Tait Ischia is a copywriter, content strategist and author. His book, ‘Copywrong to copywriter’, is a handbook for anyone who feels like they can’t write to save themselves. In this episode of MATE, we talk about what’s involved in defining a successful content strategy, how to write copy that converts more customers and how to launch a crowdfunded book. We also have a few friendly arguments along the way. Like, does tone-of-voice even matter? And, how important is copy in this web-focused world?
Are most copywriters trained in the field? What backgrounds do advertising copywriters have?
Using proper grammar is still important when writing for advertising. Sometimes.
Writing for yourself is just as crucial as writing for your audience
How important is it to consider tone-of-voice when writing? What does that even mean?
MATE podcast cracked the top 100 in the iTunes Podcasts Top Charts (business category). This is a pretty phenomenal feat for what started as a hobby podcast, made by a guy in Melbourne, Australia.
MATE peaked at #98 in the Australian business podcasts Top Charts the night of its first birthday. This screenshot is from 12/04/17 at 1:40 am. Five hours later it had dropped to #112 in the charts.
From what I can tell, the cause of this fame was largely driven by an article I wrote going viral among fellow podcasters. For the 1 year pod-birthday of MATE, I wrote an article summarising what I’d learned from 1 year of podcasting. I shared it to a few podcast-related groups, and well … it kinda blew up. It got hundreds of likes, shares and appreciative comments from podcast enthusiasts. It felt great! And while I was personally responding to all of the lovely comments, I didn’t realise that people must have been checking out my podcast on iTunes as a result of reading the article. So essentially, people read my article and then went and listened/subscribed to MATE podcast on iTunes. And given that the iTunes charts are driven by ‘new subscribers’, I guess that all this traffic and attention is what drove me into the top 100.
Whilst this is all very interesting, what really surprises me is that it doesn’t take that many new subscribers to feature in the iTunes charts. The article page received 678 total pageviews during that short period. (Tangent, the article also had an average time on page of 9 min 31 sec, which is absolutely insane. Most pages get 30 sec or less! That shows people were reading it, and reading the whole thing.) Let’s just assume for a second that a hugely over-proportionate number of people listened/subscribed after reading the article. Let’s say 1/3 people checked out my show after reading the article (That’s a huge over-estimate. I’d hazard a guess that a much more accurate number would be less than 5%.). That means that 1/3 of 678 (I know a pageview does not equal a unique user) listened. So that’s ~300 subscribers in a 24 hour period. That’s not a huge amount of listeners to get you into the top 100 charts.
I wonder what the numbers are like for the top 10? I hope to find out soon and I’ll report back what I find.
Kevin Holesh is an app developer who built ‘Moment’—an iPhone app which tracks how long you spend using your phone each day and helps you stop using it. He’s also behind ‘Focus’—an app which stops you texting and driving; and Move—which helps you stay active. The technology behind each of these projects is truly innovative (read: hacky!), and he’s somehow managed to skirt around Apple’s strict App Store policies. In this podcast episode, we speak about how he did that, as well as how to survive as an independent iOS developer, the best ways to market your apps and why Kevin is sick to death of people asking him to build their “killer app idea” for free.
What it’s really like being an independent iPhone developer and running a one-man operation
Why Kevin is sick of people asking him to build their “killer app idea” for free
Ideas are worthless; a good idea is nothing without good execution.
The best ways of marketing your apps
How do the Moment, Focus and Move apps work, under the hood? (A.k.a. What iOS hacks are you pulling to track the ‘time-using-phone’ metric, since there’s no official APIs to do this?)
‘Launch day profits’ vs ‘trickle profits’ over time
Why getting mentioned in big media publications isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
App Store pricing and the revenue splits they have with devs
Why Kevin continues to answer support emails from his customers
Richard Hack is the Managing Director of Diemen’s Hot Sauce, and was also a Co-founder of The Taboo Group—a youth marketing agency with a reputation for some of Melbourne’s best activation campaigns. We discuss the entrepreneurial lessons he learned from both of these ventures, including how he built successful businesses despite every challenge the world threw at him. I chat with my mentor and good friend, Richie Hack, in this fascinating discussion.
Why Richard likes to focus on one project at a time
How Richard and his co-founder Andrew Mackinnon grew The Taboo Group, including stories of the big brands they worked with and where the agency is today.
