Getting Started With Your Own Podcast
Today is this podcasts first birthday!
That’s right – I launched this thing with those first 31 daily episodes back at the end of June 2015 and while we quickly scaled things back to twice a week, I managed to keep things running for a whole year thanks to the support of my team!
I’ve completely fallen in love with podcasting as a medium and thought about making this a show about the lessons I’ve learned podcasting in the last year but given that I did a show like that back in Episode 50, I thought I’d reach out to a podcasting friend of mine – Brooke McAlary from Slow Your Home who started 3 months before me as a podcaster after having blogged successfully for a few years previously.
Brooke has fallen so in love with podcasting that she’s fully transitioned Slow Your Home away from being a blog to being a podcast and has gone on to start a podcasting network at JackRabbit.fm. The network has 6 podcast shows in it already with more to come.
Her Slow Your Home podcast is at around the one million download mark already so she’s had some real success!
This chat covers a lot of ground but largely focuses upon her transition to becoming a podcaster and what practical lessons she learned along the way about podcasting. It’s perfect for anyone wanting to start podcasting and covers:
- Brooke’s journey of going from a blogger to a podcaster
- Practical tips on how to get a podcast up and running
- The tools and technical aspects of Brooke’s setup that you should consider
- Thoughts on how to decide what content format to go with (interview vs talking head vs co hosted)
- How to push past the fear and other obstacles in your head
- How to launch with a bang to maximise reach
- How Brooke is monetising her podcast
- Why Brooke started a podcast network
And there’s much much more!
For those of you preferring to read – we’ve included a full Transcript of the show below!
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Darren: Hi there, my name is Darren Rowse and welcome to Episode 128 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today, I’m celebrating the first year anniversary of the start of this podcast. It was exactly one year ago, 30th of June 2015 that I kicked things off. I thought about doing a show today on what I’ve learned since then. I did a similar show back in Episode 50, but instead of doing that I thought what I would do is pick the brains of another podcaster who used to be a blogger, Brooke McAlary from slowyourhome.com and also the founder of the Jack Rabbit Podcast network. She’s an Aussie blogger who lives in Sydney, a mom, a wife, a blogger and that’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s episode.
Brooke has brought a wealth of information to today’s chat. I interview her over the next hour so you want to grab a cup of your favorite beverage and we’re going to talk about her journey from going from a blogger to a podcaster. She’s going to give you some practical tips on how to get a podcast up and running, particularly from the perspective of a blogger. We’re going to talk about the technical stuff you need to know, how to decide what content format to go with.
We’re going to talk about how to push past some of the obstacles that are in your head, some of the fear associated with podcasting, some of those comparisons that we feel as podcasters and bloggers as well, how to launch your podcast, how to monetize your podcast and why she started a podcast network, and then there’s a whole heap of other stuff including a couple of attempts at humor which I’m not sure how that went but as I mentioned during the show, I’m getting tired, it’s getting towards the end of a busy time for me and we’re about to go on holiday so please forgive me for my attempts at humor during the show today.
I hope you really do enjoy this. I had a ball interviewing Brooke and I encourage you to check out what she’s doing over at sellyourhome.com and the Jack Rabbit Podcast Network, jackrabbit.fm. You can also find today’s show notes over at ProBlogger.com/podcast/128. Thanks for listening and I’ll wrap things up at the end of the chat.
Brook, how do you introduce yourself to new people? How do you describe yourself?
Booke: That’s a good question. I do now describe myself as someone who runs a podcast network. I think that’s probably the thing that I usually lead with and then people will go either what’s the podcast or how do you do that and why is that a job? I’ll often then talk about my podcast and I guess how it sort of grew and I became more and more passionate about the medium of podcasting and decided to launch a network. That’s a way that I will introduce myself.
Darren: Two years ago, how would you have introduced yourself?
Brooke: I would’ve said a writer, two years ago.
Darren: Okay, so there’s been a bit of a transition there which is interesting. I love your story in that you kind of started your online presence out of your own personal journey and time you’re going through. I wonder if you can give listeners just a quick insight into how you started blogging and we’ll slowly be digging into podcasting, but where did it all begin for you?
Brooke: It was about 6 years ago and I was struggling significantly in my personal life. It’s like everything was good but everything was also not good at all. I was diagnosed with postnatal depression after our second child was born and as part of that process and the treatment, it was very strongly recommended to me that I start to chill out a little bit and simplify my life somewhat. That was not an easy suggestion for me to hear but I slowly started to recognize that something had to give and I was Googling, literally Googling how do I simplify my life and the ultimate irony is that that says 70 people have found me in the years after but I found Leo Debate’s blog, Zen Habits, and I realized that there was this whole group of people around the world who felt similarly and had decided that actually they’re going to live with less.
It was yes, less stuff, but also less stress and less expectations and less commitment and less overwhelm, less debt and anxiety, and you know all these things. I realized when I was reading this blog that I wanted to be one of those people and for the first time, the idea of simplifying and slowing down actually appealed a lot to me.
From there, I started to make changes to our home and my life and I started to write about it. I had dabbled in blogging before but never anything with a real strong purpose. I launched Slow Your Horn in September of that year I think. I started writing about my own process of decluttering specifically and people started paying attention. I slowly shifted into the idea of slow living rather than necessarily simplifying and decluttering over the coming years. That’s really where I found my groove.
Darren: Did you start with an audience in mind or was it more self-expression, or a bit of both?
Brooke: It was a bit of both, actually. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope for it to grow and the audience to grow and people to start finding value in what I was writing, but it also helped me alot to—I guess I don’t really know what I’m thinking until I’ve written it. That’s really how I process information and transformation. Part of it was absolutely me just working stuff out and the other part was certainly to try and help people then eventually help more people.
Darren: Did the content on the blog start what I’m discovering that type of content, or was it how to type content, and has it changed?
