If you don’t enjoy it, it’s not going to sound good. There are a million other things you can do to promote your business. If talking to people is not an enjoyable experience for you, if you feel you need to develop strategies to “cope” with it, to make it more “bearable,” then don’t do it. I enjoy several other aspects of my job, but podcasting is the thing I enjoy the most. The day I can’t do it is the day I go and look for another job. If you don’t feel similarly — don’t do it.
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a very successful podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Luis Magalhães.
Luis Magalhães is Director of Marketing and editor-in-chief at DistantJob. He writes about how to build and manage remote teams, and the benefits of hiring remote workers. He is also the host of the DistantJob Podcast, where he talks to world-class remote leaders, learning their strategies and tactics.
He‘s been managing editorial teams remotely for the past 15 years, and training teammates to do so for nearly as long.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?
Asa medical student training to be a Dentist, I wanted some extra cash (and, mostly, free videogames) so I started working as a freelance writer for magazines, blogs, and newspapers. As I took on more responsibilities, I ended up creating the first videogame podcast in European Portuguese.
Later, when I shifted my career from dentistry to marketing, it was a no-brainer to use podcasting as the pillar of my content marketing strategy.
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
Between my videogame podcast — which sometimes underwent year-long hiatuses — and the DistantJob podcast, that’s over 300 episodes over the past 7 years.
What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?
My current project, the DistantJob Podcast, is meant to end the fears that taking a business into a partially remote or fully remote direction will reduce productivity or negatively impact profitability.
So I want people to leave each episode with a rich understanding of new management and leadership solutions that can be applied over the Internet.
The end goal: enabling them to achieve business success with incredible teams formed by people working from all over the world.
In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?
Most podcasts in the space are highly produced, and that’s not a bad thing, but what my podcast gives you is the “fly-in-the-wall” feeling of sitting at a table where two people are talking.
I treat the people who I interview as mentors, and try to learn from them, asking questions about their tools, methods and strategies.
The conversation is unscripted and uncut; the guests know this beforehand, which greatly helps eliminate posers and publicity-seekers (only had one so far in almost 100 episodes).
The end result is an intimate, personal experience that makes the listeners feel very comfortable and helps them identify with the interviewee. Such an environment is much more conducive to learning.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every work-day, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?
Don’t do it. If you don’t enjoy it, it’s not going to sound good. There are a million other things you can do to promote your business. If talking to people is not an enjoyable experience for you, if you feel you need to develop strategies to “cope” with it, to make it more “bearable,” then don’t do it.
I enjoy several other aspects of my job, but podcasting is the thing I enjoy the most. The day I can’t do it is the day I go and look for another job. If you don’t feel similarly — don’t do it.
Ok fantastic. Let’s now shift to the main questions of our discussion. Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?
I like listening to what’s out there. Other podcasts, usually with a focus on learning. “Conversations with Tyler” is a good one; “Making Sense” is also pretty great. “The Tim Ferriss Show” is probably the one most people know and that’s for a good reason, his questions are great and a very good script for beginners to follow. “Big Questions” with Cal Fussman is another masterclass on asking good questions.
What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?
Conversations with Tyler — How it mixes a very casual style with very elaborate, hard questions that focus singularly on the guest’s area of expertise. No (obvious) production, just a conversation, largely unscripted.
Making Sense — Goes out of its way to find quality guests, usually from academia but with a focus on the practical applications of their area of expertise. This is a podcast where the key to success is believing that the listenership is ok with feeling dumb. It unapologetically goes after great thinkers and has them talk about their theses on-air.
Tim Ferriss Show & Big Questions — This is a tricky one, as a big part of its success is simply based on Tim & Cal having better access to top performers to interview than most of us. However, it’s worth analysing their interviewing techniques, how they use very scripted questions to set the direction of the conversation, and only deviate from them on occasion to connect with some personal experience, or to ask for clarification. If you listen to 10 of Tim’s podcasts and 10 of Cal’s and write down every question they ask, you will have a great blueprint for interviewing someone.
