Creating/Rebooting a Podcast

Hello Bad Voltage People,

I hope that this is not too off-topic for the community. If it is, feel free to let me know, and elsewhere I shall go.

Anyway, I too have a podcast, which I call Bright World. I could go into a long-winded explanation, but it might be easier to put in the mission statement:

Bright World exists to empower people to live better lives. This is accomplished through sharing stories of humanism, altruism, and people helping people, combined with a progressive viewpoint, in a twice-monthly audio podcast.

The show has had 10 episodes so far, and actually interprets that mission quite broadly. I’ve decided to take a hiatus on this, because I need to figure out ways to keep it going (I have a tendency to start things, do them for a bit, and go on to other things) and to get a good following of people that are engaged. In that vain, a few questions:

  1. In the past, I had a format of just recording myself talking about my opinions and ideas about a particular topic (for example, credit unions). However, I feel that perhaps this could use some re-envisioning. I thought about having a co-host (which could also help keep me engaged with things if there are other ideas being shot at me) and posing a series of questions about the topic, which we take turns discussing our answers to. Does that sound like a good idea? Does anyone have other suggestions for the format?

  2. What is the best way to market/promote my program, given that I have a relatively small social media reach? How can I grow my audience and keep them engaged and interested?

  3. How, once I have an audience, can I best encourage the audience to contribute financially? My time is valuable – I am just starting college and have relatively limited time to waste away without any compensation. Additionally, there are improvements I’d like to make (media hosting, and possibly hosting for a discussion board like this one, as well as some equipment), but that costs money, and money sure doesn’t grow on trees.

  4. Any other tips/tricks/advice for the budding podcaster?

Thanks in advance, everyone!

One obvious way to way to promote a podcast is to provide a link to it. If you do then some of us may add to our twitter feeds

Have you heard this podcast it’s great.

Or once we know it’s content we may be able to point you towards an already sympathetic on-line community.

Be warned, however, if we think it’s shite we wont hold back in telling you so.

Haha, I did mean to slip a link in there for you guys. Duh on me!

Let me know what you think of the first 10, and how I can improve from here.

Patreon may be a way to fund it. But realize it may take some time to gather a following, let alone one that will donate. I would think perserverance is a key trait you will need. I think allot of work will go in before you see any return. Such is the way of new things.

Agreed. I understand that I need to persevere with it, but that IS an issue for me among ALL projects I take on that aren’t school related or paid (including the ones I enjoy very much). If you look up the ENFP personality type, which I’ve gotten on various online tests, it actually is a common trait that we have trouble keeping things going. This is why I’m going to try and find a co-host so we can both kinda keep each other on track.

Another thing…I’ve tried to get involved with social media as a promotional tool, but I haven’tbeen able to find a lot of good social justice/change content that I can post about, which makes my tweeting kind of lackluster. I dunno…it can be rough indeed.

EDIT: There is a blog on my website, although I haven’t written much. What if I were to write on that, AND put up the same posts (as well as additional ones) on Tumblr. Might that be a good promotional strategy?

I’ll be honest with you here. Which you may not like.

You are, I think, conflating publicity to make the podcast popular with publicity to make the podcast profitable. Realistically, people will not pay for a thing until they are convinced in their heads that the producer of the thing will deliver something worth the money. This is why Neil deGrasse Tydon could set up a weekly podcast and charge a sawbuck per episode tomorrow, and you can’t.

I would suggest doing it because you like doing it. Publicise it because you want people to listen to it, not because you want people to pay for it. Then, once you have a vibrant community, talk to them honestly about how money would help.

If you think that making a show isn’t doable without the money, I would disagree; your words are more important than your audio skills. Talk to your existing audience and explain how you could be better with better equipment and see if they respond. Or, better, grow your existing audience. You’re talking about important subjects. Getting more widely known is your hardest task here. Read @jonobacon’s The Art of Community. Ask him for advice specific to your situation, although be aware he’s really busy right now. Ask @bryanlunduke how he got 1.2 million views for his videos. Ask @jeremy how he built Linux Questions from nothing to huge. Then build your community.

And if you don’t want to, or can’t, build the community first and then monetise it later, perhaps ask yourself whether writing a podcast is what you should be doing at all. Maybe offer your show to a local radio station and get paid for it.

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Thanks for the honesty, sil. I appreciate it.

I understand that the likelihood of people paying for it directly (either now or in the future) is almost a pipe dream, and I’m okay with that. I do enjoy it when I have the time, but my time is not exactly unlimited, either. Sooner or later, I’ll have to get SOMETHING out of it to be ale to realistically continue. I’m assuming that sooner or later will probably be on the later side.

I appreciate your suggestions. I will consider contacting your fellow presenters, as well as reading the text that you suggested. Any suggestions that you have personally about my content or how to improve it?

