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Podcasting Gold: Finding Your Show's Hidden Gems

Podcasting Gold: Finding Your Show's Hidden Gems

  • Dec 18, 2023
Nathan Gwilliam
Nathan Gwilliam

Nathan Gwilliam: Welcome to the Podcasting Secret show where successful creators share their best stories, secrets, and strategies. I'm your host, Nathan William.

Hello, incurable creators. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of Podcasting Secrets. Today, I'm joined by Max Branstetter. Max is the founder and a podcast producer at Max Podcasting. He's also the host of Wild Business Growth podcast in his role running Max Podcasting, he's edited more than 1000 episodes and launched more than two dozen shows. He's also done a lot of speaking such as at the Podcasting Summit that we just did and Podcast Movement, the biggest podcasting conference of the year. And he's also hosted a series for Intuit QuickBooks. And he has created the number one all time creativity podcast at Good Pods.

Thank you so much for joining us for this episode, Max.

Max Branstetter: Oh, thank you so much, Nathan. Always great when we get to catch up and extra special when we get to reveal some podcasting secrets quote unquote trademark pending. But really happy to be here. Thanks again for having me.

Nathan Gwilliam: So we are a little bit late starting this episode because as we went to start it, my microphone wouldn't work and I have a pretty new Shure microphone and I love this microphone it's great. But the bottom fell out of it. We finally figured out why it wouldn't work. And we had a little technical difficulty on this new microphone.

So Max, what is your secret when you have a microphone that doesn't work and you're trying to record a podcast?

Max Branstetter: You said the bottom fell out and I think that's a saying, like a euphemism oh no, the bottom's falling out. And it's never a good sign in terms of your podcasting equipment when literally the bottom falls out.

But you actually handled this swimmingly. And the reason we are still recording this today is because you have multiple mics and you had a backup mic, which is still a fantastic mic. And so I think it's just a good lesson when you have a big, and I'm sure this is your biggest interview of all time today, but when you have a big interview, a big recording session that day, make sure that you do have some contingencies, make sure you do have some backup options available just because.

What is that law, Murphy's Law, that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. That happens a lot. The more gear you throw into the mix and the more podcasts you record. A backup mic, even if it's pretty inexpensive, can be a pretty helpful thing.

Nathan Gwilliam: And according to Murphy's Law, the more important the podcast recording is. The more likely it is, something's gonna break. I Feel weird that I don't have my pop filter on top of this, but I love this microphone. This is one of those. What is it? An AR 2100 XS. I think I've recorded three hundred fifty, three hundred and eighty episodes or something off of this. So this is a lot of road time, a lot of miles on it with me and I love it. Great sound. I've upgraded to that Shure, but back to the tried and true today.

Max Branstetter: It's a good one. And that is funny you mentioned that I actually for the vast majority of Wild Business Growth podcast episodes, it's been recorded on this mic in the previous iteration of it. And I still think it's one of the best bang for your buck mics out there. So big fan of the ATR 2100.

Nathan Gwilliam: I agree. It is a great place to start.

Okay, tell me about your podcasting journey. Just give me a quick high level overview. And as you do, I want you to tell me the biggest, hardest thing that you went through as a podcaster and how you got through it.

Max Branstetter: Yeah, it's been an incredible journey, a really organic journey, because as you mentioned, now I look back and I've been hosting, I've been editing episodes for five years and counting at the time of this recording. But as of a couple of years before that, I don't think I even knew what podcasts were. I knew it was an app on the iPhone and I knew it was like, like a webinar thing or radio thing. I didn't even know.

And at some point my favorite basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, a few of those players, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, Allie Clifton, the sideline reporter launched a podcast called road trip. And it just went viral in the Cleveland world and sports world and they had all sorts of stars on the show.

And that's the first time I listened to a podcast and it totally opened my eyes of, wow, this is a really cool, intimate, entertaining, educational form of just consuming content and the fact that you can do it on your own time really just blew my mind. And so I became pretty quick, a big podcast fan, and I had recently joined my family business and was looking for ways to market the company.

And my dad and I were both on the same page of we need to create a podcast to connect with other entrepreneurs. And that was, it's changed a little bit, but that was the birth of the, what became the Wild Business Growth podcast. And since then become a podcast host, closing in on 300 episodes for that podcast, as well as started producing podcasts for other entrepreneurs and the production side is actually where my business max podcasting is now my full time podcast production business.