The incredible sacrifices his team had to make in order to survive the Global Financial Crisis of 2007–2008
Recruiting the right blend of talent to achieve maximum results
Why Richard left The Taboo Group
Richard’s new career as a co-founder of Diemen’s Hot Sauce
Sabrina Must is a writer, an author of multiple books and a copywriting consultant. We have a fascinating discussion about why the written word is still so important for marketing today. Sabrina reveals her secrets to writing killer copy. We talk about how writing is different from other forms of media, like: images, audio and video. And we talk about what life is like as an author: how to write a book; whether you should self-publish; what’s the story with bestseller lists; and is being an author all that glamorous?
Why writing and the written word are so important to Sabrina
Sabrina tells the heartbreaking story about how her sister’s sudden death inspired her to do what she loves
The personal nature with which Sabrina approaches writing
Why the written word is still so important for marketing today
The genesis of Sabrina’s business, Write Less Bad, and the origins of its catchy name.
Why the written word is still so important in storytelling, connecting with people and in communicating a company’s message.
Tips on writing killer copy for better marketing
The truth about bestseller lists
What’s the difference between having your book distributed by a publishing house, versus self-publishing and managing all the marketing yourself?
There’s no doubt that Paul Ramondo is the best digital marketer in all of Western Australia. He consistently delivers insane results for his clients (think 2,737.80% ROI campaigns!) by employing the latest strategies in digital and social media. Join Adam Jaffrey as he talks to Paul about what it’s really like starting a marketing business, why you should do things you’re willing to suffer through, the art of saying no to stay productive and the 101 on marketing funnels. Oh, and strap yourself in because Paul has got more energy than a single podcast can contain!!! His enthusiasm is infectious, and you’ll leave this discussion feeling pumped to achieve life’s big goals!
How Paul built his digital marketing agency, RamondoMedia.
It’s not just a cliché … the early bird really does get the worm!
Why you have to put the hard work into what you love in order to get results
1. Just get started; you’ll learn as you go. I spent years trying to muster the courage to make my podcast, and even after I decided to give it a crack I wasted over a year before launching it. But in the end, none of my elongated preparation (read: procrastination) mattered. No matter how much research I did … NOTHING could have prepared me for what I was about to encounter. You don’t know what you don’t know. So the best advice I can give is to just get started. You’ll figure it out along the way.
2. You’re going to suck. I knew this, but as a self-confessed perfectionist, I really wanted to make episode 1 as amazing as I could make it. And when I released it, I was so proud … I had never heard anything more beautiful. It’s funny, because now that I have a year of experience under my belt, I listen back and cringe. You’re going to suck, and you won’t even know it until later. Best to just get into it and learn to make it better over time.
3. Prepare for your shows before hitting record. In some of my earlier episodes, I completely winged the show. Listen back to episode 1, it’s pretty horrible to listen to. I didn’t do a good job of guiding the conversation. I asked the same question over and over, just in different ways. And I didn’t help my guest relax (sorry Jayden!). All in all, I was just inexperienced. Over time, I’ve learned to get better at preparing for my shows before the day of the interview. I write a rundown of topics we’re going to discuss which helps loosely guide the conversation, but it also gives the guest some peace-of-mind about what to prepare for. Whilst we’re on this topic …
4. Get your show format right. I’m still learning about this, and I got some feedback from a guest recently which helped me understand. The value of my show is it’s a fun, conversational interview with an interesting guest. In some of my episodes, I tried to be too serious and grilled some of my guests. I think this was a manifestation of me over-preparing for my shows and trying to stick too much to the run-sheet. Instead, I should have listened to what my audience was telling me. People were enjoying the conversational style interview better.
5. Conducting a good interview is hard work. One of my guests (ahem, Bob Knorpp) said that interview shows are the laziest type of podcasts, because it puts all of the pressure on the guest to provide the good content. That may be true if you’re shit at interviewing, but to get the most of your guest and help make them shine, you need to learn how to conduct a good interview. I’m still learning how to do this, but I’m much better today than I used to be. A good interview should sound less like a Q&A and more like a conversation. Plus, the interviewer should help the subject feel safe and comfortable so they can deliver their points confidently. Also, the interviewer should set the tone of the show. If you’re after comedy, set the scene early so the guest can play into that. If you’re after something serious, give the guest a framework for how the show will run. Finally, a good interviewer gives the guest ideas to bounce off. In fact, I try to offer a lot of my own opinions about the topics we speak about. Sometimes I even take a contrarian view just for the sake of making a fun debate which will be interesting to listen to.
6. Podcasting is a huge commitment. When you start a podcast, you’re committing to those listeners that you’ll continue to provide them with consistent, predicable content every week/fortnight/whatever-timeframe-you-chose. If you fail to meet that obligation, your listeners will become disenfranchised and may unsubscribe.
