Dan Lyons is a Radio DJ and he brings a level of professionalism to podcasting that many business owners lack! I grabbed Dan for half an hour to talk about this vital marketing medium. In this podcast we discuss:
- The two main audio formats of Podcasts
- Choosing ‘roles’ when you have multiple hosts
- Branding your podcast for a more professional sound
- Dealing with difficult interview subjects
- Getting interviews with ‘stars’
- Voice and language techniques for maximum impact
- How to attract traffic via expert interviews
- The correct protocol when you interview an expert
Dan: Hey James! How are you, mate? Thanks for having me.
James: It’s great to catch up with a serious pro like yourself. You’ve got a course on this called Podcast Like A Radio DJ and I think the most exciting part about that for me, and I actually went through your entire course which you kindly sent me a review copy for, the most exciting part is that you are actually a radio DJ, and you’ve got all sorts of technical insider tips that marketers and business people like me have no clue about. And that was the most exciting part. Very interesting! I’ve love for you to tell me a bit about the transition from radio DJ to the podcast market.
Dan: Sure. Like you mentioned, James, I’m a radio DJ. I’ve been doing this for 15 years now and I’ve worked at a number of different radio stations over the years, and I’ve had a number of different shows that have been broadcasted all around the world through different organizations and networks. In my time as being a radio DJ, probably in the last six to seven years, some of the radio stations I was working with said, “We want to get our content online.” The radio show is great, but for people who can’t listen between the hours of four and seven which was my shift, we want to make the content accessible online. And so iTunes was the obvious choice. That’s where I first was introduced to the world of podcasting and it really was amazing!
The benefits of podcasting
I must admit when I was first sort of introduced to podcasting, I was a little bit skeptical. I think coming from a radio background, the results were sort of tangible. You can walk down the hall and see the sales team and see how much money they’re generating as a result of how many people are listening. So I was a little bit skeptical to move into this new medium called podcasting. But once I did, the results were amazing! They were outstanding, really. There were so much traffic going through iTunes at that time. Overnight, we got a huge amount of subscribers to the radio show through iTunes. I was just amazed with the results.
And the thing that really intrigued me about podcasting as well from a radio perspective is it was mixing it up a bit. All of a sudden when you’re podcasting, you’re not going to add breaks of six minutes or you’re not playing songs that you really don’t want to play and you think are a little bit crap. It gives you more flexibility to talk about the things that you want to talk about. I still love it. That was basically what ignited the passion for me.
James: Right. I like the fact that in traditional media the old way businesses could connect with customers was to go and buy media space on a radio station or newspaper or TV. It seems from where I’m sitting that businesses can actually embrace a lot of this technology and start reaching consumers directly through formats like iTunes. People like me don’t have to go to a traditional media place and buy space. We can just create content. So there’s this move, I guess, from the big commercial radio stations. [They] have recognized they need to be in the mainstream social interaction with customers and also business owners have recognized that there is this race for the middle ground, I suppose.
You must look at normal business owners who are putting out podcasts and go, “Oh wow! They could really polish this up if they just had this technique or that equipment, they could sound so much better.” In fact, you did it with me! You came along to my podcast and you said, “Well, you really need an opening and a closing, or an intro and outro.” And you actually created one for me, which was what we heard at the start of this podcast and you’ll hear the end. That little change made it sound so much more professional. I guess you’ve got a huge market in front of you where you can be teaching many business owners this.
Dan: Yeah, absolutely. I think you raised a really important point that business owners are sort of diving into this area of using iTunes and getting into podcasting. A huge pat on the back to people who are doing that, because irrespective of whether it’s professional sounding or not, they’re dipping their toes into something that is exploding. It is becoming a huge medium. And yes, there are things that you can do to tweak your podcast like, you mentioned, creating intros and outros. And that’s got more to do with branding your podcast so it sounds professional. Because one thing which I hear a lot, and I listen to a lot of podcasts within iTunes, is that the content is fantastic but the delivery or the presentation perhaps leaves a little bit to be desired. Unfortunately, the way that humans work is we do judge books by their covers so when you are listening to a podcast, even if the information is great, if the sound quality sucks then people can be inclined to tune out. These are some things, some core things that people do need to nail if they are going to have a successful podcast. One of these things is knowing how to use your voice and knowing how to engage people. Another thing is having the intros and the outros, and using audio in a way that is going to complement your podcast. There’s a whole bunch of things which people can do.
