Dan Misener of Pacific Content recently published some interesting statistics on podcasting.
How are you going to get good at podcasting and get clear on your message without actually podcasting?
And when you're not good at podcasting or don't have a clear message, you're going to be rejected a lot, either by being completely ignored or via bad reviews from people who gave you a shot.
Your early work always sucks. Nobody is a born podcaster. This is one of the reasons I recommend doing 30 podcasts in 30 days — it helps you to get better as a host and it helps you to develop a clear message.
To do this, not only do you have to do the work of outlining, recording, and editing your podcast, you also have to face rejection.
Just to be clear, "rejection proof" doesn't mean your podcast will never be rejected or you'll never receive negative feedback. These things are part of podcasting and will always be there.
"Rejection proof" simply means you and your podcast won't be derailed from rejection, bad reviews, and other negative feedback.
The more time you spend working on something, the more you're likely to be confident about its value.
I've seen this a lot in my music business work. It happens when you're successful and also when you're rejected.
If you've ever wondered why young artists have trouble with success, this is part of it. When an artist has quick success, he may not feel he's deserving of it. There's a mismatch between his internal (negative) belief about the work that he does and the external things he's experiencing, such as money and fame.
The result in these cases is often self-destructive behavior from artists, such as drug use, drinking too much, or even suicide. It sometimes shows up writers block or internal resistance — anything to stop the incongruence that comes from the artist's internal experience not matching his external one.
Time in the game, meaning the time you've actually put into the work you do, means you're more likely to feel that work is deserving of success. A byproduct of this is that related rejection is less likely to affect you in a negative way.
This is what rejection looks like on the outside. It's a letter I received in 1996 after entering a song I'd written in a songwriting content.
At the time it stung, not only because my song didn't make the cut, but because the contest didn't feel it deserved a response that was more than a glorified form letter.
Today, it's funny to read. Are there really people who would forget to put a song on the tapes they submitted? Apparently.
This the second way time will help to rejection proof your podcast is that rejection, even rejection that stings when it presents itself, dissipates with time. By focusing your effort on what it takes to outline, record, edit, and publish podcast episodes, you'll notice that negative feelings surrounding any podcast-related rejection you receive will disappear even quicker.
My time in the game has also given me a more realistic view on what things like contests and other "magic bullets" mean for a career — not much. There's never one thing that makes or breaks a creative career.
Dan Misener put it best when he said, "Popular shows tend to have deep back catalogs."
And his research of 674,566 unique show listings backs this up:
If you want to be successful "time in the game" matters. You'll not only have more clarity and skill to attract listeners to your podcast, you'll also feel deserving of this success when it comes.
Will Rice is a podcaster and voiceover artist with 15 years of experience as an on-air radio personality and commercial voiceover actor and producer. His podcast Pro Voice Guy Podcast is a "podcast about podcasting" and talks about what it takes to write, produce, and publish a successful podcast.
I asked Will for his thoughts on "voiceover work" and how podcasters can improve the quality of their voices and recordings.
Let's start with the similarities. With both, you need to start with clean, noise-free audio. Being a voiceover artist made that part of the crossover a bit easier for me.
Besides the technical components of recording great sound, podcasters, like voiceover artists, should work on excellent delivery. Clear diction, decent breath control, and avoiding distractions like popped p's and mouth noise can make the podcast much more enjoyable to listen to.
Where the two areas diverge is in delivery style. Voiceover artists need to master a lot of different types of delivery for various clients and project. On a podcast, you just need to play the part of you. That's the best part.
The most significant podcast problems start right at the recording.
As I listen to podcasts with audio quality issues, I can picture what's going on. The biggest problem I hear, even more than low-quality microphones, is the recording space.
When you listen to professional-level podcasts, that great sound isn't just from a great mic. It's likely because the podcast is recorded in a sound conditioned room. These spaces are free from background noise and are treated to remove echo and reverberation. Echo and reverberation in the room create a hollow sound. And, if it's too bad, those sound waves bouncing around the room make the speech difficult to hear.
Most podcasters don't have the resources to have a room professional treated, nor are they ready for the expense of a sound booth. But there are a lot of ways to improve the sound of a space.
