Sally wants selective ovulation, James wants a skull flap. There’s a suggestion from the audience for One Massive Ear and Simon is borrowing from the opossums which could hold the key to saving snakebite victims.
One of the questions podcasters ask themselves is, ‘how do I reach more listeners?’
We check stats and tell everyone we know about our podcast. We post every episode to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and risk burnout as our reservoir of creative ways to say the same thing rapidly diminishes.
We investigate social media scheduling apps, and read about content calendars, and gradually lose the will to live.
But maybe there’s a smarter way to do this. In order to reach more listeners, it helps to think about how podcasts are found.
How do people who listen to podcasts find podcasts?
They ask for recommendations (this is why you should tell everyone you know about your show) and they search for podcasts on their favourite subjects.
So the first thing is to make sure that your podcast looks like a podcast about your subject.
The second thing is to make sure you’re listed by places where listeners get their podcasts.
I moved Level Up Human to Acast in June 2018, and I really like the platform.
Their interface is easy to use, they moved all our episodes from Soundcloud for us, and their stats are pretty comprehensive.
I discovered when I looked into it that 80% of Level Up Human listeners listen via Apple Podcasts.
This means that 80% of our listeners are listening on iPhones. The number of listeners we get through podcatcher services is next to nothing.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t sent our RSS feed to any of them.
So, if you’re in the same boat, here’s a list of podcatcher services to submit your RSS feed to.
SEO has got to be one of the most uninspiring acronyms of all time.
It conjours images of slumping over a keyboard for TOO LONG.
Too technical, boring, boring.
SEO is for dudes.
But, it’s just possible that paying attention to how search engines index podcasts might help with discoverability.
After all, since an update last year, Google search results return podcasts now, and one of the ways they do this is by transcribing each episode using AI and machine learning, and picking out keywords.
We discuss enhanced vision, limb regeneration, gecko hands, super kidneys and re-breathing.
Extracts from the episode, edited for readability are available here.
In the news…
Kate is tickled and baffled by a news story about Microsoft. They have patented to generate cryptocurrency by monitoring people’s brain activity.
Steve’s news story is entitled, ‘Venomous Frogs use Heads as Weapons.’
And Rach’s levelled up human is Bertolt Meyer, a DJ, producer and Professor of Organisational Psychology from Technische Universität Chemnitz who has hacked his prosthetic hand to hook it up to his synth.
Steve wants to borrow the abilities of the Iberian sharp-ribbed newt, a type of salamander which can regenerate limbs and organs.
Kate, on the other hands, thinks the human body should be able to see the polarisation of light
From the audience, we have suggestions including souped up kidneys and gecko hands.
Finally Simon has a suggestion from nature.
Which of our suggestions will make Rachel’s shortlist? Which will win? Listen to find out.
Podcast quality is widely variable. There are some shows I would listen to over watching a multi-billion dollar film. Others are almost unlistenable.
When I start listening to an episode of a new show, there’s a chance it will be on one of the unlistenables.
I’m nervous. I don’t want it it to be that.
There’s an equal chance I’m going to disappear down a rabbit hole listening to everything they’ve published for the last six months, and see a new episode dropping as my personal equivalent of Christmas morning. I’m a bit weird like that.
The point is, it could go either way.
Here’s where show notes can help.
As I stand in my kitchen, speculatively listening to an episode of a podcast I haven’t heard before, I’m looking at the show notes.
Hoping they’ll shed some light on what exactly I’m listening to.
Good show notes can hold the hand of your listener, introducing yourself, sitting them down in a comfy chair, making them a cup of tea.
And it’s worth remembering that whilst podcast listeners likely have an auditory learning style, most people learn visually as well. Your podcast show notes can tell them what your vision for your show is in one sentence.
That’s why our show notes start like this: ‘Level Up Human is a podcast panel show on a mission to redesign the human body.’
Hook new listeners. Your show notes can provide as much of a hook as the first 60 seconds of your show. Tell us in the first sentence why this episode is worth our time.
Help your fans. Podcast listeners multi-task. They’re not going to take their hands out of the washing up to write down the name of the book you just mentioned. Link to it for them.
Help yourself. It’s much easier to search your back catalogue for a quote or a clip when your show notes tell you what’s in each episode.
Call to action. At the end of every episode, you can ask your listener to support you on Patreon, write a review or join your mailing list. Why not put handy links to these things in the show notes?
Show notes don’t need to be lengthy.
You don’t need to transcribe the whole programme, although there are some podcasters who do this.
If you’re interested in transcription, I highly recommend auphonic’s transcription editor, the smartest way to create podcast transcripts I’ve found so far (drop me a comment if you’ve discovered better.)
It’s important to find a balance between the benefit to you and your listener vs the time it takes to write them.
I just want to take a second to talk about podcasting. I launched a podcast called Level Up Human with Wellcome Trust funding in 2015, and 5 years later, we’re still going strong.
It’s my opportunity to learn about evolutionary biology, to talk to an audience of loyal fans, and to hang out with my buddy, Simon Watt.
Level Up Human is a podcast panel show on a mission to redesign the human body.
Here’s our latest episode.
So today I want to talk about why, if you don’t listen to podcasts, you should!
Why Podcasts are AWESOME
The best thing about podcasts, in my view, is that they are great for busy people.
You can listen to podcasts whilst you commute (when that’s a thing again), whilst you do housework, when you’re driving, jogging, cycling, or even swimming if you get yourself some snazzy active headphones*.
* This review by Robin Capper, one of our listeners from New Zealand
And if you’re a creator, podcasting is BRILLIANT. Here’s why.
If you’re a creator, chances are you either write, podcast, or make videos. Here’s why podcasting is one of the greatest creation platforms ever.
Low start-up costs
Podcast start-up costs can be absolutely minimal. You can record on your phone, you can use free editing software like GarageBand or Audacity, a free podcast hosting service like PodBean, and you’re away.
The danger, of course, like all things, is that once you get into it, you will want to upgrade your gear. I trained in sound editing using Adobe Audition, and I absolutely love it. Mostly because it’s familiar.
You can spend thousands on fancy microphones, computer hardware and home studios, but at least to get into it, you can keep the costs absolutely minimal.
Once you’ve recorded your audio, you can take your laptop to a cafe, or the park or the beach to do your editing.
You don’t need a team of people to make it work. It is very nearly as easy as blogging.
Build a connection with your audience
The written word is great, and everything, but there is an extra level of intimacy in speaking directly into your listeners’ ears.
You can talk to them about all kinds of things, even things you mightn’t discuss with your best friends, because it’s essentially a private conversation.
I work with science podcasters, and one of the best things about podcasts is that it allows researchers to speak directly to the public who fund their work.
They get to explain how their research is going, what they hope to discover, and how this will change lives. Without the need for a camera crew, or loads of expensive equipment.
During the lockdown I’m offering free podcast training and help, so if you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast for a little while, get in touch.