How to grow a podcast while remaining anonymous

[00:00:00] Roger: We have a great podcast. I've learned a ton about how to produce a podcast. We've had a lot of interesting guests, but we don't know how to promote it. And when you don't know how to do something, it's pretty rare that you actually do it.

[00:00:13] Mark Steadman: Welcome to what's your problem, where I try and make podcasters lives easier. One issue at a time. My name is Mark Steadman. I'm a podcast producer, consultant and coach. And in this episode, I'm speaking with Roger and Nina of sex is Funny.

[00:00:31] These two friends are podcasting under pseudonyms while they wait for their kids to turn 18. So the challenge of growing their show feels even harder since they can't rely on friends and family, but I was able to help run them through some of the basics. But we also got to cover some more unusual tactics for growing a funny sex positive podcast.

[00:00:52] Nina joined us a little way into the call so you'll hear her voice joining the second half of the episode, but let's begin by diving into how Roger puts episodes together.

[00:01:05] Roger: So my partner in crime, Nina Velvet and I have been working on a podcast since about August, 2020. So not right at the beginning of the pandemic, but not long after it started. We spent a couple of months figuring out what we wanted to talk about, which is we wanted to do a sex positive podcast that had a humor element to it, which kind of leveraged on the kind of conversations that we would just have on a day-to-day basis.

[00:01:29] So the problem that we're having is we have a great podcast. I think I've learned a ton about how to produce a podcast. We've had a lot of interesting guests but we don't know how to promote it. And when you don't know how to do something, it's pretty rare. that you actually do it.

[00:01:45] At first, we just had a regular recording date once a week and we would record it and then I would edit it using Adobe audition and then I would upload it to Libsyn and it would go out to all the syndicated services. And so we got a lot of episodes out quickly and we would just pick a topic.

[00:02:06] we would think who could we get to join us? One of our friends and some. We'd just be the two of us. Sometimes it would be three of us. We just did our first podcast with four people. We basically do it as a conversation, and then I go through and make hundreds and hundreds of tiny little edits to clean it up to the point where I feel like it's something I could put my fake name on and then we'd publish it and go on.

[00:02:33] And then things kind of slowed down after a while, but now we're more like on the once a month schedule.

[00:02:38] Mark: What have you currently been doing? And if nothing is the answer that, so that's an okay answer. But in order to sort of, try and tell people that the show exists and that you've got a new episode are you currently doing?

[00:02:50] Roger: So mostly it's word of mouth. We have a Twitter account. We have an Instagram account. We have a Facebook account. But, you know, that's really not enough. You gotta actually do things with them and we haven't really dove into that. And one of the reasons for it is that, you know, since we use fake names on this podcast, it would be so much easier if we could leverage our own social networks to start, but we can't do that, well, let me just put it this way so far. We have not chosen do that.

[00:03:21] Part of the reason that I was waiting was for my daughter to turn 18 and now she has. so that makes me think, yeah, we could probably come out with our real names and then that would make it so much easier.

[00:03:33] Mark: Yes, I think you're not the only one who's sort of had that, that, that battle. And I wish I had a sort of helpful answer to that one because I think it is tricky. If you want to keep uh, some anonymity. Then, yeah, it does deny you that, that particular avenue. But what I will say is I think a lot of these things can feel like they might be bigger avenues than they actually are, you know, sort of friends and family will only get you so far. And so I think we can kind of shortcut that and say, okay, let's assume for now that's not possible or viable. How do you feel about guesting on other people's podcasts?

[00:04:16] Roger: I'd love to do that. And I, again, it's a, it's more like, I don't really know how to put myself out there to do that.

[00:04:22] Mark: Okay. That's great. So, there are services like that have listings of people who are looking for guests, I'll have links to things in the show notes. That can get you some, it can be useful as a starting off point. Sometimes the shows that you see there, if you start searching around. People, you know, it's the scourge of a a lot of podcasting is that people set up shows, they do a few and then they get bored or they get busy and they move on. So there are a few dead shows that you'll find on services like that. But there are, there, there is that there's podcast guest. I believe it's just podcast, which is a long-standing one. And it's been around for quite awhile. And those, like I said they'll. They can short circuit the process. But I think the best thing to do is actually just to start looking in your podcast directories in Spotify and apple podcasts and searching for the kind of shows that fit your, fit your niche, or thinking in terms of your listener, what are the other shows that they're list?

