Everyone thinks that they can start their own podcast. Fast forward five months later, and they haven’t even bought microphones yet. Starting a podcast takes a lot of dedication, from finding guests to the research. It can all be a hassle if you’re not really serious about it. Learn from Justin Peters, host of The Struggle is Real with Justin Peters, how he started because of his love for learning and research. Also, learn how he found his target audience demographic and adjust his podcast to target them. Join your host Tracy Hazzard as she talks to Justin for some firsthand podcasting advice on how to grow your audience with fan engagement, how to monetize, how to research, why networking with other podcasters is important, and many more.
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Struggling to Grow Your Podcast? Get Firsthand Podcasting Advice from Host of The Struggle is Real with Justin Peters
I have the host of The Struggle is Real, Justin Peters. He was referred to me by Mark Herschberger. I was his 99th guest interview. He’s a serial guest on a podcast and he loved Justin Peters’ show, his process, style and highly recommended it. I decided I’m going to interview Justin Peters and know all about it. Justin is an interesting guy because he has had an interest in how humans work, particularly the brain, motivation, disappointment, pride, fear, satisfaction, all the emotions are deprived of the different chemical signals in the brain. The science is fascinating to him. The practical is even more fascinating. To explore that, he started a podcast called The Struggle is Real with Justin Peters. He interviews guests about a myriad of topics and invites others to join him in the journey. He is a professional working in recruiting for a package delivery startup. He takes a lot of pride in helping others get to their next opportunity.
The most interesting part about The Struggle is Real is it’s like this juxtaposition of like in school, we had to do things like memorize stuff. Now we were in the real world, we realize that we were just not as prepared as we thought we were. Why aren’t we taking classes like Intro to Filing Your Taxes? Maybe because some of us have a mom who does it for them still? We are not always preparing our kids and ourselves for the real world. I like his idea that we should have a Healthy Carbs 101 History of Making Friends and Being Social.
When I started my career, I took a course at Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I took a class on that in my very first job. The business world sometimes has to prepare us for the things that we didn’t learn in school. The Struggle is Real is for those who don’t know what the heck we are doing but want to start figuring it out. Each conversation solves a problem that young professionals will face through their twenties that wasn’t covered in the classroom. Together with Justin Peters, they were going to figure the whole adulting thing out. It might be for some of us at any age, still figuring things out, Justin. I’m looking forward to you joining the show, read to some of the interesting things he’s doing with it. We will talk about how you might apply some of those things to your great podcast.
Justin, thanks so much for joining me. We are going to talk about The Struggle is Real in podcasting. It’s so true. I love what you said in your first episode. You were talking about why you were starting the show and how long it had taken you to start it. I hear this all the time. You bought equipment and then you’ve got caught up in, “What do I record? Is it good enough?” The difference is that you are a podcast fan. What’s holding you back? Did you realize that?
My story goes, I bought mics in April of 2019. I always loved podcasts. I love the medium. I found it maybe 2 or 3 years before that. I fell in love with a lot of the mainstays, Tim Ferriss, Jordan Harbinger, Tom Bilyeu of Impact Theory. I loved all of those shows. I’m like, “I would love to make something like this one day.” Finally, that idea kept bubbling. It came to this crescendo of like, “I’m going to do it.” I pulled the trigger. I bought some mics. That was April 2019. I sat around for way too long. The end of the year came about. I’m a big goal setter. It was December or January 2020. I realized, “I never recorded a single podcast episode.” I realized through some introspection, it was just me trying to be too perfect about it. As every podcaster out there knows, that is the wrong approach, especially getting started. You don’t even know the things that you don’t know.
Going through this process, I realized that. I finally decided, “I’m going to record some episodes. I don’t care about the quality. All I’m going to value myself based on right now is consistency and putting out a show every other week.” I did that. I called my best friend that day. I said, “Do you want to be the first guest on my podcast?” He said, “Sure, of course.” We picked a date a week and a half later to record. It all flooded to me and I realized I don’t have a show name, concept or anything but I’m still going to go ahead and record with him and figure things out as I go.
Your show started as The Sandbox and then you pivoted into The Struggle is Real. At what point did you decide it needed a new brand and why?
