Are you thinking of starting your own podcast? Tracy Hazzard has Chad McAllister, PhD on today’s show to guide you in your podcasting quest. Chad is the founder of Product Innovation Educators, the host of The Everyday Innovator, and is recognized as a Top 40 Product Management Influencer and a Top 10 Innovation Blogger. Sharing his experiences, he talks about why and how he started podcasting and teaches us how he got the show running through promotion and marketing. He shares some tips on booking great guests, how to encourage engagements, and how to monetize your podcast. Innovating your podcast means being updated, increasing your value to your audience, and delivering an impact that makes your listeners consider your show as bingeable.
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How To Innovate Your Podcast Using The Right Resources With Chad McAllister, PhD
I’ve got a podcaster who I’ve known for a long time. I was on his show almost at the start of my podcasting journey. He has such an interesting niche podcast where it’s an interesting marketplace that is not being served by a lot of podcasts out there, which is why I think his show has been doing well and been going on for so long. He’s almost at that magic 300 mark. He’s got over 275 episodes. Chad McAllister, PhD, Founder of Product Innovation Educators, the host of The Everyday Innovator, which I love the idea that everyone can be an everyday innovator. It’s the longest-running weekly podcast equipping product managers and innovators for success. It’s that product manager part that we’re going to talk about because that is his niche audience, which is eager for information. He’s recognized as a Top 40 Product Management Influencer and a Top 10 Innovation Blogger. In addition to helping organizations improve the performance of their product managers and teams, he teaches product management and innovation management at leading universities. Chad, I’m glad we get together again.
This is wonderful. Now, you get to interview me after I got to interview you.
I was on his show and I put his show into a couple of my Inc. articles over time because there are a few podcasts out there dealing with innovation at a level that you do. What made you decide that podcasting was a thing because you started pretty early on?
I did. It’s been years. Podcasting was not the thing when I first started thinking about this at all. Not for me or my audience. The way this came about was an interesting story. In 2013 and 2014, my wife and two kids, we got into a motor home and we spent one year and two weeks driving around the US. That was great. We were creating good family experiences, seeing some new things. I worked from the internet. You have the internet, you can travel and that worked out. Along the way, one of the things I was doing was I was trying to reconnect with people that were innovators, people that own companies, people that are developing products and have these wonderful, amazing conversations. Some of those were planned, set up, as we went. Others were incredible people I bumped into and enjoyed so much talking about.The amazing thing about podcasts is talking to amazing people. Click To Tweet
It’s amazing what you attract when you’re out there looking for it.
My thought was I was going to write a book on this. At this point, I was already helping people with product management and coaching companies, product management teams and training people on that, but I did feel a little bit disconnected from what was going on in different kinds of organizations. This was a great chance to find out. I thought I’d write a book. We got back home from the trip, life gets busy and I never wrote the book, but I missed the conversations. I thought, “How could I have these continuing discussions take place and at the same time, offer value to other product managers in the process?” A podcast seemed to be the logical choice.
I can relate. That’s exactly what our thought process is on 3D printing. How can we have some conversations and find out if there’s something here? That’s a fantastic way to start. You started back when it was a lot harder to start. You had to figure all this stuff out yourself. Luckily, you’re pretty tech-savvy, so it wasn’t a big deal for you, but what challenges did you face back then?
There are a few things I did too. Working through the technology was fairly straight forward because there was some good advice available at the time but the personal challenge for me was, I’m insecure in my voice. I grew up in speech therapy and was in speech therapy through 5th or 6th grade. I struggled with my voice and I still do. I still pronounce words wrong and that bothers me.
It doesn’t show in your show. We don’t hear it. It doesn’t come through.
All that was getting to the point of saying, “I do have good information to share. I know the people I talked to helped me as a product manager and I know the things that I’ve learned helped other product managers.” I had to get over myself. It was like, “Don’t let myself get in the way of trying to bring in some value to my audience.”
You had to talk yourself right out of that and into the confidence side. I think there are a lot of people out there who struggle with that the first time they hear their voice and they’re like, “That’s not good. Who’s going to listen to that?”
