Creating a podcast is becoming more popular each year, but you can still find success in this increasingly saturated market. Jason Van Orden has been promoting podcasts since their inception and he’s here to share his formula for creating a podcast that benefits your marketing and sales efforts. Jason co-founded the first ever podcast about online marketing and also authored the bestselling book Promoting Your Podcast. Jason shares tips for getting your podcast noticed, bringing in organic traffic, finding inspiration for content and much more!
Hello and welcome to Marketing Speak, I’m your host Stephan Spencer and today our guest is Jason Van Orden. For over a decade, Jason as studied top internet influencers, ordered and decode systems, psychology and strategies they use to grow world-class personal brands. In September 2005, Jason co-founded the first ever podcast about internet business and online marketing. He has a bestselling book called Promoting Your Podcast. His content is even used in some university courses about podcasting. Jason, welcome, it’s great to have you on the show!
Hi Stephan! Thanks for having me here.
Yeah, so let’s talk about a few different things, for sure we will talk about podcasting and how to use a podcast in your marketing efforts, but I also want to talk about manifestos and personal branding mistakes, and so forth. Let’s start with the thing that you kind of were most known for in the early days of the 2000’s, the last decade, mainly podcasting. What are the most important things that you want our listeners to get, in terms of podcasting in the overall landscape?
Certainly. Podcasting, as people may be noticing, is becoming-it’s been growing steadily since the beginning of 2005, but the last two or three years it’s been gaining some bigger awareness. There are a few things for that, certainly technology, your Apple being one of the big sources of that technology, has made the consumption of discovery and the consumption of podcasts more easy and elegant for the wide masses. It’s helped quite a bit. We’ve had blockbuster podcasts, by blockbuster what I mean is that it reached millions and millions, over a million, and actually I think the last I heard it was 90 million people who listen to that show, which is incredible. That has brought a certain awareness, I think people have gone, “Oh, okay, there is some really interesting content being made now for the podcast medium.” We can see in the research, the statistics, that there is this steady growth year after year of the number of people who listen to podcasts. That’s just to say that there is a growing opportunity, and I wouldn’t say that the boat has been missed by any means, there are still far more blogs than there are podcasts and it’s just a good old question of having something valuable to say to an audience and giving perspective that can stand out in the marketplace. With all that said, let me answer the question that often comes up, and that is who should consider podcasting? There are so many channels out there, and I don’t think there is a one size fits all mix of the ideal platform, but podcasting certainly has a number of great advantages that it offers. Not everyone likes the idea, though, of speaking their ideas and people prefer to write. You also want to consider the audience, the material and the topic that you’ll be talking about. But, the nice thing about podcasting is that I feel that it generates a very intimate connection with your listener, they are often walking their dog, getting some exercise, commuting to work, and it’s just you and them, you’ve got their attention, they’ve got you in their earbuds listening to your voice. There is a high level of engagement and your personality coming across that really comes out of podcasting. It’s something that very much can be a part of the marketing and sales mix, so both in attracting an audience to your brand, as well as moving them forward towards earning their trust, making them aware of what they need to be aware of in order to get to that point of wanting to buy from you, or take action on the things that you share and teach so that you can have an impact on their lives. When it comes to creating a podcast that is effective and does stand out, like any chosen medium, you have to have a good idea of who it is that you are wanting to reach. The amazing thing about on demand media that the internet has provided for us, like a podcast, is that the consumer now has the ability at a very hyper specific level to find the exact ideas, topics, format, style perspective in the host and the creator of the content that resonates best with them. The better that you have an idea of who it is that you want to reach and what it is that they are looking for, or what kind of content is going to resonate most with them, the better you are going to have a change of garnering an audience and standing out in the marketplace. I think a lot of people make the mistake early on of going far too broad, or simply copying what they already see working in podcasting. There is this phenomenon in business podcasts of the number of clones popping up, which has lead to a large number of interview shows lately, because those have done very well for a few visible brands. Interviews certainly are an effective way to go, I’m by no means saying don’t interview and we’re obviously doing an interview right here, but the point being is simply copying the same format of interview, people interview the exact same people, ask the exact same type of questions, and then you end up with 20 interviews with the same person asking the exact same things, right? You want to be bringing a new prespective to the marketplace. One thing that I recommend that people do is, first of all, in their own market, topic or niche, go and listen to the top-it doesn’t even have to necessarily be an entire episode-but I think it would be helpful to listen to the top 20 or 30 podcasts and listen to an episode of each. Yeah, that is a lot of listening, but you are going to get a good sense of what is already out there, what you can do to stand apart, what’s working and what may be missing. I think it’s a good idea to just kind of steep yourself in that. I also recommend that people to go just the top 100 podcasts in all of iTunes and just listen to a good handful of them that are outside of your own topic, your own market, but also outside of what you would normally listen to. That’s probably where you will get some of your best ideas that you can bring in, whether that be ideas on your format, ideas on the way that you interview-better interviewing skills, things like that that you can really absorb. Then you can bring those into, bring in ideas that may not have fully permeated into your own marketplace and then find a unique perspective and voice. Audience and voice, what I am saying, is that these are two things to really be thinking about. These are going to be things that evolve over time, so I don’t want people to think that “Well until I’ve discovered exactly what my voice is going to be or exactly who my audience is going to be, I can’t get started.” That’s just not true, because you will certainly discover more about yourself and your audience as you move along, and you can adjust and pivot as you go. But, just not being afraid to bring your own personality, your own story, and your own vision into the show and just show who you are as a part of that brand, it’s going to go a long way, we’re all unique people in our experiences, our stories, and our perspectives. Those are some of the things that I’ve noticed that are important to consider, when consider whether to start, and then getting started on a podcast.
