Tara McMullin - What Works Podcast

Tara McMullin is a podcast host, writer, and speaker who’s been making business make sense for small business owners for over 12 years. She’s the host of What Works, a podcast about entrepreneurship for humans that’s been downloaded over 4 million times. She’s also the co-founder of YellowHouse.Media, a podcast production agency. Tara brings a unique perspective to business thinking informed by her background in theology, interest in endurance training and critical theory, and strengths as an autistic creator. She’s a bestselling business instructor on CreativeLive and a TEDx speaker, as well as a frequent guest on top business podcasts like Being Boss, Unemployable, and The Get Paid podcast.

Topics we covered:

  • The Continual Process of Podcasting
  • Maximizing your content with re-distribution
  • Why Taking a Step Back is sometimes necessary
  • The True North of Podcasting: Your Purpose

This episode is brought to you by “Podcast Accelerator Challenge“. I’ve been using podcasting as a powerful business growing tool for years. Nothing is more powerful than podcasting for help businesses grow. If you’re tired of playing roulette with your ad dollars and frustrated with algorithms constantly changing on social media platforms, the only thing that has changed about podcasting is the popularity of the platform.

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Select Links from the Episode:

Show Notes:

  • How Tara pioneered creating content into a profitable passion (01:25)
  • How podcasting made Tara’s secret ambition come true (04:54)
  • Why it took years to fine-tune her podcast (06:38)
  • What you need to do to keep your podcast constantly top-tier (09:29)
  • The perfect way to draw content from existing topics (11:23)
  • Why each solo episode takes 9 hours to complete (13:15)
  • How you can maximize your content and save your time (15:08)
  • Repurposing versus Re-distributing your content (17:03)
  • Why Tara built the What Works Network (19:51)
  • Why taking a step back is sometimes exactly what you need to do (21:40)
  • How to define your zone of genius (28:12)
  • Why having a clear goal will serve as your true north in podcasting (33:35)
  • How being a podcaster and a business owner with a podcast are completely different (37:49)

Transcript:

Cliff Duvernois: Hey, there are world changers in. Welcome back to another episode of the Entrepreneurs on Podcasting. Today’s guest is a podcast host writer and speaker who’s been making business makes sense for small business owners for over 12 years. Now she’s a bestselling business instructor on creative live, as well as a TEDx speaker, as well as a guest on top business podcasts, like being boss unemployable and the get paid.

Podcast or her podcast, what works has got over 300 episodes and has been downloaded over 4 million times. I am humbled to have this person on the show today and it’s just going to be crazy. Awesome. Um, I’m just beyond excited. Please welcome to the show. Tara McMullin. 

Tara, how are you?

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: I am. Great. Thank you so much for having. 

Cliff Duvernois: Awesome. So tell us a little bit about your business.

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Yeah. So I have two businesses. One is under that, “What Works” umbrella, which has the podcast and that business has changed many, many different ways over the years. But right now, what it looks like is creating content for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs at heart. We produce the pod. Uh, I’m working on a book.

I send out a weekly newsletter. And so it’s just a really content driven business.

on the other side of things, my husband and I also have a podcast production agency and we help small business owners produce their podcasts. Full on hands-on production services. So content strategy and you know, all the usual editing and guest management and things like that.

And so those are the two things that I divide my time, but. 

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. And for the, for the content creation piece, how did you decide to turn that into a business?

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Well, um, how far back do you want to go? I mean, the content has been my business, I would say since the very beginning. 13 years ago I started my first website. It was a Craft and Maker or blog way back in the very old days of blogging business models where, you know, it was selling ads against traffic.

And so content was a huge part of making sure that traffic was up, page fees were up, and I could get a fair amount of money for ads. And then. I have been in one way or another creating content as a major driver in the business for the last 13 years. On top of that, I’ve done all sorts of different things.

Web design, business coaching, business coaching programs, community PR digital products, courses, you know, all of that kind of thing that one does when one loves to create content. But the, but like I said, the main driver of the business has always been content. I love to write, I have loved writing since I was.

In college, I wish I realized at the time how much I loved writing and how unusual that was. But I, you know, that’s even when I started blogging back in 2003. You know, it’s been a long time that I’ve been creating content for the internet. It’s made sense for me in terms of how I want to show up online.

