Engaging Binge Podcast Listeners To Super-Share Your Show By Making It Remarkable With Dr. Peter McGraw, Host Of Solo

TBF 64 | Engaging The Binge Listeners


Constantly creating content, producing results, and pushing out work doesn’t take a lot of effort. However, with the emergence of social media, your target audience is bombarded with noise from every direction at an all-time high. What can you do to stand out as a true leader in the industry? On today’s podcast, Tracy Hazzard sits down with Dr. Peter McGraw to discuss how you can make your show remarkable to engage binge podcast listeners to share it. Dr. McGraw is a behavioral economist, sought-after professional speaker, and global expert in the scientific study of humor. Diving into the transition process from his first podcast, I’m Not Joking, to his second one, Solo: The Single Person’s Guide to a Remarkable Life, he opens up about the successes he’s had and the struggles he’s working through right now.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Engaging Binge Podcast Listeners To Super-Share Your Show By Making It Remarkable With Dr. Peter McGraw, Host Of Solo

I’m bringing you a guest who has pivoted his show very successfully into a second show that’s way more successful than the first. Not only is it more personally successful and personally resonates for him, it was a mission and an interest area for him. It’s in complete contrast to his first show. We’re going to hear a little bit about that. What I also love about this and I’m so glad I can bring to you someone who enjoyed the process of podcasting, enjoyed what they were doing, figured out some things, learned some things, and now pivoted it into an amazing show. It’s taking those learnings and started its own thing. It’s on its own trajectory. That’s interesting.

He’s staying challenged in the process of being a podcaster. Full disclosure here, Dr. Peter McGraw, my guest is also one of my clients. I don’t like to bring you lots of my clients because I don’t want this to become all about us. I have asked him not to talk all about us here. I wanted you to hear him because what he’s doing behind the scenes is working for him. We’ve seen some phenomenal growth in his show. I can say he’s not just saying that, it’s absolutely true. One of the other funny stories is that his first show is called I’m Not Joking and he was interviewing as a behavioral scientist. He’s a behavioral economist.

It is an interesting model that he was doing where he’s interviewing comedians and talking about the business of comedy and other things like that. It was an interesting show with amazing cover. The funny thing is this I was interviewing Stephanie McHugh who’s been on the show before. You may have heard her. She’s on an earlier episode. She was talking about how to add comedy and some comedic elements into your podcast. When I asked her to be on the show, she said to me, “I was just on a podcast.” I said, “Which podcast were you on?” She says, “I’m Not Joking.” I said, “I’m so proud. That’s one of my clients.” Her answer to me was, “I chose to be on the show because I loved the icon.”

She loved the cover art. She loved the visual description of the show. It made her want to be on his show. There’s the power of it. Peter doesn’t know this, but he’s been in an example of every presentation I’ve given for 2019 because of that model. He’s a part of the presentation of what great cover art looks like. He’s an example of best-case and his new show called Solo. It’s got a longer title than that. It’s Solo: The Single Person’s Guide To A Remarkable Life. It also has a great cover art. It’s a little bit different because it has to incorporate such a long title, but it’s still got that great essence of who Peter is and the style that he likes to bring into things.

Dr. Peter McGraw, the host of Solo is a behavioral economist. He’s a sought after professional speaker and a global expert in the scientific study of humor. He directs the Humor Research Lab, HuRL, hosts the podcast I’m Not Joking, and is the co-author of The Humor Code: A Global Search For What Makes Things Funny. Dr. McGraw is a professor of Marketing and Psychology at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. He teaches MBA courses for the University of Colorado Boulder, University of California San Diego, and London Business School. His work has been covered by BBC, CNN, NPR, Wired, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. He published his second book and this came out of his podcast, I’m Not Joking, Shtick To Business: What The Masters Of Comedy Can Teach You About Breaking Rules, Being Fearless And Building A Serious Career. I love that title. I’m excited to bring Dr. Peter McGraw to you and let you hear some more about what it’s like to go from one show to another. We go from I’m Not Joking to Solo.

About SOLO Podcast Host Dr. Peter McGraw

TBF 64 | Engaging The Binge ListenersMcGraw is an expert in the interdisciplinary fields of judgment, emotion, and choice. His research has answered questions, such as “How do feelings affect the ways people spend money?,” “Can people feel happy and sad at the same time?,” and, “Why does the TSA suck?”

His work has appeared in Management SciencePsychological ScienceJournal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing ResearchJournal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

McGraw received a B.A. in psychology and M.Ed. in educational psychology from Rutgers University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in quantitative psychology from The Ohio State University. His post-doctoral training was conducted at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he was mentored by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman.

McGraw has spent more than a decade examining the antecedents and consequences of humor—work that has moved the study of humor from the niche to the mainstream. One advantage that he has over his predecessors is his ability to conduct state-of-the-art experiments with the help of the team he directs at the Humor Research Lab (aka HuRL), a laboratory dedicated to the experimental study of humor.

He is the co-creator of the Benign Violation Theory, and more than a 800,000 people have watched his TEDx talk, “What makes things funny?”.

In 2014, McGraw co-authored The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things FunnyHe has written for Slate, Wired, Fortune, and Huffington Post. His work has been covered by The New York TimesWall Street JournalNPRBBCTIME, Wired, CNNThe Atlantic, and Harvard Business Review.

