016: Topic vs. Interview Show Which is Better to Start?

In this episode we’re going to talk about the difference between a topic based podcast and an interview based podcast and I’m going to share with you what I think is the best place to start if you are just starting your show.

So quickly let me just explain what I mean so we’re on the same page with topic versus interview.

So a topic based podcast is when there’s a specific topic that the host is providing information on. So either trainings, or resources, or stories around a specific topic.

In an interview based podcast, there is always a host and an interviewee and they’re having a conversation of some type. Sometimes it can be very formal with a question and answer. Other times it’s more conversational. Okay, so in the topic based podcast there is usually just one, maybe there’s two hosts, but it’s still is just their show versus the other, you’re bringing out consistent guests into the interview show.

So now let me share with you what I think is the best place to start and then let me unpack why, with the pros and cons of each.

I believe that the best place to start when you are first launching your how is with a topic based podcast. A topic based podcast, the pros of that are that it allows you to have full control over what you’re delivering and when. If you’re just getting started with your show, it’s likely that it’s something new that you’re adding in to your schedule. As you can imagine, it requires a lot of effort. So you have to plan the episodes, you’ve got to record the episodes, you’ve got to send them off to your editor, or perhaps you’re managing your podcast your self, you’ve got to take ownership of every single one of the episodes. That gets to be a lot of work.

But the beauty of it all is that you are in control of what and when. So if you know that you have a weekly show, and you’ve got an episode coming up next month that hasn’t been recorded yet, you can bang it out. You can get on, you can knock that episode out, push it through it’s publication and it’s ready to go.

Compared to an interview show. In an interview show you are also responsible for all of the prep work. Now in addition to just the preparation, what questions you’re going to ask the guest, there’s usually research. You’ve got to research your guest so that you’re not being caught off guard, or saying things cuckoo to ruin the relationship with them, and you have to make sure that they are prepared. What happens if they get sick on the Tuesday that you’re planning to record for your Friday episode. Now all of a sudden you’re out of content. So you can see how having a topic based podcast allows you to be in control of your episodes and making sure that you’ve got content to push out, versus the interview show.

Now, here’s the big thing that people think. Often times before people start shows, they think well, “Alycia, isn’t it a lot easier to have an interview show because then I don’t have to think up all of the content?”

Well that’s what people think, which is why often times people start interview shows and then they don’t last more than like ten episodes, because now you’re signing up for the responsibility to find guests to be on your show. To pitch the guest, and sell why they should come on your show. You’ve got to prepare them for the specific way that you record for any type of microphone that they need to have, or video equipment that they need to have on board. You need to then, when they get on the call, you’ve got to ensure they get on the call. You’ve got to get on the call with them. Now you’ve got to build rapport. It takes a lot longer usually, because it’s relationship building, which is a great element of having an episode based podcast. You’re building a relationship, but it requires that time and care as well.

Then after the episode, you send it off to your editor. Now your editor is managing two different sound qualities. Two different video streams. So it’s a lot more that needs to be managed on your editor’s plate. Plus, then you’ve got the promo. So usually when we bring somebody on to our show, we’re hoping that they would be willing to promote it to their audience so that you are able to be found by their audience. It’s like cross promotion, but it is very rare that, that actually happens, believe it or not. It takes a lot of guidance for a guest to actually think ahead or prepare in advance, to send information to all of their client list or their email list, and that type of thing. Even to promote it on podcasts. So, all of that work is happening with an interview based podcast.

What I’m recommending is that you start with a topic based podcast. In this way you can do a lot of batching. You can prepare all of your titles. You can write all your episodes. You can even record them back to back to back. It makes it a lot smoother process, even for your editor, but definitely smoother for the marketing process, because now you know that you are solely responsible for the marketing.

So that’s why I recommend start with a topic based podcast. So that you don’t get half way into filming an interview, and now the person’s mic goes out, or you have to speed them up because you have another person that you’ve scheduled and yikes, now this person you’ve got to get them off. Oop, there’s a technical error, or uh, they got sick and now we got to reschedule it again. All of those things add to your workflow for your podcast.

So, here is what I recommend doing. I recommend that you start your show with your topic based episodes. Now as you get comfortable with your show, as it becomes easier and easier to work through the production process, as you become more and more familiar with your production manager and you start to get a habit of recording and a system of processing and marketing, once that is becomes confirmed and you’ve got that down, the show is out now. You’ve got listeners. You’re running your stats, it’s feeling good. Then, my recommendation is that you bring on a guest as a bonus episode. So it’s kind of a surprise. It doesn’t have to be something that you commit to. It doesn’t have to be something that you get your audience to commit to, because they have an understanding of how the show is going. So then when you bring on a guest as a bonus episode, you get to test out the experience of what really was it like. Now that you know what it’s like to do your own show, now you can bring in somebody and test out.

What is this like? What are the unique things that I need to pay attention to? What are the areas that they’re getting caught up on that I need to catch before I even bring them on to the show? I’ve heard crazy stories, like how people have actually, I remember John Lee Dumas actually send people, early, early in his podcasting, he would send somebody microphones if they didn’t have a microphone because of the importance of good audio for your show. For me, I’ve had people show up with their phones trying to record, all crazy, the images aren’t turning out. I once had a person sitting so far away from their microphone, I could barely hear them. To engineer their audio end-post was very, very difficult to do. All these things happen. People forget. People show up at the wrong time, you get the time zones wrong. There’s so many things that could go wrong with interviews.

So, my recommendation, start first with the topic based episode. Yes, you’re going to be putting in a lot of work, but trust me, it would probably be still lighter work than if you were doing an interview show, and you’ve got the full control of knowing when you want to book the episodes into your schedule to record, and publish, and edit, and whatever you’re doing there, and to make sure that they get out and they get marketed appropriately.

Then later, invite a guest in to test it out, but don’t commit to that all up front, because then it’s going to be harder to change direction. So, not that you can’t change, you can change direction, it’s your show, you can change it anytime, but I’m just saying for consistency and for your audience’s trust, it’s good to start one way and stick with it. That is my recommendation and trust me, no matter what you do, they’re going to love you.

Thank you so much for listening. I would be honored if you would hop over to iTunes from your computer and leave a five star rating and review. Tell me what you love most about the podcast and what you’d like to see more of. That is how podcasts prosper so I would be so grateful for your help.

Thank you again
I’ll talk to you soon.