Brooke: Definitely what I’m discovering kind of content. It was a lot more introspective and that I think is what initially drew people to my writing. But over time, people then started asking me how to do things because it looked like from the outside that I had this stuff sorted out and people are asking how do I do this, and how do I do that? Not so much why do you do that. You definitely shift over the subsequent use to be more about how I could help other people work through this stage that they might have found themselves in.
I think I actually shifted back towards more of a personal style of blogging before I shifted to the podcasting and I think that was probably symptomatic of the fact that I was a bit burnt out on the how to stuff which then led me into podcasting which we can talk about later. It definitely changed over the years.
Darren: It’s interesting. We get a lot of questions from people about do I need to be an expert in a field before I can start blogging. and I always talk about my experience at ProBlogger starting at telling my story of what I was discovering and it sounds like you had a similar experience and then became perceived as the expert as the result of sharing what you were learning.
Brooke: Exactly, and I certainly wasn’t and still would not ever put myself out there as someone who knows a whole heap about simple living and slow living other than what I personally experienced. There was always the tension there for me in producing that how to content. I try for it to be as authentic and helpful as possible, but I also did feel like why would you listen to me because I’m only just working stuff out too.
Darren: Yeah, it sounds like a bit of imposter syndrome. We just had an episode go live in the last couple of weeks, it was in that exact topic. Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone who’s struggling with imposter syndrome or are you the wrong person to ask?
Brooke: I am so the wrong person to ask. I’ve got that episode lined up to listen to next but I’ve read through the blog post just yesterday. That’s actually me. I think I made strides against that over the past few years, otherwise I probably would’ve given up by now. I certainly do find myself full of self doubt on most days, but I find a certain amount of faking it until you make it helps. Not in a way that makes you inauthentic, but a way that kind of says alright, you can do this, and you take that wobbly carriage that you talk about and just grab onto that and don’t worry about being the inner mean girl who comes along later and tells you that you’re full of it.
Darren: Everyone needs to go and listen to Episode 121 about the sounds of things. Actually listen to it again yesterday because as much as I just published that I had a day yesterday where I suffered with it and had to go and rev myself up by listening to my podcast. It’s one we have to keep coming back to, I think it will be listened to a fair bit, that one.
You started with a blog, did you have a tipping point with the blog or was it a slow growth?
Brooke: It was pretty slow growth, pretty steady over the years. I think once I started connecting with other people in my area like Joshua Becker and the guys from The Minimalist and Courtney Cober, we started to really share each other’s work and we found a commonality. Then, people started to become more aware of the blog and then my name started getting mixed in with those names of those people. I think that if there was a tipping point, that probably would have been it. That was really just a case of relationships and persistence and time and practice
Darren: Things evolved from just a blog. How did you start the podcast? Why did you start it? Was there a moment of insight that really propelled you into that or was that a bit of a slow bend too?
Brooke: No, actually it was the opposite. It was really almost an impulsive thing to try. I had been interviewed for quite a few podcasts over the last six months before we launched and really enjoyed it. I didn’t expect to enjoy it. I don’t love the sound of my own voice or anything like that and I’m constantly hoping that what I’m saying is useful. I’ve really enjoyed the process of getting to know someone and then people getting to know me by listening to me rather than reading my words. I’m a big podcast fan myself, I listen to a lot of podcasts and have done for years and really love the connection I feel with the people whose shows I listen to.
I don’t know them but I really feel like I do know them at least in some way. I said to my husband I’m thinking of starting a podcast, he’s like cool. I recorded five episodes and they were not great, but I pushed them all in the first week and people seemed really excited about the prospect and I kind of just kept going and it grew from there. It was definitely something that I kind of weighed up a lot of the time, it was just try and see.
Darren: That was April, 2015, you’re 15 months in now. Give us a before and after glimpse of what impact the podcast has had in terms of reach, and also impact that it’s had on your audience. Has it been indifferent to the blog?
Brooke: Oh yeah, it’s been enormous. In numbers, sure, but more in the way people connect with me. I found that engagement on Facebook particularly has taken off and Instagram as well because people really feel like we’re friends, we know each other and that’s something that was very rarely there with the writing. People would write to me privately and say it’s like you’re in my head when I was blogging more regularly. But with the podcast it was something different, it was a real life connection that people had.
I obviously still publish two blog posts a week when I publish episodes of the podcast. The numbers have jumped a little bit on the blog and comments and things like that have dropped right off which is to be expected because the different forms of communication. The show was just about to be downloaded for the millionth time and that is significantly more than the readers that I would have had a year ago on the blog. It’s changed my relationship with the people that read and listen to what I have to say.
Darren: That’s fantastic. Congratulations, that’s awesome. Are you going to have a party?
Brooke: Oh yeah, I think I will.
Darren: I know as people are listening, they’re wanting to ask you questions so I’ve pulled together some of the most frequently asked questions that I get around the practicalities of getting a podcast up and running because I think a lot of our listeners are overwhelmed by the technology and some of these sorts of questions.
I know it’s the wrong place to start talking about technology, everyone always wants to know what microphone we use. Maybe if we can start off with some of the technology type stuff, what do you recommend if someone’s just starting out, that they need in terms of the physical stuff but also some of the software and things like that that you would use or recommend?
Brooke: Straight out of the gate, I still use an Audio Technica 2100 with the up filter and it’s just a run-of-the-mill USB mic that I bought on Amazon, about $70. It’s been fine. We will probably upgrade at some point this year because we know that this is a long-term thing that we’re doing now we can afford to put a bit more money into our sound and our equipment. But really, you just need some form of microphone to capture your voice to begin with.
I know people who have started a podcast who was just using their mic on their laptop. I think it’s more about how you use the equipment that you have rather than the equipment itself. I would always say as important as your microphone or your recording equipment is the room that you sit in and the sounds that you get from the room that you sit in so nothing too echoey, not too many hard surfaces that sound bounces around off. I think as long as you have a way to record that and it’s listenable, it’s fine.