[00:05:28] So, uh, one of the things that I've been looking at recently is building a listener profile or listener avatar, or a listener persona to really get a handle on who your listener is, where they hang out. And also I'll say what podcasts they listen to, because once you've got that, then you can just do the research of finding out, you can either visit their website and fill in a contact form. There are ways that you can look at. The podcast for you, didn't get their email address. That's a little bit more technical, but it's doable. And you can just drop them an email and then there's, I have a particular formula for that. You want to make sure. they know, you know that it's a show that is happy to accept guests because some just don't. And You can always offer to do a swap as well. You can all, you know, all we say let's have a guest swap. Let's do a promo swap that kind of thing. Does that feel doable?

[00:06:12] Roger: Oh, sure.

[00:06:13] Mark: So with that, I think a really good process is get yourself a Trello board, get on, set up a board with all of that as you start thinking of podcasts, list them in that, in the sort of first left-hand column of these that are just all the ones that I want to promote, uh, want to talk to. Set up columns in Trello for the different stages of the process. So maybe it's, just researched, you know, found their email address, move the car to this column, and then I've contacted them and they've said yes, or whatever. So you can start to sort of, you know, deal with quite a few at the same time. Because the best way of doing this is just make it a process.

[00:06:51] Roger: it's funny that you mentioned Trello because there was a time when we had so many episodes in different stages of production that we needed to bring up a Trello board. Because we didn't use Trello, but something very much like it, just to keep track of like episode 36 is in, you know, is is in planning and episode 35 is in post-production episode 34 and so on.

[00:07:11] Mark: Yep.

[00:07:11] Roger: That's another good trick.

[00:07:12] Mark: Yeah it works. Um, And you know, you can scour podcast, newsletters, especially, you know, new new podcasts that they're going to be eager for guests. It's not necessarily going to get you a great audience if they're a new podcast, but it gets you in the habit.

[00:07:25] Roger: Also with a new podcast, the stakes are a little lower too. Like maybe you start out with a new podcast as you build your chops and then maybe you go to bigger ones.

[00:07:34] Mark: Yeah, it's sort of work, work your way up the ladder. And I think it works the other way as well. When you want to get guests is it's always nice to be able to say, well, this other person that you've heard of, they did the podcast. Do you want to do the podcast? You know?

[00:07:45] While we're on this sort of swapping a topic, then swapping trailers or promos, I think is a really, really good thing that you can do. And again, it is just about reaching out. I've tried to find or start directories that kind of automate this process, make it a little bit more discovered, but the best thing to do is just reach out to people individually. And it's exactly the same process. But then instead of asking to be a guest, you know, maybe you make up. Quick sort of 30, 45 second promo that they can play in their episode and vice versa. You could talk about collaborating on an episode. So I think a really good starting point is working with other podcasters.

[00:08:24] So that the first thing is you mentioned publishing monthly. One of the things that I think is difficult is it's hard to lodging people's brains for a monthly show because people build podcast listening into their habits and. up on a regular basis means great. I know like it's Tuesday, I know this podcast is going to drop I'm looking forward to it and they, you know, your listening will build it into their routine. It also means that you occupy a little bit more brain space for them. I know that trying to produce a show every week, is that not an easy task?

[00:08:58] Roger: I am curious. Do you feel like there's an ideal frequency for growth?

