out all the fillers—some podcasters still do. It’s not necessary. Yes, some speakers are worse than others. If you have an “um” in every sentence you speak, if you begin every thought with “ah,” that’s pretty bad. But these fillers are natural to all of us, and we’re pretty good at filtering them out in our everyday conversations. When we’re listening to people with authority, we expect less filler. Broadcasters and podcasters fall under that category.

Daniel M. Clark

The face of authority. Move over, Brian Williams.

Take stock of your verbal fillers and be honest with yourself: do you use these crutches infrequently enough to let them slide, or do you need to work on them?

Featured Image Credit

How Improv Can Improve a Podcast (Or Destroy It)


Right now you’re looking at the picture I’ve chosen to accompany this article and you’re likely wondering if I’m about to suggest you start getting up on stage at an improv comedy club. I’m not—unless you’re into the idea.

No, this is about the fine art of improvisation, the art of thinking on your feet and coming up with new, usable ideas on the fly. This is about being knowledgeable in your niche or topic and being able to speak on your podcast without a script. Improv can make your show… or it could break it. Here’s how.

The case for improvisation

Last year I interviewed Kim Ann Curtin for an episode of my Inside Internet Marketing show. Whereas all of my other shows are mostly unscripted, this series required me to come up with a list of questions or topics beforehand because it’s an interview format. You can’t go into an interview not knowing what you’re going to ask… can you?

Sure you can!


One of the things that Kim teaches is listening and interaction—how to really listen and use what you learn in a conversation to propel the conversation. Too often we just nod along with whatever someone is saying because we are thinking ahead about the next thing we want to say. Unbeknownst to Kim, I had nothing to ask her during the interview.

I started the episode pretty much the standard way. I introduced myself, read a pre-scripted bio to introduce Kim, and then mentioned the first time she and I met (she gave me a cupcake; very memorable). I then asked the only question I had to ask: who are you, Kim Ann Curtin? For the next 23 or so minutes, I listened intently to what she said and responded with questions that built on what she was talking about.

That turned out to be one of the best interviews I’ve ever done. It wasn’t because she was dropping bombshells all over the place or jumping on the sofa like a lunatic, but because we were so engaged that the flow, pace and content all lined up to create a great interview. After we ended the show and stopped recording, I told her what I had done and she was blown away that I would try something like that.

The lesson here? If you’re comfortable with listening, you don’t need to read from a scripted list of questions. You might not end up in the same place as you would with a script, and you might even go on tangents that you didn’t mean to, but if you are engaged with your guest, you will have a better show than if you nod your head with whatever your guest is saying while you’re queuing up the next question in your head.

The case against improvisation

Okay, raise your hand if you think that I was crazy for attempting that. That interview could have gone completely off the rails, right? What if Kim had been dull or if she was the kind of interviewee that reminds you of pulling teeth trying to get them to open up? We’ve all had conversations in our lives that just don’t really go anywhere, right? Going into an interview cold can be dangerous, it’s true.

Even worse though, is when you are so comfortable with your subject that you don’t think about what you’re saying as you’re saying it. Like I said earlier, almost all of my other shows have been completely unscripted. My Zap! co-host, Greg Hoffman, was my guest on another recent episode of Inside Internet Marketing. This particular episode wasn’t an interview, it was a recap of an industry event that he and I both attended the week prior.


We recorded the episode and I thought nothing of it. I posted it… and was greeted by several comments that I found odd. Things like “were we at the same conference?” that turned into quite a kerfuffle. I went back and listened to the show and carefully read the comments that I was getting. We were accused of being overly negative about the event—an event which everyone else thought was quite extraordinary. The thing is… they were right.

Greg and I had both been to several of these events in the past, and were very comfortable with them and with the people that organize and attend. We were too comfortable. As the host of the show, it is my job to make sure that the show stays balanced, informative and entertaining. That is, in fact, the only job I have! The episode was unscripted, we were two guys who were very close to the subject matter and it shows. Have you ever done something like that? It’s like when you go to visit a relative and you have a great time, but later on you’re talking with your spouse and you say “dinner was great, but did you see the living room? It was really messy!” In our case, we spent too much time talking about how the living room was messy and not enough about how great the dinner was… so to speak.