I have to agree here. I paid for my copy, and I’m not complaining, but I know you can download it as a pdf for free. Well worth reading

OK. I’m now going to try listening to an episode of the podcast, and I’ll sort of “live blog” that experience here. So what you’ll have here is a series of stream-of-consciousness notes, some of which are, again, likely to be more honest than nice.

I’ve just gone to and… what I’m confronted with is a big page, almost all of which is not relevant to my primary goal of “listening to a podcast”. Perhaps this explains it better:

There’s one paragraph explaining the point of the BWP, and there’s a few links to recent episodes (which as far as I can tell doesn’t include the actual most recent episode, number 10). The rest of it… is perhaps interesting if I’m already a regular listener and want to see the latest changes. But most people are not regular listeners to your podcast. While I wouldn’t want to elevate ourselves as perfect web designers or anything, compare the front page of; you get a big paragraph explaining the point of BV and the most recent podcast description right there on the front page, along with “Play Now” links to listen to that podcast immediately, without leaving the front page.

OK, now starting. I like this intro music. But it’s going on for a terribly long time. Ends abruptly rather than fading out.

This “Miss Possible” doll range sounds pretty cool! The page for this episode,, barely mentions it, though. It’s a whole page which is 90% about the incidental music and the licence (most boring information ever; I admit it’s necessary, but don’t put it front and centre!), and the actual subject of the interview gets one line. There’s not a link to their indiegogo campaign (which needs the publicity) or their website or anything.

Hm, this whole episode is one big interview, I suspect. An interview isn’t the best way to evaluate a podcast because it’s primarily the interviewee speaking; it’s interesting, but it’s not as useful for criticism. I’ll try another episode.

Now trying episode 9 ( Again, 40 seconds of background music, ouch. TV programmes can get away with this because you can see things on screen at the same time.

Your “p” sounds and other plosive sounds are “popping”. @jonobacon is the bloke to ask about this, but in my experience it means that your mic needs a pop shield; one of those black foam balls that fits on the end. Other than that, audio quality sounds fine to me, although I’m not very picky about this.

Hm, this “Benefit Corporation” stuff is interesting. (Obviously it is stupid that there has to be a special type of company in order to avoid you getting sued by your own shareholders for not being enough of a dick, but that’s not your fault. It’s useful to talk about this.)

This is quite good stuff. Your speaking skills could use a little work, but I suspect that that will get better over time. In particular, you pause in the middle of sentences, which sounds weird, and there’s not enough pitch and intonation change in your voice which makes it sound a little monotonal. I deliberately pitch my voice up on Bad Voltage, partially to provide a contrast with Bryan and Jono who have deeper voices, and partially because it gives me a wider pitch range which makes listening not sound monotonal.

Your actual content is good. The important point here, though, is that you need a good reason for this to be a podcast. If it’s just you doing the podcast, there needs to be a reason why you didn’t just write a blog post which people can read at their own pace.

The idea of a “commercial break” where you just keep talking (but talk about a different subject) is a bit odd. It’s not in any meaningful sense a break because it sounds the same.

OK. Listened. As I note, your content is good; for people who are interested in your subject it’s good stuff, and it may attract more. But if I were to characterise the whole BWP effort I think the word might be “bland”. The website is bland; the sound is one fairly monotonal voice. One has to get through all that in order to actually learn something from the words you’re saying (which are, as I note, good). I think you need to punch it up a bit. Make BWP look more exciting; feel more exciting; sound more exciting. Because you’re talking about Important Subjects That People Don’t Want To Hear About Because It’s Hard, there is a very very real risk that you’ll come across as “worthy”. And people won’t listen to that and won’t pay for it. It’s your job not only to report on this stuff (which is a good thing, and you’re doing it) but to make people interested in it. Step up the excitement game.

Hope that helps. Sorry for the fragmentary nature of it.

Interesting discussion, thanks for bringing it up!

This is going to sound drastic, but if you go into this with the even vaguest amount of this thing is going to need to pay the bills, your show is going to suffer. The reason is that sooner or later you will take a shortcut to make money. This may come in the form of paid ads, sponsorship arrangements, or feeling like you don’t want to share your true feelings about a product for fear you may piss off a sponsor.

You have to go into this with a content and quality first attitude. Think about what your listeners want to hear, and cater to their interests. Focus on taking the time to build a show, get it established, and grow a community before thinking about money. I would rather you resign yourself to the fact that money won’t be a possibility but you will still do it for the love of it…this is the view that my cohorts and I have always had about podcasting.

Using Bad Voltage as an example, if the show never makes a penny, we couldn’t care less. We do this because we love creating a podcast, building a fun and engaged community, and most importantly, just hanging out with each other and shooting the shit.