7. Creating great content is very time consuming. I tried to do the math recently, and I estimate that I spend 12 hours of work in the background creating 1 hour of listenable audio for my audience. Creating quality content is fucking hard work. Here’s a quick summary of the tasks involved:
General admin (booking guests)
Research (preparation for interviews)
Travel (to and from recordings)
Recording the actual interview (including set-up, recording and pack-up)
File management (saving, naming and storing recorded files)
Editing (editing coughs, pauses, “umm”s and other awkward parts)
Listening (listening back to the show to proof the edit and note down feedback)
Writing shownotes (writing the shownotes, creating social images, writing the blog post, etc.)
Uploading files (uploading the mp3 files to a media host)
Publishing (final proofs and hitting publish)
Amplification (notifying guests their episode is live, creating social images to share, writing social posts, etc.)
Promotion (attending events, speaking to people about your podcast, other general promotion)
8. Podcasting is a complicated hobby project. Podcasts have many moving parts. It’s not just about creating an amazing-sounding and quality content audio file. You have to learn about RSS feeds, media hosts, social media promotion, etc. It’s important to learn what these things are and how to use them effectively, as setting up your show improperly in the beginning will lead to a reel of problems later. Even as an indie, stick to well-known dedicated podcast hosts (reach out if you want a recommendation!) which have a reliable RSS feed.
9. Audio equipment is expensive. Whilst it’s not vital to invest in the best microphones and mixers, it does help you get the best quality sound. And quality audio equipment is bloody expensive. The more you invest, the better it will sound. BUT …
10. Learn to use your equipment. Buying the most expensive gear does not maketh the best podcast. Learn to use your equipment, because the features and functions of your mics/mixers/recorders can only produce good sound if you have the settings right. It’s better to invest in a more basic system you know how to operate than a state-of-the-art one which you’ll set up wrong. The former will get you better audio.
11. Always have a back-up recorder. There was one episode of my show where my good audio equipment failed to work. I tested it before starting and everything, but something went wrong and my file was all screwy. Luckily, I had been using my iPhone as a back-up recording device. Always have a back-up recorder. There’s no way to get back the magic of an amazing interview.
12. Choosing a location is just as important as expensive gear. I did a bunch of research on microphones before starting my show. But in the end, having the best gear still didn’t account for recording in the worst places. When recording audio, hard surfaces are your enemy. Steer clear of boardrooms with whiteboards, long tables and glass windows. Any flat surface will create echoes which degrade your audio quality. Listen to some of my early episodes (e.g. Athan Didaskalou or Saul Flores) and you’ll hear the room echo. Contrast this with my interview with Chris Rauschnot, which was done in a Vegas hotel room with carpet, curtains and soft couches. Much better for audio!
13. It takes time to build an audience. I remember when I was getting 20 downloads on an episode launch day and I thought that was amazing. Like, think of 20 people listening to your voice all at once. That would pack out a room. But I had my sights set on 1,000 downloads per episode. Thats when I would say, “I’ve made it”. A year on, I’m a lot closer to that goal, but it’s still a while off.
14. Consistency is key. The graph below shows my total downloads per day, over the last year. You can see upward trends when I have regular releases. The long, flat, periods where when I took a hiatus (see point 15, below). These periods are bad because you’re being inconsistent for your audience who you’ve essentially made a promise to, to deliver great, regular content. Having a podcast that hasn’t been updated in over a month is like one of those old blogs where the last post was 3 years ago. Existing subscribers are likely to leave, and you certainly won’t get any new listeners. Who is going to subscribe to something when it looks like it’s dead? It’s hard to grow a show when you don’t really have a show.
15. Get help with production. Initially I was the CEO of MATE; the Chief Everything Officer. But over time, I became lazy and stopped doing the tasks I hated. I didn’t enjoy editing, and as a result my show suffered a 3 month hiatus. In the end, I hired an editor (thanks Josh!) to edit my shows and help me stick to a release schedule. So my advice is, figure out what’s holding you back and outsource it.
16. Podcast statistics suck. I can’t tell you the number of times people have asked me, “How many subscribers does your podcast have?” Followed only by the second most common question, “Surely iTunes gives you those stats, right?” The answer is, “No, I can’t tell you how many subscribers and iTunes gives you zero stats!” The key number for podcasts is downloads. There are no subscriber stats. iTunes gives you nothing and you’re basically left on your own to interpret what is good/not.