You are a very successful podcaster yourself. Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
- Find a good cadence, and stick to it. People crave predictability. Don’t make them guess when a new episode is going to be out. Commit to publishing on a certain day of the week, and publish an episode every week, on that day, for as long as you want to podcast. No excuses.
- Study up on your guests. Make them feel special. If you manage to start a conversation by asking them a question that no-one has ever asked them (let’s say, about something they care about as a hobby) you will have one of the best conversations out there. Read their books, watch their Ted talks, become an expert on them.
- The book / game / movie / project they have coming out is always the least interesting thing about your guest. Obviously, be cordial about helping them promote it as much as you can, but shift the conversation away from it. Talking too much about it is actually NOT in their best interests, because many people will then assume the podcast is a good replacement for it, — giving them the “cliff notes” — and will avoid purchasing it. Let your guest know this to get them on board with being a bit more off-topic.
- Worry more about content than audio quality or production. Especially when you start, you don’t need a fancy mike or a lot of editing. Just build something you enjoy, and other people will enjoy it as well. Of course, it needs to be of at least high enough quality that it’s not uncomfortable to listen to.
- Do it in a way that you enjoy it, or about a topic that you enjoy. Some people might be lucky to go viral, but for most of us, it’s a long, multi-year grind to success. If you’re not doing it for yourself before any other reason, you won’t make it. Bukowski once wrote thus about writers who aren’t writing out of a burning need to write: “The libraries of the world have yawned themselves to death over writers of your ilk.” Don’t be the podcaster equivalent of that.
Can you share some insight from your experience about the best ways to: 1) book great guests; 2) increase listeners; 3) produce it in a professional way; 4) encourage engagement; and 5) the best way to monetize it? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
- Book Great Guests: After your interview, ask the person if they enjoyed it. If the answer is positive, ask them to introduce you to three people who they think would enjoy being interviewed as well. One will say no, another will say yes and ghost you, but the third might just do it.
- Increase Listeners: Follow the tips I outlined previously, and then share often, making sure to take your interviewee and their businesses (if applicable). Quality Content + Strong social sharing is your golden ticket here.
- Produce it in a professional way: If you have a good time budget, learn how to produce it yourself. No one will care more about it than you, and as a bonus, hearing your own verbal tics over multiple editing passes will make you a better speaker. If you have a good monetary budget, hire a pro — don’t skimp and go on Fiverr, you’ll regret it later.
- Encourage Engagement: The best way I’ve found to do this is to announce Q&As on Q&A sites (Quota, Reddit, etc) and often do Q&A episodes.
- Monetization: I’ve never directly monetized my shows, they have always existed as a way to get brand exposure or new business (which I do by running my own ads between segments).
For someone looking to start their own podcast, which equipment would you recommend that they start with?
If you have a semi-recent ( 2016+) Mac, you’re good to go. The camera and audio quality are good enough to start. You can get fancy later, but not too fancy — as Tim Ferriss says, “fancy breaks”.
As an upgrade, or starting point if you don’t own a Mac, I like the Blue Yeti microphone line, they are easy to set up and sound great.
For recording and editing, I use Zoom (videoconferencing app with good recording options — make sure to record locally and split audio streams), Garageband on Mac and Audacity on Windows/Linux.
Ok. We are almost done. 🙂 Because of your position and work, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The reason I quit my medical career was so I could help as many businesses as a possible move in the direction of adopting remote work.
If the entirety of a person’s work can be done from a laptop, it’s criminal to have them work from an office.
It’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for their physical and mental health, it’s bad for their family, and ultimately, it’s more expensive for the business.
We need to stop this meme that people need to be under close (but usually quite inefficient ) supervision in a physical location in order to be productive.
As I write this, there is a pandemic making the rounds, but even before that, working in a cubicle/open office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week still killed you — only slower.
Stop being an enabler of this dysfunctional way of working. Get your people working from home wherever it is possible to do so.
How can our readers follow you online?
Check DistantJob Podcast
And @distantjob & @luis_maga on Twitter