On August 22, 2018, The Story Engine Podcast was born. It launched with seven interviews ranging from practical digital marketing like design hacking sales pages to the deep inner work that comes from mastering sales.
I’ve loved the blend of actionable and helpful business and marketing advice combined with the deep and moving stories that come from making an impact on the world in a way that’s important to you.
Over one year and 70 episodes later, the podcast is a year old. It remains something that I look forward to every week. I’ve learned a great deal over the many conversations and reflections that make up this show. To celebrate the first year of the show, I’m going to share some of the best lessons I’ve learned from behind the scenes of the podcast.
Podcasting Lesson 1: Systems And Your Team Will Set You Free
One of my big themes this year in general, not just in the podcast, has really been getting clear on what I love to do and what I’m great at doing and delegating everything else.
This can be a scary step to take, and I was not always committed to taking it. I can remember two years ago trying to start a podcast. I did everything myself, wrote the scripts, recorded them, and tried to edit them and manage all of the uploading myself. I remember blundering through the editing process on one of these episodes, trying desperately to cut out every um and breath noise from the recording.
This was tedious and frustrating at the time and left me feeling overwhelmed. All of a sudden, I’m startled by my phone ringing.
The Podcasting Guest That Changed Things
It’s Ree Perez, a friend of mine and a future guest on this show, wanting to talk about some ways we could collaborate and work together. The call had been scheduled, but I was so lost in the editing that I had forgot about it and had answered while my brain was still immersed in the craziness and overwhelm, “Uh. Hello? Ree? Hi. Um, hi. Um, sorry.” “Hey, Kyle. How are you?” “Oh, not great. This podcast is driving me crazy.” “Oh, are you still good to talk?” “Yeah, um.”
What was intended to be some ice breaking conversation ended up with me asking “what is the secret sauce that makes your business so successful.” Though Ree did not reveal his secrets, he was gracious enough to offer another time to talk later. Needless to say, that podcast attempt that drove me crazy never really got off the ground.
Fast forward to now, and the podcast is a very different story.
Establishing A Podcasting Team
I’ve got a team in place to help me with the production and editing parts of the podcast.
These days, all I need to do is record the interviews and leave them in a Dropbox folder, and the editing, show notes, uploading to the hosting platform is all handled. This can be much more affordable and accessible than you think, and it’s very valuable. This allows me the free time to find more guests, ask better questions, and really hone my own craft and not be distracted by the details.
Freelance audio editors are available on Upwork, and amazing virtual assistants can be found in places like greatassistant.com or priorityva.com. I think it’s important to understand the whole process and everything that goes into making a great podcast. But if it’s the difference between you not making a show and making a show, I would rather have you just create exceptional content. Focusing on where you’re great and having other people help you out with the rest.
Lesson Number Two: Small Things Make The Difference
Once you’ve got the big tasks delegated, you’re free to further master the craft that you choose.
Get Intimate With Your Mic When Podcasting
What makes a great podcast is a lot of little details. One good detail is getting intimate with the mic. One of the smallest changes that made a huge difference I learned from Harry Duran of FullCast.co.
Harry is a podcasting expert, and he invited me onto his show. He noticed on a Zoom call with a video that my microphone was set up maybe a foot or two away from my face. He encouraged me to get up close to the mic so I was only an inch or two from my mouth. The sound quality instantly transformed from barely better than a phone call to an intimate and full sound that really makes the most of the microphone I’m using.
Despite how simple this advice was, it had a big impact on the quality of content I was producing. It also helps on client calls and group coaching calls. Having better audio whenever you’re communicating with people is a really big win.
Zoom Set-Up Is Crucial
The next detail is to really know the settings of the platforms and tools you’re using. Another great one I learned from Nicole Holland of Interviews That Convert was in Zoom, the tool I usually conduct my interviews through.