Podcasting best practices for newbies
James: I like the bit about using your voice and in your course you actually talk about lessons you’ve learned in the radio station from actual names of things, engaging the listeners. Could you give us a couple of the top techniques that you would advise a business owner who started a podcast but perhaps has had no training at all like I was. What sort of tips do you think where the best takeaways from your radio commercial experience that a business owner could use to sound far more polished in a short amount of time?
Watch your language
Dan: The first thing that you would need to be thinking of is how you address your audience. The mere fact that I use the term audience there implies that you’re talking to hundreds or thousands of people at once. In reality, when you have a podcast that might be the case but you don’t want to make that obvious. The whole objective as a radio DJ – when I went through my training years and years ago, what was drilled into me was when you are talking behind a mic, you are talking to one person. Because when someone is listening to you, generally they just got their headphones in and they are the only one that’s listening at that particular time. It’s not like back in the day with radio where the family would sort of have a meal together and then sit down in front of the fireplace and tune in to the radio show at 7 o’clock and listen to the radio plays.
Listening habits have changed, so when you talk to your audience, you are addressing them as an individual. Plenty of podcasters will get behind the microphone and say, “Hey everyone! It’s fantastic that you’re all here. I’ve got so much stuff and I’m going to teach you all on today’s podcast episode.” That’s not great. From a professional perspective, you’re talking to people en masse, and the idea behind having a podcast is that you’re connecting to your audience. And when you connect with people, you talk to them one on one. That’s how we do it when we meet in the real world, so that’s how you need to do it when you’re sitting behind a microphone.
Something as simple as changing your language and the way you’re addressing your audience makes an enormous difference in how your audience feel about you. Because you want them to have a connection with you, so instead of saying “Hey everyone! It’s great to be here,” you might be addressing them as “Listen it’s fantastic that you could join me on today’s episode. I’ve got so much stuff for you that you’re absolutely going to love.” So using these Y words – you, your, and you’re connecting with them on an individual level. That’s one tip that I could definitely recommend because what you want to have is you want to create a bond. When you create a bond with your audience, they’re going to be fiercely loyal and they’re going to keep coming back. And the really simple way to do that is to watch your language, in a nice possible way.
Use the “you”
James: That’s a great tip. I once traveled all the way to Canada. I flew myself to Canada via three different stop offs just to get some coaching tips on speaking at conferences. The teacher there told me to use the “you” instead of “who here by show of hand” etc. because you are just talking to one person. That’s exactly what they teach you in direct sales copy when you’re writing sales letters, you speak to “you.” That is such a good tip and you’ve just dropped that golden nugget for free on iTunes. Thank you very much, Dan!
Now, if I’m sitting here thinking, okay, I’ve heard James talk about podcast. We’ve got a professional DJ here talking about podcast. Should they be intimidated by the notion of broadcasting or is it something that you can start with and then refine as you go?
Dan: Absolutely! Just pick it up. Just getting involved is so easy to do and you should have the confidence to do it. It’s really important to understand, you’re not going to be a professional broadcaster when you sit behind the microphone for the first time. It’s just not going to happen. I’m able to present like I can because I’ve been doing it for 15 years and I’ve had extensive training and presented multiple radio shows over the years.
So perhaps one of the first concerns that you might have when you sit behind the microphone is “How do I sound? How does my voice sound? I don’t like the sound of what I’m hearing through my headphones. I sound awful! This is not going to be any good!” What I recommend people when they hit that wall is to take a step back and say to yourself, “This is the voice that God gave me. I’m not going to put on a voice or ham it up or try to impersonate someone else. This is the voice that God gave me.” And having a unique voice or having a characteristic to your voice can actually work to your advantage.
Just be yourself
Let’s sort of change gears a bit. Let’s look at the music world. Singers like, dare I say it as much as I really don’t like her stuff but she’s the first person that comes to mind, Celine Dion. That’s a really unique voice there. You’ve got people like Melissa Etheridge, really raspy voice, really unique voice. And that characteristic makes them stand out. What you need to remember when you’re sitting behind the microphone is just to be yourself. Don’t try and be anyone else. Don’t try and impersonate anyone else. Your voice is good enough. There’s things that you can do to make your voice more presentable, but by and large, your voice is good enough.
Back in the day, in the 70’s, I wasn’t even in radio back then but back in the 70’s people would listen to radio stations and you’d hear the DJs with the big booming sounding voices, the big “I’m on radio” sort of voices. And when I was growing up, I’d listen to those guys and go “God! I’m never going to get on radio. I’m never going to get behind the microphone because I don’t have that voice.” And when I first started out I would, it’s pretty embarrassing telling this story, but I would actually try to impersonate those guys when I’d sit behind the microphone. The radio station I was working on at that time, I would get on air and I would do this because I think that’s how it’s done. These guys are successful, so I’ll just emulate what they’re doing. And I got home and I remember mum sort of pulled me aside and said, “Were you on air today?” And I went, “Yeah, yeah. I was on it, 3 o’clock. Did you not hear it?” She said, “No, I tuned in at 3 o’clock but I had no idea who that guy was.”