This is an example of improvisation completely destroying a show. Had we planned things out beforehand, we would have seen that the tone was too negative and that we needed to balance things out.

So, what then?

I’ve been more attentive lately, that’s for sure. I still believe in the power of improv because when it works, it’s awesome. For interviews and recaps of events, I am much more likely to have a list of questions or points to refer to. If I find that my show is starting to slide, I can bring it back or balance it out far more easily if I have some reference material.

Improvisation and spontaneity can be powerful, but like most tools in your toolbox, it can really hurt if you don’t use it properly.

Thanks for reading!

Main Image Credit

Creating Content that Sings: Three Questions Every Blogger, Podcaster, and Web Series Producer Should Ask


La-la-la-la-la. Are you warmed up? Don’t worry; my advice to you isn’t to record yourself singing for your fans. If you’re anything like me, doing that isn’t going to help your traffic! You can let your content sing, though. As you’re creating your blog posts, podcasts, or videos, ask yourself the following three questions:

Does My Content Have Rhythm?

Songs only sound pleasant if the rhythm makes sense. That’s why when you hear a cover of a song you love and the band is playing it too fast or too slow, it sounds weird. If you’re content can’t keep the beat, it’s going to sound equally weird.

What does having rhythm mean?

It means that your content flows. If you’re a podcaster or producing videos of any sort, it means you don’t have a lot of “ums”or awkward silences. If you’re a blogger, it means that your sentences flow well and that you have an interesting style of writing. It also means that your post is well-formatted for an online reader.

Typically, rhythm isn’t something you notice until it is “off.” Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fix rhythm with some editing. You just have to avoid being lazy. If you say to yourself, “This blog post/podcast/video is good enough,” it probably isn’t. Don’t settle for good enough, because your readers certainly won’t. Make a second, third, and sometimes even fourth (or more) pass through your content to ensure the rhythm is perfect.

Is My Content Hitting the Low Notes?

I once dated a bass player, and what he and any other bass player out there will tell you is that they’re the most under-appreciated member of a band…but you’ll really miss them if they leave. And they’re right. The low notes in a song give it that driving, well-rounded sound. Without, you’re left with a song that sounds flat. Low notes give music layers.

In terms of online content, “low notes” are the organization of your content. Content organization is definitely under-appreciated, but without it, your message will ultimately fall flat.

When I write a blog post, I usually create a short outline first. I start every post with an intro, split the body of my post into three or more subheadings and close the post with a final thought and call to action. Many podcasters do something similar – they open the same way every week, have segments, and then close things out. And of course, if you’re a web series producer, you probably have a storyboard for every episode.

Your content might not be quite as structured in your approach, and that’s okay. Not every blogger starts with an outline, for example. What is important is that you do introduce some organization so your message makes sense to the audience.

Otherwise, people will leave with one question in their mind: “What was the point of that?”

People need to be told why they should care and what they should do. If your content jumps around from one topic to the next without good organization of your points, it can be confusing and even irritating.

I like to think of my content as a super-micro-mini book with super-micro-mini chapters. When you close one chapter, you might refer back to it later, but you don’t continue to add more information about that topic. The chapters are self-contained for the most part, and they’re arranged in a way that makes sense to the reader. Your goal should be to make your message as clear as possible to your audience members. It’s much easier to keep their attention to the end that way.

Is My Content Hitting the High Notes?

Lastly, no great content is complete without some high notes. High notes are those little “extra somethings” that set you apart from others in your niche. It might be humor. It might be a shocking or profound statement. It might be a clever turn of the phrase. You don’t need high notes all the time. That would be piercing, and you definitely don’t want to figuratively cause your audience to cover their ears. No, you just need a sprinkling of high notes – enough to keep things interesting. Here are some examples of high notes:

In a recent post by Daniel Clark called, “7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Podcasting,” at one point, Daniel writes, “There are days… oh, there are days… when the last thing you want to do is fire up the microphone and start talking. ” Slipping in that little phrase, “oh, there are days…” adds a little humor to the post and gives it a personal touch.