I still love hosting. It's always going to be my favorite thing I do, but even more fulfilling than that somehow is producing other entrepreneurs' podcasts and taking that time and effort off their plate so they can get their podcasts and their message out to the world. And so the vast majority of my time these days is on the production side.

Nathan Gwilliam: So can you tell me about the hardest thing you've gone through in your podcasting journey and how you got through it?

Max Branstetter: I think one of the most difficult things, there's difficult thing for anybody to do, but it's a big jump is when you get into the entrepreneurial space.

If you're somebody who knows they want to start a business, it's easier said than done to actually leave a full-time job and leave, what you're used to as a consistent salary and, to follow your dreams and solve your problem whenever you're doing as a business. And for me, that business has been in the podcasting space.

So becoming a full time podcast producer for so many different entrepreneurs out there, that has been a big jump. Obviously it changes a lot in the day to day, but also just mentally going from someone who, receives a salary and gets your paycheck every couple of weeks or every month, however you want to go about that to totally being in charge of making your own income.

I think that's a big shift for anybody out there. And for me, what's been a big driver of me not quitting after a few months or even a few years at this point is the fact that it is something I find so fulfilling. And this whole business is rooted in, as I was saying, saving entrepreneurs time and helping to get their high quality podcasts out into the world.

And I'm somebody in that space myself. I know how long it takes to get a podcast out there and I know how beneficial podcasts can be for your business. So I think the hardest thing is to actually finally make that jump and go fully out on your own because at the start, everybody's starting at zero clients and zero income.

So yeah, you got to. Make moves quick as a kids, say in order to become an actual business and income.

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah, that is a tough transition, but if you make that transition, you'll never go back. It's a, it's almost addictive or addicting, whatever the right word is to have that freedom and be able to be your own boss and have control of your own financial destiny in that way.

Max Branstetter: Yeah. And people have asked me about it. I'm totally the same way. I know that you've gone through this journey yourself many times. Once you do realize that, there is a way out there to be your own boss, to solve a problem, to, find fulfillment in helping others out there, when you are making your own hours, when you are making your own, day to day a week to week work plan, it is pretty crazy to think back to the other side of things of, working a, the quote unquote nine to five, or, just being on a consistent salary that way, like it's a totally different way to doing things. It's totally not easy, but it's also, yeah, I'm the same way I can never go back.

Now that we're, now that we've jumped into the deep end the deep end of podcast production, we'll call it.

Nathan Gwilliam: All right. Since this is the Podcasting Secrets show, we've got to have you say, share some of your best secrets. What is your secret sauce to your success?

Max Branstetter: Secret sauce to success. I would say alliteration because you teed that off perfectly. No, but I think you hear a million times in the podcasting world consistency, but I think getting increasingly more and more important is on top of that consistency, being consistent with great quality.

And so for me being consistent releasing Wild Business Growth podcast episode every week and then on the production side, making sure that's ready every week as well as making sure that our clients are happy and have enough lead time with all of their episodes that we edit and turnaround for them.

Being super organized, being consistent, and then keeping that focus on quality with every single thing you do, because as there's more and more podcasts out there, there's a greater disparity in quality. And as listeners, as viewers to a podcast, people don't want to sit around and listen to something that hurts their ears to listen to, or they don't want to sit around and watch something that is super blurry or cuts in and out all the time like that. I think in addition to being consistent, that quality there is so important.

So the secret sauce is it points back to doing that at a consistent level, but doing that on the weekly level, but keeping those a priority and making sure that the end viewer, the end listener, keeping that in mind and delivering such a high quality product.

That's what's going to make your clients happy. That's going to make your podcast family happy.

Nathan Gwilliam: So everybody wants to deliver a quality podcast and unfortunately, most people don't. How do we do that? How specifically, how can we consistently produce a quality podcast?

Max Branstetter: I think it starts with the technical side and the equipment side of things.

So there's a whole arm of things that we can get into if you want about, microphones and pop filters. You mentioned earlier, boom arm, things like that. What camera to use. Things in that space. So you have to get, there's at least that baseline that you, you need to give yourself the opportunity to have high quality.

But another thing that I think makes really a huge difference in the quality space is actually more on the subjective nature of podcasting.