My little tip on that is I have help editing my podcast, but I used to do all that myself for a long time. I started in Audacity. It’s open-source and a great tool for editing audio. Now, they do things with video. In Audacity, you can listen to playback at a faster speed. I always listen at a faster speed to save myself time and it makes it sound like a chipmunk when you listen at a faster speed.
You were like, “It’s not my voice, anyway.” I never listened back to my episodes. I always had an editor because I don’t think I would have produced the show so that’s a great tip. If you’re editing your own show, do it on double speed, you’ll get over the sound of your voice and you’ll be able to deal with the things you need to edit. How did you find reaching out to the audience and letting them know those product managers that you were there? Did you have a community already? How did you get the show out there and promote it? That’s one of the hardest things for most podcasters.
It’s something I would still love more help with, and maybe you and your group can help me with that some in the future too because it’s grown very organically. In the beginning, I had people that I had served before, primarily through training and coaching, and that was a small group of product managers. I put the first episode up and within a couple of weeks, a hundred people had listened to it. I went, “That’s a lot of people listening to me saying what this thing is going to be about.” It’s an interview format because I wanted to continue those great conversations I was having and share them with others so they could hear them as well. The interview format helps a lot. In the very beginning, the hardest part is trying to find people that will want to be guests for you because you have this new podcast and there’s some faith that this will grow into something more meaningful. I reached out to people that I knew, people that I thought would be good. I tried to convince them and a couple of times, I donated to their charity to help convince them to be part of this.
That’s a great way.
There are some people that I had taken classes from that were good and could contribute and so they were easy to ask as well. It builds up organically with people sharing more and more. The thing that was easiest for me to help promote it has been LinkedIn.
I think that’s great in your category. I would have suggested that.
I was going to say, it’s very straight forward to search for product managers on LinkedIn. I send them a connection request and simply say, “I have this free resource that product managers listen to. If you’d like to have the link, here it is.” That’s pretty much been the most active promotion I’ve done. We’ve done a few Facebook ads, but LinkedIn works well.
I would think Facebook isn’t quite the right place for your audience. LinkedIn makes a lot more sense, but the thing is you’re letting people know about your show. At the same time, you’re possibly getting great guests because they’re already the right audience. They might have great stories to share and tell. Did you make a bunch of mistakes at the beginning that you found? Where you can look at them now and go, “That was such a rookie error. I can laugh about that, but I learned from that.”
I’m sure I’m making some of those mistakes still as I go. I had some good help in the very beginning. There are a couple of things I did. One was Andrew Warner, who has the Mixergy podcast. He interviews startup founders and he helps the startup community a lot. He had a course at the time, back in 2014 called Interview Your Heroes. It was all about how do you do interviews of people that are your heroes and if you want to turn that into a podcast. I did that with him. I don’t know if he ran it more than once or not, but I was one of his students and coincidentally, Andrew was one of my guests. He was episode seven because of that, but that was very helpful. That gave me a lot of structure. I did my homework upfront. There were some other things I did. There was a CreativeLive class that Alex Blumberg put together. I did that at one point. I went out and I did study up before I did it. I tried to find good people that were doing well at this and learn from what they were doing.
Let’s talk about some of your tips. What have you found overtime on ways to book great guests? You mentioned LinkedIn, maybe you can dive a little bit deeper.
To preface this, one thing I enjoy is I get to talk to these amazing people. Frankly, that’s the best thing about a podcast, a panel of people or in the candy store. You could have conversations that otherwise, I would ever have gotten to be able to come to. One thing I enjoy is after the interviews, so often, the guest will say, “This was the best interview I’ve done.”
That’s got to feel good.
They’ll say, “I love how you prepared me for that interview. It was easy.” I think that planning helps a lot to go into it and making them the star and be comfortable and talking. This is having a good conversation is what it’s about.
Making it a great experience helps you book other guests because if they hear that, they understand the result of that.