James: Wow. So your own mum didn’t recognize you.
Dan: [Laughs] Well, I think that was mum’s subtle way of saying just be yourself. It’s okay to be yourself. People are going to warm to you for who you are. Your voice is fine. You don’t need to try and be anything other than yourself. That would be another tip which I’d recommend people doing. When you’re sort of become at peace with that, it makes things a lot easier.
James: I think you have an amazing voice which is intimidating for some, but it’s good to know that you can actually just get up and do it, whatever your voice is. I think of, when you mention singers, I was thinking of singers like Adele. If you listen to her song and then you watch her on a YouTube video, you can’t believe it’s the same person. You bumped into me, I think, because of my other podcast – a Freedom Ocean podcast, the one I do with Timbo Reid. That’s a classic example where both of us are just doing it. Tim’s been doing podcast for a lot longer than I have. I’m like the new kid on the block. But what I was curious about is the different formats of podcast. Now, in that podcast, we have Tim asking me questions and I’m the expert in that situation. In this situation here, this is my Internet Marketing Speed podcast where it’s primarily my channel. I mix it up with either a single podcast where I’m doing the whole podcast myself, or I’m interviewing an expert on subject matter like we’re doing about the topic of podcast. What is a good format for podcast? What are some of the important factors to consider? Can you do it by yourself? Do you need to have someone else? Do you need to have tension? Should you both be the same? All these things come to mind.
Dan: Wow! That’s a really great question, James. Firstly, anything can work. So if you want to be a solo podcaster, if you’re confident enough to sit behind a microphone by yourself and hold the thing down for however long it goes then go for your life. Things do change. Obviously, dynamics change when you bring in a second person. I’ll give you a really good example of this. In my podcast, iTunes podcast like a radio DJ, it’s just me. It’s myself sitting behind a microphone. There’s no interaction there. Now, that podcast generally goes for about 30 minutes. I’m okay with that because I’ve got my content and I’m fully prepped. I know the points that I want to cover and I know the direction of the show. But on my radio show, which I’m doing this afternoon, I co-host it. And my co-host is a really good mate of mine, and we’ve been working together for 10 years on air and we got this national network show around Australia. Now, the dynamics in that show is very, very different, because he is bringing different things to the show and I’m bringing different things to the show. We got this really fantastic partnership. But all of a sudden when you’re working with someone else, there are things that you have to be aware of.
One of the big things would be if you’re working with someone else [is] role definition. Who does what? Because if you don’t have clarification about who does what, you’re both going to get in there and it’s going to be like a cement mixer. You’ll just both be over the top of each other, just churning around and it would be a nightmare to listen to. So role definition when you’re working with someone else might include something like who is going to anchor this, who is going to take care of the housekeeping stuff within this podcast. By housekeeping stuff I mean, who’s going to introduce them, who’s going to say “Hey, you’re on internet marketing speed with James Schramko this afternoon. Thanks for joining us! Coming up on today’s episode blah, blah, blah.” Who’s going to do that? You define the role of the anchor, then you look at the co-host, and you say, what are you going to bring? What are your strengths? In the case of myself and my co-host, his strength is he is exceptionally good at storytelling. He tells really good stories and really, really funny stories. So I draw upon that because that’s his strength and we use that a lot throughout the show.
That’s not to say that I don’t tell stories, but it’s just, I guess it’s being honest with yourself. And there needs to be a degree of this in saying, what am I good at, and that’s what I’m going to do. And what are they good at, and that’s what they can focus on. So that’s something to think about if you want to have a format where you’ve got a co-host.
If you’re doing it by yourself, I’m not going to lie to you, there’s a little bit more work involved, because you’re going to have to carry the whole thing. It sort of stops with you. So you are the anchor, and you are the co-host I guess in a way. You’re generating all of the content. So it might be a little more labor intensive. But those are the two main formats when it comes to the delivery of your podcast.