There’s a handful of really decent USB microphones that you can pick up for between $40 and $100 if that’s something that you really do want to start with. You’re probably going to be quite happy using that for years.
In terms of software, I record most of my interviews by Skype so I just use [00:15:52] call recorder to record both sides of the conversation. If it’s just a solo show or my husband and I are doing a host’s only show, we record in GarageBand. We’ve got two mics, obviously, and we just record straight into GarageBand.
I do all of the production on audition now and Ben used to do all the production on Audacity but we’ve just changed to Audition recently, and that’s it. You need a host of some description, you can host your podcast on your own website but I wouldn’t recommend that because bandwidth and things like that will very soon get sucked up. I’ve just changed over to Omni for hosting, I was with Libsyn and there’s Blubrry, those are a handful of quite inexpensive media hosts.
I think once you got a way to record and capture that audio, a way to edit even just very light editing, top it with some music and then a way to publish it. That’s really the three main things you need.
Darren: Did you have any help setting it up or any resources that you found helpful to help walk you through the setting up of feeds and getting into iTunes and that type of thing?
Brooke: I did and I’ve been a member of fizzle.co for a few years. They had a podcasting basics course which will talk you through the real essentials of getting the show recorded, basic editing and then publishing to iTunes add various other platforms. That was really helpful.
I think the thing that I discovered was I thought that was it. Once I knew that, that was it. I think the more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn. It’s kind of important to not get too deep into the really nitty-gritty of the technical stuff, otherwise you can just get buried and it will be months before you emerge with the show.
Darren: Yeah, I’ve seen people get so bogged down on which microphone to buy that it takes them three months to make that decision. You can start light. If you go back to the start of almost every podcast, you see that it evolves over time so much. The more you know, the more you need to know. There’s plenty of time to learn.
What do you think aspiring podcasters should be asking about? They always ask about the microphone, what should they be really asking about? What’s more important in your mind that you should be thinking about before you launch or before you even start recording?
Brooke: I think really the most important thing to ask is why you’re doing this. What do you want to create with the podcast. That really takes into consideration your audience. Whether or not you want to simply entertain people or educate or inspire them or a combination of all three, and then think about your message and what you want to share and how that is going to do those things for your audience.
It’s also helpful I think to ask yourself what you want to get out of the project, if you want to increase your readership of your blog or sell more of your product or become known as an authority in your niche or your area of expertise. I think depending on what your answers are to those questions, that’s really going to shape the way your podcast comes together because I think—there is literally thousands of combinations of show formats and elements that you can pull in. The way your show looks is certainly partly what you enjoy and what you want your show to look like, but it’s also about the people who are going to be listening to it and what’s going to serve them well and what they are going to get the most out of it.
I think the contents obviously is more important than the technology but it’s easy to kind of toss out decisions on microphones or editing software. It’s a question that people come to later or even on the fly as they’re starting to record. I think it’s definitely key to sit down and think about that stuff before you start recording.
Darren: Your first question there was what are you aiming to do for your audience, educate, entertain, inspire. What did you decide for your first podcast because now you have six in the network, two of which you’re fairly heavily involved with on air. Let’s go back to the Slow Your Home podcast, what did you decide? Was it education, inspiration?
Brooke: It was mostly the latter two; educate and inspire initially. It’s interesting to see how it’s changed over the past 15 months. I didn’t think that I necessarily had the chops to educate people myself, so I decided pretty much straight from the get go that I would be interviewing people who had insights into a certain area of slow living or something that was related to slow living, something that I knew my audience wanted to know more about and I didn’t have the ability to talk to them with any authority. That was one of the big reasons why I decided on the interview format.
The entertainment stuff kind of came in a little bit later, but I realize that when people like you, when people feel warm about you as a person, they don’t have to think you’re awesome, funny, or clever but they like your company, then I think they’re going to stick around even more and listen to episodes that maybe they wouldn’t have necessarily thought would’ve been something they’re interested in which is something that people tell me a lot now. The entertainment stuff sort of came into it a little later. It’s not cracking jokes or anything like that but really just becoming more personable and not just about delivering information to the audience.
Darren: Interesting. I love that you started with I want to educate and then the question came, the format. You felt you would I would educate, I suspect you’ve got a lot of information you could deliver so you went with the interview. For me, I decided I wanted to educate as well but had a whole heap of information that I knew was ready to go, so I decided on more of a talking head type podcast. We both kind of gone the same direction but decided based on our circumstances to format it in a different way.
Brooke: I think part of that is also the topic as well. With the work that you do, there are areas of blogging and monetizing and working online that you can kind of deliver in almost tutorial style fashion.I I worry with Slow Living because it’s not as black-and-white and it really applies to people’s circumstances in completely different sorts of ways. I don’t like the idea of saying there’s only one way to do it.
Darren: So you unpacking it with another person helps people to see different perspectives. I love that. The second question you said to ask was what do you hope to get out of the project, what did you want to get out of Slow Your Home when you started it?
Brooke: I initially wanted to get out of writing blog posts. I thought that it would be less time intensive than writing my weekly blog posts. That is a completely honest answer. I also did want to connect with people, i wanted to try something new and also I had noticed that there weren’t many podcasts in my area of self-improvement I guess in Australia. I thought that did show that there was a real potential there to cut through and maybe get in touch with new people in a different kind of way.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to build a profile as well and all of those things have kind of played into it over time.
Darren: Let’s shift to content. We’ve already kind of touched on format. You’ve got interviews, you can do a co hosted show, you can do a talking head type show and there’s probably others as well. How would you advise people to make that decision? We’ve kind of touched on some of it but do you have anything else that you’d add to that?