Okay, so let’s just recap and then we’ll dig into a few different things here. So, audience and voice-those are two key areas to focus on when having a successful podcast, using podcasting as a marketing vehicle. On the audience side, develop and avatar or personas that you want to target, so that you really understand the audience that you are reaching and not just do a “me too” sort of podcast. Don’t just copy what everyone else is doing using the same questions, for example Entrepreneur on Fire is using-in fact, I don’t even like having the same questions on every single interview, I think it really boxes you in if there are always 7 questions that you have to ask and then there is no give and take. There is no ability to flow in a different direction. I would say that there are definitely some major styles of podcasts in, not just the interview format, but some are going to be more effective at your ultimate goal than others. For example, I like the interview format, I am using it obviously for both of my podcasts, for this one for Marketing Speak, but also for Get Yourself Optimized. The thing is that it doesn’t give you as much opportunity to establish your own authority position. A host is more like a professional interrupter versus a thought leader, right? If I were to do this over again, I would probably do half of my episodes more of me doing monologues, and then half the episodes being interviews. I may still interject additional episodes in where I’m just kind of riffing on different topics that would establish my position as a thought leader. So, the audience and the style of the show are really important. Also, you said the voice and kind of making sure that you have something that is kind of unique. One point that I would like to delve into is Alex Blumberg, who has a number of very successful podcasts now, he started with a podcast with his own company it was called StartUp, and then he built a company Gimlet Media, just through the process of building this company, getting funding, he just kind of chronicled that whole process in his StartUp pocast and then started adding podcast shows as well, even hiring some people and having a very successful and very effective podcasters come on board and do some of these podcasts, like Reply All is a podcast that Alex doesn’t do himself but he has other hosts. So, his training, and I think it’s with creativelive.com, now that’s something that might be worth checking out. It’s a very powerful style, it’s a style that you’ll hear on shows like All Things Considered, and of course on the Gimlet Media podcasts, not just like back and forth interview style but a very different sort of style. Voice, style, and so forth, definitely very important. Let’s first of all, kind of dig into the idea of the questioning process. Let’s say it’s an interview style of podcast that you’ve gone with, of course there is on one end of the spectrum the Entrepreneur on Fire sort of approach, I remember every single question that I am going to ask every single guest, and on the other end it’s very free form-kind of like what we’re doing here. I don’t even have prepared questions. We just kind of decide on a few topics to cover, and then we just kind of go all over the place. What are your thoughts about discovering where you want to be in that spectrum, is there a specific process or methodology? Do you have a system for figuring out all this stuff about how to structure your podcast in a systematic methodology?