The Bloggess’ post “The Man Deserves a Damn Medal,” illustrates the opposite – a high note by departing from humor. Her entire post, like most on her blog, is about her hilarious antics with her husband. But near the end of this post, after writing about how she surprised him by renting a sloth and kangaroo for their anniversary (yes, really), she posts a picture of her daughter laughing and gasping and writes, “Then we called Hailey over and she freaked out in the best possible way and screamed, ‘THERE IS A KANGAROO IN OUR LIVING ROOM’ and Victor and I both laughed at her glee and it was awesome. And it was everything a 16th wedding anniversary should be. At least in this house.” The touching love for their daughter that binds them is definitely a high note hidden in a hilarious post.

In “How to Make Your Site the Destination for Your Market” by Chris Garrett, this high note comes as a statistic from Hubspot. He could just tell you how important blogs are, but instead he shows you with some stats. Even better, Chris goes on to punctuate his post with important ideas, which he bold-faces so they stand out. When you read a post like Chris’, it is easy to pick out the high notes.

Break a Leg

What I think is most important about online content creation, however, is that you just do it. A singer can practice her scales all day, but unless she actually gets out there on stage and performs, what does it matter? So care about your rhythm, your low notes, and your high notes, but don’t be so worried that you never perform – publish your content – at all. With each performance, you will improve.

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Podcasting


MicrophoneI’ve been podcasting for three-and-a-half years now and it’s been quite a journey. What began as a goof (an answer to the so-called Mommy Blogger movement) has evolved and turned into a major part of my identity and brand. For the first year, I didn’t take it very seriously out of ignorance. Looking around, I saw professionals that I thought I couldn’t compete with and a lot of amateurs that were starting shows only to abandon them shortly after. I didn’t aspire to much at that time. Had I known and understood a few things, I would be in a much different place than I am now.

Here are seven of those things.

It requires passion

Thousands of podcasts have faded away over the years. Even a cursory glance at the iTunes directory will show a great many shows that just stopped posting new episodes. No farewell episodes, no tearful goodbyes, no high-fives on the way out the door. The shows just sort of… stopped. Some call this phenomenon podfade.

What makes a podcast producer or host give up on a show? Lack of audience? That can be fixed. Ran out of things to say? Chart a new direction. Podcasters that I’ve spoken with almost universally say the same thing: I let the show die because I just didn’t want to do it anymore. The passion went out of it.

If you’re not starting with a passion for the show or the medium, you are better off not starting at all and putting your energies into something you really enjoy.

It’s not always fun

There are days… oh, there are days… when the last thing you want to do is fire up the microphone and start talking. Even if you still have the passion for the medium and your show, there are times when
recording is a chore. Sometimes, skipping a scheduled record date is feasible. Sometimes, you need to put on your happy voice and just push through it.

You’ll be explaining it to everyone

“Nice to meet you. What do you do?”

“I’m a podcaster.”

“What’s that?”

It can be difficult for some of us to remember that not everyone is online as much as we are and that not everyone knows what a podcast is. Though it is gaining in popularity, if all your Uncle John or Aunt Betty knows about the internet is Facebook and email, you’re going to have to explain the concept of podcasting. After a couple of hours at your family reunion, you’ll wish you were a blogger.

Walking around NMX, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what a podcast is. Take to the streets of Anytown, USA, though, and it isn’t that difficult.

My go-to explanation is, “I’m an internet broadcaster, similar to what you’ve probably heard on talk radio.”

Pro-level recording isn’t that hard—or expensive

Peavey XR800F Mixer for Hire

A thirty-dollar USB headset and a quiet room will get you 80% of the way to pro sound in this medium. Learn how to use your editing software properly and you can improve it pretty dramatically. If you want to take it even further though, it isn’t hard to do and you don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars (though you certainly can if you like).

While I would never counsel someone who is just beginning to spend a thousand dollars on audio equipment, I do wish I had known at the outset that a fantastic home studio could be built for under a thousand dollars. I would have done it sooner.

The real financial burden comes when you get into video, especially live video. Cameras, lights, props and set design all cost money that make my $300 Heil PR-40 microphone look cheap. It’s possible to do video inexpensively, but pro-level video will cost ya.

You can be yourself

Audiences don’t expect perfection. Spending an hour or two editing out every “um” and “ah” was the norm when I was getting started. I was convinced that people would tune out if I didn’t! After months—dozens of hours—doing that, I gave up. I just accepted that I would never have as large an audience as I could have; the editing was just killing me. A funny thing happened though. My audience grew. Oh, I won’t suggest that it grew because I stopped editing my verbal crutches, but clearly, they were not hurting the show.

Having said that, being yourself does not mean never improving. Those verbal crutches should be eliminated, but from your speech, not from your recording.

It requires patience

You are not likely to have a hit show immediately, especially if you’re  just getting started in the medium. Podcasting has a lot in common with other forms of broadcasting, including blogging. It can take months or  even years for a blog to build an audience of thousands. Podcasting is no
different. Just a few years ago the competition for listeners was manageable. Recently, with more and more professionals, comedians, and networks getting into podcasting, it’s getting tougher. Amateurs and aspiring pros can still rise to the top, but patience (along with hard work, creativity and skill) is vital.

The potential for wasted time is enormous

With so many “solutions” available, it can be incredibly hard to know how to get started with podcasting. If you’re anything like me, and I know I am, you will be tempted to try out every piece of software looking for perfection. In my first year of podcasting I tried everything. Never mind
that I was using a Mac, which ships with GarageBand, an excellent tool for beginners. I had to try other programs! The end result was dozens of hours wasted—hours that I could have spent making my content better or promoting my show.

Hardware is no different. Some podcasters will spend many hours (and a lot of money) trying out new microphones or headphones. Unless your show is about trying new equipment and reporting on it, this can be a huge drain.

If you have found something that works (and it’s easy to find what works), I recommend sticking to it. Your audience doesn’t care what recording software you’re using. The audience cares about what you have to say.

What do you think?

Are you a podcaster? I’d like to know what you would add to a list like this. Let me know in the comments! Not a podcaster? Now is the best time to start a show of your own! Are you intimidated? Do lists like this help? I’d love to know what you think as well.

Thanks for reading!

The Best Way to Get More Podcast Listeners – and How to Do It


Want to see your podcast traffic grow exponentially? Of course you do. Who doesn’t? It can feel like an uphill battle sometimes, especially if you’re new. When I used to be part of a video game podcast with some friends, we were happy to have any listeners and we talked about growth by the person, not by the hundreds or even the thousands.

But on certain episodes, we did something different, and this one technique always blew other traffic-driving techniques out of the water. We are certainly not the only podcasters to experience this massive surge in traffic. At BlogWorld New York 2012, in fact, the speakers on the Why All Bloggers Should be Podcasting panel covered this topic, and Derek Halpern took a moment to talk about how any podcaster can make it happen.

The panelists for "Why Bloggers Should be Podcasters"

So what’s the secret? Land a special guest for your podcast.

Easier said than done, right? Because we’re not just talking about any guest. If your neighbor is a special guest on your podcast, it’s likely that no one will care – unless your neighbor happens to be a leader in your niche. The best guests are popular among your listeners and will bring in new listeners who want to hear this specific speak (and who will also be interested in the rest of your content).

Landing those high-profile special guests isn’t easy, though. Someone like Chris Brogan, for example, gets hundreds of requests for interviews, appearances, and so forth. Catching the attention of Chris – or whoever is a leader in your niche – isn’t easy. And sometimes it is downright impossible.

The good news? You can make it happen if you’re persistent and follow these great tips from Derek:

  • Lead your request with what’s in it for them.

Most people like to help others, but when you get a huge volume of requests, you need to say yes to things that are going to help you as well. If I get 20 requests and only have time for 10 of them, I’m going to say yes to 1) requests from friends and 2) requests that highlight how my actions will be helpful to me. It’s business, baby. So, when you make a request for someone to be on your interview, talk about how being on your podcast will help them.

  • Reach out to people who love giving interviews.

In every niche, certain people rarely respond to interview requests, while others are extremely vocal. You’re going to be more successful if you do a little research and find out who is vocal so you can approach those people. For example, since I mentioned him already, Chris Brogan recently posted a resolution that he would go on a “summer diet” of sorts, and part of that includes saying no to interview and media requests so he can focus on his own projects and time away from work. So, sending Chris a request right now is probably not the smartest idea.