McGraw hosts I’M NOT JOKING, a podcast called that looks at the lives of funny people from entertainment, business, science, and the arts.

SOLO Website

Peter, Thanks for joining me. I am glad we’re finally connecting and talking because I’ve been following your shows for a while. I love the interplay and the way you’ve merged into this new model of shows. As I mentioned in the intro, your show is called Solo and you’re a behavioral scientist. When in that process did you decide that the first show wasn’t quite a right fit for you but that second show was going to be where you wanted to take it to where you want it to go?

I’ll try to keep this brief because it’s unfortunately a very long story. The first show is called I’m Not Joking. It’s a look at the lives of funny people. I launched that show for two reasons. One reason is I had a book idea and I wanted to trick people into talking to me deeply about the ideas.

You wanted to trick them, but it didn’t take much tricking from what I heard there because they happily talked to you.

It’s a much more compelling situation to do a podcast. People bring it when they know that it’s going to be out there in the world. They’re much more present, thoughtful, entertaining, and better in a lot of ways so I use that. I did 100 episodes of I’m Not Joking and many of the guests and stories made it into my book, Shtick To Business. The second reason I did that podcast was I’m used to being on the other side of the microphone so to speak. I’m used to being the person being interviewed and I wanted to see what it would be like. Could I develop the skill to be a proper and dare I say good interviewer? In that way, the podcast was very much for me. I joke oftentimes that I had one listener and that was me. I made a podcast that was meant for me. That is reflected in the listener counts of the podcast. It never blew up.

It never got to where it should be. The thing is that you have some interesting conversations in I’m Not Joking. You’re getting, in some respects, comedians to be serious about some things. That’s an interesting model. I always thought it would take off. I thought there was an audience that wanted to hear that but finding them is the hard part.

Indeed and because I never was motivated to build it into something big, I never did. I did very little promotion of the podcast. Frankly, it’s in a competitive space. Comedians are at the forefront of podcasting. They picked it up very early. Comedians don’t like gatekeepers. The nice thing about podcasts is there is no gatekeeper, booker, and club manager. There’s no one saying, “You get to go and you don’t get to go.” Solo or as I call it Solo: The Single Person’s Guide To A Remarkable Life, that’s the longest title probably out there.

It needs it because otherwise, I might assume it’s about Han Solo or something like that.

That podcast came out of an idea which I was going to be doing what I call a mini-retirement or a semi-retirement and I was going to write a book about turning 50. I realized it was not going to be a book about turning 50, it was going to be turning a book as a 50-year-old bachelor. How do you live the bachelor life and how do you live it well? Some things got changed up in terms of the timing of the retirement, semi-retirement as I was calling it, an extended sabbatical. I decided instead of writing the book, I was going to launch it as a podcast. Originally, it was called Stag: The Bachelor’s Guide To A Remarkable Life. I decided not to do that for two reasons. One is it didn’t have the right look and feel in nowadays era, so to speak.

I understand where you’re going with it. It didn’t seem as respectful as it needed to be for the tone you wanted to set.

Even though I’m a progressive guy, I’m not one of these libertarian brash kind of person who that podcast might have wanted the fight, the controversy and all those things. The other reason is that being single and being single by choice is as much of a challenge for women as men if not more. I wanted to have a big tent and so I pivoted to Solo.

Stag is a lot male-oriented.

I’m very glad I did it. I’d say 2/3 of my listeners are women. That’s my suspicion based upon feedback and so on. It’s completely different than anything I’ve ever done before. It’s a podcast that is designed for listeners. I want lots of listeners. It’s valuable offering.

Isn’t that interesting? Your first one was designed for you. The second one was designed for the listeners. That’s what has happened in your shows that they showed up. Your shows had been growing at a great rate which is why we’re having this conversation.

TBF 64 | Engaging The Binge Listeners
Engaging The Binge Listeners: There’s a lot of work involved to get a new podcast going and then continue.


I have done very little promotion of the podcast also in part because I like making things, I don’t like promoting things. My guess is its organic search that is people are typing stuff into iTunes and Google and so on about this. What I know for sure is the word of mouth is out of this world. My listeners tell other people, not just 2 or 3 people, dozens of other people.

That’s fantastic. You have a show that is getting shared and that’s working for you. You overlapped the two shows. You started Solo while you were still doing I’m Not Joking. How was that for you and when did you make the decision to end I’m Not Joking?

I knew that I was going to do 100 episodes of I’m Not Joking. What I decided to do was I was going to wrap I’m Not Joking at the launch of the book, Shtick To Business. That was April 1st of 2020. I launched Solo the last week of 2019. I’d launched five episodes as a soft launch, and then I got it going in earnest in January 2020. I had about a three-month overlap in the two. I would not suggest doing that to people. It’s a lot of work to get a new podcast going and then continue doing it.

It might have been okay if you had all the others in the can and you were launching them. Having to do both at the same time was a lot of work.

I cheated a little bit. I have a couple of episodes that were on both. I did them. One of my most popular episodes is What Kristin Newman was doing while you were breeding. Kristin is a comedy writer. She wrote a book called What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding. It’s a very funny book about her single days as a solo traveler and the book’s a little risqué, fun, cheeky and so on. I interviewed her both for I’m Not Joking.