I always intended for me to redefine the brand or refresh the brand. It started as The Sandbox coming from the IT sense of, “This is a place to play. You get a beta software, something to try out and experiment.” I encourage people to come along with me. “This is my experiment.” I realized, hopefully, after a year, I promised myself that day that I was going to record and publish an episode every other week for a year. At the end of that year, if I wasn’t interested and continue on the podcast then I would allow myself to walk away from this project and spend my time elsewhere. The end of 2020 was coming, I was thinking about the podcast. “Does this bring me joy? Is this a valuable use of my time?” The obvious answers were yes. I started thinking about, “What is The Sandbox got to turn into moving forward?” I start to speak to my audience or to find who my audience was going to be at that time, it was these young twenty-somethings. I was looking for marketing refresh our brand refresh. I came upon the phrase, “The struggle is real.” The rest is history.
It’s a good title for almost that generational attraction. That works well for you, much better than The Sandbox. I get it because I come from tech backgrounds, too and that’s what we call when we are playing with things. It’s a little condescending, makes them feel younger than they are. The Struggle is Real heads that up into that real adulting thing. You had some goals at the onset of the very first episode. You mentioned them in your show. You said that your goal was to get better at interviewing. You are on this show because you achieve that goal. What I said in my introduction was that Mark Herschberger is on my show and I was his 99th interview. He recommended you as one of his best interviews and that you had done your homework. What did you do over the course of that first year to get better at the interviewing process?
We talk about the struggle. This was a struggle for me. My first six episodes were friends or friends of friends. People I felt comfortable with.
For all of you reading, this is a good idea. Go with someone you know, who loves you, trust you because if you screw it up, they are not going to be upset at you.
It was episode seven. I had a lady on named Alex Dickinson. She was my first qualified guest, somebody that was a subject matter expert in a certain area that I thought was a relevant topic to me. I tried to get too pretty with that interview. I asked some irrelevant questions. It just didn’t drive at home. That’s when I wanted to get serious about hosting.A curious mind makes a great podcaster. Click To Tweet
In return, what I have been doing over the last year, it’s twofold. I do a lot of guest prep. I know this might be something that everybody doesn’t always agree with. How much prep do you want to do for your guests? I’m a big-time prepper, probably somewhere in the North of 10 to 15 hours on each guest. What that does for me is twofold. I get to listen to a lot of my guests do interview on other shows. Therefore, I get to listen to a lot of other podcasters outside of the 5 to 6 people that I listen to on a routine basis. After 4 or 5 episodes or podcasts, you get to know the guest and what qualities, characteristics, stories or advice they were great at telling. It’s interesting to see each one of these hosts utilize that talent or that person, how to get that message across. You then start picking up on things you like about them or don’t like about them. Through my own research, I’ve got to analyze how people do things. In turn, I turn around, try that in my show, see if it works for me and my style. If not, I move on. If I do, I pick up and run with it.
Are you thinking that now you’ve gotten through this research stage and you can let go of some of that, that you can do a smaller percentage of it because you know what you are looking for now?
No, and I will back it up with you. I told myself, “How can I spend this time and make it worth my time regardless of some of the vanity metrics, the downloads, the listens, etc.?” One of the primary things for me and the reason that I enjoy the podcast is it’s my own professional development. I get to bring on a guest every other week. Dive into a topic that I wouldn’t necessarily dive into. I spent 10 to 12 hours researching, understanding this person in the subject that they were great at. For me, it’s a value. Before they even come on the show, before I even see the impact of the show in terms of listens and downloads, I know it was well worth my time because it was the topic I was super interested in and I wanted to research anyway. I just get to bring them on to the show and ask all the questions that I wanted to ask about.
A curious mind does better as a podcast host. If we come from a position of knowing it all, then it makes us stone it in, for lack of a better way to describe it. You don’t do that. That is very clear in your show. You are prepared. You surprise some of your guests sometimes with the questions that you ask. You hear the surprise in their voice. That’s an unusual thing. I can say that 9 hands out of 10, I will get someone who asked the same questions of all their guests, which is awful. I don’t know why people keep listening. You are not doing that. That’s serving that guest well. They may not realize it. That’s why Mark realized it and impose how different an interview you gave him. That’s an interesting way to go about doing your show. I love that you are looking at this with levels of goals. We talked about one of our goals was to get better at interviewing. You did that. You have done that but you are not stopping. You have a new set of goals. Now, in the show, The Struggle is Real, what are your new set of goals?