Hanging heavy blankets on the walls, putting more furniture in the room, and putting down carpet can make a big difference. When all this is impractical, solo podcasters might find a drastic improvement by moving their setup into a closet with lots of clothes in it.
Once you have the space under control, it's time to think about a microphone. There are a ton of resources out there on selecting the right mic for your budget and setup. If you're using the microphone built into your laptop or iPhone, an upgrade will make a huge difference.
Practice. I started my career in radio. When I was in college, I took as many shifts as I could get on the college radio station and I recorded every single one. At first, listening back was painful. But as I listened, I could hear what I didn't like and work on changing it.
Back in my professional radio days, I had a weekly air-check with my program director. She would listen with me a correct and critique. But she would also point out what I was doing right.
If you have a trusted friend or colleague to listen and offer input, that is great. If not, keep doing it and keep listening. You'll get better and more comfortable.
Great voices don't mean great podcasts. Great content does.
It isn't about making your voice sound better. It's making your overall podcast sound better.
As an example, one of my favorite podcasts is Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell. I don't think anyone has every accused Malcolm Gladwell of having a great voice. However, he's a great storyteller.
Practice. You can do a lot to improve even if you don't have a coach or someone else listening with you. Some of the most important work I do as a podcaster and a voiceover artist is listening. I spend a lot of time listening to other podcasts. Also, because I specialize in voicing commercials, I listen to a lot of commercials. I'm annoying to ride with because I scan through radio stations trying to find commercials.
Find some podcasts that you feel sound good and try to hear what they're doing. Don't just try to mimic their style. Instead, try to find a way to incorporate the good stuff into your style.
The short answer is yes. Not being mindful of the content you release via your podcast is an insult to the people who listen.
You can't have a quality podcast without editing. This editing can happen before you turn on the mic, through careful planning of what you're going to record, or you can edit after you've recorded, cutting out what doesn't add to the episode, if needed, and rearranging elements that do.
Ultimately, you'll do both of these things — editing what you think you're going to say before you turn on a mic and editing/rearranging what you've actually said afterward.
Every single episode.
This isn't the "good old days" of podcasting, where people were completely enamored by the technology and had low standards for what they listened to. Today, people want a podcast that is to-the-point and organized.
If you don't give listeners something to-the-point and organized, they’ll go to somebody else who will. For example, top podcasts by big media companies like National Public Radio, such as This American Life.
How much editing is done on This American Life? This job listing will give you an idea…
The fellow will be provided a monthly wage of $3,750, before taxes for the duration of the production fellowship. We are committed to providing payment in part because the work hours are long. We feed the show on Friday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern time, so as we get closer to the end of the week, the hours become longer. The typical work week varies between 50-60 hours. As a result, we feel strongly that this be our fellow's sole commitment during these months, i.e. no other jobs or classes. Also important to note: we do not offer college credit and cannot accept college students. We have no other internship or fellowship programs, so if you're in school you'll have to wait to apply until you're done. Also, we cannot accept international applicants who are not residents of the US.
This is for two available six-month production fellowship. Six months.
Companies often do these "limited-time only" job offers when they’ve got a tough job to fill and they're not sure somebody is going to work out. That way, if somebody doesn’t work out, there's an easy way to get rid of him, without things getting awkward.
This American Life has two people doing this.
More of what they require…
This American Life production fellows are required to have experience with Pro Tools or similar digital editing software and are responsible for producing rerun episodes, weekly promos and show segments out of the gate. Our fellows transcribe tape, learn to structure and mix a radio story, and perform assorted menial tasks that are true signs of an apprentice program like this. By the end of the program, fellows are encouraged to produce their own pieces, including editing and mixing voice, sound and music.
This is what editing looks like. It's not simply removing filler words via Pro Tools, but actually structuring stories.
This American Life has a full-time staff of over 20 people. And while they’re not all "editors" officially, all are editing.
Something worth noting when discussing This American Life or any podcast that's also distributed via broadcast radio is that these shows all have a finite length. As an example, my broadcast show, Music Business Radio, only has 60 minutes of airtime available, so each episode is edited to 54 minutes exactly, which allows for six minutes of commercials.