She had this nice little overlap there, which is always a good tie-in to share the new thing that you’re working on because you have followers whether you realize it or not, or you think you only have a handful. They are following you because they like you so they want to know what else you’re doing. By not sharing that, you’re missing out on that cross traffic. You do want to at least do that. There won’t be 100% of them that will come over but a subset will.

It was a tough few months there, but it was necessary. I didn’t want to hide Solo anymore. It was there and it was ready to go. I had been working on the ideas for a long time. I had made the pivot in my mind that I was willing to put this part of my life on display, which frankly was a little bit scary. I did it with a bit of trepidation. It’s been very nice to see people respond. Now that they have, I’m now getting serious about promoting it. How big can we make this thing?

You mentioned that you started out not feeling as competent as an interviewer as you were as being the person on the other side of the microphone. How do you feel you’ve done and what did you do to increase your skillset along the way?

It’s still a work in progress. In some ways, I’ve regressed a tiny bit with Solo. I’m Not Joking is a standard interview-style podcast. I’ll interject some stories here or there but for the most part, the way I thought about it is the ideal episode is somewhere between 90/10 and 60/40. That is my guest is speaking somewhere between 60% and 90% of the time, and I’m speaking between 40% and 10% of the time.

It is good for almost every interview show, I should say.

It works out well. Depending on the guests, it’s sometimes closer to 60% and sometimes it’s closer to 90%. Solo feels closer to 50/50. It feels more like a conversation, but I also go into an episode with an agenda or a message that I want to make sure gets through.

For those of you who haven’t yet listened to the show because you’re finding out about Solo, there’s a special pre-intro that you do on the show. Are you scripting that out? Are you planning that and that’s setting the tone for it? Do you do it before the episode or do you do it after you’ve recorded the interview?

For I’m Not Joking, I barely did any prep. I had a standard set of questions that I would ask. I got the bio together and I did 30 to 45 minutes of prep for any one episode of I’m Not Joking.

TBF 64 | Engaging The Binge Listeners
Engaging The Binge Listeners: Asking a question and then going ahead and answering it is one weakness as an interviewer.


For those of you out there who don’t have a show, that’s typical. This is very common with interview shows and podcast hosts. What Peter is doing is he wasn’t falling off on the job.

It was easy. I could be flexible and I could let the conversation go where it needed to go and so on. I have three flavors of episode in Solo. One is an interview with an expert that’s designed to impart some wisdom and some ideas. The next one is an interview with a remarkable single, a glimpse into their life, how they’re doing it, and so on. The last is something I call Solo Thoughts where it’s me talking, where I work through an idea more deeply without a guest.

Those are somewhat new. You haven’t done a ton of them throughout.

I’ve done four. I’m working on the fifth.

I have to say that after having listened to the show that I like your Solo Thoughts.

Thank you. No one has actively complained. I need to look at the listener counts to get a sense of how are they doing. They’re useful for me in terms of developing ideas. I felt bad because I was starting to crowd out my guests too much. This is where the regression has come in. Sometimes I have such a strong opinion in part because I am the subject matter expert in some ways. I want this to be a useful show, one that has takeaways, inspirational and so on. At times, I’m worried that I ask a question and then I go ahead and answer it. That’s a weakness as an interviewer.

That is a struggle a lot of podcasters face. You’re not alone there either. Your choice to do the Solo Thoughts is a good model because it allows you the vehicle to do it so you don’t feel like you have to do it in the other show. You’ve given yourself that structure that allows you to do that.

It feels good. I am doing a lot of prep. I might work on A Solo Thoughts episode for 6 to 10 hours in order to get those ideas completely right.

Are you outlining scripting? How are you structuring them?

I’m writing out what I say but I’m not writing out in such a way that I’m fully reading it.

It doesn’t sound that way so that’s good.

That’s very nice. Depending on the episode, it might take me a half a day to prep it. I’m doing reading, taking notes, and carefully crafting where I want the conversation to go. I’m much more heavy-handed and I feel a lot more pressure because I have listeners. When you know that thousands of people are listening, it does raise the stakes.

Being single by choice is as much of a challenge for women as men, if not more. Share on X

We want to deliver them something of great value. There are some interesting models around asking questions and listening to Peter’s first show, you set this up in the very first show and interview that you do. You mentioned that you must have had a pre-conversation with your guests about what was going to be the first question, and then you reveal the first question. That’s such an interesting model of it. That’s where you were. I hear a much more comfortable thematic questioning going on. You’re not asking the same questions ever. That’s a sign of you becoming a much better interviewer.

I am working on it. I pay attention to interviewers much more now. When I listen to a podcast, I often am trying to pay attention to not just what the guest is saying but how the interviewer is behaving. It’s a skill. I will say I do one thing very well and that is I tie up loose ends.

You don’t leave that question unasked, the follow-up.

It’s annoying for a listener because these are conversations. You might have three things going on and there was something that came up but then you digress and then you digress again. If you never come back to that thing, it can be disappointing because as a listener, you’re like, “I want to know what that person will say.”

There’s nothing worse than being the listener on the other end going, “Ask this. Why didn’t you ask that question?”

I’m good at keeping track of the conversation. That’s something that I do in my personal life a lot.