I haven’t 100% defined what I want out of this show moving forward. A lot of it is still the same. It’s easy to look at yourself from a personal standpoint and what I can get from the show. I want to continue to be a great conversationalist and meet interesting people. Moving forward, like most podcasters, I would love to grow, reach listeners and deciding how I want to do that and on what venue? “I want to do that,” is something that I’m playing around with, trying to understand and hopefully building on this as well. My show is a long format. It’s 45 minutes to 1 hour an episode. That doesn’t serve the majority of the twenty-somethings. Developing some short content and forums of either maybe TikTok or Instagram rails might be something that is near to my goals for The Struggle is Real brand.
Let’s get into the five things because I want to touch on that. We could talk about some of your goals of reaching listeners and see what we can come up with together. One of the first things I asked everybody is, how do you get great guests? You are out there. You are doing a great job on the other side of vetting them and getting them. How do you find them to begin with?
I took the traditional storyline with once again reaching out to friends and family to start with. From there, most people go to these matchmaking services like MatchMaker.fm, Podbook or something like that. That was really great for me to get that next line of guests, some qualified guests that have been on some shows that want to be on a lot of shows. Also, the quantity versus the quality is sometimes tough to manage. You just get burned out and speaking to the same leadership development coach or something like that. If you want some interesting topics outside of those realms and people, then you’ve got to start reaching out and getting connected with other people.
What I did was I worked backward. I wrote down a list of topics and I keep a running list of topics that I want to pursue on the show, that I want to discuss on the show. Anytime that I meet somebody like Mark, who has got a pretty dense network, I reached out to him. I was like, “Here are the five topics I would love to explore sometime in the next couple of months. Do you know of somebody that would be great guests for this?” From there, it’s a simple introduction. I usually ask myself a couple of questions. Are they a subject matter expert in this area that they say they are? Can they communicate with the twenty-somethings? Are they somebody that I like to research for a week? That’s my process.
Readers, we are going to do some hybrid things while I’m working with Justin here because Justin got his shows relatively new. It got some things that it could adjust. Here’s my one mentorship suggestion for you to think about here. I think you shouldn’t think about having more podcast hosts on because they don’t reach twenty-somethings. They are interested in that. If you could have someone who is a subject matter expert, who also has an audience that would love to flow over to you, that might be twenty-somethings over there. There might be a nice synergy there as long as they are the right fit for the topic. There have got to be some great podcasters out there. You should have Jordan Harbinger on your show already. Why haven’t you? You should ask him.
The great part about it is when you network with other podcasters, then it helps you get to other guests that you would like to get to. That’s a great way to do it. I don’t like to do it very often. My show is orchestrated around that totally different kind of show. Try to do 1 every 4 or so, where you are bringing in a podcast host because it can build listeners at the same time. That could be helpful for you. They are also good about sharing because they know how to share a show. They know what you need from it. It’s an easier exchange. Hopefully, they will ask you back on their show because they have such a great experience. That’s going to be useful for you as well to get more listeners in the long run. That’s what I think maybe you want to add to the mix of your thinking right now is thinking about some of those that might hit the topics for you. Make sure you are staying on your topic. That’s a great strategy for you.
First of all, I’ve got serious about podcasting as well. I wanted to build a peer group of like-minded individuals to learn about all these things. Once you get through the first twelve months and you learn about what a podcast host is, the little things that episode 1 through 7-ish learning lessons, then you start diving into some deep topics, something like, “How do you warm up a guest in your green room?” That’s something that I have been thinking about from a guest’s experience standpoint. Networking with other podcast hosts to be on the show but just as peers is important to me. When I’m going through that research on my guests to any podcast hosts that I see that I really like what they do, I usually ask my guests to introduce me to them. Now I have a dozen different hosts. I found 4 or 5 hosts that speak to the exact same audience as I do with the same messaging. That’s fun, too. I have this girl over in England, somebody in New York City. We were all running around the same premise or thesis of our show.
Increasing listeners is the next thing I asked about. It wasn’t your main focus. Have you found anything that you have done along the way that you said, “I’ve got a little booster listener doing that?”
First, making it easy for your guests to share is important. I’m sure you have covered this plenty of times on the show. Creating content, giving it to them and making it easy for them, if you want to utilize your guests to hopefully reach another audience is important. I won’t harp on that too much but another thing for me is telling everybody about your show.
It’s such a little-known thing. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in the audience with someone speaking and I would be like, “They have a podcast.”
I’m speaking to my demographic all the time because I’m 27. I’m running into people in my age group all the time. They were asking me some of these questions that have already been covered on the show. I’m like, “I know this is a self-promotion but you should listen to this episode and explore this guest a little bit more because I think that might help you with what you are talking about right now.” I want to experiment. I’ve got some inspiration from one of your previous guests who’s working as your Social Media Manager Consultant, Whitney Lauritsen. Creating some more short forums too. Hopefully, there are some synergy and crossover. People who would watch that short-form content would come over the podcast, vice versa, that people on the podcast would go watch them the short form. That’s a great opportunity for me to continue to grow my listenership.
