The Audacity to Podcast: Podcasting Lessons from a Binge-Listener – TAP327

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Podcasting is a time-shifted media. While many subscribers will consume podcast episodes as they're released, some fans will binge on all your content, which can reveal some areas to improve your podcast.

I use my own My Podcast Reviews account to automatically collect and notify me of reviews from all 155 Apple Podcasts catalogs. The reviews are usually positive and encouraging. Even though they're reviews on my podcast, they often include insights you can apply in your own podcasting.

On September 5, Damian, from the USA and host of Adventures in Erylia, wrote the following 4-star review for The Audacity to Podcast (contains minor edits for clarity). There are some great podcasting lessons in here!

Great Content, But I Miss The More Amateur Vibe

I'll preface this by saying, my listening habits and experiences are far from the norm. I began listening to The Audacity To Podcast [TAP] in early July. It is now early September and I am caught up. That's right, in about 2 months, I have listened to over 300 episodes of TAP.

I'll start with the good. Daniel is very good at what he does: presenting. You don't listen to someone talk in your ear for 200 hours if they aren't a good presenter. He is extremely knowledgable at his topics. I have learned so much information that I can, and am, using to improve my podcast since listening to his show. TAP is what gave me the drive to stop pointing my podcast domain at free services and get my own webhost and my own wordpress site up and running. It is still a work in progress. I learned about Chris' Dynamic Compressor and feel that using that has greatly increased my sound. I've been learning all sorts of tips and tricks for my SEO and how to market myself and my podcast. I have binged through everything and the content is so good I will continue being a loyal listener.

However, the show isn't without what I would consider some faults. In the beginning, the ads for Citrix drove me crazy. Keep in mind, I was hearing a new, ham-fisted, Citrix ad every hour for days on end while listening through, while if you listened early on or at a slower pace, it's only once a week.

It really bummed me out when Daniel made the switch from Audacity to Audition. I get that this was a good move for him, but to me, this was the beginning of the show losing it's amateur feel. I use Audacity, largely because I can't afford to move to something like Audition, and Daniel's use of Audacity, as well as his routine of focusing on how to use it every 5 episodes really connected me to the show and told me that I could have a successful and profitable podcast with this free software. That being said, if I could afford the switch, I'd look into it, too.

My biggest criticism of TAP is his cross- and self-promotion. I don't mind his promotions for My Podcast Reviews so much because of a few pieces of criteria, but I can't stand the ads for Podcasters' Society. My Podcast Reviews gets a large pass for me because Daniel does offer a free version that you can use to get a feel for the tool and see what value it brings to you. I am signed up for it, though I am haven't gotten any reviews from foreign stores to really benefit from it so far. I also enjoy his usual way of promoting it, by reading some of these reviews and promoting the shows of those that leave him a review. Sometimes when he tries to work it into other parts of his show, it carries on a little too long for something you already know about and was only brought up as a promotion tool.

Podcasters' Society has really ground my gears, for a few reasons. This has especially been an issue while binge listening. I wish he could work things out to have the “free for an extremely short amount of time” webinars be free indefintely as a trial. As an amateur and a hobbyist, I simply cannot afford the $50/mo it takes to join his elite club. I understand that there is a lot of work that has gone into the society, but there isn't a good way to check it out and see what value would be brought by joining at such a high price.

There is also the issue of it being closed to new members so often. Even if you have the money to join, you often can't because he closes it to new members regularly. It's exceptionally annoying to be advertised to for a service that you couldn't even join if you wanted to. I digress though, this is another thing I know I would sign up for without any issue if it wasn't so out of my budget. It's unfortunate to hear about a service I am sure I would get great value out of, but know I cannot experience.

If I have such a problem with a big part of his content, why am I still giving it 4 stars? The answer to that is simple. Daniel runs a business. He needs to make money off of his products and services to provide for his family. He also offers a ton of knowledge outside of his premium tools for absolutely free. If listening to him talk about a product he worked hard on (that I can't afford) for a few minutes is the price I have to pay for him to keep doing what he's doing, so be it, he deserves a high review, and it'd be 4.5/5 if I could.

