Rolf Pott’s Deviate: How to Create a Successful Podcast with Tim Ferriss

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Why did Tim start his podcast?
  • 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
  • Don’t ask vague/broad questions. Specific questions get specific answers.
  • The question “What is your favorite book?” is a bad question
    • The search query is too wide
    • Rather, a better question – “What are two to three books you give most often as gifts?”
Great follow up questions
  • What did you learn from that?
  • How did you feel when that happened?
  • Can you give me an example?
A great piece of advice for interviewing from Cal Fussman
  • “Let the scilence do the work” – Don’t just jump in when an interviewee can’t come up with an answer
How do you start a podcast?
  • First ask yourself – “Why do I want to do this?”
    • Don’t do it because it’s the latest shiny tool in an arsenal of media tool kits, you won’t make it if you do this
    • If you could not ever get paid, would the payment in skills developed and relationships made be enough?
  • Don’t rush – it’s always a good time for great, it’s never a good time for mediocre. Most people rush and put out shitty content.
    • If your stuff is really good, it will find its audience
  • Do Skype interviews first (just audio), not in person
    • Use the ECam Call Recorder for this
    • 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
  1. 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.
  2. Tim asks the guest – “What would make this interview a home run for you?
  3. He asks the guest – “Is there anything you don’t want to talk about?”
  4. 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.
  5. He asks if there’s a hard time they need to stop the interview at
  6. In addition
    • 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
Getting Guests
  • Tim likes to use Twitter direct messages
  • For email, put your best foot forward and promote your stuff
Getting people to open up
  • A go to for Tim – “Tell me a story about X”
  • A good follow up – “Can you give an example?”
  • You have to get your interviewee out of interview mode and into conversation mode
Recording Hardware and Process
  • Tim uses a Zoom H6 to record- you can attach up to 6 mics
  • XLR cables that connect to a Shure SM7B Mic
  • For Skype interviews – ECamm Call Recorder and a ATR2100 USB Mic (Tim also records his intros with this mic, note that intros are recorded after the interview)
  • He uses earbuds for soundcheck, but then takes them off for in person interviews
  • Tim used to post process with GarageBand to do minor editing, but he now pays people to do it
  • A cool tool Tim has used in the past: Auphonic – online service that allows you to upload audio and it applies basic noise reduction
  • Sometimes Tim carries around a Yellowtec Mic – everything you need to record is inside the mic, including the SD card
On getting new listeners
  • “Just make the interview really f*cking good”
  • Tim tries to make podcast resources that people can go to for information about particular subjects
    • Examples – His keogenic diet podcasts with Dom D’Agostino, his cryptocurrency podcast with Nick Szabo
    • 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
Wrapping up
  • 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.
Deviate with Rolf Potts : ,
Notes By MMiller

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