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How to Build Trust and Connection with Your Audience

Sneak-peek moments you don’t want to miss in the full episode:

  • The “Golden Rule” of respecting your listener’s time and how it directly relates to your podcast’s success
  • Crafting the perfect listener persona to understand their needs and interests
  • Our step-by-step guide on turning an average podcast title into an attention-grabbing one that stands out
  • Repurposing content gems: efficient ways to renovate your podcast without reinventing the wheel
  • The great episode numbering debate, and how the Apple Podcasts interface update changes things

Niall Mackay

Niall Mackay: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of "Smarter Podcasting." My name is Niall Mackay. The Podcast Guy, and I'm here to help you build your community and connect with your audience.

 I started my first podcast in 2019. And I don't say this lightly, it literally changed my life. I'm here to help other podcasters on their podcasts journey to help them build their community and connect with their audience. I now work with people around the world to help them on their podcasting journey. Create an amazing show. And connect with their audience. I do that through my blog, through coaching, consulting, my online course, and this podcast right here.

In this episode, you're gonna be joined by an industry veteran. He began his career back in 2008, editing podcast and creating on-demand audio for radio stations.

In [00:01:00] 2016, he founded a media hosting company that served millions of listeners across the world. He then sold that company in 2016, and founded "Origin."

He now hosts "The Helpful Podcaster," which empowers Entrepreneurs to create a long lasting and meaningful relationship with their listeners. My guest today is someone I look up to and respect so much in the industry. It's Mark Steadman from Origin. I've been working with Mark now for the last six months.

And I look up to this guy so much for his knowledge, his passion, and his enthusiasm for the podcasting industry. And so I'm so excited to be able to share his knowledge with you today.

You're gonna be learning some crucial information. Everything is about the listener. Mark gonna share with us what that means for everything that you do from setting your goals, creating artwork, and hosting your show.


Niall Mackay: Hey Mark, thank you so much for joining me today. what we are gonna be talking about is, I think, so important and it comes up time and time again, and there's so many topics that we're gonna cover. There's so many topics that have been covered and there's so many topics to cover, but at the end of the day, the number one thing that.

Comes up time and time again. And really the number one answer is 'making great content.' That should be your number one. And I think, there's so much out there to learn. It can be so overwhelming and it can be easy to forget that, that your number one thing as a podcaster is to just make great content. And I think any independent podcaster who has found success probably did that more than all the myriad of other things that we are told to do to grow our podcast. They just made great content and then they were successful. And what we are gonna talk about today is how to make great content. And one of the most important things I love this point of view, [00:03:00] is putting the listener first. And it seems so obvious, but it's one of these things I guess, that not everybody does. So, give me an example of what would it mean to not put the listener first? What would be some examples of somebody completely disregarding the listener.

Mark Steadman: So the, one of the best examples, I don't hear or see this as much now, so I dunno if it's still being done, but it was very much being done for a few years, is people would start their show on Anchor or Spotify for podcast as it is now. And they would open with a two minute ad for Anchor. Because Anchor promised them that they would earn a bit of money for every download that they got past a certain number, and that's.

bad listener experience. It's also a bad podcaster experience because that money doesn't really materialize. And what it's really doing is cutting your show off at the knees before it's had a chance to grow. Because most people will start [00:04:00] on something like Anchor because it's free and then maybe graduate to something else, and they will graduate to something else if their show is doing well.

And if it's attracting listeners and if people are really enjoying it. But if you start right from the beginning with a new show, and the first thing you do is advertise for a service, that doesn't really have your best interests at heart. But the first thing you do is you ask the listener to do something else.

You are not really adding value. You're not building trust. You are not saying to the listener, "Come on in, like, this is what we're gonna do. Let's spend time together." That is what we're trying to do here. Whether you are making a comedy podcast, an entertainment podcast, a news show, whether you are a business.

And you want someone to take a particular action. You've gotta start by thinking about who they are and, and why they should take that action, why they should spend time with you. 'Cause that's what they're doing. They are putting you in their ears and they're walking around, they're doing the dishes, they're having a bath, they're walking the dog [00:05:00] you are along for the ride with them.

So as much as it starts, or as much as the content is a big part of it, there's actually a load of stuff around it that can sound like a lot of thought, but really it just comes down to is this something the listener cares about? And so when you think about planning episodes, you know, I take this to a degree where when I'm writing, I mean, I finished an episode this week and it's all about podcasting.