Brooke: I think it also helps to know what you’d be comfortable with, I think some people are quite comfortable just sitting in front of their computer and delivering a talking heads show. They might map out what they want to say and just work through those points and be really comfortable with that, whereas other people feel more energized maybe, and energy is a really important part of a podcast.
Some people feel more energized if they’re sitting with a co-host or they take turns presenting with a co-host. You can really mash them up together and try new things and see what works, but I think it is important to kind of question where your strengths lie and also understand where your strengths don’t lie and try and create a format that works to support both of those areas.
Darren: I think probably looking around at what other people are doing is one to consider as well. If everyone is doing interviews in your particular topic, there’s probably an opportunity there to take a slight different approach.
Brooke: Absolutely. Also what you enjoy listening to. I think that’s a big part bcos you’re going to be doing this long term. If it energizes you to be doing interviews, wonderful. If it doesn’t, if you find that really quite exhausting, then maybe mix it up or try something else.
Darren: In your network at the moment, you’ve got six podcasts going, two of which are single host shows and four of which I think are co-hosted. Do you have any reflections from getting them together to the production level, what’s easier, and what’s done better. Have you noticed any results yet?
Brooke: Some of the shows are only quite new, we’re only 10 or 11 episodes in so it’s hard to pull anything particularly concrete out of it. People do tend to want the conversational, co-hosted style shows because I think they enjoy the idea that they’re sitting in on a conversation between friends. That’s something that Carly and Stacy are getting really good feedback on. It’s like literally listening to a conversation about [00:26:33] with friends and having a glass of wine. It’s a real social feel.
Then, you’ve got Nick Avery’s show, This Family Life or The Thoughtful Travel Podcast with Amanda where they are delivering pockets of conversation about a particular topic which is in an interview style, but then it’s broken up with solo hosted parts of the show as well. I think just in a practical sense, there’s more editing and post-production involved in those sort of shows too. They’re perfectly suited to the the topic that they cover because it really is informational and very kind of inspiring and educational and it just delivers them really sharply, those bits of information whereas the conversational shows might have a broader base of of topics and the subjects can be really quite wide-ranging. I think that suits that lends itself to more conversational co-hosted style show.
Again, I think it depends on what you’re trying to to share with people and the style of the message and the style of the topic that you’re covering as well as the people involved and what they would prefer.
Darren: I love in your network, you’ve got the co-hosted shows quite a different personality as well and I kind of—I know you and Kelly in yours come from slightly different perspectives, probably similar values and goals and that type of thing but very different personalities. I think that comes out of it really well, so probably one thing to factor into choosing a co-host if you go that direction.
Brooke: There’s been a number of times that we’ve been told that it would be interesting if people would disagree, and that’s happened with Ben and I on our show too. People quite enjoyed the accidental relative and unedited show where we did have an argument. I think people get a better sense of you as a person and your relationship when they hear you coming out from a different point of view. It’s always fun to put two different styles of personality together.
Darren: I think you’re completely wrong there. [laughter]
I’m ready for a holiday, things are falling apart here. Let’s talk about getting going and I think a lot of the obstacles that I struggled with when I started my podcast were internalized obstacles, they were just the way I was thinking, insecurities. Do you have any tips on that beginning process, getting past those obstacles that come your way?
Brooke: Those comparisons are really thought to let go of. I’ve felt the same thing and I think the only way that I got through it was to record those first five episodes and hand them to my husband and get him to edit them. I didn’t go back and I wasn’t at pains to listen to the number of times I said um or stumbled over my words or sounded like I was getting breathless.
I just think at some point you need to commit to it, record them, don’t kind of go back over them with a fine-tooth comb and look at all the things you could have done better because I think when you’re doing that, you’re comparing yourself to maybe Amy Porterfield or Will Anderson or the guys that put together Cereal and things like that. You’re saying why aren’t I better? The reality is those guys are professionals and they’ve been pulling together audio programming for a long, long time. That was very much my headspace, I was comparing myself to these professionals.
The way I got past it was to simply run straight past and get those first few episodes out as quickly as possible. You know what, I still haven’t listened to them, I will not listen to my own voice.
Darren: That is a tough one. How do you get comfortable with finding your voice and style in terms of talking on your podcast?
Brooke: I think there’s two elements to that. Part of it is just getting used to how you sound, which I have not been able to do so I just don’t listen to it and try not to think too much about it once it’s been said. The other part is those first episodes, those first months for me, it was sort of the first 12 months really where I felt I was still trying to find my feet and find my actual voice and my my energy in my presentation style and the way that I question people and to stop comparing it to the way other people do it. I don’t think that there is a shortcut to be honest, I think it’s just committing to those project long term and understanding that it will get better over time and being okay with that.
I listened to Notice Podcast, it’s one of my favorites. They’ve been publishing for six, or seven years and someone asked Chris Hardwick recently how long did it take until you felt like you were yourself and you were doing a good job on air. He said at least two years.
I by initially found that really disheartening, but it’s actually quite liberating when you think about it because you just allow yourself to basically practice in public and you know it takes time to find your feet and I think it was nice to realize that someone who I view as a professional who is a very skilled interviewer took that long to find their feet and start producing a podcast that he was really happy with, I figured that it’s okay for me.
Darren: Malcolm Clowes always talks about 10,000 hours before you kind of are at a level where you’re capable of doing something, or an expert in something. I think with blogging, it’s certainly probably the first thousand posts you write really until you find your voice and probably the first hundred or 200 episodes of your podcast before you begin to feel comfortable with yourself and get over some of those insecurities. I don’t think they ever really go away.
What about creating content? You hinted there with your first five episodes, you batched. Is that something you continue, batch create your work?