While podcasts don't have the time limits broadcast shows do, a self-imposed finite length, even if it's not to-the-second, is a good place to start when planning and recording your episodes. Having limited time to say what needs to be said will focus the direction of your content and squelch Parkinson's law.
Comic and podcaster, Rik Roberts, host of The School Of Laughs podcast talks about "writing tight." In other words, getting to the point of what you're saying as quickly and with as few words as possible.
This "less is more" philosophy should be followed when planning and organizing your podcast episodes. It will help you to keep time limits in check and also improve clarity of your message before you record anything, which will save you a lot of time on the backend.
Anything that doesn't add to what you're saying is, at best, neutral. At its worst, this extra content takes away from your message, because it's distracting. It's no different from having a random guy talk over you.
People are already distracted. They're already having a tough time focusing on your message. Don't make it worse by not editing out "filler" content that takes away from what you're trying to say.
For more thoughts on editing your podcast and clarifying your message, read 3 Questions For A Tight Podcast Edit (And More Listeners).
It's a lot more fun to buy something new than it is to work with what you've got. This may be the reason why so many podcasters think "a new microphone" will make them sound better.
The truth is, a new microphone may be what you need to have a better podcast. Regardless of your hosting ability, you won't sound great if you're recording via a mobile phone or something not made for the job. If this is what you're doing, you'll probably benefit from getting a new mic.
Also truth — decent mics that work well for podcasting are cheap. So if you've got something the equivalent of this $100 podcast setup, you already have the needed equipment to sound great as long as you know how to use it.
You know who doesn't know how to use a mic? This guy…
I'm kidding. But only because the mic you see in this photo is for show and not even connected.
Jimmy Fallon has the same set up. So it's understandable that a lot of podcasters think this is good mic placement.
Don't be this far away from the mic when recording your podcast. If you are, you'll sound like you're in a bank vault.
Here are three "rules" to sound better with the mic you have.
As a general rule, the way to get the best recording of something is to have a microphone as close as possible to it.
Does this sound obvious? Yes, but few podcasters actually do this when recording their voices. This is the why so many podcasts have that "bank vault" sound.
I use a "three finger" rule for mic placement. To to this, put your pointer, middle, and ring fingers together like a Boy Scout salute. The width of your fingers is how far your mouth should be from the microphone.
Is "three fingers" close? Hell yes it's close. Sometimes you'll move and your lips will touch the mic. If you want to sound like you're in control and know what you’re doing though, this is the way to do it.
Another obvious rule that makes you say, "No shit." Way too many podcasters screw this up though.
Have you ever seen a live speaker who's doing a great job of speaking in the direction of the audience, but will keep talking when looking down at his notes or when facing away from the audience to look at and comment on his slides?
His voice fades in and out.
This lack of consistent volume is the problem I'm talking about. By not staying on mic while recording your podcasts episodes, you’re getting the same sloppy result.
It gets worse though. When people can't hear you, they lose the point you’re trying to make, they get frustrated, and they turn you off.
When you’re speaking, always keep your mouth aligned with the microphone.
I once had a three-story house. It had flat roof with a deck on top of it, so whenever there was a roof issue, you’d simply walk out on the roof from a door on the third floor rather than from a ladder on the outside.
Had a guy come over the fix a skylight that had been broken in a hail storm. He was smoker with a lot of extra weight and simply walking from his van to my house seemed to be a lot of effort for him.
By the time he'd climbed the multiple flights of stairs to get to where he was working, he was completely out of breath. The huffing and puffing from him was so extreme that I wondered if I was going to have to call the paramedics.
The downside of being close to the mic and having it aimed at your mouth is that it can make somebody in normal physical condition sound very close to an out-of-breath skylight repairman. The closer you are to the mic, and the more sensitive the mic is, the more likely it will pick up unwanted noises, which include not only breathing, but also various pops and clicks from your mouth.
There are two solutions to help with this — a noise gate and a pop filter.
