At the beginning of the second UK lockdown, I wanted to go for walks in my lunch break. But somehow didn’t.
I don’t know what happened.
I’d be working, and it was easy enough to do a little more work when it hit noon. Before I knew it, my ‘lunch break’ was over and I was still at my desk.
In the mornings, it was dark and cold. By the time the working day was over, it was pitch black outside. Not very inviting.
Lunchtime was the time to take a break – but how to get away from my desk?
I put a sign up in my bedroom which said, “you’ll feel better if you go for a walk this morning” with a smily face. ‘This is bordering on madness’ I thought to myself, but perhaps it will work.
I changed the sign. Now it said, “They don’t pay you enough not to look after yourself.”
‘I wish I had a dog’, I mused to myself one evening as I was contemplating this abject failure to do something simple to look after myself. But I’m not allowed pets at my flat.
Then it hit me.
If I had another commitment to walk, I would have to go, wouldn’t I?
I thought about all the people I knew who might walk with me. None of my friends live close enough.
Nope, I would have to create a commitment for myself.
And so I started a podcast called ‘Walk the pod.’ I walk my podcast at lunch time because I don’t have a dog.
I’ve been for a walk at lunchtime every day since.
It’s now possible to play music as part of a podcast, and this project runs on Spotify. I choose tracks to play in between rambles.
If you have Spotify premium you’ll hear full tracks in between the bits where I’m talking about dogs I can see in the park. If you don’t, you’ll get a random 30 seconds of each song. But enough to know why I’ve picked them. The playlist is largely dependent on my mood and the weather. Today I’m going to be playing Beyoncé.
It’s not so much a comedy project as a mental health project, but it is funny.
Have a listen. I hope that it will help you to walk as much as it’s helping me.
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.
You can playback the sentence you’re reading to correct errors, and it’s possible to download the results as a .vtt file for YouTube.
But I think I’ve just found something better.
The Otter service uses AI to transcribe voice notes. It’s also possible to upload audio files to the program.
The user interface is so much nicer to use.
The playback feature is better, and the accuracy is superior to Google speech to text in the experiments I’ve done so far.
You have to check this out.
If you’re a performer, you might also enjoy the ability to riff into your phone and have an app transcribe the results for future reference.
I’ve just uploaded the voice memo recording of a gig I did in July last year, and Otter has transcribed it for me, for a performance on Friday. Having not thought about the show for six months, I now have a script!
If you’re on zoom calls at the moment, Otter will transcribe your meeting notes, with fully searchable results.
Which apps do you use every week to make your show?
So you’ve spoken to everyone you personally know in your niche. Where do we go from here?
The good news is that the guests you’ve already spoken to can be the keys to your future guests.
It’s a good idea to stay in touch with them, and nurture the relationship you extended by inviting them onto your show.
Help them to share the ideas they’re excited about, and ask them one key question.
“Who in your field of expertise should be famous, but isn’t?”
If they can give you a few names, these are the people it might be worth investigating next.
Use online book sites to research the market
Who’s written a book in your niche? Many online book sites have ‘Customers also viewed/bought’ sections. Start with a book in your niche that you know, and then see what else has been published in the area.
You can go down some fascinating rabbit holes doing this research!
Apps like Blinkist can help you get the gist of entire books in around 10 minutes, so you can make a shortlist of which authors to contact.
Do some market analysis of everyone talking about your niche. Writers, podcasters and YouTubers might be good to invite onto your show, or they may have a laundry list of episodes with relevant guests guesting for you to explore.
You don’t want the exact same guest list as everyone else, but if you do book a guest from another podcast, listen to the episode. Work out what angles haven’t been covered.
Contacting authors, and other experts in your field
Having used up all the personal connections you can, it is sometimes useful to contact an author, or another expert in your field who you have not yet met.
But how to do this? What do you say to entice them onto your show?
Advice from my co-host on Level Up Human, Simon Watt, is:
“Everyone has a website nowadays. Make first contacts friendly but very brief. Be up front about time and budget if you have one.”
Your email or DM, or whatever you deem the most appropriate way to contact the potential guest, should get straight to the point.
Hi [their name],
I’m [your name] from [podcast name]. I’d love to get you on the show for a chat about [topic]. I think it would be really beneficial for our audience who are interested in [subject].
[Let them know where you discovered them.] I just read your book [Name of book] and it helped me personally to understand more about [angle].
If you’d be interested, here’s a Calendly link where you can book a slot that works for you.
Calendly is great, because it eliminates all that back and forth you can get with guests for arranging dates.
Make an email signature with your podcast details and a link to your show for these emails, so your guest can click through and have a look at the work you’ve already done.
Contacting high profile guests
I listened to a podcast episode called ‘How to Get Super High Profile Guests’, with Jordan Harbinger on the Pat Flynn podcast, Smart Passive Income. Here are the key tips.
Be prepared to build your show before you can get a guest to say yes
Seth Godin reportedly says yes to podcast appearances, once the podcast has published its 100th episode. So it’s worth proving to your prospective guests that you’re in this for the long haul. And that you yourself have committed to your show.
Maintain relationships with publicists
If a publicist offers you a guest, chances are that guest won’t be a great fit for your podcast.
But Jordan usually replies to them to say that this guest isn’t great right now, but that he is interested in speaking to… and then he’ll outline the guests he wants for his show.
He says he generally gets a surprised response from the publicists, who I guess are used to getting nothing back from 80% of people they contact.
He’s been offered some guests by publicists who actively try to find people on their books who might suit him better using this method.
“I’m making myself easier to work with, which publicists love, because most people just delete their emails and never reply.
So when you’re polite to them, and you make it easier for them to pitch you, you get more pitches. And yes, you end up passing on more stuff… but you also end up with the occasional Malcolm Gladwell, Kobe Bryant, Chelsea Handler.
Because they like you, they know you’re going to respond, and they know you respond quickly.”
“I’m making myself easier to work with, which publicists love, because most people just delete their emails and never reply.”
And one final tip:
Be polite and persistent
The ‘father of advertising’, David Ogilvy, has this to say on persistence:
“The good salesman combines the tenacity of a bull dog with the manners of a spaniel.”
If you’ve made initial contact and they can’t do it, keep in touch with them, it might be possible to ask again later on, perhaps when they’ve a project to plug.
Send them an email every once in a while. Interact with them on social media. Keep asking. Within reason, obv.
You never know when your request might coincide with something they’ve got coming up to talk about. And in the meantime, your audience will have grown.
What have you found particularly helpful for finding guests for your podcast? Drop me a comment and let me know.
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.