We have the five best ways. I want to do it right now because a couple of things I want to follow up on is you’re starting to hint at that and I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole. We’d let you do your five things. The first way we ask is about the best ways to get great guests. I assume you’re being very picky about your guests.

I’m starting to be. I have leaned very heavily on people I know. I know they have the charisma, that we have a good rapport, that they’re going to be supportive of the ideas and my perspective. I do guest co-hosts. It almost always the guest co-host is a woman. I do that to provide a little bit of balance because it’s a lot of male with me talking.

You’re both interviewing or asking questions of almost panel-like of the third person who you bring in.

I’m leading it and then my guest co-host is almost like the person on the couch. You’ve got Conan and Andy Richter. It has a little bit of that feel because I don’t need my guest co-host to do too much prep.

That’s interesting that you’re providing that because you’re bringing in that female perspective. Also, because you don’t have two men in that process, we’re not getting confused by the voices. That can happen and the other side is like, “Who’s talking and which one is this?” It gets confusing.

I’ve gotten that feedback a little early on. Sometimes, I try to use names a little bit more to help differentiate if I have, especially two other voices that are similar. Three people also is a more energetic podcast. It’s a funnier podcast. You can riff off each other a little bit more. People can pick their spots. There’s less pressure to perform when it’s three people. I’m looking for charisma, content knowledge, and someone who’s inspirational. When I do my remarkable solos, I want someone who’s truly remarkable. Someone you look at their life and you go, “I may not want that life but that’s neat.”

TBF 64 | Engaging The Binge Listeners
Engaging The Binge Listeners: When you have thousands of people listening in, it really does raise the stakes.

It’s to get insightful at the end of the day. Having that connection matters is what you’re saying. As you’re starting to reach out and go further, how are you going to keep up that rapport building?

One thing that I’m starting to look more is to start reaching for bigger names. That is people whose name is going to help grow the podcast, whose social media following is going to help grow the podcast. The nice thing about those people is they’re naturally charismatic. They’re already out there. I had an episode that came out called What The Buck and it’s with Michael Buckley who’s a former YouTube star and now a life coach. I found him via Twitter where he was tweeting unapologetically about how much he loves being single.

You found some synergy and thought there.

Michael brings it in the interview. He’s so energetic, thoughtful, and well prepared. When the podcast comes out, he immediately promotes it. Now, I’m starting to look for that next level guest. Eventually, I want Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Isaak, and David Lee Roth. I want super famous, wonderful, remarkable people who are very comfortable with their single life.

I’m going to go down a little rabbit hole here for everybody. What Peter is tapping into is Mike Buckley is a super sharer because he’s a YouTube star. He understands the power of influence and the power sharing. You want some name recognition of all those names you dropped. Who wouldn’t love to have Jennifer Aniston on their show? It sounds great. I’d totally listen to it. You think about that, but a lot of times those celebrities are terrible at sharing. They have team and it has nothing to do with it. They don’t do it themselves and this is a personal topic. Their teams are hesitant to share like, “What if that upsets her?” They may not do as well with sharing that on your behalf. Having a balance between the ones that you know are super sharers and the ones that bring you the listeners, it’s in it for the listener and not for the sharing value, you might need to have a mix of both.

I’m not turning down Whoopi Goldberg no matter.

I totally wouldn’t turn her down and she’ll probably share.

I don’t know how other podcasters do this. I have to admit, I’m a little haphazard. If someone is available and they’re good, I’m going to grab them. I’ve been doing also these little mini-series. I wrapped up a mini-series on Singles In The Marketplace. I did an episode on the Rise Of Single Living, demographically and culturally. I did an episode on Selling To Singles so about entrepreneurship and businesses, recognizing the buying power and unique needs of singles. I did one on Best Innovations For Singles that’s going to coincide with Single’s Day which is the biggest shopping event in the world mostly driven by China. I have a document with all my crazy ideas, potential guests and so on. You talking about these super sharers is interesting as I think about my remarkable singles and my experts.

As we’re growing shows, we need to think these things about we want some great sharing going on and that’s our primary interest, but sometimes the sharing and the celebrity status don’t go together. I know this from years of doing this. Some of my worst sharers were the biggest celebrity names that I had on my show or in my articles. It’s the case of their structure of how they share things has nothing to do with them not being great people and wanting to share it. They make great guests.

That’s a useful note. One of the things about getting a big name person is then you can use that person to get other big name people.

That will work for you even more. There’s a reasoning for it but you may not get the results from that one single show that you expect or that one single celebrity and remembering that you’re using it as a whole package here. Let’s go into the next best way. The best way to increase listeners, you’re now tapping into that. You’re now thinking about, you’ve got a show that’s structured to be a high share show, and people are showing you that they’re going to do that. Your listeners are showing you, but where are you going to tackle? How are you going to increase listeners?

I’m doing two things. One is I’m going to do some old-school advertising. I’m going to do a new school as in digital. This is terrible because I teach an MBA course in Marketing Management. I talk about how you have to create value and you have to communicate value. You can’t just build it and they will come. You need to find a way to cut through the clutter, to connect to people and so on. For the first time in my life, I’m starting a digital advertising campaign for my new book, Shtick To Business, and then also for Solo. I’m doing it hesitantly on Facebook, and then I’m going to do some Reddit for Solo, and some LinkedIn for Shtick To Business. I’m going to use Facebook as my testing ground because Facebook is a great way to test ideas and to do some good micro-targeting. That’s the first thing. The second one is I’m going to start trying to find podcasts that I might be able to go on to and do that cross-promotion.