Brooke: I do when I can. We do that for the other shows on the network, typically we’ll get together and maybe record two or three episodes at a time. We publish weekly, it’s really nice to kind of have two to four weeks in the can ahead of time. That’s something that I’m responsible for doing almost all the post production on all the shows, so for me that’s kind of a necessity just so that I don’t lose my mind every Friday making sure that everything’s ready for the following Monday and the following weeks really. That definitely just allows for people to get sick and allows for technical issues and for people’s internet to get cut off and it doesn’t ruin the consistency of publishing which I think is really important.
With the Slow Home Podcast specifically, we started doing something new which is a monthly experiment. Every Monday, my husband and I will sit down and talk for 10 or 15 minutes about the experiment that we’re currently doing and how we’re finding it. That is pretty much recorded in real time, and that is definitely more stressful. I would always recommend, unless you’re doing something that’s super interactive and essentially recording a live podcast, then I would definitely recommend batching for the first six months until you find your groove.
Darren: I think it really does help in those early times to get into the flow of editing, particularly if you’re doing your own editing. You need to build a system or a workflow almost, is that what you’ve got?
Brooke: I do, I got it quite tightly locked down now, actually. Since bringing on the other shows into the network, it’s been very helpful for me because I’m communicating with the host and the creators of the show. I pulled together a workflow document that goes to everyone now. Everyone knows what needs to happen, when, and how much lead time we need, what documentation I need in terms of show notes and things like that ahead of time. It’s been so helpful now to be able to plot exactly where I’m at with every show for every week and to be able to get three or four weeks out is just my dream.
Darren: One of the things that you touched on earlier was your energy level. Energy levels are so important when it comes to podcasting. I listened to your first episode, re-listened to it again recently, and I’ve noticed that you’ve changed a lot from those first ones. You seem to have a little bit more energy. Do you have any tips on how to bring a bit more energy to your shows?
Brooke: The first ones I’m quite sure are horrifying.
Darren: I really enjoyed them because it’s Slow Your Home. I think if anyone can get away with a slower, lower key podcast, it’s you. It’s your personality as well. Something has changed and I’m not really sure what it is.
Brooke: I think it’s just confidence. Those first few episodes, I did pretty much read them which was fine because at least the solo show, the interview ones, I didn’t. The first solo shows I pretty much scripted out. In a way, that was fine because I don’t think I necessarily sounded like I was reading and there was certain bits of information that I really wanted to walk people through. It was kind of going back to that tutorial style show that you and I were talking about a minute ago because I wanted to give people valuable information and that was the only way that I could trust that I could get through all the steps and all the parts that I want to cover. I think that did reflect in my energy levels, and now I’m pretty much winging everything.
I will usually have a list of general questions or talking points that I want to cover with a guest or even with Ben if we do a Hostful episode. I think that does just lend itself to more energy and a more natural way of talking. It does also help if I sit up straight, some people enjoy standing when they record. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t really work for me personally. Anything that gives you a bit of a lift, a bit of a boost.
The other thing that I found, it’s just come with practice and I’m still not great at it but I’m certainly better. Those first episodes, I would record myself speaking for maybe two minutes and I’d be out of breath. I’d have to stop and I’d have to catch my breath. That doesn’t happen nearly as much anymore, and I think my husband does media training and he was watching me record one day. He’s like you’re talking out of the top of your chest, you’re not breathing into your diaphragm at all and that’s why you’re losing your breath. Having taken that on board has also helped me a lot and I’m a lot less breathy now.
Darren: I think breathing is really important. I’ve never really had any training in it, but I think as someone who’s done public speaking, it’s something you learn to do. I never thought about that one.
What about um’s and ah’s? Do you struggle with that? I find when I’m presenting solo, I don’t for some reason. But when I interview people, I do a lot more.
Brooke: I think that’s partly just conversation as well. I think if you listen to a conversation with someone, there’s probably more stops and starts and um’s and ah’s than you actually think there would be. It’s not until you sit down and actually edit a conversation like that that you realize just how often they happen. That being said though, I have had to lock them down big time. The first 20 or 30 episodes, my husband obviously does the recording and he mentioned very kindly and gently that maybe I’d need to just start pausing a little bit if I feel an um or an ah coming on. That has definitely helped. That’s something that I say pretty much every new podcast, I have to work their way through.
People will listen back to this show and just be horrified at the number of times I say um, or people have other verbal ticks. They’ll start every conversation with you know or well, or like like I just did then. I think it just takes time to recognize that coming on and to be able to come up with strategies to stop them from taking over your conversation.
Darren: I practice it with my kids, actually. It’s a little game we play when they’re having their bath. We give each other a minute, and we have to speak for a minute without saying um or ah and we give each other a topic. It’s great training for them, they’ve improved so much with their own confidence, public speaking, I’m sure it will help them as well so maybe that’s a little game that people could play.
Brooke: That is so cool, that’s a really fantastic idea. I would certainly benefit from that too with my kids.
Darren: I say to them all the time there’s nothing wrong with silence as well, and silence can be a very powerful thing if you pause and then say something, then people are much more tuned into what you’re going to say next.
Brooke: It’s so true. I think we’re terrified of leaving silence because it sort of makes us feel awkward or someone forgot to say their line. I think a well placed pause or even just a well intentioned pause can be really worthwhile and powerful.
Darren: I’ve noticed, um. [laughter] I’ve noticed actually some of those more professional podcasters, they use silence from time to time and they stop the music and they stop everything and then they have this second or two seconds of silence and then they start. They do use it really well as an editing technique as well. Something to play with, I guess.
Let’s talk about launching. We haven’t even gotten to launching yet. This might end up being a two-parter I think. Launching your podcast, any tips around getting that going? You seem to have come out of nowhere and it just seemed to be you’re new and noteworthy, you got features in a little bit more than that as well. Do you have any tips? I know that’s hard to have a tip on how to get featured, but any tips on launching it with a bit of a bang?