There’s a setting in your preferences in the audio section called Automatically Adjust Audio Settings. If you have this turned on, it will raise and lower the volume of your voice, but you won’t be able to hear it. Only the recording or the guest will possibly catch it. This can ruin the audio quality of an episode without you realizing it. You can usually only recognize it when it’s too late. Make sure that you really have the details understood on the platforms you’re using.
Mimic Your Guests Volume
The third detail, which is something I’m still working on, is balance your voice and your guests.
It’s been challenging for me. If you’re doing interviews, you want to set up your guests to succeed. This means asking good questions and getting out of the way to let them shine as much as possible. But I’ve found my audience also likes hearing from me too. It’s not just about asking good questions and getting out of the way but also sharing my thoughts, experiences, and ideas. Which makes the podcast more of a conversation than an interview.
It’s possible to overdo this and step on your guests’ toes though. I’ve experienced this as a guest myself. There’s a careful art to hearing from your guests and sharing yourself, which I want to bring more of into my podcast in the future.
Lesson Number Three: Video Podcasts Are Awesome
Alongside the 70-ish audio episodes I’ve created, I’ve also created two high quality video podcasts. I have two more in production at the recording of this monologue.
These were interviews I did in person with thought leaders I admired and wanted to hear from. Though I have loved many of my interviews, the video podcasts were always my favorite. The process of preparing for them, recording, and the final product were all thrilling and something I’ve been proud of.
I’m not experienced in recording or editing video, so I invited an old friend from college named Jonathan Ramanujan to help me with the filming and audio. He would set up three to five cameras and bring a team with him, which made it feel like a full TV production set.
We would have one camera dedicated to my guest, one camera dedicated and zoomed in on my face, and then at least one other camera. This was sometimes on a gimbal. (A gimbal is a really cool tool that you can use to carry and move around with a camera, but it makes your motion really smooth and not jerky like you’re walking around. It makes for a really great video.)
My two guests of the video podcasts are Dr. Chris Zaino, who overcame a chronic and challenging autoimmune condition, was a former Mr. Universe, and went on to build the most successful and the largest chiropractic agency ever.
Also, we have Garrett Gunderson, who is a financial expert and founder of Wealth Factory. He has an incredible and artistic perspective on how to create a vision that drives your business and drives your team. I will put links to both of the episodes in the show notes of this episode.
Lesson Number Four: Podcast Promotion is Hard
One of the biggest challenges I’ve found with the podcast is promotion.
With guests, there’s kind of a catch-22 being featured on podcasts, especially those that are doing a lot of interviews. As a guest, you usually have some tried and true talking points and common questions you get. This is great because you can very comfortably and reliably do a lot of interviews around a few core ideas. The downside here as a guest is that your interviews are often so similar that it feels like you’re promoting the same conversation over and over if you share podcast features with your audience.
[bctt tweet=”As a host, my goal is to find new questions that go deeper or in new directions that my guests have not spoken on before so they feel like they have something valuable and fresh to share with their audiences. It’s also good to seek out guests who are brilliant in their own right but, for whatever reason, haven’t been on as many podcast interviews.” username=”kylethegray”]
Lesson Number Five: There Is More To Podcasting Than Monetization
A common question I get from people who know I’m a podcaster is, “How are you monetizing your show?”
Though making money from my podcast sounds awesome, it’s not really my goal. The value of this show to me is the relationships I build with my audience and my guests. There’s so much more value to me in a conversation with a listener who is impacted by something I said or something one of my guests said.
Plus the conversations I have with my guests are enlightening, inspiring, and actionable. In some ways, I feel like I’m getting free coaching from them because I’m often following my own interests in my questions. I’ve made many big decisions and overcome challenges based on what I’ve learned from my guests. I’m getting plenty of value from this podcast just not worrying about monetization, so it’s not a goal in the near term for me.
Lesson Number Six: Keep Up With The Friends You Make
By far, my favorite thing about podcasting is being able to connect with brilliant and inspiring guests.