[00:09:01] Mark: Yes, a conversation I've had with Acast before would suggest they like them weekly. There's a reason for that though. That's because the more people put episodes out, the more ads they can sell, but I do think weekly or every two weeks, I think is a really good, every two weeks is a manageable frequency. What I was thinking of is if you thought in terms of seasons, you could batch produce a few episodes. What it allows you to do, this is a bit of a hack. Is that. If you announce a new season, it gives you a, an extra bump in terms of what you can promote. So Podnews, for example, which is, you know, it's a newsletter for podcasters, so it's only going to get you so far, but this is going to be the case with lots of newsletters. If you come out. We've got a new season, this is a show it's established. It's been here since 2020, but we're excited to tell you about a new season. We're going to talk about this. You know, maybe if you've got some or all of your episodes or really already recorded, you can, make a season trailer, you can tell people about the guests that you've got coming up. And then that gives you a little bit of juice that you can then take to email newsletters. And just generally makes it gives you an event that you can then tell people.

[00:10:15] Roger: And you can, it gives you something to talk about on Twitter or whatever.

[00:10:18] Mark: Yeah I wouldn't put too much stock if you like in the social media. Aspect in terms of it's good for certain amount of work. It's good for a sort of building a brand and communicating with your listeners. But the difficulty that we have with social media is that we often expect there to be a sort of one-to-one relationship where you post a link and then you get listeners and it rarely happens like that because there's a few reasons and one of them is the person, who's scrolling. Just looking whether it's at a hashtag or just looking at their phone for a general bit of scrolling, that's what they're in the mood for at the moment. That's what they're in the context for it. They're just sitting there scrolling on their phone, looking at stuff. They see a podcast episode, pop up, you know, a link to a podcast episode. They're probably not going to dive in and listen to that.

[00:11:13] Roger: I gotcha.

[00:11:13] Nina: Roger is the the Twitter person.

[00:11:16] Mark: How do you feel about promoting the podcast, telling the world about it?

[00:11:22] Nina: So we were waiting for children to get to be of age. But now I think we want to keep our fun, poor names, just because it's easier to talk about all this stuff, if you're your alter ego anyway. And it's better for our for our. Our guests who can be totally anonymous. And then if people Google us, cause we're so understandably, it'd be like, they'll find out who we are, but it's like, you know, the buck kind of stops there as far as everything else can stan anonymous

[00:11:50] Mark: You only really have to come out to the people that know you you know, to the podcast listeners, you're still the Roger and Nina that they've come to know and love. Whereas now you just get to tell people about your exciting double life.

[00:12:03] Nina: Oh, that's true. I didn't think of it like that.

[00:12:07] Mark: Yeah.

[00:12:08] Roger: is that Roger and Nina not actually the same people as our real life selves.

[00:12:15] Mark: Of course, because why would you know, why would you constrain yourself to being the same person when you've got the chance to make a whole new version of yourself?

[00:12:23] Roger: Exactly. Uh, we're recognizable. It's not like we're that different, but

[00:12:28] Nina: Yeah.

[00:12:29] Roger: things that maybe our real life versions might were differently.

[00:12:31] Mark: So now what, I'm, what I want to happen for you. I don't want to see how this lands and if we can make this happen is can you have a coming out party for the podcast? Can you have a podcast, a reveal party?

[00:12:44] Nina: This is fabulous.

[00:12:46] Mark: You get, you know, you get your friends and family and you can invite your listeners and, you know, pick a place and and reveal to those that you love, that you have this amazing podcast.

[00:12:56] Nina: That's a fabulous idea. I hadn't thought of that. So like an in-person thing?

[00:13:00] Mark: Yeah,

[00:13:00] Nina: Oh, that's really fun. I love how it's like a coming out and reveal party because it's like our baby. It's true. It's like, Aw dude, dude, dude. Aw,

[00:13:15] Mark: All the joy of a reveal party. We have none of the icky gender stuff.

[00:13:19] Nina: true. And we don't have to burn down California to do it

[00:13:24] Mark: Everybody wins.

[00:13:25] Nina: right. Exactly.

[00:13:27] Mark: That is something that you get to do, you know, not just for yourselves and for the show, but also that is, that may be something that you can do a little bit of local press around. That you know, if you find some sort of local publications, you'd be surprised that the fun, you can have it with a bit of local press.

[00:13:46] A friend of mine we got her in the, in some of our local press here. And then I think it got further afield and it got so many comments because she was making a podcast about period. And the people that yeah, the comments were yeah.

[00:14:01] Nina: love it.