And when you think about interview shows, because I love interview shows. Obviously you love interview shows. If you don't, it might be really awkward right now. But when I look through all of our clients with Max Podcasting, vast majority of them have interview shows as well, and there's many benefits of why interview shows can be so great for your business and for your personal brand, for your expertise, but with interview shows, there's a real opportunity to, when you are interviewing somebody, you need to make that split second decision of, all right, do I probe here? Do I go more into this topic that the guest is talking about?

Or do we move along to the next area? And depending on those, split-second decisions. That can make the difference in a podcast episode of yours being, 30 minutes about something that maybe isn't that interesting to the listener viewer or the right mix of topics, like the right mix of ingredients in that recipe of whatever podcast episode you're cooking up. I just cannot stop with the metaphors today in order to satisfy your listeners and viewers taste buds.

So with that in mind, subjectively it can make a big difference in terms of the quality of making sure that you're being a phenomenal host in terms of, when do you move forward and when do you stay in this topic area a little bit longer, there's a fantastic art of interviewing that as a podcast host, you're responsible for mastering.

Nathan Gwilliam: Quality is so important. We were having a conversation with our team a little bit earlier today about the length of the podcast. We're working on a podcasting challenge course that's about to come out and how long should they really be.

And I've noticed that sometimes. The longer the episodes, the lower the quality. And sometimes when they're shorter, it forces us to condense it down and we don't have to come up with as much of high quality information. And I don't know, I've tended to see that the quality. Is higher when I force myself to be a little bit more concise.

Obviously there's exceptions to that. I told my team today, I love Will Smith as an actor. And if I had Will Smith on my show, he could talk for as long as he wanted and I wouldn't have a limit. Because I'm sure he would be adding so much quality to that episode.

So there's no hard fast rule, but length is one of the factors. And I guess who you have on the show and you're talking about who you interview can definitely bring quality. So you're not having to come up with quality all yourself each time.

Max Branstetter: And I think it's all in length. The answer that you hear most the time in terms of what's the right length for a podcast is as short as it needs to be like, people are more likely to listen to a half hour episode than they are three hour episode.

However, it depends on your goals as a host, because I always find the sweet spot for my interviews is in that 45 minute to an hour range, because I really like to dig into the guest background, the meat of whatever their expertise, their main business story is, and then at the end. Have some more fun in terms of, fun questions about the personality, rapid fire questions, things like that.

And I've just found in the past that when I condense that down to less than half an hour, you really, you don't get the background and sometimes the background helps frame the entire interview or it's a really interesting, fascinating area.

So length is a consideration of who you interview but also what I'm alluding to is how you interview and it's the question, it's how deep you go. It's the questions you ask. It's how you knock your pop filter off of you in front of you. Shout out to people watching the video.

But it's the willingness to prepare, to have a fantastic interview, to make sure you have a great outline, to make sure you research your guests. To have an idea, what sort of questions you want to ask, but also keeping that open to diving into an area that maybe your guest brings up, you stumbled into it with one of your questions and they said something and you're like, oh my God, we got to dive into this area.

So knowing how to interview, knowing how to get the most out of your guest is  super important in terms of quality. And it's the kind of thing that it does get easier the more interviews you do, the more practice you have with it, the more times you're cooking up that recipe. But the more you prepare before an interview, my favorite way is listening to the person you're interviewing on other podcasts, the more you can prepare and just have a good idea, like you're being in the right frame of mind, going into an interview, the more that allows for a  flourishing, just fun, fascinating interview that you've conducted.

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah, preparation is the key for inspiration.

Alright, let's talk about one of these other secrets that you mentioned you wanted to talk about today. And I think this secret is one of the most important elements to producing a quality podcast, like we've been talking about and you said that you wanted to talk today about unlocking gems within your podcast guests.

So being able to get to the good stuff, the nuggets of gold, they're there. Can you talk us through a little bit more what you mean by that and why that's so important?

Max Branstetter: Yeah and that's you segued perfectly because it alluded to that with the last point is part of it is how you are preparing for that interview. And I am a big believer that you should plan out like a five-bullet outline for that guest. And for example, for me, what that may look like for a Wild Business Growth podcast episode. If I was interviewing Nathan, first bullet is Nathan's background and bio. And then it would be the PodUp story or the Podcasting Secrets story and then inspiration, creativity, how he stays inspired, how he stays creative. And then after that rapid fire or section I call the unusual.