I learn a lot from my guests and discover new ways to improve my own business, health, and life. For many of my guests, I see being interviewed on my show as a first step in growing a relationship.
But keeping up with past guests and hosts of other shows I’ve been on takes deliberate and consistent work. Even for extroverts, it’s not always something that comes naturally. These days, it requires systems and tools to keep track of everything.
One of the tools I’ve really enjoyed for this kind of work has been Cloze, C-L-O-Z-E.com. It’s a tool meant for relationship management that syncs up with your Gmail account quite naturally.
Where you can create workflows for your relationships and have sets of pre-written emails ready to personalize and reconnect with your past guests. It’s also good to have more ways to create opportunities for your guests.
For a select few, I’ll allow them to present to my audience on a webinar and do a joint venture or find another way to co-create content together that leads to wins for both of us.
Number Seven: I Have Not been Giving It My Best
I feel a disconnect in my business. There’s my digital presence, where I have my podcasts, my books, and my content, where I’m reaching a lot of people online. But, I’m feeling a slow burn inside of me over the last few months.
Despite this being the most successful year ever for me in terms of building a team, helping incredible people, and increasing my revenue, there’s one area of my business and passions that has not been experiencing the same growth. It’s creating content, attracting new visitors to my website, and promoting my new book.
I’ve been working with new clients, speaking at events, and bringing on three new team members this year: a designer, a writer, and a project manager.
It’s been challenging to give the podcast and, moreover, my blog the time and energy it needs to thrive. I’ve not posted an article on my site since starting the podcast. While I think the podcast has been a great move, I really miss the feeling of getting into the creative flow with writing.
There are few feelings more satisfying and exciting than sitting down in the morning with a fresh cup of coffee or tea in one hand and the outline of an article that I want to create in front of me.
How To Coach Yourself
In this case, here’s how I would coach myself.
Number One: Schedule Time For Inspiration And Strategy
One of the biggest snags I’ve been experiencing is a lack of inspiration.
I’ve not been having ideas for content that excites me and are useful to my audience. Nobody who knows me would believe me if I told them I don’t have anything interesting to say or create. It’s a cheap excuse not to invest the time and to bring these ideas forward, to hone and refine them into something useful, interesting, and inspiring.
Great content does not just appear in your mind and then fall out onto a piece of paper or whatever medium it may be. It’s important not only to have time to create but time to be creative, to come up with the ideas and develop a clear strategy for how you want what you create to serve you. It’s not just a single brainstorming session but a habit to think about and explore your ideas over months and years.
Number Two: Connect Your Brand
Like I mentioned earlier, there’s a disconnect with my agency work and my brand work online.
Over the next year, I plan to unite these two branches of my business. First by sharing more of what’s going on behind the scenes in my work and with my team. And to make it easier for people to work with me. Currently, I’m refining and developing more productized services and offerings like presentation coaching, sales funnel development, and book ghostwriting.
Over this coming year, you’ll learn more about my processes for each of these and get some key insights for sharing your own story through these three mediums.
Number Three: Be Held Accountable
Different people commit to things in different ways.
Some of us can just decide to go and do something and do it. Some need something external like a reward or a consequence. For me, I do better in my commitments if I have external accountability.
To draw closer to all of you listening now, I promise you I’ll be creating more great content and upping my game even more in this coming year. Expect more solo podcasts and articles where I share more of what’s going on inside my business.
That is my seven lessons learned from my first year in podcasting. Thanks again to everyone who has made this show possible and contributed to its growth. Thank you to everyone who’s been listening and sharing their thoughts and feedback with me.
Thanks for listening to the Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned on this episode and every other episode at thestoryengine.co. If you’re looking to learn more about how to use storytelling to grow your business, then check out my new book, Selling With Story: How to Use Storytelling to Become an Authority, Boost Sales, and Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Audience. This book will equip you with actionable strategies and templates to help you share your unique value and build trust in presentations, sales, and conversations, both online and offline. Learn more at sellingwithstory.co. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.