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Glenn Leibowitz returns for part two of our three-part series about writing. This week, he shares how he turns podcast interviews into stories, why it’s led to huge audience growth for both his podcast and his blog, and how you can use the power of story to reach a whole new audience.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • Turning your podcast interview into a written format provides an entry point for the huge number of people who aren’t interested in listening to a podcast.
  • The recipe for a successful interview is stay focused on the conversation, collect information, and deliver value to your listeners.
  • Storifying a podcast episode is taking a conversation, extracting the essence of it (what’s most interesting), and turning that into a story, even if it’s a short blog post.
  • Find the most interesting or unusual thing your guest has shared and focus on that in your blog post.
  • Start your blog post with a story about your guest, or a personal story from your experience.

Show Notes

  • 3:43 Aaron: So first question; what are the benefits of turning a podcast interview into a story?
  • 4:11 Glenn: I would say there are four main benefits.
  • 4:15 1. It will attract listeners to the episode and (hopefully) persuade them to subscribe for more. So it’s a type of content marketing for your content marketing. In plain terms, it will get more people to listen or read, which is something every podcaster wants.
  • 5:05 2. Your interview will reach a wider audience (and potentially get thousands or tens of thousands of views, likes, comments and social shares). While the number of podcast listeners is growing rapidly, it’s still only a small fraction of the people who listen to radio or watch video or read.

Turning your podcast interview into a written format provides an entry point for the huge number of people who aren’t interested in listening to a podcast.

  • 8:27 3. It helps build your relationship with your guest. You’ve just turned your guest into the hero of your story and hopefully they recognize and remember that. If not, that’s okay. Don’t expect anything in return but you never know what can happen as a result of the goodwill that you create. Some of my guests have shared their interview/story with their audience which led to hundreds of thousands of additional views.
  • 9:22 4. It allows you to practice your writing and storytelling skills. As a podcaster, developing audio content is the priority, which is fine, but as Sean McCabe says, “It all starts with writing.” It could be an invitation to a potential guest (writing), an outline for my episode (writing), or show notes (writing). It all comes down to writing, and this is just taking another level. It’s turning the audio content you produce into writing. It’s great practice and frankly, I have a lot of fun doing it.

Do You Have to Plan the Story Before You Record the Interview?

  • 10:54 Aaron: So is this something you have to plan in advance, or can you turn any podcast interview into a story?
  • 11:09 Glenn: You don’t always have to plan it in advance, but it helps a lot. I plan the focus of each episode beforehand and write questions that are relevant to the topic. Doing this allows me to stay focused on the conversation and deliver value to my listeners and it allows me to collect enough information that I can then use to write my story (which I publish as a blog post). You don’t have to think about it in advance, but keeping the story in mind can help shape the interview that will eventually be turned into your blog post.

The recipe for a successful interview is stay focused on the conversation, collect information, and deliver value to your listeners.

How is This Approach Different Than Writing Show Notes?

  • 12:56 Glenn: Show notes are essential – they give your audience the key information they need to know about the guest or guests, links to resources, maybe quotes, or even a complete, edited transcript. I always write show notes for each of my episodes.
  • 13:22 But this is different. This is not show notes. And I have to say, the way you (Aaron and the rest of the shows on the seanwes network) do show notes is hands-down the best I’ve ever seen. You have very thoroughly edited transcripts (not a raw transcript like most other podcasts), you have these live links so that people can click the time-stamp and go to that section in the audio file, and you also have amazing artwork.
  • 14:13 Aaron: Thank you. It’s a lot of work, but it really pays off. For anyone interested in learning more about how we create these show notes, I had Sean and Laci McCabe on episode 5 to talk about how and why we do show notes this way. It was a great episode.

Storifying a podcast episode is taking a conversation, extracting the essence of it (what’s most interesting), and turning that into a story, even if it’s a short blog post.

So How Do I Storify My Podcast Episode?

  • 15:59 Glenn: First, I identify the most interesting insight I learned or interesting fact(s) about my guest that they shared with me. If they share lessons from their work or life, I try to distill those into a handful of takeaways that I can share in my blog post.
  • 16:19 For example, I interviewed Matt Mullenweg (the creator of WordPress and CEO of Automattic). Besides talking about writing, he told me a lot about how he runs his company (which I found fascinating).
  • 16:41 His company has about 450 employees around the world and they rarely (if ever) step foot into an office. They work virtually from home. As someone who works in an office, I found that topic interesting.
  • 17:23 The other interesting thing was how much Matt hates to use email for communication inside his company. They instead use a blogging platform that enables them to collaborate and share content and archive conversations and so much more that you can’t do with email.
  • 18:05 So I took these elements of Matt’s story and I wrote a post that I called The Billion Dollar Tech Company With No Offices or Email. The post went viral on LinkedIn, and midway through the growth in views, Matt posted it on his Facebook page which then gave it another huge boost on LinkedIn.

Find the most interesting or unusual thing that your guest has shared and focus on that in your blog post.

  • 18:49 Aaron: I like how you took what could have been another typical podcast interview with the CEO of a cool tech company and instead turned it into a story about two things that people are interested in (remote work and email). You even managed to tease those topics in the title.