If I could make this suggestion here, when you do that short form, make sure you include it because you are only producing every other week and not every week, which is a problem. If you don’t realize it, it’s causing you a listenership problem in terms of you are not doing as well as the other people who are doing once a week. That’s hurting your ranking and the exposure you are getting to new listeners in the search medium. That is the podcast player. If you bring those short forms in the off weeks, now, you are getting them every week. Now you are going to be getting that. You are mixing it up and people can skip around but most of them won’t. If you do a good job of your short form, you are teasing to the longer. They are going to want it. They will do both. You will eventually find that your listening numbers will go up just because of that.
Would you say that recommend to your clients that once a week is probably a minimum cadence?Listening to a podcast is a personal thing. Click To Tweet
It’s a minimum. I have clients who realized that it’s going so well that they go to three overtime. I did the opposite. I went from 5 down to 1 on some of my shows but I did over 600 episodes, so you are on the right to go down to one. If it’s working for you, then more often it will work even better. At the end of the day, you are selling a service-based business. You are a coach. You are delivering a product. You are delivering something at the end of the day to them. The thing is the easiest way for me to trust you is when you show up for me week after week. We don’t get, “He does every other week. It’s an off week.” We look at and go, “There’s no episode. He’s not posting.” We don’t get that idea. That’s why a minimum of a week kicks into that part of the brain of your listener that says, “Justin’s there for you.”
Every Monday makes a lot more sense and is a lot easier to manage versus the question, “Is it an off week? Is it an episode week?”
It doesn’t have to be exactly the same every week, like people will get to, “This is one of the short form weeks.” That’s okay. They were fine with that. They can get used to that. That works.
If I wanted to fill some content and I wanted to do it on a weekly cadence, how do I do that without putting too much more workload on me? Something that I do appreciate and that I like doing is researching my guest. I’m deciding, “Do I want another format every other week or how do I want to go about this?”
One of the things that you could do is do a piece that is part of the interview you already do. Some people do that. It’s a break-off piece. In your very first show, you did a short interview with your best friend. It was like this little piece then there was a longer interview that you could watch or listen to. That’s the way you could do that. As you said, you have been researching. You are looking for this expansion. You are curious about this. Setting up and talking through yourself into the audience the idea of what you are going to explore with this guest and why you are interested in having them on the show, why this topic itself, focus a little bit more on the topic, is so interesting and then you lead into the story of how you found this guest.
Give that little clip at the end of the guests. That’s the teaser for the episode that’s going to be next week. I’m going to hit the subscribe button. I’m going to hang around for the next one. I’ve also got to hear from you, which I think is important. When we don’t hear enough from our hosts over time, these plugin interviews, we get lost in the messaging. Us being able to tie that in, if we do a good job of our intros, we can keep control over it. If we have our separate topic episodes, we can control them as well. That’s where I think you could do well. Producing like a pro, you have help?
What is it that you do? Talk us through some of the prep of what you do.
I do all the prep, research, communication with the guest, both pre and post. There’s then executing the actual interview and post-interview piece to it. This is where I do have some help. Luckily, my partner helps me with all the creative pieces for it. She helps him put together the episode artwork, do some of the social media content that’s out there. All of those different things. Things that I don’t necessarily enjoy doing but I know are important. We use a project management app called Trello. I have a checklist built into there. Twenty things we need to do with every single episode. We just check through that and pass that card back and forth to complete the episode.
You have a great show. Everyone out there, I always tell you, you need to check out the shows. I want you to check out one of the more recent ones because that is shifted into Justin’s The Struggle is Real branding. You get to hear all of that going on in there. You will see his show notes and the other things that he puts in his episode description. Your episode description is longer than most, which is great. You put timestamps in there, which I don’t normally recommend. For the actual episode description portion, that’s fine. I just don’t recommend it in your blog. That’s working well for you.
You have all the great call to action. Your call to action is nice. All of the professionalism of how this is produced and the way the show sounds is fantastic. People can hear the quality of work in that. That is an alignment with your quality of preparation. That is important. If you are working this hard and putting 10 to 15 hours into prepping for an interview and then the show comes across ad hoc, that’s not good for you. Yours are matched. That’s why I think it’s working well. You have a great future for the show.