The way I like to communicate. And it seems to be what people want from me as well. You know, I get tons of positive feedback on the podcast, on my newsletter on the things that I, I put out on social media. And so, you know, that. That’s a bit intoxicating. And so it’s easy to keep making great content when people are so responsive to it.

So that’s really been the driving factor behind the business?

this whole time. 

Cliff Duvernois: So now the question I got to ask, and I know this a lot about the writers that I engaged with because I loved to writing, but I thought I was a little bit of an anonymous. In the fact that I love to write and I love to get behind the microphone and talk, a lot of writers don’t want to do that. You know, that’s why they write.

So what was it that made you decide to get in a podcast?

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: That is such a good question. So. When I originally got into podcasting, it was because I saw an opportunity in that space. And I also, because I had been a huge NPR fan since college. And so I was like, People are making talk radio, like on their own. And I can do this please. Yes. I would love to do that.

And I’ve always sort of had in the back of my mind, like this ideal fantasy career of like being a voiceover artist or just like reading audio books for a living like that would make me very happy. Um, I think that. For me, the connection between writing and podcasting came much later. I started my podcast?

with creative live and we did all of the early development together.

They did all of my early production. Um, and it was, it was a great sort of multimedia partnership in the beginning. And then they were going a different direction. I was going to different directions. So I took the show over myself. And at that point that’s when some things started to really click for me as to how my.

Talents and skills meshed with what worked in podcasting. So we rebranded the show. I took, uh, a narrowed, the premise of the show so that it got to be a lot more focused. And then from that point on that was three years ago now, four years, four years ago now from that point on, it’s just been a continual process of sort of honing and refining and focusing and getting to the core of what I really want to talk about on the show.

And also what I think people really need to hear and want to hear, even if they can’t quite articulate it. And that’s when the writing piece really started to come back into it where I could have a conversation, have an interview like this one with a guest and, and ask them all the questions that I wanted to ask them.

There was still more I wanted to say. And so I started to really work on all right. How do I flesh out this episode so that it’s not just the conversation, but that there is a, there’s a larger narrative here. There’s a, there’s a more focused perspective on what we’re really trying to get at with this conversation.

And for me, that was a major Uplevel. In sort of the quality of the production and then over the last year or so I’ve done a lot more with experimenting with more creative ways of editing and producing and writing for the show scripting for the show. And so then just in the last I guess it’s been about six weeks now I’ve really.

Gone. I would personally, I would say gone up another level where I’m really getting in there doing a lot of editing for sort of the craft of the story. And almost the way I think about podcasts episodes today is as audio essays. So even though I’m still having interviews and conversations with people, I’m thinking about each episode, I put out as an opportunity to say something I want to say, and sort of being in conversation with people around those topics.

So that I can put my message out into the world in the way that I want to put it out and to, to make sure that we’re covering topics that I think are really. 

Cliff Duvernois: And I will have to say with, with going through and sampling your podcast. And by the way, I think this is absolutely brilliant. I’m probably going to say. But when you seem to do, would you see the, do these solo? I’m gonna, I’m gonna call, I’m gonna call a little bit different. So they’re, I call them solo episodes and then interviews.

And you do a very nice mix of both and in a solo episode for you. Okay. It feels to me it’s more of the essay style like you were talking about before. And what I find really clever is that, um, and this was something that I learned with one of my marketing classes a long time ago is that, you know, if you’re going to make a statement, uh, it’s always good to have some measure of credibility to be able to back that up.

And what I found fascinating with your solo episodes that you create is you actually use audio snippets. From previous interviews that, that you’ve done and everything else. And you actually weave that person directly into the episode. And I, and I heard that for the first time and I was like, this is brilliant.

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Thank you. I mean, it’s, I listen to a lot of podcasts, right? Like my husband, who is my podcast production agency, business partner, and really he’s the, he’s the one that runs the show over there. You know, he he’ll laugh at me because he has to listen to the podcast that we produce for a living like that’s his Workday.

But for me, my non-working time is like, give me all the podcasts. So, you know, I’m constantly listening to all different styles of show and sort of integrating like, okay, I. Interested in this content. And also I really liked what they did with the production there. I really like what they did with the production over here.

