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I’ve had many people ask me about how they can podcast about things that are strictly visual; think hand lettering, or programming, or gaming. That’s a great question, so I want to talk about it in today’s episode.

When I started thinking about this, my first reaction was, “Well, there are just some things you can’t do with a podcast.” Then I started thinking about why I love podcasts so much, and what makes them more appealing to me than videos or screencasts.

My key points for this episode are:

  1. Podcasts are great, but you can’t do everything with them
  2. Different people learn best in different mediums, so if you want to reach the most people most effectively, you need to learn how to create different kinds of content (audio, video, screencasts, writing, courses)

My special guest this week is friend of the show and Community member Garrett Mickley. Garrett started a podcast called Learn to Learn with Garrett Mickley, and he’s passionate about helping other people optimize the way they learn.

He joins me to talk about the different ways people learn best, why podcasting isn’t the right medium for learning for everyone, and why podcasters need to create content in other mediums to supplement their podcasts.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins:

  • Focus on what you can teach instead of what you can’t.
  • If you need inspiration for topics to podcast about, check out Sean McCabe’s 62 Topics to Write About.
  • If you can write a response to someone’s question, you can do a podcast episode about it.
  • You can’t teach everything in audio form. Learn how to produce other kinds of content, like videos, screencasts, books, online courses, and in-person workshops. This will expand your audience to include people who aren’t primarily auditory learners.
  • Don’t burn yourself out by trying to learn how to produce every kind of content at the same time. Start with one thing (like podcasting or writing), get good at it, then move into other mediums like screencasting and video.
  • Start thinking about what kind of online courses or workshops you could do in the future to reach an audience of people who aren’t interested in your podcast.

Show Notes

  • 6:29 Q: How do I podcast about visual topics?
  • 6:32 Aaron: As I was thinking about this question, I started thinking about why I love podcasting so much. I mean, I like videos and screencasts a lot too, but they don’t hold the same place in my heart as podcasts do.
  • 6:45 I started thinking the three different types of learners; auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. If you’ve never heard of this idea before, it’s that people have different optimal modes of learning. Some people learn most effectively by listening, some people learn best by seeing, and some learn best by doing.
  • 8:38 If I had to guess about my optimal learning style, it would be auditory first and then visual (reading or seeing). When I’m trying to learn, I’ll go for podcasts or other forms of audio first, and then books or videos.
  • 9:05 Garrett: I am the exact opposite. I’m a kinesthetic learner.
  • 9:24 Aaron: Which is cool, because I’ll be getting a perspective from someone who learns differently than I do. This whole “learn by listening” thing for me doesn’t just apply to podcasting, audio engineering, or writing; it also applies to music. I learned how to play drums by listening to music and hearing the sounds that the drummers were making, how they structured the beats, and the fills they played, and the overall feel. That’s how I learned how to play drums. Which brings me to my first point:

Podcasts are Best Suited for Auditory Learners

  • 9:54 Aaron: My hypothesis is that the majority of people who are attracted to podcasts are primarily auditory learners. Listening to someone talk about a topic or skill is how they learn and really absorb that knowledge.
  • 10:16 For example, if I was talking with someone who wanted to learn how set up a microphone and record an audio track on their computer, I could describe the process step by step, and if I did a good enough job and that person was an auditory learner, that would be enough for them to be able to go and accomplish that task.
  • 10:31 But let’s say that person is more of a visual learner; they’d rather see a video of me doing it. If that person is an kinesthetic learner, they would want a hands-on workshop where I walk them through the process step by step while they do all the steps themselves.

Some Things Just Can’t Be Taught Through Audio Only

  • 10:49 Aaron: Podcasts can only teach so much. If you want to be a programmer, you can listen to people talk about coding forever but at some point you need to sit down and write some code.
  • 11:06 If you want to be a painter, you can listen to people talk about the tools they use, how they think about color and composition, or how they choose subjects, but at some point you have to buy a paintbrush and start painting if you want to get better.