Yeah, absolutely. There does need to be a format to your show. If you think of any radio show that you may, actually, let me interject there for a second, that with podcasting, one of the things that is nice is that it has been a bit of the Wild West where there’s no station brand involved, you know the advertisement model prevails so there is very specific formats that have to be adhered to. The nice thing is that you kind of have your own freedom in how you format your how. That said, first of all, the expectations of listeners, especially with listeners that come from radio, there will be some sort of format and style to the show. From a branding perspective, it’s important to have a format for the show, and also just because human psychology, we like to have some consistency in how things occur. You know, in the TV shows we watch, the radio shows we listen to and the content we consume, knowing what to expect is important. Now, that said, it doesn’t mean you have to be super, super rigid. Let’s talk from all of the perspectives a little bit. From audio branding, or just from the branding perspective in general, for the format of the show-for instance, I think it’s important at the top of the show, just like any headline at the top of a sales page, any title of a book, from a cover-you’ve got to get people’s attention. You’ve got to think carefully about, if somebody-if your show comes up on somebody’s iPhone or wherever the may be listening, either because they have selected it or it just happens to be in the queue and they downloaded it, immediately, you know if it’s a new listener, you’ve got about 10 seconds to give them a reason to keep listening, to tell them what’s in it for them, what your show is about. The way that we do this with Internet Business Mastery, which is my primary podcast right now, is that right from the top we will say something like “On this episode, we discuss..” so that’s kind of the headline for the episode. Then, we immediately go into about a 15 second overview on what the show as a whole is about, not just the episode but as a whole, who the show is for, what they can expect to get as a listener of our show, in essence. We’ll typically have a call to action right up front, and we can talk a little bit more about that because that plays into how your podcast contributes to your overall sales and marketing funnel. Then, we’ll have, we’ll say something about-we’ll go a little bit deeper and say “On this episode, you’re going to discover…” and we’ll have two or three bullet point kind of things. Now, all that might take about 45 seconds, but what we’ve done is hooked their attention and told them what to expect from the show, and told them on that episode-so, you know, as they are listening to the episode, they may be listening for that one bullet point, they may say “Ooh, I really want to hear what they have to say about that.” It keeps them listening. Formatting has an attention-getting precedence that it has a branding purpose there. Now, under that 45 seconds, we’ve got audio; we’ve got a theme song that’s going; if you’ve listened to any radio show, there typically is a use of music that sets a tone. It can set a familiarity of the show, because it’s something that people are used to hearing. That’s just part of your overall feel of the show. From there, in terms of format, it really can go in a number of directions. We’ve changed our format on our show over the years, to adjust to what our listeners say they want or to streamline things. It could be where you’re like, okay, hey, I’m going to have an interview, and then at the end I’m going to give my 10 minute summary or take on that interview. That’s something you might do. You might have-there are show where you might do listener emails, where they have four or five emails that they read and respond to or answer questions, and then maybe they go into the main topic that they are going to discuss. Certainly, if you have sponsorship’s and ads that fall into certain places, there’s numerous permutations, but the point being is establishing what the segments of your show are going to be, what the order of those segments are, what the purpose of each segment is, a flow that keeps attention and not only allows to fulfill your promise to the listener but also for you to achieve your own goals of getting attention, getting people onto your email list, keeping them listening so you have an opportunity to earn their trust through your show, things like that. That’s where listening to a number of other shows in your niche as well as outside for the format that people use and what might be working well.
I really like to share, as an example, for my clients if they are considering a podcast show, to create them. I pitch them hard. You really need a podcast, it is a great way to get your brand out there, build rapport, and, like you said earlier, really get into their ear and have an intimate relationship with their prospects. I recommend folks listen to Ask Pat as an example of a Q&A type of podcast with one person, so you’re the star of the show. As far as having a co-host with no guests, I recommend Sales Marketing Profit, that’s James Schramko and Taki Moore. And as an example of an interview style podcast, of course I recommend they listen to it on one end of the spectrum, where they always use the same questions. Entrepreneur On Fire, one of the most popular podcasts around and for a more of a riff, go-anywhere sort of podcast, I recommend they listen to one of mine, Marketing Speak or Get Yourself Optimized. So what are your favorites that you like to recommend of different styles and formats?
Well, those are all excellent examples. Our show is kind of interesting-I like what you said about switch back and forth. If you listen to Internet Business Mastery, one episode you might hear I have a co-host, right? There are certain advantages to having a co-host, if you don’t want all the pressure on you to do all the speaking. There’s also a certain interest level for the audience to hear two voices going back and forth, two perspectives bouncing off of each other. It’s like listening as a fly on the wall to a conversation. But then also the next episode, it is my co-host and I introducing the show and it goes into an interview. We actually mix and go back and forth between episodes. Let me just say from episode to episode you can change a little bit. As far as specific shows, I have to think here. I think you gave some great ones. It has been a while since-I have periods where I listen to lots of podcasts and then I switch over to listening to lots of audio books. I really do like Alex Blumberg’s stuff. It is dangerous, though, to listen to his stuff and think “That’s awesome, I really want to do that” and realize it takes a lot of manpower and capital to be able to do the kind of storytelling that they do. However, you can learn a lot by listening to The StartUp Podcast, for instance, about how they tell stories and how they bring out that transparency, people sharing parts of their lives almost as if you are having that, almost voyeuristic, fly-on-the-wall conversation with somebody else. It is very compelling to do that. I think there are ways to do that without quite as a huge production cost.
That’s an amazingly produced podcast. That is a ton of time and effort to create. You’re looking probably 10 times the effort?
Yes, for sure.
By the way, it was Creative Live, that’s where the training from Alex Blumberg is hosted, and the name of the training is Power Your Podcast with Storytelling. Awesome.