And for you Daniel, as I know you are reading this. Thank you for what you do for the podcasting community, please don't take what I said too harshly.

My podcast is Adventures in Erylia over at adventuresinerylia.com. We are currently on a hiatus because we switched from a Blue Yeti for 5 people to a Zoom H6 and 5 dynamic mics. We will be relaunching on September 30, AKA International Podcast Day.

1. People will binge when they like your show

I'll preface this by saying, my listening habits and experiences are far from the norm. I began listening to The Audacity To Podcast [TAP] in early July. It is now early September and I am caught up. That's right, in about 2 months, I have listened to over 300 episodes of TAP.

… You don't listen to someone talk in your ear for 200 hours if they aren't a good presenter. … I have binged through everything and the content is so good I will continue being a loyal listener.

Damian found my show and liked it enough to go back and listen to about 300 hours of content! Feeding this level of passion is why I recommend letting your RSS feed contain as many episodes as possible.

This is also why your first episode will usually be one of your most popular. Some people will get your latest episode and then jump all the way to the beginning, and some people will start at the beginning and work their way to the present.

2. Your audience will stay when you consistently deliver value

I'll start with the good. Daniel is very good at what he does, presenting. You don't listen to someone talk in your ear for 200 hours if they aren't a good presenter. He is extremely knowledgable at his topics.

When someone finds a podcast they like, they tend to stay subscribed. This is why the audience size for any decent podcast should be generally growing: every new subscriber stays and thus causes a minor incline. The greater the incline in per-episode consumption, the more your audience is growing. If your podcast's stats are in consistent range (neither increasing nor decreasing), then you're probably losing subscribers at the same rate you're gaining them. And if your stats are on the decline, then you're losing subscribers faster than you are gaining them.

There was once a podcast I was extremely excited over. Having only read the description, I was sold on its being my new favorite podcast. When I finally did listen to one of the episodes, it confirmed all my hopes: this podcast was exactly what I needed and wanted.

But then I listened to more episodes and saw a lot of cheap repetition, forced outlines, and sacrificed depth. Each episode failed to deliver at least the same value (or close to it) as the episode before it. Although I had plenty of available listening time and had thus downloaded all the back-catalog, I gave up on the podcast and deleted the episodes.

And this had very little to do with the length of the episodes. However long they were, they were too long for what little value they delivered.

On the other side, I recently listened to my first episode of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. Being raised a military brat, I was drawn to Dan's episode 59, which was all about nuclear weapons and the crisis they present. That the episode was three hours long didn't matter to me because there was so much value. In fact, the episode wasn't three hours long, it was nearly six hours long! Even though I listened across many sessions, I kept coming back because of the value Dan delivered in every minute.

Can your audience say the same thing about your podcast? Are there moments they skip because of low value? Is your growth stagnate because you're not consistently delivering value?

3. Your message can change lives

Ever since my epic 3-hour-long story of how my life was changed and saved through podcasting, I finally found my “why”: I believe you can share a message to change the world, and podcasting is the best way to do it.

“Changing the world” may not be on the scale of global, national, or even regional issues. But you may change the world for one person. You may give them hope when they're hurting, encouragement when they're empty, community when they're alone, entertainment when they need to be distracted, education when they want to learn, and much more.

Although I talk about podcasting—technology, technique, and more—I changed Damian's life for the better in a small way, which will help him to better reach others and change their lives, too.

I have learned so much information that I can, and am, using to improve my podcast since listening to his show. TAP is what gave me the drive to stop pointing my podcast domain at free services and get my own webhost and my own wordpress site up and running. It is still a work in progress. I learned about Chris' Dynamic Compressor and feel that using that has greatly increased my sound. I've been learning all sorts of tips and tricks for my SEO and how to market myself and my podcast.

So whether your podcast topic is silly or serious, you can improve the lives of your audience.

4. Repetition across episodes can become annoying

Now, we get to the constructive criticism.

… the show isn't without what I would consider some faults. In the beginning, the ads for Citrix drove me crazy. Keep in mind, I was hearing a new, ham-fisted, Citrix ad every hour for days on end while listening through, while if you listened early on or at a slower pace, it's only once a week.