And the episode was about podcast artwork. And I literally saw the people that I had in mind the actual people, the, you know, the people I could name and have spoken to that this episode is for. And when you do that, you are targeting the people who are more likely to wanna listen. Because if I'm really hyper focused and really targeted about this particular person, "This is what they care about." "This is what they have time for." "This is what they don't have time [00:06:00] for." "This is what I wanna help them with." Then that makes it far more easy to spread that kind of message because chances are, they know someone who's like that as well and they will say, "Oh, actually you are at a similar point in your journey. You've got this question about podcast artwork or wherever." You should listen to this episode because it's speaking directly to them. So it comes from starting putting that, putting the listener first with everything that you do because, not just out of pure altruism, but you know, that's part of it.

But because good podcasting is about generously communicating and showing up for your listener and being able to deliver them really good value. And so when you can, when you can do that from the outset, the rest of it kind of actually becomes a little bit easier because you are not having to second guess.

You're not having to think too much. You, you're actually just going. What do they care about? And so that's sort of in a nutshell, my rambling answer.

Niall Mackay: No, no, that's absolutely great. And that, and, and it's like you say, so it's almost a state of mind that you have to be in. And then if you [00:07:00] have that state of mind, everything comes from that. And one thing you said there really resonated with me, and it's something that I believe in it's respecting the listener's time. Now, I'm also a standup comedian, so I do standup comedy obviously. And, I do the same. I, I apply the same logic when I do standup comedy. You have to respect the audience. So if you're not prepared, if you have to look at your notes, if you're gonna say some sort of cliche, or basically like, you just have to be up there and you have to respect the fact that the audience came out to see you and you're there for the audience. And so it's the same with podcasting. And I've said this from the very beginning. It's insane to me still. I absolutely love this medium. It blows my mind that somebody will sit and listen to something that you've produced, even if it's one person, something that you've produced for an hour or so. That person, like you mentioned, is giving up an hour of their day, whether they're at the gym, doing the day she's in the car. They're [00:08:00] committing to listen to you, and there's a podcaster I know, obviously not gonna name him. He puts zero effort into his podcast. Apart from making it, he's made hundreds of episodes, great guests, and great interviews the ones that I have listened to, the audio quality is awful, like it's his phone in the middle of a room. Doesn't. I've tried to tell him to use Descript hunt on the 'studio sound,' do something, do anything. He does nothing and I've never said it to his face, but I wanna be like, "You are disrespecting the listener. You want a listener to give up an hour of their time to listen to this tinny Shorty audio?" So I think that's a great point you made, that respect that the listener is giving you their time.

Mark Steadman: And we have to, because, well, for one reason, it's such a crowded market. It's such a crowded space. We can talk about nicheing down as we, you know, that's becoming, that's probably the word or phrase of [00:09:00] 2023. And that get you, that will get you

Niall Mackay: And 22, and 21, and 20.

Mark Steadman: It's just, yeah. But as much as we, as much as that's good and that's good advice, it's no. Like if you essentially hold the listener in contempt, if you don't have that time for them, if you think, "Ah, it doesn't really matter. They don't care." It's not that they necessarily care, but they, they notice that absence. And so my whole thing is about building trust. My whole thing, what I do is about building trust, building long-lasting relationships with listeners, because the work that I do is helping primarily Solo-preneurs make their podcasts.

And so if you want someone to take action, if you want someone to work with you, that action could be anything. Could be from, yeah, booking a call with you to taking some sort of climate action, joining a protest, like whatever it is, if it's something that you want someone to do. That starts with building [00:10:00] that trust.

And if you sound like you are halfway across the room, you are almost literally holding the listener at arm's length. Whereas if you bring them in, and you can do this with, you know, with a helper studio sound, you can also do this by just getting nice and close to your microphone. Like you don't need an expected microphone.

You just have to be up close to it. And, and when we do those things, we nestle in the listener, in the listeners. Here, we create this little bubble, this little cocoon where it's just you and the listener. And that's where the magic happens. And it doesn't take much more than just thinking about that and just having that care.

Like if you, if you can go in and really care about the listener. I mean, a a, you know, a slight sidetrack on this is I'm a, I'm hugely fanatical about using the word listener in the singular when we talk about and to a particular person. It's something that comes from radio. It's an old school radio thing, and it absolutely works.

It's worked for over a hundred years because people [00:11:00] don't listen to the radio. Well, slightly differently, but people don't really listen to podcasts, certainly as a group. Yes, I know you can have listening parties and stuff, but yeah. People are listening as a single person, as a single unit. They are not guys.

They are not everyone. And when you do that, it's another way of holding the listener at arm's length by saying, "Hey guys, welcome everyone." You are suddenly making me one of many. One of the faceless number. Whereas if you actually talk to me as a single person, "Hey, how you doing? Really glad that that you've joined me today.