Here’s an interesting kind of point, something I get asked a lot. How is the landscape of podcasting changing? And this kind of relates a bit to format and production. I would say that one thing that has changed with Serial coming into the game and with Alex Blumberg and his company coming in-obviously NPR has had podcasts for a while, but these are getting more and more visible. The point being is-more traditionally radio-trained journalists, storytellers, audio production. People who learned from Ira Glass, who is this pinnacle storytelling producer, are coming into the game. Why is that important to us? That doesn’t mean you have to go to that high level of production, however I do think the minimum bar is being raised by the listener especially as podcasts like Serial are bringing more and more traditional radio listeners into podcasting and going “Oh, what’s in here that meets my interests and what I want to listen to?”. So it behooves you to take-to do a little of the effort. Audio branding that is an instant queue. It is like, oh, this person knows what they are doing. Oh, they’ve got a theme song and you can tell they thought about their episode. The microphone is being used well. These aren’t things they are consciously thinking. It is not like the listener is going through a checklist. However, there are immediate indicators of authority and credibility because it at least sounds like what people expect of a well-produced program. Now the good news is, again you don’t have to go all the way, but technology is very affordable and easy to use to have excellent sounding audio. And editing has even gotten quite easy and affordable to have a podcast that sounds like you know what you’re doing. It is worth listening to those podcasts. You don’t need to get overwhelmed by oh my god, is this what I have to do? But do realize that I should at least dot a few I’s, cross a few T’s. Get a good microphone, which I think means spending at least a $100. The really good podcasting microphones are $300-$400. But for around $50-100 you can get a good USB microphone that will plug into your computer and sound quite nice. Getting a pop filter that-it is that thing that we’ve all seen that looks like a hoop with nylons pull over it that is between your mouth and the microphone and keeps really airy, breathy and poppy sounds from getting into the microphone, which is an instant amateur indicator. Pop filter gets rid of those things. Recording in a quiet environment. Turning off the air conditioning. Or if there’s an aquarium going or the heat is going to kick on or something like that.
Is there a specific microphone you recommend?
I have a few levels of microphone. If you do need to go the really budget route, Audio-Technica makes some really nice microphones. I mentioned USB microphones, and the reason that is nice is first of all, it goes straight into your computer, so you don’t need any fancy recorder or anything like that. Secondly, I think it is a really nice clean digital sound into your USB, compared to if you are plugging it into a jack, that can introduce some noise and things like that. Audio-technica is good, I always forget the numbers. Let me jump to the high end. For around $350, you’ve got either the Heil PR 40, or you’ve got the Shure SM7B. And those are kind of the two high-end microphones that dominate the podcasting landscape. And even radio. If you were to go to any radio studio, you’re likely to see something like that in the studio. Then, you come down a little bit and you’ve got the Rode Podcaster, so many companies have gotten into the podcasting realm because they see the opportunity to help podcasters so they are getting really decent good podcasting microphones at very affordable rates. That one gets to be around $200, the Rode Podcaster.
That’s the one I use, by the way.
And do you like that one? Does it work well for you?
I like it, I like it a lot. And it sounds good, right?
It sounds great, absolutely. And then kind of at the lower end around $60 you’ve got the Audio-Technica. And I know we are just throwing out numbers, people are going to have to jot it down or go back and listen to it. But it is ATR2100.
That’s what I thought you were going to say. By the way, I will put in the shownotes these different microphones with links to Amazon to purchase them.
Awesome. And after that, get a little mic stand that sits either on your desk or with those boom arms that you can push out of the way if you need to. And get a pop filter and you are already on your way to having some pretty decent audio right there. I also use an arm that it is also made by Rode. Between the shock mount, the podcast arm, the podcasting mic itself, and the pop filter (which was probably only around $10), you’re talking about an investment of only maybe $350. Something like that. So not a huge start-up cost but worthwhile so you sound legit, you sound professional. If there are things in your podcast that don’t sound professional, you automatically erode your credibility. Oh and one other thing too. If you’re traveling, and you have the opportunity to interview someone on the spot or if you just want to riff about something, like you’re on location somewhere, always carry with you in your pocket just like you have your phone with you, a SmartLavmicrophone from Rode which plugs right into your iPhone and you can just do a really nice quality audio recording. You can do video, and have nice quality audio if you have a lapel mic attached to you. It is going to get rid of a lot of the noise from the environment. Definitely have that with you. It is just a small additional thing to carry around in your pocket. You already have an iPhone with you in your pocket. Just make this part of the things you carry around with you. Always have your wallet, have your SmartLav mic.
SmartLav is a great microphone.
And it is only $60, it’s kind of a no-brainer.
Yep, kind of a no-brainer to have in your kit. Yeah.
So, I interrupted you on the whole microphone digression, but where were we headed?