One of my greatest regrets in my history of podcasting is my “selling out” for some extra money. Sure, it was nice to get some bills paid, especially when I had not yet launched a business from my podcast. But the products I was advertising were barely relevant to my show or my audience.

Someday, I would love to edit out all the irrelevant ads from my past episodes. (You're welcome to help by telling me timecodes when those irrelevant ads start!)

Repetition is a powerful thing and I wasted it in my early days by trying to fit in a sponsor who really wasn't relevant, even though I used them for a time.

Aside from ad spots, this same negative aspect can apply to anything else you include in your podcast. Maybe it's a particular flow of questions or a call to action.

The easiest way to make things less annoying is to rotate through what you promote. For example, for each week of the month, you might have only a single, strong call to action:

  1. First week: subscribe to your email list
  2. Second week: share the episode
  3. Third week: buy your thing
  4. Fourth week: send feedback

That's not to say you have to avoid all other calls to action. But this is about what's strongest and avoiding an annoying recurring pattern.

But if you can't rotate through separate calls to action, consider changing how you do it each time.

5. Repetition is also powerful to make things stick

That Damian could remember Citrix, My Podcast Reviews, and Podcasters' Society after more than 300 episodes proves another point: repetition is effective.

This is why podcast sponsorship works best when it's done consistently for at least a month or two. It takes repetition for it to stick.

Since I'm running a business, it's important for me to bring podcasters to the products and service I create to make their podcasts better. Of the three brands Damian mentioned in his review, one of them isn't mine. But that the other two are mine, and they stuck because of the repetition.

It's interesting and even amusing that Damian didn't mention D.Joseph Design, which is the legal name of my company and the brand (and collection of now retired services) I also promoted in my early days. So either my promotion wasn't effective, or my other reptitions pushed out that brand.

Look at what you repeat across episodes. Is it something you actually want to stick in your audience's minds? For example, do you really want your request for reviews to be the one thing that stands out and sticks more than anything else?

6. Your audience may not be ready to grow at your pace

Like TV shows with child actors, long-term podcasting presents challenges with personal growth. You're probably not the same person today as you were when you first started your podcast. Your experience, perspective, knowledge, and more have expanded with time and new information.

That's a great thing!

Unfortunately, it often means outgrowing either your audience or the premise of your show.

It really bummed me out when Daniel made the switch from Audacity to Audition. I get that this was a good move for him, but to me, this was the beginning of the show losing it's amateur feel. I use Audacity, largely because I can't afford to move to something like Audition, and Daniel's use of Audacity, as well as his routine of focusing on how to use it every 5 episodes really connected me to the show and told me that I could have a successful and profitable podcast with this free software. That being said, if I could afford the switch, I'd look into it, too.

When I first started The Audacity to Podcast, it was always going to be first about podcasting. But I didn't explain that well, and my early marketing intentionally attached me to the Audacity software. Although I still recommend Audacity for beginners, my needs have grown and I've found more limitations in the software (and I certainly felt I reached the limit of what I could talk about in Audacity for podcasting). So if my audience was joining me primarily for the Audacity information, I slowly stopped feeding that desire.

Now, after 326 episodes, I still stay focused on my core theme of podcasting. If my podcasting led me along a different path and I changed the show's premise to follow that path, I believe I would be breaking an implied promise with my audience and doing them a great disservice by changing my show too much.

This doesn't mean change is a bad thing. It's about potentially leaving your premise.

Consider this example. Because I've been displeased with some weight I've gained, I've been making changes to my diet and also trying to get back into my favorite physical activity—karate. With a simple look at what I was eating, I realized my diet had way too many carbs, so I've had to cut back on that. One of the easiest ways I've done that is to eat eggs for breakfast instead of something filled with carbs.

How many ways can you cook an egg? (There's a podcast waiting to hatch!) There are hundreds if not thousands of ways to cook eggs, or using eggs as the primary ingredient. But take the eggs out or demote their importance and you're no longer cooking eggs.