A noise gate, like a gate on a fence, only lets in what you want, which in this case is sounds of a certain loudness. Because mouth clicks and breathing are usually softer than your speaking voice, a noise gate can be set to help keep these sounds from making it to your recording.
A pop filter works as a diffuser, taking the focused breath coming out of your mouth and redistributing over a greater area, so it doesn't "pop" when it reaches your microphone.
An even better solution is breath control. Even if you have both a noise gate and a pop filter, it helps if you can reduce breathing and non-word sounds on your own. To do this, when you're breathing during recording, back away from the mic and turn your head so that the mic is less likely to "hear" you.
Your recording doesn't have to be perfect, but it shouldn't have so many problems it's distracting. Focusing on keeping close to your mic, keeping on your mic, and not breathing directly into the mic will give you the solid foundation to deliver your message in a way that is well-received.
If you’ve ever wondered how those big ass churches with 10,000-person auditoriums bring in so many people every week, I present to you this list of who many of these churches are targeting:
This is from Rick Warren’s classic book on church marketing, The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God's Eyes.
Go inside a "payday loan" place and you’ll see similar targeting. It's not listed like this or even mentioned, but it's everywhere within the marketing materials you'll see.
Why? Because marketing to specific target markets works.
A church can be helpful to people. Sometimes, payday loans are helpful to people.
Yes, Saddleback Church is targeting people who are going through difficult times.
Yes, a payday loan store is targeting people who are going through difficult times.
Each provides a solution. Maybe not the perfect solution, but something.
Your podcast likely does the same thing.
If so, why hold back on your marketing ? If you can really help people, even in an imperfect way, why play small?
There's too much noise in the world and too much competition from other podcasts to think that people will somehow magically discover your podcast on their own. If you've got a podcast that will help the people who listen to it, you need to let them know it exists and how it can help them.
It's simple, but it's not easy. If you do it though, it will grow your podcast.
Daily outreach to the people who can benefit from your podcast.
That's it. Every single day.
Here are some examples of how people I know are doing daily outreach in their businesses:
How you do it doesn't matter. The important thing is you target the right people, either the people who should be listening to your podcast or people who have access to people who should be listening to your podcast, and be consistent about reaching out to them and letting them know what you have to offer.
If your podcast can help people, don't hold back. You're not serving people by being timid.
The saying "if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting" is true in a lot of cases, but it's not true when it comes to podcasting.
Podcasting is in constant change. Because of this, those who haven't changed along with it have been (or will be) left behind.
I know a guy who had a video rental business. From 1985 until 1999, he was making money hand over fist. Even then though, his business was dying.
The DVD player was the fastest-selling piece of home electronics ever. Because of this, the video rental business changed within a very short period of time. However, the Movie Man, because he was in a small town with people who didn't seem to have the desire to upgrade, had a little more time than most before he was affected by this change.
But people did upgrade … eventually. So he did also. Fortunately, it was an easy transition. The only thing he had to do was replace the videotapes on his shelves with DVDs.
Then DVD-by-mail services, like Netflix, came along. They had a much bigger selection of movies and charged less than brick-and-mortar stores.
He lost some customers, but very few, since not many people in his small town had computers or credit cards. So he lucked out—for a while. But as more and more people started to get computers, he lost more and more customers.
But he had one thing that Netflix and the major brick-and-mortar stores didn’t: porn. And his tiny "Adults Only" room in the back corner kept the rest of his store in business—until his customers discovered the Internet was full of porn and it was a lot less awkward to get titles like "3D House of Boobs" online than from him.
Then Redbox and other automated kiosk services came to town. How do you compete with a service that costs as little as $1, has more locations than you do, and never closes?
His solution was to use fear, telling people that those who used Redbox were at risk for identity theft. Most people aren’t idiots though, and a lot of the ones who are will take convenience over risk, so he lost to Redbox anyway.
In the end, he was bringing in $200 on a good night. There were people who were still interested in coming to a physical store for their movie rentals, but he wasn’t making enough money coming in to keep the lights on, employees paid, and the racks filled with the latest releases.
The Movie Man is dead because he got attached to a single distribution format. The movie industry though, who was open to new distribution formats, is very much alive.