How can I make my show better? And so he and I have been talking for a long time about what we call like public radio light. So thinking about that sort of narrative podcast, storytelling style, uh, or essay style but doing it in a way that does not take, you know, 40 hours to put an episode together. 

Cliff Duvernois: Oh, my God yes. 

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: what does.

Right. What does that sound like? What does that look like? What is the best process for that? And so we’ve been kind of together working toward that over the last year, but it’s really ratcheted up in the last couple of months when I’ve had, uh, some more time to give to it. Cause it does take time and it takes more time than it used to.

It’s not like public radio light is fast. It’s just that it’s not as labor intensive as, as what those guys are doing. So yeah I, I know there’s a lot that I want to say in terms of solo episodes. And also I know that listening to one voice for 30 minutes is. Bad, especially if it’s produced well, but it’s also not the most engaging thing.

So I’m always thinking about, as I’m writing a piece, as I’m citing sources, as I’m doing research, what are the little nuggets that I could pull out here? So that there’s another voice. That’s not mine. Cause I do do a lot of research for my writing. And I draw on a lot of content from elsewhere.

So, you know, other books, other podcasts, episodes all of that kind of stuff. And I’m thinking like, I love how this person says this thing. Where can I find a clip of them saying that thing? Or when have I interviewed someone who kind of detailed that sort of story and how can I work that in a, so the same way that I would incorporate a quote in an essay I’m thinking about how can I incorporate.

An audio quote in my podcast episode. And so thinking of it that way, so kind of bringing in that writing skill again has really helped me sort of visualize how I want the podcast episode to come together.

Cliff Duvernois: And you hit on a lot of great points with that answer. And I want to circle back to a few of them because I think it’d be like really good value add for the audience. So one of the things that that you, you mentioned before is, taking the time to go and find, the actual audio files to kind of break it up.

To make it a little bit more entertaining because that’s a little bit of a factor to it. When you create a podcast, it’s not just about getting down in front of a microphone and talking, right. It’s you got to think about the entertainment factor. How are you going to keep people engaged in what’s going to make them hit that subscribe button, right.

And keep coming back. So I guess my question for you is, you know, on this level, keeping that in mind, how much time do you actually spend putting together these solo episodes? Well

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: okay. The solo episodes are typically about three to 5,000 words for the script. So the essay itself takes a number of hours probably. Three to four hours total, I’m a fast writer. I know other people might be like 4,000 words and four hours is not a thing. Um, but that’s how long it takes me and that.

Yeah. And I spend probably another. Three to four hours doing the content editing, um, on the episode. And then I send it off to our editor in the production agency to have him clean things up, make it sound nicer. If there’s any place that I like. Made a weird cut. He cleans that up, make sure that the, you know, the different levels are all right. So yeah, it’s a labor intensive process. So probably about with all the labor included, probably about nine hours, uh, per episode. Yeah.

And so. What I realized is, one of the things that I worked on last year was prioritizing taking the time to do what I, called remarkable content. I was not interested in putting out anything in the world, just because, I had, I had to schedule something right.

Or I had to write something. I wanted everything I put out to be remarkable in one way or. Not necessarily saying I hit that mark every time, but that was my goal. That was what I was working for it. And so I’ve made this, this quality choice to prioritize that amount of time per piece. And that’s meant, I need to think about like, all right, well, this is going to be 25% of my work week.

What. W what else can I use this for? Because you know, my podcast might get, you know, a fair number of downloads, but there’s other people waiting for content too, and other forms. So what I realized this year I could do is take those scripts, take even my interviews where I’m sort of crafting that into an essay as well.

I actually write it out in terms of an essay, make sure it makes sense in written form as well. And then that’s what my newsletters have become. So, whereas last year I was doing two big pieces of content per week. This year I’m doing one big piece of content per week. And. People are loving it because often last year I was hearing we can’t keep up with you.

And this year I’m hearing, I love that I can consume this content three different ways. So that’s been a big aha for me on the time side. And it’s also given me the ability to take the production up that next level, because I have the time to spend it.

Cliff Duvernois: And I, that’s a really great point there that, that you bring up in a lot of people. When I talk to them, I always tell them, I’m like, think about your podcast as the tip of your marketing spear, because your podcast can create so many different forms of content for you to produce on these different platforms. Because like you just said, Different people consume content differently.

