Two Principles to Building a Successful Podcast



This October I will celebrate Geek News Central’s 10th anniversary and my one-thousandth episode. Throughout the past decade, I have enjoyed watching podcasting take off and I am proud to be an integral part of its growth. My success with my own show is a direct result of practicing what I preach and following two principles each and every episode.

First I want to provide some background. When I started GNC I did so with an explicit goal to have the show profitable in 24 months, and to be a full-time podcaster when I retired from the Navy in October 2007.

My initial focus was exposure and profitability, which resulted in me launching a tech network in January 2005, writing the first podcast book, “Podcasting: Do-It-Yourself Guide,” released in May 2005 through Wiley Publishing, GoDaddy sponsoring my show in July 2005 and doing the first multishow network sponsorships in August 2005. All this led to the formation of RawVoice / Blubrry.

There are many ancillary stories that go with each of the above events, so while all of that was happening I remained focused on two principles for my podcast.

1. Deliver value to my audience each and every episode, respecting their time, have fun doing it and, most importantly, maintain my integrity by being 100 percent open and honest.
2. Administratively owning, controlling and building my brand.

While Principle No. 1 is obvious, I want to give you top level insights on why owning, controlling and building your brand is critical.

The obvious thing in owning and controlling your brand is perception. If a listener cannot find you on the Web, and or your show is buried on some third-party site, you have a strike against you. Today’s listener will question whether you’re serious and worthy of her or his time.

The solution is that you must have a permanent Web presence that you own and/or control. The first thing to do that is to buy a .com and put up a WordPress site. Invest in some graphics and give your site the flair and personality “you” choose, not someone else’s vision. Invest time in your site making it a valuable destination for your audience and future audience.

For nearly 10 years my audience has come to GeekNewsCentral.com to get the latest tech news and most recent episodes. It is the main hub. I syndicate my show externally, but all links lead back to my site, my brand and my content.

The second thing is never, ever allow anyone to control your RSS feed. This is your intellectual property. You do not need FeedBurner and you do not need to give third parties control of your feed. I have been evangelizing this since the beginning. My RSS feed URL on my site has not changed in 9 plus years.

I am sure some get sick of me saying this, yet for many who did not listen, they often tell me later “I should have followed your advice.” By having your own .com / website you can easily control your brand, feed and grow content which will be indexed by search engines..

Third, choose wise alliances. Put up your defenses when you hear the word exclusive coming out of anyone’s month. Exclusive often means loss of control.

There is no way I would ever sign an exclusivity agreement, and those we work with are not asked to either. It is one of the primary principles of my company and my show. If you are thinking of doing so, here are the things that I would consider a minimum requirement for exclusivity:

  • Guaranteed minimum monthly revenue
  • 30-day termination clause
  • Opt-out rights for inappropriate advertisers
  • Advertising contract transparency, aka auditable on demand
  • Revenue share percentage
  • 100-percent show ownership

 

There is significant history for me saying this, we have seen several examples where content creators have lost their show and audiences, are forced to run inappropriate advertising, given gag orders, and a host of other really nasty stuff. Always seek a lawyer to review any exclusive contracts.

Today, I speak worldwide on new media, I hold podcasting bootcamps for corporations, and do consulting and interact with podcasters, advertisers and everyone in between on a daily basis. But in the end, the two principles above have been the difference between the success or failure of my show.

I want you to grow your show and have fun doing it. Building a successful show is a lot of work, so stack the deck in your favor by following the two principles above.

Finally, I hope you will tune into the New Media Show and get great insights from successful podcasters. Everyone has something to share; my goal and that of co-host Rob Greenlee is to provide you with new ideas. We think it is the most insightful show in the podcasting space, and we do it just for you. Check us out at NewMediaShow.com.