You may be extremely skilled at getting attention on Apple Podcasts (or elsewhere) today, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll be successful at doing it tomorrow. And it doesn’t mean that Apple Podcasts (or anything else) will exist tomorrow.
Everything about podcasting is constantly changing. If you don’t change with it, you’ll be left behind.
This isn’t something to be scared of; just be aware. Had the Movie Man been paying attention to the shift in his industry, he could have sold his retail store and gotten in on the automated kiosk business. Instead of a situation that ultimately put him out of business, the change in his business could have been an opportunity that made him more money than ever.
The same thing that happened to the Movie Man applies to you. The "thing" that can crush you can also be your biggest opportunity for growth.
Podcasting is constantly changing, especially when it comes to how podcasts are distributed and money is made. The way we consume podcasts today is completely different from how we consumed them even just a few years ago.
There will be opportunities to make money that we can’t even dream about now, because the ways we’ll do it don’t yet exist. Some of the things that are working to make money (or get listeners) now either won’t work as well or won’t work at all.
Also, the world will continue to be filled with more and more noise. Even today, anybody can make a podcast, put it online, and have worldwide distribution. The same thing can be done with videos, books, music, and any other form of entertainment. Imagine what that will be like in just a few years.
People are getting bombarded with messages, from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed at night. And because of this, we're getting more and more immune to them.
There was a time when being on The Tonight Show would cause your career to skyrocket. Because there were not a lot of entertainment options, millions of people would tune in nightly.
Those days are over. The Tonight Show audience has been split thousands of different ways, thanks to video games, texting, cheap long-distance calls, online video, pay-per-video movies, video rental, 100+ cable or satellite television channels, online message boards, audio books, 24-hour gyms, and who knows what else. And now that marketing people know we like options, our choices will only continue to expand.
This is why top podcasters, the ones that can get attention, are making more money than ever. If Pat Flynn can use his podcast to bring tens of thousands of people to his blog every month and sell enough copies of his book to hit best-seller lists, it makes sense that he’d expand on that momentum by getting into other business ventures — public speaking, consulting, membership programs, seminars, etc.
Your podcast can be the catalyst that takes you anywhere you want to go in business. But only if you’re willing to change with the podcasting industry.
Like the Movie Man, if you get too connected to one way of doing business, one distribution method, or one income stream, you’ll likely die with it. In order to have any longevity in this business, you must be light on your feet and willing to change your approach when needed.
Don’t get attached to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or any other distribution method. All distribution formats, even the ones owned by big companies like Apple and Google, will eventually die to make room for something else, and you don’t want your podcast to die with them.
When publishing your podcast, focus on the best way to get it into the hands of fans at that time. If you don’t know what that is, ask them. And if you haven’t asked them for awhile, ask them again.
Focus on your podcast itself and your relationship with the people listening to it. If you have that in order, the rest will work out.
Andrew Buckwalter is a Nashville-based real estate professional using his podcast, Nashville Untold, to market both Nashville and his real estate business.
Each episode of Nashville Untold is recorded in a modified 1961 Scottsman camper known as The Rambler.
I asked Andrew about his thoughts on mobile podcasting and using podcasting as a marketing tool for an existing business…
I tend to not do what everybody else does….sometimes good and sometimes bad. After I decided on the content, I knew I wanted to be local.
I wanted to host musicians in The Rambler and I could not expect them all to come to me.
I wanted to meet guests face-to-face.
Being in real estate, I thought this would be a great way to network and create a unique experience for guests.
I was sharing my podcast idea with a friend and musician. He noted there was a camper for sale down the road from our neighborhood.
I stopped by after our conversation that day. The owner would buy vintage campers and fix them up and sale them.
They had one sitting under a carport that hadn't been touched. A few weeks later, they dropped it off at my house. I spent four months gutting it, rehabbing it, having it painted, buying equipment and many, many hours creating all that is now the Rambler! It was a lot of work!
My guests have all loved the camper and all that I've done to it. My advice would be to make it your own.
If your studio is going to be mobile, you have to make sure all is attached because stuff moves around a lot.