[00:14:02] Mark: yeah. I'm not exactly in a backwater, but it might as well have been, but based on the comments but it at least it gives you that, you know, that local flair, that local thing is something that you can play around with you know, finding finding a venue that will do it. And God, I'm just I'm sort of planning the party in my head that I should leave that to you.

[00:14:17] Have you ever looked at the account fess hole? The Twitter account fess hole um, fess hole is an anonymous. Twitter account that anyone can submit to. And it's anonymous confessions basically. And some of them are more and more actually they've got quite, some of them are quite sort of, they get you in the fields, like th they're not confessions of awful crimes. Some of them are just like, I'm too embarrassed to tell, you know, this particular thing that happened, but where you get to have a lot of fun, particularly talking about sex and sex positivity. As I think you have an opportunity to use social media to gather and tell some really funny stories anonymously, you know, you could set up an account with a Google form or something like that where people can just enter made it well, they don't have to enter a name, they can literally just type in some text and you can then Yeah. Pick the ones that you like and start to disseminate those. You can talk about them on the podcast. There's all sorts of things like that, that you get to do in social media, rather than just trying to push the episode, because that rarely works.

[00:15:34] It sounds like you're on lots of different platforms and I think it feels like there's to some degrees different advice with some of this stuff, but I think the best advice, because one of the statements that I heard uh, most recently is if you try it's something along the lines of, if you chase two rabbits, you'll catch neither.

[00:15:50] Roger: Yeah. I know what you mean.

[00:15:51] Mark: Meaning that, you know, if you're on Twitter and trying to promote on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, all these different places, and there's only two of you, that's quite difficult. Whereas if you focus your energy on one platform that you feel like this is the one that actually that will have the most traction with, and I would guess it would probably be more Twitter then it is Instagram. Possibly Instagram. If you do some sort of images and text rather than photos, cause obviously thinking about it being a visual medium

[00:16:24] Roger: Yes, Twitter is definitely the most simpatico of the social media for us

[00:16:30] Mark: It's a few of the things I'm thinking about. Like are some sort of small bits of low hanging fruit that I think could make your life a little bit easier when it. comes to protein. The show, I think, have a look at the artwork. I think having looked at the artwork, I don't know that sort of says what it needs to say about the podcast and

[00:16:49] Roger: You don't have to mince words.

[00:16:50] Nina: he's a delicate flower.

[00:16:55] Mark: I'm been terribly polite. Um, I think because it's black and white and because it's sort of quite blocky, You can identify it easily enough, but I think maybe having something in there that perhaps a little bit more, I don't know, a little bit more fun, a little bit more vibrant, a bit more colorful and allows you to create a. Distinct, and sort of, yeah, like a brand that really sort of, that you can take across the website and across all the social media and stuff that has a bit more vibrancy to it. Cause I think the kind of topics that you cover, but also your natures as hosts as presenters, there's a lot more flat and color and sort of spice and all that kind of stuff. And it'd be really good to see that reflected in the brand.

[00:17:39] So the next thing, or the final thing I will I will ask about is what do you have in terms of a web presence?

[00:17:50] Roger: We have a site with a few pages on it. It's kind of a placeholder, but it's got a list of episodes you can play in place. And it's got like a page for, if you want to be a guest on our show. And it's got a little bit about us, but not very much. And it's got a list of topics,

[00:18:05] Mark: What's that built on?

[00:18:07] Roger: Something goofy, basically the place where the domain is parked, gives you a freeway to put a couple of web pages on it.

[00:18:14] Mark: Yep, I'm with you. If you can look into a service, like PodPage, what that gives you is you'll get a nice looking website and you can add, you can sort of Riyadh, uh, pages, you know, like a guest booking page. I think they've even got a guest booking facility within PodPage. But one of the reasons that I'm really bullish on this kind of thing is, every episode should have its own web page that you own because when you start sharing it, when you start telling people about it, whether you've anonymously or whether, you know, this is post the party, you wouldn't be able to point people to your website because there you can have all the buttons for people to subscribe to the podcast in their app of choice, so you're not sharing an Apple Podcasts link, or obviously not sharing a Spotify link anymore, but, you know, most people don't have I-phones most people have Android phones. Uh, And so when you're sharing Apple Podcasts to link, you're sort of saying to those people, this podcast is not for you.