You had talked to me about format and examples of shows that people could listen to. I think the other reason I’m having trouble giving examples is that I kind of listen to a variety of shows, I like to keep a pulse on what is coming into the space, what is working well. There really is no end to the types. Like you said, there are certain themes that show up. Let me list off a few questions. I’ve kind of implied a number of these questions already. The first thing to wonder is what’s the length of the show? I don’t think there is one magic number. If you talk to a radio guy, he’ll say “well, in radio, we know the length of the average commute is 20 minutes”. Our show, and typically your show too, is 45 minutes to an hour. We’ve got stuff to say. It is kind of like a sales pitch. As long as it is interesting and not boring, make it as long as it needs to be. Some people like to be very consistent with their time, it is always always 30 minutes. I don’t have any strict guidelines when it comes to that. You might want to think about your audience. If you do know that “my audience is more likely to listen to 5 to 10 minute snippets of shows” and there are 5 minute podcasts that are very very popular. Or if you know my audience has long commutes and they don’t mind listening to a half hour or hour in two parts or something like that. Thinking about the segments of your show, co-hosted or not, either have at least a brief script or a handful of bullet points in front of you and it is up to you to speak or at least read extemporaneously in a way that sounds natural. You get better at that over time and you can definitely go back and edit if it is just you speaking. I think a lot of people like the interview, not only because it piggybacks on authority, but it feels like less pressure on them to say things. I really like your idea of doing a combo of both, because you can really get the best of both worlds with that. So those are a few of the questions you are going to be thinking about when you are formatting the show.As long as your show is interesting and not boring, make it as long as it needs to be. Click To Tweet
I would also add the production value. It could be as easy as you are on your morning commute and you hit the record button and you just start riffing. That could work.
Interestingly, cars can be decent places for recording. Obviously traffic noises and all that, but with a SmartLav the right microphone clipped to you, it actually cuts out a lot of the noise and interestingly cars because they are often padded and all that, they can actually make pretty decent sound booths. So there you go.
Unless of course you honk the horn a lot.
Or if you’re stuck in traffic and everyone is honking at you.
Or if you are using the turn signal at the time. A great podcast example of this is called Marketing In Your Car, it is Russell Brunson’s podcast. They are about 20 minutes. Really is a great podcast. He’s got a lot of interesting things to say and it feels like you are really getting to know him as well as learning some great stuff. Famous internet marketer. Founder of ClickFunnels. What’s the name of his book?
I’m forgetting it too. I have it, though.
But he has a book. He’s got a seminar too. Definitely check out that one for seemingly low production value. He probably has his audio editors do some work on it. But it is very fluid and easy. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you have Alex Blumberg’s podcasts, very time intensive but amazing. It is like the difference between someone just flipping on the camera and starting to talk and going to the movies and seeing a highly produced documentary. Big difference.
Here are a few more I can recommend. Grammar Girl from the very beginning has been a very popular podcast. As I look right now it is in the top 100. That is an interesting one for high-end but still natural sounding, but around 5 to 10 minutes. They are not long. Very short form. That is an interesting one. She shares one grammar tip every single episode. For some people that might be an interesting format, depending on what your topic is. And then another one, Marc Maron. A lot of comics have gotten into podcasting because they realize that this is a way for me to get my voice out to my audience without a middle man, right? Marc Maron, who famously last year had President Obama on his podcast, which is interesting. I think it is the first time Obama has done an interview on a podcast, at least a long-form interview. And Marc Maron’s podcast-he is a comic, he has his own tv show on cable. His podcast is called WTF-the reason I mention that is I think he is a very good interviewer. He tends to have very interesting guests and ask very interesting questions that aren’t the typical ones you might hear. He interviews people we have all heard of, celebrities and all that. But he tends to ask questions you aren’t going to hear in other places. So as far as an interviewer, that is one to check out as well.
Great. Let’s cap off this podcasting discussion with one last question and then we’ll move onto personal branding and sort of stuff. Manifestos, I’m a big fan of manifestos. Many listeners may not know even what a manifesto is, and not how you would want to have one or write one. Before we go into that territory, let’s go into one last podcast question. Now that you have a podcast, how are you going to promote it so you have a lot of listeners? Because if you put all this effort into it and no one is subscribing, downloading, and listening to your episodes, it is kind of a waste of time.