I appreciate that. That’s a lot of kind words.
After producing like a pro, we are always trying to get engagement. If we don’t get engagement, we don’t have that feedback loop. When did you start seeing engagement? What do you do to encourage more of it?
Engagement comes and goes. It seems like it comes in waves. I will have an episode that I get a lot of engagement based on or people are giving me feedback. Other times, I’m quiet for 4 to 6 weeks on some of that stuff. It depends. I built the show for my little brother. After every episode, I always ask my brother, “Tell me what you think about this conversation,” and we will always have a great conversation about it. He’s like my number one target audience. I speak to him. I create this catalog of educational content just for him. He’s the one person I think about whenever I’m interviewing people.
I have this other small cohort of people that I know binge all of my shows, watch all my shows. I would love to just ask them every once in a while, “Did you listen to this? What did you think about it?” You build a relationship and a network there. The rest of the feedback just comes back sporadically. Someone will send me an Instagram message or somebody will send something via Facebook or something like that. I will have somebody that’s talking to me, I just met and they said, “I listened to this episode and it was awesome.” That’s what I liked about it. It’s a lot of organizing but something I do want to play with is engagement in the future. I’m building out a listener survey to embed on the homepage of my website so that there’s an opportunity for anybody to give me feedback anytime that they would like.
As you become a podcast host, you start to realize how important engagement is. I find myself leaving product reviews more, reaching out to authors telling him, “I read your book.” I appreciate that you are pointing this out. That’s why I ended up with Shane Snow on my show. I reached out to him because I loved this book so much. That’s one of those things. There’s feedback. We don’t realize we don’t get enough of it. Unlike making social posts, it’s super easy for people to comment back. Podcasting is not easy for them to engage back. I hear rumors about all kinds of new apps coming out. Maybe that will happen in the future. I don’t think that the medium itself is attuned to that. We didn’t talk back to our radio. If I didn’t call in, I didn’t do it? We will see about that. I hope that we can all encourage engagement back at our website. I love that idea for you.
Listening to a podcast is such a personal thing. You don’t listen to podcasts with very many people. I might put on an episode if I’m with my girlfriend and it’s one of our favorite shows. We will listen to it together in the car. Honestly, 95% of the time I’m listening to podcasts by myself.Engagement comes and goes. It comes in waves. Click To Tweet
The last thing that I usually ask everybody in our five things are, how do you monetize your show? You started your show when you quit your job. When I looked at the date on it, you quit your job two months before the pandemic. Your ability to go spend six months exploring was hampered. To be nice about it, you were shackled. It was just not easy for you. That’s probably had you getting very creative and your thought process about how you wanted to make a living and how you wanted to show up in the world. What does that look like for you and does that have anything to do with the monetization of your podcast?
I quit my job in January of 2020. The intention was to take a six-month sabbatical to explore what I wanted next in my career, to tackle some personal projects, the podcast being one of them and to go out and have some fun. I have been working hard since fourteen, working various jobs, pretty much always in school, playing soccer, and/or working. I’m somebody that lived a high octane life. I wanted to create some white space for myself to think about what I wanted next out of the stage of my life. That was up and then I made the decision. I move to Austin throughout that.
Everything blew up with the pandemic. All my plans change. I’ve got a lot of unnecessary time to think about what I wanted to do with my career next, have lots of great conversations there and work on the podcast. I’ve got to spend a lot of time early on. That might have helped with the whole pod fading thing because I had so much free time. It didn’t seem like it was stressing my schedule out whenever I first started. Monetizing for me is still something I’m not currently doing. I have been back and forth, playing around if it’s something that I’m interested in doing or not. I love this as a passion project. I would love to monetize, at a minimum to pay for itself. Trying to realize, “Can I do that in a better way, putting effort into my career, making more there, taking some of that money and doing what I need to do with the podcast to make it self-sufficient?” I love listening to your show and hearing people’s stories and what they did and whatnot. I just don’t know what the best avenue is for me moving forward.
It’s too tempting for some to go into this like, “I just want to be an influencer. I’ve got to build the show-up and put ads on the show.” When we realize how hard the struggle is for the audience that we are working towards, we need to value that more. You’ve got an audience that wants and needs you. You must make sure that however you keep the show running is in integrity with the value that they have placed on you, the value exchange between the two of you. If you can provide them some great value, you should do it right. What is that? For most people, that’s hard. “How do I find something that is of that value that I would be willing to hawk to my friends?” That’s what you start to see your audience as those friends.
