It was originally started as a side project with no goals of going anywhere, after the launch of The 4-Hour Chef
If it failed, it would result in a number of benefits
It would hone Tim’s ability to ask good questions. “Everything you want in life is behind a better set of questions.”
It would teach him a lot about a growing media/distirbution platform
He would make connections – your network is your net worth
He committed to doing 6 episodes from the start before deciding whether to pursue it fully in depth – This would allow him to get some of the benefits listed about before quitting, if need be
What has Tim learned not to do in podcasting?
He has learned not to ask questions that aren’t of service to his audience based on his promise of teasing out the tactics, routines, and habits of world class performers that everyone else can apply to everyday life
Don’t try to compete in a pre-exisiting podcast category, create your own
When you do this, there are fewer technical bits and pieces that can go wrong, compared to an in person interview
You can also have your notes in front of you and take notes without disrupting the flow of the interview – Tim uses Evernote
It’s much much easier logistic wise than in person interviews
On being nervous
State the obvious, tell your guest before you start recording
It generates sympathy and boosts the guests ego
How to get busy, type A people to pay attention and open up to you
Show you’ve done your homework
Identify a side hobby/obsession that the person doesn’t normally talk about
What Tim does before he starts recording the interview via Skype
He tells the guest that he/she has final cut. If they say anything they regret, he can cut it out. It’s better to be excessively open and say too much than too little, because you can’t add stuff in.
Tim asks the guest – “What would make this interview a home run for you?
He asks the guest – “Is there anything you don’t want to talk about?”
He’ll lay out the format of the show. It’s normally random questions for 30 minutes or so, 30 minutes of audience questions and discussion of the new project, then rapid fire questions towards the end, which he sends to guests in advance.
He asks if there’s a hard time they need to stop the interview at
Tim has a document he sends which asks for preferred photographs, bio, and talking points
Unless the guests asks how they can help, Tim never asks the guest to promote their own episode
Tim doesn’t edit after he records. He knew that if he added complication to the process, he wouldn’t keep doing it.
“Don’t try to out NPR, NPR” – make the process simple
Hundreds of good podcasts come out that have very high potential, but they don’t stick with it because they make it too complicated
Tim’s intro music is the same, “cheap ass” music he started with
His goal – someone who knows nothing about the subject can now talk with someone who is well versed on the subject after listening, but simultaneously people who are already well versed in the subject will find it interesting
Ask seemingly obvious questions, don’t assume the listener knows everything
Do podcasts about subjects that will last, not just hot topics – create something that stands the test of time
Post Production and Scheduling
Tim aims for 6 episodes a month
He has a CMO who handles his sponsorshsip stuff
Once he gets a guest, his assistant sends them a podcast prep document which gives them some basic details. He’ll often mail the guest an ATR2100 mic if they want one.
His assistant will also ask for a preferred bio and a preferred headshot, all of which gets put into a Dropbox folder
Then the link to the the dropbox folder gets uploaded to Slack, so Tim’s whole team has access to it
Until about 20 episodes ago, Tim did all the research for the interview himself
Now, he has a researcher who watches 3 or 4 long form interviews with the guest, and tries to pull out the “home-run stories”, the few stories that the interviewee is really comfortable telling
Tim doesn’t know the answer to 90% of the questions he asks, but likes to front-load the interview with a few “golden-nuggets” , like the above, that are guaranteed crowd pleasers
Once the interview is recorded, Tim exports the WAV files as separate tracks into a Dropbox folder
Next, while the interview is still fresh in his head, he uses Evernote to create a document with the following: possible episode titles, a list of edits that his team needs to make, and the audio file (which links to the Dropbox folder)
He adds a link to the Evernote doc on Slack
Tim then records the intro and also uploads it to the audio Dropbox file
His team takes care of putting the audio files together, editing anything that needs editing, and making the blog post for the episode
The podcast generates more revenue on an annual basis than all of Tim’s books combined
The most critical sacrifice that you make when you focus on monetization too early is you start doing things just because you think they will be popular and get a lot of downloads — and your creativity is highly compromised
The work becomes secondary to the pitch that you make to advertisers
Once you get to 100,000 downloads per episode, you’ve proved your podcast is very respectable and now you should think about sponsorship
Tim makes all his sponsors pre pay
He charges $60 per thousand guaranteed downloads (CPM)
As of right now he guarantees 500,000 downloads per episode 6 weeks after publication, so effectively Tim makes $30k per sponsor per episode (and he has two sponsors an episode!!)
The only ‘discount’ he offers sponsors – they have to book multiple episodes in advance, effectively locking in the rate they are paying as Tim’s rates increase every now and then, especially after book launches
Do it for yourself
Make each episode interesting and fun to you— and it will be fun for the audience. Listeners are not dumb.
If you are pretending to be interested, it’s very obvious. Choose people and topics that you are stoked about. If you’re excited, and you’re good at asking questions, it can be anything.
Ask yourself – Would you keep doing it, even if you just had your costs covered? Are you developing the relationships, skills, acquiring the knowledge, to make it worthwhile in and of itself? Would you take the time every week to do what you’re envisioning for your podcast because you’d be that stoked to do it? If the answer is yes, the prospects are very good for the podcast.