Brooke: I think the more hype and excitement you can build in your audience if you have one before you launch, the better. There’s a few things that you can do when you’ve already got people in your corner that’s going to push you up as soon as you launch into either the chats or even you’re noteworthy.
Something that I always recommend to people is to consider starting with an episode zero, and putting that out a couple of weeks before your actual launch week. That gives people the opportunity to see what you’re all about, get excited about the fact that you’ve got a podcast coming out.
You can include in that episode zero just a basic introduction to who you are and why you’re doing the show, maybe a snippet or something like that of episode one to get people enticed, and then just ask people to subscribe. That means that when you do launch in a couple of weeks after that, the downloads first of all from those subscribers will be automatic so you’ll be getting a nice bump in numbers through iTunes straight away, and it also means that people are listening from day one.
I think pair that episode zero with a strong launch week or a launch month. When I launched, I launched with five episodes in five days. After that first launch week, I went back to just one a week. You launched with 30 episodes in 30 days. Anything that gets people routinely listening to you and getting used to what you’re producing, and also practically speaking getting those downloads ticking over in the first month is going to help in getting you either on the chats or in Noteworthy.
The new Noteworthy algorithm, I don’t know what it is, it’s a mystery. That’s Apple for you, they keep it all behind closed doors. It’s really helpful to be able to appear in the Note Worthy for your category or even across the whole iTunes store because then you’ll find yourself on the front page for up to three months I think is the maximum amount of time that you can appear. All of our shows on the network have found their way into Noteworthy and it absolutely makes a difference in picking up your readers and growing your audience that way.
Darren: Do you have any views on how often you should publish once you get past that launch?
Brooke: Not in terms of regularity. I think just choose a publishing schedule, and it’s really important to stick to it. I think that’s the most important thing. If you can only afford time-wise to publish one awesome podcast a month, the first day of every month, then make sure it’s there on the first day of every month and people will get used to it.
If you’re going to publish twice a week, then make sure you have the time and the resources and the content to be able to publish twice a week for a year or six months a year, something like that. And then, you can get a feel for how people are listening to it and whether or not it’s enough or too much, and then you can shift it around.
We launched in April and we took a few weeks off over Christmas of last year and then came back with two episodes a week. We were doing one episode a week and now we’re doing two. We wouldn’t have known to do that had we been playing around with our publishing schedule.
Darren: Any view on length, an ideal length of show?
Brooke: Interestingly, most people come to me and say I want to launch a show that’s about 15 to 20 minutes long, and then I’ll start producing shows and they organically become longer than that. I initially thought that the Slow Home podcast would be about 30 minutes, now our Thursday show runs anywhere up to an hour.
The data that iTunes is sharing with podcasters is that long form audio is growing at a rate of nuts. Some of the biggest shows in the world are two plus hours long per episode. I think that’s really interesting, but I do also think there are some topics and some podcasts that are perfect at 10, 15 minutes, and there are some that are only five minutes long. There’s a long way of saying, there’s no perfect length. I quite enjoy long form conversations myself, and most of the podcasts I listen to run at about an hour. That’s just personal preference.
Darren: I was talking to someone recently and they said they don’t like anything shorter than 20 minutes because they have to get their iPhone out and find another podcast and they might be on a walk or they might be washing the dishes or doing something with their hands and can’t change, so they won’t even listen to them if they’re short. I guess you gotta put yourself in the seat of your listener and think about what they are doing.
One of the challenges I see a lot of podcasters having is that their listeners are often doing something while they’re listening and then calling them to do something else, calling them to some sort of action is tricky. Go listen to my show notes, most people can’t do that because they’re driving a car or they’re doing the dishes or doing the ironing or doing something else. Any tips on getting people to take action on your podcast?
Brooke: That’s actually an interesting question. I think it’s part of the reason that I don’t see a huge flow over of people from listening to actually reading the show notes. I think more than anything, what I’ve discovered is it’s just repetition of a suggestion, of an action, rather than an immediate action that people are going to take. Similarly, were thinking Audible and Audible’s sponsorship code or something like that, people probably aren’t going to put down what they’re doing the second they hear it. But if they find themselves thinking about getting an audiobook from Audible, because it’s something that they’ve listened to maybe for the last three months.
I do know a lot of people say that having a benefit, maybe a product or a download or something like that that people can only get from your website does help getting people over there. I do think that they’re just two completely separate mediums and sometimes it doesn’t cross over all that effectively. Just a consistent reminder rather than expecting people to go over and do that thing right now.
Darren: Interesting. I guess most people are listening to a podcast on the mobile as well, so there’s another factor there that whatever you call them to do, they need to be able to do it probably on their mobile phone as well.
Darren: You touched on Audible there as a sponsor. How do you monetize, how do you keep what you’re doing sustainable? You’ve got six of these in your network now, what’s the model?
Brooke: That’s a tricky question. What we’re finding is we’re still working on it to be perfectly blunt and honest. It’s not something that is sustaining itself yet. I guess in a way, I find it trickier to work with brands because of my personal philosophy which is my personal brand of slow living and simple living, I’m not going to turn around and—
Darren: Buy all this stuff!
Brooke: Exactly. I do need to be and have always been really cautious about any kind of relationship that I have with brands. We’re finding though that as the network grows and more brands are interested in starting advertising on podcasts, the Australian brands particularly, they’re just really nervous about it. I think in the States, it’s not by accident that you hear the same 12 brands being advertised on most podcasts, it’s because of the vast majority of the other brands just aren’t there yet.
We’re having to educate agencies and brands about the power of podcasting and it just came out in the last couple of weeks where people who listen to podcasts say that they are the least invasive form of advertising. I think that kind of stuff is really powerful for brands who do want to start advertising on podcasts.