17. Statistics are (kind-of) not worth focusing on, anyway. If all you’re doing is podcasting for stats, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Chances are, your podcast won’t be the next Serial or This American Life. If you’re lucky, you’ll crack 200 downloads per episode (the median podcast gets about 200 downloads per episode, according to Libsyn). So think about why you started podcasting and focus on achieving that. More on that below.
18. Podcasting isn’t going to make you rich. The reason I say they’re “kind-of” not worth focusing on, is because they also “kind-of” are, too. When it comes to monetisation, stats matter. Most advertisers are looking for a minimum of 5,000 downloads per episode before investing in a podcaster, simply because it’s not worth their time or money to invest and reach such a small target cohort. And when you get to that threshold, you’re likely to be paid on a CPM model, which means you get paid approximately $10–25 per 1,000 downloads of your show. So doing the math, if you’re getting 5k downloads at $25 CPM, you’re making $125 per episode. It’s nice, but it’s not going to make you a millionaire. The exception to this is if you’re hyper-targeted (for example, a brain surgeon podcast).
19. The podcasting communities online are SUPER helpful! Join an online podcast community. There’s heaps on Facebook. They’ve really helped. Ask questions, share what you’ve learned, get involved. It’s great.
20. Have fun with it. You need to be enjoying the podcast if it’s to succeed. Otherwise you won’t continue to meet your release deadlines and you’ll despise working on it. Have a think about your ‘Why’. Why are you making the podcast? For me, it’s to enable me to have interesting conversations with fascinating people. I’ve been able to interview and befriend some of my idols through making the podcast. Once you’re doing you, the rest doesn’t matter.
Thanks for reading. What have you learned along your podcasting journey? Share your experience in the comments below!
If you liked this, you should check out MATE podcast. It’s a show about Marketing, Advertising, Technology and Entrepreneurship. Subscribe on iTunes.
Minter Dial is a controversial marketing consultant with unique perspectives on digital transformation, as well as building brands through employees. Listen in to hear his argument as to why your employees are more important than your customers, and how to succeed in this new age of heightened customer expectations. Minter also tells us about a school teacher who made a prosthetic limb for a student using LEGO, and what we can learn about organisational culture and branding from that.
The importance of employees being ambassadors of your brand, and how to operationalise that through the organisation.
How to make your employees your number #1 fan
“Your customers’ are just someone else’s customers who occasionally buy you” (from The conquest of indifference by Martin Weigel [SlideShare]):
Transparency in branding
To build a strong brand, it’s more important to focus on employees than on customers.
Rory Aronson revolutionised agriculture when he created the coolest invention ever—FarmBot—an AI robot which farms your veggie patch. Seriously, this autonomous robot plants seeds, waters the garden, checks the soil nutrients and kills the weeds. In this episode of MATE, Rory explains how he built this precision agriculture machine and why it’s going to transform the agriculture industry. We also discuss how he hacked the product launch video to go viral and smash the goal on their crowdfunding campaign.
What is CNC farming and what are the benefits?
How FarmBot works and how to build one
Who FarmBot is created for
Why Rory decided to make FarmBot open-source
How FarmBot compares to traditional methods of agriculture
Plans to make FarmBot available for under $1,000
Kickstarter’s impact on launching the project
How to make your product launch video campaign go viral on social media
How Rory has dealt with the sudden media attention of becoming an instant celebrity
Bill Friedman has spent his entire adult life working in and around the Las Vegas casino business, alongside the gangsters who built the Las Vegas Strip. He has spent countless hours interviewing members of The Mafia, researching their histories and building a picture of the gambling industry in America. In this fascinating conversation, Bill shares the stories and lessons learned from the gangsters of Las Vegas.
Part 1: Bill Friedman’s background and the gangster history of Las Vegas
Part 2: Casino management and how casinos are designed to keep players focused on gambling
Part 3: The marketing and business lessons learned from how gangsters operated their Las Vegas casinos
Bill Friedman explains how he got involved in the casino business
The legalisation of gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bill’s fascination with gangsters, their business ethics and how he socialised with them.
Objecting to his drafting in the Vietnam War and being questioned by the FBI
Hollywood’s misrepresentation of The Mob
Bill’s research with the School of Criminology at the University of California, Berkeley.
What is Casino Management?
The unique ways casinos are designed and how they are conducive to enticing gamblers to play
Personalised service, giving customers what they want and the many ways casinos reward high-rollers.
The real reason casino chips are used at the tables instead of cash
How Frank Woolworth pioneered retail merchandising