That’s a great model for you because many podcasters may have a subset of their listeners that are going to be great solo listeners out there, but the rest of what they’re doing is dealing with relationships, self-worth or whatever that might be. You’ve got other things out there that they are they’re dealing with on their show that’s only a subtopic for you.

TBF 64 | Engaging The Binge Listeners
Engaging The Binge Listeners: Having three people makes for a more energetic and funnier podcast. There’s less pressure to perform, and you can riff off each other a little bit more.


I want to ask you about one thing I’m doing and if you think it’s a worthwhile thing. My 50th episode is coming out. I’m doing a press release on it. I’m using Fiverr, some folks who have distribution networks, but I have a press release about looking back and looking ahead of the 50 episodes. It’s not costing very much. It took some time to write up the press release. It’s going to take a few hundred dollars to distribute it. I’m curious what your reaction is to that.

Sometimes it works well, especially if you’re tapping into a topic that people want to want to discuss. We’re living in a world and a time where some of us are forced to be solo, and they might need to look at the bright side of it. It is a topic of interest to people to write about or to explore. Pushing yourself out there as a visible expert in that, it could be time as well to do that. A lot of times press releases don’t do well because they’re not going to the right type of media where they’re going to be interested in the subject.

It’s a little too broad-brush general and maybe it hits and maybe it doesn’t. If I am a writer, maybe I’ll remember when something comes up but that’s a big maybe because you get thousands of press releases a week. The timing of press releases is the hard part but if you’re targeting an audience and press list that is ideal for you, then you can do well with that. You’ve got a topic and a timing because it’s your 50th episode. You’re giving them some relevant reason to be out there in the press. You’re not just pushing stuff. You have a relevant reason. You’ve got an anniversary.

You also have a relevant topic that I may be interested in or hadn’t considered up to this point as a writer. It’s the press list at the end of the day that is going to be critical to its success. If you are dialed in with that and you know that there are these publications you’d love to be a part of, I would do a targeted list. I almost always pull my own press list rather than use a blanket by now. I do use a service to write a proper press release. I write most of it myself, but they format it and you want that. You don’t want to do it yourself. For press releases, it has to be written in a certain way.

It’s not a good use of time. The other one is to think about this as I’ve got this three-part series coming up that’s going to coincide with Single’s Day. That might be another opportunity.

This is your in-advance of Single’s Day. That’s an important thing to be far enough in advance to be in their head about what they’re going to write about on that day because I want to write about something timely if I’m a writer. It’s coming up. You remind them that it’s coming up. You remind them the power of it, and then talk about why your show, why you. First, it’s about them. This is the same lesson we teach here on this show about your podcast. Your podcast is, first and foremost, about the listeners, what they’re going to get, and the value that they provide. Your press release shouldn’t be written any differently. It should be written in saying, why is this relevant for you to be writing about right now? Here’s the power. Why am I the expert that should be sharing this with you and should be a part of that? That’s your second part. The third piece is, what could we do together and how we could collaborate and make that a better future?

Tracy, you’re so good.

We got on-air training here on top of everything. Let’s keep going with our five things. The next thing is encouraging engagement and here’s something that I want to point out. The reason why I want to get to the segment with Peter here is that you have questions from, I’m assuming listeners the way that it’s set up. You’re encouraging engagement somewhere along the way and they’re asking you questions. How is that working for you? How are you getting that to work?

To step back, I have this goal, a theme. I want to cover these things. I didn’t answer, “This is me wrapping up stuff.” I do the teaser within an hour of finishing the podcast. As soon as it’s done, I save the files, I make notes, I write out the teaser, I tape it and it’s there. I do a lot of conversing with my listeners, people I know who are loyal listeners.

Where are you doing that? How are you doing that?

I’m doing it via phone, text and email.

You’re getting your listeners to reach out to you. Somehow, you’re engaging them.

This is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever had happened. I make a lot of things in my life. I’ve never had a project that has received so many unsolicited text messages, social media messages, and emails from people I know, used to know, and never have known before.

There are 128 million single adults in the United States. A minimum of 15% of them are single by choice. Share on X

You hit a nerve of something, in a good way and not in a negative way, that people have been tapped into and ready to talk about.

It’s incredible. I also do a monthly Zoom call. I have a very small email list that people have signed up for. I call it the Solo Advisory Group, SAG, which is a bad joke.

I get it, from your other days.

I can email with questions about the podcast things I’m thinking about doing. By the time this comes out, I will have launched an invite-only Slack channel for my listeners who want to have a deeper engagement and conversations. I want to build a community so people can go to PeterMcGraw.org, the Solo page, and they can fill out a little brief interview and apply to be part of the Solo community.

What you’re creating though is an easy way for people to get in touch with you. They have a question that they can send it in. It’s not convoluted and difficult. You’ve given them also multiple ways to do that. Slack is a quick and easy way. I type in my app and I’m reaching out to you. In Zoom, I have to plan it and join but I can have a deeper conversation with you there. You’ve given them different modes to engage that fit them.