So just because you’re producing a podcast, doesn’t mean that there isn’t somebody out there who still can’t use your services or still can’t resonate, resonate with your message because they consume it in written format. Right. That’s what they like to do. They like to sit and read. Maybe they want to, you know, read it on their iPad before they pass out for the night.

Who knows. So I think that’s really a really a great way for you to, by design, repurpose your content and to get it out into these other platforms in front of your audience.

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Yeah. And, you know, I think I had used the word repurpose too, but the way I actually like to think about it is re -distributing it. So if I think about. A piece of content, the content is the idea, not the form of the media. So the, the idea is where I start, like, this is the thing I want to talk about.

This is the question I want to answer, or this is the, these are the ideas that I want to string together. From there then it’s like, okay, what does this look like as a podcast episode? What does this look like as an article? And then for me, I also create visual content, uh, slide decks for Instagram based on this, based on that as well, that are like these really needy Instagram posts.

And so that’s the third channel is how am I going to turn it into a visual experience as well? And so I’m thinking about Different people will engage with the content in different ways. If I can distribute the S the idea in different ways. So I think of each medium that I work in as a channel that I can distribute the idea in as opposed to.

And I’m not about, I am not opposed to re the idea of repurposing, obviously, but I think where a lot of people head with that is that repurposing equals promoting. I’m going to promote my podcast on social media. I’m going to promote my podcast on my newsletter. And I don’t think that’s effective. I mean, it’s not that it’s bad.

I just don’t think it’s nearly as effective as saying I have this idea that I’ve spent a lot of time on. I want as many people as possible to consume it in the way that they are going to consume it as possible. And so, yeah, so that’s why I like to think about redistributing redistributing instead of repurpose. 

Cliff Duvernois: Oh, awesome. And I love the term that you’re using the redistribution, because for what you’re doing there. And, and I, and again, I think this is great, and that’s why I love having these interviews. Is, the important thing is making sure you get your content out in front of your audience in a different, in a bunch of different varieties and you are correct.

Uh, you know, for the intent of re-purposing, it really is about just the promotion of the podcast, but the more important thing is to get your message out, uh, in, in front of people, which you know, which is absolutely great. One of the things that I would like to explore with you is that we kind of talked about this before I hit the record button is you actually had a “What’s Work” community as a big part of your business.

So tell us a little bit more about that, and then why you made the decision to close that down.

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Yeah. So, the what works network was my project for the last five years. Yeah.

Five full years. And it actually grew out of a coaching program and coaching community that I had before that. So the sort of core group of people that were involved there, some of them have been around for seven, eight years in sort of my orbit, my content sphere, my community sphere The reason that we went in the community direction back in 2017 and kind of went all in on that is because I had started to really notice this siloing in the online business space where people, they had their guru that they went to, they had their expert that they went to and whatever that person said must be right.

And I’m just going to look to them for all the answers and. People weren’t talking to each other. They weren’t actually finding out well, is the thing that this person says is working. Is it actually working or is it just really good marketing or is it right for me? Is this going to work for me? Or has this just worked for them or these other people over here?

And so what I wanted to see was a lot more collaboration, a lot more cross pollination, a lot more transparency. And I wanted to create a space where that really was the sole purpose is we are not here yet. They’re not here to learn from me. They’re not here to get the complete blueprint to X, Y, or Z.

They’re there to find out what’s working for other people and to get to, to learn from other people’s experience and observations. We actually had a, uh, no advice policy in, in terms of the community. It’s like, there are times in place, places for advice, but they are not here. Here we share our experiences, we share our observations.

That community was. It is wonderful and full of amazing people. And I found myself after five years devoted to community management and group coaching and facilitation completely and utterly drained. I have a history of mental illness and, uh, big depressive cycles. And I was. In the trough of a big one at by the end of last year.

And the more and more that I thought about it, the more I realized how drained I was kind of trying to figure out what people needed from me. What how we could make the community really work even better than it already was. I just, I personally, as a human being do not have a ton of capacity for that kind of emotional management, because community management is a lot of emotional management it’s it’s, in the trenches with people.

And so. I had to make the really, really hard decision to say, I need to stop this. And so originally when I had that very difficult conversation with my full-time employee, who was our community manager originally we thought, all right, well, we’ll shut it down. At the end of the year, people are going to be heartbroken, but it’s, you know, it’s.