I'd love to get your feedback on this thing. Drop me an email." When you actually communicate with me as a single human being. Then you start to build that trust, you start to build this parasocial relationship where I as your listener, feel like, I know you, I don't really, but I feel like I know you.

And that, and that is what is a precursor to building that sort of, that trustful relationship. So as much as it's, you know, the getting the content right, it's, [00:12:00] it's also thinking a little bit about the presentation and all of this stuff is learnable and it's all, it's all manageable and, and it takes, and it's okay if you don't get this stuff right from the beginning. But, If you, if you care about the person on the other end of the, of the phone or the earbuds, then this is, it's, it's worth doing and it's worth learning.

Niall Mackay: There's three really powerful things that you, you said there. One, I hadn't thought about the physicality of, if you have your microphone across the room and you're listening to this, you are just listening to someone having a conversation in a room, which is not what a podcast is. It's not the magic of podcasting.

So that physicality of being close to the microphone, being in someone's ear, that's what you like, that's what you want. And, and I've not really ever equated the physical nature of being close to the microphone to the physical nature of that experience. So that's, that's incredible. Number two. Amazing insight there [00:13:00] using the singular and it's got me thinking, "Do I do that?" And I probably don't, I probably say what you just said there, like you guys, or I don't know if I say listeners much, but I definitely don't do it in the singular, like that. And there is so much to learn from radio, I've done it in a previous podcast where I finished with the same segment every episode, and I literally took that from radio just as a radio fan, and I realized my favorite morning radio show, I've been listening to it for 10 years now, have this same segment every day. And I laugh every day, and I listen to it every day and I love it.

And it was like a light bulb moment when I started my podcast. I was like, "That must work. If they do that every day and they've been doing it for years, I'm gonna do the same." So I, I finished my episodes with the same six questions per season, and then every season it would change, but it was the same, same finale on every episode. And then the last thing, the key takeaway there from what you just said was, the fact that you can, and I tell people this all the time, "You can always [00:14:00] improve, you can always change. You can get better." Like what you've just told me there will make me better. Like, I'm now going to make sure when I'm doing future podcasts, I'm gonna talk to that one listener.

I'm gonna make sure my language is correct. And I've been doing this for a few years now, and I'm working with clients, coaching people, and I'm all, and I, but I always tell people just, well, you have to learn all the time because. There is so much opportunity to learn, but my, the biggest thing is just get started, right?

Like, that's why I say to people, "Just get started." Like, if I hadn't started when I did, I wouldn't be in the position now to learn what I'm still learning. You have to keep going and keep building that knowledge. So putting the listener first, what else would you tell somebody? Like, this is already so key, such key information. How else do you put the listener first?

Mark Steadman: Start with, it's a bit may be a bit cliche, but it's worth doing, is thinking about a listener persona. There are tools that will help you do this. And [00:15:00] there's also one at the incidentally. But what this is about is trying to… so you might call it 'persona.' You might call it an 'avatar.'

It's creating a person with a name, putting a face to that name, thinking about how old they are, thinking about, you can do some sort of demographics if it's useful, but what's much more useful is the psychographics. So thinking about "What they care about?" "Who influences them?" "Who do they influence?"

"Where do they go for conversations?" "What kind of things do they talk about?" "What keeps them up at night?" "What are their goals and values?" And then from that you can start to come up with some quotes, sort of things in their own language that they might say to describe themselves. And then write a sort of quick summative statement, just like one sentence that describes this person as it's relevant to your show.

Once you have that idea. And it's really great when you can base it on real people that, you know, once you have that, [00:16:00] that's the person you talk to. That's the person that you can almost have, you know, people have talked about like pinning photos to their monitors and stuff. Like, I don't do that, but, but people absolutely can have just like, taken a photo and stick it to your monitor.

And so when you are talking to them, that's the person you are, you are talking to. It's huge. It's so effective. So, making that start of thinking exactly 'who is this for?' So the show I do now, I thought about doing it when I was just walking home one day, and I just thought what would be really interesting is if I made a show that was essentially for my clients.

I'll make it public and anybody can listen to it, but I'm gonna make it for my clients because I know that I attract a certain type of client. And so the likelihood that that stuff will resonate with more people. Or there is a high, a higher likelihood because I'm thinking about, well, like Dan, what does Dan care about if I'm going off on one about some new microphone or whatever.

He's already got his mic. He's happy [00:17:00] with that mic. He doesn't need a new mic. He does, he care about the new whe whether Twitter or Master Don is, no, he doesn't care about that stuff. What he cares about is, another way that we can use our microphone, use mic technique. Think about how we do our intros and outros so that we've got the call to action, right?

