Season one of my WYWU podcast extracted wisdom and advice from audio industry professionals. Although it’s one of many possible formats, I feel that the interview-format podcast is the easiest way to build a sustainable brand. I’m also crossing into some very specific niche realms along the way and hoping to connect with many more good folks. We’re all working our way up together in here.
We’re making plans for season two and likely dipping into the worlds of the custom van communities and vintage camper folks because they’re a fun bunch. I’m looking for clubs with effective charities to showcase and businesses they work from the road. These shows and rallies are often full of retirees with great stories and vendors who are carving out their own niche. I spent many years providing sound reinforcement for rallies like this and always enjoyed the time there. Along the way, I hope to help lots of folks develop unique podcasts that absolutely suit their style.
If you can conceive of a sustainable format that you’ll actually enjoy doing, go for it. It’s a low entry-point investment, especially if you’re already sitting on a home studio. The podcasting market is wide open and expected to quadruple in a few years. Make them good, your great grandchildren will be listening one day.
Do your own research. If you’re a creative type willing to learn the basics of the gear, it’s worth looking into.
The Other Benefits of Podcasting
I don’t consider myself intelligent enough to come up with fresh content on demand. But if I only have to ask a few questions and chase rabbits, I’ve got a show. I had to figure out what worked for me and I had to learn to listen. To fully engage in conversation. I’m still working on it, but it’s improving steadily.
My format basically involves asking people who are smarter than me what they do for a living, how they got there and what kind of advice they’d offer anyone pursuing a similar career path. That’s the entire format for WYWU season one and it’s led to some incredible conversations.
I figure the cumulative wisdom of successful adults has to have common denominators. They all pursued their passions and money was never the driving issue. I guess it can be like that if you already have it, but most of us don’t. Regardless, they’re not chasing the money, they’re just doing work that satisfies their soul.
And again, for the record, I’m hearing these stories in-person. Nobody gets to hide behind a screen. We’re talking face to face as fellow humans and sharing good ideas. The guests have the freedom to sling their own bullshit if they want, but it’s permanent. They can sort out the backlash if they’re up to something. I don’t see the need to form judgments and criticize them, but if the bullshit runs deep enough the show doesn’t get published.
So if you do care about podcasting and want to develop your own sustainable brand, here are the tips I’ve received along the way…
Big Tip Number One: Be real.
If you’re attempting to present yourself as a character other than your absolutely honest self, you’re taking on a very heavy weight. Facades are heavy. Think of them as stage props or makeup. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m saying it’s extra work. We’re all basically avatars once we go online. Choose yours carefully. Transparent avatars don’t have shadows to worry about.
You can’t manufacture sincerity. In the long run, I predict absolute honesty as the deciding factor in who’s still producing non-scripted podcasts years from now.
Big Tip Number Two: Don’t Sell Your Soul
If you’re only going in for the money please go open a MySpace account and just post there. Nobody is going to buy shit from you unless it’s just cheaper or nobody else has it. Be creative, Be unique, or Be gone.
Everyone is selling something online and we’re all about sick of it. Overloaded pages with ad after ad, and pop-ups… I hate them. Years of marketing has made me respect the results but often despise the strategies.
We’ve thinned our list of approved advertisers and sponsors down to Amazon (because I’ve found some products I will recommend), PluginFox because we all need plugins and I earn a commission from sharing iZotope’s great products), and LegalShield because normal people can’t spend $300 an hour for a lawyer.
Maybe you have a home-based business that needs some exposure. That’s my connection to LegalShield and I’ve maintained it since 2013. I played many of the affiliate marketing and MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) games for a few years. None are worth squat unless you’re willing to commit beyond the honeymoon phase. LegalShield has been spectacular for us. If you joined an MLM or affiliate marketing group because you get to represent something you honestly use and believe in, promote your own business. Don’t bombard us with stuff that you don’t even use.
Once we get the bugs worked out with our swag products, they’ll also be available in here and at shows or rallies when I setup as a vendor for WYWU Live Q&A interview events. Beyond that, I’ll be updating my books and calling it done for chasing financial support in here. We’re going to use Indiegogo for the fundraising starting soon. I’m a fan of the “multiple streams of income” philosophy, but we have to thin that herd out regularly and only hold onto the good ones.
The bottom line is that you can publish your show with the slickest ads and highest imaginable return, you can spend years researching tricks for clicks, you can push for the highest return on clicks and never make a dime. Content is still king, so start there first. Then try and stick with your niche when you consider what kind of crap to offer your audience.
Big Tip Number Three: Play Well With Others
I chose the non-scripted interview format for WYWU because there’s an unimaginable wealth of content waiting for anyone who can hold a conversation with a complete stranger.
But, before you pin your hopes and dreams on becoming an international superstar as a podcaster, you need to clarify how you’re going to interact with other people. Competitive or cooperative? Aggressive or passive, or both? Late night television-style shows seem more cooperative and passive. Hard-hitting journalism plays more aggressively and competitively, like the interview is a gladiator match. When they’re just chasing a bias it’s nothing but confrontation. Not my style. There’s obviously room for both but I believe cooperative play will serve me better in the long-run.
So if you want to try the interview format, I will also suggest suggest practicing and recording with friends and family. Attempt to maintain an honest conversation and let them tell their stories without interruption. Find something in there to ask a question about that furthers the conversation. Simple. And if you’re bored or distracted while the victim is speaking, you’re not actually listening. It’s a developed skill and it will only strengthen your skills with human interaction. Don’t skip this one.
If you have more tips for podcasters, feel free to add them in the comments.
(Thanks to milivanily on Pixabay for the opening image.)