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Matt Report 1 year later & the state of podcasting

Yesterday I published episode 52 of the Matt Report exactly 1 year to the date of the first episode.

Honestly, I didn’t even realize it until recording another show I host, Week in WordPress.

How time flies when you’re having fun.

I want to take a moment to reflect on the past year, where I plan on going with the show and my thoughts on the state of podcasting.

Enemy of the State

I read Harry Marks article The State of Podcasting and Curtis McHale suggested I comment on it.

I agree with a lot of what Harry outlines in his piece, because well, it’s been on my mind for at least the last 4 months.

I do a lot with “podcasting” and it was something I never really intended, but more on that later.

What is podcasting anyway?

Is it just audio, only video, video + audio?

60 minutes? 30 minutes? 30 seconds?!

I agree with Harry that we’re in a bit of a “Wild West” of sorts — though so is the internet at large really. Consumer web has only been around as we know if for, what, 10 – 12 years?

I can’t remember exactly when I started listening to podcasts, but I do remember one of the first. It was Keith and the Girl and it was absolutely hilarious. It had comedic value, but also struck a chord because of the intimacy we had with their relationship.

Who were these people that were so willing to talk about their personal lives to us?

It was magic really.

I always knew podcasting was going to be huge, but this was well before the wide adoption of wifi, broadband, and fast wireless networks.

It wasn’t easy getting your podcast’s sync’d and there weren’t many around to chose from.

Since I made the switch to Android, I’ve been using Stitcher as my primary podcast listening app. I enjoy it and it gets the job done.

My current list:

Technology

Business & Startups

The only shows I consider my religion would be TWiSt and Tropical MBA. TNT is something during the afternoon commute and even Mixergy I listen to less of nowadays.

So how does one decided on their own playlist? Who has the time/attention to subscribe to so many?

How do podcasters get their foot (or mics) through the door?

I’m with stupid

I wrote about this before. You need to make a splash to grab someone’s attention. Be different and such.

If you’re doing this for marketing purposes — and let’s be honest you are even if you’re afraid to put that label on it (check your ego) — then so is every other podcaster.

Thus the issue, there are so many people doing it for marketing purposes. 

I applaud folks for wanting to stay on the cutting edge — no more drilling keywords and meta-tags and no more Facebook tabs. I get it.

But understand, if you’re going to pick up the mic, we’re talking about a lot more to lose here. Your time, their time, and I have a feeling a podcast will be a bit harder to redesign than a website if you get labeled mediocre.

The listener want’s something from you.

To laugh or…

To cry or…

To learn.

Multitasking is not easy. People can’t listen to two podcasts at once, so you must earn those precious moments in their earbuds.

Harry’s point to pick-a-little, talk-a-little along with editing is spot on.

And believe you me, I’m the first to admit I’m no professional in this category. But I’m trying and I recognize my faults and work to improve them.

Yawn. An interview.

Preparation is key in podcasts, especially if you are doing interviews.

This is my weakest link.

I might spend a max of 30-40 minutes prepping for a guest. And that’s really giving me credit.

I have a set of questions that I work off of, but 9 times out of 10 the conversation goes another way. 70% of the Matt Report questions you hear are coming from the moment and are not planned.

Maybe that’s not a surprise to you? Maybe you can tell? Maybe that’s bad.

And I think that’s what Harry’s getting at. So many folks say, “oh I gotta do this podcasting thing to stay relevant. I’l grab a mic and start asking questions.”

It won’t take long for your audience to realize they can spend their minutes somewhere else.

Which leads me to the interview format.

I’m getting bored of it. Aren’t you?

Seems everyone does an interview — how many more can we take?

Tell me if you’ve heard the same guest on 5 other podcasts. Be honest. Yes, you have.

I know I have.

Interviews are great, but there has to be something else. If you know me, I produce 5 other shows with some varying degree of difference.

I’ve got a few other formats and segments up my sleeve for the Matt Report coming soon.

On edits

Editing sucks.

I used to record videos and put them on my YouTube channel.

I stopped doing that because I have an old MacBook Air and exporting videos on that rig also sucks. Aside from that, it’s storing those files , uploading them and editing them etc.

I’m not saying I’m done with video, but on a weekly basis it’s just too much for me to handle solo. I’ve switched primarily to audio and I even found Garageband a beast to use.

I’m now editing in Screenflow and it’s effortless.

And here’s where I agree with Harry again — you must edit.

In the last few episodes, I’ve edited out a lot of the Skype breakups, my stupid “thinking of a question” pause, and even long winded or off the track answers by the guest.