Those are the things that he might care more about. And so I can start to write my stuff, and come up with my content, thinking about those things. Thinking about what those individuals care about. So start from that listener persona and work forwards from there.

Niall Mackay: And to that listener who's listening right now, there might be one person, let's call him 'Dan' who's listening. Uh, let's call him Niall because this, this is me I'm talking to right now, he thinks that's too hard. "I just wanna make a podcast. I don't know what a listener persona is. I don't wanna, I don't know how to develop one. I just wanna make a podcast."

And so on this [00:18:00] show, I've been talking a lot about AI, and I use AI a lot. And because it does what I can do better and faster. So actually just a couple of weeks ago I used ChatGPT. I've trained at, fed at the information about my show and about my podcast, and about what I do.

So you tell it all a bit about you and I said, 'create a listener persona for this target audience.' And because it knows what a persona is or what an avatar is, I can't remember the exact language I used that at a avatar or listener persona. It literally told me the gender, the age, their background, their challenges and what they wanted out of a podcast. And then it was a female, was the original one. And it said, tell me about a male. And it gave me a male persona, which was similar but slightly different. And those questions that you just said there as well, like, you know "What are they thinking? What are the challenges?" I'm gonna go back and then ask, feed those questions and, and it… so what ChatGPT wrote was not something that I [00:19:00] couldn't have written, but it would've probably taken me an hour or two of thinking and brainstorming and coming up with it. And so some people listening as well may be saying, may be thinking that listener may be thinking, "I'm not using ChatGPT, I'm not using ai." Yeah, it's a cheat. But it makes everything quicker and faster and then you can tailor it to your needs as well.

So that would be my big tip. If you are that listener who's thinking that's too hard to create a listener persona, I don't know how to do that. I don't have time to do that. There are tools available and you mentioned "Podcast Canvas".

Mark Steadman: Yeah, so "The Podcast Canvas", that's something that, that I'm working on. And that's an ebook and notion template as well. That helps, guide you through that entire process. So if it does feel, sort of difficult or icky, then there is, yeah, there is a sort of a guided process for that.

So "" is where I would, gently invite you to go, but what I would, what I would really pick up on there, the, the question I have is, And maybe this is because I'm older, [00:20:00] uh, and I certainly wasn't like this when I was younger. I was very much like, "I'd come up with a podcast idea in a day and start with episode one and just go for it."

My question to you or to anyone else who's thinking I don't have time for this, is what's the rush and what is it that you actually want to achieve from your podcast? And so if it's about getting your message out there, or if it's just about having fun and turn it up to the mic and having a laugh, then absolutely like, "Do that go for it." And you can sort of build your parachute on the way down. You can, you know, just get started and, and go. But if it's. If there's a bit more of a purpose behind it, if there's a bit more of a goal behind it about whether it's helping you grow your influence or whatever you really need to, I think you really need to actually step back.

So, there's chat that I work with at the moment. He's a business consultant and he has this phrase that [00:21:00] he uses. It comes from Abra-, I believe it was Abraham Lincoln, who said, uh, "If I had four hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first three sharpening the ax." Because when you spend time, when you stop and you spend time actually rather than doing, doing, doing, doing, if you stop and you spend time to, to sharpen the ax, what you are doing there is you are getting really, really, really targeted and really thinking about.

we get into an episode, "What are we doing?" "What's the takeaways?" "How can we deliver value?" Bang in, bang out, and everything becomes a lot more streamlined and easier. And that's the thing. It's as much as, yes, we can hit record and we can go. There's actually a lot more effort on the backend then to then think about the 'marketing,' because if you've just sort of created your show, you've then gotta think who you know, "Where's this gonna go?"

"Am I just gonna blast it on social media?" "Am I gonna go to different forums?" "What am I actually gonna do?" Whereas if you stop and you spend the time to think, "Well, this is where this [00:22:00] person hangs out. I know this because I sat and I did the work." I don't think ChatGPT can help that much because what ChatGPT is really good at is predicting what word to put next.

It's not really necess-, you know, and so what it's gonna give you is something generic because it's a probability engine. That's what ChatGPT is. It's literally. Its job is to get some input and then produce some input where it is predicting what is the most probable word to put next in this sentence.

And so what that ends up with is something fairly bland and generic, whereas if you actually sit and spend a couple of hours even doing this yourself, You'll come up with something that's much more unique, that's much more, you can't be more unique, but that is unique and that is much more tied to what you wanna achieve.