There was no choice, basically. Like this is what I need to do to even start getting healthy again. But we had some amazing partners at mighty networks and I had a, a call with their CEO, their founder and CEO. And she was like, Hey, why don’t you let us. Continue it for you, because my biggest thing was like, I’m going to disappoint all these people.

I’m going to take this thing away from them that they find really, really valuable. And so I’m really happy to say that the, the what works network in it. Forum where I was leading. It is not around anymore, but quote, the network is now a part of the mighty networks family and is being run. They, they hired my full-time employees, so she’s still running the community among, you know, with all sorts of other things.

And so it was, it ended up being a really beautiful transition. And it was something that I was so, so, so scared to do, but you know, the vast majority of the feedback we got was of course, so supportive. You know, if you tell people this is, this is kind of killing me, like literally I need out there like, okay.

So they were glad to have the ability to, to carry on and stay connected to each other. But it was something that I needed to step back from. 

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah. And I’m glad that you shared that story with us because there’s a lot of times where as entrepreneurs and I’ve been a victim of this as well. And I know other people are, but it’s like, if you start something for some reason, you have to keep it going, you can’t, you can’t stop it.

You can’t, you know, quit or whatever it is because you know, like you were talking about there, it’s like, you know, letting people down versus your mental health, right. It’s a, it’s a big decision to make. And so it’s really powerful that you were able to, to be able to make that decision and say, Hey, you know what?

I have to kind of prioritize myself and, you know, be able to look after myself and what it is that’s going to be able to work for me and to, allow me to focus on what my strengths really are and what I want to do personally, going forward.

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Yeah. I mean, like I said, it, it ended up coming down to it. Not really being a decision at all. Like I had to come to the realization like that this was what had to happen. But it’s what had to happen. You know, I think that I have never been someone who sticks with something out of stubbornness, I like change.

I like pivoting. I have pivoted multiple times over the last 12, 13 years. This to me was different in that every previous pivot of mine has been less of a pivot really, and more of a. Refocusing and a continuation of the work or often like an upleveling of the work that I had been doing previously.

So yeah. Things are going to change. Yes. You know, maybe I’m talking about myself for the business or what we’re offering in a different way, but, but really there’s still a through line now I have really cut off the, that 13. Legacy at this point and I am out on my own without that piece of it for the first time.

And it’s really. And w it’s a weird feeling. And also, you know, I have the podcast, I have the newsletter, I have all of this continuity still. And I still have continuity with all of those folks as well. So even though I’m not the one managing the community, you know, they still get the newsletter. They still listen to the podcast.

I still hear from them. So it was a great realization that I could actually continue. Like, this is what I needed to do to actually be able to keep serving those people. It felt like I was leaving them high and dry, but really they’re reaping the benefits now of me having the space and, the emotional capacity to really be able to offer my very best to them.

And so that’s been a really interesting thing to sort of watch for myself as well. 

Cliff Duvernois: I’m glad you’re bring that up because the, as I listened to you talk, you know, the term that comes to mind is the, is a “Zone of Genius”. And I’m borrowing that from the Big Leap with Gay Hendricks. And, in there he talks extensively about how, when you make that, the big leap to operate in your zone of genius. To be able to use those, those skills and those things that you absolutely love to do you, when you make that transition, you’re able to serve those that you’ve been called to serve at a much higher level. In that seems to be what has happened to you by letting go of the, of the, what works community.

Now, somebody else’s managing it. But being able to let go of that has allowed you to focus on those things that you truly love to do.

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Yeah. I mean, it’s such a tricky thing from my perspective, because it’s like, I was really good at what I did over in the community. Right. And I and I really loved it. Same time and and oh, and also is completely aligned with my values. And it was also making me sick. And that is a weird thing to sort of wrestle with is like, I thought that was my zone of genius.

Like I thought that was the good, so that’s what people reflected to me. You’re so good at this. You create these spaces for us to come together and learn and connect and I’ve never experienced anything like this. And so all of that can be true at the same time that actually you’re exactly right. My zone of genius is over here. And it’s doing this other thing but does allow me the space and time and, and sort of situation, experiences that I need to be well. And so I think that’s maybe one of the places where people get mixed up with zone of genius is that we think.