I design products for years. Most people would beg me to recommend things because I wouldn’t do it naturally. It’s such hesitation to me to recommend things to my friends, my family and then have it not be right for them. I always know in the back of my mind, “Not everything is right for everybody.” You get that idea. Nowadays, every so often, I will put something out and I will say, “It brought me joy. It was great fun. It was good. I love this podcast. I think you will too.” It is freeing in doing that when you find that this is the one thing that I can latch on to and say, “That’s valuable enough that I can recommend.” I can cite one thing about it that is in alignment with my integrity and in alignment with what my audience wants from me.
I’ve got the advice that if you are interested in sponsorship and running ads, then play around with it and get your audience used to it to start with. Put in an ad spot. That is a call to action to your own personal website, newsletter, Instagram or recommend a product that you would love to recommend to anybody like I’m a diehard fan of the Morning Brew, which is a daily newsletter, something like that, I tell everybody about anyway.
You tell them about it anyway. You don’t mind. I recommend this to my clients because we have that admixing system in the Podetize platform. It makes it easy for them to test it out and have some fun with it. You’ve got to have some nonprofit that is deserving. Some charitable organization that you would tell people about anyway, that you are passionate about. Why not give them the ad space? Rather than having hawking products or other things, I would like to start with that nonprofit because you can find where the story lies and how you promote something. It’s harder to sell to get people to donate than it is to get them to buy something for themselves. If you could make that work, you can make your coursework. You can make the promos that you do for affiliate products work. It’s harder to do. If you can do it, then you’ve got it dialed in. If your audience responds to it, you just did some good in the world. Let’s talk a little bit about bingeability. You mentioned that you have some binge fans because they tell you that. At what point did you realize people were pinching on shows?
I don’t know if I still realize it or not.
You did mention it so you must have a few that reached out to you besides your brother.
I have some close friends that I know listen to all my shows, either supporting myself and/or because they do find a lot of value from it. What I hear often from them is the fact that I am deliberate with where I’m taking the show and what I’m talking about on the show. I’m doing my research ahead of time so that I’m not wasting the guest’s time and in return, my reader’s time. That’s some of the feedback that I get. Outside of that, I’m not entirely sure. That was a reason I was excited to come on the show and hear your feedback.
Justin and I talked about this. It’s a little early for his show to have the full binge factor going on because of the shift that happened in it. It needs a little bit more time in the new shift to The Struggle is Real format and to everything that’s going on there, the messaging for it to take hold. That doesn’t mean that there are indicators of good bingeability. What I’m always looking for in the binge factor is that if I’m out there, I’m a binge listener. I have characteristics of I like to take a show. I like to listen to all of it. Thinking about those out there. You have that same characteristic when you go out there to look at a Netflix show where you look and go, “I don’t want something that was two seasons long, and then ended in 2017 because they are going to leave me hanging. They didn’t get picked up. I’m going to look for something that’s at least five seasons or more.” This is what people look for. Typically binge listeners look for shows that have 100 episodes. The true binge listeners do that. They will look at new shows that do 25 or more if they have done it consistently and constantly. That’s another indicator. They don’t love seasonal shows because it leaves them hanging. They like the ones that keep going. When they see that’s going, it’s gone more than a year. They will give it a try.
What they do is they go to the beginning, listen to the first episode, go to the most recent, listened to the last episode and they might pick one in between. It’s like a three-episode tribe before they hit that subscribe button. What happens in that process when you do that? That’s exactly the process by which I review your show, the same thing. I’m approaching it as if I were going to subscribe as a binge listener. What I heard in that first episode was brilliant because, in your first episode, you were laying out a great story about yourself. “I’m already liking you from moment one. I feel you into your generation. I’m not your generation but I feel that and I know that you are the right guy for me.” That’s a great hit if you can get that at the beginning.
Now I go, “Let me check how his interviews are.” I go to your most recent one and I get this wonderful download of the research that you have done. You are taking your show seriously. You are not one of those podcasters phoning it in. That’s coming through absolutely authentically in every question asked in the format of your show. That is helping you as well. If I picked something in the middle, I’m starting to see great topics. Here’s where I think your true binge factor moving forward is, it’s in picking the topics and not the guest first that you are going to attract the most binge listeners.