You don't want to have too many sections, but the point is. Have a bulleted outline so it can keep you in line. It keeps you anchored. So as you're going through the interview and you're in, you're conscious of the time as it's passing in the interview, look at the clock every now and then.

How much time do you have left to move to a certain section. And you should also know what is the main thing, what's the main reasons you're interviewing the guests, what's the main things you want to talk about? So if I'm interviewing Nathan on Podcasting Secrets and, podcast production company, a podcast platform. I'll know that almost half that interview should be about that specific thing, if not more.

So you have your outline when you're in the actual interview, in addition to, with a notepad in front of you going through that outline, making sure that you have the time in mind. You want to take notes, rapidly throughout it of, questions that you're asking the guests as well as some answers to some topics that the guests have said an answer to your questions and, circle it, put a star next to it.

If Nathan says something. That I'm like, oh my God, I really want to dive into that area, make a note of it, circle it, star it, triple asterisks it, whatever you want to do it and stuff to say, but make a note after whatever Nathan's done saying next that, okay I'm going to ask you about this now because we need to dive into this more.

So by unlocking gems, it starts with preparation, but what I mean by that is, being prepared to dive into the areas with your guests that are really fascinating or really educational for your listener, for your viewer, that you didn't even anticipate coming up beforehand.

So it starts with preparation and then it goes back to that in the moment, alright do we pounce here? Do we dive into this more or, you know what, let's move along. Let's talk about what do you do to stay inspired in your free time?

So that's a little example of it. It takes some practice, but unlocking gems is what makes the difference between a solid interview and a fantastic interview that your audience is going to want to share with others.

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah, I love it. So to unlock the gems, you're saying we need to do our research. We need to plan. We need to ask really good questions. We need to know when to probe, when to move on, and we need to learn from the interviews.

As they're saying things, we need to not just stick to a set script, but we need to be able to go with it. I call it mining for gold, right? If you had a whole bunch of people that were mining for gold and one of your people hits a vein of gold, what are you going to do? Are you going to keep everybody else in the mine where they were? No, you're probably going to bring a bunch of those people. To help him mine that one vein of gold.

And the same thing is true with an interview, right? You hit that vein of gold, right? And you find something that's just so interesting and compelling. You just got to go deep within that. Like we're doing here with. With quality and finding the gems, this concept.

Max Branstetter: Getting extra meta here.

But I actually, you made me think of another point, which is the more you are prepared and you more, you have that outline laid out in your notebook and you're organized, you're ready for the interview. Your guest you basically what I call you friendly stalk them because you've looked them up on the internet, you've looked them up on social media, a lot about them.

The more you are prepared, the more you can truly focus in the interview on active listening and active listening is another fantastic way to unlock those gems or dig for gold, as you were saying. Because it's not like your guest says something and it flies right by you, flies over your head. If your guest says something and it flies to your head and you say, oh my God, that's it.

Sometimes you'll get so excited. You'd start stomping your feet or something in the interview. Like it's funny what happens, but there's a real thing in there when it comes to unlocking gems, digging for gold with active listening.

Nathan Gwilliam: That's a really good point that I don't know that I've heard anybody make before, but I completely agree with when we are not prepared while they're talking, we're having to plan our next question.

And when we are prepared and we know what the next question is, we can actively listen a lot better. That's a really good point.

Max Branstetter: I appreciate it. I think that inherently, that's always going to be true. And when I think about some of my favorite interviews of all time, the ones that have unlocked gems, I feel like we're sponsored by Uncut Gems, the Adam Sandler movie, but the Unlocked Gems.

But when I think of some of my favorites of all times I know that I did a really good job researching the guest. And I was prepared, I was comfortable, I was confident, and I was able to truly listen and see where the conversation goes, but also knowing that you have that anchor of your outline that you can go back to.

Nathan Gwilliam: So Max, I'm loving this conversation about quality and consistency and finding these gems as a key element of that quality in our podcasting.

Can you share with us a story of maybe one of your clients who's been consistent at publishing quality and how they did it and maybe the results that they saw from it?

Max Branstetter: Yeah, of course. And so I have to shout out to my clients who have been, we've partnered for over a hundred episodes.

