Podcasters: study what the successful shows are doing


Copycats, thieves, and podcasters

Here it is, part six of my six-part series for creating a better podcast to compete with the really popular shows.

Tip number six: study the great podcasts.

This one is pretty simple and obvious. But, how many of us take the time and effort to really study what the successful podcasters are doing?

Don’t just listen – take notes. Try and analyze how these shows are written, structured, and edited. Think about how you can use these same techniques in your show.

I realize many of the popular podcasts utilize a production team, but that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out ways to bring the same production values to your show.

I mentioned this earlier, but one way to improve your show is to change your show frequency. Once you aren’t shackled to the tyranny of a weekly show, you’ll have time to make each episode better.

You can study shows that are ranked at the top of the iTunes chart to get started. And, don’t forget to study shows you like to listen to.

I started doing this a couple of weeks ago. I’ve only gotten through about eight shows, but I’ve already learned a lot. Not only that, I’ve come up with a lot of great ideas I can incorporate into my new show.

And, I can’t recommend the following advice enough:

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – somebody famous probably

This brings us to the end of this six-part series.

If you have a podcast or plan to launch one, here’s a simple plan for success:

  1. Figure out who you want to serve
  2. Figure out how you’ll serve them with your show
  3. Make an amazing show


Do you have your own podcast or online business?

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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How to pay contributors for your podcast


Payment is due – what do you do?

This is part four of my six-part series for creating a better podcast to compete with the really popular shows.

In a previous episode, I talked about finding content creators to help you make your show better.

Tip number four is how to “pay” those content creators.

Obviously, if you can afford it, you can simply pay them for their contribution to the show. I’m guessing this isn’t possible for most of us.

So, assuming you don’t have the cash, it’s time to get creative.

Since these content creators are probably thought leaders in their space (or would like to be), they could probably use some help promoting what they’re doing. Just as you need a larger podcast audience, they need more followers.

You can certainly credit them on the podcast episode they contribute to and you should. Be generous with credits. And don’t forget to give out their contact information on the podcast and provide links to their website in your show notes.

Be sure to promote them on your social media, too. And do this more than once. If you have a mailing list, you have another opportunity to promote them.

Finally, see if there is something you can offer in trade for their contribution. Maybe they’re starting their own podcast and could use some assistance. Perhaps you can help them with an email campaign.

Don’t be afraid to ask them what would make it worth their time and effort.

Ultimately, you’re looking for the proverbial “win-win” here. Just be upfront and honest about what you can offer in “payment” when you ask for their help on your show.

And don’t be surprised if they offer to contribute for free.

Tomorrow, tip number five.


Do you have your own podcast or online business?

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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A podcast is a magazine for the ears


Just call me the podcast editor-in-chief

Do you want to create an awesome podcast? We’ll, you’re in luck.

This is part three of a six-part series about how to make great podcast episodes that find an audience.

Here is tip number three: think of your podcast as a magazine… that people listen to.

Think about it:

  • You can publish a magazine – you can publish podcast episodes
  • People subscribe to magazines and podcasts
  • Magazines and podcasts both cater to specific interests

Once you start thinking about your podcast as a magazine for the ears, you should start seeing some exciting new possibilities for your show.

You are no longer just a podcaster or podcast producer – you’re an editor, a contributor, and a curator.

Think about it – each podcast episode can be made up of stories and features (like a magazine) that you and others create for your subscribers.

It’s going to take more work, more time, and more people, but the results could be game-changing for your show.

Your podcast episodes should contain so much great content and be so compelling that your listeners can’t wait for the next show.

I hear from a lot of podcasts who ask how they can grow their podcast audience. Sure, posting about your show on social media can help, but you know what it really takes – a better show.

That means well-produced, curated, and edited stories or segments that inform and entertain. It’s the future of podcasting.

Think like an editor.


Do you have your own podcast or online business?

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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Create If Writing: Authentic platform building minus the smarm

Kirstin Oliphant Create If Writing podcast and blog

Non-smarmy platform building for writers and bloggers

Do you enjoy the creative stuff like writing or blogging but hate hearing about promotion and “building a platform”?

Kirstin Oliphant of the Create If Writing blog and podcast hears you loud and clear.

Her goal, as she states on her website is to “help writers, bloggers, and creatives like YOU turn readers into raving fans and learn to make a living doing what you love…without being smarmy.”

I met Kirstin at Podcast Movement this year. She was sitting off by herself working at her computer when I caught up with her.

I seem to have a good sense about people and I can usually spot the thought leaders and achievers.

It turns out, she was presenting at the event this year.

After I got home, I checked out her podcast and website. I found a wealth of information for people who want to make a living doing what they love without having to sell out to the man.

Does that describe you? I’ll bet it describes many of us.