Start Your Post With a Story

  • 19:50 Glenn: Start off your post with a story about your guest that introduces them to the reader in a compelling way.
  • 20:17 For example, I interviewed Shane Snow (the co-founder of Contently and author of Smartcuts). I started my post with a story of a mural that has been painted on the wall of Contently’s office in New York. It’s a Hopi proverb that says “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” That was just a nice way to introduce Shane to my readers. It wasn’t a very long post, but it resonated with a lot of people.
  • 21:58 Aaron: I tell people not to worry about the length of a blog post or podcast episode; just make it as good as you can. It doesn’t have to be a certain length as long as you get your point across.
  • 22:17 Glenn: You can also start your podcast off with a story that isn’t about your guest. I wrote a post about kids learning to code in school, and I kicked off the post with a personal story of how my daughter had just finished the Code.org two hours of code challenge at home. That gave it a more personal feel.

Start your blog post with a story about your guest, or a personal story from your experience.

Share the Most Valuable Insights or Takeaways

  • 24:03 Glenn: The next step is to list out the lessons learned or insights gleaned from your guest. This is where I start to quote my guest more liberally. You can structure it like a Q&A, but not necessarily. You could also have a sub-headline with the lesson learned and then explain what that lesson is and weave in a quote from your guest.
  • 27:40 Aaron: Do you find that writing these stories takes more time than the normal way you do show notes?
  • 27:57 Glenn: It can take a little more time and effort to do it this way, to write the story and pick out the quotes. If you have a transcript, it’ll take less time to get those takeaways.

Focus on a Single Guest, or Combine Multiple Guests Into a Single Story

  • 29:13 Glenn: You can either focus on a single guest or combine multiple guests into a single story. I’ve done that several times. I mentioned earlier that I wrote a post about coding, that one was called I Asked 3 Experts if Kids Should Learn to Code (And This Is What They Said). I started with the story about my daughter finishing the online code.org challenge, and complained a little about how her school doesn’t have enough coding classes.
  • 30:13 Then I weaved in several questions around why kids should learn to code and included answers from two podcast guests, including Matt Mullenweg and Chris Fox (who is an app developer who recently became a full time novelist). I also included comments from Nathan Blecharczyk (the cofounder and CTO of Airbnb). I haven’t interviewed him on my podcast, but I did ask him some questions about kids and coding when I met him last year. They (Matt, Chris, and Nathan) all emphatically agreed that kids should learn how to code even if they don’t plan on being full-time programmers.

Round-Ups – Repurpose Your Old Content

  • 31:21 Glenn: You can also write what I call round-ups. I take quotes from multiple guests about a single topic and use them in a single blog post. For example, I recently wrote a blog post called How to Get More Writing Done Even When You’re Not in the Mood. I’d been interviewing lots of writers over the past year, so I pulled out a good quote from each of them about how they get more writing done when they aren’t feeling inspired.
  • 32:12 Aaron: That’s a great idea. Was that the plan all along?
  • 32:30 Glenn: No, I didn’t plan that. I’ve built this archive of podcast episodes about writing, and as I look back over them, there are a number of themes that I can extract for stand-alone blog posts.
  • 32:51 I wrote another post called Books That Will Inspire You to Become a Writer. I like to ask all my guests which books inspired them to become a writer and why. So I went back through those episodes and pulled out those quotes and made a brand new blog post out of them.

Write a Great Headline

  • 33:59 Glenn: Last but definitely not least, write a great headline. I always start my post by writing a couple of headlines (just so I have multiple options), and then I revisit the headlines and rework them and then sometimes I even show them to my kids for their honest opinion – and they are often brutally honest! And then I choose the best one and use it. Headlines are key.
  • 35:48 Aaron: It all comes back to providing something valuable to the listener. I always try to keep that in mind when writing headlines. I don’t always get it right, but I try.
  • 36:10 I really like something that Sean says: “You have to deliver what your audience needs in a package of what they want.” Your audience might not know that they need a piece of advice, so you have to deliver it by presenting it as something they want. For example, most podcasters want more listeners. What they need is to be told that they need to invest more time in preparing episodes, editing, and investing in better gear to get better sound quality. That’s an example of delivering what they need in a package of what they want.
  • 36:48 Glenn: It’s a shame to hear so many otherwise great podcasters using cheap microphones. That kind of ruins the experience.
  • 37:11 Aaron: What I’ve learned is that the quality of your presentation has an effect on how well your audience receives your message. I saw a beautiful video this past week called “I’m Possible” by Jeremy Cowart (you really need to watch it right now), and I remember thinking that it wouldn’t have been as effective if it had just been Jeremy talking to a camera for 20 minutes in his spare bedroom. The extra attention to quality is what helped his message really hit home and made that video an unforgettable experience.

Recap:

  • 41:53 Glenn: Storifying your podcast episode isn’t something you have to do every time. Read through some of the examples listed below to get a better sense for how I do it.
  • 42:09 These stories are different from show notes, and you should do the story in addition to your normal show notes. I always do both, so I have show notes for the episode, but then I’ll write the story (with a totally different headline) based on my conversation with the guest.
  • 43:00 If you have any questions or want to connect with me further, feel free to shoot me an email. My website is WriteWithImpact.com, you can connect with me on LinkedIn, or find me on Twitter @GlennLeibowitz.

Show Links:

Blog Posts From Glenn to Check Out: