Author: Darren Rowse

How to Overcome Failure in Six Powerful Steps

The post How to Overcome Failure in Six Powerful Steps appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to overcome failure in six powerful steps

This post is based on episode 190 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Most of us don’t want to learn about failure because we don’t want to fail.

But we all do.

And that’s okay, because failure is an essential part of any business. If you’ve never failed then you’ve probably stayed in your comfort zone. And the fact you’re holding back means you’ll never know just how successful you can be.

So learning how to overcome failure is critical. And in today’s post I’ll take you through six things I try to do when I’m facing failure or I’ve made a mistake – no matter how big or small it was.

A lot of these tips will apply to areas of your life outside of blogging. Unfortunately, blogging mistakes can sometimes become very public failures. The things we do may not work out, and there can be consequences.

Your Emotional Response to Failure

So what’s the first thing I do when I fail?

I freak out.

Yep, just like everyone else I panic and get upset, which is a perfectly natural way to react. It’s important to get those feelings out, rather than denying them or bottling them up.

Just make sure you’re not doing anything that could have long-lasting consequences – for you, those around you, or your business – while you’re getting those feelings out. (You may want to step away from your computer and avoid saying anything online while you’re going through this.)

Six Steps to Overcoming Failure

Once you’re past that initial emotional response, here are six steps you can follow to help overcome it.

Step #1: Separate Your Failure from Your Identity

Equating your self-worth with your achievements (or lack thereof) and what other people think of you is a huge trap.

The message we hear all the time – in conversations, the media and marketing messages – is that our self-worth equals what we achieve plus what others think of us.

So to be worthwhile we think we need to achieve a lot and have other people think well of us. We might not consciously think about this, but we constantly look for success and want to look good in front of other people.

But that’s not realistic.

All of us will fail in our personal and business life at some point or other. And there will always be times when other people don’t think much of us. If we base our self-worth on our success and other people’s perceptions, there will be times when we don’t have much at all.

Instead, look for something deeper to root your self-worth in. For me, it’s my faith. For you, it might be something different.

Just because something you tried in your business failed doesn’t make you a failure.

Step #2: Don’t Face it Alone

I often see friends fall into the trap of internalising their failure and facing it alone.

One of the best things you can do is to admit your failure and share it with at least one other person. It could be your partner, or perhaps a close friend. Even if they don’t understand your business, you can still talk to them about it.

Internalising your failure and not talking to anyone about it can make it seem far bigger than it really is, to the point where it can completely overwhelm you.

When you talk to someone about your failure, or even a concern you have about your business, it helps you put it into perspective. It can also help you to find solutions and ways forward.

Next, look for a second person to talk to – someone who does understand your business. That might be a fellow blogger, or perhaps a business coach or mentor.

Alternatively, you could look for a support group (such as the ProBlogger Community Facebook group) to share your failure or mistake and look for advice.

Finally, there might be times when you need a therapist or counselor. If your failure has really shaken your confidence or affected your mental health in some way, there’s no shame in asking for help from a professional.

Step #3: Be Transparent

When you talk to a friend, colleague or therapist about your failure, be transparent about it.

As you start processing your failure, you may realise it affects other people: a business partner or team member, or maybe even your readers.

When other people can be hurt by our mistakes, it’s tempting to hide our failures and pretend they didn’t happen, or even lie about them. But in most cases this just makes things worse.

It’s better to come clean.

Admit the failure to those affected by it, and own your part in it. Deal with the consequences, and try to right any wrongs that have been done.

Owning your mistakes and failures, and taking responsibility for them, is often well received by other people. Most people are generous and gracious, and may even be able to help you find a solution.

Step #4: Learn From It

I say to my kids all the time that making mistakes isn’t a bad thing. It’s making the same mistake repeatedly and not learning from it that’s an issue.

What can you learn from your failure? Why did it happen? What could you do differently next time to get a different result?

Don’t run away from your failure. Instead, embrace it. See it as a learning opportunity, and a chance to do things differently next time.

If you think back to previous failures you’ve had, you may realise that some of them made you who you are today. It’s easy to see in hindsight, but try to see it in the moment as well. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? How can I turn it around?”

Step #5: Keep Moving

There are definitely times in business when we need to stop and take a break. After a failure, you may need to rest for a while so you can focus on looking after yourself. But then you need to move on and keep the momentum of your business going.

When I taught my youngest son to ride a bike, he had his fair share of crashes. He got scrapes and bruises on his elbows and knees. Understandably, there were moments after each crash when he said, “I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to ride a bike.”

That’s a natural reaction. But to learn how to ride a bike he needed to get back on and try again.

The same applies to your mistakes. Once you’re past the initial emotional reaction, and you’ve given yourself a bit of time to rest if necessary, you need to get back on that bike.

Identify your next best step. It might be to pick up the pieces and start again, or to evolve what you do. It may even be time for you to start something new.

Step #6: Look for the Positive Side

I know it annoys the people around me sometimes, but I always look for the positive side of things.

Even in the midst of incredible failure, there’s almost always a glimmer of something positive.

It may take a while for those glimmers to emerge. But when you see them, focus on them. The little sparks from a failure could well turn into your next big thing.

I can think of a lot of people who have experienced failure only to discover a new passion, including helping other people going through what they’ve been through.

Has something gone badly for you in your blogging or business life recently?

As you face failure, try to:

  1. Separate the failure from your identity and self-worth
  2. Turn to family, friends, fellow bloggers and professionals to help you get through it
  3. Be transparent and honest about the failure and its effect on those around you
  4. Learn from what happened so you can avoid making the same mistake again
  5. Keep moving and keep up your momentum: get back on that bike
  6. Look for any sparks of opportunity or anything good that can come out of your failure

While failure can be difficult to overcome at times, these six steps should help. Feel free to share how you get on with them in the comments.

Image credit:Jake Hills

The post How to Overcome Failure in Six Powerful Steps appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Nine Ways to Stay Inspired and Avoid Blogger Burnout

The post Nine Ways to Stay Inspired and Avoid Blogger Burnout appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 170 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Most bloggers start off with a huge burst of energy and excitement. But then at some point (often in their first year or two of blogging) they come up against their first bout of “blogger burnout”.

And it can stop them in their tracks.

If you’ve been blogging for a long time then you’ve probably suffered blogger burnout a number of times. I’ve experienced it several times myself during my 16 years as a blogger.

So today I want to share nine ways to stay fresh and inspired with your blogging. They’ll help you spot burnout coming, and head it off before it hits you with full force.

But before we get into them let’s look at some causes of blogger burnout.

Why Does Blogger Burnout Happen?

Blogger burnout can materialise in different forms and for different reasons.

  • You may have run out of topic ideas, and feel you’ve said everything there is to say.
  • You may have become disillusioned with your topic, your niche, or blogging in general.
  • Despite working really hard on your blog, you may not think it’s paying off.
  • You may not be reaching the goals you set for yourself.
  • You may feel overworked and worn out.
  • Your blog may no longer align with the reason you started it. For example, you may have wanted to be creative at first, but now you’re focused on making money.
  • You may be overwhelmed by everything you need to do to keep your blog running.

Whatever the cause of your burnout, here are some practical things you can do to tackle it.

#1: Know Your Limits and Set Realistic Goals

You need to fit your blogging in around the rest of your life. But some bloggers don’t take this into account.

For instance, they might believe they have to post every day. But for many bloggers that’s just not feasible. Once, twice, or three times a week would suit them (and their lives) much better.

And it’s okay to be a little flexible with your posting schedule. If you don’t post as often one week, or even take a full week off, the sky won’t fall.

You also need to be realistic with your expectations and ‘big picture’ goals.

You may have dreamed of having millions of readers and millions of dollars in the bank. But I suspect you now know that achieving that kind of success with a blog can take years. And you need to keep producing consistently useful content the entire time..

#2: Get Into a Blogging Groove

I find blogging easiest when I have a particular rhythm to my week. That means having specific times when I come up with ideas, write content, and edit content.

I went through my own routine in episode 40 of the podcast. So feel free to take a listen if you want the details.

I keep my routine in a spreadsheet. But you don’t need to make yours that formal. In my earlier days of blogging my time was limited – an hour or so in the morning and an hour or so on the evening – I’d write in the morning and edit in the evening.

What sort of schedule could you create for your blogging? Think about what you need to do, and how you can fit it into your week. It might help you get into a blogging grove.

#3: Identify Your Sticking Points

WIth blogger burnout, there’s often a particular area where you’re getting stuck. Perhaps you don’t have any ideas to write about. You might be feeling disillusioned and/or unmotivated about blogging, but the real problem is a lack of ideas.

Maybe you keep comparing yourself to other bloggers, and feel frustrated that your blog isn’t yet as successful as theirs.

Or perhaps you simply haven’t had a break from blogging in ages, and need some time off to rest and recharge.

In episode 83 of the podcast I talked about blogger’s block and three places where you can get stuck:

  • idea generation
  • writing your content
  • completing your content.

These are all different types of blogger’s block. So if you’re feeling burnt out with creating content, you might want to give that episode a listen.

It may also help to chat with someone about your feelings of burnout, or even to get some professional help.

#4: Look After Your Body

The only way to sustain a healthy blog over the long term is to stay healthy yourself.

One of the biggest reasons bloggers burn out is they’re not in a healthy place. It could be their physical health, their mental health, a lack of sleep, or something else.

A few years ago I realised my blogging was suffering because I wasn’t looking after my body. My poor diet and lack of exercise took their toll on not only my body but also my mental health, creativity, and alertness.

I talked about my own health wake-up call and how I dealt with in episode 38 of the podcast. But here are a couple of quick tips.

  • Build exercise into your routine. It might be fitting a walk into your day, or getting up from your desk a couple of times a day and doing a few minutes of exercise so you come back refreshed.
  • Look at your diet. What changes could you make? They might be geared toward weight loss, or they might be about eating more healthy, nutritious food and less junk.

#5: Take a Break Every Day, Every Week and Every Year

Taking a break, resting or sleeping might seem unproductive. But they can help your blog in so many ways. The better you rest, the better you work.

It can help to think about rest and time away from your blog in different timeframes.

  • Daily: I work on my blog during business hours (normally 9–5). But I take a walk in the middle of the day, and the beginning and end of the day are blog-free.
  • Weekly: I try not to work on weekends. I may do a couple of really short bursts on a Saturday morning and a Sunday evening, but everything in between is time off. That weekly rest is really important.
  • Yearly: I schedule time off during the year to spend with my family – usually a couple of two-week breaks and a couple of long weekends.

It’s important to unplug regularly so you’re not thinking about your blog all day, every day. Your blogging will be better, and other areas of your life will also benefit such as your friendships and your relationship with your family.

Which leads me to…

#6: Build Relationships and Look After Them

Taking breaks with family and friends is good for your relationships.

When we work online in social media, a lot of our interactions tend to be virtual.

While online relationships can be very positive, it’s important to have grounded, real-life relationships as well.

Over the past 16 years I’ve been on the end of some pretty vicious attacks from strangers online that had me on the verge of giving. But while I had some good online friends helping me through those times, it was my real-life friends that gave me the real support I needed – and a place to retreat from the stress.

Of course, online relationships matter to, because your friends and family may not understand what you’re going through as a blogger. One of the best ways to solidify online relationships is to attend blogging events whenever you can. Meeting other bloggers face to face is a great way to strengthen your relationships with them.

#7: Fit Inspiration and Learning into Your Day

One of the most powerful things I do is schedule at least 5–10 minutes a day to watch or listen to something inspiring. I used to watch TED talks, but now I tend to listen to podcasts.

I try to include two types of podcasts: ones that inspire me, and ones that teach me something. Both are important, because they give you energy in different ways.

What you listen to or watch doesn’t always need to be about blogging or your blog’s topic. Maybe you get inspired by wildlife documentaries, and the beauty of the animal kingdom.

You don’t have to make a lot of time for them. But spending just ten minutes watching a video or listening to a podcast can help you feel inspired,and potentially more knowledgeable.

#8: Play, Pivot, and Evolve

I tend to get bored. And when I’m bored I feel a bit dejected. Doing the same thing the same way, day in and day out, kills my passion for things.

Over the years I’ve learned that I need to look for new ways to do things.

One of the great things about blogging and podcasting is they’re always changing. There’s always something new to try. And while that can be a distraction, I think it’s important to bring play and experimentation into what we do.

When I started the ProBlogger podcast after 12 years of blogging, it gave me a huge rush of energy and motivation.

Another blogger I spoke to had the same experience when she moved from writing about her topic to creating videos about it.

Just changing the medium gave us both a huge rush of energy. Maybe you could try something similar with your own blogging.

Another way to pivot and evolve is to add categories to your blog. On Digital Photography School a few years ago I added a category about post-production – how to process your photos in Lightroom and Photoshop. It energised both me and my readers as we explored a new area together.

You could also try:

  • Running a new series of posts
  • Monetizing your blog, or launching a new product
  • Changing the design of your blog, whether it’s getting a new logo or changing the colours

As well as energising you, these pivots and changes keep your blog fresh for your readers.

#9: Do Something That Matters

This is probably the most important thing you can do to avoid or get through burnout: do something that matters – both to you and to others.

When you’re doing something you have a genuine interest in and believe in, you’ll find you can keep the momentum going most of the time.

Over the years I’ve had more than 30 blogs. But today I only run two: Digital Photography School and ProBlogger. They’re are the ones I have the most interest in and the most passion for.

Of course, it will still get tough sometimes. But the fact you’re making other people’s lives better can give you the energy and inspiration to get through it.

Things that kept me going over the years of building ProBlogger were the emails and comments from readers letting me know something had a tangible impact on them.

If you’re experiencing blogger burnout right now, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. Give yourself a week or two off. But make sure you have a point where you come back to start blogging again.

You might bring in some guest posters to cover the time you’re way. Or you might just tell your readers that you’re taking a bit of time off. They’re usually very understanding of things like that.

And while you’re on your break, you might want to think about implementing at least one or two of the points we’ve covered:

  1. Know your limits and set realistic expectations
  2. Get into a blogging grove
  3. Identify your sticking points
  4. Look after your body
  5. Take breaks on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis
  6. Build relationships and look after them
  7. Fit inspiration and learning into your day
  8. Play, pivot, and evolve
  9. Do something that matters

If you’re going through a tough time right now, please look after yourself. And feel free to reach out for help and support in the comments.

Image credit: Luke Porter

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How to Get Products to Review on Your Blog

The post How to Get Products to Review on Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to get products to review on your blog

This post is based on Episode 178 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Whether your blog is all about reviewing products or you want to review them occasionally, it’s not always easy to get your hands on them.

I faced this problem in my early blogging days when I ran a camera review blog.

Back then I used seven strategies to get products to review. Some might seem fairly obvious, but others may well be things you haven’t considered.

I’ll come onto those in a moment. But first, let’s take a look at why you might want to write reviews.

Why it’s a Great Idea to Write Reviews on Your Blog

I started my camera review blog by accident when I posted a 300-word review of a camera I was using. I didn’t expect much from that particular post. But I quickly learned that reviews are fantastic.

People search for reviews to get advice on purchases they’re making. People find them useful – they’re grateful for them. I used to get emails from people saying, “Thank you for the review you wrote on this particular camera”. And those people often became long-term readers.

Of course, reviews can also be monetised if you use affiliate links. (And affiliate links in a review tend to convert quite well.)

Reviews are also great for getting conversations going. When you put your opinion of a product out there, other people respond – either to agree with you or to offer a different opinion.

So how do you actually get products to review? This can be a challenge when you’re just starting out, especially if you want to do a lot of reviews.

#1: Start With What You Already Have

I know this is obvious, but begin with the products or resources you’ve already purchased for yourself.

My first review was of my first (and at the time only) digital camera. After that, whenever I bought a new piece of gear I’d review it – a lens, a flash, an SD card, a memory card or something else.

#2: Borrow Products from Friends or Contacts

In those early days, any time a friend bought a new camera I’d ask if I could borrow it for a day or two.

It was amazing how many people not only agreed, but also started coming to me with their new gear because the word got out I was reviewing. Friends wanted to put their new piece of equipment in my hands so I could review it. They were interested in my opinion.

I was also part of a photography club, which opened up all sorts of possibilities for camera and gear to review. Could you join something similar for your own niche?

#3: Try Stores or Rental Places

When I was reviewing cameras back in 2004 and 2005 , manufacturers would send them out only to journalists – not bloggers.

So I asked myself, “Who has the cameras I want to review?” An obvious place was camera stores. I’d go in, introduce myself, and ask if I could borrow a camera to review in return for helping them build their online profile.

A lot of stores were really interested (and I suspect even more would be today). Lots of them let me take cameras away and review them, keeping my driver’s license or some other form of ID.

In my review, I’d link to them and write something like, “This camera was provided by Michael’s Camera Store, which is a Melbourn camera store.”

Who has the type of thing you want to review? It might be a store, or even a rental place. Later on we found a camera rental company that was willing to send cameras to us to review in return for a link on our blog.

#4: Pitch the Manufacturer or Distributor of the Product

Even if you don’t think you’ve got a big profile, you might be surprised how many manufacturers have review units they’ll happily lend you providing your audience is on topic for them.

Try going to trade shows or similar. In Australia, I went to trade shows for the photographic industry and meet the manufacturers or distributors. That was another way we were lent cameras to review.

When you pitch manufacturers, don’t just talk about how many readers you have. Talk about the type of readers you have. A targeted audience can be much more valuable than a big one.

#5: Consider Buying or Renting the Product You Want to Review

Because photography gear is expensive, I only bought products outright a few times. I did it with items that were coming out that:

  • I knew would be really popular
  • I was fairly confident I could make enough from the affiliate links to cover the purchase.

The option I used more often was to rent a camera for a week from a rental company. While there was still some cost involved, I could make that money back from the affiliate links.

#6: Ask Someone Else to Write a Review For You

I often emailed other bloggers to say, “Hey, I notice you’re using this particular camera. Would you mind writing 500 words on what you think about it?”

It’s amazing how many bloggers were willing to do that in exchange for some exposure.

A couple of times, friends who were hesitant to lend me their camera (see #2) offered to write a review from their own perspective.

I also found a journalist who wrote short reviews of cameras in a weekly supplement in one of our newspapers. He was happy to write two versions of each review and send us one to publish on our blog.

We also had some camera stores and rental companies write reviews for us.

Some people won’t want to write a post for you, but be more than willing to talk to you. For instance, one car blogger I knew had a blog about exotic cards. It was hard for him to get manufacturers to lend him cars to review. So he’d find people who already owned those cars, take his camera out and interview them in person.

#7: Aggregate Other People’s Reviews

I also looked at reviews other people were writing and aggregate some of them. I’d quote from their articles and link to them from my site.

I’d write a post called something like “The Canon Powershot A60: Reviews”. Then I’d list the key features, include a picture from the manufacturer of the camera, and write my thoughts about the features (who the camera might suit, what features might be missing, etc.)

Underneath that, I’d quote other reviewers. I only took one or two sentences from their review, and made it very clear it was a quote. I’d also link to the source of the quote.

Normally, I’d use two or three reviews of the camera and sum up the post with my own thoughts, picking up some of the themes of those reviews.

These days, you could also embed reviews from YouTube, which wasn’t an option back in 2005. For practically any product you can think of there’s a review on YouTube. And the creators are happy for you to embed their video on your site because it gives them more views and raises their profile.

Here’s a recap of the seven things you can try:

#1: Review the stuff you already own
#2: Review stuff you can borrow from your friends or network
#3: Look for places that will let you borrow the products you want to review
#4: Pitch the manufacturers and distributors
#5: Buy the product yourself
#6: Ask other people to write reviews for you (or interview them)
#7: Aggregate what other people are doing

If you’d like some help with actually writing the review itself, check out episode 140 of the ProBlogger podcast: How to Create a Review Post.

I’d love to hear your own thoughts on this, whether you write reviews regularly or just occasionally. How do you get products to review? What types of products do you focus on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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18 Ways to Create Scannable Content for Your Blog

The post 18 Ways to Create Scannable Content for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

18 ways to create scannable content for your blog

This post is based on Episode 176 of the ProBlogger podcast.

You’ve chosen your words with care, and put a lot of thought into them.

But no-one’s even reading your posts, let alone commenting or sharing.

If you want more readers, more engagement, and more sharing of your content (and let’s face it, why doesn’t?) then this post is for you.

Why Readers Won’t Read Every Word – and What You Can Do About It

Only 16% of people read websites word for word. Most people scan, and I expect you’re one of them.

I know I am.

When I arrive at a website or blog, I quickly scan the page to see if it looks relevant to me. If something intrigues me, I might scroll down to see what’s “below the fold”.

People make decisions in seconds. They decide whether your content is relevant to them, and whether it’s worth spending time reading it.

If they can’t see the benefits of reading on, they’ll click away from your site. They won’t read your content. They won’t leave a comment. They won’t share it. And chances are they won’t ever come back.

This means you need to learn to write scannable content. Because people will decide whether or not to read it based on their initial scan.

I’m going to give you eighteen techniques for doing just that.

#1: Write Great Headlines

The first thing people will see is your headline. It should draw their eye. Your blog design should help your headline pop off the screen. (If it doesn’t, you might want to change or tweak your theme.)

In terms of wording, your headline should be compelling and offer the reader a clear benefit if they read the post.

If you want some help with writing great headlines, check out Episode 156 of the ProBlogger podcast, or Seven Easy Ways to Write Better Headlines for Your Blog Posts.

#2: Write a Great Opening Line

Aside from your headline, the most read part of your blog post will be your first line. You want this to communicate a benefit, or create some curiosity. In your first line, you need to give people a good reason to read more.

If you need some help coming up with a strong opening line, check out 10 Tips for Opening Your Next Blog Post.

#3: Keep Your Paragraphs Short

Large slabs of text will turn readers off. If you keep your paragraphs short, it gives readers a visual clue that your content will be easy to read and put into action. If they see huge, daunting chunks of text, it’ll all seem too hard.

Stick to one idea per paragraph, and keep those paragraphs short.

#4: Keep Your Sentences Short

Short, clear sentences help readers feel your content is accessible. If your opening sentence is 40 or 50 words long and confusing to follow, they won’t want to read on.

I once heard a suggestion that you should keep your sentences to no more than 16 words, which sounds like a good rule of thumb.

For more on both short sentences and short paragraphs, check out How to Write Short Sentences and Paragraphs the Right Way (and Why It Matters).

#5: Choose Simple Words

Back in high school, my English teacher once commented on my essay saying that while words with four or more syllables may sound impressive, they make the writing inaccessible to anyone reading it. (I pointed out to her that the word “inaccessible” is a five-syllable word. That didn’t go down too well.)

Aim to write like you speak, and choose words that simply and accurately convey your meaning. Don’t use big words to try and sound impressive.

#6: Use Lists

On both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, I’ve found that posts written in a list format do much better than essay-style content.

When readers can see your content is structured as a list, they know you’ve broken it down to make it easy for them.

You don’t necessarily have to create your whole post as a list, though. Even using bullet points throughout a post can help people scan your content.

For more on lists, check out How to Create a List Post (a podcast episode) and How to Use Lists Effectively in Your Blog Posts.

#7: Use Subheadings to Break Up Your Post

If people come to your site and just see text (even if it’s broken up into short paragraphs), nothing will stand out to them. This makes it harder for them to figure out what your post actually covers.

You want to break that post into four or five sections and give each a subheading that clearly communicates what the section is about. That way your readers have a visual cue about what’s coming up, and whether there’s a section of your post that’s particularly relevant to them.

For more on subheadings, check out How to Use Subheadings to Add Structure to Your Blog Posts.

#8: Add Other Types of Formatting

Beyond subheadings, there are other types of formatting you can use. You might use bold, italics, or even all-caps to emphasise key points. You might even change the size or colour of the text.

These things can really draw your reader’s eyes to important points in your post.

But show some restraint with this type of formatting. You don’t want your content to become a mismatch of these different techniques, or it’ll just look a mess.

If you’re not sure how to add formatting, check out our post How to Use the WordPress WYSIWYG Toolbar to Format Your Blog Posts Like a Pro.

#9: Use Images

You might already be using a featured image at the top of your posts. But are you using images within the posts?

Research shows that readers’ eyes are drawn to images. So putting images beside your key points – especially when those images closely relate to the content – increases the chance of readers getting to the end of your post.

However, make sure you’re not infringing anyone’s copyright. If you’re not sure how to find images you can legally use, take a look at How to Find Images for Your Blog That Won’t Get You Sued.

#10: Use Image Captions

In WordPress, it’s really easy to insert a caption for your image. Just click on the image to edit it, and type whatever you want into the “Caption” box. The caption will then appear just below the image in your post.

People naturally look at the descriptions below images. I suspect they’re one of the most read parts of your post (after your subheadings). So you could use an image caption that emphasises a point you’re trying to make, or even one that includes a call to action.

#11: Use Other Visual Content

Images are great. But there are other types of visual content you could create. For instance, you might use charts or even tables in your post to show information.

Anything that’s visual and conveys information differently can help draw the eye. It shows readers you’ve got something for them to look at – not just text for them to read.

You could even take a key quote from your post, create a nice image with it layered over a photo, and put in into your content to act like a subheader. This gives readers a reason to read more.

#12: Use Blockquotes

Almost all WordPress themes have a “blockquotes” style. This allows you to highlight a particular part of your content in some way. It’s normally used to highlight a quote, but you can use it in different ways if you want.

With WordPress, you can apply blockquotes formatting by highlighting the paragraph in question and clicking the “Blockquotes” icon in the visual editor.

If you want more help using quotes on your blog, check out The Why, How and When of Using Quotations on Your Blog.

#13: Use Whitespace

You don’t have to fill every inch of the screen. Creating space within and around your content means your readers won’t feel so overwhelmed.

Again, space can draw the reader’s eye down the page. While this is partly affected by design, you can also add more line breaks to create short paragraphs (which we looked at earlier) and space things out a bit more.

#14: Use a Good Design

Often, blogs are difficult to read simply because their design is cluttered. SImplifying things, or even switching to a different theme (template), can really help.

Two key things you can do are:

  • choose fonts that aren’t too small
  • add a little distance between the lines of your content.

Getting the advice of a good designer can also help.

If you’d like to dig into blog design, try our podcast episode How to Give Your Blog Design a Spring Clean.

#15: Make Your Main Point(s) Clear

One trap many bloggers fall into is burying their main point deep within their content where it probably won’t be noticed.

If there’s a key point you want your readers to understand or remember, just say it upfront.

If you’re writing a long post (say 2,000–3,000 words), try using summary statements underneath each subheading to help readers see what the point of that section is.

This gives readers an immediate reason to read the rest of that section. It’s like using a title and opening line, but throughout your post rather than just at the start.

#16: Repeat Your Important Points

Hopefully, you’ve got a clear idea of what you want people to get from your content. Repeat it – more than once.

Most people aren’t reading word for word. So you need to emphasise your key point several times throughout your content.

You’ll probably want to have it in your opening, in some of your summary statements, in your conclusion, and maybe in a piece of visual content as well. That way, your readers are much more likely to get that main point or call to action.

#17: Don’t Introduce Too Many Ideas in One Post

If you’ve got a lot of ideas you want to cover, it might be worth breaking them up into a series of posts.

While long pieces of content can work well, they can also be overwhelming for readers. The more points you make within a post, the less likely your readers will actually get all of them.

For more about structuring your content as a series of posts, check out How to Write a Series for Your Blog (and Why You’ll Want To).

#18: Write Like a Human Being

The more human-like your writing is, the better. People are more likely to keep reading if they feel a sense of connection with you.

That means you could tell stories, show readers who you are in some way, and write in a more conversational style.

For help with that, I recommend listening to 10 Writing Tips to Help You Sound More Human, where I interview Beth Dunn, the Product Editor-in-Chief at HubSpot.

We’ve covered a lot of different techniques in this post. You won’t necessarily want to use all of them for every piece of content you write. But using a handful of them could make a huge difference to how scannable your content is, and and how much it gets read.

Here’s the list of techniques again:

  1. Write great headlines
  2. Write a great opening line
  3. Keep your paragraphs short
  4. Keep your sentences short
  5. Choose simple words
  6. Use lists
  7. Use subheadings to break up your post
  8. Add other types of formatting
  9. Use images
  10. Use image captions
  11. Use other visual content
  12. Use blockquotes
  13. Use whitespace
  14. Use a good design
  15. Make your main point(s) clear
  16. Repeat your important points
  17. Don’t introduce too many ideas
  18. Write like a human being

Give some of these a try with your next post. And leave a comment below to tell us how you got on.

The post 18 Ways to Create Scannable Content for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

18 Ways to Create Scannable Content for Your Blog

The post 18 Ways to Create Scannable Content for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

18 ways to create scannable content for your blog

This post is based on Episode 176 of the ProBlogger podcast.

You’ve chosen your words with care, and put a lot of thought into them.

But no-one’s even reading your posts, let alone commenting or sharing.

If you want more readers, more engagement, and more sharing of your content (and let’s face it, why doesn’t?) then this post is for you.

Why Readers Won’t Read Every Word – and What You Can Do About It

Only 16% of people read websites word for word. Most people scan, and I expect you’re one of them.

I know I am.

When I arrive at a website or blog, I quickly scan the page to see if it looks relevant to me. If something intrigues me, I might scroll down to see what’s “below the fold”.

People make decisions in seconds. They decide whether your content is relevant to them, and whether it’s worth spending time reading it.

If they can’t see the benefits of reading on, they’ll click away from your site. They won’t read your content. They won’t leave a comment. They won’t share it. And chances are they won’t ever come back.

This means you need to learn to write scannable content. Because people will decide whether or not to read it based on their initial scan.

I’m going to give you eighteen techniques for doing just that.

#1: Write Great Headlines

The first thing people will see is your headline. It should draw their eye. Your blog design should help your headline pop off the screen. (If it doesn’t, you might want to change or tweak your theme.)

In terms of wording, your headline should be compelling and offer the reader a clear benefit if they read the post.

If you want some help with writing great headlines, check out Episode 156 of the ProBlogger podcast, or Seven Easy Ways to Write Better Headlines for Your Blog Posts.

#2: Write a Great Opening Line

Aside from your headline, the most read part of your blog post will be your first line. You want this to communicate a benefit, or create some curiosity. In your first line, you need to give people a good reason to read more.

If you need some help coming up with a strong opening line, check out 10 Tips for Opening Your Next Blog Post.

#3: Keep Your Paragraphs Short

Large slabs of text will turn readers off. If you keep your paragraphs short, it gives readers a visual clue that your content will be easy to read and put into action. If they see huge, daunting chunks of text, it’ll all seem too hard.

Stick to one idea per paragraph, and keep those paragraphs short.

#4: Keep Your Sentences Short

Short, clear sentences help readers feel your content is accessible. If your opening sentence is 40 or 50 words long and confusing to follow, they won’t want to read on.

I once heard a suggestion that you should keep your sentences to no more than 16 words, which sounds like a good rule of thumb.

For more on both short sentences and short paragraphs, check out How to Write Short Sentences and Paragraphs the Right Way (and Why It Matters).

#5: Choose Simple Words

Back in high school, my English teacher once commented on my essay saying that while words with four or more syllables may sound impressive, they make the writing inaccessible to anyone reading it. (I pointed out to her that the word “inaccessible” is a five-syllable word. That didn’t go down too well.)

Aim to write like you speak, and choose words that simply and accurately convey your meaning. Don’t use big words to try and sound impressive.

#6: Use Lists

On both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, I’ve found that posts written in a list format do much better than essay-style content.

When readers can see your content is structured as a list, they know you’ve broken it down to make it easy for them.

You don’t necessarily have to create your whole post as a list, though. Even using bullet points throughout a post can help people scan your content.

For more on lists, check out How to Create a List Post (a podcast episode) and How to Use Lists Effectively in Your Blog Posts.

#7: Use Subheadings to Break Up Your Post

If people come to your site and just see text (even if it’s broken up into short paragraphs), nothing will stand out to them. This makes it harder for them to figure out what your post actually covers.

You want to break that post into four or five sections and give each a subheading that clearly communicates what the section is about. That way your readers have a visual cue about what’s coming up, and whether there’s a section of your post that’s particularly relevant to them.

For more on subheadings, check out How to Use Subheadings to Add Structure to Your Blog Posts.

#8: Add Other Types of Formatting

Beyond subheadings, there are other types of formatting you can use. You might use bold, italics, or even all-caps to emphasise key points. You might even change the size or colour of the text.

These things can really draw your reader’s eyes to important points in your post.

But show some restraint with this type of formatting. You don’t want your content to become a mismatch of these different techniques, or it’ll just look a mess.

If you’re not sure how to add formatting, check out our post How to Use the WordPress WYSIWYG Toolbar to Format Your Blog Posts Like a Pro.

#9: Use Images

You might already be using a featured image at the top of your posts. But are you using images within the posts?

Research shows that readers’ eyes are drawn to images. So putting images beside your key points – especially when those images closely relate to the content – increases the chance of readers getting to the end of your post.

However, make sure you’re not infringing anyone’s copyright. If you’re not sure how to find images you can legally use, take a look at How to Find Images for Your Blog That Won’t Get You Sued.

#10: Use Image Captions

In WordPress, it’s really easy to insert a caption for your image. Just click on the image to edit it, and type whatever you want into the “Caption” box. The caption will then appear just below the image in your post.

People naturally look at the descriptions below images. I suspect they’re one of the most read parts of your post (after your subheadings). So you could use an image caption that emphasises a point you’re trying to make, or even one that includes a call to action.

#11: Use Other Visual Content

Images are great. But there are other types of visual content you could create. For instance, you might use charts or even tables in your post to show information.

Anything that’s visual and conveys information differently can help draw the eye. It shows readers you’ve got something for them to look at – not just text for them to read.

You could even take a key quote from your post, create a nice image with it layered over a photo, and put in into your content to act like a subheader. This gives readers a reason to read more.

#12: Use Blockquotes

Almost all WordPress themes have a “blockquotes” style. This allows you to highlight a particular part of your content in some way. It’s normally used to highlight a quote, but you can use it in different ways if you want.

With WordPress, you can apply blockquotes formatting by highlighting the paragraph in question and clicking the “Blockquotes” icon in the visual editor.

If you want more help using quotes on your blog, check out The Why, How and When of Using Quotations on Your Blog.

#13: Use Whitespace

You don’t have to fill every inch of the screen. Creating space within and around your content means your readers won’t feel so overwhelmed.

Again, space can draw the reader’s eye down the page. While this is partly affected by design, you can also add more line breaks to create short paragraphs (which we looked at earlier) and space things out a bit more.

#14: Use a Good Design

Often, blogs are difficult to read simply because their design is cluttered. SImplifying things, or even switching to a different theme (template), can really help.

Two key things you can do are:

  • choose fonts that aren’t too small
  • add a little distance between the lines of your content.

Getting the advice of a good designer can also help.

If you’d like to dig into blog design, try our podcast episode How to Give Your Blog Design a Spring Clean.

#15: Make Your Main Point(s) Clear

One trap many bloggers fall into is burying their main point deep within their content where it probably won’t be noticed.

If there’s a key point you want your readers to understand or remember, just say it upfront.

If you’re writing a long post (say 2,000–3,000 words), try using summary statements underneath each subheading to help readers see what the point of that section is.

This gives readers an immediate reason to read the rest of that section. It’s like using a title and opening line, but throughout your post rather than just at the start.

#16: Repeat Your Important Points

Hopefully, you’ve got a clear idea of what you want people to get from your content. Repeat it – more than once.

Most people aren’t reading word for word. So you need to emphasise your key point several times throughout your content.

You’ll probably want to have it in your opening, in some of your summary statements, in your conclusion, and maybe in a piece of visual content as well. That way, your readers are much more likely to get that main point or call to action.

#17: Don’t Introduce Too Many Ideas in One Post

If you’ve got a lot of ideas you want to cover, it might be worth breaking them up into a series of posts.

While long pieces of content can work well, they can also be overwhelming for readers. The more points you make within a post, the less likely your readers will actually get all of them.

For more about structuring your content as a series of posts, check out How to Write a Series for Your Blog (and Why You’ll Want To).

#18: Write Like a Human Being

The more human-like your writing is, the better. People are more likely to keep reading if they feel a sense of connection with you.

That means you could tell stories, show readers who you are in some way, and write in a more conversational style.

For help with that, I recommend listening to 10 Writing Tips to Help You Sound More Human, where I interview Beth Dunn, the Product Editor-in-Chief at HubSpot.

We’ve covered a lot of different techniques in this post. You won’t necessarily want to use all of them for every piece of content you write. But using a handful of them could make a huge difference to how scannable your content is, and and how much it gets read.

Here’s the list of techniques again:

  1. Write great headlines
  2. Write a great opening line
  3. Keep your paragraphs short
  4. Keep your sentences short
  5. Choose simple words
  6. Use lists
  7. Use subheadings to break up your post
  8. Add other types of formatting
  9. Use images
  10. Use image captions
  11. Use other visual content
  12. Use blockquotes
  13. Use whitespace
  14. Use a good design
  15. Make your main point(s) clear
  16. Repeat your important points
  17. Don’t introduce too many ideas
  18. Write like a human being

Give some of these a try with your next post. And leave a comment below to tell us how you got on.

The post 18 Ways to Create Scannable Content for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

277: The Secret to Building a Better Blog

The post 277: The Secret to Building a Better Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Today’s the day to sign up for our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course.

Why? Well, it’s 50% off for a limited time. And if you register by the end of February you’ll get to be a part of our 31-day guided sprint in March.

The Secret to Building a Better Blog

While the course has evolved, it remains the #1 reason most blogs become successful. But you need to consistently take action to implement what you learn.  

The four pillars of blogging are actions and habits you should develop to grow and profit from your blog.

  1. Create great content
  2. Promote your content
  3. Enhance your relationships with your readers
  4. Monetize your blog

Each day of the course you’ll be taught practical things to do for your blog, including:

  • Setting objectives and goals
  • Creating an editorial calendar
  • Developing social media and email strategies
  • Creating pillar content
  • Optimizing for SEO
  • Identifying and understanding your audience
  • Strengthening reader engagement

You don’t have to take the course to become an action-oriented blogger. But if you need help and want to give your blog a burst of love to get it back on track, feel free to join us.

Links and Resources for The Secret to Building a Better Blog:

Courses

Join our Facebook group.

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hey there and welcome to episode 277 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the founder of ProBlogger, which is a site for bloggers and prebloggers designed to help them to start and grow profitable blogs. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all we do over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode number 277, we’re going to talk a little bit of our secret of growing your blog. In fact, I think it’s the number one way to grow a blog and this ties into a promotion that we’ve got on at the moment on our 31 Days To Build A Better Blog course. I know many of you have gone through our Start A Blog course over the last couple of months and to continue the good work that you’ve done, we’ve decided to make 31 Days To Build A Better Blog 50% off for the next week or so until the end of February.

Also in the month of March, we’re going to sprint through it. We are doing it as a group where we can support you and get bloggers interacting together. I’ll tell you a little bit more about that later in the episode. But if you do want to check out 31 Days To Build A Better Blog and grab it at 50% off, head over at problogger.com/31days. You can also find it through our courses tab over at problogger.com and in today’s show notes.

Let’s get into today’s show where I do want to talk about the number one thing that is going to help you to grow your blog. In preparation for our 31 day sprint, I want to talk about why we had so much success with the 31 day program. I want to talk about the reason that they’ve been built into that course that I’ve seen help many bloggers over the years and I’ve seen help me as well.

Over the years, I think it was back in 2007, I started 31 Days To Build A Better Blog and it’s been in many forms since then. In fact, I’ve counted seven different ways we’ve presented this program. Originally, it started off as a series of blog posts in I think it was in 2006–2007, and then I did that same series that evolved that every time, three times on the blog. It was completely for free. It was just a series of blog posts. At the end of the third series, I turned it into an ebook and then I updated the ebook into a second version. I think second version came out in 2012. Later on, I did it again on the podcast for free and then more recently, we’ve turned it into a course in the last year or so.

There’ve been these seven different versions of 31 Days To Build A Better Blog and every time we changed the medium, we’ve also updated it to make it more relevant, to add more teaching, to get rid of bits that aren’t relevant for today and add in new pieces of information as well.

Those of you who’ve done one of those early versions will find that the course we have today is quite different. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed and it is, in my opinion, the number one reason that successful blogs become successful. The one thing that hasn’t changed in the course and that the number one thing that I think is behind most successful blogs, if not all successful blogs, is that it’s all about action.

A lot of people come to ProBlogger looking for teaching, for information. They want to learn how to do something, or they want to see a review of a product or tool, or they want to hear about the latest strategy, or they want to hear a story to inspire them. Information. Most of our content is focused around these things, but information and teaching and story-telling isn’t the reason that successful blogs grow. It’s part of it, but most successful bloggers can’t build a blog based upon just information.

Blogs grow when you take action. Blogs grow when you develop good habits as a blogger. What habits, what action do you need to develop? Well, I’ll give it to you for free. You don’t have to do the course. Most of the actions that you need to take as a blogger focus around four main areas. You’ve heard me talk about these before. They’re the pillars of blogging that we talk about. Creating great content is number one. Number two is promoting that content. Number three, deepening relationships with your readers. And number four is monetizing your blog.

These four things is the accumulation of action in these four areas that are going to help to grow your blog and if you want to become profitable, to become more profitable as well. Let me just say them again. Number one, create great content. Number two, promote that content. Number three, deepening relationships with your readers, building community. And number four, monetizing your blog if monetizing is a goal for you.

Now, this isn’t rocket science. Most of us instinctively know this stuff when we start our blog. On day one, we need to create content. That’s what makes it a blog. We know that no one’s going to see that content if we don’t tell them about it so we know instinctively we need to promote, even if it’s to our friends. Number three, we know that we need to engage with those readers. They’re much more likely to come back again the next day. If I feel like we noticed them, if we’ve engaged them in some way. We know we can’t make money unless we do something to monetize our blogs.

So we know instinctively these four things that we need to do yet so often as bloggers we let these basic things slide and we get distracted by other things. One of the times we get distracted is by the search for information or the secret strategies and we actually don’t take action in these four things. This is why 31 Days To Build A Better Blog has been so popular over the years and why every time we offer it we get so many people thanking us for it.

Now, you don’t need to do the course to become an action-orientated blogger. But if you need some help at the moment to get yourself going and you want to give your blog an intense burst of love and get it back on track perhaps, I do invite you to join us over this next 31 days.

31 Days To Build A Better Blog isn’t just a teaching course. There’s certainly teaching in it but more importantly, it’s a course that takes you through a series of challenges to do, 31 challenges to do. Each day you get a little bit of teaching. There’s a video, some audio, some worksheets that help you to learn, but more importantly, everyday you get at least one thing that you can go away and do.

We try to give you more than one thing on some days because I know some of you are beginners, some of you are in the first month of blogging, and some of you are a little bit more advanced. You’ll see some days there’s something there that you could do for the first time or if you’ve been doing that thing already, it gives you some ideas for things that you can do to improve what you’ve done as well. The idea is that you take at least 31 pieces of action by the end of this month.

Most of the things that we talk about are actually habits that you can grow and if you take these actions over and over again, you’re blog will grow. At the end of the 31 days, you have set some objectives and goals for your blog, and important actions. Something that you should be really revisiting from time to time. It’s a habit you should get into. By the end of the 31 days, you have created an editorial calendar for your blog. Again, that is something that you need to do on a regular basis.

You’ve created a social media and email strategy for your blog. You’ve created pillar content for your blog. You’ve gotten your blog optimized for search engine optimization. You’ve identified and dug in to try and understand your readers better. You’ve learnt some techniques for coming out with new post ideas and you’ve actually come up with and generated ideas for you blog. You’ve promoted your blog in a variety of ways and found some new readers. You’ve deepen the engagement with its current rate. You’ve explored opportunities for monetizing your blog and you’ve clarified some next steps to build your blogging business.

That’s just some of what you will do during this course. Whether you do it or not, you can actually just take that list of things, go away, do them, and build them into your rhythm. There’s so many more things. I don’t have time to go through it today, but the key thing I want to get across today is that if you want to build a successful blog, these are the types of actions that you need to be taking.

Again, most of the things we cover in the course fit into the four pillars I talked about before, creating content, promoting your blog, building community and engagement, and monetizing your blog. There’s not as much on monetization but there’s certainly a couple of days that focus on it. The other three pillars are the main focus of this. Monetization really does come as a result of building your readership, building up your archives, and creating engagement with your readers as well.

Normally, our course is something that people enroll. They normally pay US$99 to do and they normally go through it individually but as I said at the top of the show, over the month of March, we’re going to do it as a group and we’re calling it our sprint. Normally, we say to people, “Take your time. Go through it at your own pace. You can do it over 31 weeks. You can do it over 31 months if you want. But we are going to provide a 31 day sprint for you.” That may mean that you only sort of dip into some of the activities or you may even skip over some of them over that month because it is a fairly intense month, but you get this course forever and you can come back to and repeat some of those activities as you like.

The reason we want to do it as a sprint is something we discovered really early on. That was in the first series of blog post that I did is that when bloggers go through this type of experience together, it almost supercharges the whole experience. We want to tap into that. When bloggers get together, they share what they’ve done, they show each other examples of what they’ve done, they get to ask each other questions, they get to actually go and look at what each other have done, they get to encourage each other. This really gives you energy as a blogger and can provide a lot of inspiration, and a lot of other ideas as well.

The other reason that we want to do it as a sprint together is that it’s going to help us as a team to guide you through the process a little bit more and to be involved in that process with you. Normally, we don’t have a lot of opportunity to answer your questions along the way. Over the 31 days, we are going to do more of that in this version of the course. We are doing some regular live videos, we’ll do some regular chats, and sort of ‘ask me anything’ type sessions in a small Facebook group that we’ve set up for the 31 Days To Build A Better Blog challenge. If you are interested in giving your blog that intense burst of love over the month of March, I encourage you to enroll in 31 Days To Build A Better Blog. Again, you can find it at problogger.com/31days.

The other thing I’ll say is if the month of March is too hard for you and you don’t think it’s realistic for you to go through that whole process in 31 days, that’s totally fine. You can still grab the course at 50% off. We’re offering it for US$49 up until the end of February. You can grab it and go through it at your own pace. This is a limited time offer. It ends at the end of February so we can go through it together. I encourage you to take action on that. Go to problogger.com/31days or just head to problogger.com, look for the courses tab at the top, and you will see our two courses there, our free Start A Blog course and 31 Days To Build A Better Blog.

I should also say that 31 Days To Build A Better Blog is designed for people who already have a blog. If you don’t have a blog yet, go back and do the Start A Blog course. It’s always available there. It’s always free. You might want to grab the 31 Days while it’s 50% off and then do that as a second course. We have designed 31 Days To Build A Better Blog for those of you in your first month of blogging, but as I also said earlier, we also include extension kind of challenges as well for those of you who’ve been blogging for a while.

We actually find a lot of the people who get the most benefit out of this course are in their first month or they’re bloggers who want to give their blog a reboot. They want to give it that extra boost to get things going, which is something I know a lot of you will probably be feeling this time of year. Whether you do the course or not is totally up to you. I’ll put it out there.

If it’s not the right time for you, that’s totally fine, but I do challenge you to take action on your blog. Action around creating great content. Action around promoting your blog, getting word out there, getting off your blog and promoting it. Action around deepening the engagement that you have with your readers. And action around monetizing your blog. It is the accumulation of action. It’s the good habits you develop in these four areas that I think build a successful blog.

Thanks for listening. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/277. Chat with you next week on the ProBlogger podcast.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 277: The Secret to Building a Better Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

277: The Secret to Building a Better Blog

The post 277: The Secret to Building a Better Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Today’s the day to sign up for our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course.

Why? Well, it’s 50% off for a limited time. And if you register by the end of February you’ll get to be a part of our 31-day guided sprint in March.

The Secret to Building a Better Blog

While the course has evolved, it remains the #1 reason most blogs become successful. But you need to consistently take action to implement what you learn.  

The four pillars of blogging are actions and habits you should develop to grow and profit from your blog.

  1. Create great content
  2. Promote your content
  3. Enhance your relationships with your readers
  4. Monetize your blog

Each day of the course you’ll be taught practical things to do for your blog, including:

  • Setting objectives and goals
  • Creating an editorial calendar
  • Developing social media and email strategies
  • Creating pillar content
  • Optimizing for SEO
  • Identifying and understanding your audience
  • Strengthening reader engagement

You don’t have to take the course to become an action-oriented blogger. But if you need help and want to give your blog a burst of love to get it back on track, feel free to join us.

Links and Resources for The Secret to Building a Better Blog:

Courses

Join our Facebook group.

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hey there and welcome to episode 277 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the founder of ProBlogger, which is a site for bloggers and prebloggers designed to help them to start and grow profitable blogs. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all we do over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode number 277, we’re going to talk a little bit of our secret of growing your blog. In fact, I think it’s the number one way to grow a blog and this ties into a promotion that we’ve got on at the moment on our 31 Days To Build A Better Blog course. I know many of you have gone through our Start A Blog course over the last couple of months and to continue the good work that you’ve done, we’ve decided to make 31 Days To Build A Better Blog 50% off for the next week or so until the end of February.

Also in the month of March, we’re going to sprint through it. We are doing it as a group where we can support you and get bloggers interacting together. I’ll tell you a little bit more about that later in the episode. But if you do want to check out 31 Days To Build A Better Blog and grab it at 50% off, head over at problogger.com/31days. You can also find it through our courses tab over at problogger.com and in today’s show notes.

Let’s get into today’s show where I do want to talk about the number one thing that is going to help you to grow your blog. In preparation for our 31 day sprint, I want to talk about why we had so much success with the 31 day program. I want to talk about the reason that they’ve been built into that course that I’ve seen help many bloggers over the years and I’ve seen help me as well.

Over the years, I think it was back in 2007, I started 31 Days To Build A Better Blog and it’s been in many forms since then. In fact, I’ve counted seven different ways we’ve presented this program. Originally, it started off as a series of blog posts in I think it was in 2006–2007, and then I did that same series that evolved that every time, three times on the blog. It was completely for free. It was just a series of blog posts. At the end of the third series, I turned it into an ebook and then I updated the ebook into a second version. I think second version came out in 2012. Later on, I did it again on the podcast for free and then more recently, we’ve turned it into a course in the last year or so.

There’ve been these seven different versions of 31 Days To Build A Better Blog and every time we changed the medium, we’ve also updated it to make it more relevant, to add more teaching, to get rid of bits that aren’t relevant for today and add in new pieces of information as well.

Those of you who’ve done one of those early versions will find that the course we have today is quite different. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed and it is, in my opinion, the number one reason that successful blogs become successful. The one thing that hasn’t changed in the course and that the number one thing that I think is behind most successful blogs, if not all successful blogs, is that it’s all about action.

A lot of people come to ProBlogger looking for teaching, for information. They want to learn how to do something, or they want to see a review of a product or tool, or they want to hear about the latest strategy, or they want to hear a story to inspire them. Information. Most of our content is focused around these things, but information and teaching and story-telling isn’t the reason that successful blogs grow. It’s part of it, but most successful bloggers can’t build a blog based upon just information.

Blogs grow when you take action. Blogs grow when you develop good habits as a blogger. What habits, what action do you need to develop? Well, I’ll give it to you for free. You don’t have to do the course. Most of the actions that you need to take as a blogger focus around four main areas. You’ve heard me talk about these before. They’re the pillars of blogging that we talk about. Creating great content is number one. Number two is promoting that content. Number three, deepening relationships with your readers. And number four is monetizing your blog.

These four things is the accumulation of action in these four areas that are going to help to grow your blog and if you want to become profitable, to become more profitable as well. Let me just say them again. Number one, create great content. Number two, promote that content. Number three, deepening relationships with your readers, building community. And number four, monetizing your blog if monetizing is a goal for you.

Now, this isn’t rocket science. Most of us instinctively know this stuff when we start our blog. On day one, we need to create content. That’s what makes it a blog. We know that no one’s going to see that content if we don’t tell them about it so we know instinctively we need to promote, even if it’s to our friends. Number three, we know that we need to engage with those readers. They’re much more likely to come back again the next day. If I feel like we noticed them, if we’ve engaged them in some way. We know we can’t make money unless we do something to monetize our blogs.

So we know instinctively these four things that we need to do yet so often as bloggers we let these basic things slide and we get distracted by other things. One of the times we get distracted is by the search for information or the secret strategies and we actually don’t take action in these four things. This is why 31 Days To Build A Better Blog has been so popular over the years and why every time we offer it we get so many people thanking us for it.

Now, you don’t need to do the course to become an action-orientated blogger. But if you need some help at the moment to get yourself going and you want to give your blog an intense burst of love and get it back on track perhaps, I do invite you to join us over this next 31 days.

31 Days To Build A Better Blog isn’t just a teaching course. There’s certainly teaching in it but more importantly, it’s a course that takes you through a series of challenges to do, 31 challenges to do. Each day you get a little bit of teaching. There’s a video, some audio, some worksheets that help you to learn, but more importantly, everyday you get at least one thing that you can go away and do.

We try to give you more than one thing on some days because I know some of you are beginners, some of you are in the first month of blogging, and some of you are a little bit more advanced. You’ll see some days there’s something there that you could do for the first time or if you’ve been doing that thing already, it gives you some ideas for things that you can do to improve what you’ve done as well. The idea is that you take at least 31 pieces of action by the end of this month.

Most of the things that we talk about are actually habits that you can grow and if you take these actions over and over again, you’re blog will grow. At the end of the 31 days, you have set some objectives and goals for your blog, and important actions. Something that you should be really revisiting from time to time. It’s a habit you should get into. By the end of the 31 days, you have created an editorial calendar for your blog. Again, that is something that you need to do on a regular basis.

You’ve created a social media and email strategy for your blog. You’ve created pillar content for your blog. You’ve gotten your blog optimized for search engine optimization. You’ve identified and dug in to try and understand your readers better. You’ve learnt some techniques for coming out with new post ideas and you’ve actually come up with and generated ideas for you blog. You’ve promoted your blog in a variety of ways and found some new readers. You’ve deepen the engagement with its current rate. You’ve explored opportunities for monetizing your blog and you’ve clarified some next steps to build your blogging business.

That’s just some of what you will do during this course. Whether you do it or not, you can actually just take that list of things, go away, do them, and build them into your rhythm. There’s so many more things. I don’t have time to go through it today, but the key thing I want to get across today is that if you want to build a successful blog, these are the types of actions that you need to be taking.

Again, most of the things we cover in the course fit into the four pillars I talked about before, creating content, promoting your blog, building community and engagement, and monetizing your blog. There’s not as much on monetization but there’s certainly a couple of days that focus on it. The other three pillars are the main focus of this. Monetization really does come as a result of building your readership, building up your archives, and creating engagement with your readers as well.

Normally, our course is something that people enroll. They normally pay US$99 to do and they normally go through it individually but as I said at the top of the show, over the month of March, we’re going to do it as a group and we’re calling it our sprint. Normally, we say to people, “Take your time. Go through it at your own pace. You can do it over 31 weeks. You can do it over 31 months if you want. But we are going to provide a 31 day sprint for you.” That may mean that you only sort of dip into some of the activities or you may even skip over some of them over that month because it is a fairly intense month, but you get this course forever and you can come back to and repeat some of those activities as you like.

The reason we want to do it as a sprint is something we discovered really early on. That was in the first series of blog post that I did is that when bloggers go through this type of experience together, it almost supercharges the whole experience. We want to tap into that. When bloggers get together, they share what they’ve done, they show each other examples of what they’ve done, they get to ask each other questions, they get to actually go and look at what each other have done, they get to encourage each other. This really gives you energy as a blogger and can provide a lot of inspiration, and a lot of other ideas as well.

The other reason that we want to do it as a sprint together is that it’s going to help us as a team to guide you through the process a little bit more and to be involved in that process with you. Normally, we don’t have a lot of opportunity to answer your questions along the way. Over the 31 days, we are going to do more of that in this version of the course. We are doing some regular live videos, we’ll do some regular chats, and sort of ‘ask me anything’ type sessions in a small Facebook group that we’ve set up for the 31 Days To Build A Better Blog challenge. If you are interested in giving your blog that intense burst of love over the month of March, I encourage you to enroll in 31 Days To Build A Better Blog. Again, you can find it at problogger.com/31days.

The other thing I’ll say is if the month of March is too hard for you and you don’t think it’s realistic for you to go through that whole process in 31 days, that’s totally fine. You can still grab the course at 50% off. We’re offering it for US$49 up until the end of February. You can grab it and go through it at your own pace. This is a limited time offer. It ends at the end of February so we can go through it together. I encourage you to take action on that. Go to problogger.com/31days or just head to problogger.com, look for the courses tab at the top, and you will see our two courses there, our free Start A Blog course and 31 Days To Build A Better Blog.

I should also say that 31 Days To Build A Better Blog is designed for people who already have a blog. If you don’t have a blog yet, go back and do the Start A Blog course. It’s always available there. It’s always free. You might want to grab the 31 Days while it’s 50% off and then do that as a second course. We have designed 31 Days To Build A Better Blog for those of you in your first month of blogging, but as I also said earlier, we also include extension kind of challenges as well for those of you who’ve been blogging for a while.

We actually find a lot of the people who get the most benefit out of this course are in their first month or they’re bloggers who want to give their blog a reboot. They want to give it that extra boost to get things going, which is something I know a lot of you will probably be feeling this time of year. Whether you do the course or not is totally up to you. I’ll put it out there.

If it’s not the right time for you, that’s totally fine, but I do challenge you to take action on your blog. Action around creating great content. Action around promoting your blog, getting word out there, getting off your blog and promoting it. Action around deepening the engagement that you have with your readers. And action around monetizing your blog. It is the accumulation of action. It’s the good habits you develop in these four areas that I think build a successful blog.

Thanks for listening. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/277. Chat with you next week on the ProBlogger podcast.

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The post 277: The Secret to Building a Better Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

How I Write a Blog Post: My Step-by-Step Process

The post How I Write a Blog Post: My Step-by-Step Process appeared first on ProBlogger.

How I write a blog post: my step-by-step process

This post is based on Episode 186 of the ProBlogger podcast.

I’m often asked how I write a blog post. What does the process look like from start to finish?

ProBlogger readers and podcast listeners have asked about where in the process I do specific things, such as writing the headline and the introduction.

In this post I’ll take you through exactly what I do so you can use my process (or your own unique twist on it) to make creating content much easier.

And this doesn’t apply to just blog posts. You could use the same process for creating YouTube videos or podcast episodes.

Step #1: Pick a Topic

The first step is pretty logical: pick a topic.

With my blogs – ProBlogger and Digital Photography School – that normally means identifying one of these:

  • A question one of my readers has
  • A problem one of my readers is trying to overcome
  • A task someone is trying to complete
  • A goal someone is trying to achieve

You may have already thought about some of these if you read my alternative take on New Year’s Resolutions for your blog.

My blogs teach people how to do things. Ninety-five percent of my posts are “how to” content, so I always start with one of these. They generally define the topic of my post.

If you have a different style of blog (e.g. it’s about entertaining people rather than teaching them), you may have a different process for coming up with topics.

Step #2: Think of the Reader

While my topics tend to come out of readers’ problems or questions anyway, at this step I take a moment to imagine my reader’s situation.

As a blogger, you’re so much more effective if you write with your reader in mind.

I’ve covered how to create a reader avatar before, so if it’s something you haven’t done you may want to take a look at these:

During this step, I write down a sentence or two about who my reader is and how they view the topic I’ll be talking about.

For instance, if I’m writing about a problem I might think about:

  • Why does my typical reader have that problem?
  • How do they feel about it?
  • What have they already tried to overcome it?
  • What’s stopped them from solving it in the past?

When you put yourself in your reader’s shoes, you can write your article with real empathy and make your post truly relevant to them.

At this point, I’m also thinking about what I want my reader to do after reading my blog post.

It’s really important to think about your call to action before you start writing. It will shape your headline, your introduction, how you write the main part of your post, and how you conclude it.

Step #3: Create a Working Headline

Some bloggers like to write the post first and then come up with the headline (the title) for it. And I totally understand that perspective because it’s what I used to do.

But what I like to do now is come up with a working headline once I have the topic and the reader perspective.

Creating a working headline sometimes helps me come up with a unique angle for the post.

For instance, I might have an idea for Digital Photography School on how to light a portrait. I’ve done the work understanding my reader: they’re a beginner and they don’t have much lighting gear.

So when I brainstorm headlines I might come up with “How to light a portrait using lights you find around your home”, or “How to light a portrait when you only have one flash”. You can see that just by selecting one of these headlines, I already have a much clearer idea of what the post will be about.

But it’s important to understand this is just a working headline (or a working title if you prefer). Once I’ve written the post I’ll normally go back and tweak it a bit. And sometimes while I’m writing I’ll realise that I need to change that headline a bit.

Step #4: Brainstorm and Outline the Post

At this point I list the main points I want to teach someone in my article. (You might come at this from a different perspective if your blog doesn’t focus on “how to” content.)

I don’t write a lot here. Normally it’s just a list of bullet points in a document on my computer, in a notebook, or as a mindmap.

As I do this, I brainstorm answers to the questions or solutions to the problem I identified, outlining the steps the reader needs to follow to learn a new skill or master a process.

It’s like coming up with the bones of the post. I’m not looking to add any muscle at this point.

The bullet points I create often become subheadings in my finished post. By coming up with the main sections and then sub-points for each section, the post begins to come together.

At this point, I often have more points than I’ll use in the finished post. So I cull the weaker or less relevant points and focus just on the most valuable things I want to say.

Once I’ve got those points, I take some time to arrange them in the best order. I don’t think many bloggers do this. But taking a moment to think “Is this a logical order? Are my points building upon one another?” can make a real difference to your finished post.

Step #5: Take a Critical Look at the Outline

With the outline finished, I ask myself some hard questions such as:

  • Will this post really be useful to my readers?
  • Will someone have a ‘fist pump’ moment when they read it, or just say it’s okay?
  • Is it meaningful? Will it change someone’s life in some way?
  • Will people still have questions after reading the article? Do I need to do some more research to address them?)

It’s important to ask these questions now, rather than after you’ve finished writing the entire post. That way if you realise you do need to do more research (or that it was actually a weak idea for a post), you’ll be prepared for it.

You might want to invest some time in research. Or you might get help from an expert by either interviewing them or having them write a section of your post.

Step #6: Write the Introduction

Some bloggers prefer to write the rest of the post first and then craft the introduction. But writing the introduction upfront works best for me. It helps me get into the flow of my post.

As with the headline, the introduction often shapes the direction of the post itself. My introduction is usually one to three paragraphs long. But again like the headline, I go back to rework the introduction after finishing the post.

As you write the introduction, think about the reader and their situation, question or problem. Show them you really understand how they feel.

If you can show some empathy in the first few lines of your post, you’ll make a deeper connection with your reader. And they’ll want to read the rest of your article.

This is also a good point to paint a picture of how the reader will benefit from reading your post. What will they be able to achieve (or what will be different) after reading it?

Step #7: Expand on the Main Points

With your outline in place, expanding on each point to create the main part of your content is quite straightforward. You just need to put meat on the bones you’ve already come up with.

As before, keep your reader in mind while you write. What worries do they have? What might they be confused by or wondering about at different points in your post?

If you need help with specifics on writing the main part of your post, you might want to check out some of these posts and podcast episodes:

It’s probably clear by now that I write my articles in the order they’ll be read: the headline, the introduction, then the main part of the article. For me, this is really important.

Step #8: Write the Conclusion and Call to Action

Good blog posts have some kind of conclusion. I create this after writing the main part of my post, and generally try to sum up what I’ve taught the reader.

I’ll return to the problem or question I set out in the introduction, and remind people what I’ve tried to teach them. I’ll also summarise the main points.

After that, it’s really important to give readers something specific to take action on. Go back to whatever you identified in Step 2, and clearly state what you want them to do next.

It might be encouraging them to try out the technique they’ve just learned, or to leave a comment or interact in some way.

Don’t give them several different things to do here. And make sure your call to action flows from the goals of your blog and this particular post.

Step #9: Add More Depth and Appeal to the Post

At this stage of the process, I look for things I could add to make a post even better.

For instance, I might look for:

  • A story or anecdote I could include
  • An image that would complement the post
  • A relevant YouTube video to embed
  • A chart or graphic that illustrates a key point in the post
  • A quote from someone else
  • Ways to make the post look more attractive to read

You could even consider interviewing someone else to add their perspective into your post, even (or especially) if they provide an alternative viewpoint.

This step is about making the post better and deeper, and making sure it looks good with plenty of visual interest.

Step #10: Edit and Proofread the Post

In this final step, it’s important to go over your post one final time to make sure you haven’t made any mistakes or typos.

For me, putting a bit of space between when I write and when I edit is really important. I think we use different parts of our brains for critical thinking about editing.

I talked about editing in detail in Episode 168 of the ProBlogger podcast. So you may want to check it out for a detailed look at the seven steps for editing your work.

The last thing you want is to undo all your good work with a post that’s riddled with glaring mistakes. Quality control really matters, so make sure you build in enough time to edit and proofread.

You could also get someone else in to help you at this stage of the process. It could be a fellow blogger who you swap posts with, or a professional editor or proofreader.

A Quick Summary of My Process

Here’s a quick recap of my blog post writing process from start to finish:

  1. Pick a topic
  2. Think of the reader
  3. Create a working headline
  4. Brainstorm and outline the post
  5. Take a critical look at the outline
  6. Write the introduction
  7. Expand on the main points
  8. Write the conclusion and call to action
  9. Add more depth and appeal to the post
  10. Edit and proofread the post

That’s my workflow. But I’d love to hear about yours. Maybe you have an extra step, or do things in a different order. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Regardless of your workflow, it’s important to pause along the way and be reflective. Keep coming back to who’s reading that content: the reader with the questions, problems and feelings. If you can show you understand them, you’ll create a real sense of connection.

So don’t just think about creating content. Think about crafting it, and taking care and time to make it the best it can be.

The post How I Write a Blog Post: My Step-by-Step Process appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

276: How to Start a Successful Podcast

The post 276: How to Start a Successful Podcast appeared first on ProBlogger.

Learn How to Start a Successful Podcast

Do you already have a blog, and want to expand into another medium? Then why not start a podcast?

A lot of our Facegroup members have asked questions about starting a podcast, especially about gear, content, engagement, hosting, launching and monetization.

And to help me answer all those questions I called on an expert.

Craig Hewitt is the founder of Podcast Motor and Castos. When Craig started his own podcast, he quickly discovered that audio editing and producing a podcast was a pain. So he started Podcast Motor to help others.

The technicalities of podcasting almost stopped me from starting the ProBlogger podcast. That’s why I turned to Craig and his team to handle them.

Craig shares the nuts and bolts of podcasting:

  • Reach existing audience in a different way, or reach an entirely new audience.
  • Establish a dedicated hosting platform to store and distribute your media files.
  • Differentiate yourself to develop a brand and identity (i.e. your accent).
  • Start a podcast with everything you need for less than $100.
  • Be comfortable with speaking, and assemble enough content to talk about.
  • Identify and prepare guests to be on your podcast.
  • Create an intro by recording it yourself or outsourcing it to a voiceover artist.
  • Find a room without flat walls and hard spaces to eliminates echoes. (Try a closet).
  • Edit audio to match your style (buttoned-up, conversational, etc.)
  • Put your podcast on Android and Apple platforms, including Apple Podcast (formerly iTunes), Google Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, and YouTube.
  • Get and grow your audience by getting your podcast listed in search engines. Ask listeners to subscribe, submit a rating/review, and share with others.
  • Record five episodes before launching. Then launch with two episodes, plus or minus an Episode 0 that offers a description of what listeners can expect from your podcast.
  • Engage your listeners by using a call to action through a link in the podcast audio, or continue a podcast discussion and connect with audience via a Facebook group.
  • Metrics don’t really matter. Instead, review popularity, downloads and listening duration.

We covered a lot in this episode, but to get all the details you need to successfully start a podcast sign up for Craig’s free course, Launch In A Week:

  1. Podcasting Microphone and Gear
  2. Audio Recording and Editing
  3. Your Ideal Listener and Podcast Personas
  4. The Perfect Podcast Recipe
  5. Media Host and Website Setup
  6. Getting Your Show Ready to Launch
  7. Launch Planning and Growing Your Audience

Links and Resources for How to Start a Successful Podcast:

Examples of How to Start a Successful Podcast:

Courses

Join our Facebook group.

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey hey there, ProBlogger listeners. It’s Darren Rowse here from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 276 of the show. For those of you who are new to the show, ProBlogger is a site for bloggers and prebloggers designed to help them to start blogs, to grow those blogs, and to monetize those blogs. You can check out more of what we do over at ProBlogger. Particularly, look out for our courses. Our Start A Blog course which is free, will help you get up and running, and our 31 Days To Build A Better Blog course which is ideal for anyone with a blog who wants to take it up a notch, to have a 31 day intense burst of blogging to grow your blog. Check out the courses tab on problogger.com.

Today, we do something a little bit different on the show. The last six or so shows we’ve been featuring stories from new bloggers as part of our International Start A Blog Day which was last week. We had hundreds of blogs start on the day. It was so exciting to see them. You can check out some of those blogs that were started over on the ProBlogger blog. I’ll put on a link in the show notes today to that.

But many of you already have a blog. That little series we ran, you’re patient with us, and I know many of you enjoyed hearing those stories, but I know some of you have been wondering if you should start something else, some other kind of medium in 2019. So today, I’ve invited Craig Hewitt onto the show to talk about starting a podcast.

While Craig’s name may not be familiar to some of you, you have all heard his work and the work of his team. Every single one of you have heard it because right now, you are listening to something that Craig and his team has been a part of. Craig is the founder of PodcastMotor, the company that edits every episode of this podcast, apart from the first few episodes.

I’ve been working with Craig and his team for a few years now and they have been fantastic at helping us to get this show to you each week. All I do is record it, pop it in a Dropbox, put a few notes into a Google Doc, they take it, they edit it, they put all the little breakers and the musical bits into it, they put the show notes together for us, they put it into a WordPress installation, and they even schedule it for us. They create a social graphic for the show as well. They do everything behind the scenes apart from record it themselves. They’ve really helped a lot to help get this show up and running.

Craig has also started a new service more recently called Castos. I’ll link to them in the show notes today. I so wished this service was around when I started the podcast because it’s a service that hosts your podcast, integrates it with WordPress, and basically does everything you need behind the scenes to put your podcast onto the web. It’s really affordable as well.

When the number of listeners started asking questions about podcasting recently in our Facebook group, Craig was the obvious person to come on to the show. He also tells me that he’s put together a free step-by-step email course to help you launch a podcast as well and we talk about that in the show today. If you do want to check that out, it’s a seven-day or seven-step email sequence that you’ll get. You can sign-up for that at castos.com/problogger. I’ve seen it, it’s really a very helpful guide and something I wish I had when I started this podcast because I had to hack together this podcast using information from all over the place and to have it all into one spot will be fantastic.

In today’s interview, we cover a lot of ground. I basically put up a thread in our Facebook group asking members of our group what they want to know about podcasting and I was amazed how many questions came in. I was inundated with questions and I basically took all those questions and put them to Craig in today’s show. We talk about the why of podcasting, the benefits of it, who should podcast, who shouldn’t. We talk about gear, software that you need to start. We talk about creating the content, recording the content, promoting the content, leveraging your podcast to take readers to take action, to monetize it, and launching a podcast a well.

There’s a lot in today’s show. I’m sure you’ll find it useful. Some of you might want to check out the transcript as well because there’s a lot of information in it. You can find the show notes today and that transcript at problogger.com/podcast/276. Again, you can get Craig’s free email course at castos.com/problogger. That’s a seven-day course. I’ll talk a little bit more about that after the interview.

Lastly, if you know someone who you think should start a podcast, please tell them about this episode. Not only it will help to grow the ProBlogger podcast but could also end up changing their life as well as they discover this medium for themselves. I’m going to get back into the interview now. This is a fun one for me to record because I hadn’t really spoken to Craig a lot even though we’ve been working for years. It was great to hear his voice and he had a lot of really great things to share as well.

Hey, Craig. Good to have you with us today. Welcome to the ProBlogger podcast.

Craig: Hey, how are you doing? Thanks so much for having me.

Darren: It’s good to have you and we’ve obviously enjoyed having you work with us on the ProBlogger podcast for a while and you seem like an ideal person to get on. Many of our listeners at this time of year are thinking about new types of content for the year ahead and I know we get a lot of questions around podcasting. I thought you’d be ideal to talk to us about how to start a podcast and any tips for the early days of podcasting. What I thought I might do before we get into our reader’s questions is to get you to introduce your backstory and how did you end up in the podcasting space.

Craig: I think it’s always funny. Everybody has their kind of secret story of how they got to where they are now. Mine was coming around the long way into podcasting when I started getting into online business and entrepreneurship. I wanted to start a podcast because I listen to ones like yours and Pat Flynn. I can just at least document what I’m doing and share along the way what’s working and what’s not. I started my own podcast four years ago now—I can’t believe it’s been that long—and really quickly saw that audio editing and producing a podcast is frankly a pain. It’s really difficult and I think that if you talk to anybody who started podcast, they say, “This is the reason that it took us so long to get into this. This is by far the biggest pain point we have.” It’s not like spinning up a blog where you just go and you sign up for a SiteGround hosting, install WordPress and you start typing, you can do a bit of it on your phone. With podcasting, you at least need a little bit of equipment, some software a little bit of skills around how to edit, what an RSS feed is, and all these things.

I said, “I bet some people who are really busy would pay for this if I could take care of all of this stuff for them.” So, we started PodcastMotor almost four years ago now, here at the end of 2018. What PodcastMotor is aimed at is taking all of the backend podcast editing and production work off of people’s hands, like yourself, who are busy professionals, entrepreneurs, startups, businesses. They have a lot better things to do with their time than to learn how to be a semi pro audio editor.

Darren: And it’s a dream come true for me. I have to say that the first months of me starting a podcast, I did it all myself. Then I hired someone to do it for me and it’s still was quite a bit of to-and-froing with that person to try and to map them to get it just the way I wanted. When we started working with you guys, it was amazing to be able to just record the podcast—the part that I enjoy the most—then to put it into Dropbox, and the next thing I knew, it’s live on the site with the show notes, with the featured image, transcript, and all those things. That’s a great service to have.

You also got another product as well which might be probably more interesting to some of our listeners as well. Maybe just talk about that right out front and then we’ll get into the questions because I think it will be something that listeners might enjoy.

Craig: About two years ago now, I had the opportunity to get into the product space a little bit in podcasting and purchased a WordPress plugin called Seriously Simple Podcasting. From them, we’ve built the Castos hosting platform. I will probably talk about the nuts and bolts of podcasting a little but later in the episode but you really want a dedicated hosting platform to store and distribute all the media files for your podcast. You don’t want that living in the same server where your WordPress site lives. So we’ve built the Castos platform that integrated with WordPress really tightly. That’s another product we have in the podcasting space.

For people who are getting started with podcasting, we’ve built a really cool getting started email and video course called Launch In A Week. The idea is to take you from, “Hey I want to start a podcast,” to the podcast actually being live with episodes and in iTunes and all that stuff in just a week. If you have folks who want to check that out, they can go go to castos.com/problogger. I’m sure we’ll have link in the show notes.

Darren: We shall. This isn’t about selling to our listeners. I just wanted to get that upfront because you bring a lot of credibility to this topic and a lot of experience, particularly in that area of editing and helping podcasts to get up and running with the hosting side of things, the technicalities of podcasting which, to be honest, almost killed me and almost stopped my podcast before I even started. That’s the perspective we’re coming to this interview today.

Now I asked our Facebook group listeners to ask any questions that they had about podcasting and I was amazed how many questions came in. I was going to prepare a whole lot of questions but I think our listeners probably are the best ones to ask the questions. I’m going to throw the podcast over to them and I ordered them in a way that I hope makes sense. A lot of the questions that I want to start off with are around the why of podcasting. I said it at the start of the show, this is the time of year where we see a lot of readers starting new blogs but also new podcast or new YouTube channel. For those listening, who are wondering is a podcast right for me, why do you love podcasting? Why do you think it’s a medium our listeners should be considering?

Craig: Anybody that is creating content, and that typically means they’re blogging already but like you said, they could have a YouTube channel or big social media following already, I think podcasting is a natural extension to that, in that it’s an additive type of content addition to what they’re doing instead of saying, “I’m in a podcast. Instead of blogging or instead of doing a YouTube channel, I’m going to start a podcast,” because we always say you can do two different things with a podcast than you can say a blog and it is to reach the existing audience in a little bit different way or reach an entirely new audience that might not just a blog reader.

What it looks like in the first aspect is, the reaching your existing audience in a different way is having usually different types of conversations or covering different topics around your main area of focus that is just more appropriate for an audio medium. You and I having this conversation in a blog would be really weird. But having this conversation, having really a dialogue, having your Facebook group members to have questions, and things like that is really natural in this audio medium.

People looking to start a podcast that already have some other type of content say to themselves, maybe, “What am I covering in my blog that’s great and what can I cover in an audio medium that could be different and additive?” Things like interviews, case studies, and things like that tend to lend themselves to the audio medium much better than written.

In reaching a new audience, there’s a lot of people that don’t have time to read blog posts. I’m one of those people. When I was working in corporate, I would have hours a day in the car that I just listen to podcasts. I could never spend hours a day reading a blog. So, you kind of think about people maybe in those situations.

Darren: That’s so true and then as to my experience really is by starting this podcast, I grew my audience, so there were certainly new people who came into the audience, but I really like what you said about reaching your current audience in a different way as well because it seem to deepen that relationship with old-time readers or reignite the spark with those readers as well.

I actually had a question from Liso which I think build on what you’re saying. Liso said, “I’m an artist and have a blog which is about art, which is very visual. I’m wondering if I should do a podcast? How could I do a podcast with such a visual topic?” Any thoughts on that for Liso?

Craig: I interviewed a fellow for our podcast at Castos who was an artist. He’s an Irish fellow that has one of our most popular podcast that we host at Castos. I can see that just by download numbers he gets 20,000 or 30,000 downloads per episode. I asked him this exact question. I said, “This is a really visual medium that you live in. This goes back to why would you podcast instead of have a blog or something?” He says, “Yeah, but I can tell the story of the artist so much better in a podcast than I ever could in a blog.” He blogs as well, obviously.

I think for her to say, “Could you get the artist on and talk about just the artist themselves, their story, their journey, challenges they’re having, and things they’re up to?” Talk about the art, of course, but even in a medium like art where everything is so visual, telling the story of the artist and people themselves is really unique. Very few people probably are doing that and it would be a way for her to send out and tell a different story of the art world to their audience.

Darren: Yeah and I think you can then drive people back to your blog post which might show the art of the artist in the show notes or in a separate blog post. That ought to be a good combination.

Tula asked an interesting question. She said, “Would you suggest a person with a foreign accent do a podcast?” She’s got a popular YouTube channel in spite of the accent that she has, but she’s wondering because podcast is purely audio and not visual, would it be a challenge for her?

Craig: Absolutely. I think that it gives you a chance to differentiate yourself from everyone else that’s American or British. If you look at the high-level podcast statistics, it’s really dominated by the North American, at least, and some of the European demographics. If you’re Australian, or Irish, or Latin American, or whatever, I think it gives you a chance to really show who you are and stand out like that. I don’t know, Darren. Have you seen being Australian that people are surprised or have different reactions to your accent? Some are really surprised that you’re Australian, right?

Darren: I do. It’s amazing how many long-time readers of the blog said, “I never knew that you were an Aussie,” even though I talked about Australia quite a bit. Certainly my Twitter account’s most active during Australian hours. It’s a surprise to some people. It’s also been attractive to other people and that it’s interesting. I get a lot of comments from people saying, “My kids love your podcast because they love the accent and the crazy words that you use that you don’t even know you’re using.” Yeah, I actually get it’s part of the branding, I guess as well.

I guess it really probably depends on how different your accent is and if you find that people do struggle to understand your English. Maybe if your English is a second language, maybe it could be a challenge, but I actually think, like you it’s a good thing, too.

Craig: And I think a bit of a higher level thing is, is having a brand and an identity. Your accent and being Australian is part of your brand and identity. For her as well, if she’s comfortable with it, she’s got to get comfortable with hearing her voice. That’s a really weird thing. The first time you hear yourself recorded, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I sound like an idiot,” or, “I never knew my voice was like this.” Once you get comfortable with it and have confidence in it, which honestly is a hard thing for a lot of people, you’re going to embrace it, love it, and go with it. That’s part of the brand of your podcast.

Darren: Yeah, so go for it, Tula. Before we move on to some of the logistics of starting a podcast, do you have any examples that come to mind of bloggers that you’ve worked with, that have launched the podcast in addition to their blog? I would be interested to hear of any examples that you’ve gotten and things that you say that they’ve done well.

Craig: One of the shining examples of this for us at PodcastMotor, we’ve been working with CoSchedule. CoSchedule is a marketing automation tool for WordPress and we’ve been working with them for a long time now, a couple of years. We’ve asked them, “Hey, you guys write such amazing blog content.” If you’ve never checked out the CoSchedule blog, go check it out. You’ll be blown away at the depth of articles that they write. So, they came back to us and said, “Yeah, we can write really great in-depth blog post, but what we can’t do is hear the story of these people and have organic, natural conversations with them about what’s going on in their business, why they’re doing this, how, and get the story behind it.”

What they’ve found is that the podcast now is the main—in marketing terms—top of the funnel area where new people find their brand, then come in and they link back to the website—like all good podcasters should is link back to your home base, wherever that is, business, personal brand, website, or whatever—but a lot of people are finding CoSchedule through their podcast now and not through their blog. Then they go, see the blog, and say, “Holy cow.” Their blog content is so great, this company really knows what they’re doing, and then ultimately become customers.

That’s kind of the flow I think that a lot of podcasters that are in business or have a brand of whatever type, that they want to get peeled back to their site. To learn more about them is to knock people’s socks off with the quality, depth, and authenticity of their podcast content, then get them back to their site to find out more, and hopefully engage with them there. But yeah, CoSchedule’s had a really positive experience with podcasting the last couple of years.

Darren: And are they telling stories or the thing that you mentioned earlier in a podcast, is that what it’s all about for them?

Craig: They’re doing case studies and a fair amount of nitty-gritty how-to stuff because that’s their MO. But just doing it in an audio medium, I think, tells the story, if you will, better they can than a blog.

Darren: That’s great and I think their content on the blog would lend itself to repurpose to the podcast as well and to be able to link their content together in that way would work. I’m not sure whether they’re doing that but that’s certainly something that works well on ProBlogger because we do the how-to content to be able to tackle the same topic in a slightly different way, or to bring on a guest is something that our listeners seem to enjoy, too.

Craig: Yup. Very smart.

Darren: A lot of the questions we’ve got were around a gear, microphones, the most commonly thing that people ask. Stewart, I’ll take for example, says, “What microphones and other recording equipment do you recommend for those starting out?” A lot of the questions were around on a budget, what’s the first one you should get that doesn’t break the bank. If you’ve got any advice on what microphone to get, I’m sure that would be appreciated.

Craig: This is by far the top question. To go back just a little bit to our Launch In A Week email and videos course, the goal we put together with it is to say, “There are a million ways to do this and there are 872 blog post about the best podcasting mic out there,” and you really can. Unfortunately, a lot of folks do say, “I’m going to do all the research and spend a month doing this,” and then they never get started because they just get overwhelmed with all of the stuff out there, conflicting opinions, and all this stuff about how you should start a podcast. We try to say, “Forget it. We’re going to tell you one or two ways to do this.” You can just go and follow the Launch In A Week course and say, “Okay, this is great. Craig is taking all of the questions out of my head and keeping me from doing this so that I can actually start the podcast.”

But all that preamble to say, I have two recommendations when it comes to podcasting mics. One is the one using right now and I’ve been using for 3½ years, is the Audio-Technica ATR2100. It is a USB mic that plugs right into my MacBook. I record usually on Skype, like we are doing now or on Zoom, both of which are basically free. If you want to go up one notch from there, The Shure SM7B is a really high-quality mic. It cost about $300-$400.

You need another piece of equipment called a preamp to go in-between that and your computer. We like the Scarlett Focusrite, which is about another $100. It gives you a little more depth of vocal quality. I think the Audio-Technica mic, which is $60-$70 on Amazon, is great. It’s great for a lot of people. I know Tim Ferriss uses this or used it at some point for all his interviews. If it’s good enough for him, I think it’s good enough for pretty much everybody. But don’t let microphones hang you up and keep you from getting started.

Darren: That’s right. We’ll compile a list of links to all these microphones and gear in the show notes as well. Similar question, what software do you recommend? You just mentioned Skype and Zoom. I presume that’s more for interviewing guests?

Craig: Yeah.

Darren: Do you have any other software that people should try, particularly if maybe they’re maybe doing a talking head podcast?

Craig: Yeah. For remote interviews like this, Skype or Zoom. There’s an add-on for Skype called Call Recorder if you’re on a Mac. That gets the remote interviews done. If you’re just recording it locally, there’s a free open source cross-platform tool that works on Windows or Mac called Audacity. Again, it is perfectly good. It’s the tool I use still all the time when I need to edit stuff. It’s really high-quality and being open source, it’s free. So, audacity.org I think it is, for recording locally and for editing. You can do both on the same tool there and it’s wonderful.

Darren: I just used GarageBand because it was on my Mac, but Audacity is certainly one that most of my friends seem to be using these days as well.

Frank asked for some advice on hosting. Now we have to disclaim that you actually offer that sort of service, so maybe go check out Castos would be a good way to go. But I guess maybe if you could talk to what you mentioned earlier about not using your blog hosting. Maybe if you could just expand on that a little as to why that might be.

Craig: I think having a dedicated media hosting platform is a good idea. Say you release your podcast episodes every Tuesday morning. If you’re hosting your podcast media files on the same server that your website is served from, and you have, hopefully, thousands of listeners every Tuesday that subscribe to your podcast, new episode comes out of iTunes, they’re all downloading your episode at eight o’clock on Tuesday morning. If you have a bunch of people on your website as well, your website is going to crash maybe, perform really slowly. Those files might not download because they’re all getting sucked out of the same server. If you can separate those two resources onto different platforms, then your website will perform much better and consistently, and your podcast listeners will be able to stream and download your episodes much more smoothly. So separating these two resources onto different platforms is just the best practice really in podcasting.

When it comes to podcast hosting platforms, I’m of course biased, I think Castos is great especially if using WordPress because it lets you do everything in one place. If you’re not or you want to check other things out, I really like what the folks at Simplecast are doing these days. simplecast.com is a really great platform. The tool that a lot of people have heard of probably is Libsyn. They’ve been around probably the longest and they’re probably the biggest player in the industry. So, maybe check out Libsyn as well.

Darren: And it’s not that expensive really. Monte actually asked how much does it cost to get into podcasting. Maybe you could speak to that. There’s hosting, obviously your microphone, what else do people need to be considering?

Craig: Hosting, a good microphone because it is worth spending the $60-$70 that the Audio-Technica might cost. If that’s too much, I know a lot of people that use their Apple earbuds that come with an iPhone or Android phone. Just something so that you have some microphone close to your mouth is really important. I think that’s the one thing you have to have is some kind of microphone. A hosting plan cost $10-$20 a month. You can go all-in for less than $100 to start with. These hosting platforms are all on a monthly basis just like your WordPress hosting platform would be.

There’s some other things that are nice to have when it comes to Audio gear. If you’re using a microphone like the Shure SM7B or the Audio-Technica, having a pop filter which is a little screen that sits between your mouth and the microphone, cuts down all what’s called ‘plosives,’ these really harsh P and T sounds. If you don’t have this, every time you say, “Can I please go take…” these words that start with P and T, they’re really harsh and sound really bad in your recording. The pop filter mechanically filters those out, so it’s really a nice thing.

Another thing that I really like is having a boom arm which is this articulating arm that attaches to your desk or table and then holds the mic up at the vertical level of your mouth so that you can sit comfortably and talk into the mic without stooping down or holding the mic in your hand and having all sorts of uncomfortable ergonomics for podcasting. Your voice actually sounds different if you’re talking down or talking up so having it right at level with your mouth is really nice. Those two pieces together will cost you another $30-$40. Again, you’re right at $100 getting started.

Darren: That’s great. The boom mic also allows you to stand up, which is what I like to do when I’m podcasting because it seems to give bit more energy to what you’re doing as well.

Let’s talk a little bit about content. Let’s start with Florence’s question. Is it best to have a script for your podcast or to go with bullet points or just ad lib? What’s your preference? What do you do?

Craig: This will change as your journey as a podcaster evolves. As you’re just getting started, it is much easier to have a little more content prepared and a little better idea of what you’re trying to do. As you evolve, there are a lot of podcasters that I know that say, “Let’s just hit record and see where this goes.” That’s perfectly fine when you as interviewer have some more confidence and skills. But as you’re just getting started, at least having an outline of, “Okay, I’m going to interview Craig today, I’m going to ask him these six or seven questions generally,” so that if there’s a dead point or weird transition in the interview, you can say, “Okay, I’m going to go next to this one because it’s next on my list.”

I think for most people, scripting out an entire monologue or series of questions is really difficult. For me and for a lot of people, the hardest thing in podcasting is to just talk for 5 or 10 or 30 minutes by yourself, reading something, and having it sound natural. For you and me to sit down and have this conversation for an hour is no problem and for most people it probably isn’t.

This is not the question but I would say, in terms of format of podcast, I think if people are considering having a solo show where they are the only one talking, I would make sure that you’re very comfortable speaking because it’s just hard. It’s just hard as opposed to having a co-host doing an interview-type show.

Darren: Yeah and a few people did ask what are the pros and cons of having a co-host. As someone who predominantly does just talking head, me alone in a room, it is an awkward, strange thing to do to just sit there and talk.

I don’t have a script for mine, but I certainly have fairly comprehensive bullet points, so that I know I can fill up 20 minutes. I couldn’t just adlib for 20 or 30 minutes. Someone like Gary V. probably could, but I need to have thought about the journey that I’m going to take my readers on. A script really doesn’t work for me. I think some of the early podcast, if we go back and listen to the first few, I didn’t read them, but I almost was and it comes across in the style I guess of the podcast. Any tips on finding a co-host should you find someone that compliments your personality? Any tips on that? I’ve never had one, so I don’t know what I’d be looking for.

Craig: My personal podcast that I started four years ago started as a solo show where I was planning on interviewing people. I think my third or fourth interview, I interviewed a fellow, Dave Rodenbaugh, who’s now my co-host. We started down one path and went to another after he came on the show. He compliments my style, experience, and personality quite a bit. Not so much that it’s awkward, or confrontational, or anything like that. I think that’s important because it’s not quite like running a business together or getting married.

I think you and your co-host are going to be spending a lot of time together and talking about a lot of things that hopefully are really important to you and your audience. I would say, if you’re considering having a co-host and you don’t have somebody in mind for it already, look around at your world that you live in, and people that you find interesting and have complimentary but similar perspectives to you. Time zone is an important one. Dave lives in Colorado and I live in France now. I’m American but I’ve been living in France for the last two years. We’re eight hours apart and that’s challenging. We start the podcast at 9:00 at night. It’s definitely something to think about.

Darren: Yeah. The one thing I’d add in having talked to a few of my friends is that, some point of tension can actually be a good thing. I think you want to have similar values, but having different perspective or life experiences sometimes can make for an interesting discussion. I’m thinking of one podcast host that I know of, she’s quiet straight, she’s quite matter-of-fact, and the other one is all over the place and disorganized, and I think that makes for an interesting discussion.

I think something along those lines can sometimes work, too. It just adds a little bit of tension. You never quite know where it’s going to go. Ollie asks about finding guests for your podcast. If you are going to do an interview, (1) how do you find a guest, and (2) what’s your approach in preparing the guest for the interview?

Craig: Most people find when they start out, finding guests is not that hard. You have a dream team list of the top 10 or 20 people that you want to have on the show. Getting through that first couple of months is typically pretty easy for folks. All the people in your industry you really look up to, or have worked with in the past or something, a really high quality candidate for your podcast.

Coincidentally, for people that are more on the business-to-business side of content in the worlds that they live in, one of the things that very few people realize I think in this hidden gem of podcasting is the networking opportunity. If you’re a business you’re saying, “Why would I start a podcast? There’s going to be 30 people that listen to my podcast.” Don’t discount the fact that if you go and ask all the leaders in your industry if they want to come on your podcast, you’re going to instantly become an authority in your space, and you’re going to have whatever 30 or 100 people that you’ve spent an hour talking to that you very likely couldn’t have had that hour to talk with them in another manner.

I mean, just to be able to say, “Darren, would you like to come on my podcast? I’d love to talk to you about blogging and how it can grow your brand, all this kind of stuff,” and you’d be like, “Wow, that’s great. I’m going to get to go on a podcast and talk about this thing that I love, that I’m an authority on, and that Craig and all of his readers and listeners are going to think that I know what I’m talking about,” If you’re looking at getting into podcasting from the B2B space, I would definitely consider it as the biggest opportunity is just for networking. Audience-building for sure, but networking is huge.

As far as preparing your guest, I think having a quick call before the podcast, it can be the day, or a couple of days before, or a week before is really helpful. It could just be 10 or 15 minutes, “Hey, we’re going to talk about these few things. Do you have any questions? Do you have gear?” That’s really important. “Do you have a mic? Do you at least have ear buds that you can put in?” because one of the biggest challenges from an audio perspective is, you as the podcast hosts are going to have your gear, your setup, and your recording figured out, but are you going to be able to prepare your guest so that they can record high quality audio too?

Figuring out a way and a system to do that every time is really important. Otherwise, you’re going to have a great sounding audio and your guest are going to sound like they’re in a trash can, and that’s horrible for your listeners. Then using scheduling tools like Calendly, or many others that are available out there that just let you say, “Hey, I’d love to have you on the podcast. Click here to grab a time on my calendar,” it takes all of the back and forth, time zone guessing, and all of this stuff out of the equation.

Darren: Great tips. Ahmed asks, where should you get an intro or outro made for your podcast? I guess he’s talking about the music or the intro that goes at the start that introduces you. Any places that you would look?

Craig: I think when it comes to intros, you have two choices really, you can record it yourself which is perfectly fine and a lot of people do this, and you don’t have to go and get it outsourced to a voiceover artist. If you do for whatever reason, either you do you want some kind of vocal diversity in your podcast, or you don’t like the sound of your voice, so you want somebody else to bring you in, we actually had really good luck with some folks on Fiverr, so fiverr.com.

Typically with these type of marketplace, if you search for the top level providers there, they’re pretty solid. It would cost between $5, and $20, or $30 for a voiceover, and it’s done in a couple of days. Just send them a script and they record it and send it back to you.

Darren: Kathy is asking about making the audio less echoey in her room. She says she can’t alter her room too much because it’s her living room the rest of the time, but any tips on helping to deaden that echo?

Craig: Looking at your microphone very well may be the answer. There are some mics out there that are really popular, that are frankly just not ideal for podcasting. The Blue Yeti is one of those. It’s a really great high quality mic if you’re in a sound booth. It works beautifully there. If you’re not and you’re in your living room, or in a conference room, or something with a bunch of flat walls and hard spaces, the echo is going to be really bad, and a really sensitive mic like that is going to pick all that up.

For Kathy I would say, if she can move, that would probably be the best thing. As strange as it sounds, a lot of people record podcasts in their closets. It sounds really bizarre, but trust me, some of the best broadcasters you know podcast in their closet and it’s because it’s a small space with a lot of soft stuff, all your clothes, shoes, bags, and stuff, and you can isolate yourself in a really sound-dampened environment. If you’re able to move to somewhere like that, then do it. I podcast in my office which is the top floor of our house and has wood paneling and angled ceilings. It’s a really good room for podcasting. Things like a conference room with just this giant glass table is just the worst.

Darren: Hard surfaces aren’t great, are they?

Craig: Yeah.

Darren: I find the best room in my house is my 12-year-olds bedroom because it’s just a complete mess. There’s stuff everywhere. I’ve gone in there a couple of times and I may do so more often because our next door neighbors have just demolished their house and are about to start building. I suspect it’s going to get noisy around here, unfortunately. Sorry to our listeners for that upcoming. It might give the editors of this podcast a little bit more of a challenge. Which leads me to my next question from Ron. How much editing is too much?

Craig: This should match the style that you have overall. If you are really buttoned up and want everything to flow really quickly and sequentially, and have a really tight podcast, then spending more time removing all the ums and uhs, slight pauses, misspeakings, and things like that is going to be consistent with yourself and your brand. If you want to have a show that is more conversational, Darren and I are just having a conversation, it sounds like two of your friends talking about something you enjoy, then it’s perfectly fine. Honestly, you don’t need to spend a lot of time at all, editing.

I know a lot of people that edit their podcast while they’re doing email, or spending time on Twitter, and stuff like that, and only make a half a dozen maybe small edits to the podcast, and trimming off the top and the bottom, and adding music, and things like that. Editing doesn’t have to be that hard. I think there definitely is a point to the spirit of the question where too much editing makes it sound artificial and not like a conversation. I think you want to clean it up a little bit, make it sound professional, but if you do it too much, it’s going to sound unnatural. Nobody has conversations without pauses and saying um. It’s okay to say um every once in awhile, but just don’t overdo it. Don’t take out all the spirit of the conversation.

Daren: I was talking to a few friends about this the other day. Most of my friends listen to podcasts on 1.5 speed, or 1.3 speed, or double speed, and it doesn’t sound natural that way. I don’t think too many people are really worried about the ums and the uhs, and the slight gaps in the conversation.

Craig: I think the other part of this that again, people are getting held up with getting in the podcasting is, you are not Gimlet Media, you’re not NPR, no offense, none of us are probably going to be award-winning podcasters, we want to do this for our hobby or for our business and an additional thing to our blog, but don’t be afraid to just do it and get started. If it’s not perfect, or it doesn’t sound like the Gimlet guys, it’s great, it’s fine, it’s you. It doesn’t matter. That’s not the end-game.

Darren: They’re spending a fortune on it. I heard one, I can’t remember whether it was Radiolab maybe did an episode, and they talked about how one of their episodes cost $100,000. That’s just one of their episodes, and I do weekly shows. Don’t compare yourselves to them because you’re not on a par at all.

Launching your podcast. Where should you be submitting your podcast? You’ve got it up on your hosting now, Apple is the obvious one, Paul asks, “Is Spotify worth it? Should you be putting it into all the different networks? Is there an easy way to do that?”

Craig: Yes. I think there’s four places now where you really need to have your podcast and maybe five. Apple Podcast formerly known as iTunes is still the biggest one and will be forever maybe. Google Podcast, Google Play for strictly Android users is a big one. And folks in the US who say, “Android users. Nobody uses Android.” Android is much more popular on a global basis than the Apple platform.

Don’t discount giving your Android friends a chance to listen to your podcast. Stitcher is a cross podcasting platform. People on Apple and on Android can listen on Stitcher, and has some cool streaming features. The fourth I would say is Spotify. It is definitely worth it. Some data that we’ve heard in the industry is that it’s constituting 10%+ of listeners for a lot of popular shows. It’s definitely worth getting your show on Spotify.

You can submit to them independently if you want, most of the time, it’s done through an integration in your hosting platform. If you’re on Castos, or Libsyn, or Simplecast, it’s just a click of a button. Once you’ve created your feed and published your first podcast, just click a button and it goes to Spotify automatically. The fifth one I would say maybe is YouTube. A lot of people don’t consider repurposing their audio content into video to YouTube, but I think it’s definitely something to consider.

It goes back to how people consume content in different ways. It might be that the people that you want to reach love being on YouTube and watching stuff, and they could find your podcast on YouTube instead of in Apple Podcast or on your blog. There are some tools out there that let you do this automatically. We do it automatically at Castos to repurpose your audio content into video and publish it to YouTube for you automatically. It’s definitely something to consider.

Darren: Putting it on YouTube is really smart, because it is such a massive search engine, and people will find you for the first time there. They may not listen to all of your podcast there, but they may discover you for the first time. Paul and Muthani both asked how to get found as a podcast. Obviously, putting yourself into the search engines can get you some new readers, but any other tips on growing that audience?

Craig: Yeah, I would love to hear some of your experience on this. I’ll give my take on it as well, but starting with your existing audiences is a natural and an obvious place to start. Go to your tribe and ask for two things, “Could you subscribe?” so they get every episode automatically, and then, “Leave a rating and review,” which gives you some of that social proof. I think it probably helps the iTunes or Apple Podcast algorithm a little bit too, but subscribe leave a rating or review to give that social proof that 30 other people think that this is a good show. I should probably check it out too if new people are finding you organically.

I think the best and biggest opportunity for growing your audience with podcasts is to ask your existing listeners to share it with somebody else and that’s a call-to-action that we’re finding more and more popular is not in the show itself to say, “Hey, go subscribe, or leave a rating, or a review on iTunes,” but, “Hey, if you’re enjoying this podcast, share it with somebody else from our world that you think might enjoy it. It helps spread the word,” That’s kind of the new twist I would have on that, but I’d love hear, Darren, what have you found particularly effective to spreading the word about your podcast?

Darren: I did all of those things, I’ve promoted it to a network, email their list, promoted it on social media, all that works to some degree, but probably the thing that’s brought the biggest bumps in new downloads and listeners has been appearing on other people’s podcasts. If you want to find podcast listeners, it’s better to be on a podcast than to be on a guest blog. I think you want to go into the that medium in some ways. That can be a challenge when you’re just starting out, maybe no one else knows you, but interviewing other podcasters on your podcast sometimes gets you an invitation back to be on theirs, particularly if you are an interesting, engaging interviewer. I think that’s probably something I’ll be aiming for.

It’s amazing when I go into conference, people will often say to me, “ I heard you on Amy Porterfield’s podcast,” or, “I heard you on this interview that you did with someone that you can’t even remember doing an interview with,” but that’s actually what made the big impression for people.

One last question on launching, how many episodes should you record before you launch? I know you’ve got a bit of an answer on this on your course, because I took a look at that today, but have you got any advice for people?

Craig: There’s two answers. The question was, “How many should you record?” and I think that is something like five episodes and you want to have all those done so that when it’s time to launch, you don’t have to worry about going in creating more content. If you can go in and get five episodes, interviews or monologues or with your co-host done, then you know, “Okay, all of the content I need to really launch my show for the first month, give or take, is done. I don’t want to worry about that anymore, I can worry just about launching, promoting, and connecting with my audience,” and things like that.

When it comes to the mechanics of launching, what we really like to do is to launch with two episode, typically, and then plus or minus, what’s called an episode zero. A lot of shows will have just a quick five or ten-minute, just you or you and your co-host talking about what the show is about on a meta-level, so it gives people an opportunity to hear, “Okay, the show is going to come up every week, or every other week, on Thursdays and it’s going to be about this, this, and this, and we’re going to interview this type of people,” or whatever the format is going to be.

You’re maybe talking about video games, you’re maybe talking about gardening, or whatever it is, and why people should listen and what they can expect, and things like that. An episode zero is a really nice way to set your listeners up for what’s coming on the podcast. Two episodes is a nice balance of two areas of these approaches, you want to give more than one episode so that your audience has a chance to connect with you in a little bit different way. The first two episodes should be slightly different in format, maybe one is a monologue and one is like an interview. Or if you have a co-host, maybe you guys talk about really different subtopics within your main world that you’re living in, so that if somebody listens to both episodes, they may hate the first one and love the second one, but if they’re exactly the same you don’t have that opportunity.

Within the same theme that you have for your podcast as a whole, having a slightly different twist on the first two episodes is really good. I think if you have an interview-style podcast, having one of those episodes where you’re real, kind of gangbuster, out of the gates high caliber guest, is probably a good move because it’s that first impression.

Darren: That’s great and also I think having more than one gives people something to binge on a little bit. There’s nothing worse than finding something that you just love and then you’ve got a wait for another week, so hooking people in with you know two or even three, we did 31 in 31 Days, that’s probably overkill, but it enabled you to build a bit of momentum as well. I think sometimes going hard or up front, and then pulling back a little bit can work, too.

Craig: Yeah. Just to add to that, I think the balance of creating a bunch of content once is if you’re able to, I think more content is almost always better, so Darren, you and your team are capable of creating a lot of content and for you that was really easy. What we coach our customers on is if creating content is difficult for you, or you’re busy, or you have interviews, schedules to work on stuff like that, don’t put too much out at first because a lot of people would want to listen to a couple of podcasts but almost nobody is going to listen to 10 podcast in a day.

People will say, “I’m going to launch with 10 podcasts on the first day.” Unfortunately, they’re throwing away eight of those podcasts or they could just save them and release them later. That’s the balance that we want to strike, is how able are you to create podcast content and how much do you think your audience really can consume at a time, so 31 in 31 Days is perfect. Probably 31 episodes on day one would not have been as effective.

Darren: No, it wouldn’t. It’s also one of things I wish I’ve known it’s how popular those first episodes can be. I guess take your time with them because the number one episode I’ve ever done is the number one podcast I’ve ever recorded. A lot of people go back and listen to that first one. I worked through it again, which I cringe at a little bit because it was good, but I’m kind of on the other hand really glad that I did those 31 because they built on each other as well. Those who do go back, get to go on that journey with you from one episode into another, into another as well. Don’t just think that no one will ever listen to you, only once I do.

A couple of last questions that I want to key on in. Selfishly, these are questions that I’ve got as well. I know a lot of podcasters really struggle with is how do you actually turn your podcast listeners into more engaged customers, or subscribers, or visitors to your blog? I think the big challenge a lot of podcasters have is that anyone listening to a podcast is usually doing something else. They’re on their phone, on a walk, they’re doing their dishes, or they’re doing the ironing while they’re in the car driving somewhere. They’re not always in a position to go and buy your product, or go and click on a link and download something. Do you have any advice on how to turn those listeners into a more engaged audience?

Craig: This is the tough one. Doing this and measuring this is really tough. I think a lot of savvy marketer say, “I’m going to do a podcast, but I want to make sure I get good ROI on my podcast.” Again, we’re good at having our thing that is like the call-to-action here. The best thing I’ve heard is actually from the folks at CoSchedule. What they do is—this goes back to attribution a little bit—they have a link in the podcast, in the audio itself that is not in the show notes that is usually really easy for people to be able to follow.

For a particular episode, they’ll build a page where they can say, “Okay, if you want to find out more about how we scheduled this Instagram scheduling tool, go to coschedule.com/instagramscheduling.” That’s a way that they know that anybody who comes to that page was a listener to the podcast. It’s not linked in the show notes, it’s not anywhere else. It’s a way that people listening to the podcast can go find this resource that they talked about in the podcast. For them as a business, they know, we had 100, or 100,000, or whatever it is, visits to this page. It absolutely only has to be coming from the podcast. It’s not coming from somewhere else organically on the blog. I think that’s a really savvy way to do it.

The other thing is kind of on a high level. The goal really I think of connecting with your audience in between podcast episodes is to continue the discussion that you started in the podcast. Darren, I know you have a Facebook group. We have one as well, and they’re absolutely fantastic. If you don’t have a Facebook group already, start one today. Say what you will about Facebook, and privacy, and things like that, I won’t get into that here today, but just a community.

Whether it’s Facebook or somewhere else, a community where you can go and have a dialogue with your podcast listeners, your audience members, in between episodes, or in between blog posts, a way to continue that discussion, and for them to have discussions themselves. You don’t have to be the only one starting it. It’s really transformative in the ability and depth of conversation that you can have with folks in your audience. It’s like email but really 2-way and multi-way, because they start talking with each other. Everybody participates all at once. If you don’t have a community of some sort, it’s really worth looking into.

Darren: I agree with that. I think for us, that has actually turned out to be the place that we do connect with our audience the most is in our group. With live video in between episodes, polls, discussions, chats, and those types of things, the more engagement you get there, the better. I don’t tend to hard-sell on the backend of my podcast, because I know people aren’t going to take too much action, but I do you say the podcast is a place to build a good first impression to showcase my personality, and then all of that then drives people towards the community, which then enables you to do other things there. I think that’s a great advice for people.

Maybe one last one is from Patrice. What metrics should we be paying attention to? Maybe you can talk about what you offer with your service as well in terms of metrics.

Craig: This is right behind what microphone should I use. This is a really popular question. I hate to say, “It doesn’t really matter,” but it doesn’t really matter. You should be looking at things like total downloads. That should be going up over time, every episode should be getting a little more popular, but I say that it doesn’t really matter because everybody’s podcast is different. They’re doing it for different reasons, and it fits into the rest of their business or brand and world a little bit differently.

I absolutely wouldn’t get hung up on metrics to say that, “Darren gets 30,000 downloads per episode, I only get 500, but my podcast is in the B2B space talking about CNC machines,” or something. In those 500 people that listen to that podcast, frankly are really valuable, maybe more valuable than 30,000 listeners that Darren gets. You want to keep an eye on your metrics. Total downloads is probably a really good one. Some kind of surrogate of subscribers. You might say downloads for an episode in the first 72 hours after it comes out is like a good gauge of the number of subscribers you have.

The one that Apple Podcast has introduced recently in their platform and we have at Castos is listening duration. How long are people listening is an interesting thing to look at. It’s a little bit segmented, so Apple Podcast only gives you that data for the people that listen to your podcast in iTunes, or in the Apple Podcast app. At Castos, we’re only able to give that data on plays that happen in the browser with our player. It’s never going to be a total comprehensive view of how long people are listening to your podcast, but I think generally when it comes to analytics—people love analytics and it’s a way to measure ourselves versus everybody else—it’s apples. It’s totally apples and oranges. Don’t get hung up on it for yourself. Just say, “Yup, I’m doing better than I was last month. That’s great.” We should always strive for that but don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s just not a fair comparison.

Darren: That’s right. That’s a great advice Craig, and really, we could have gone for a lot longer this time, any more questions that I could have gotten to, but I think we will wrap it up at that. I do want to really emphasize people should sign up for that course Launch In A Week at castos.com/problogger which will really walk you through that process. I love the idea of Launch In A Week because a lot of people do have these goal of doing something one day, and then they’ve actually put an end date on it. Whether it does take you a week, or whether it takes you nine days, having that process lined out for you is great. As I said before, I’ve come and gone through the course, and looked at it myself, and it does answer all the key questions. Congratulations on putting that together.

Craig: Cool. It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me on there, I appreciate it.

Darren: Yeah, no problem. We’ll certainly link to that and the other things that you do at PodcastMotor in the show notes as well. We’ll chat with you soon.

Craig: Okay, thanks Darren.

Darren: Thanks so much to Craig Hewitt for sharing with us for that interview today. You can check out his 7-step course to launching a podcast at castos.com/problogger. Check out today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/276. There’s a full transcript there and you can also see the links to the things that he mentioned during the show today as well. Just we’ll mention briefly the outline of that 7-step course. It’s arranged in seven days, but you can take longer to go through it if you like.

Day one is about podcasting microphones and gear. Day two is audio recording and editing. Number three is your ideal listener and podcast persona, something we didn’t really touch on in great depth in the interview today. Day four is the perfect podcast recipe which is a great lesson. I actually got a few things out of that myself. Day five is media host and website set up, so you’re getting into more of the technicalities of getting your podcast up on the internet. Day six is getting your show ready to launch. Day seven is launch planning and growing your audience.

We did touch on some of those things, but if you do want something that’s organized in a way that will take you through the process, just head over to castos.com/problogger. We’ll have a link to that and to the other things that Craig does at PodcastMotor in the show notes as well.

Thanks so much for listening today. It’s been a long one, but I hope you got some value out of it. Again, if you think there’s someone in your network that you think would benefit from hearing today’s show, please do share it with them. Send them a link to our show notes at problogger.com/podcast/276. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.

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The post 276: How to Start a Successful Podcast appeared first on ProBlogger.

276: How to Start a Successful Podcast

The post 276: How to Start a Successful Podcast appeared first on ProBlogger.

Learn How to Start a Successful Podcast

Do you already have a blog, and want to expand into another medium? Then why not start a podcast?

A lot of our Facegroup members have asked questions about starting a podcast, especially about gear, content, engagement, hosting, launching and monetization.

And to help me answer all those questions I called on an expert.

Craig Hewitt is the founder of Podcast Motor and Castos. When Craig started his own podcast, he quickly discovered that audio editing and producing a podcast was a pain. So he started Podcast Motor to help others.

The technicalities of podcasting almost stopped me from starting the ProBlogger podcast. That’s why I turned to Craig and his team to handle them.

Craig shares the nuts and bolts of podcasting:

  • Reach existing audience in a different way, or reach an entirely new audience.
  • Establish a dedicated hosting platform to store and distribute your media files.
  • Differentiate yourself to develop a brand and identity (i.e. your accent).
  • Start a podcast with everything you need for less than $100.
  • Be comfortable with speaking, and assemble enough content to talk about.
  • Identify and prepare guests to be on your podcast.
  • Create an intro by recording it yourself or outsourcing it to a voiceover artist.
  • Find a room without flat walls and hard spaces to eliminates echoes. (Try a closet).
  • Edit audio to match your style (buttoned-up, conversational, etc.)
  • Put your podcast on Android and Apple platforms, including Apple Podcast (formerly iTunes), Google Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, and YouTube.
  • Get and grow your audience by getting your podcast listed in search engines. Ask listeners to subscribe, submit a rating/review, and share with others.
  • Record five episodes before launching. Then launch with two episodes, plus or minus an Episode 0 that offers a description of what listeners can expect from your podcast.
  • Engage your listeners by using a call to action through a link in the podcast audio, or continue a podcast discussion and connect with audience via a Facebook group.
  • Metrics don’t really matter. Instead, review popularity, downloads and listening duration.

We covered a lot in this episode, but to get all the details you need to successfully start a podcast sign up for Craig’s free course, Launch In A Week:

  1. Podcasting Microphone and Gear
  2. Audio Recording and Editing
  3. Your Ideal Listener and Podcast Personas
  4. The Perfect Podcast Recipe
  5. Media Host and Website Setup
  6. Getting Your Show Ready to Launch
  7. Launch Planning and Growing Your Audience

Links and Resources for How to Start a Successful Podcast:

Examples of How to Start a Successful Podcast:

Courses

Join our Facebook group.

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey hey there, ProBlogger listeners. It’s Darren Rowse here from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 276 of the show. For those of you who are new to the show, ProBlogger is a site for bloggers and prebloggers designed to help them to start blogs, to grow those blogs, and to monetize those blogs. You can check out more of what we do over at ProBlogger. Particularly, look out for our courses. Our Start A Blog course which is free, will help you get up and running, and our 31 Days To Build A Better Blog course which is ideal for anyone with a blog who wants to take it up a notch, to have a 31 day intense burst of blogging to grow your blog. Check out the courses tab on problogger.com.

Today, we do something a little bit different on the show. The last six or so shows we’ve been featuring stories from new bloggers as part of our International Start A Blog Day which was last week. We had hundreds of blogs start on the day. It was so exciting to see them. You can check out some of those blogs that were started over on the ProBlogger blog. I’ll put on a link in the show notes today to that.

But many of you already have a blog. That little series we ran, you’re patient with us, and I know many of you enjoyed hearing those stories, but I know some of you have been wondering if you should start something else, some other kind of medium in 2019. So today, I’ve invited Craig Hewitt onto the show to talk about starting a podcast.

While Craig’s name may not be familiar to some of you, you have all heard his work and the work of his team. Every single one of you have heard it because right now, you are listening to something that Craig and his team has been a part of. Craig is the founder of PodcastMotor, the company that edits every episode of this podcast, apart from the first few episodes.

I’ve been working with Craig and his team for a few years now and they have been fantastic at helping us to get this show to you each week. All I do is record it, pop it in a Dropbox, put a few notes into a Google Doc, they take it, they edit it, they put all the little breakers and the musical bits into it, they put the show notes together for us, they put it into a WordPress installation, and they even schedule it for us. They create a social graphic for the show as well. They do everything behind the scenes apart from record it themselves. They’ve really helped a lot to help get this show up and running.

Craig has also started a new service more recently called Castos. I’ll link to them in the show notes today. I so wished this service was around when I started the podcast because it’s a service that hosts your podcast, integrates it with WordPress, and basically does everything you need behind the scenes to put your podcast onto the web. It’s really affordable as well.

When the number of listeners started asking questions about podcasting recently in our Facebook group, Craig was the obvious person to come on to the show. He also tells me that he’s put together a free step-by-step email course to help you launch a podcast as well and we talk about that in the show today. If you do want to check that out, it’s a seven-day or seven-step email sequence that you’ll get. You can sign-up for that at castos.com/problogger. I’ve seen it, it’s really a very helpful guide and something I wish I had when I started this podcast because I had to hack together this podcast using information from all over the place and to have it all into one spot will be fantastic.

In today’s interview, we cover a lot of ground. I basically put up a thread in our Facebook group asking members of our group what they want to know about podcasting and I was amazed how many questions came in. I was inundated with questions and I basically took all those questions and put them to Craig in today’s show. We talk about the why of podcasting, the benefits of it, who should podcast, who shouldn’t. We talk about gear, software that you need to start. We talk about creating the content, recording the content, promoting the content, leveraging your podcast to take readers to take action, to monetize it, and launching a podcast a well.

There’s a lot in today’s show. I’m sure you’ll find it useful. Some of you might want to check out the transcript as well because there’s a lot of information in it. You can find the show notes today and that transcript at problogger.com/podcast/276. Again, you can get Craig’s free email course at castos.com/problogger. That’s a seven-day course. I’ll talk a little bit more about that after the interview.

Lastly, if you know someone who you think should start a podcast, please tell them about this episode. Not only it will help to grow the ProBlogger podcast but could also end up changing their life as well as they discover this medium for themselves. I’m going to get back into the interview now. This is a fun one for me to record because I hadn’t really spoken to Craig a lot even though we’ve been working for years. It was great to hear his voice and he had a lot of really great things to share as well.

Hey, Craig. Good to have you with us today. Welcome to the ProBlogger podcast.

Craig: Hey, how are you doing? Thanks so much for having me.

Darren: It’s good to have you and we’ve obviously enjoyed having you work with us on the ProBlogger podcast for a while and you seem like an ideal person to get on. Many of our listeners at this time of year are thinking about new types of content for the year ahead and I know we get a lot of questions around podcasting. I thought you’d be ideal to talk to us about how to start a podcast and any tips for the early days of podcasting. What I thought I might do before we get into our reader’s questions is to get you to introduce your backstory and how did you end up in the podcasting space.

Craig: I think it’s always funny. Everybody has their kind of secret story of how they got to where they are now. Mine was coming around the long way into podcasting when I started getting into online business and entrepreneurship. I wanted to start a podcast because I listen to ones like yours and Pat Flynn. I can just at least document what I’m doing and share along the way what’s working and what’s not. I started my own podcast four years ago now—I can’t believe it’s been that long—and really quickly saw that audio editing and producing a podcast is frankly a pain. It’s really difficult and I think that if you talk to anybody who started podcast, they say, “This is the reason that it took us so long to get into this. This is by far the biggest pain point we have.” It’s not like spinning up a blog where you just go and you sign up for a SiteGround hosting, install WordPress and you start typing, you can do a bit of it on your phone. With podcasting, you at least need a little bit of equipment, some software a little bit of skills around how to edit, what an RSS feed is, and all these things.

I said, “I bet some people who are really busy would pay for this if I could take care of all of this stuff for them.” So, we started PodcastMotor almost four years ago now, here at the end of 2018. What PodcastMotor is aimed at is taking all of the backend podcast editing and production work off of people’s hands, like yourself, who are busy professionals, entrepreneurs, startups, businesses. They have a lot better things to do with their time than to learn how to be a semi pro audio editor.

Darren: And it’s a dream come true for me. I have to say that the first months of me starting a podcast, I did it all myself. Then I hired someone to do it for me and it’s still was quite a bit of to-and-froing with that person to try and to map them to get it just the way I wanted. When we started working with you guys, it was amazing to be able to just record the podcast—the part that I enjoy the most—then to put it into Dropbox, and the next thing I knew, it’s live on the site with the show notes, with the featured image, transcript, and all those things. That’s a great service to have.

You also got another product as well which might be probably more interesting to some of our listeners as well. Maybe just talk about that right out front and then we’ll get into the questions because I think it will be something that listeners might enjoy.

Craig: About two years ago now, I had the opportunity to get into the product space a little bit in podcasting and purchased a WordPress plugin called Seriously Simple Podcasting. From them, we’ve built the Castos hosting platform. I will probably talk about the nuts and bolts of podcasting a little but later in the episode but you really want a dedicated hosting platform to store and distribute all the media files for your podcast. You don’t want that living in the same server where your WordPress site lives. So we’ve built the Castos platform that integrated with WordPress really tightly. That’s another product we have in the podcasting space.

For people who are getting started with podcasting, we’ve built a really cool getting started email and video course called Launch In A Week. The idea is to take you from, “Hey I want to start a podcast,” to the podcast actually being live with episodes and in iTunes and all that stuff in just a week. If you have folks who want to check that out, they can go go to castos.com/problogger. I’m sure we’ll have link in the show notes.

Darren: We shall. This isn’t about selling to our listeners. I just wanted to get that upfront because you bring a lot of credibility to this topic and a lot of experience, particularly in that area of editing and helping podcasts to get up and running with the hosting side of things, the technicalities of podcasting which, to be honest, almost killed me and almost stopped my podcast before I even started. That’s the perspective we’re coming to this interview today.

Now I asked our Facebook group listeners to ask any questions that they had about podcasting and I was amazed how many questions came in. I was going to prepare a whole lot of questions but I think our listeners probably are the best ones to ask the questions. I’m going to throw the podcast over to them and I ordered them in a way that I hope makes sense. A lot of the questions that I want to start off with are around the why of podcasting. I said it at the start of the show, this is the time of year where we see a lot of readers starting new blogs but also new podcast or new YouTube channel. For those listening, who are wondering is a podcast right for me, why do you love podcasting? Why do you think it’s a medium our listeners should be considering?

Craig: Anybody that is creating content, and that typically means they’re blogging already but like you said, they could have a YouTube channel or big social media following already, I think podcasting is a natural extension to that, in that it’s an additive type of content addition to what they’re doing instead of saying, “I’m in a podcast. Instead of blogging or instead of doing a YouTube channel, I’m going to start a podcast,” because we always say you can do two different things with a podcast than you can say a blog and it is to reach the existing audience in a little bit different way or reach an entirely new audience that might not just a blog reader.

What it looks like in the first aspect is, the reaching your existing audience in a different way is having usually different types of conversations or covering different topics around your main area of focus that is just more appropriate for an audio medium. You and I having this conversation in a blog would be really weird. But having this conversation, having really a dialogue, having your Facebook group members to have questions, and things like that is really natural in this audio medium.

People looking to start a podcast that already have some other type of content say to themselves, maybe, “What am I covering in my blog that’s great and what can I cover in an audio medium that could be different and additive?” Things like interviews, case studies, and things like that tend to lend themselves to the audio medium much better than written.

In reaching a new audience, there’s a lot of people that don’t have time to read blog posts. I’m one of those people. When I was working in corporate, I would have hours a day in the car that I just listen to podcasts. I could never spend hours a day reading a blog. So, you kind of think about people maybe in those situations.

Darren: That’s so true and then as to my experience really is by starting this podcast, I grew my audience, so there were certainly new people who came into the audience, but I really like what you said about reaching your current audience in a different way as well because it seem to deepen that relationship with old-time readers or reignite the spark with those readers as well.

I actually had a question from Liso which I think build on what you’re saying. Liso said, “I’m an artist and have a blog which is about art, which is very visual. I’m wondering if I should do a podcast? How could I do a podcast with such a visual topic?” Any thoughts on that for Liso?

Craig: I interviewed a fellow for our podcast at Castos who was an artist. He’s an Irish fellow that has one of our most popular podcast that we host at Castos. I can see that just by download numbers he gets 20,000 or 30,000 downloads per episode. I asked him this exact question. I said, “This is a really visual medium that you live in. This goes back to why would you podcast instead of have a blog or something?” He says, “Yeah, but I can tell the story of the artist so much better in a podcast than I ever could in a blog.” He blogs as well, obviously.

I think for her to say, “Could you get the artist on and talk about just the artist themselves, their story, their journey, challenges they’re having, and things they’re up to?” Talk about the art, of course, but even in a medium like art where everything is so visual, telling the story of the artist and people themselves is really unique. Very few people probably are doing that and it would be a way for her to send out and tell a different story of the art world to their audience.

Darren: Yeah and I think you can then drive people back to your blog post which might show the art of the artist in the show notes or in a separate blog post. That ought to be a good combination.

Tula asked an interesting question. She said, “Would you suggest a person with a foreign accent do a podcast?” She’s got a popular YouTube channel in spite of the accent that she has, but she’s wondering because podcast is purely audio and not visual, would it be a challenge for her?

Craig: Absolutely. I think that it gives you a chance to differentiate yourself from everyone else that’s American or British. If you look at the high-level podcast statistics, it’s really dominated by the North American, at least, and some of the European demographics. If you’re Australian, or Irish, or Latin American, or whatever, I think it gives you a chance to really show who you are and stand out like that. I don’t know, Darren. Have you seen being Australian that people are surprised or have different reactions to your accent? Some are really surprised that you’re Australian, right?

Darren: I do. It’s amazing how many long-time readers of the blog said, “I never knew that you were an Aussie,” even though I talked about Australia quite a bit. Certainly my Twitter account’s most active during Australian hours. It’s a surprise to some people. It’s also been attractive to other people and that it’s interesting. I get a lot of comments from people saying, “My kids love your podcast because they love the accent and the crazy words that you use that you don’t even know you’re using.” Yeah, I actually get it’s part of the branding, I guess as well.

I guess it really probably depends on how different your accent is and if you find that people do struggle to understand your English. Maybe if your English is a second language, maybe it could be a challenge, but I actually think, like you it’s a good thing, too.

Craig: And I think a bit of a higher level thing is, is having a brand and an identity. Your accent and being Australian is part of your brand and identity. For her as well, if she’s comfortable with it, she’s got to get comfortable with hearing her voice. That’s a really weird thing. The first time you hear yourself recorded, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I sound like an idiot,” or, “I never knew my voice was like this.” Once you get comfortable with it and have confidence in it, which honestly is a hard thing for a lot of people, you’re going to embrace it, love it, and go with it. That’s part of the brand of your podcast.

Darren: Yeah, so go for it, Tula. Before we move on to some of the logistics of starting a podcast, do you have any examples that come to mind of bloggers that you’ve worked with, that have launched the podcast in addition to their blog? I would be interested to hear of any examples that you’ve gotten and things that you say that they’ve done well.

Craig: One of the shining examples of this for us at PodcastMotor, we’ve been working with CoSchedule. CoSchedule is a marketing automation tool for WordPress and we’ve been working with them for a long time now, a couple of years. We’ve asked them, “Hey, you guys write such amazing blog content.” If you’ve never checked out the CoSchedule blog, go check it out. You’ll be blown away at the depth of articles that they write. So, they came back to us and said, “Yeah, we can write really great in-depth blog post, but what we can’t do is hear the story of these people and have organic, natural conversations with them about what’s going on in their business, why they’re doing this, how, and get the story behind it.”

What they’ve found is that the podcast now is the main—in marketing terms—top of the funnel area where new people find their brand, then come in and they link back to the website—like all good podcasters should is link back to your home base, wherever that is, business, personal brand, website, or whatever—but a lot of people are finding CoSchedule through their podcast now and not through their blog. Then they go, see the blog, and say, “Holy cow.” Their blog content is so great, this company really knows what they’re doing, and then ultimately become customers.

That’s kind of the flow I think that a lot of podcasters that are in business or have a brand of whatever type, that they want to get peeled back to their site. To learn more about them is to knock people’s socks off with the quality, depth, and authenticity of their podcast content, then get them back to their site to find out more, and hopefully engage with them there. But yeah, CoSchedule’s had a really positive experience with podcasting the last couple of years.

Darren: And are they telling stories or the thing that you mentioned earlier in a podcast, is that what it’s all about for them?

Craig: They’re doing case studies and a fair amount of nitty-gritty how-to stuff because that’s their MO. But just doing it in an audio medium, I think, tells the story, if you will, better they can than a blog.

Darren: That’s great and I think their content on the blog would lend itself to repurpose to the podcast as well and to be able to link their content together in that way would work. I’m not sure whether they’re doing that but that’s certainly something that works well on ProBlogger because we do the how-to content to be able to tackle the same topic in a slightly different way, or to bring on a guest is something that our listeners seem to enjoy, too.

Craig: Yup. Very smart.

Darren: A lot of the questions we’ve got were around a gear, microphones, the most commonly thing that people ask. Stewart, I’ll take for example, says, “What microphones and other recording equipment do you recommend for those starting out?” A lot of the questions were around on a budget, what’s the first one you should get that doesn’t break the bank. If you’ve got any advice on what microphone to get, I’m sure that would be appreciated.

Craig: This is by far the top question. To go back just a little bit to our Launch In A Week email and videos course, the goal we put together with it is to say, “There are a million ways to do this and there are 872 blog post about the best podcasting mic out there,” and you really can. Unfortunately, a lot of folks do say, “I’m going to do all the research and spend a month doing this,” and then they never get started because they just get overwhelmed with all of the stuff out there, conflicting opinions, and all this stuff about how you should start a podcast. We try to say, “Forget it. We’re going to tell you one or two ways to do this.” You can just go and follow the Launch In A Week course and say, “Okay, this is great. Craig is taking all of the questions out of my head and keeping me from doing this so that I can actually start the podcast.”

But all that preamble to say, I have two recommendations when it comes to podcasting mics. One is the one using right now and I’ve been using for 3½ years, is the Audio-Technica ATR2100. It is a USB mic that plugs right into my MacBook. I record usually on Skype, like we are doing now or on Zoom, both of which are basically free. If you want to go up one notch from there, The Shure SM7B is a really high-quality mic. It cost about $300-$400.

You need another piece of equipment called a preamp to go in-between that and your computer. We like the Scarlett Focusrite, which is about another $100. It gives you a little more depth of vocal quality. I think the Audio-Technica mic, which is $60-$70 on Amazon, is great. It’s great for a lot of people. I know Tim Ferriss uses this or used it at some point for all his interviews. If it’s good enough for him, I think it’s good enough for pretty much everybody. But don’t let microphones hang you up and keep you from getting started.

Darren: That’s right. We’ll compile a list of links to all these microphones and gear in the show notes as well. Similar question, what software do you recommend? You just mentioned Skype and Zoom. I presume that’s more for interviewing guests?

Craig: Yeah.

Darren: Do you have any other software that people should try, particularly if maybe they’re maybe doing a talking head podcast?

Craig: Yeah. For remote interviews like this, Skype or Zoom. There’s an add-on for Skype called Call Recorder if you’re on a Mac. That gets the remote interviews done. If you’re just recording it locally, there’s a free open source cross-platform tool that works on Windows or Mac called Audacity. Again, it is perfectly good. It’s the tool I use still all the time when I need to edit stuff. It’s really high-quality and being open source, it’s free. So, audacity.org I think it is, for recording locally and for editing. You can do both on the same tool there and it’s wonderful.

Darren: I just used GarageBand because it was on my Mac, but Audacity is certainly one that most of my friends seem to be using these days as well.

Frank asked for some advice on hosting. Now we have to disclaim that you actually offer that sort of service, so maybe go check out Castos would be a good way to go. But I guess maybe if you could talk to what you mentioned earlier about not using your blog hosting. Maybe if you could just expand on that a little as to why that might be.

Craig: I think having a dedicated media hosting platform is a good idea. Say you release your podcast episodes every Tuesday morning. If you’re hosting your podcast media files on the same server that your website is served from, and you have, hopefully, thousands of listeners every Tuesday that subscribe to your podcast, new episode comes out of iTunes, they’re all downloading your episode at eight o’clock on Tuesday morning. If you have a bunch of people on your website as well, your website is going to crash maybe, perform really slowly. Those files might not download because they’re all getting sucked out of the same server. If you can separate those two resources onto different platforms, then your website will perform much better and consistently, and your podcast listeners will be able to stream and download your episodes much more smoothly. So separating these two resources onto different platforms is just the best practice really in podcasting.

When it comes to podcast hosting platforms, I’m of course biased, I think Castos is great especially if using WordPress because it lets you do everything in one place. If you’re not or you want to check other things out, I really like what the folks at Simplecast are doing these days. simplecast.com is a really great platform. The tool that a lot of people have heard of probably is Libsyn. They’ve been around probably the longest and they’re probably the biggest player in the industry. So, maybe check out Libsyn as well.

Darren: And it’s not that expensive really. Monte actually asked how much does it cost to get into podcasting. Maybe you could speak to that. There’s hosting, obviously your microphone, what else do people need to be considering?

Craig: Hosting, a good microphone because it is worth spending the $60-$70 that the Audio-Technica might cost. If that’s too much, I know a lot of people that use their Apple earbuds that come with an iPhone or Android phone. Just something so that you have some microphone close to your mouth is really important. I think that’s the one thing you have to have is some kind of microphone. A hosting plan cost $10-$20 a month. You can go all-in for less than $100 to start with. These hosting platforms are all on a monthly basis just like your WordPress hosting platform would be.

There’s some other things that are nice to have when it comes to Audio gear. If you’re using a microphone like the Shure SM7B or the Audio-Technica, having a pop filter which is a little screen that sits between your mouth and the microphone, cuts down all what’s called ‘plosives,’ these really harsh P and T sounds. If you don’t have this, every time you say, “Can I please go take…” these words that start with P and T, they’re really harsh and sound really bad in your recording. The pop filter mechanically filters those out, so it’s really a nice thing.

Another thing that I really like is having a boom arm which is this articulating arm that attaches to your desk or table and then holds the mic up at the vertical level of your mouth so that you can sit comfortably and talk into the mic without stooping down or holding the mic in your hand and having all sorts of uncomfortable ergonomics for podcasting. Your voice actually sounds different if you’re talking down or talking up so having it right at level with your mouth is really nice. Those two pieces together will cost you another $30-$40. Again, you’re right at $100 getting started.

Darren: That’s great. The boom mic also allows you to stand up, which is what I like to do when I’m podcasting because it seems to give bit more energy to what you’re doing as well.

Let’s talk a little bit about content. Let’s start with Florence’s question. Is it best to have a script for your podcast or to go with bullet points or just ad lib? What’s your preference? What do you do?

Craig: This will change as your journey as a podcaster evolves. As you’re just getting started, it is much easier to have a little more content prepared and a little better idea of what you’re trying to do. As you evolve, there are a lot of podcasters that I know that say, “Let’s just hit record and see where this goes.” That’s perfectly fine when you as interviewer have some more confidence and skills. But as you’re just getting started, at least having an outline of, “Okay, I’m going to interview Craig today, I’m going to ask him these six or seven questions generally,” so that if there’s a dead point or weird transition in the interview, you can say, “Okay, I’m going to go next to this one because it’s next on my list.”

I think for most people, scripting out an entire monologue or series of questions is really difficult. For me and for a lot of people, the hardest thing in podcasting is to just talk for 5 or 10 or 30 minutes by yourself, reading something, and having it sound natural. For you and me to sit down and have this conversation for an hour is no problem and for most people it probably isn’t.

This is not the question but I would say, in terms of format of podcast, I think if people are considering having a solo show where they are the only one talking, I would make sure that you’re very comfortable speaking because it’s just hard. It’s just hard as opposed to having a co-host doing an interview-type show.

Darren: Yeah and a few people did ask what are the pros and cons of having a co-host. As someone who predominantly does just talking head, me alone in a room, it is an awkward, strange thing to do to just sit there and talk.

I don’t have a script for mine, but I certainly have fairly comprehensive bullet points, so that I know I can fill up 20 minutes. I couldn’t just adlib for 20 or 30 minutes. Someone like Gary V. probably could, but I need to have thought about the journey that I’m going to take my readers on. A script really doesn’t work for me. I think some of the early podcast, if we go back and listen to the first few, I didn’t read them, but I almost was and it comes across in the style I guess of the podcast. Any tips on finding a co-host should you find someone that compliments your personality? Any tips on that? I’ve never had one, so I don’t know what I’d be looking for.

Craig: My personal podcast that I started four years ago started as a solo show where I was planning on interviewing people. I think my third or fourth interview, I interviewed a fellow, Dave Rodenbaugh, who’s now my co-host. We started down one path and went to another after he came on the show. He compliments my style, experience, and personality quite a bit. Not so much that it’s awkward, or confrontational, or anything like that. I think that’s important because it’s not quite like running a business together or getting married.

I think you and your co-host are going to be spending a lot of time together and talking about a lot of things that hopefully are really important to you and your audience. I would say, if you’re considering having a co-host and you don’t have somebody in mind for it already, look around at your world that you live in, and people that you find interesting and have complimentary but similar perspectives to you. Time zone is an important one. Dave lives in Colorado and I live in France now. I’m American but I’ve been living in France for the last two years. We’re eight hours apart and that’s challenging. We start the podcast at 9:00 at night. It’s definitely something to think about.

Darren: Yeah. The one thing I’d add in having talked to a few of my friends is that, some point of tension can actually be a good thing. I think you want to have similar values, but having different perspective or life experiences sometimes can make for an interesting discussion. I’m thinking of one podcast host that I know of, she’s quiet straight, she’s quite matter-of-fact, and the other one is all over the place and disorganized, and I think that makes for an interesting discussion.

I think something along those lines can sometimes work, too. It just adds a little bit of tension. You never quite know where it’s going to go. Ollie asks about finding guests for your podcast. If you are going to do an interview, (1) how do you find a guest, and (2) what’s your approach in preparing the guest for the interview?

Craig: Most people find when they start out, finding guests is not that hard. You have a dream team list of the top 10 or 20 people that you want to have on the show. Getting through that first couple of months is typically pretty easy for folks. All the people in your industry you really look up to, or have worked with in the past or something, a really high quality candidate for your podcast.

Coincidentally, for people that are more on the business-to-business side of content in the worlds that they live in, one of the things that very few people realize I think in this hidden gem of podcasting is the networking opportunity. If you’re a business you’re saying, “Why would I start a podcast? There’s going to be 30 people that listen to my podcast.” Don’t discount the fact that if you go and ask all the leaders in your industry if they want to come on your podcast, you’re going to instantly become an authority in your space, and you’re going to have whatever 30 or 100 people that you’ve spent an hour talking to that you very likely couldn’t have had that hour to talk with them in another manner.

I mean, just to be able to say, “Darren, would you like to come on my podcast? I’d love to talk to you about blogging and how it can grow your brand, all this kind of stuff,” and you’d be like, “Wow, that’s great. I’m going to get to go on a podcast and talk about this thing that I love, that I’m an authority on, and that Craig and all of his readers and listeners are going to think that I know what I’m talking about,” If you’re looking at getting into podcasting from the B2B space, I would definitely consider it as the biggest opportunity is just for networking. Audience-building for sure, but networking is huge.

As far as preparing your guest, I think having a quick call before the podcast, it can be the day, or a couple of days before, or a week before is really helpful. It could just be 10 or 15 minutes, “Hey, we’re going to talk about these few things. Do you have any questions? Do you have gear?” That’s really important. “Do you have a mic? Do you at least have ear buds that you can put in?” because one of the biggest challenges from an audio perspective is, you as the podcast hosts are going to have your gear, your setup, and your recording figured out, but are you going to be able to prepare your guest so that they can record high quality audio too?

Figuring out a way and a system to do that every time is really important. Otherwise, you’re going to have a great sounding audio and your guest are going to sound like they’re in a trash can, and that’s horrible for your listeners. Then using scheduling tools like Calendly, or many others that are available out there that just let you say, “Hey, I’d love to have you on the podcast. Click here to grab a time on my calendar,” it takes all of the back and forth, time zone guessing, and all of this stuff out of the equation.

Darren: Great tips. Ahmed asks, where should you get an intro or outro made for your podcast? I guess he’s talking about the music or the intro that goes at the start that introduces you. Any places that you would look?

Craig: I think when it comes to intros, you have two choices really, you can record it yourself which is perfectly fine and a lot of people do this, and you don’t have to go and get it outsourced to a voiceover artist. If you do for whatever reason, either you do you want some kind of vocal diversity in your podcast, or you don’t like the sound of your voice, so you want somebody else to bring you in, we actually had really good luck with some folks on Fiverr, so fiverr.com.

Typically with these type of marketplace, if you search for the top level providers there, they’re pretty solid. It would cost between $5, and $20, or $30 for a voiceover, and it’s done in a couple of days. Just send them a script and they record it and send it back to you.

Darren: Kathy is asking about making the audio less echoey in her room. She says she can’t alter her room too much because it’s her living room the rest of the time, but any tips on helping to deaden that echo?

Craig: Looking at your microphone very well may be the answer. There are some mics out there that are really popular, that are frankly just not ideal for podcasting. The Blue Yeti is one of those. It’s a really great high quality mic if you’re in a sound booth. It works beautifully there. If you’re not and you’re in your living room, or in a conference room, or something with a bunch of flat walls and hard spaces, the echo is going to be really bad, and a really sensitive mic like that is going to pick all that up.

For Kathy I would say, if she can move, that would probably be the best thing. As strange as it sounds, a lot of people record podcasts in their closets. It sounds really bizarre, but trust me, some of the best broadcasters you know podcast in their closet and it’s because it’s a small space with a lot of soft stuff, all your clothes, shoes, bags, and stuff, and you can isolate yourself in a really sound-dampened environment. If you’re able to move to somewhere like that, then do it. I podcast in my office which is the top floor of our house and has wood paneling and angled ceilings. It’s a really good room for podcasting. Things like a conference room with just this giant glass table is just the worst.

Darren: Hard surfaces aren’t great, are they?

Craig: Yeah.

Darren: I find the best room in my house is my 12-year-olds bedroom because it’s just a complete mess. There’s stuff everywhere. I’ve gone in there a couple of times and I may do so more often because our next door neighbors have just demolished their house and are about to start building. I suspect it’s going to get noisy around here, unfortunately. Sorry to our listeners for that upcoming. It might give the editors of this podcast a little bit more of a challenge. Which leads me to my next question from Ron. How much editing is too much?

Craig: This should match the style that you have overall. If you are really buttoned up and want everything to flow really quickly and sequentially, and have a really tight podcast, then spending more time removing all the ums and uhs, slight pauses, misspeakings, and things like that is going to be consistent with yourself and your brand. If you want to have a show that is more conversational, Darren and I are just having a conversation, it sounds like two of your friends talking about something you enjoy, then it’s perfectly fine. Honestly, you don’t need to spend a lot of time at all, editing.

I know a lot of people that edit their podcast while they’re doing email, or spending time on Twitter, and stuff like that, and only make a half a dozen maybe small edits to the podcast, and trimming off the top and the bottom, and adding music, and things like that. Editing doesn’t have to be that hard. I think there definitely is a point to the spirit of the question where too much editing makes it sound artificial and not like a conversation. I think you want to clean it up a little bit, make it sound professional, but if you do it too much, it’s going to sound unnatural. Nobody has conversations without pauses and saying um. It’s okay to say um every once in awhile, but just don’t overdo it. Don’t take out all the spirit of the conversation.

Daren: I was talking to a few friends about this the other day. Most of my friends listen to podcasts on 1.5 speed, or 1.3 speed, or double speed, and it doesn’t sound natural that way. I don’t think too many people are really worried about the ums and the uhs, and the slight gaps in the conversation.

Craig: I think the other part of this that again, people are getting held up with getting in the podcasting is, you are not Gimlet Media, you’re not NPR, no offense, none of us are probably going to be award-winning podcasters, we want to do this for our hobby or for our business and an additional thing to our blog, but don’t be afraid to just do it and get started. If it’s not perfect, or it doesn’t sound like the Gimlet guys, it’s great, it’s fine, it’s you. It doesn’t matter. That’s not the end-game.

Darren: They’re spending a fortune on it. I heard one, I can’t remember whether it was Radiolab maybe did an episode, and they talked about how one of their episodes cost $100,000. That’s just one of their episodes, and I do weekly shows. Don’t compare yourselves to them because you’re not on a par at all.

Launching your podcast. Where should you be submitting your podcast? You’ve got it up on your hosting now, Apple is the obvious one, Paul asks, “Is Spotify worth it? Should you be putting it into all the different networks? Is there an easy way to do that?”

Craig: Yes. I think there’s four places now where you really need to have your podcast and maybe five. Apple Podcast formerly known as iTunes is still the biggest one and will be forever maybe. Google Podcast, Google Play for strictly Android users is a big one. And folks in the US who say, “Android users. Nobody uses Android.” Android is much more popular on a global basis than the Apple platform.

Don’t discount giving your Android friends a chance to listen to your podcast. Stitcher is a cross podcasting platform. People on Apple and on Android can listen on Stitcher, and has some cool streaming features. The fourth I would say is Spotify. It is definitely worth it. Some data that we’ve heard in the industry is that it’s constituting 10%+ of listeners for a lot of popular shows. It’s definitely worth getting your show on Spotify.

You can submit to them independently if you want, most of the time, it’s done through an integration in your hosting platform. If you’re on Castos, or Libsyn, or Simplecast, it’s just a click of a button. Once you’ve created your feed and published your first podcast, just click a button and it goes to Spotify automatically. The fifth one I would say maybe is YouTube. A lot of people don’t consider repurposing their audio content into video to YouTube, but I think it’s definitely something to consider.

It goes back to how people consume content in different ways. It might be that the people that you want to reach love being on YouTube and watching stuff, and they could find your podcast on YouTube instead of in Apple Podcast or on your blog. There are some tools out there that let you do this automatically. We do it automatically at Castos to repurpose your audio content into video and publish it to YouTube for you automatically. It’s definitely something to consider.

Darren: Putting it on YouTube is really smart, because it is such a massive search engine, and people will find you for the first time there. They may not listen to all of your podcast there, but they may discover you for the first time. Paul and Muthani both asked how to get found as a podcast. Obviously, putting yourself into the search engines can get you some new readers, but any other tips on growing that audience?

Craig: Yeah, I would love to hear some of your experience on this. I’ll give my take on it as well, but starting with your existing audiences is a natural and an obvious place to start. Go to your tribe and ask for two things, “Could you subscribe?” so they get every episode automatically, and then, “Leave a rating and review,” which gives you some of that social proof. I think it probably helps the iTunes or Apple Podcast algorithm a little bit too, but subscribe leave a rating or review to give that social proof that 30 other people think that this is a good show. I should probably check it out too if new people are finding you organically.

I think the best and biggest opportunity for growing your audience with podcasts is to ask your existing listeners to share it with somebody else and that’s a call-to-action that we’re finding more and more popular is not in the show itself to say, “Hey, go subscribe, or leave a rating, or a review on iTunes,” but, “Hey, if you’re enjoying this podcast, share it with somebody else from our world that you think might enjoy it. It helps spread the word,” That’s kind of the new twist I would have on that, but I’d love hear, Darren, what have you found particularly effective to spreading the word about your podcast?

Darren: I did all of those things, I’ve promoted it to a network, email their list, promoted it on social media, all that works to some degree, but probably the thing that’s brought the biggest bumps in new downloads and listeners has been appearing on other people’s podcasts. If you want to find podcast listeners, it’s better to be on a podcast than to be on a guest blog. I think you want to go into the that medium in some ways. That can be a challenge when you’re just starting out, maybe no one else knows you, but interviewing other podcasters on your podcast sometimes gets you an invitation back to be on theirs, particularly if you are an interesting, engaging interviewer. I think that’s probably something I’ll be aiming for.

It’s amazing when I go into conference, people will often say to me, “ I heard you on Amy Porterfield’s podcast,” or, “I heard you on this interview that you did with someone that you can’t even remember doing an interview with,” but that’s actually what made the big impression for people.

One last question on launching, how many episodes should you record before you launch? I know you’ve got a bit of an answer on this on your course, because I took a look at that today, but have you got any advice for people?

Craig: There’s two answers. The question was, “How many should you record?” and I think that is something like five episodes and you want to have all those done so that when it’s time to launch, you don’t have to worry about going in creating more content. If you can go in and get five episodes, interviews or monologues or with your co-host done, then you know, “Okay, all of the content I need to really launch my show for the first month, give or take, is done. I don’t want to worry about that anymore, I can worry just about launching, promoting, and connecting with my audience,” and things like that.

When it comes to the mechanics of launching, what we really like to do is to launch with two episode, typically, and then plus or minus, what’s called an episode zero. A lot of shows will have just a quick five or ten-minute, just you or you and your co-host talking about what the show is about on a meta-level, so it gives people an opportunity to hear, “Okay, the show is going to come up every week, or every other week, on Thursdays and it’s going to be about this, this, and this, and we’re going to interview this type of people,” or whatever the format is going to be.

You’re maybe talking about video games, you’re maybe talking about gardening, or whatever it is, and why people should listen and what they can expect, and things like that. An episode zero is a really nice way to set your listeners up for what’s coming on the podcast. Two episodes is a nice balance of two areas of these approaches, you want to give more than one episode so that your audience has a chance to connect with you in a little bit different way. The first two episodes should be slightly different in format, maybe one is a monologue and one is like an interview. Or if you have a co-host, maybe you guys talk about really different subtopics within your main world that you’re living in, so that if somebody listens to both episodes, they may hate the first one and love the second one, but if they’re exactly the same you don’t have that opportunity.

Within the same theme that you have for your podcast as a whole, having a slightly different twist on the first two episodes is really good. I think if you have an interview-style podcast, having one of those episodes where you’re real, kind of gangbuster, out of the gates high caliber guest, is probably a good move because it’s that first impression.

Darren: That’s great and also I think having more than one gives people something to binge on a little bit. There’s nothing worse than finding something that you just love and then you’ve got a wait for another week, so hooking people in with you know two or even three, we did 31 in 31 Days, that’s probably overkill, but it enabled you to build a bit of momentum as well. I think sometimes going hard or up front, and then pulling back a little bit can work, too.

Craig: Yeah. Just to add to that, I think the balance of creating a bunch of content once is if you’re able to, I think more content is almost always better, so Darren, you and your team are capable of creating a lot of content and for you that was really easy. What we coach our customers on is if creating content is difficult for you, or you’re busy, or you have interviews, schedules to work on stuff like that, don’t put too much out at first because a lot of people would want to listen to a couple of podcasts but almost nobody is going to listen to 10 podcast in a day.

People will say, “I’m going to launch with 10 podcasts on the first day.” Unfortunately, they’re throwing away eight of those podcasts or they could just save them and release them later. That’s the balance that we want to strike, is how able are you to create podcast content and how much do you think your audience really can consume at a time, so 31 in 31 Days is perfect. Probably 31 episodes on day one would not have been as effective.

Darren: No, it wouldn’t. It’s also one of things I wish I’ve known it’s how popular those first episodes can be. I guess take your time with them because the number one episode I’ve ever done is the number one podcast I’ve ever recorded. A lot of people go back and listen to that first one. I worked through it again, which I cringe at a little bit because it was good, but I’m kind of on the other hand really glad that I did those 31 because they built on each other as well. Those who do go back, get to go on that journey with you from one episode into another, into another as well. Don’t just think that no one will ever listen to you, only once I do.

A couple of last questions that I want to key on in. Selfishly, these are questions that I’ve got as well. I know a lot of podcasters really struggle with is how do you actually turn your podcast listeners into more engaged customers, or subscribers, or visitors to your blog? I think the big challenge a lot of podcasters have is that anyone listening to a podcast is usually doing something else. They’re on their phone, on a walk, they’re doing their dishes, or they’re doing the ironing while they’re in the car driving somewhere. They’re not always in a position to go and buy your product, or go and click on a link and download something. Do you have any advice on how to turn those listeners into a more engaged audience?

Craig: This is the tough one. Doing this and measuring this is really tough. I think a lot of savvy marketer say, “I’m going to do a podcast, but I want to make sure I get good ROI on my podcast.” Again, we’re good at having our thing that is like the call-to-action here. The best thing I’ve heard is actually from the folks at CoSchedule. What they do is—this goes back to attribution a little bit—they have a link in the podcast, in the audio itself that is not in the show notes that is usually really easy for people to be able to follow.

For a particular episode, they’ll build a page where they can say, “Okay, if you want to find out more about how we scheduled this Instagram scheduling tool, go to coschedule.com/instagramscheduling.” That’s a way that they know that anybody who comes to that page was a listener to the podcast. It’s not linked in the show notes, it’s not anywhere else. It’s a way that people listening to the podcast can go find this resource that they talked about in the podcast. For them as a business, they know, we had 100, or 100,000, or whatever it is, visits to this page. It absolutely only has to be coming from the podcast. It’s not coming from somewhere else organically on the blog. I think that’s a really savvy way to do it.

The other thing is kind of on a high level. The goal really I think of connecting with your audience in between podcast episodes is to continue the discussion that you started in the podcast. Darren, I know you have a Facebook group. We have one as well, and they’re absolutely fantastic. If you don’t have a Facebook group already, start one today. Say what you will about Facebook, and privacy, and things like that, I won’t get into that here today, but just a community.

Whether it’s Facebook or somewhere else, a community where you can go and have a dialogue with your podcast listeners, your audience members, in between episodes, or in between blog posts, a way to continue that discussion, and for them to have discussions themselves. You don’t have to be the only one starting it. It’s really transformative in the ability and depth of conversation that you can have with folks in your audience. It’s like email but really 2-way and multi-way, because they start talking with each other. Everybody participates all at once. If you don’t have a community of some sort, it’s really worth looking into.

Darren: I agree with that. I think for us, that has actually turned out to be the place that we do connect with our audience the most is in our group. With live video in between episodes, polls, discussions, chats, and those types of things, the more engagement you get there, the better. I don’t tend to hard-sell on the backend of my podcast, because I know people aren’t going to take too much action, but I do you say the podcast is a place to build a good first impression to showcase my personality, and then all of that then drives people towards the community, which then enables you to do other things there. I think that’s a great advice for people.

Maybe one last one is from Patrice. What metrics should we be paying attention to? Maybe you can talk about what you offer with your service as well in terms of metrics.

Craig: This is right behind what microphone should I use. This is a really popular question. I hate to say, “It doesn’t really matter,” but it doesn’t really matter. You should be looking at things like total downloads. That should be going up over time, every episode should be getting a little more popular, but I say that it doesn’t really matter because everybody’s podcast is different. They’re doing it for different reasons, and it fits into the rest of their business or brand and world a little bit differently.

I absolutely wouldn’t get hung up on metrics to say that, “Darren gets 30,000 downloads per episode, I only get 500, but my podcast is in the B2B space talking about CNC machines,” or something. In those 500 people that listen to that podcast, frankly are really valuable, maybe more valuable than 30,000 listeners that Darren gets. You want to keep an eye on your metrics. Total downloads is probably a really good one. Some kind of surrogate of subscribers. You might say downloads for an episode in the first 72 hours after it comes out is like a good gauge of the number of subscribers you have.

The one that Apple Podcast has introduced recently in their platform and we have at Castos is listening duration. How long are people listening is an interesting thing to look at. It’s a little bit segmented, so Apple Podcast only gives you that data for the people that listen to your podcast in iTunes, or in the Apple Podcast app. At Castos, we’re only able to give that data on plays that happen in the browser with our player. It’s never going to be a total comprehensive view of how long people are listening to your podcast, but I think generally when it comes to analytics—people love analytics and it’s a way to measure ourselves versus everybody else—it’s apples. It’s totally apples and oranges. Don’t get hung up on it for yourself. Just say, “Yup, I’m doing better than I was last month. That’s great.” We should always strive for that but don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s just not a fair comparison.

Darren: That’s right. That’s a great advice Craig, and really, we could have gone for a lot longer this time, any more questions that I could have gotten to, but I think we will wrap it up at that. I do want to really emphasize people should sign up for that course Launch In A Week at castos.com/problogger which will really walk you through that process. I love the idea of Launch In A Week because a lot of people do have these goal of doing something one day, and then they’ve actually put an end date on it. Whether it does take you a week, or whether it takes you nine days, having that process lined out for you is great. As I said before, I’ve come and gone through the course, and looked at it myself, and it does answer all the key questions. Congratulations on putting that together.

Craig: Cool. It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me on there, I appreciate it.

Darren: Yeah, no problem. We’ll certainly link to that and the other things that you do at PodcastMotor in the show notes as well. We’ll chat with you soon.

Craig: Okay, thanks Darren.

Darren: Thanks so much to Craig Hewitt for sharing with us for that interview today. You can check out his 7-step course to launching a podcast at castos.com/problogger. Check out today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/276. There’s a full transcript there and you can also see the links to the things that he mentioned during the show today as well. Just we’ll mention briefly the outline of that 7-step course. It’s arranged in seven days, but you can take longer to go through it if you like.

Day one is about podcasting microphones and gear. Day two is audio recording and editing. Number three is your ideal listener and podcast persona, something we didn’t really touch on in great depth in the interview today. Day four is the perfect podcast recipe which is a great lesson. I actually got a few things out of that myself. Day five is media host and website set up, so you’re getting into more of the technicalities of getting your podcast up on the internet. Day six is getting your show ready to launch. Day seven is launch planning and growing your audience.

We did touch on some of those things, but if you do want something that’s organized in a way that will take you through the process, just head over to castos.com/problogger. We’ll have a link to that and to the other things that Craig does at PodcastMotor in the show notes as well.

Thanks so much for listening today. It’s been a long one, but I hope you got some value out of it. Again, if you think there’s someone in your network that you think would benefit from hearing today’s show, please do share it with them. Send them a link to our show notes at problogger.com/podcast/276. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.

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