It helps a lot. Finding guests nowadays is easy because it’s a niche. There are not a lot of product managers podcasts out there. People are coming all the time, asking if they can be part of the podcast, which is wonderful. You don’t start that way at all.
None of us do. Keep that in mind.
It would be me going to the coffee shop typically on a Saturday morning and I would search through Amazon to see who has published something and see if there’s a guest there that I might like on a topic.
We haven’t heard that tip before. Looking at Amazon for the newly published authors, that’s a great idea.
They’re easy to get to say yes because if they have a book that’s coming out, they’re looking for places to talk about it. That worked well. I would also go back to LinkedIn. I would search for specific expertise and reach out to people to see if they could be part of the podcast. I also looked at existing conferences that are coming up or that was held and reach out to them and say, “Could you share that topic on the podcast?” I try to find people that had reasons to come on.The best thing about podcasting is you could have conversations that otherwise you would never have. Click To Tweet
That’s a great tip because if the speakers spoke at conferences, they’ve got to have a little more free time on their hands and admits everything that’s going on with COVID-19. You’re more likely to get them to show up on your show.
People are looking for opportunities to do something online.
Those are great ideas. What about increasing listeners? What have you found that has worked at least a little bit for you?
It’s something that I need to give more attention to. I enjoy doing the interview so much and then, we all have other work to do, too, in trying to promote us with another story. I do find LinkedIn as a helpful resource for that. That’s been my main go-to for increasing listeners. I always ask guests to help promote it as well. I’ve tried different mechanisms to make that easier for them and I haven’t seen a big difference in it. I ask them to promote it, give them the link, and let them do what they’re going to do. In the past, I have tried creating graphics for them and preparing everything so they could run with it. I haven’t seen a big difference one way or the other, but certainly asking for their help to promote is a good thing to do.
You might as well ask. If you don’t ask, it’s not going to happen. Producing it professionally, you now have a professional editor but what other ways do you make sure that you give high production value, to begin with?
I am a stickler for audio and I can control my side and then I always try to help out the guests on their side. We still are constantly looking for new systems to make those better and waiting for the next better system to come out. Like you, we tend to do this over Zoom. I record my audio locally so I get the best quality from that. Sometimes the guests can do the same. Usually, we’re grabbing the signal from Zoom and it’s not as good of a signal, but I figure, if listeners are listening regularly, at least my sound is always the same and it sounds decent because it’s local. The guest is always different. I think they’re more tolerant of the guests.
I think your audiences are more tolerant. If it’s a good guest, they are not going to care. It’s always hard to control that.
I try to get good, clean audio, at least on my side and something reasonable. I help coach the guests through that. In the past, I have at times sent a microphone to guests and I encourage them to be in a quiet environment and not to use Apple earbuds because it’s not as good.
I agree with that one.
The laptops are better. Even if you have to do a phone over Zoom, that works well too.
What about encouraging engagements? Do you have a community that talks to you? Do people message you back about your show? How do you encourage that?
It’s not something I’m particularly focused on a lot. Thankfully, I do get messages back through LinkedIn and I occasionally get the email about a question that has happened. There is a place that I promote during podcast where people can sign up for the time to talk with me about different things. I’ll get some of that going out too. More times than not, I’m starting to do this a little bit more actively. At the end of each interview, I always ask the guests, “How can this be a win for them?” I ask them, “How can we find out about your work? How can we find out about your book?” or whatever that is. For people, if they want to reach out to you and thank you for being part of this, how do they do that?” They’ll often share their LinkedIn profile or maybe if they have their website to go there on the contact page. I’m starting to hear that more from actual guests who say, “A handful of your listeners reached out to me and thanked me for being part of that.”
You’re hearing engagement on that side. That’s great.
I like that a lot.
What about ways to monetize the show? You’ve been doing this for a while. You’re about to hit your magic 300. For those of you who don’t know, that’s where your 301st episode, your very first one will drop off the iTunes. You have to have a plan for that but other than that, there’s no magic to it except that you could lose your first episode if you’re not aware of it. It’s a magic number because not a lot of shows get to 300. Have you looked back and said, “I feel like I got a return on investment from this or I need to monetize this more?” What are you thinking about that?