If you are hitting on the things that I want and need to know about, finding me experts, finding me people who could be resources and inspiration for me, then at the end of the day, you have my attention. I know you have my best interests at heart from the beginning because those topics are what I care about learning about. As you mentioned, podcasting is a solo thing, it’s about what I want to learn, not about what you want to teach me. When you go through that process, you are helping me to the point at which I can’t miss a show. That’s how you attract binge listeners. That will be your benefactor if you keep that up.
I love that piece of advice. I think that’s a great idea and something I have been trying to implement. If somebody is blowing me away with something they are doing like I reached out to a TikToker. It’s one of those DIY dads that she’s showing you how to fix everything at home. I binge so many of her TikToks. I went through and watched all of them. I was like, “I should ask if she should come on my show.”
Let’s learn about that. In the process, you are going to learn about how you get to be a good TikToker because there’s great short content understanding that you want to learn. I love that process because there are layers to that topic for you personally, for your audience. This is going to serve you really well. One of the questions I want to ask you is, you’ve got The Struggle is Real in 2017. I did Jon Nastor’s show, Hack the Entrepreneur. He has rules about it. He said, “I’m going to ask you about your biggest failure, and you have to be open. You have to be willing to talk about your biggest failure.” When we are talking about The Struggle is Real, do you think it’s hard? Is it going to get harder to get your guests to talk about that deeper struggle? Do you think people want to talk about it?
I think people want to talk about it. It’s something that I consider and try to curate in the first 10 to 20 minutes of my episode. That’s why it is a little bit longer format, even though I can condense probably the expertise that I want them to deliver within 25 minutes. I tell all my guests, “If you want to hit a home run on my show, I’m looking for two eyes instruction for how to overcome the issue that we are talking about on the show and then inspiration to act on that instruction that you gave me.” The inspiration almost always comes from the same place. That’s a personal story. Leading off most of my shows, walking them through their struggle and showing them grow through their teenage and their twenty-somethings is always a great way for me to bring the guests to light. Now, my audience is interested in learning about what they learned from that journey and the things that they have and that they have utilized now to overcome this issue that we are talking about. It’s typically something I’m thinking about with every one of my guests as a preamble to the beginning of my interview.Podcasting is a solo thing. It’s about what the listener wants to learn, not about what the podcaster wants to teach them. Click To Tweet
We learn so much more from our mistakes than we learn from our successes. We learn from other people’s mistakes even better. This is a great strategy for helping. Those two eyes, I love that, the instruction and inspiration.
To answer the question that you asked, I think people are open to talking about it, especially whenever I explained to them before we start interviewing that this is for twenty-somethings that are going through all those lives, what seemed like life crises like, “It’s my first major breakup with this girl I have been dating for a long time. I’m insecure about my weight because I’m eating what I used to eat in college. It’s catching up to me. I don’t know what a 401(k) is. I tried to start one at my job. I’ve got super overwhelmed with all the choices so I closed it.” All these normal are struggles that are going through. When I’m explaining that, illustrating that to my guests in the green room before we press record. They get it and it clicks. They are excited to also showcase where they were throughout their twenties.
I think all of us have been through many struggles. Some of us aren’t more unusual ones. You have hit on a few that I was like, “That’s an interesting struggle.” This is going to be an interesting view for your audience and see how they take this on. They were right there with you. That’s one of the lessons that I want your show to express to people. When you make a shift in your show like that but you make it for all the right reasons, you are not going to lose any audience. I guarantee you. You didn’t see a drop-off in listenership because you change the cover art and the title of your show.
Not at all. I was a little worried about that. I was interested if people were going to see this new podcast in their feed now and not understand what it was and then no longer listen to it. It takes a little marketing and branding to make sure that everybody knows and understands where you are going with it and why you are going in this direction. Honestly, I think it solidified the audience I’m speaking to and the thesis of the show. Once again, The Sandbox was my own personal journey but The Struggle is Real is this quote or the saying that all the twenty-somethings, all the Millennials get. They are like, “Yes. The struggle is real.”
We were debating this. I didn’t realize that was the name of your show until I went walked inside after dinner and started my research. I usually do it. I like it to be fresh in my mind. I usually do it the night before in the morning of. I didn’t realize that was the name of the show. We had watched The 100. I don’t know if you have seen that. We get to the end and my husband was like, “Why would they go and do all this? It’s such a struggle. Why all this struggle?” I was like, “It’s human nature.” We don’t appreciate the success if we don’t have the struggle to compare it to. That’s when I think it is great to have those contrasting. It’s like the inspiration for success has to come from seeing how hard it was to get there. It’s an unfortunate human nature thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was no struggle?