You really need to check out the Create If Writing website. She’s got some great resources to help you build your email list, grow your blog, write and publish your book, and – writer nerd alert – she loves the Oxford comma.

Even if you don’t see yourself as the creative type, you owe it to yourself to go to her website – createifwriting.com, sign up for her emails, and start learning how to build that platform… without being smarmy.


Do you have your own platform? Tell me about it.

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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The Polaroid Project: Inspiration strikes!

Polaroid Project

Shake it like The Polaroid Project

One of the best ways to shake the cobwebs out of your head and recharge your creative batteries is to get out of the house and have a little adventure.

A special shout-out to my buddy Brian Sullivan of the Big Design Conference who alerted me about an exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.

I met up with Brian to check out the exhibit – The Polaroid Project.

Now, you might be thinking, “Polaroid? That’s not even around anymore.”

Technically, that’s true. The original company was sold last May. But that doesn’t mean Polaroid is dead.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

The Polaroid Project features the work of several contemporary artists – many who have created inspiring works with this “obsolete” technology. Those artists include David Hockney, David Mapplethorpe, and Andy Warhol.

For me, personally, the exhibit was eye-opening.

I really enjoy photography and love going out and shooting with my digital camera. But, this exhibit really changed things.

There is something about many of the low-resolution Polaroid photos I saw that really pulled me in and changed the way I see photography. There is a simple, elegant beauty in these photos.

I’ve usually focused on expensive tools, such as the camera, lenses, and lighting.  Yet many of my favorite pictures at the exhibit were taken with an inexpensive camera and no additional tools.

This really made me stop and rethink my approach to photography. It might be fun to get a hold of an inexpensive instant camera and see what I can do within its limitations.

Maybe there’s a lesson here for all of us. Is it time for you to try something new?

It’s not too late

The exhibit has closed, but you can still check out the project in a fantastic book: The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology.

The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology (affiliate link)


What do you like to do to shake out the creative cobwebs?

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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The Rock N Roll Archaeology Project digs deep

Rock N Roll Archaeology

This is an excavation and exploration of Rock N Roll

Where did Rock N Roll music come from? How does Rock N Roll affect the larger society and vice versa? These aren’t easy questions to answer, but that’s what the Rock N Roll Archaeology Project is all about.

The Rock N Roll Archaeology Project is a true passion project with an emphasis on “passion”.

The founder of the project is Christian L Swain: a true Rock N Roller – no question – end of discussion – period.

I met Christian at Podcast Movement and he was easily the most intense human being in attendance. He’s also one of the nicest.

Christian started this project because:

“I burn with a desire to share music. Not as a performer…, but as a fan who wants to share the passion, the power, the art. Find where it fits, feel it and search out the history; describe how it shaped me as a person, how it shapes the world I know.”

Inspired by podcasters, such as Dan Carlin and Robin Pierson, Christian started not one, but SEVEN podcasts for this project.

  • Rock N Roll Archaeology
  • Rock N Roll Librarian (books)
  • Reel Rock (movies)
  • Vinyl Snob
  • Rock Talk
  • Long Strange Podcast (Grateful Dead documentary)

These podcasts are really well produced, entertaining, and must-listens for any true Rock N Roll fan – which definitely includes me.

Christian says that Rock N Roll turned his world from black and white to color. If you’re a Rock N Roll fanatic like me, you know exactly what he’s talking about.

If you love Rock N Roll – I mean really love Rock N Roll – you have to listen to The Rock N Roll Archaeology Project podcasts.


Have you ever had a life experience that turned your world from black and white to color?

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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The Spirit Machine: making something great isn’t easy

Thomas Edison

Did Thomas Edison really invent the spirit machine?

If you want to do something great – if you want to make something amazing – it won’t be easy.

Making movies is hard.

Nobody knows that more than Timothy Plain. Timothy just posted his wonderful science fiction short film, The Spirit Machine, on YouTube.

I love this film. You don’t see many science fiction films like this with a sense of wonder these days.

This 20-minute film took years to make and was fraught with difficulties – from the Kickstarter campaign, through special effects complications, to Timothy’s own doubts about the project.

Timothy wanted to make an amazing film. He probably had no idea how difficult it was going to be.

I think The Spirit Machine is fantastic. But, if you ask Timothy, you’ll get a different answer.

It’s complicated.

In our minds, we envision this perfect ending when we achieve our goal. It’s kind of like the final scene from Star Wars where Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca are recognized for their heroic efforts in a huge award ceremony.

Reality check: you probably won’t be hearing a stirring John Williams movie score when you accomplish something significant.

The multitudes are not likely to recognize your achievements. You won’t get that perfect moment. It just doesn’t work that way.

Timothy’s journey continues. You can follow his progress on Making Movies is Hard, a podcast that takes an honest look at the filmmaking life. He co-hosts the show with another talented filmmaker, Alrik Bursell.