If we’re a good at something, or if we even really, really enjoyed doing it, oh, that must be my zone of genius. And it’s not necessarily the case. You can be really good at something and really love something. And it’s still not be the best thing that you could be doing. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got to wait and figure out what the best thing is.

I think it’s a very iterative process. I think we learn this incrementally over the years and through experimentation, but yeah, I think, I think there is a often a misunderstanding about doing work. You love doing work that you’re good at, and that sort of automatically being your zone of genius when that’s not entirely the case.

Does that make sense? 

Cliff Duvernois: No, it makes perfect sense. An example, this is building websites. So I can build websites. I enjoy it. People like, wow, this, you know, you just make it look so effortless and, and you know, you just, you’re really good, you know, with XYZ, but you know, to be honest, I hate it.

Right. I don’t, I’m good at it and I can do it for myself, but every time that I’ve had like a web client, um, it’s just. Oh, my God. It’s just the website. When it gets done, it’s just an abomination and I hate it. And it’s like tons of arguments and, you know, people like, oh, could you make the blue more blue?

And I don’t understand what that means. But, eventually I had to sit there and say, 

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: yeah, I feel you on that.

Cliff Duvernois: yeah, and then that happens, right? I mean, you know, somebody listen to, this is thinking I’m joking. No, I’m serious that people are like, you know, could you make it more blue? And I’m like, well, how do you make something more blue?

But anyways, the, you know, the thing is, is that just because I’m good at something.

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: it back and you tell them I made it more blue. 

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah, it’s almost like you have to do 

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Sorry.

Cliff Duvernois: that, 

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Sorry 

Cliff Duvernois: The point being is, is just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that it’s like, you know, that thing, right? That, that operates in your zone of genius. And what it took me years to discover on my journey is my zone of genius is creativity.

I love to write. I love the power of the written word and by extension that has brought me into podcasting. And that’s where I love to operate. And that’s the whole reason why I hired a VA this year was to get all these other tasks off my plate. These, you know, things that I’m good at, but I don’t like to do.

So she’s now doing them. And now I can spend more time focusing on what I do best, which is, being creative and, the content creation and trying to really have the impact on people that I want by using, these gifts. And this is the part that I love. So, um, you’re a kindred spirit that way.

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Absolutely. Yeah. And I love that you say your zone of genius is creativity because. Probably define myself similarly and say that my zone of genius is ideas, right? I’m an idea person. I’m a philosophy person. I love thinking about thinking that has, it has always been what I have loved and what people really respond to when I’m able to communicate it out into the world.

And calling myself, a writer or a podcast or a speaker like those are just the socially acceptable ways to say I just think about things for a living. And then I tell them, tell people about them. But you can’t put that in a bio or people will think that, you’re full of it. 

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah, exactly. You have to give him some kind of, uh, preestablished term that they, you know, that they recognize. Like you said, being a podcast host and a writer and stuff like that, it’s, it’s almost like you feel like what you’re doing. It doesn’t do it justice. But you have to, you got to communicate it to people somehow.

Right?

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Amen. Yes. absolutely.

Cliff Duvernois: I want to go and I want to hit something here real quick, um, because you’ve just got so much great experience here and in your view podcast is doing really great. So. From your standpoint, there’s an entrepreneur out there. He’s, you know, they got a podcast, perhaps, you know, they’re just overwhelmed, they’re struggling.

They really didn’t know what to do. What would be one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is just starting out with a podcast?

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: I think the first thing, well, this is the first thing that we talk about with all of our podcasting clients is like, what’s the real goal here? I think a lot of the struggle that content creator. The small business owners, entrepreneurs of all kinds sort of deal with is that they haven’t actually defined for themselves what they’re trying to do. 

It’s always sort of fuzzy a morphous like in the background and they’re focused on doing all these things because the doing feels productive, right. Producing a podcast feels productive. But if you don’t know why you’re doing it, you can’t actually measure results. You can’t actually evaluate whether what you’re doing is working or not.

And so a lot of times I hear from people they’ll say, oh, this isn’t working, but like you dig beneath the surface just a little bit and you ask them, well, why did you start this? Oh, well, you know, I actually started my podcasting for our podcast for networking purposes. I wanted to just talk to more people in my industry and develop relationships.

