Charley: James, I wanted to ask you. If someone’s been doing a podcast or show for a number of years, and then they find it hits a plateau or it stalls, what would you look at doing to kind of break through that element and take your show to the next level?
James: Well, obviously, something’s changed. By that, I mean, you might have stayed still and everyone else has moved around you, there could be a whole flood of new entrants into your space. So I would first go on an investigation. I’d have a look and see what’s changed, who’s showing up near my show? Who’s new on the charts? Has something changed technically on our side? We discovered that the episode numbers were starting to fall a bit. And when I went investigating, we changed the number of RSS feeds that were showing for our show because we actually reached quite a number of shows. Like, we’re in the six hundreds just for context. And I think iTunes will only show 300 and for some reason, someone had actually pulled back our RSS feed to 100 shows. We put it back to 300 and our podcast downloads doubled instantly. So sometimes there’s a technical glitch. It’s worth a go and checking your feed, validate that, make sure it’s working well, check the plugins, all the tick boxes. Maybe someone’s checked the box to turn something off or changed categories.
So if all of those things look solid, and there are no real changes there, then I’d have a look at are you still in tune with your audience? Are you producing the things that people actually want to listen to? So it might be time to do a survey of some kind, to go out to your audience and ask them what sort of challenges they’re having right now like the ASK method. Or you could ask them how you can improve or what they’d like to hear about, or suggestions for guests if you do an interview-style podcast. But I often find this stuff out without having to send out a survey. I’ll go and look at the analytics and I’ll see, what are our search phrases? Which posts in my forum are the most commented on? What people are asking us in our inbox? Which of the videos and podcasts we’ve published before have resulted in the most inquiries? And that will guide me as to where I need to bring my content to stay in tune with my audience.
Then I’d have a look at my promotion strategies, how are people finding out about the podcast? I’ll try and get on other people’s podcasts to reinject people back into my podcast. I especially want to be on all the podcasts that show next to my podcast as related podcast because that’s a good clue. iTunes thinks those people are interested in your stuff. So you might want to get on to their shows, as well. You can also do paid promotions. You can put AdRolls in other people’s podcasts. And you can also promote your podcast within your own ecosystem like put it on your signature file on the bottom, like Dean Jackson calls a super signature. It could be, you know, here are a few ways we can help you and you put listen to our podcast. You can put it on the sidebar banner of your website. You can put it inside your members’ area to remind people that you’ve got this as well. And that’s an often overlooked area. Because you might think, Oh, it’s a free podcast, why would my members want to listen to that? But your members who probably came because they’re listening to it, and they really like to develop and discuss the concepts. I often get asked questions around the podcast that I’m doing. They might say something as simple as I really liked that podcast with Charley. And I’ll say, What did you like about that podcast with Charley? And they’ll say I really liked his haircut or they might say, I really liked how he articulated this particular thing. Or he approached it from a way that I’ve not heard before. These will be clues. And these might form the basis of an extract that we could use to promote that podcast episode or it might also be an invitation to bring a guest back and to delve further into a topic that my audience has already expressed an interest in.
Charley: Yeah, there’s so many nuggets of gold there, James. I think I just want to go back into them. We’ll go deeper on a few. I think you nailed one that’s really important out of the gate is the technical side of things. This is a space that’s changing fast and drastically. I mean, since we’ve been recording this, there’s probably a new podcast platform, like, no kidding. And with that, changes can come and you’ve highlighted one is, you know, as more podcasts have come to life, bandwidth on these platforms or service base has become something they’re trying to manage. So storing all of your podcasts in a live format may not be possible anymore. And that’s why they chunked you down to that 100. They try to have you take up less space. But when they open that up, obviously it can have a tremendous thing so checking the tech, I think is a phenomenal first step.
And then what I thought was interesting is what you went into next there was that maybe your content is getting stale. Maybe you haven’t evolved and moved with your market because all these markets move. Doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, there’s always something new. And maybe you’re still stuck in the days of things that used to work three or four years ago, and you’ve just become irrelevant. So checking relevancy, I think is huge there. And I really like how you leaned into that.
And then the next part is promotion, which is a huge part of podcasting. And you mentioned some really great ones there that I agree with you, hugely get overlooked. Email signature, that’s a great one. I also think doing the rounds, this is like going on relevant podcasts to reengage and cross-contaminate those audiences can be really, really huge as well. So I think there are so many things you’ve just kind of outlined there where people can kind of get back in and re-spark their own show.
James: Yeah, don’t be afraid to try and experiment with new formats and new things. I’ve done all sorts of experiments over the last 10 years. One of the things that worked well for me was bringing back people over and over again. I’ve had some guests seven, eight, nine, ten times. Because a lot of people think, oh, I’ve had that guest before. Yeah, but have you ever watched a Netflix series where you watch season 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6? Like you want more of the same. So don’t be afraid to bring back the familiar, to bring back the trusted content that has already performed for you in the past. I’ve also tried shorter content, I’ve tried solo monologues.I’ve had really interesting feedback from multi-part series that’s worked well where people sit through five in a row, I think that’s maybe the most I’ve done. I’m not sure but I’ve done five in a row. And we do two podcasts a week. So it can be like two and a half weeks worth of content. And people look forward to the next one and they build up and then they start sharing it and referring to it so you can try series, repeat guests, different formats, different lengths, solos, or bring in guests. You can even do summaries or behind-the-scenes sort of stuff.
So you can sort of go outside the regular podcast and do a behind-the-scenes and let people into your world a little bit. But you just got to keep an eye on it if people respond to that or not, because obviously if it’s a flop, you don’t want to keep trying those experiments. And just try and find out what your core is and why people are listening to you, and they’ll keep coming back.
Charley: You see that’s one of the other things I really enjoy about your show is it does have some unique elements. I think we’ve moved into a season in podcasting, where a confirmation bias has set in for just doing interviews. And as that is evolved, everyone’s just doing interviews and some of the content is being made is just not unique and not different. And that’s probably why you’re not getting more people to your show. Where I look at your show and like the series stuff, like I am a listener of your show, particularly the series I’ve really enjoyed, and I’ve looked forward to those episodes. And I’ve often thought, this is exactly what I want to be doing to my audience. I want them to feel this way. So absolutely killer idea there. And then I’ll even go one more.
You did a series, about a year ago now, I know you’ve just come back from the Maldives. But you actually did a taking people on your trip with you, an audio version which I thought was quite unique and very interesting to listen to rather than just interviews. It was like a real experience podcast.
James: Yeah, it was a documentary. And I took my Zoom recorder and I recorded the whole journey. And there were things that I would have done differently if I did it again. Like, this year, I made sure I took the windshield because I lost a lot of audio to bad wind noise. This year, I use a different approach. I just use my iPhone and I used an app called Spark. And I made a little 10-minute video of the week. And then I uploaded it to Instagram TV.
So that just shows you how there’s always innovation happening. But I certainly talk about the Maldives a lot on my podcast. And what I plan to do is have some of the people who are on the boat, come back and share some of their experience. So I’m going to sort of micro-serialized that now. So always taking a different approach but I think documentaries and behind-the-scenes work particularly well. And it no doubt helped me market the event for the next year. We’re completely sold out two weeks straight away off the back of that documentary. It was the perfect thing to put just before an offer.
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