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How a daily podcast transformed my business

- May 29, 2020 8 MIN READ

I was in the car listening to podcasts. (It’s what I like to do.) And on my favourite show Reply All, P.J. and Alex were talking about COVID-19 (episode 159) and interviewing people from around the world. And it struck me. Why don’t I do a show like that?

I launched the first season of The Kate Toon Podcast when I was publishing my first business book, Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur: How to Succeed in Business Despite Yourself.

I’d been planning a second series for my new book. But life got in the way, and it never happened.

So that day in the car I decided to go for it – a daily podcast where I’d talk to friends and business owners about how they were handling COVID-19 and how it was affecting their businesses.

Easy right?
Well, no. It was a totally dumb idea.
(And also a totally brilliant one.)

In this blog post, I’m going to explain how I did it, the challenges I faced, and how it rocked me to my core and ultimately led me to make some seriously tough business decisions.

Let’s get started.

1. THE ‘WHY’

I’d love to give you a lofty ‘why’ and a ‘big picture’ reason for doing the show. But I don’t have one.

As with so many of my business decisions, I made this one based on three factors:

Kate Toon mantra

In truth, the biggest factor was the “Will I enjoy it?”

I had no idea whether my audience would want it. (Spoiler: they did.) And with no paid ads, there would be no direct ROI.

But I knew the long-term impact my other podcasts have had on sales, so I thought this might work too.

2. THE PROCESS

Right from the get-go I realised the process I used for my other two podcasts (The Recipe for SEO Success and The Hot Copy Podcast) wasn’t going to work. 

It can take up to eight hours to produce a single episode for those shows.

I realised I needed a speedier production process. Here’s how it panned out.

  • Step 1: Create a short simple episode outline on Google docs, which included a title and intro (about 50 words) I could also use for socials.
  • Step 2: Send to proofreader to tidy up typos.
  • Step 3: Start zoom call, and read out my written intro. Pause. Read out my opening blurb (no notes, just stream of consciousness). Pause. Read out the ad*. Pause.
  • Step 4: Send Zoom link to guest.
  • Step 5: Start recording as soon as they said hello.
  • Step 6: Say goodbye to guest. Pause. Record outro. Finish up.
  • Step 7: Upload audio to Google Drive.
  • Step 8: Add quick edit notes for my editor about pauses and fluff-ups.
  • Step 9: Send Google Drive link to editor.
  • Step 10: Editor edits and uploads recording direct to Libsyn.
  • Step 11: Post episode details to Libsyn and share on socials.

Time spent:

  • Preparation/writing: 30 minutes (Imperfect action, people.)
  • Recording podcast: 45 minutes
  • Editing: 45 minutes
  • Publishing: 15 minutes

Time per episode: 2 hours 15 minutes.

Total time spend on around 30 episodes: Around 67 hours 30 minutes.

 TOON TIP: I decided to reward the loyal and lovely members of my Clever Copywriting and Digital Masterchefs mentoring groups with free ads in the middle of my podcasts. I asked them all to write a short blurb and just read them out.

3. THE SHORTCUTS

To make life easier I did a few things to speed up getting the pod out. Before the first episode I:

  • Designed my own podcast art in Canva
  • Created a Canva Template for my podcast graphics and made most of them upfront
  • Created a set list of hashtags for Instagram with a few that could be edited each time
  • Recorded a set outro I could use on every episode
  • Decided against doing complex show notes with guest bio, links, bullets, etc.*
  • Did not get the episode transcribed*
  • Built a single page to house all the podcasts players on.

TOON TIP: I highly recommend creating proper show notes for your show to make it easier to rank on Google. The transcripts are a great source of juicy keyword content that the Google beast will eat up. But for this show SEO was not the goal.

4. THE GUESTS

I chose guests based on four criteria:

  1. Guests I enjoy talking to. As the pod was unscripted and without any questions, I needed to feel super comfortable with them and be able to just chat and banter. It’s hard to do off the cuff with strangers.
  2. I also wanted to ‘pay back’ guests who’d had me on their shows but I couldn’t really get on Recipe or Hot copy because they weren’t the right fit.
  3. Pod swap. A few guests had me back on their shows, which was nice to boost my brand.
  4. Obviously some of my guests have nice big audiences, which would a) attract people to listen, and b) hopefully bring me a new audience if they shared on socials*.

I had a few guests lined up, while others occurred to me randomly as I went along. There was no preamble, just a quick “Be on my pod”. Most were totally cool with the casual/disorganised approach.

TOON TIP: Don’t choose ‘big names’ thinking they will share your podcast. They won’t. Several guests were super awesome about sharing the pod on socials, etc. while others did sweet FA.

5. THE TOPICS

When I started the podcast, I thought it would just be a 15-minute chat about how COVID-19 was affecting their business. But I was pretty bored with that by the end of day one. So instead I decided to broaden it out and cover:

  • Business
  • Money
  • Family life
  • Love and sex

This would make it easier to choose what to talk about with each guest, but hopefully, also allow me to show my expertise.

Most people only know me for two things: SEO and Copywriting.
But in my Digital Masterchefs group I teach and mentor on a huge range of topics – from writing books, money management and creating Facebook groups to automation, email marketing and lead generation.

The podcast allowed me to cover all of this and more.