I honestly don’t think that’s going to be a long term thing that we’re going to pursue at all because I’m starting to see a shift towards people being really happy to financially support people who create the content that we listen to. We do have a patreon page for the Slow Home podcast, we’ve got already 50 people who contribute to that every month and that’s really nice, it helps cover hosting and things like that. I’m starting to get emails from people saying how can we support you which I think is a good sign.
The other thing that we’re also looking at doing with most of our podcast is bringing on a product that the host or the creator of the shows has put together specifically for the podcast audience or that’s something that they produce already and advertise for that thought their podcast. That will be the way that most shows will be monetized.
I’ve seen that in quite a few podcasts that I listen to where the creators have stepped away from the traditional advertising relationship and started to create something specifically for their audience. From what I’ve seen, that’s been quite successful. That’s probably the second and the bigger area that we’re starting to look into.
Darren: That’s certainly something—we played around a little bit with advertising but probably of all the shows we’ve done, less than 10% has been sponsored by anything other than ProBlogger or our event or one of our ebook or something that we’re doing at the time. I think that’s definitely a worthwhile approach unless you get someone who perfectly aligns with your brand, and there’s probably a few of those as well that we’ve worked with.
What’s your approach on show notes?
Brooke: I pull them together, they suck the life out of me I have to say. It’s not my favorite job. I do think it’s important for people to get a feel for what your show is about. We’ll put together maybe two or three paragraphs of show notes just for iTunes and that will point people towards either the Slow Home website or to Jack Rabbit FM where all the show notes live. We’ll just do a basic rundown of the conversation and list any resources, any links, any books, any other podcast episodes and allow people to discover things really easily.
I started out writing incredibly comprehensive show notes with bullet points for the entire conversation. I found I was spending maybe three hours doing that and I didn’t see much return on that. I think I did that mostly because I had a small group of readers who were just adamantly against listening to podcasts. They say we really want you to keep blogging, so I was trying to please them and provide value to them with the show notes while also pulling together the podcast. I just found it a really vexing task.
It depends on the kind of conversation and shows. I listen to a lot of comedy podcasts and things like that, and they don’t need lots of show notes. But if you’re doing something that is very practical or a how to sort of episode or with loads of resources, then it could be really worthwhile for you to provide in depth show notes. I think that’s a long way of saying, it depends on the show notes.
Darren: We’re moving towards more and more detail in ours, and that’s just a push back from readers or listeners. I suspect that’s because we did have a sizable blog reading audience and audience of bloggers who prefer to get the information that way. We’re definitely moving almost to a transcript of our shows. Probably one of our best read show notes recently was one that Kelly Hexeda did who is one of your podcasters. She recorded the podcast for us and then she rewrote her ten minutes of content as a blog post and that was the show notes. That went very well with our readers, it was a bit of a test for us.
Brooke: That’s really interesting to know actually because transcripts and pulling them together into resources is something that we’ve been tossing about as well. So many of our shows are packed with nuggets of information and tips. Okay, that’s interesting.
Darren: Some reasonable transcript services out there who will do a show for $20 if it’s an hour or so. It’s another expense, and it was one that I wasn’t willing to pay for in the early days of having a podcast that wasn’t making any money but it’s certainly something that we’re moving towards now with our editing system.
Question that I get quite a bit from new podcasters is—I know what the answer is but I’ll ask anyway—what is a good number of downloads for an episode? What should someone be aiming for? Perhaps a better way of asking is do you pay attention, do you have a threshold in your mind as a successful show, are you paying attention to download numbers, how do you measure success of what you’re doing?
Brooke: I used to pay much closer attention to download numbers and not dissimilar to what I was like with my blog. I used to check my analytics religiously for years and over the years as other metrics like engagement started to improve, I didn’t worry so much about page fuse and things like that.
I’ve kind of been similar in my approach to podcast numbers. I will still check them, of course, to make sure that we haven’t had any massive dips or big spikes and try to figure out why that has happened. I started out with the number 10,000 download an episode in my head, and I think that was mostly from resources that I found online about getting sponsors for the show, 10,000 downloads per episode is really what a sponsor is going to be looking for before they start engaging with you.
In my experience, that hasn’t really been the case anyway. It’s not some magic number where if you’re getting 9,000 per episode by the time you get 10,000 you got brands knocking on your door. I think it’s a nice round number that people like to be able to aim for and you’re going to give a brand or a partner a good decent return, they’re going to get in touch with a decent sized audience.
Now, we’re kind of hitting about 15,000 downloads in the first week, and then obviously peaks out significantly after that. We’re still getting lots of downloads on our first shows which simply shows me that people are still discovering the show and enjoying what they hear, going back and listening to it from the beginning.
I feel awkward talking specific numbers because it just doesn’t matter. If what you’re doing is helping the people who are listening, you could be connecting with 500 people in a really helpful, authentic, valuable way every week and changing their lives or changing their business or you could be speaking to 100,000 people who don’t care what you’re saying. I know which one I would prefer.
I think it depends on your goal in terms of downloads and things like that if you’re looking to work with advertisers, then sure the higher the better as far as the advertiser’s concerned. In terms of engagement, I don’t think the numbers has got a lot to do with it at all.
Darren: I think it probably depends on the monetization as well if you choose to monetize with your own brand and you probably have a more engaged audience and it’s perhaps easier to make a dollar off of it. Not that it’s just about making the dollar.
Do you think you’re going to be podcasting for the long term? You’re obviously investing more and more time into it. You started as a blogger and you’re not blogging anymore. Is there some tension there with you? Are you comfortable with that? What’s next?
Brooke: There is a bit of tension there. I found myself missing writing more recently, actually. That’s probably something that I’m not willing to kiss goodbye completely. I have fallen completely for the medium of podcasting. I can see us in this for the long haul.
We’re also starting to work on podcasting in a different kind of way and taking it to larger organizations and using it as an internal communications kind of method because I think that the spoken word is so powerful and people connect with the information that they listen to in most instances more than when they sit down and read information, particularly for internal communications and stuff like that in an organization. That’s something that I can see a real potential with podcasting moving forward, using it in different sorts of ways.