However your grow while you're podcasting, remember your audience may not be able or willing to grow with you. As long as you continue to deliver value on your premise, your audience will probably stay. But if you grow beyond that premise, the shift may be too radical for your audience to follow.

7. Satisfied audience members won't mind engaging promotion

My biggest criticism of TAP is his cross- and self-promotion. I don't mind his promotions for My Podcast Reviews so much because of a few pieces of criteria, …. My Podcast Reviews gets a large pass for me because Daniel does offer a free version that you can use to get a feel for the tool and see what value it brings to you. … I also enjoy his usual way of promoting it, by reading some of these reviews and promoting the shows of those that leave him a review.

Why did I start giving shout-outs to podcasters who wrote reviews for The Audacity to Podcast? It helped me (1) get to know my audience better, (2) encourage more reviews, and (3) create more opportunities to naturally promote My Podcast Reviews.

And because that promotion is engaging, I've heard from many podcasters who don't mind it or even enjoy it.

The same thing goes for ads I hear in podcasts, too. I usually skip the ads for the same-old current wave of podcast sponsors. But when a host either integrates that promotion into their content, or makes the promotion engaging, I intentionally choose not to skip the ad. And those ads then become more memorable.

I still remember sponsors of Good Mythical Morning, FilmRiot, The Way I Heard It, and more because the ad engaged or entertained me—yes, even when the ad might have seemed irrelevant to the show!

8. Squeezing promotion everywhere it fits is too much

Sometimes when he tries to work it [My Podcast Reviews] into other parts of his show, it carries on a little too long for something you already know about and was only brought up as a promotion tool.

On the extreme end of making ads, calls to action, or any kind of promotion engaging is obnoxious integration.

Imagine if I mentioned My Podcast Reviews and gave you the URL every time I referred to Damian's review!

Integrating promotion is like a seasoning or spice for food. It only takes a little to be effective.

9. Timeless content complicates timely promotions

Yes, we will probably all have something timely to promote at some time. It could be the Podcast Awards, an upcoming event, a special sale, or anything else that may happen only at a specific time (even if repeating).

The first iteration of what become Podcasters' Society was Podcast Master Class. That was an intense month-long course with in-depth training, podcast evaluations, personal coaching, and more. I stopped doing it after the first time because I struggled too much to include promotion in my episodes.

The struggle was twofold: simply remembering to include it and recognizing that the promotion would be a permanent part of those episodes for years to come.

This kind of timely promotion bothered Damian, too.

My biggest criticism of TAP is his cross- and self-promotion. … I can't stand the ads for Podcasters' Society. …

Podcasters' Society has really ground my gears, for a few reasons. This has especially been an issue while binge listening. I wish he could work things out to have the “free for an extremely short amount of time” webinars be free indefintely as a trial.

When I created Podcasters' Society, I knew it could finally be something I could regularly promote without worrying much about time-sensitive offers.

However, time-sensitive stuff still happens. So anytime I promote something timely, I try to include some way to keep the promotion timeless.

My approach to “free for an extremely short amount of time” makes a whole lot more sense when they are recurring events. However, that the high-value content then becomes exclusive to members of Podcasters' Society also increases the value of membership, and creates something I can continue to promote.

It's a careful balance. Your audience could miss the timely thing by a couple days or by years. I don't think it's reasonable for you to keep timely promotions available forever, but I do recommend finding a way to make your promotion timeless.

For example, if you're promoting an upcoming event (whether in-person or online), consider pointing to a URL that will always have updated information. Or, that URL could contain the recap for those who missed it.

10. Don't overprice for the audience you want

Pricing may always be a challenge because not everyone values something the same. Even something as seemingly simple as milk could be available in some form that costs ten times what the cheap stuff costs.

If you ever hire or act as a consultant, then you have experienced this same challenge. Consider someone like Gordon Firemark. He's an entertainment lawyer and he's an expert dealing with intellectual property (especially for podcasters). An hour of his time could cost thousands of dollars or more, but if that time either saves or earns you tens of thousands of dollars, isn't it worth it?

As an amateur and a hobbyist, I simply cannot afford the $50/mo it takes to join his elite club [Podcasters' Society]. I understand that there is a lot of work that has gone into the society, but there isn't a good way to check it out and see what value would be brought by joining at such a high price.