Okay, great. Who cares, how many downloads you have if your whole goal is meeting other people in your industry, which by the way, has a phenomenal goal for podcasting your downloads while that’s nice icing on the cake. That is not the reason that is not the metric by which you evaluate, whether you are getting.

Uh, reaching your goal or not whether it’s doing what you want it to do. And I know that probably sounds so elementary, but I truly watch this happen over and over and over again where people get down on themselves because X, Y, or Z isn’t working, but they haven’t defined what working looks like. Right.

And so if they don’t know what working looks like, they can’t evaluate it. And so I think the very first thing that any podcast, or whether aspiring podcast or a struggling podcast, or, or even just a podcast or who kind of wants to take a second, look at how they’re doing, where their show can go next is say, all right, what am I doing here?

What is the purpose of this thing? Is it to build relationships? Is it to bring in new leads? Is it to drive sales? Is it to just give me a creative outlet? Because that’s also a really good reason to have a podcast. All of those things are good reasons to be podcasting, but the metrics by which you measure whether it’s working or not are different for each one of those things. 

That really is where I would ask anyone to start is, have you defined what your goal here is? Do you know what working looks like before you start judging yourself and your show and your effort and saying, oh, this isn’t working.

So that, that’s where I would start. I mean, I could go a hundred other places after that, but that is absolutely the first thing that I would take a look at with someone. 

Cliff Duvernois: You’re bringing up a really good point. And one of the things that I talk about with. And I have to remind them that, you know, there’s a difference between being a podcaster and entrepreneur with a podcast. And if you’re an entrepreneur with yes, if you’re an entrepreneur with a podcast, then downloads, isn’t the metric that you would really want to use.

Right? Because like you said, it really is about defining, the purpose behind the podcast. I mean, it’s really easy to come up with an idea for a podcast. But you also have to keep in mind, you know, what’s the purpose, is it to get leads? Is it to build my network? Is it to spread my message? Or, like you said, you know, a creative outlet or something.

But you got to make sure that you keep that in the back of your mind. So that way, when you are judging your podcast going forward, you’re judging it fairly. Right. And if, if the only metric you’re gonna look at is the number of downloads. I think a lot of people are going to be very disappointed about that, because what they’ll do is they’ll compare themselves to like Tara McMullin or Tim Ferris or somebody else like that who’s gotten all of these downloads. And then sit there and say, well, I don’t have a million downloads. Therefore, my podcast is a failure. 

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Yeah. yes. A hundred percent. I love that. I say the same thing to people that, there’s a difference between being a podcaster and being a business owner who has a podcast. So that’s sort of like what our whole production agency is built on is like, we’re actually not a production agency for podcasters. We’re a production agency first, all our business owners who have a podcast that they want to use to drive business. 

 It’s also something that I always reflect back to people when they ask me, for instance, how long does it take you to produce one of your episodes? It’s like, well, it takes me a really long time because I’m a podcaster because you know, how long does it take to do your newsletter of well, a long time.

I am a writer. I am a newsletter person. Like that’s my business, that’s my work. If I were a business coach, I would do things really, really differently because my goal would be different. But the purpose behind it would be different. Yeah, I feel like there was something else I was gonna say about that, but I’m just a hundred percent on the same page as Theo. 

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. Absolutely love it. And so Tara, I see. So this is one of those interviews I could sit here all afternoon and rap with you about it. I love talking about. Yes exactly. So if any member of our audience wants to connect with you, find your podcast perhaps listen to your TEDx talk, which we did not have any time to get through today, but, if they want to connect with you some what’s the best way for them to find you online.

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Yeah. The place I’m spending the most time online right now is on Twitter. So you can find me on Twitter. Instagram is where I put out my bite-sized content. So it’s instagram.com/or yeah, it’s Tara underscore McMullan. I don’t know why I started giving the URL. Um, and then, uh, yeah, the podcast is wherever you’re listening to this podcast, you can find my podcast there as well.

It’s just called “What Works”. And then if you’re interested in more on sort of like my thoughts on podcasting, I’ve got some articles up at yellowhouse.media, which is our production agency. 

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. And for the audience, we will have all those links in the show notes down below. Tara, it’s been an absolute treat having you on the podcast today. Thank you so much for your time. 

Tara McMullin, What Works Podcast: Thank you. It was a treat for me too.