The people that you wanna work with, the people that you wanna influence, the people that you wanna spend time with. ChatGPT can't help you with that. That's the work that it's worth doing on your own because yeah it makes the rest of the process actually go a lot smoother. End of [00:23:00] lecture.

Niall Mackay: No, I absolutely love it. And it's, so, I, I'm the person that you talk, you mentioned there, so I just like to "do, do, do, do, do." I don't sharpen the ax. I'd probably rather spend four hours with a blunt ax trying to get it down. And that's my, uh, you know, those two types of people that talk about this often.

There's other people who have paralysis by analysis where they're, they'll analyze it so much, they'll do nothing. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum where I analyze, I don't analyze that at all and just get it done, and it's maybe not as best. So for that listener, Be more like Mark,

Mark Steadman: Somewhere in the middle baby. Yeah.

Niall Mackay: I think with… for ChatGPT as I kinda said, it speeds it up for me. You know, it's something, and if you're like me, and maybe you're like, "I'm not gonna do this because it's too difficult, I don't know how to do it., I don't have, I don't have the time." If that, and those are all excuses that I make, that we're all gonna make, put it into ChatGPT as I said, it's never gonna be perfect. It's then gonna give you an idea to be like, "Oh, this is what it's gonna give you that [00:24:00] template. That then you can then take and delve deeper. So don't think that it's just gonna give you the answer, but, and that's what I talk a lot about with AI is it will get you to somewhere, but it's always gonna need a human touch to it.

Mark Steadman: Yeah, I would say with that, what I would recommend is get ChatGPT to give you the questions that you should ask. Rather than trying to answer them. You know, maybe a prompt could be something like, "I need to write a listener persona for my podcast." It's about this. These are, this is kind of the people that I wanna work with, you know, it could be I wanna work with Solopreneurs or Expats or, whatever. And so those are the people I wanna work with. "I'm building a listener persona, what questions should I ask? What things should I be thinking about?" And then get ChatGPT to actually give you the things to think about.

'Cause I absolutely think you need to do that thinking yourself, but you could definitely get ChatGPT if you are stuck and you dunno. I dunno, the first thing about this, then definitely getting ChatGPT to say, "gimme [00:25:00] some questions to ask." Prompt me to think about it. And then you could, you know, you could then try and feed those answers back in and see what comes out. But, I would definitely do the thinking yourself, but use ChatGPT to help you with those prompts.

Niall Mackay: Now, so tell me what are your other methods for putting the listener first? 'Cause I feel like there's, there's probably so many. What are maybe some of the smaller nuances or, or more obvious, obvious wins.

Mark Steadman: So things like 'titles and show notes,' and even even things like 'artwork.' So I'll start with the artwork first 'Cause it's just fresh in my mind. One of the points I was making in my episode today was people often wanna put their company logo in their artwork and or they wanna put a subtitle and a name, you know, their name and stuff.

And you stop and you think about someone completely new to you and to your brand or to your, your line of work, [00:26:00] what do they need to know? What do they need to see? They need to see something that's attractive and interesting and, you know, bright and vibrant or mysterious and intriguing. And so what that usually is a small bit of text and some color, you know, that, or it could be a photo.

What they don't need at that point, is your name. They don't need a subtitle because that stuff is actually visible on screen elsewhere. You know, the host's name is visible. There is a description. And then when it comes to the description, whether it's per episode or for the podcast itself, think about the fact that the… when someone's browsing a list of episodes or a list of podcasts, they see the artwork on the left, they see the text on the right, the sort of maybe the post name and then the name of the show, and then they've got maybe two, three lines of a description.

That's not a lot. So if your show is called "How to Grow a More Ecologically Friendly Business with Jeff Businessman," right? That's the name of your podcast. [00:27:00] What we so often see is the description then says, "Welcome to the How to…" I can't even remember the name, but like, "Welcome to How to Grow a Better Ecological Business with your host Jeff Businessman. on this episode."

Niall Mackay: impressive you remember that.

Mark Steadman: On this episode. We, or this is the podcast where we, and so by the time you've done all that, you've run outta space. And And so what I like to do is in my show notes and in my description, For, either for an episode or for the podcast as a whole is take that first sentence and really pick something that is going to set up tension.

What we wanna do is grab the listener's attention. We don't need to say something controversial for the sake of it, but absolutely. Get their attention. Make them go. "Ooh, okay. Interesting." So that could be, I don't know. "Eating vegan is actually far cheaper than you might think." I'm pulling that out of my backside.

It may be true, I dunno. But it's so, [00:28:00] what we're doing there is we're starting our description. The first thing after the title. The first thing that reader, cause they're not yet a listener, the first thing they're gonna see is a statement. They're gonna see the position that this episode is taking, and at that point they can then hit the little more button and go and find out a little bit more.