I have to admit, I’m throwing it against the wall and seeing what works. For example, I set up a forum on my page. I wanted to be able to own it and it was a total failure.

You have to drive people there and it’s harder.

The UX wasn’t very good. You need enough meet in the room to make a forum work. It’s coming down, it’s going away.

Slack already got people in it so it makes more sense there to have it almost be forum-like there. I love that you’re trying all of these things. You can see the behavioral scientist in you coming across. We talk about producing in a professional way. Full disclosure here, Peter is one of my clients. We’re not going to talk about us as your producer. This is not this point where you’re supposed to be saying how great we are. I want you to talk about the parts that you do and that you consider to be making it a more professional show for everyone out there.

I will tell you there are some things that we collaborated on the do matter. I love the introduction to Solo. I’m going to give a shout out to him. There’s a Canadian musician called Brad Sucks and he’s one of my favorite musicians. I got to know him via Twitter. I reached out to him and I said, “Would you mind if I use some of your music for the intro?” That’s one of his songs. It’s one of my favorite songs.

It resonates. You picked well there because it sets a great tone for the upbeatness of the theme that you’re trying to set with Solo.

We found a good voiceover artist who had an upbeat, happy voice and the female energy. One of my guests, Mary Dahm, has shown up twice. She’s a fantastic writer. One day, we spent almost an entire day workshopping and fixing the copy for the intro. I don’t know if you remember this, but the voiceover artists did the original. While it looked good on paper, it didn’t sound good.

TBF 64 | Engaging The Binge Listeners
Engaging The Binge Listeners: One thing about getting a big name person is that you can use that person to get other big-name people.


This is a common thing, Peter. When you speak it, it doesn’t always sound the way you wrote it and intended it.

The intro is great. The teaser matters. I keep the teaser short. It’s a minute. I don’t think it’s ever more than 2.5 minutes. It’s a good setup. I tease like, “If you’re going to get anything from this episode, you got to hear her answer to this.”

This is a strategy that you use, Peter, that I want to point out to those of you. This is one of the reasons I always say to everyone, “There are reasons I’m telling you to go listen to his show. It may not be the show for you. He’s not married, you’re married, whatever but go listen to Solo because you want to hear how Peter does this.” This is one of those cases. Your teaser at the beginning which is what he’s calling it a pre-introduction because you still introduce your guest as a normal part of your interview process, but this is the pre-intro. That pre-intro or the teaser portion of it, you do what a lot of people say not to do, which is you tell them what the heart of what’s going to happen.

It’s a good strategy. As a writer, what do we do? We tell them what we’re going to tell them, then we tell them, then we tell them what we told them. This is the thing. You’re following that model in your teaser and your pre-intro. It’s working for you because it’s telling you, why I should listen? You didn’t tell me what it was. You told me the heart of what I’m going to get from here and I want to hear that. This is a good way to go about it. It is one of the most professional ways to go about your show. You produce it in a professional way. That’s the heart you’ve added.

The last thing is I do some light editing. I’m not afraid to cut something out that didn’t land. There’s the normal editing, of course.

You’re content editing. It’s not about taking out ums and uhs. You’re talking about taking out something that didn’t fit.

It didn’t fit, it didn’t land, it got off track. I don’t take out more than anywhere between 1 and 5 minutes’ worth of material, but three minutes of something that’s off-track is all you need for someone to stop listening.

Producing in a professional way, you’re curating for the listener here. Thank you. That’s such an important information. The best ways to monetize it. You’re at that stage. You started to have a lot of listeners, and starting to look at that. What are some of the ways you’re looking at monetizing your show? It’s the million-dollar question.

I don’t know yet. I’m happy to do sponsorships as long as I believe in the product. I got a little bit of sponsorship. I have a mask company called Wrapture Masks. I believe in the product. I use the product. It’s a friend’s business.

There’s a nice tie when you talk about it. You do a host mention ad and when you’re doing it, it’s obvious that you think it’s a good product.

It’s fantastic. I’ve done one with Michael Buckley which is a candle company, Wax Crescent, which is one of my listeners and guest co-hosts. She started this company as a solo entrepreneur. I did that one mostly to help her out, and also her candles are fantastic, especially her MANdles, her candles for men. I’m open to sponsorship. I have a long list of things from a Patreon model which support the podcast, merchandise, coaching, post-COVID events and so on. The only thing that I’m a little hesitant to do is ads.

It might be a little early for you. The hesitancy is at the right point.

I can imagine some certain products and services that I would be happy because I feel like they would provide such value to the listeners. I haven’t cracked the monetization. I want to turn the question around to you, Tracy, and knowing what you know as the expert in growing, building podcasts, and making them not only useful to listeners but also valuable to the people. I spend thousands of dollars a year making this podcast and tens of thousands of dollars in my own time making this podcast.

That’s where the real value is spent and made.

It’s charity right now, so how do I move it from not-for-profit into profit?

TBF 64 | Engaging The Binge Listeners
Shtick to Business: What the Masters of Comedy Can Teach You about Breaking Rules, Being Fearless, and Building a Serious Career

You’re serving a community and that’s important. Before I answer that question, I’m going to ask you the Binge Factor question. Your show is proven because you had the listener base. It’s proven that it’s already a bingeable show. They’re sharing it and listening to all your episodes. Why do you think that is?