Some people are very private and almost always say no. For someone like Chris, the likelihood that he will say yes or no cycles. Right now, he’s taking a bit of a break. When he has a book to promote, I bet he’ll be out there giving interviews in full force. So, when looking for guests for your podcast, find people who are known for giving interviews and have something to promote.

  • Be fearless.

My favorite tip from Derek was to simple do it – make the request. You can spend your time worrying and wondering, but at the end of the day, if you never ask, you’ll never get that yes. Fellow panelist Katie Davis also chimed in, saying, “People are nice. People like to talk about themselves.[…]Your imagination plays tricks on you, but what’s the worst that could happen?”

Lastly, I think the panelists made a very good point that you don’t have to go for the superstar in your field. Instead, go for someone who is slightly more popular than you continuously and build your audience of listeners. When you have 1,000 fans, invite a guest that has 2,000 fans. When you have 2,000 fans, invite a guest who has 3,000 fans. Work you way up to landing those extremely popular guests in your niche and you’ll have more success along the way.

Did you know BlogWorld New York 2012 featured an entire podcasting track? If you missed it, you can check out all of our sessions with the virtual ticket!

Using Your Podcast Content as a Gateway


Today, podcasters Jay Glatfelter, Jack Glatfelter, Rob Cesternino, and Zach Logan joined moderator Darrell Darnell to talk about Building a Successful Fan Podcast. One of the most interesting topics they covered was how you can easily use your first or main podcast as a gateway to build your community around other podcasts as well, which is also possible for web series and blogs. So how can you do it? Here are some tips from the guys:

  • Think about what makes your content unique.

One of the most important things to think about as a digital content creator is what makes you so special. Your community cares about more than just your content. Jack and Jay, for example, started another podcast just to ramble, since they did this on their Lost podcast. You need to bring your community together in a way that goes beyond your topic.

  • Be entertaining.

To go along with the first tip, as a podcaster, you need to realize that your fans want to listen to your podcast because it’s from you. Says Rob, “If you’re entertaining and people enjoy listening to you, you can talk about any subject.” So realize that you can promote your content to across the board (as long as it makes sense). In other words, if you have a podcast about gaming, you can use it to talk about your television podcast, as long as you can find that tie-in.

  • Feel strongly about your content.

One of the points Zach talked about was how important it is be passionate about your topic and podcast about things you care about. This doesn’t have to be about charity work (though it certainly can be), but create a campaign for something you care about. When you have a passion for your topics, fans will come together to create a community and you have that common bond, so they’re more likely to follow you to your other content as well.

Of course, this is just a small sample of the content from this panel. Interesting in learning more? You can get access to the session as well at the dozens of other sessions at BlogWorld New York by picking up a virtual ticket (or adding it onto your live ticket if you’re already here at BlogWorld but missed this session). Check it out here!

Podcasting beyond borders


If you are a podcaster and American, I am sure you have never considered launching a podcast in a different language.

Am I right?

  • Why on earth would you do that?
  • Why make a decision to bring yourself out of your comfort zone of speaking your mother tongue?
  • Why would you speak a language in your podcast that your own fellow countrymen are not familiar with?

Some podcasters, however, make that decision. Because they know that they will reach a much larger audience.  A  global audience.

Who ARE these people?

Maybe they are already part of a huge global community – like Father Roderick (Roderick
Vonhögen), who is Dutch and podcasting to the Catholic community.

Maybe they know that their topic has nothing to do with nationality, but with suffering from an eating disorder , like Anne-Sophie Reinhardt from Schwitzerland, who talks about fighting anorexia in her podcast and about beauty and her intercontinental life in her two other podcasts.

Maybe they already have the whole world as their playground like German photographer Chris Marquardt, whose Tips From The Top Floor podcast has given him international podcast awards.

Languages have never been a barrier for Scottish Mark Pentleton. On the contrary, he speaks five or six languages himself and he has decided to break down language barriers all over the world with his Radio Lingua Network.

I am sure you can learn a few things from these podcasters who are all panelists in the session I am chairing at BlogWorld NY. Choosing a global target audience from the very first episode takes planning, insight, good language skills, an international mindset  – and a heck of a lot of travelling.

You can get a feel of the Global Village in room 1A15 on Tuesday at 11:30am. Hope to see you there.

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