So as you mentioned, I wrote a book back in 2006 called Promoting Your Podcast. It is out of print now. It sold very well if you can find a copy of it, it is actually quite out of date. However, there is a chapter in the beginning of it called “Getting Visibility in iTunes” and pretty much everything you hear people say draws back to iTunes, believe it or not. I know you’re an SEO guy, Stephan and essentially I was applying what little I did know about SEO in 2006 to a different platform. Just thinking iTunes as a content search engine and figuring out what are the authority and relevancy markers that are going to help a show rank very very highly in iTunes. The first thing I think people need to do is get into iTunes but they need to put that feed into iTunes in such a way that they maximize their exposure and ability to show up in key places like when people search for their topic or show up in new and noteworthy. That’s one nice thing about iTunes. You’re not going to see Google when you’re a brand new site give you some prime billing just because it is like “Hey, here’s a brand new site that looks kind of cool”. It just doesn’t work that way. But iTunes is nice that it is like within 2 months of being a brand new show you have the opportunity to show up your category, in New and Noteworthy and get a little extra visibility in terms of people just noticing your show there on the front page of your category. So very simply, keywords are a great relevancy marker, making sure you have keywords in our description, making sure you have keywords even in the author field. Nowadays you often see people writing their name and then a title with keywords. Again that is something in 2006 and it works quite well, putting keywords in your show. These are things iTunes is looking at for relevancy, so meaning what is the show about and if somebody searches for something should we put this podcast up in the search rankings for that topic. You know, choose your category wisely. There’s only a certain number of categories that you have to choose from, but you can choose two or three of them. Make sure that the first primary category that you choose is the one that you most want to be found in, so that’s obviously a relevancy marker that they look at. And then on the other side, you have things like authority markers. In SEO with Google, it’s things like backlinks and stuff like that or like the votes for authority of what sites are the best information. And iTunes is very simply things like ratings and reviews and the number of people who have subscribed to the show. Let me clarify that last statement, number of people who’ve subscribed: iTunes actually has no idea the total number of people who’ve downloaded or subscribed your show. All they know are the people who, within the iTunes client-meaning the iTunes software on someone’s computer or on their mobile phone-have clicked to either play or clicked to download or clicked to subscribe within iTunes itself, and the primary thing that iTunes is looking at is the number of new people who’ve clicked subscribe to your podcast in approximately the last week, with heavier weighting going to the last 24 and 48 hours. So it’s kind of like this decaying, you know, I don’t want to get too technical or mathematical with it but, when you first launch your show in iTunes, the absolute best thing you can do is whatever following you have, on email, social media, your personal network, Facebook, whatever, get people going into iTunes and clicking that subscribe button, and then rating and reviewing always helps as well, but the number of people clicking that subscribe button within iTunes within a short, you know a narrow window of time is about the best thing you can do to kind of push yourself up those rankings and then hopefully get some visibility that might at least give you, at the very least gives you a nice initial boost and possibly starts snowballing and maybe keeping you up at a higher level than you might’ve otherwise, even when things settle down, a higher level than you might’ve otherwise settled at.
And just to clarify to for our listeners, us as podcasters do not get to see what the number of subscribers are. According to iTunes, that’s secret information. We can see the number of downloads in total across not just iTunes but everywhere else. We do get information along those lines if we’re using a special hosting that gives us that kind of reporting. Like, for example, I use Libsyn. It costs I dunno, maybe 20 bucks a month per podcast show, and for me it’s worth it. I don’t want to use up all my bandwidth on my podcast. I want to keep that separate, and Libsyn has a lot of server capacity and bandwidth that they’re set up very well for hosting podcasts and then I have my website hosted with a separate service, a separate company. So I get some data from Libsyn but it’s more along the lines of the total number of downloads and then downloads per episode and so forth. So, subscriptions are totally secret information. Also I wanted to mention that ID3 tags and your RSS feed are two completely different things, and maybe, Jason, if you’d take a moment to differentiate the two, ‘cos you talked about keywords, and I don’t want to encourage keyword stuffing. Don’t put long lists of keywords separated by commas as your description of your episode, but do think about keywords and the kinds of keywords that your listeners or potential listeners would be typing into iTunes or into another search engine. I use, for example, Google Keyword Planner, I use Google Trends, and there’s a new tool from Moz, Keyword Explorer just launched, so that’s a great tool to try out to get to understand what your audience, your potential audience, the internet users, are typing into search engines like Google, and utilize those words in your ID3 tags and your RSS feed. So, why don’t you go ahead and talk about those two.
Yeah, so there’s two bits of what are called metadata for your podcast, meaning information that iTunes the directory, as well as media players like on phones or that people would use to listen to your podcast, draw from this data in order to know how to list or display your podcast. So in terms of when your podcast is submitted to a directory, let’s just take iTunes ‘cos it’s the king kahuna, you submit your feed once and then you’re in the directory, and every time you update a new episode, iTunes is automatically going, “Oh there’s a new episode; we’ll list that now in our directory,” right, and it’s important to me… back in 2006, iTunes introduced new information that they wanted to see inside of what’s called your podcast feed. You want an iTunes-ready podcast feed. Well, a podcast feed’s very similar to a blog feed like WordPress might create for you, but simply with a plugin-one of the very popular ones being PowerPress by Blubrry-can add additional information like the title and the album art that gets displayed in the directory, the keywords, the categories, and the different things that iTunes is going to pull in order to both create your listing within iTunes and then also to get that relevancy data as far as knowing where and when to display your show on their listings. The ID3 tags reside in an mp3 file itself, so if you’ve ever downloaded or bought or listened to music on a media player or on your phone or your mp3 player, the artist pops up, the title of the song pops up, a track number comes up, a picture of the album comes up, and that’s all information about what you’re listening to so it looks nice on your phone and you can keep track of your music. And the same with podcasts-because mp3 has become the standard format for audio podcasts-they tap into and use that information as well. And so you can use the author ID3 tag to put your own name and you’re the creator and host of the show, you put the title of the episode, you can put the track number as the episode number, the album art is just art that can show on their phone, so all this information gets pulled and displayed and it makes your content more easily discoverable, more easily organized on people’s media players, and just a better user experience for just nice goodwill with your audience as well. So it’s very important in both those cases to be thoughtful and complete and meditative, both in your iTunes-ready podcast feed as well as the ID3 tags that you put on an mp3 file. You can use something like iTunes to very easily add the, if you right-click on an mp3 file within your library in iTunes and select get info, both on a PC or Mac, it’s going to pop up a dialog box that you can enter all the information about that particular track before you upload it.