Just the way that you can connect with people and have a genuine impact on people’s days and on the things that they do. It could be an impact on their day in terms of making them laugh, but it could also be an impact on their day in terms of shifting the way they think about themselves, or their home, or their work, or their family. I just had never seen that to that extent when I was writing. I’ll be in it for the long haul, it’s going to be absolutely fascinating to see what the industry does and how it changes over the next four years because I think we’re just seeing it reborn in the past 18 months, two years. I think it’s going to change a lot.
Darren: The network, why did you start a network of podcasts and would you recommend that for other people who maybe already have a podcast? Is there some sense in having more than one?
Brooke: The network really was partly because I saw the impact that sharing a particular message or an idea could have. I knew personally a handful of people who would benefit from that and who we’ve had conversations about starting a podcast. The vast majority of them said I really want to, but I just don’t have the bandwidth or the capacity to take another project or I don’t have any idea about the technical side of it. I discovered over the past 12 months that I actually really like that side of it, I quite enjoy editing, I quite enjoy setting up the feed and all that kind of stuff.
I saw that I could help people start to spread their message and their word around. It felt right as far as recommending it, absolutely. It’s really satisfying, but it is a lot of work. If you’re not scared off by the idea of all the technical stuff, then I would definitely recommend it. I think there’s power in pulling similar voices together and doing something as a group. That’s what we’re finding, they might discover one of our shows and as a result of that they then start to listen to another show and another show. Before they know it, they’re listening to all six. That to me is really fun. I really enjoy hearing that.
Darren: Are you cross providing them?
Brooke: Not a lot, not actively and not specifically. In probably a handful of shows across the network, we’ll mention—particularly with Kelly—Kelly and I host a show and then she and Carly Jacobs host a show. They will often mention each other’s shows and similarly with Carly and Stacy doing [01:02:14]. It’s sort of more an organic thing, I do think that that’s something we’ll start to do more of over the coming months. We’re also working on a network app which will help with cross show discoverability and things like that.
Darren: I’ve discovered so many shows by them being featured on other shows. It kind of makes sense I think to have some sort of mentioning in a formal way, I guess.
Brooke: Gimlet does that really well, actually, with their shows.
Darren: It can almost get a little bit over if every guest is from the network. I think it’s certainly some benefits there. Do you think with the network it would make sense to have similar style shows or similar topics? Is that what you’re going to be doing? You’ve got a bit of variety there, but there’s perhaps some overlap between the shows?
Brooke: There is overlap in most situations. It’s something Ben and I have spoken about a lot because we’ve got quite a few ideas for shows that wouldn’t necessarily fit in with shows that we’ve currently got. I think we’re going to try and see how it goes. The common point is us I guess and it’s things that we enjoy and we like. We’re not completely weird people, so I imagine other people with similar interests.
We got to try and broaden the scope of the shows over the next 12 months. We’ve got another couple coming on in July which is really exciting. It may sort of fit in with what we’re currently offering, but I think by the end of the year we’ll have a bit of a broader base of subjects. We’re just going to see how it goes.
Darren: Excellent. Where can people find you, slowyourhome.com is that. Where else should my listeners be heading right now?
Brooke: They can head to jackrabbit.fm, it’s the home of the network. You can find out about our shows and a little bit about us. slowyourhome.com is the other place, and from there you can find all my social media accounts and all the other places that I hide out online.
Darren: Thank you very much for spending the last hour with ProBlogger, I appreciate it.
Brooke: Thanks, Darren.
Darren: I hope you enjoyed my chat with Brooke McAlary today. You do have a lot to chew on in that one, but if you’re looking for something else to listen to now, I encourage you to go back and listen to Episode 50 of this particular podcast. It’s sitting there in iTunes waiting for you.
In that episode, I share the lessons that I learned in my first couple of months of podcasting. A lot of them are quite similar, but there’s a few other new things in there that we didn’t cover in this episode with Brooke.
Also, you might want to check out Episode 121 which we mentioned in today’s podcast on imposter syndrome. It’s probably the episode that I’ve had the most feedback on that I’ve recorded in the last six or seven months. You might want to check that one out if you missed it.
I do encourage you to also check out Brooke’s blog or her podcast over at slowyourhome.com and the Jack Rabbit network of podcasts. She’s got six podcasts running in there at the moment, some great Aussie podcasters if you like the Aussie accent, you want to check those particular ones out. Many of them are ranking really high in the iTunes store here in Australia and for good reason. Even by the time this one comes out, there may even be a new one in there. Check out Jack Rabbit Podcast Network as well at jackrabbit.fm.
Thanks for listening today, you can find the show notes where I will include a lot of the links mentioned and some of the tools that Brooke mentioned over in the show notes as well. They’re at problogger.com/podcast/128.
Look forward to chatting with you in the next episode which we’re going to be talking about Facebook Advertising in. I’ve got a guest coming in to help us navigate how to set up those first ads, that’s something that a lot of bloggers do ask about. We’ve got Angela coming in to talk to us about that.Tune in in a couple of day’s time for that one.
Thanks for listening today, we’ll chat soon.
Mentioned in today’s show:
- What I Learned About Podcasting in my First 50 Episodes
- 7 Strategies for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
- Slow Your Home
- Zen Habits
- Joshua Becker
- The Minimalists
- Courtney Carver
- Audio Technica 2100
- Pop Filter
- Ecamm call recorder
- Garage Band
- Adobe Audition
- Omnis Hosting
- Carly and Stacy
- This Family Life
- The Thoughtful Travel Podcast
- Amy Porterfield
- Wil Anderson
- Malcolm Gladwell
- Kelly Exeter Podcast Blog Post
- Patreon Slow Home Podcast
- Gimlet Media
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