I have no doubt that Bad Voltage will pay for some things or experiences in the future…in fact we have something in the pipeline :wink: (wait for the next show to find out more). But that is a side effect of creating a show that we think people want to hear.

One piece of advice I would definitely give is: get good audio gear. You don’t need to have a super-expensive setup, but get a decent mic, choose good music for the stings, and spend a bit of time learning how to compress audio (audio compression, not file compression), gate and maximize it, and then master it. This will help everything glue together. Oh, and that popping sound…get a pop shield, they are cheap and will help with that.

Good luck!

Hey! Thanks for all the feedback! :smiley:

I can see what you’re saying about the relevance (or lack thereof) of the page. And yes…Episode 10 is in the wrong place. I shall fix that.

The intro music has a history (although this isn’t a satisfactory excuse for boring you to death). Starting with Episode 2 or 3, I played a licensing message for both the podcast itself and the music (which is always different for variety and character, and is pretty much always Creative Commons). This required a longer intro length. With the newer episodes, I’ll start having a much more informal introduction with a shorter length.

Yes, I will definitely be getting a pop shield.

Regarding speaking skills: ever since puberty, I kid you not, I’ve had a tendency to be tongue-tied because my mind thinks faster than I can talk. So very annoying.

I do also want to touch on something that I find very important. I would be happy to make this more exciting and entertaining, but I am only going to do that to the extent that it does not take away from the content and message of what I am trying to communicate. I think part of the problem with our media these days (or perhaps more accurately, the way we consume it) is people have an unreasonable expectation that everything should be entertaining, and if it’s not, they don’t pay any attention. But the news is not going to entertain you, a documentary about brain research probably will not entertain you, and political commentary will also more than likely not be entertaining. These things, by nature, are based in getting across information, NOT making people laugh or giving people a good time. There is a line that, upon being crossed, shifts the balance drastically from an information-sharing perspective to one that is based in crap people pull out of their asses because it’s more “entertaining”. I can try to make some things interesting, but if you really want to be entertained, I don’t think I’m the one to listen to. If you want to be entertained, any sort of serious programming is not for you.

I kinda agree with you, and kinda don’t.

Sure, there are some shows with little value that go all out to be exciting, but there are also some shows that have lots of knowledge and value but decide that entertainment would be somehow “cheapening” the show.

Like it or not, the world in which we live in is a world in which people want to be entertained. Whether they are watching a work of fiction or a work of art, it needs to be interesting, compelling, and engaging. I don’t think there is an option not to be entertaining…if it is boring, people will switch off.

I think where we disagree is on the idea that people should WANT to be entertained all the time. As far as I am concerned, some programming (news, social commentary, nature documentaries, etc.) should not require “entertainment” - their function is to provide information.

I am fine with trying to pursue a reasonable balance weighted toward being informative, but am not sure exactly how to do so.

I have to disagree here – Providing information is important but if not done in an entertaining way most people switch off. You have to understand your audience though: I was recently at an RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) night where Chris Packham was talking about poo. If you are a naturalist shit gives you a wonderful insight into the life of animals. For those less interested this could be seen as gross.

I’m sure Chris would not have given this presentation as part of a TV program because it’s not suited to the general audience this presentation was a success because of the audience.

Who are your audience? You need to entertain them: but what entertains a specialist group is not necessarily what entertains the public in general.

Hello everyone.

My oh my, has it been a while. Sorry for the multiple deaths and resurrections of this thread.

Anyway, I have spent some time thinking (and attempting to find a co-host). I’ve had no luck on the cohost side of things - after asking numerous people, both from high school, and new college friends.

In any case, I’m nearing a decision on what I want to do to reboot Bright World. Let me know what you think. Keep in mind, this is probably going to be more of an ongoing evolution than a revolution:

  • I will have someone record a short voiceover introduction, which will play at the beginning of each episode. It will either be accompanied by, or followed by, an opening piece of music.
  • The show will follow a question/answer format, in which I seek to answer various questions about a certain topic during the course of the episode. I am hoping that this will serve to keep me on point and provide direction for the show. It will also make the transition smoother if I ever find a co-host for the show.
  • I will accept questions from the audience, as well as formulating them by myself.
  • The program will be a joint venture with my Uplifting Images blog. The UI site will continue to provide inspirational content, but will also carry articles that I write to supplement BW. In addition, I will solicit encouraging stories about life challenges and etc. from Tumblr users, either written or recorded, to feature on BW. BW will help promote UI and vice-versa.
  • Shows will continue coming out every two weeks, probably on Saturdays or Sundays (although I have not decided).
  • I will make a faithful effort to utilize social media in a regular and worthwhile manner.
  • I hope to do live Q&A/talk shows at some point.
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