And so the next sentence we describe, like, we, we relieve that tension, or we describe how the episode is gonna relieve that tension, you know, it turns out eating vegan can save you so many pounds a month. That's what this person discovered when they switch their diet to a meat-free diet. And then you start to do that.

So that's your description and then the title again, it's maximizing the space. It's, we don't need the, we don't need the podcast name. We don't need the episode, the word episode. We don't need an episode number. There's, you know, arguments back and forth, whether you include an episode number.

I personally don't think you need to, but that there's absolutely room for that. But, you need a title again, that's going to, in the language that the [00:29:00] listener already uses in their head, something that's gonna intrigue them, something that's gonna solve a problem, something that, again, is gonna set up tension.

So, thinking about, again, if, you know, if I think about business, or entrepreneurial podcasts or anything with that kind of purpose behind it, when you start by thinking "What is a question that the listener is likely to search for?" Because that can be really powerful then, because if you start using those kinds of words you are, you know, that increases the likelihood that your stuff might show up.

Combine that with a bit of nicheing and you can create a title that is a bit more Googleable. That actually points to a problem if you are interviewing a guest. Yes, you wanna honor that guest because you want their name to be in there, but it doesn't need to be in the title. It can be later on in the description.

You can have a photo in your artwork and that's fine. But again, put in the listener first thinking about "No one's browsing podcasts to go… [00:30:00] I wonder what Mark Steadman thinks?" They're going, "What can Mark Steadman tell me?" Well, they're not even thinking that. They're not at all thinking that they're going.

"I've got a question about podcasting. You know, I wanna increase my downloads or whatever." Again, where this gets tricky is that we are talking about putting the listener first. That's not something that someone's searching for 'cause that's not a problem they believe they have. But if we can think about the struggle that they're facing, if we can think about what is a difficulty that is in their life at the moment.

In as much as, I've been producing episodes for a year, and no one seems to be engaging with them. Okay, well, it might be because you've got a three minute ad for Anchor at the beginning of your episode. So put the listener first and that's where, you know, that's where you can sort of edge in.

And so everything from, yeah, from the title, the artwork, the description, it's all trying to go right the way back and think about how is this gonna be found by someone, [00:31:00] who doesn't know you. And so that's sort of where, where it all comes from.

It's something that… you've touched on something there that I've started doing recently, which probably not. Probably without consciously realizing that I'm putting my, well, I'm putting the listener first. But what I've started to do more and more recently is think about my own podcasting habits and thinking about, so my main podcast that I started at, um, pretty well known now in here in Vietnam. I'm not really producing any new content for that. I haven't been producing new content for a year. I did an announcement because I was focusing on this podcast and other ventures. I'm still getting more downloads right now than I ever have. And I looked at it and the vast majority, 'cause I do put out the odd episode every now and again.

But what I'm doing is putting out either "PodSwaps," I call them. So I swap with one of my other podcasts. So, or pod past where [00:32:00] I'll 'cause my archive is so big now. I really pull an episode out from the past. And one of the fun things is taking an old episode from the beginning and then increasing the sound quality.

'Cause the beginning it wasn't that great and now repurposing it, you know, like digitally remastered like "Star Wars." And so I'll do one of them a month or something. So now over 80% of my downloads come from my back catalog. And that was what really sparked for me thinking, "Well, how do I select a podcast?"

And I think about it even now. So what you said there was, what's someone looking for? And I still do it when I'm listening to other podcasts about podcasting. I have something in my head that maybe I want to know more about something. So I scroll down and find that title that's like, "Oh, that's what I wanna learn about." I don't go through, I went. And I don't know if other podcasters have the same notion. I used to think that my listeners listened to the newest episode. They waited for the new episode to come out, and they were listening in sequential order. And for me, a big mindset was realized that like, I don't think most of them do, because even my number one super fan, I spoke [00:33:00] to him, I was like, "Oh, did you hear the new episode?"

And he is like, "Oh, I'm a few behind. I haven't caught up yet." And you realize that, "Oh." Like, people, that's not how people consume podcasts. And with the numbering thing that you mentioned, I only think numbers are important if you're making a narrative series. And I was listening to a narrative series recently which didn't number their podcasts, and it was infuriating.

Cause I was like, I actually don't know which episode is number one. Which episode is number two. That's when it's important. But if you are just making podcasts that are evergreen or there's no sequential merit for me, I wouldn't add the numbers to them.