… this is another thing I know I would sign up for without any issue if it wasn't so out of my budget. It's unfortunate to hear about a service I am sure I would get great value out of, but know I cannot experience.

That Damian felt there wasn't a good way to see proof of the value is definitely something for me to work on.

There's also another issue here that you may run into: pricing for the audience you want.

If I made Podcasters' Society only $5/month, either no one would use it or it would be abused (and some people would still say it's too expensive). Look at your value in the same way! I commonly hear business say it's the cheap customers who cause the most problems and ultimately cost the most.

Money is an exchangeable measurement of worth. When someone pays a high price for something, they take good care of it because they've assigned a particular worth to it. And when they pay a low price, the thing has much less assigned value and is often treated the same way.

So when you sell something at a price—whether a product or service you create, or even your own podcast for sponsors or donors—you are assigning a measureable value to it. If you charge too little, it won't be respected. If you charge too much, it won't be purchased.

I know the value of Podcasters' Society is worth more than I'm charging for it. Several members have already said similar things, even in regards to a single small but relevant resource. But at the same time, I have to charge a price in line with what my ideal customer will consider a fair value.

After all, it's often not about the real numbers, but about what those numbers mean to us.

11. Avoid “breaking” timeless promotions

If you do succeed in promoting timeless or even timely things in a timeless way, ensure that never breaks!

There is also the issue of it [Podcasters' Society] being closed to new members so often. Even if you have the money to join, you often can't because he closes it to new members regularly. It's exceptionally annoying to be advertised to for a service that you couldn't even join if you wanted to.

Closing Podcasters' Society was something I hated doing. I see some sleazy marketers talk about creating a false scarcity. But since Podcasters' Society provides ongoing value, there's no true scarcity to it. So the reason I most recently closed it for several months (costing me a lot of potential new members, too), was because I genuinely needed to rebuild the inside of it and I didn't want new members coming in when things were broken.

And where that especially hurt was when I had already previously said Podcasters' Society would be open indefinitely. So in my case, rather than merely closing it, I offered a waiting list and kept those interested subscribers informed on how things were progressing. And when I was ready to finally reopen, I gave them a special offer for their patience.

Among many reasons, what I love about Podcasters' Society's being a membership site instead of being a month-long course like Podcast Master Class™ was is that I can promote Podcasters' Society at any time.

So if you have any kind of timeless promotion in your podcasts, make sure it's either always available—even years later—or that there's some appropriate substitute or promise.

12. People will accept your selling when you give value first

After all that stuff Damian said he didn't like about my promotions or one of my products, he still likes the podcast and continues to listen. Why?

If I have such a problem with a big part of his content, why am I still giving it 4 stars? The answer to that is simple. Daniel runs a business. He needs to make money off of his products and services to provide for his family. He also offers a ton of knowledge outside of his premium tools for absolutely free. If listening to him talk about a product he worked hard on (that I can't afford) for a few minutes is the price I have to pay for him to keep doing what he's doing, so be it, he deserves a high review, and it'd be 4.5/5 if I could.

And for you Daniel, as I know you are reading this. Thank you for what you do for the podcasting community, please don't take what I said too harshly.

There are two big things in what Damian said.

First, he recognized that I'm running a business that must provide for my family and others (I regularly pay several other people who do valuable work for me). He respects the reason I sell.

So if you're trying to sell something, too—product, service, sponsor, donations, etc.—make sure your audience knows the reason you're selling.

“Donate to the podcast because it lets me buy fancy latte.” That's not a good reason; it's selfish.

“Donate to the podcast because it helps us to continue giving value to you.” That is a good reason.

The second thing in Damian's comment is that he accepts the “selling” because he already receives so much value.

This principle plays out in many areas of life. We accept certain inconveniences because of the value we receive despite those inconveniences.

So if you want to sell anything to your audience, make sure you first give! Give, give, give, give, and give some more before asking for anything in return.

Make sure you check out Damian's podcast, Adventures in Erylia!

Need personalized podcasting help?

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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

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