Yes and no. Some of the best sucks and hurts at the moment. The most are like it’s the end of the world whenever you are in the moment of one of these big struggles. Almost everybody tells me 6 months, 1 or 3 years later, “I’m glad that happened.” I want to illustrate for everybody the big thesis of the show is, “You are going to make it through your twenties. You are going to do it. I’m here to help you along the way. I can’t cover all the topics that you are going to run into or the struggles you are going to face but I promise you, they are all going in the same way. You are going to make it through.”
“Maybe with some deep lessons learned where you will be my next guest. Who knows?” Wouldn’t be right of me to not asked what struggles are you dealing with right now? What is the biggest struggle for you? What are you doing to get out of it?
I’m struggling with trying to figure out this next chapter in my life, particularly around my career. All the questions that stem from that, “Should my career be the focal point or the center point of what brings me joy and fulfillment?” If it is, how do I create joy out of my career? That’s something I’m struggling with. I realize a lot of my peers also struggle with that same thing. I’m going through that, which is why if you are reading or looking through a lot of my topics that I covered. It’s a lot of career stuff and career pathing. It’s something I’m fascinated trying to figure out. I’m trying to figure out the right questions to ask myself is, “What I’m currently going through?” Also coming to peace with the fact that I do not get to know the right answer at the moment. You’ve made a decision, got to move forward and got to be excited about that decision. There are 100 different lives that we could all live. Just enjoy the one that you are living.
It seems like you are enjoying podcasting. Please keep that up. There’s a whole host of twenty-somethings out there waiting for your next topic.
Thank you. I appreciate it, Tracy.
Thank you, Justin. I’m glad you came on the show and sharing The Struggle is Real with all of us.
It was a pleasure being on your show. Thanks for inviting me.
For all of you who are struggling with your podcast, that struggle feels real like it does for Justin. Even those who are doing some great things with their show have some great structures going on, have that interview and curiosity dialed in for you as Justin Peters does on his show. There are still some things to work on. There’s always the way, “How can I get better guests? How can I increase my listeners?” That’s what we are all here about on The Binge Factor. We are exploring that through deep curiosity and finding out what’s working and what’s not working.
I love that Justin was honest with us about how things are working for him and what he’s struggling with. Taking a listen to different people’s shows are a great way for you to get experience and what that means in practicality. They can say, “I’m doing a good job of getting guests. I’m doing a good job of asking interview questions and getting in-depth so my content is being well received by my audience.” Until you go and listen to what they have put out there, listen to how they ask those questions, how they are structuring their show, take a view at their social media posts and the different things that they are doing, you can’t understand and start to apply those things.
You can hear this cursory idea of, “Ask your guests to find you another guest that is the right fit for you.” Who wouldn’t want to keep referring and paying it forward? That’s a great way to do it. Until you go and see how are you going to do it? Are you going to do it at the end of your episode? Are you going to do it in a follow-up call? Are you going to send an email afterward? How are you going to enact that tip that was given to you and turn it into something that is going to grow your show? We’ve got to take that struggle. We have to learn to apply it. We have to go in there and try these things.
In the beginning, I introduced him and one of the things that Justin says in his great introduction, “We should be taking classes like How to File your Taxes.” Until you dive in and file your taxes yourself, until you take that step to figure these things out yourself, you are not going to understand how easy it is to take that struggle and turn it into a path to success. You are going to open your mind up to all the feedback, all the different people who can help you along the journey like Justin Peters. Take a good listen to The Struggle is Real, Justin Peters. You are going to enjoy some of the things that we pointed out here in the episode, like how he dives into his guests, how curious he is, how he’s thinking about how that brain works.
He’s applying that to the way that he’s asking questions. To get that spark back to you, believe that you can do this. Not only are we in it with you but we are also on that path to success. That’s what he’s building within a show. You can do that too. I look forward to bringing you new and different podcasters who are in different niches and different areas struggling with different things here on the show. If that’s you or if it’s someone you know, apply to the show. I look forward to talking with you.
- The Struggle is Real
- Impact Theory
- Mark Herschberger – Past Episode
- Alex Dickinson – The Struggle is Real Past Episode
- Whitney Lauritsen – Past Episode
- Shane Snow – Past Episode
- Morning Brew
- Hack The Entrepreneur – Past Episode Hack The Entrepreneur
- https://www.Instagram.com/justinleepeters/ -Instagram
- https://www.LinkedIn.com/in/justinleepeters/ – LinkedIn
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