I need to monetize it more. In the beginning, I was that kid in the candy store, “This is the best thing to get to talk to these amazing people. I’m having such a good time with these discussions and getting you to bring that to my audience to serve them better too.” That was my only focus. This was me scratching my own itch. As time went on, I do have my products for training product managers and I go into companies. I help them in their product management teams get better at becoming high performing product managers. I have started using my podcast to advertise my products. I sponsor in that sense, the podcast myself.
I am thinking about having sponsors join at some point, maybe, in the near future. The key reason for that is because I get this specific question some of the time, like, “How do you pay for the podcast? How does that help you?” Guests never pay to be part of the podcast. I’m trying to find people that offer value. I think if there’s a sponsor on the podcast that helps eliminate some of that question, like, “Is there anything odd here going on or not?” Monetization is primarily around me advertising my products.
I think you’re not alone in that. This is where I usually point out your binge factor. Most people cannot think of their own, but have you discovered people are bingeing on your show?
I don’t know how much that is happening. I have found something that I love. When companies engaged me to do work for them to help their product management teams, a factor is a podcast. I’ve heard that in the majority of cases. Not just that they discovered me through the podcast, which happens a good part of the time, but the other factor is, we want our teams to have some kind of continued education mechanism after we get done. You helping us and we want to keep learning. There are teams out there in companies that will take maybe one of the episodes each month and say, “This is a good one for us to discuss.” They’ll get together and have lunch and learn meeting over the topics that we’ve talked about in the episode. I love that because I started it to help people with product management and how those groups of product managers are finding value in that.
You could almost make a custom list for them too. That’s a great find that not only is it helping you get the job, but it also is helping you on that continuing support after the job, which you then don’t have to provide any one-on-one. Frankly, you’re not out extra labor to keep those touchpoints going. This is what I found about you. I listened to hundreds and hundreds of shows over at the time. I’m probably upwards of coming to on a thousand different shows that I’ve listened to, to both interview here and because of our clients and of what we do. I’ve discovered patterns going on in the shows that create a bingeability to it.
Yours is that you are deeply in a niche, but you are an expert in this niche. When you ask questions and you mentioned that you took preparation into courses to learn how to interview and it shows. You can hear it in the questions that you ask, but your questions are asked from a very informed position. This is not a dumbed-down one-on-one product manager-type of questioning, like, “I don’t know anything about it. It sounded like a great niche. I’m going to use my podcast to explore this topic.” It came with deep experience. When you ask your question, they’re framed from that advanced position. If I’m a product manager, I’m not getting the silly question. I’m getting the question I wanted to ask. That is why they will go back and listen to multiple episodes and binge on the show, especially if they’re somewhat new to their job too. That’s where those new product managers or the ones who are feeling like they’re in an unproductive team, they have an opportunity to better themselves through binge-listening. That’s where your binge-able factor is.If you put too many obstacles in your way, you're not going to get going. Click To Tweet
I appreciate the feedback and that helps me have great discussions. That’s why I love doing that so much. Another factor that surprised me was some people have emailed and said, “I find your podcast so inspiring.” The first time I heard that I’m like, “Really?” In my mind, it’s all about helping you scale up. The thing I’m always thinking about for my podcast is I want listeners to walk away at least with one thing they can put it to action. It’s like, “I can do this to make myself a better product manager.” We always close the podcast episode the same way by asking the guests for an innovation quote that they like and why do they like that. I do that because I love innovation quotes. I love people’s perspectives on innovation quotes and I want to get more of them. That was something that people have connected to. Some people tell me they listen for the innovation quote and how we talk about that.
Are you using them on social media? Are you putting them out on Instagram and Pinterest?
Not only am I using them, but I did also pay a social media person to go through and take some nearly 200 of them and put them on the images, get them ready to go out and we haven’t done it yet.