This is a terribly underserved market. There are 128 million single adults in the United States. Minimum, 15% of them are single by choice. Half of them are not interested in dating. This is a group of people that is huge and the world is not speaking to them. When they do speak to them, they speak down to them.

What I usually do is psychoanalyze your show and say, from having listened to so many shows and understanding binge listeners intimately, why your show is a bingeable show? That’s it. It is the tone that you are setting, Peter, that is making the difference. It is because you are not talking down to them. You are not criticizing them for their choices or making them say, “This is the only choice.” You’re saying, “This is your choice for now. It might be your choice tomorrow. That’s okay too.” You’re setting this positive tone that we don’t hear enough. We’re craving that. Your market, in particular, is craving that. They’re feeling sold to, pushed at, and that’s the number one reason why I don’t think that you want to start an advertising model anytime soon. That isn’t something that you highly curate and believe in.

It’s a show that is truly hitting a nerve and a topic, but it’s hitting it at the right tone. That’s why it’s resonating and bingeing. The binge sharing is the important part. When I say a show is bingeable, it means people are listening to it, but that doesn’t always mean they’re going to share it. We have a lot of self-help shows that people don’t share. You can imagine that if I’m a recovering addict, I’ve got a great show on it, and I’m serving people but they’re not sharing it because they’re loathe to admit that. They’re not feeling positive about it. You’ve hit a tone at which they can feel comfortable and positive sharing about it because someone is not going to come into it, come back into it, and then have a backlash against them for having shared it. That’s what you’ve created. You created a positive environment for no matter who they’re sharing it with, the stage of life, the stage of singleness, whatever that might be, they’re feeling good about being able to share that with their other singles in their lives and not feeling like they’re going to get a backlash for having shared it.

That’s well said. I also think it’s a lot of blue ocean. There are not that many other options.

Sometimes that can be bad because it means there’s not of interest out there. You’ve hit a blue ocean where there are deep waters, lots of interest, lots of people swimming around, and they’re going, “What am I looking for? Where am I going to find guidance?” You’ve tapped into that. There is a play for you in terms of monetization of that tight curation. As you start to curate more guests that are more valuable and sitting in that thematic control that you have, you want to do the same thing in with your sponsorship and affiliate models because that’s what people are looking to you for. They wouldn’t be there listening to you and sharing what you’re doing if they didn’t believe in that. The minute you start losing that and it’s done by an ad server form, you’re in trouble. You’ve lost that personal connection to your audience that they come to value from you.

The way I’ve framed the podcast is it’s the podcast I wish I had 25 years ago when I was starting to doubt this. It’s the one I wish I had twelve years ago when I knew that a family, marriage and kids weren’t the path for me. The idea is this. I have experience, advice, perspective and I want to share it in a way that’s going to be helpful. What you’re suggesting is, as I think about my offerings, it should have that same tone which is here’s something that I believe can help you.

“I can stand behind this. I believe in this enough. I’ve used it myself. I see the benefit of it from what I’m hearing from you. I chose this because of you.” Everything that you’ve been talking about your show right now, because it came from a personal place, it’s tapped into something that’s personal and your listener as well, that’s why it’s working. You don’t want to mess with that when you come into the monetization. They want you to make money. They want you to stick around for them. They want you to keep doing this. They don’t want you to quit at 100. They want you to do that. There is a reward value there that they are going to reward you for that. Patreon models don’t always work. I’m going to be honest. A very small percentage of them work. In some cases, they do because it’s the only way they can send you value because your core business or whatever it is doesn’t work. They want to bring you value because they want to make sure you’ll show up for them tomorrow. It’s a small tokenized way to be able to do that.

I have a saying, “As I like to give advice, I like to take advice.” I appreciate you. The issue is this and this is very real for me. I’ve had some part of my advisory group helped me with this which is, I want to start a movement. This is not a business first. It’s a business second. I’m willing to give this a lot of runway before it becomes something that pays for itself, but I always do say people will pay for value. If you provide them true value, they will happily do it in that sense. I’m not in a rush to monetize it. Frankly, it’s why I don’t have a good answer to your question because I don’t have it all worked out.

I’m glad you’re not in a rush because that’s the case here. If you’re building something deeper, full of power, full of movement in it, the patience is going to be what is rewarded at the end of the day. The fact that you waited long enough to understand what was going to be the right choices to make in that process. This is an unusual show. I want to have as great a close as Peter does. Before we end here, I want to ask Peter, what recommendations do you have for other podcasters who are thinking about starting a movement about doing something versus the personal versus the business show? I love for you to answer that. I want to close with the way that Peter closes, which is a beautiful close where they’re having that final conversation all the way up until the end. He does a great job of closing. That’s maybe the comedian study background of you or the behavioral scientists, I’m not sure what, but I want to make sure we cover that.

I’m appreciative of that. I have one very strong piece of advice and that is, I’m a big believer in the value and the power of writing. Although podcasting is about speaking and about conversation, I spent a lot of time writing a one-pager for every major project that I do. The idea behind the one-pager is it starts off as an internal document but eventually it becomes an external document. This is about, what is the project? Who is it for? What problem does it solve? How will it solve it? It’s a way to develop the title, the language. “Unapologetically unattached,” “Marriage being overprescribed,” “Solo is not anti-marriage,” are phrases that I use a lot.