2 podcast formats
But just quickly, I want to mention the formats about, say for example, if you are a blogger. If you’re a blogger, and you’re listening to this, and you’re thinking, ‘Wow, I would love to have a podcast on my blog.’ There’s two models, which you can go with, or two formats. The first is to have a podcast with premium content. So that’s content that is not on your blog. So that might be, say for example when you’re writing a blog post, so many of us, when we’re writing text blog posts are always trying to figure out a way to cut it down, proofread, chuck out angles. ‘I’ve got too many ideas, I need to condense this.’ Well, a podcast is a great opportunity for you to take some of those angles that you’ve had to cut out and put it into an audio format. So that’s one model. So you can have a premium content model for your podcast.
The other model is just to repurpose your existing content on your blog or on your website. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean just taking a post and reading it out, because that might be a little bit bland, but it’s being creative about, ‘OK, this is what I’ve already got, and what am I going to do so I can transform this into an audio format and turn it into a podcast?’ So those are really the two main formats that you could look at for a podcast.
James: Yeah, I think I do both of those on InternetMarketingSpeed. In fact, what I did is I had my team member take a transcription from one of my products and chop it into little pieces and make separate blog posts as drafts and then I came along and read them and just made small changes. But the other thing that’s been super powerful for my blog has been interviews with experts. That is probably one of the simplest ways to syndicate into all different audiences because invariably, the person you’re interviewing will mention it or retweet it or something to their audience. I think that happened when you did an interview with me on your blog. Is that what happened?
Who do podcast interviews?
Dan: Wow. Yeah, absolutely. I’m so pleased that you brought this up, James. I mean, podcast interviews purely as a method for attracting traffic, just huge. They are ridiculous. I mean, we did the interview, I think you shared it on Facebook and you stuck it into a couple of other places, and literally, the traffic to my blog went absolutely mental. It was just crazy.
I’ll give you an example because I know the stats on this one. I interviewed Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, and Pat’s a great guy. I wanted to interview Pat because he has a podcast of his own. Now this is when my blog was in its infancy stage. So I was just starting up, and I wasn’t really getting a lot of traffic to it. So we had this fantastic interview talking about podcasts and it was really, really cool.
At the end of it, I sent Pat a copy, because that’s protocol really. That’s what you need to do after an interview, you send the person that you’ve interviewed a copy of the interview. He was then kind enough to tweet that out to his followers. Now I didn’t know this at the time, but on Twitter, I think he had about 25,000 people following him. Now when he sent that out, within a 24-hour period, the traffic to my blog went up 104 percent, and that just totally blew my socks off, because you know, I was new to this game of blogging. And what I was able to do with that huge hit of traffic was to capture a whole bunch of emails. As a result, build my list. And that happened purely by accident. That’s one advantage of doing a podcast interview.
Of course the other is that you’re generating great content. You’ve got this fantastic content going on. So two birds with one stone. So podcast interviews are huge.
James: Dan, who’s the most famous person you’ve ever interviewed on radio?
Dan: Ben Stiller, probably.
James: Right. Now, how does one go about getting an interview with somebody? How did you get an interview with me? How did I get an interview with you? How did you get an interview with Ben Stiller? What are the logical steps there?
Steps in getting an interview
Dan: Well believe it or not, I actually think James that Ben was easier to get an interview with than yourself actually. [laughs] I think it was because he was promoting his new movie, and he was prepared to talk to anyone. But generally, the way that you contact someone…
James: Hang on, that is a good point there, Dan. If someone has a high motivation and an established channel that you can take advantage of, and radio stations do that of course, you hear all the stars and then they’re flogging their latest book, movie, or whatever they’re selling, then that’s good to step in front of that, isn’t it?
Dan: Absolutely, yeah. If you can position yourself to be there, absolutely. Look, sometimes, it’s easier than others. Generally, the format that I use, and I obviously have a producer who works for me for my radio show, and we work on a lot of stuff together, let’s say for example if you wanted to interview an expert in your niche for your podcast, what you need to do obviously first is you research. You really shouldn’t be approaching somebody if you don’t know their work, because people I find generally can smell that from a mile off.
So you want to know their work, you want to understand where they’re coming from and their blogs, the websites, and their podcast, etc. And then you want to figure out what the common ground is. So you’ve got to ask yourself, why would this person say yes to me? Why would this person say yes to coming on this show? And then you have to work to that and arrange your pitch so that they see that benefit.
So say for example for Pat Flynn, it may have been, Pat could get in front of a new audience. When we’re talking about people online, we’re all sort of in the same situation, whether we’re business owners or blogs or whatever, we’re always wanting more traffic. We’re always wanting to get in front of more people. So that’s a really good place to start with a pitch of saying, “Hey listen, I’ve got this podcast. It goes out to this many people. It’s really popular. I would love to have you on and talk about this.”