We do this Marketing Monday Mixer on Facebook every Monday night at 4:00 Pacific Time. I interviewed Hani Mourra of Repurpose.io. They have an easy way to drop in audio or video and go right to the clip that you want. If you went right to your end question, you could go straight to it and you could clip that into an audiogram and use that audiogram on LinkedIn. LinkedIn requires an under a ten-minute video, but videos does well on LinkedIn these days. Your little segment at the end, it’s going to be inspiring and then you can listen to the full episode here and put that in the post. That’s a great way for you to repurpose because you’ve got a lot of episodes that people need to find. That’s the other challenge when you get up to 275 and you get up to that magic 300 is you’ve got lots of great episodes, but they’re buried sometimes in the middle. People don’t find them because they’re old to you but new to them.
That’s a great tip. Thanks so much for sharing that. I am looking for ways to do that.
Chad, you want to keep going. You feel that value in it. What do you think is that driver for you? Is it the interviews? Is it the return of being able to get future clients? What’s keeping you going?
If I did like doing this so much, it wouldn’t be happening because you know what’s this like. Everyone that’s reading this thinking about doing a podcast knows you’re getting into something that takes some time. You have to work through that resistance, but I love having the conversations and that keeps me going. Now, it’s encouraging getting to see how it’s helping some product managers. I’ve had some amazing stories that people have sent out. One guy said that he had not found a new job in years and he started interviewing for product management jobs. He was not doing well in them and he said, “I was listening to your podcast to help me figure out how to better position myself.” I’ve heard that one several times like, “I know how to position myself.” One person that was a listener and I helped a little bit. She was able to almost double her salary because she has changed companies and was able to package her work differently and went after a bigger role. It was because of a lot of the concepts that came out of some specific episodes. That was cool and it’s fun to see those stories.
That’s great when people can see the success factors that others are pointing out and say, “I have that.” It builds their confidence to a point at which then they go out and they ask for a raise or get a new job. That’s valuable. That’s got to feel good on your end, from a show standpoint and on the impact and the ripples of what’s going on from the show. For me, it was hard to let go of a show when we stopped doing our 3D print one because I knew there were these ripples of people who are learning from and who are doing it. We had reached a saturation point at 560 episodes. We knew we were done with that, but we went that far because we loved the impact that we were having. I can relate to that. I like to send people to one of your episodes because I want them to listen to the model of how you do it, one that you think is maybe one of your better episodes. Which is one of the ones that you are very proud of? You are proud of the question, of the guest, and how it turned out?
I’m going to pick one that is applicable to my audience of product managers and innovators and also for anyone else that wants to listen. That happens to be the latest one so maybe it’s top of mind right now but if you go to EverydayInnovator.com/275, you’ll find it. It’s with a gentleman, Jeremy, who did write a book. His thing is reframing problems. As innovators, we have two things that come up. We often jump into a problem without truly understanding the problem and we solve it too fast. It means we’re solving the wrong problem and sometimes, we can find a different use for some product we’ve created already and make the product go wild because we found a new use for it. Reframing is a key thing for us. For anyone that ever needs to solve a problem and I think that’s all of us, backing up from that problem for a moment and thinking about the problem in a larger context probably can make it a lot easier for us to solve the problem. It also helps us know that we’re solving the right problem and maybe not just a symptom of something else that doesn’t want to help us.
I was listening to that episode as I was preparing here because I always listen to the latest one and then work my way back through a spot episode to check it out. I wanted to see if your show changed over time, which it got better but there wasn’t a lot of change in format, which I appreciate. That’s a comfort zone for your audience who probably wants that, but what I heard in that episode too was that idea of reframing. What I thought was important is sometimes, we get the forest for the trees thing, we don’t get that stepping outside of it and by forcing a reframing thought process, we step back and do that.