There are a lot of these ideas and things that I talk about. I talk about remarkable singles. All of that language was developed in the one-pager which then turned into the copy. This idea of being single affords you opportunities, an opportunity to make art, to build a business, to travel the world, to get fit, or simply sleep in when you want to. That was all in the one-pager. The Stag one-pager became the Solo one-pager. Anyone who is going to put in the time, the effort, the expense of starting a podcast, it’s worth it to get the one-pager nailed because it’s going to provide a backbone and to provide the language that you’re going to want to use to build it anyway. I feel very strongly about that. I have an entire chapter in my book, Shtick To Business, called Write It or Regret It. That’s built about the power of writing in personal and professional life.

People will pay for value. If you provide true value, they will happily do it in that sense. Share on X

I’m glad you mentioned your book here. I love that title, Shtick To Business. This is the thing, Peter, you’re tapping into there and that’s why I’m glad I was able to have you on the show to talk about this. I could have invited Peter on at any time. It’s not like I didn’t know him and had access to him, but this is the right point in time for you to be here and talk about this. What you’re also talking about is you’re setting out your hypothesis for who you think that audience is and what message you want to deliver to them in that one sheet. In that process, you are setting up the tone, the languaging, but it’s not set in stone. It’s a working document. You get to adjust it as you get feedback that it’s going on and you’re testing your premise against the effects of the show and the results of the show. In this case, it worked for you.

If someone emails me, I will share the one-pager with them.

I am excited about the Solo being a success for you because I heard it early on when our team was working on it and I thought, “He’s onto something.” My instincts and then how something works out, you’ll never know but it is working out for you. I’m glad that it is. Honestly, Peter, this is something that I want all of you out there to gather. That organic growth of Peter show is a better indicator than if you dumped a lot of advertising money early in and forced it to work and happen because you’ll never know if it was the messaging, the show structure, what’s working. You can layer those things on as he’s doing now.

I like to call it product market founder fit. Solo has that.

This is why we’re resonating, Peter, because I talk about product market fit as being the number one thing but I love that you added founder or host in this mix as well. Dr. Peter McGraw, thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate you being here and sharing honestly with our audience and with the successes that you’ve had and what you’re struggling to work with.

Tracy, you are a pro. I appreciate you and thank you for the support. Cheers.

I love how that show went. I love how Peter grilled me. At various times, he’s like, “What do you think?” This is the rapport I love to have with my clients. It’s part of what I love so much about this podcast industry. I love this collaborative discussion model about what’s working, what’s not working, and everything in it is an experiment. I hope that we’re bringing you that again and again throughout this series. I hope that I’m bringing you to that in terms of bringing you forth these interesting guests like Dr. Peter McGraw here as to how they’ve started and how they are at this point. The fact that they’re still on a trajectory of learning and growth, they have plans of what they want to do next for their show.

I’m not bringing you those that are saying, “I’m at the top of my game. I’m done with things. I’m not doing anything more.” I want to be bringing you people who are in the trenches with it like you and then they may be struggling on this one area over here like Peter is where he doesn’t do sponsors. What’s the monetization model? What does that look like now that he sees the trajectory growth in listenership? He’s got the listenership and the bingeability of a show all figured out over on the other side. You may not be there. You may not have the solution yet. You can get inspired by Peter’s story and by the types of advice he’s given out here and the tips that he points out for you as well.

I love that about this show. This is why I keep doing this because I learned something new every single day. I hope that you’re learning something as well. You got to check out Solo and you also need to check out I’m Not Joking and see the difference between the two. Don’t forget to look those up and check them out. Don’t forget to check out Peter’s book. You got to love the idea of talking about Shtick and comedy and business in the same sense. You got to check that out. It’s a great book. Thank you all for reading and coming to the show and coming back week after week and sending me messages. I do appreciate your messages about the types of shows you’re looking for. I’ve got some more on the horizon here.

We’ve been putting a concerted effort into searching out for the right type of shows that interest you. If you’re not telling me what you’re interested in and you’re sitting back but you’re not saying to me, “Tracy, I want to hear more from wellness podcasters. I want to hear more from these types of people. I want to hear someone who is taking sponsors,” you got to let me know what you’re looking for. I will go out there and search for the right shows and the right host to bring you some tips, tools, and lessons learned so that you either don’t make the mistakes or jump straight to what’s working. Good luck on your show out there as you’re formulating it. Be sure to tune back in here for the Binge Factor as I bring you more great hosts and more great guests. Thanks, everyone.

Don’t miss Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Dr. Peter McGraw too!

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Tracy Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard is a former Authority Magazine and Inc. Magazine Columnist on disruptive innovation, and host of 5 top-ranked podcasts including: The Binge Factor and Feed Your Brand–one of CIO’s Top 26 Entrepreneur Podcasts. She is the co-founder of Podetize, the largest podcast post-production company in the U.S. As a content, product, and influence strategist for networks, corporations, marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, publications, speakers, authors & experts, Tracy influences and casts branded content with $2 Billion worth of innovation around the world. Her marketing methods and AI-integrated platform, provides businesses of all sizes a system to spread their authentic voices from video to podcast to blog, growing an engaged audience and growing valuable digital authority.
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