It's tough to keep it cool in the hot summer and I'm still doing some modifying to maintain a cool temp. I just have to plan to interview in the mornings and the shade.
Don’t worry about having perfect sound because part of the experience and what makes it unique is that it's a camper you're pulling around to different areas.
I'm still really getting it going from a marketing standpoint. Just by doing a podcast, I've tapped into an awesome group of people in Nashville creating content, podcasts, and so much more. I've met so many people that I would have never met if I was not doing this podcast.
Having the rambler experience I believe created a memory of me that will always stick with people because what I'm doing is unique.
I plan to do more marking with the Rambler in the future, taking it to real estate events, home closings, and much more.
I'm a pretty aggressive driver and I have to tame my driving while pulling something so noticeable! Once I got a call from a client I passed and also a text from another friend about this.
I still have to do regular repairs on it because going over bumpy roads can move things, mainly the pallet walls. I have an HOA in my neighborhood, so I have to pay for storage.
The best part is that it's a cool, noticeable, and very different podcast experience. I think the environment relaxes my guests in a way that's not possible when recording over the Internet.
Every experience is different because I'm hosting it at a different place and my guests all have great stories to tell.
Having musicians play right in front of me is pretty awesome.
Reading what my guests write in the guest book after the experience is very encouraging.
All the praise my guests give me as they step in the Rambler make all the hard work I did on its rehab well worth it!
Necessity is the mother of invention (and job changes).
Phil Collins was only a drummer until the singer in his band Genesis, Peter Gabriel, quit and a replacement couldn’t be found. That’s when he stepped in as lead vocalist of the group, which went on to sell over 130,000,000 albums.
As a solo artist, Phil Collins has sold 150,000,000 albums.
Adult film actress Andrea Truden was hired by a Jamaican real estate company to appear in its television commercials. While filming in Jamaica, an attempted coup prevented her from leaving the country with the money she had earned.
Not wanting to go home without payment, Truden stayed on the island and financed a music recording. When it was completed, she returned to the United States with a reel of tape, not money.
Andrea Truden, under the name Andrea True, released the song, "More, More, More” which ultimately reached No. 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Other hits followed including "N.Y., You Got Me Dancing” and "What's Your Name, What's Your Number.”
Mike Smith was working as a sound mixer on film and TV projects. He was hired for a movie project with director Mike Clattenburg, who noticed him on set, doing a funny character to entertain the rest of the crew.
The movie Smith was working on, Trailer Park Boys, became a television series. When this happened, Smith’s character, (known as “Bubbles”) was written into the scripts and became one of the three main protagonists.
Similar situations happen in podcasting all the time. And they either push podcasters forward or make them fade away.
It’s not uncommon for podcasts to die (or miss episodes) because the host couldn’t find anybody to interview or the co-host had a scheduling conflict that made him unable to record. You can avoid both these situations by developing the skills needed to host your podcast by yourself.
Is it scary? Yes — for a while. But it gets easier (and you get better) the more you do it.
As podcasts are almost never live, what’s the worst that can happen if you go solo? You record something, it’s not very good, and you never release it. Nobody has to know.
But what if it works? What if you stick with it and get better as a solo host? Then you’ll have full control over content, recording, when you release new episodes, promotion, and overall direction of your podcast.
It’s worth it.
When RED Podcast went from a co-hosted show to just me as host, I was terrified. The first solo episodes I did were scripted, with me reading every word.
I thought it sounded ok. I’d voiced a couple of audio books. I’d read commercials. I wasn’t completely new to recording myself reading.
Then I got an email from a listener. “It sounds like you’re reading,” he said. “I like when you just talk.”
From that point, when recording solo episodes, I work from an outline of bulletpoints, not a word-for-word script. Also scary, but also something I can erase and start over if needed. And not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
I'm married to my (former) RED Podcast co-host. We live together. When you have this kind of relationship and living situation, it’s pretty easy to get in the same room and record. But even this kind of ease can’t touch the freedom and flexibility I have now that RED Podcast is just me.