TOON TIP: If you’re going to do an interview show, be sure you get to give your opinion too. It could be in a juicy intro, by posing questions and in some way answering them yourself, or even in some solo episodes. Otherwise, your podcast becomes a vehicle to promote others rather than to build your brand.

6. THE ENGAGEMENT

A lot of podcasts out there are awesome, but just don’t get the listens.

Why?

Because they don’t build audience engagement.
I used a number of strategies to build engagement.

  1. Seeding topics: Each morning as I walked my CFO I popped a post in my Kate Toon Facebook Group. This helped me get talking points for the show, and allowed me to ‘hero’ members of the group and let them know I’d covered their point.
  2. Group: I invited all my guests to join my group so I could tag them and involve them in conversations
  3. Ads: As I mentioned earlier I gave free shoutouts to members of my community who in turn shared their ‘ad’ on socials.I particularly loved Jo Violeta’s Insta Story.
  4. And I encouraged member Anuradha Sawhney from Bidiliia to make a full video from our ad. (Great work Shannon Morrison from Mighty Social Word.)
  5. 4. Guests: I sent pod art, Zoom screengrabs, blurbs and links to every guest in the hope they’d share them.

7. THE SPECIAL SOMETHINGS

Of course, there are oodles of interview podcasts out there, and I wanted to TRY and be different. I didn’t take it as far as I wanted to, but I tried.

A few things I did:

  1. Sound effects: Telephone ringing, etc. to break up the content.
  2. Segments: Started a Woff Woff segment (complete with dog bark) for snippets from my wonderful online business manager Leanne Woff (Audacious Empires).
  3. Speakpipe: Encouraged listeners to record Speakpipes of them giving feedback on the show and editing these into my outro. This was one of my favourite bits. I made a video of all of them.

8. THE CHALLENGES

My buddy Josh Rose asked about the challenges. So here we go:

  1. Time: It was a huge time-suck. While I say it was two-plus hours a day, in reality it was often longer. I had to wait for my editor to put up the file, so I was often hanging about wanting to get offline.
  2. Brain drain: Any kind of performance in business (Facebook live, coaching call, video, podcast) takes a huge amount of emotional energy. I found the podcast exhausting.
  3. Best time: I work at my best first thing in the morning. But I had to devote that special highly productive time to my podcast, not my money-earning stuff.
  4. Mojo: Some days I really didn’t feel like it, COVID-19 has been an emotional roller coaster for me too. On some of those days I took a break, and on others I turned up and did my best.

A big personal challenge was showing so much of my real self, my stories, and my ups and downs. I’m pretty transparent online, but this was next level. I worried (and still worry) that it was too much and that I’ve been too vulnerable. But we shall see.

9. THE LESSONS

Tanya Abdul Jalil (Your Business Wife) asked what I’d do differently.

Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently. It was what it was.

In theory, I could have been more organised. But in reality I couldn’t have, and I’m amazed at what I did.

I could have held back a bit and not shared so much. But whatcha gonna do?

There were some guests wanted to chat to that I didn’t get to, but c’est la vie.

So no, I wouldn’t change a thing.

10. THE RESULTS

We’ll start with the numbers:

  • Listeners for podcast so far (mid-May 2020): 11k+
  • Number of reviews given: around 20
  • Number of Speakpipes given: 30
  • Social shares: oodles
  • Good vibes: too many to count.
  • Direct sales: unknown.

For a 67.5-hour investment I could have: 

  1. Written a new short course: Created the videos and teaching materials, written the sales page and marketed it.
  2. Updated two weeks of the Recipe for SEO Success course.
  3. Written 16 blog posts.
  4. Created 10 new templates for the TCCS or Recipe Shop.
  5. Stayed in bed and watched eight Netflix series.
  6. Written the first draft of my next book.
  7. #MUM guilt, I could have spent this time with my son

Now for the fluffy stuff. Here are some of the reviews and comments I received.

 Was it the best use of my time? Probably not.

Was it worth it to me? Absolutely.

13. THE WHAT NEXT?

The final episode of the podcast aired today. And tomorrow I’ll be sharing the teaser for the next series of the Kate Toon Podcast: Be More Shark. (You can read more about it here.)

But this podcast will be fortnightly. PHEW!

I now have two hours a day back in my life. But I won’t be squandering them all on work. Instead I’ll be using some of them to focus on being healthy.

  • Longer walks (while listening to other people’s podcasts).
  • Food and water prep.
  • A bit of meditation and/or exercise.

I’m also going to try and spend the time working on my next book, in that totally productive time at the start of the day.

15. GRAB MY TEMPLATE!

So I made a thing – and you might like it.

Before you hit the record button, you should get your game plan organised.
And with this paint-by-numbers SEO-friendly podcast template, you’ll be right on track.

This straightforward (it’s practical and fugly, not pretty and useless) Microsoft Word document includes:

  • Useful headline and writing tools
  • Advice on naming your podcast, episode titles, writing episode blurbs and more
  • An annotated template including:
  • Podcast outline
    • Notes for your guest to make sure they show up on the right call and know what’s going to happen
    • Notes for your editor – audio timestamps, when the music should start and stop, etc.
    • Podcast blog post outline
    • Sharing on social media

BUY IT HERE

This post was written by Kate Toon on her website and is republished here with permission.