Focus on What You Can Teach in a Podcast, Instead of What You Can’t

  • 11:26 Garrett: You should definitely start a podcast if you can, and if what you want to talk about isn’t something that can be audio only, there are still a lot of things you can talk about. There’s no reason why your podcast can’t co-exist with everything else you’re doing.
  • 12:02 Aaron: Let’s use Sean McCabe as an example. So many people still think of him as a hand-letterer/designer. When he announced he was starting a podcast, a lot of people were wondering how he was going to do a podcast about lettering. But he didn’t start a podcast about lettering; he started a podcast about how he made a living as a hand-lettering artist.
  • 12:42 Here’s the list of topics he covers in his podcast: client work, pricing, professionalism, content marketing, email marketing, hiring, courses, motivation, scaling, sales, perfectionism, discipline, building an audience, public speaking, writing, conferences, day jobs, the no-debt mentality, goals, failure, success, and so, so, much more.
  • 13:08 That’s a lot of things. But he’s not thinking, “How do I do a podcast about hand-lettering? I can’t talk about how I push the pen across the page…” He’s focusing on what knowledge he can share in an audio format.

Focus on what you can teach instead of what you can’t.

What Should I Talk About on My Show?

  • 13:27 Aaron: Think about all the experiences you’ve had. Can you share one that will be valuable for your audience? What would you tell your past self? What advice would you give? Do you have any stories related to work? What’s been working for you lately? What hasn’t been working? Do you have any stories to share that would be helpful to someone else?
  • 13:55 What questions were you asking when you were first starting out? What did you want to know? What kind of content do you wish existed back then? Go make that content for other people.
  • 14:27 Garrett: Something that confuses a lot of people who are learning something new is lingo, or terminology. Let’s say you go to a conference for a thing you’ve only been learning about for six months, and you hear people using all these words that you don’t understand. It’s difficult and often embarrassing for the newcomers to ask what those words mean.
  • 15:10 Talk about lingo on your show. There are going to be many people who need someone to explain those terms to them. I used to always be embarrassed to ask, even though I really shouldn’t have been. But if you are, hopefully someone out there has a podcast for you.
  • 17:12 Aaron: Lingo is great. Some other examples; what tools do people need to learn and use if they want to accomplish X?
  • 17:22 Garrett: You did an episode about podcasting gear that was really helpful for me when I was thinking about starting my podcast. People should talk about the gear and equipment they use to get their work done.
  • 18:00 Aaron: If you’re going to do a podcast about programming, or web design, or hand-lettering, talk about how you got started with your first project, or how you got your first client.
  • 18:13 Garrett: It’s a great idea to talk about the business side of things. Let’s say you’re a successful musician; how did you get people to buy your first album? What went into that? There are plenty of musicians out there who are trying to get their first album to sell.
  • 18:58 Aaron: There are so many things that people could podcast about, but I want to keep moving forward, so I’ll just point people to Sean’s PDF of 62 Topics so You Never Run Out of Things to Write About. That’s a fantastic resource for writers and podcasters, so download it and keep it for reference when you need some inspiration.

If you need inspiration for topics to podcast about, check out Sean McCabe’s 62 Topics to Write About.

Know What Your Audience is Interested In

  • 19:27 Aaron: Have you defined your audience? Do you know what they’re interested in learning about? If not, you need to start by doing that. You also need to be engaged with people in your industry or niche. Have conversations. Find out what they’re struggling with or what they’re interested in learning about. Read forums. Talk with people on Twitter. Ask questions.

If you can write a response to someone’s question, you can do a podcast episode about it.

How Do You Describe What You Do to People in Real Life?

  • 20:03 Garett: Let’s say you want to do a podcast about a primarily visual topic. Think about how you describe and talk about what you do to people in real life (i.e. not online). Think back to the times when you talked with people about your thing when you didn’t have any visuals available to show them. Those are things you can talk about on your podcast.

Start Creating Content in Other Mediums to Reach a Wider Audience

  • 21:03 Aaron: There are going to be topics that you can’t effectively teach in a podcast. For example, I can’t really teach how to use EQ and compression that effectively in audio form. I can talk about the ideas behind each and the settings I use in my software, but it makes far more sense when you see it in a screencast.

You can’t teach everything in audio form. Learn how to produce other kinds of content, like videos, screencasts, books, online courses, and in-person workshops. This will expand your audience to include people who aren’t primarily auditory learners.