I think Ringo Starr summed it up best with the title of one of his best songs: It Don’t Come Easy.


How have your dreams turned out?

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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How to be more creative with a simple weekly ritual

Peaches can make you more creative

Being mindful while running errands

We’re all looking for that elusive, secret formula for being more creative.

If you’re more creative, maybe you can write that best-selling novel or develop that killer business idea.

Here’s my secret formula:

  1. Get up at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning
  2. Mindfully run your errands (i.e. don’t multitask. Focus on doing the errands)
  3. Discover a new place (or two) while you’re running your errands
  4. Don’t try to force creativity or ideas – just be receptive if and when they come

This ritual works wonders for me.

The Saturday morning ritual

I got up at 8:00 – 6:30 or 7:00 would have been better.

My first stop was a local diner for breakfast. There were lots of people to observe. Please note: Don’t be that creepy guy staring at the customers.

I ran out of podcasts on my podcast player, so I searched through the Apple Podcasts list of popular shows and downloaded a couple of shows I’ve never listened to.

The first show was political; I didn’t finish it.

Next up was Very Bad Wizards where the hosts discussed the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive.

Now THAT’S more like it.

Later, while driving through town, which is Roanoke, TX, I came across the Roanoke Farmers Market. Rather than just drive by, I decided to park the car and check it out.

That’s how the whole mindfulness “being in the moment” thing works. You have to experience stuff.

Tomatoes at the Roanoke Farmers Market

It’s a tiny farmers market as farmers markets go. But it was a lot of fun to check out the goods and talk to the vendors.

Honey for sale at the Roanoke, TX Farmers Market

Next, I walked across the street to the Brew Junkie Coffee House. I’ve always wanted to try French press coffee. I asked the barista for a recommendation and he did not disappoint. The coffee was outstanding.

From there, I went to Collected: Keller, a comic book store not too far away. You never know what you’ll discover in a comic book store. I ended up getting a free Sheena, Queen of the Jungle comic. They were free because one of their customers paid for all the issues so they could give them away.

My last stop was an office supply store. I need business cards to take with me to Podcast Movement next week. Things got a little bumpy there, but I’ll be able to pick up the cards tomorrow.

So, I completed my errands and tried a few new things – the farmers market, the French press coffee, and the Very Bad Wizards podcast.

And, I was mindful while running these errands.

But, the whole point of this exercise was to see if it would help me develop some good, creative ideas.

Well, did it work?

In a word: yup.

I had lots of great ideas. As a matter of fact, I had to make the stop for business cards because I came up with an idea I’m pretty excited about.

You’ll hear more about that later.

Okay, now you’ve heard about my creative ritual. Maybe it isn’t free, but it’s sure effective. Why not give it a try?


Do you have any creativity rituals?

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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My print on demand adventure begins!

Merch - print on demand

Merch is a free platform for making money!

Last night I launched a little online business selling print on demand t-shirts on Amazon.

This might be about the easiest online business you could possibly start. And there is no cost to you! It’s free!

Amazon has a print on demand program called Merch.

I applied for the program a few months ago and was recently approved to sell shirts. I’ve uploaded a few designs and can’t wait to see what happens.

You might be wondering if it’s possible to make money with Merch. I know of people making a few hundred dollars a month. And I know others who make a few thousand a month with Merch.

I stumbled across this program through my friend Lisa Irby and her Passive Shirt Profits website and podcast.

Lisa is having some success with the program and has developed some great training courses about it. The courses include:

  • The POD Starter Course
  • The Brainstorming Boot Camp Course
  • The TeeShop 101 (Photoshop for T-Shirts) Course

I took the courses and it really sped up the process. Highly recommended!

Full disclosure: I’m not being asked or paid to promote these courses.

So, if you’re interested in learning more, you can check out her podcast. It’s free and you’ll learn a lot about making money with Merch.

What are you waiting for?


Have you tried a print on demand business?

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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Photography: getting reacquainted with my passion


Revisiting photography

I’m really excited.

Tomorrow morning, I’m leaving on a short road trip to Nocona, Texas.

Nocona is home to “one of the finest city parks in Texas” as well as the Horton Classic Car Museum.

I’m excited because I get to see some cool vintage cars and I get to rekindle my love of photography.

Photography got me started on the road to entrepreneurship. It’s a long story for another time.

So, tonight, I’m charging the camera batteries and looking over the manual.

I’m looking forward to getting away from the city and escaping to a simpler place.

At least, I hope it’s a simpler place.

Either way, this trip is giving me a chance to just have fun and take pictures.

Sometimes, when we’re busy chasing our dreams, we lose sight of these small pleasures.

On tomorrow’s show, I’ll tell you about my trip.


What do you do for fun?

Send me an email –  [email protected]

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