Ironically, I was doing that same thing with my team where they were complaining about some things that were going on and they were giving a solution that I thought, “This is a Band-Aid. This isn’t telling us why this is going on and I can see this.” The more clients we get, the more magnified this problem is going to be. Now is a good time for us to ask those reframing questions so I used those skills immediately and applied them. When you have a great show like that, that’s the power of it. Check out that show from Chad McAllister on The Everyday Innovator. Make sure you connect up to it. Chad, are there any other tips and wisdom, any great knowledge, any advice for aspiring podcasters out there?
For people who have been doing this for a while, I’ll share the experiment that I’m doing. That’s having an online summit. This has been planned for a good 4 or 5 months and it happens to be coincidentally at a time, at least that we’re doing this, a lot of things have moved online. I’m doing that because I sincerely want to serve this community more. It’s the podcast on steroids. We’re getting together 24 fantastic top of the world, real experts to share the information in a concentrated fashion. I’m also hoping that it will add some listeners for the podcast and help out more people that way too. It’s a good experiment. We’ll see where that ends up, but I think that’s a useful thing to try to. If you’ve been podcasting for a bit and you want to focus some attention on it, maybe a virtual summit.
What about someone who hasn’t started at all yet?
My advice is to take that little bit of time to think about how you’re going to get into this. There’s the technology side of it and there are great resources for that. One that I came across is Pat Flynn who has a free tutorial. It makes it super simple. “Do this,” then you’re set. Keep the equipment simple and don’t let that get in your way. You can record on an iPhone. You make this easy and don’t need anything complicated. The key thing is to think about how you want to communicate with your guests. When you’re making that first communication, that sets the tone. Do you look professional? Are you sending out a message that says, “I want to be a part of what you’re doing,” and think about what that message is? Don’t spend too much time because you’ve got to get going. If you put too many obstacles in your way, you’re not going to get going. It’s useful to spend a couple of hours on, “What is that message? What is this about? If someone approached me to talk about these things, how would I want that message to come to me?” Think about it professionally, as if you were going to be approached, how would you like to be approached.
Chad, thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it.
I’m glad to be here.
Everyone out there, TheBingeFactor.com is where all the information on Chad, the Everyday Innovator will be. It is a great show. You’ve got to check it out. It’s deep in a niche so maybe all the advice won’t apply to you, but you’ve got to check out the shows because there are many different things and all the shows that we’re bringing you, aspects that you can read and you can relate to. Also, as a favor to the podcaster, when you read it and you go, “My uncle is a product manager or my sister is,” go out and share it with some people that you love and you know can use and value the show. Do that as a favor to Chad, for him sharing his tips and wisdom with you. I would appreciate that as well because we want to get more episodes, get greater circulation and get these great tips to raise the level of podcasting for all of you out there in the industry.
Here at the show, I am interested in interviewing new podcasters every single week. If you are a podcaster, you’ve done 25 episodes or more, please apply. You can do that at TheBingeFactor.com. You can send me a message on LinkedIn or send me an email. You can also suggest someone. Let me know who you’re listening to who you think is a great podcaster. If you haven’t started your show yet, but you want to reward a podcaster that you’ve been listening for some time, send them my way. I’d be happy to give them some free publicity because remember, it’s not only The Binge Factor, but it also goes into Authority Magazine and eventually into BuzzFeed. Doesn’t everyone want a little bit more publicity for their show? All of you out there, I thank you for reading and I’ll be back with another influencer on the show.
- Product Innovation Educators
- The Everyday Innovator – Podcast
- Mixergy – Podcast
- Episode seven – Previous episode of The Everyday Innovator Podcast
- Marketing Monday Mixer – Facebook
- Free tutorial – Pat Flynn – How to Start a Podcast in 2020: The Complete Podcasting Tutorial
- LinkedIn – Tracy Hazzard
About Chad McAllister, PhD
Chad McAllister, PhD and founder of Product Innovation Educators is the host of The Everyday Innovator, the longest-running weekly podcast equipping product managers and innovators for success. He is a recognized Top 40 Product Management Influencer and a Top 10 Innovation Blogger.
In addition to helping organizations improve the performance of their product managers and teams, he teaches product management and innovation management for leading universities.
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