Yeah, good stuff! So, definitely wanted to get to manifestos, ‘cos you encouraged me to create a manifesto, and I’m pretty much done. I’m in the final stages of it. You’re working on one as well. Why would we want to have a manifesto? What’s the benefit? And I guess what is a manifesto, let’s start there.
Okay, well if you take a manifesto at face value, if you were to look at it in a dictionary, it’s kind of a declaration of what you stand for or principles or ideas that you espouse. Now, let’s kind of back up from there. As an online influencer, there’s a few different things we need to help establish and build and grow our brand. We need good positioning, we need to know where in the marketplace we sit, especially as compared to all the other options available to the people that we want to reach. We need to have a clear message that resonates very quickly with people, and then when people do discover our brand, and if they resonate with that message, we need a way to keep them coming back over and over again. So we need a good opt-in freebie or something that people give us or exchange their email address for. One thing that’s become very popular is to have an e-book or guide of some sort that people can opt in for. We also need a way to… Let’s see, what’s a good word? We need a way to make people familiar with us. You think of an auto-responder sequence, the job of that auto-responder sequence is to get people to better understand our brand, to like and know and trust us, to show empathy that you know what they’re dealing with and that you can help them, can give them some results, to help them be aware of and believe all the things that they need to be aware of and believe in order to buy from you. So there’s very specific messaging that needs to go into that auto-responder sequence. Why am I laying out all these little pieces? A manifesto actually helps you with every single one of those. For instance, if you sit down and write a manifesto-and you may or may not call it a manifesto. Internally you might call it a manifesto. It might be titled the such and such guide or whatever and just look like a short e-book to the external world, but I found that both for yourself and the process of writing that manifesto, it forces you to think about your positioning, to think about your messaging, and to come up with a form, or what’s referred to as a framework. I think every online influencer, in order to stand out, needs to have their own unique framework. What do I mean by that? Well, if you think about David Allen’s Getting Things Done, that’s a very big framework. It doesn’t need to be that big and complex, but everyone knows David Allen for his framework, Getting Things Done, and it’s not that everything in the Getting Things Done framework was original or Earth-shattering, but he put it together in a way that was unique to him and the people he wanted to help. So what is your framework for whatever it is that you want to put out there in the world? And then, once you create that, you have something that people can opt in for. Now you have all this stuff you can pull out and make little guest posts, or posts, or podcasts. You know, as I’m finishing my manifesto, I can see I probably have 20 podcast episodes I call pull out of this manifesto, right? The point being, through this one, very key, potent action as an influencer, you cover all these bases of what you need-everything from branding, positioning, messaging, opt-in, freebie, what kind of content you should be creating in order to attract and connect with your ideal audience. It’s all right there in one nice little package that then can be used and repackaged in a number of strategic ways. It’s become something that I have started encouraging my clients to try, and I’ve been developing a process, kind of a key process: well, what does writing a manifesto look like? So it can be a very templated thing, I believe it is such an effective strategy to adopt.
Yeah, and it could actually become a full book, like hundred and some pages. That’s where I’m at now with my manifesto: about 130 pages, and it may be 150 by the time I’m done. I’ve formatted it as a two-way template that allows me to have both Kindle and paperback and then use CreateSpace to offer this as a self-published print-on-demand book. My working title, which would probably be the final title, is Geek Revolution. I think one of the most famous manifestos as a book-it’s a little bit old now, but the Cluetrain Manifesto was a really highly regarded manifesto of its time, from the previous decade, and do you have any particular favorite manifestos that you want to rec?