There's one of the arguments is if you've got a large back catalog, being able to say, "Go back to episode 93, and we talked about this." Which is fine, but that's what we have links for, is that you can just link to that episode in your show notes. You know, you say, "Go back to episode 93, A link is in the show notes, whatever." And then they can go straight to that episode rather than having to scroll back.

But you know, I can absolutely see why having it in there, you know, can sort of make sense. And it gets a little bit complicated now with [00:34:00] the fact that Apple have just changed their, their ruling on how they deal with numbers. So on.

Niall Mackay: Well, I, I had considered numbering them, and I'll be honest, I would never remember what episode to refer to. I wouldn't be like, "Oh, go back to ep-. I've helped Pat Flynn do it." And I'm like, how do you remember that? That was episode 264? Like that.

will not remember

Mark Steadman: that.

It's all… everyone's cheating. They, you know, it's all meant to sound off the cuff, but they've got it, you know, they've got the stuff. I do it the same, like, I, I can't remember, but I'll go back and I'll look through Transistor. 'Cause there aren't, they aren't numbered on my website, but they are numbered in Transistor, my hosting, provider.

So I can just go, I know what it was roughly titled and there it is and I can pick the number that way. So,

Niall Mackay: Yeah, and just touching there. You mentioned about the change in Apple. Explain what that is for

Mark Steadman: yeah. So recently, and, and I. Some of this stuff changes so much, so who knows what this will be? But right now, as of, mid-May [00:35:00] 2023, Apple have removed episode numbers from the interface from the Apple Podcast's app. The interface there. So for many years it used to go, people just put their episode numbers in their title, sometimes with the word episode, and then the number, fine.

And then after a while Apple noticed like lots of people doing this. That's probably wasted space. We could do something about that. Like if we got people to put in an episode number in a specific field in their hosting dashboard. If they actually put the episode number in a particular field and then removed the episode text from their title, we could actually display that in a nice little area.

And so we could produce, we could provide more space for the title and we could just have the episode number somewhere else. And that would, that would be lovely. And I think from what I was hearing, I think this was on a recent episode of "Buzz Cast," which is Buzzfeed's podcast. I think they were talking about the fact or their, their just Apple never [00:36:00] tell us why they make these changes.

But it sounds like people weren't really adopting it. And so, or somewhere, but many, many weren't. And so they just thought, "Ah, we may as well just go back." 'Cause otherwise if not everyone's really on board and even other apps. Like, I'm quite surprised that it hasn't been adopted by that many other, other apps, or the apps that feed off the Apple Podcast's catalog, whether it's Overcast or Castro, whatever.

I don't see them implementing it. I don't, you know, I don't think they, they did. And anyone can, cause it's all in the feed for your podcast. And so right now, as of, as I say, as of May, 2023, episode numbers are now removed from the Apple Podcasts app. And so it's then a question of, you know, what do you do about it?

And, um, One quick, you know, piece of piece of advice from other people is to put the episode number if you need it, put it at the end of your episode title rather than at the beginning. Because, so at least it's still there if you want it to be there, because again, a new listener, to someone [00:37:00] who's, you know, going through, and just seeing your episode in a bunch of others.

The episode number means nothing. It only really means something once you are really invested and into that back catalog. So all this thing like it, it all comes back to putting the listener first. I think, it's fair enough me saying, "Oh, do all these things." I think that thinking takes time and I think, it just takes, it takes a bit of experience and it takes a, you know, but it is just worth trying to filter the decisions you make or the choices that you make or the advice that you give or that you get filtering that through the lens of, "How does this affect someone who's never heard of me before? What's useful? What do they need?" And usually that means pairing stuff down. It usually means we actually don't need a lot of this stuff. And you know, less is more and all that stuff. So like any kind of advice you get or anything that you read, filter it through that prism of [00:38:00] how does it affect the listener.

Niall Mackay: And I think that really feeds into the fact that you should never have a podcast about anything and everything. And we could do a whole, we could do a whole episode on that because you're not doing that for that listener

Mark Steadman: Yes. And, and I, I,

 to, to that, I would say, I think that's, this is the thing with a lot of this stuff is do like absolutely do that if that's what you wanna do. Do that, but you can't have the same expectations of growth. And of all those, you know, other things, success, whatever you call it, if you don't think about these things.

So if you just wanna turn the mic on and hit go, absolutely go do that. Like, no, there's no podcast police. How fun. Like, if that's, if you enjoy that process and whether you are just doing it for yourself or you've got some mates who, enjoy it. Like, I, do that. I have a show. It's not really a show, I just, you know, I blab into my microphone for a bit.