But I will say this, when it comes to getting someone on for a podcast interview, it’s got to be beneficial to them, but it’s got to be beneficial to you as well, because your job as a podcaster is to protect your audience. It’s not only to give them the good stuff, but it’s to protect them from the crap stuff as well. And that’s sort of a twofold thing. A lot of other people don’t think on that second point. So when you want to pitch to somebody for an interview, a good place to start is, ‘This is who I am. This is what I’m on about. I would love to have you on to talk about this. (And whatever that is, that’s got to be, remember, beneficial to your audience as well.) And it might be a really good opportunity to promote your blog or your product or your business to my audience.’ So you’ve got to put some benefits in there for them.
James: That’s nice. That’s a good one. Now what do you do when you’ve got a difficult subject? Do you just put it in the bin? Do you approach them to redo it? What would you do in that difficult situation?
Handling a difficult subject
Dan: The radio DJ in me would say to approach them, which I’ve actually had to do with several celebrities before, who I’m not going to name who they were, but after the interview, I actually had to say to them, “Listen, that wasn’t great. If I put this to air, you’re not going to come across great.” And that might be the tact that I would approach them with if you wanted to do the confrontation thing.
The other option is just to let it go. Unfortunately, that’s obviously been a waste of your time and a waste of their time, but again, it comes back to, James, your audience. You want to protect your audience from crap. And just because you’ve spent half an hour recording something, it doesn’t mean that it has to make it to air.
James: I am the first person to throw a project in the trash tin even after some investment if it’s not going to create value.
Dan: The difference with interviewing a celebrity is, you know, from a radio DJ perspective, I really know, I know when Ben Stiller walks into a studio where I am on the food chain. I know that right away. And it’s pretty clear where he is on the food chain. But that’s only a result of who he is, and I know that when Ben Stiller walks into the studio, I basically have to position myself. I mean there’s all sorts of weird, interesting ego plays and all the rest of it, but you know, when you’re talking big names like that, you might have to make some, not so much compromises, but I think you need to be aware of where you sit on the food chain when you’re interviewing people of that caliber. Otherwise, you won’t get the interview. And that’s how it works purely from a radio perspective, because star power, having stars on a radio show is going to get more people tuning in. If you could say, “I got Ben Stiller on the show,” then loads of people are going to be tuning in to the show.
James: Also, I feel the guy that pisses him off I guess on a radio station, you’re not going to be looking so favorable in the general manager’s office. [laughs]
Dan: Right. Yeah, you’re exactly right. But the ramifications as well, you know with publicists, from a radio perspective, if you do a dirty on someone like Ben Stiller, and it just goes on and on and on, and it echoes throughout publicists, you won’t get A-listers on again. And that’s how it works. So that’s why you sort of have to go, ‘OK, this is where I am on the food chain, and I’m OK with it.’
But I would say outside of that situation, which is a really unique situation, there should never be a justification for being rude when you’re doing an interview with somebody. I think how you would approach that depends on your personality. I would perhaps confront the person about it in a really nice polite way, but if that’s hyper personality, then you might just want to stick it in the bin.
James: I love a good confrontation, Dan. [laughs]
Dan: [laughs] You’ve got the boxing gloves on.
James: I guess, just on the flip side of that, when you’re interviewing celebrities and famous people, it also rubs off on you. And that star power comes across to you. You’ll be like, “OK, Dan Lyons has interviewed X, Y and Z. So therefore, he’s acceptable to interview you. And it would work favorably with publicists.”
Transference of credibility
Dan: That is an excellent point, James. Yeah, that is an excellent point. There is that transference of credibility that works really well. It not only works with celebrities, and this is a point that I really want to focus on. It can work online as well. So if you’re trying to carve out your own place online, you can achieve that same effect, that transference of credibility, by doing podcast interviews. Again, we go back to the interview that I did with Pat Flynn because I was talking about those numbers. And the interview that I did with yourself.
When we did that interview, it’s almost like a bit of a Star Wars thing, isn’t it? I was sort of draining some of your power. I was a bit of a succubus draining some of the credibility. And I borrowed it, because your audience checked me out. Hopefully, they liked what they heard and all of a sudden, my business has grown as a result of that. So that transference of credibility is definitely something that you should be using for your advantage for sure.
James: Dan, thanks so much for today’s tips. I hope you, our listener, there you go, (you like that?), have enjoyed today’s podcast. If you want to find out about Dan, I do recommend Podcast Like a Radio DJ. I have been through the course. I liked the course. It’s helping me become a better podcaster.