Seriously we don’t need to hear this stuff. And seriously podcasters, step up your game. (see the previous section)

Time is up

So like I asked earlier, how long should a podcast be?

Harry does a show that’s 30 minutes — I do a show that’s 30 seconds. Who wins?

I think it all depends on your audience and the context they consume your content in. But he’s right, anything over an hour just get’s crazy.

I will listen to This week in Google for 2+ hours, but that’s usually because I’m cleaning or doing yard work. I don’t expect to really need to write anything down, it’s just good informative entertainment.

Let me call attention to the podcasters again:

If you’re screwing up on the previous sections here, editing and weak dialogue, for all that is holy keep it short and sweet. You’re only doing yourself a disservice.

Again, I’m no pro, so leave your comments in the suggestion box below.

Enough from me, it’s your turn

So look, that’s what I got for you.

Take it with a grain of salt and do what you will with it.

My podcast audience revolves around the WordPress space. At one point it was all the rage to start a WordPress podcast, it seemed everyone was doing it or wanted to.

A few spouted up and a few withered out. It’s not easy.

What do you want from a podcast?

Be it the host or the listener.

What makes you tune in every day or week? What do you want to get out of your efforts with that mic in front of you?

Sound off about the State of Podcasting below, this is your chance!

8 comments on “Matt Report 1 year later & the state of podcasting

  1. Great job on plowing through the first year, no easy task I’ll tell you 🙂 For the first time in my podcasting life, I’ve begun to edit my recordings. Editing is such a painfully slow, boring experience, it’s no wonder people don’t do it. My last show was 39 minutes long. After editing, it was 33 minutes. I cut out long pauses which was really just me thinking, some ums and weird moments. It was a lengthy process to get rid of those and I wonder if all that editing work is justified. I guess from a listeners perspective, it would have to be because they get a better show out of it, with all the useless stuff removed.

    I’d say consistency is probably the hardest thing to accomplish with podcasting. But dammit, this editing stuff is driving me nuts.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jeff!

      Yea editing is a beast. I’d love to have more time to do it, but that’s just not the case. Here’s to another year for the both of us!

      1. Yeah, it’s easy to do the show and all, but it takes 2-3 times the amount of recording time to edit the damn thing. So, a recording of an hour could take 2-3 to edit. That’s a big chunk of time for content. I’m editing with Audacity and it’s not like editing is hard or anything. It’s just time and labor intensive.

  2. I think under 40 minutes is ideal. Most commutes are just under that, so it’s convenient to be able to listen to an episode while driving to the office.

  3. Hey Matt,

    Been listening to your show for a few months and you do a great job. Saw your post from the Chris Lema RT and caught my attention since I’m a podcaster as well.

    I think you have a really quality show and I don’t know if more preparation would add lots more value. One of the things I think you excel at is asking questions of guests in the moment and being curious. That’s the best kind of interview and you have really interesting people on, so that’s makes for a great combination.

    I totally hear you on the interview format and everyone doing it. I’ve heard (and guessed from downloads) that my audience likes the interview format, but also likes that I change it up a bit. So, over the past year, about a third of my shows are solo, a third are with a co-host (most of the time, my wife, who’s in the same field as me), and a third of the time is interviews. I find the variety seems to work for my audience and me.

    As for hearing the same interview on many shows, I agree this is an issue. I think there’s a bit of laziness going on in podcasting right now (that either people aren’t seeing or don’t talk about) where everyone just has everyone else on each other’s shows. I’ve been guilty of this too in the past. I’ve noticed it so much in the past month that I’m strongly considering two rules for my own show:

    1) Nobody as a guest who has their own podcast.
    2) Nobody as a guest who’s currently promoting a book.

    I love talking to both these groups of people (and this will make my job harder to find great interviews) but I think having a unique show might outweigh the inconvenience…and make for a better experience for my audience in the long-run.

    Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful post Matt and for the show. Looking forward to staying connected.

    Warmly,
    Dave

    1. Dave

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment — really appreciate it!

      I like the 1/3 concept and perhaps I’ll work that into the mix. I don’t do any solo stuff, but I’m thinking about doing that along with video to augment it. Maybe some training based stuff or case studies. Could be cool. Thanks again!

  4. Hi Matt.
    I’m enjoying the show having only recently discovered it and downloaded some previous shows to catch up on some highlights! Just wanted to say yes, it’s good to change some things to keep it fresh, but remember there are some aspects of the format that definitely put a stamp on it as your style. In fact it’s the familiarity with the lightning round for example that I particularly like. I enjoy knowing that’s coming up and hearing how the guest will tackle the questions.

    Well done on the first year and wishing you all the best for more ahead.

    Paul.

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