Yeah there’s somebody who’s used the manifesto style really well is Chris Guillebeau. He started the World Domination Summit. He’s famously known for having visited all 193 countries before like the age of 35, and has a very popular blog, and he’s written two or three manifesto-style books now. Back in 2008, he wrote his first one. It was like a guide to unconventional living, The Art of Non-Conformity, or something like that, and that’s one that I enjoy looking at to see kind of how he went about writing his manifesto, so that’s one that right off I can give that people can easily find online. I’m glad you brought up the book thing, because one the other things that does come out of writing a manifesto-I’m writing, you know, you’re writing a book, I’m writing a book… In my case, my book, which I want to go with a traditional publisher, might not be out and ready for another year to 18 months, right? Well, in the interim, I want to be doing interviews, I want to be building up my platform, so in a way, by having this manifesto, which is kind of a-you know, for the publishers, I’m writing a book proposal-here’s the justifications for why you should publish my book. The manifesto in a way is kind of like here’s the justification to the audience of the work I’m going to do over the next 12 to 18 months to write this book that I want them to be excited for and anticipating. In a way this manifesto prepares them for that and gives me a vehicle to go out and start doing interviews. It’s something I can point to like, I’ve written this thing. I think immediately you stand out from the crowd when you have taken the time to kind of codify your way of thinking and to create something. I mean, there’s a reason why authors are seen as more authoritative. It’s like, “Oh well they went through the effort to put something together” is one of the very simple reasons why being an author is credible, and I believe a manifesto style guide does the same thing for your brand
I would definitely agree with that. I’m starting to get on television, and having a book-while I already had some technical books, I’ve got three books published by O’Reilly, but that is not kind of general interest, so for getting on local NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox affiliates, having a book like The Art of SEO or Social eCommerce didn’t do it for them, so Geek Revolution puts me on the map. If I didn’t anything like that, and similarly to you, I’m working on a larger scale book that I’ll get a traditional publisher for. It’s a self help book. It’ll be called Get Yourself Optimized, same name as my podcast show. I’m using interviews as fodder for that book, but it’s really about my personal journey and how to reboot your life. So in the interim, while I’m still working on that book, I need to have a related book, which is this manifesto, that I can use to get onto TV and radio and so forth. So definitely this is a great exercise for our listeners to consider writing a manifesto and using that in their marketing. I’m recognizing we’re kind of out of time here, so I think we’ll wrap up here with the manifesto discussion: if somebody wanted to work with you-I know you have students that get personal branding help, and you have information products and various resources; I think you might even take on private clients-so if somebody wants to work with you, how would they get in touch?
Just go to jasonvanorden.com and yeah, I take one on one clients. With all the podcasting stuff, I’m actually in the process of taking my ten years of podcasting knowledge and throwing it into a site that’s going to be the ultimate podcast tutorial for launching and growing a world class podcast. That’s not quite ready to go, but you know, podcasts live forever, which is a nice thing, so somebody might be listening to this in the future. Certainly if you go to my site, there should be some indication if that is launched already, or at the very least, you can get on my email list in order to get the template for your manifesto-that’s ready-and this ultimate podcasting gear guide, when that’s ready to go, or you can inquire about working one on one.
Awesome. And the podcast show that you’ve been running for a very long time, Internet Business Mastery, how do they find that?
They find that at internetbusinessmastery.com or by searching “internet business mastery” in iTunes.
Perfect. All right, well thank you Jason, and listeners, I’ll catch you on the next episode. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.
- Jason Van Orden
- Internet Business Mastery
- Twitter – Jason Van Orden
- LinkedIn – Jason Van Orden
- Facebook – Jason Van Orden
- Promoting Your Podcast
- The Art of Non-Conformity
- Get Yourself Optimized
- Entrepreneur on Fire
- StartUp Podcast
- Ask Pat
- Alex Blumberg’s Training with CreativeLive
- Sales Marketing Profit
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Make a list of 3-5 traits that your target audience has. Do they want a short audio file with quick tips, or do they want lots of information, details, and new ideas?
☑ Go through the top 20-30 podcasts in your category. Create a list of things that haven’t been done yet, so that you have a good chance of standing out.
☑ If you are using an interview format, have questions ready but don’t be afraid to let the conversation flow naturally.
☑ Make sure that you aren’t asking the same people the same questions as every other podcast. Brainstorm interesting questions that aren’t being asked on other shows.
☑ When your show launches, send out an email blast to your list telling them about your podcast, and asking them to subscribe. The more interest it gets, the better chance you have of other people finding it in New and Noteworthy.
☑ Invest in a good microphone to create a professional quality show. The Heil PR 40 is a great high-end mic for $350.
☑ To get ideas that aren’t being used within your genre, check out podcasts outside of your usual topics. It could give you some new format ideas that will stand out to your audience.
☑ Use keywords! What will your target audience search for? Add those words or phrases into your title or description.
☑ Create a tagline for your show. Just like a great headline, the first few seconds of your show can hook a listener so they continue to tune in. Include your general show description, and a description of the episode.
☑ Create your manifesto! Write down your ideas as they come to you, so that you can use them later for podcast episodes, or even to write a book.
About Jason Van Orden
Jason Van Orden co-founded the first podcast about internet business and online marketing, and hosts the podcast Internet Business Mastery. He has a bestselling book called Promoting Your Podcast, and his content is used in university courses about podcasting. You can find Jason on Twitter at @jasonvo.
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