  • 21:56 Garrett: There were some questions in the chat about this. People were asking if they should do video instead of podcasts for certain topics.
  • 22:17 If you can do both, absolutely do both. Teach what you can in each medium that will be best suited for that medium. If you’re only teaching auditory learners with a podcast, you’re missing out on a larger audience because you’re only focusing on one learning type. That was a big mistake that I made that I’m just now correcting. I didn’t realize how I was missing out until a friend told me that she wasn’t an auditory learner but she still wanted to learn what I was teaching. That inspired me to start making slideshow videos for my previous podcast episodes.
  • 24:07 Aaron: This really emphasizes the importance of detailed show notes. There are people out there who don’t care about listening to me talk in this podcast, but they could get tremendous value from reading my show notes or watching a short video where I explain the topic. I’m losing out on a larger audience by not re-purposing my content into different mediums.
  • 25:11 Garrett: I was so focused on making the podcast that I didn’t even think to make video, which is surprising because I’m not an auditory learner. I had the show notes from day one because I’m more likely to go read something rather than listen to a podcast, but making video completely slipped my mind.

Don’t Try to Do Everything at Once

  • 25:57 Garrett: One thing you don’t want to do is over-commit. Don’t commit to starting a podcast and then try to make videos and screencast at the same time, especially if you’re new to all of these things. You’ll get stuck and burn yourself out. The most important thing is to produce something consistently. If you can only get started with one thing, do that thing consistently right now and then go back and re-purpose that content in the future.
  • 26:27 Aaron: Learning how to produce all these different kinds of content takes time. It’s a significant investment. Note: If you’re interested in screencasting, check out Screenflow 5. That’s the app I use to make mine, and it’s great. If you’re interested in making videos, follow Caleb Wojcik. He’s done a ton of great tutorials on DIY video production.

Don’t burn yourself out by trying to learn how to produce every kind of content at the same time. Start with one thing (like podcasting or writing), get good at it, then move into other mediums like screencasting and video.

Start Planning an Online Course

  • 28:31 Garrett: Courses are important for one-third of your potential audience (the kinesthetic learners). Some people need that hands-on experience to internalize the information. Courses are also (usually) very structured, and that’s something any kind of learner will appreciate. Having a clear structure is essential for learning. Some people just prefer to learn through online courses or in-person workshops instead of one-off online tutorials, videos or podcasts.

Start thinking about what kind of online courses or workshops you could do in the future to reach an audience of people who aren’t interested in your podcast.

Repurpose Your Content

  • 31:31 Aaron: If you’re podcasting, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you aren’t repurposing your content into other mediums like videos, screencasts, and blog posts/show notes. On the flipside, if you’re doing videos and screencasts, you’re missing out if you aren’t podcasting. There are people like me who will subscribe to a podcast feed instead of watching videos or reading blog posts.
  • 32:09 Garrett: You’re not the only one. There are tons of people who would rather listen to a podcast than read a blog. I’m the opposite; I’m more likely to go read show notes instead of listening to the podcast. If you don’t repurpose your content, you’re missing out on that audience and they’re missing out on what you have to teach them.

Recap

  • 32:55 Aaron: In the end, focus on what will help your audience be successful or what will deliver what your audience wants or needs.
  • 33:07 Your audience is made up of people who learn best in different ways; therefore the best way to help everyone is to make different types of content to speaks to their individual learning styles.
  • 33:18 Make podcasts for auditory learners, screencasts and videos for visual learners, and workshops, physical books, and interactive courses for kinesthetic learners.

Q&A

  • 39:11 Rafael asked: Should I send someone to my website for visual resources instead of just trying to explain them during my show?
  • 40:04 Garrett: That’s definitely the way to go, because you’re touching all the bases, plus you’re sending people to your website which is always a good thing.
  • 40:15 Aaron: I do it all the time. If I’m trying to teach something in a show and a particular piece would be better explained in a screencast, I’ll make a note to myself to do a short screencast about it before the episode goes live, or at least link to an existing screencast in the show notes.
  • 41:52 If you’re doing a podcast, do show notes, and also try to infuse as many different types of content into your show notes as you can. Do a screencast, post it on Youtube, and link to it. Make a PDF worksheet download, host it somewhere online (like in your Dropbox public folder or Amazon S3 bucket) and link to it.
  • 42:33 Garrett: Another upside to doing that is if you are planning on writing a book or doing a course sometime in the future, doing blog posts and screencasts is great practice. Creating a course is tough, and you’ll learn a lot by learning how to write blog posts and make videos and show notes before you try to create your course or book.

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