They're actually the first Max Podcasting clients that we've taken from zero to 100.. And that's a, that's as a weekly podcast so over a hundred weeks and counting you'll have to do the math. How many years that, no, just kidding that's not a complicated formula

But shout out to actually a sailing magazine on the West coast called Latitude 38, and they're based out of the Bay area. And their podcast is called Good Jibes. So like good vibes, but good jibes. So if anybody is a sailor, they'll get that because it's tack or jibe.

But anyway, they have a podcast where they interview some amazing figures in the sailing space and it releases every Tuesday. They do a lot of things really well. One of the cool things about their podcast is they have a team of, both full time people within the company, as well as whether you view them as consultants, but outside people who host the podcast as well. There's a few different people that host the podcast, sometimes more.

And they're very consistent quality is great. They've interviewed the top of the top sailors in the world. Recently they had a guy who's Paul Cahill, who's known as perhaps the best American sailor in history. So really top-notch guests.

But I think the cool case study with them is not just the fact that they've added this podcast to their already loyal audience of, magazine subscribers, print magazine subscribers. That's a fun dynamic there as well. They're consistent with quality or consistent with guests.

And also they're consistent with being able to innovate. So it's not just an interview episode every single time. They've done some reads that they call verbatim where they'll read articles from the magazine. They've done some solo episodes. They've done somewhere the hosts are interviewing each other.

As they got closer to episode 100, it was a really cool series. They used satellite technology to interview a crew, shout out the Westerly crew that was in the TransPac, so the Trans Pacific Yacht Race, the Trans Pacific Boat Race that goes from California to Hawaii.

There's two episodes where they interviewed people from the crew as they were racing from the middle of the Pacific ocean, which is just incredible. And that's the kind of thing that, wouldn't even have been even possible to do a few years ago. So that really cool innovation there, of course, for episode 100 did a big celebration where there was one, one of the main hosts was interviewing lots of people from the Latitude 38 and Good Jibes team about the history of the podcast, about the history of the magazine and the magazine goes all the way back to 1977. So just really cool all around.

But I think it goes back to what I was saying before about, you have to be consistent. They release every Tuesday. They make sure there's enough episodes in the queue that myself and a production team that we can knock out and make sure they have enough time to review and can publish every week.

As well as being flexible with the format enough that, you have your main interview podcast, but every now and then it's fun to do some special episodes. So if you have the opportunity to interview somebody going across the Pacific ocean, that is really cool content for your audience that people just absolutely love to consume.

So do things like that, do special episodes to celebrate the milestones. Don't be scared to innovate. Your loyal listeners, even if they love you every single week, your podcast can start to feel a little bit stale every now and then. So adding those fresh ideas and creativity to the podcast and unlocking those gems from a format and experimentation standpoint can do really good things for the podcast.

And for Latitude 38, it's literally added a whole separate form of communicating with their audience, as well as attracting a new audience. And in a younger demographic in some sorts to their magazine audience. So it's a really cool case study and I absolutely love working with them.

They're the best.

Nathan Gwilliam: I love it. I love several things about that story. I love how somebody that already had a following went to a new medium, right? They had this following in magazine format and they went to podcasting as well. And it's not one or the other, it's just another way to reach that audience and provide value to the audience.

I love how you gave an example of consistency without monotony. Consistency doesn't mean doing exactly the same thing over and over again, even though they did it every week and they consistently provided value. And, same target audience, they went after different formats that made it fresh and interesting and not stale like you were talking.

Max Branstetter: Yeah those are new words to live by, consistency without monotony. I think we might have to get that one trademarked it.

Nathan Gwilliam: There you go.

Max, thank you so much for being on the show today. Thanks for all the value that you added. I really enjoyed this. I think I learned a lot.

If our audience enjoyed this, like I did, and they want to learn more about you and your services, what are the best ways for them to do that?

Max Branstetter: I appreciate it. Always really appreciate it, Nathan. Always great chatting and spilling the tea as they say on some podcasting secrets. I don't even know if that's the right use of that euphemism.

But if you are interested in the Wild Business Growth podcast, which drops every Wednesday or the Podcasting to the Max Newsletter, which drops every Thursday, you can go to sign up for the newsletter is.Com slash newsletter. But the podcast is there as well. And if you like inspiring stories and fun and fascinating stories of entrepreneurs amazing people like Nathan as well as podcasting tips, entrepreneurship, and corny jokes, then you'll love those two things.


Nathan Gwilliam: Sounds great. And thank you again for being with us today.

Max Branstetter: Of course. Thank you so much.


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