Co-hosted podcasts are fine. Interview format podcasts are fine. But if you’re not 100% happy with where things are going using either of those formats, doing a few solo episodes, even if you never release any of them, may be exactly what your podcast needs to stand out, get more listeners, and make more impact.
Want to get good a solo podcasting quickly? Try a 30-in-30 podcast challenge.
Rik Roberts is one of the country's top "clean" comedians. An in-demand act, he does about 130 stand-up and speaking dates per year at clubs and corporate events around the country.
Rik's podcast, The School Of Laughs, gives aspiring comics a "behind-the-scenes" look at the business of comedy as well as the art of comedy writing and performance. His online course on comedy writing is a must-have for any podcaster looking to get better at episode creation and hosting.
I asked Rik about his thoughts on comedy, taking risks while podcasting, and how podcasters can better connect with listeners…
I think our brain recognizes inconsistencies. Something that is usually logical is momentarily distorted. When that happens it is like a mental magic trick. We are caught off guard for a moment. In that little "hiccup" we laugh because we were tricked.
Great comedians take your mind through a maze of surprises and tricks. The universal element of humor is surprise.
The most obvious is what I call the "Disney dumb down." Every Disney program is convinced that yelling, screaming, and using high pitched voices is the key to laughter.
It's not. It's annoying. Don’t think you have to be obnoxious to be funny.
Another rule for performing is to know your audience. When you first start podcasting. you may think you know your audience. But realistically, until you have an audience and communicate with them, you're just guessing.
Actually knowing your audience is a key component of the puzzle that takes time to evolve. So don’t go over the top trying to develop routines or bits until you know who you're performing them for.
Also, I hear a lot of podcasters who appear to think they're celebrities and everyone knows them. In reality, almost no one does. So, we need your backstory. Who are you? Where did you come from? Why should I listen to you? Without that info, your comedy may not connect. It would be like only delivering punchlines without the set-up.
Listen longer, talk less.
An easy way for podcasters to do this is to have an early episode where someone interviews YOU. A friend, colleague or respected podcaster could lead you through questions designed to endear you to your potential audience.
Extremes attract in our society. But, they attract extremists. So, be wary.
If you play it safe all the time it may appear that you don’t have any unique perspectives. So, once you know your audience, make the right choice.
Admitting mistakes is the most powerful tool you have.
Don’t wait too long like Lance Armstrong. Rip off the band aid and get it over with quickly.
A great example of this is Pete Davidson from Saturday Night Live. He made a really poor, tasteless remark one week. The next, he gave an authentic apology and there was a funny rebound from the situation.
NOTE: When I asked Rik this question, I specifically gave the example of a 1983 television special by Eddie Murphy with bits like this…
You can’t predict the future, so do what’s funny now. But tacky and poor taste is always consistent. Eddie Murphy on Delirious was wrong with some of the language he used. It was wrong then and it's wrong now, it just took a few decades for audiences to mature and demand comedy from a more mature perspective.
EDDIE MURPHY UPDATE: He apologized for this content and other content like it in 1996.
By now, you're probably aware of The Infinite Dial Report by Edison Research and the general momentum that podcasting currently has.
And you're probably aware of at least some of what's in the report such as:
Are any of these numbers affecting your podcast specifically? Yes and no.
Part of the massive growth podcasting has seen over the last few years has to do with major media companies jumping into podcasting and, if you're an independent podcaster, you may not feel a big difference to what's happening with your podcast because you're likely going after a completely different audience.
However, anything that makes people more aware of podcasts is helpful to all podcasters. Anything that legitimizes podcasting in the eyes of people is helpful to all podcasters. Also, any technology that makes podcasts easier to access is helpful to all podcasters.
You are being helped by major media and technology companies and their embrace of podcasting.
Below are stats, courtesy of Awario, which will get you additional (and hopefully helpful) information about related online media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Is there an opportunity for you to promote your podcast and grow your audience via these platforms? Yes. But like the stats from The Infinite Dial Report, don't get caught up in numbers that have no direct influence on your podcast by changing what's already working for you. Instead, look at the momentum of these tools and use that momentum alongside what you're already doing. Beyond that, focus on people, not numbers.