[00:19:15] Roger: Yeah, we

[00:19:15] Mark: Um, even though they can get it, obviously they can't get it, but you're making them do an extra leak.

[00:19:21] Nina: Um,

[00:19:21] Mark: If you have a webpage for each episode, this gives you all sorts of of nice things. So that's the sort of the unit that you would share and you would point to. You can also tell Libsyn, this is the address of the page, and what that then means is when people are listening on their phones, they can tap the title of the episode and it will go through to your website. So on your website, you can have your show notes, you can have the player as well. So for people who've found it on the web, you can have the the player there so they can hear the episode straight away, they can see your show notes and links, and if you want to start building a neem, an email newsletter, which is a really good thing to do, then you can have that on your website as well.

[00:20:00] And the whole point of this, or part of the point of it is you get to invite the listener to do things that serve you after you've provided value to them is to now say, okay, well, you know, now come and come and sign up to the newsletter and we can let you know about new episodes or that kind of stuff.

[00:20:16] It needn't be PodPage,, but one of the nice things about that service is it will update your website for you as new episodes drop. So it'll create these new pages for you. And you know, it's a simple, easy enough service to use. You get some really nice looking templates, you can make a really good website using it.

[00:20:33] Nina: Great.

[00:20:34] Mark: So I would absolutely recommend that.

[00:20:38] Nina: Cool.

[00:20:38] Roger: that's a great idea.

[00:20:40] Nina: Yeah, that's a huge idea, thank you.

[00:20:41] Mark: The other quick thing is is a really good service. If you just want to have something really quick in the meantime, to be able to share to people that it's cross-platform, you can create a customer. It's completely free. You can create a custom link, it will be know, whatever. And that will create a little web page. That's, mobile optimized has your latest episode has the name of your podcast and then all of the little buttons for apple podcasts and Google and Stitcher and lots of other places. And so if you share that again, that just makes your listeners' lives easier, they can pick the up that works for them.

[00:21:17] Roger: We need a person on our team to work on this stuff.

[00:21:21] Mark: It can feel overwhelming. But it's not stuff that you have to do. All right. Now it's stuff that you can do. If you can just dedicate a bit of set set out or set aside a regular bit of time, whether it's. Every week, if you can manage it. You know, every day and some, you know, half an hour, every day to do little jobs or to engage on social media, it's something that forgotten his name from grow the show calls targeted daily engagement, but it's literally sitting on like Twitter or wherever for half an hour, and just seeing where you can contribute to a conversation.

[00:21:57] But if you can spend a little bit of time, you can just chip away at these little jobs, just get them in a big list and just start chipping away at them. And before, you know, it you'll have made huge strides and you'll be surprised at where you were even, you know, a month, six weeks ago. So. If this stuff feels useful. I, as I say, I will put things in the notes for this episode. But just start making a list of the things that feel achievable and even the things that maybe feel maybe not so achievable and just start chipping away at them. And it's absolutely stuff that is within your power today.

[00:22:27] It's just a bit of a slog.

[00:22:29] Roger: Yup.

[00:22:29] Nina: Yeah.

[00:22:30] Roger: you, mark.

[00:22:32] Mark: It's my pleasure. So as we wrap up, would you please like to tell me and the listener about your show and where it can be found?

[00:22:40] Nina: Our show is Sex is Funny. It's the two of us Quaker slots. We grew up together and we are trying to have a conversation about what's uncomfortable, why is it uncomfortable, why is it horrifying, why is it wonderful, how we can make it more healthy and happy and all that good stuff.

[00:23:00] Roger: We're trying to change the world through sex positivity.

[00:23:03] Nina: One orgasm at a time.

[00:23:05] Mark Steadman: My thanks to Roger and Nina for joining me on the podcast. Had to for links to sex. It's funny. And to the things we discussed there, you'll also find a format to apply, to be a future guest on the podcast. Take care of yourself and I'll speak to you again very soon.