And then I upload it somewhere and it's free. And those of my mates that are interested in that, of what's going on in my life, they can listen to [00:39:00] it and that's great. And there's no, you know, I've just turned the mic on and I go, the difference of what we're talking about is if you actually want to achieve something from your podcast, that is more than just the, good feeling that you get from doing it.

If there's something else that you want, then it's worth really thinking about these things.

Niall Mackay: You are much nicer than me 'cause if I see one more person with a podcast about everything and anything, I'm about to break the internet. But Mark, this has been absolutely incredible. I cannot thank you enough for coming on Smarter Podcasting. Really, really, love learning from you, love working with you and your knowledge is is so great.

So thank you so much


Mark Steadman: you for having me. It's been a real pleasure.


Niall Mackay: Thank you. so much for listening to this episode of smarter podcasting I hope you found out discussion valuable and gain some new insights to apply to your own podcasting johnny I want To extend a. a Special Thank you to my guest mark steadman from origin. For taking [00:40:00] the Time to join us And to share his expertise I truly appreciate his contribution to not only this episode but the podcasting industry as a whole I'd love to hear what you thought of this episode and how you will use this in your own podcast Now i know right now you're probably driving or doing the dishes or mowing the lawn and don't have a spare hand but when you do get a chance please go to instagram or facebook whichever one you use more and go to Seven Million Bates podcasts I'm giving you permission slide into my dms and let me know what you thought If you want to start your own podcast and learn more about creating exceptional content connecting with your audience and growing your podcast then i invite you to join my comprehensive course for podcast beginners how to start your podcast Get your voice out and share your story In this course i share with you my years of experience in podcasting Producing editing and hosting podcast along with proven techniques and strategies to [00:41:00] help you succeed From planning and recording to editing and promoting I will gauge you through every step of the process If you want to join the students are, have already successfully started the podcast and getting thousands of downloads already including even paintings you don't know vietnam and ds never forget what they did then visit Seven Million Bikes dot com and enroll in the course today I can't wait to see you there and help you on your podcasting johnny if you already have a podcast and you still have some questions then you can also slide into my dms and ask Are we, i promise i will personally get back to you Once again thank you for being part of this podcasting community i am here to help you on your podcasting johnny You support means the world to me So stay tuned for more exciting episodes packed with valuable content and inspiring guests if you do enjoy this then please make sure to subscribe follow rate review all of those good things that [00:42:00] can help this podcast build and share this information with more people I'm Niall Mackay the podcast guy and founder of Seven Million Bikes podcast Thank you for listening and until next time happy podcasting

How to Build Trust and Connection with Your Audience – Put The Listener First!

Are you ready to make your podcast stand out and truly put your listeners first? In this latest episode, I dive deep into what it takes to create great content that your listeners will not only want to listen to, but share with others as well, with Mark Steadman from Origin.

We start by discussing how prioritizing the listener means respecting their time and delivering value by focusing on what they care about. It’s also important to have a targeted audience in mind and to create a listener persona to truly understand their needs and interests. But simply creating a persona isn’t enough. You also need to spend time sharpening the axe, or in other words, thinking about your overall purpose and goals for the podcast.

Titles, show notes, and artwork are also vital components that should be created with the listener in mind. The title should use language that the listener is likely to search for and point to a problem that they can relate to. And while it’s important to honor guests, their name doesn’t necessarily need to be in the title.

We also discuss the benefits of repurposing content from your back catalog of episodes and how episode numbering may no longer be necessary since Apple has recently removed it from their interface.

Ultimately, less is more when it comes to creating content. It’s better to have a focused and targeted podcast that truly speaks to your listeners rather than trying to be a podcast about everything and anything.

So come on and give it a listen now and learn how to build long-lasting relationships with your listeners. Trust us, it’s worth it.

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From planning your content to monetizing your podcast, Niall covers everything you need to know to create and grow your own successful podcast. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the technical side of things, don’t worry – Niall’s got you covered with his comprehensive course, Get Your Voice Out and Share Your Story.

But it’s not just about creating a podcast for Niall – it’s about making a difference. He’s helped businesses like Delta MV reach high-value customers and individuals like Dee share important stories through their own successful podcasts.

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In the words of Niall Mackay himself, “My mission is to help you on your podcasting journey, whether you’re at the beginning, the middle, or the end. So I hope these episodes can provide lots of interesting information for you.”

Thanks for listening to this brand new show, Smarter Podcasting. I’m Niall Mackay, the podcast guy and founder of Seven Million Bikes Podcasts. 

I’m a podcast fanatic, stand-up comedian, and teacher. My mission is to help you on this podcast journey with me!

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