If you’ve ever wished you could hear from an FBI agent, former NFL star and the original voice of Siri all in one show, there’s a podcast for that.
Hosted by Eric Hunley, the Unstructured Podcast features well-researched, yet informal interviews with guests, including best-selling authors, athletes, politicians, and of course, fellow podcasters.
“I’m reaching out to different people, and honestly, if you listen to the show, you can tell I enjoy talking to them,” says Eric on an episode of Between 2 Mics. “They’re really cool people, and that keeps me going.”
Tips from a prolific, 3-episode-per-week podcaster
After launching Unstructured in March of 2018, Eric has been majorly hooked on podcasting. He releases three episodes per week, while juggling a day job.
“My original design was to do one episode a week, and then it slipped into two a week,” explains Eric. “Then I wound up getting a backlog of interviews. I don’t like sitting on material because I feel like it starts to get less fresh.”
Eric increased his publishing schedule. With 100 episodes in the can in his first year of podcasting, Eric pushes the limits of what a one-man show can accomplish.
Here’s how Eric creates fresh, dynamic content that engages guests and listeners alike.
If you’re a podcaster yourself, give these tips a try.
1. Focus on what matters most to you
When it comes to your podcast, what matters the most to you? For Eric, it’s creating meaningful content that matters. And that means conducting powerful interviews.
Eric knows a thing or two about interviews. The secret, he says, is becoming an expert on his guests.
“I listen to other interviews they’ve been in, trying to come up with a decent questions,” he says.
Eric feels it’s important to spend his time preparing for a well-researched interview, while keeping post-show production to a minimum in order to publish frequently.
“What you hear is what happened,” says Eric. “I don’t cut anything. It’s all in the flow.”
Eric adds an intro to the raw track, drops in a few podcast promos and releases the episode.
“I don’t run filters, I don’t compress [the audio], I don’t run an EQ on it,” says Eric. “I do nothing.”
However, Eric does recognize the importance of good audio — he minimizes time spent on production, but does adjust audio levels so the volume runs evenly between him and his guests.
Other than that, Eric feels comfortable with unpolished audio, so long as the interview is compelling and the quality is clear.
2. Lean on your listeners for feedback
Eric says another hack for creating great content is occasionally turning to his audience for help.
“If I have somebody coming on and I’m really not sure what to ask, I’ll put it out to the community,” explains Eric. “And boy, do they come up with some good questions.”
Since Unstructured hinges on the diversity of its guests, Eric admits he isn’t always an expert on some episodes’ more obscure topics. He says he’s done callouts for guests ranging from an attorney to a mixed martial arts coach — resulting in some of his most popular episodes.
Eric crowdsources more than just interview questions. When he rebranded the podcast last year, he turned the mic to his audience for their input.
He says the show logo’s “art deco look” came to life after spotting a Google Doodle with the speakeasy, jazz motifs he’d envisioned. From there, he commissioned artist Matt Madonna to create a logo that captured Unstructured’s “idea pub” vibe — which his audience loved.
While Eric regularly asks his listeners for feedback, he takes care not to use them as a crutch.
“I don’t want to use my audience in that manner,” he says. “I want to be participatory, but not abusive.”
3. Don’t overlook LinkedIn to find podcast guests
While most potential podcast guests relish the opportunity to come on the show, some guests are harder ‘gets’ than others.
Eric’s pro tip when reaching out to high-profile guests? Don’t overlook LinkedIn.
The beauty of LinkedIn is that “it’s designed like a networking event” where people are much more open to forming real, mutually beneficial connections, says Eric.
“When you connect on LinkedIn, it’s even. You are following them. They are following you,” he explains. “You are actually connected. That’s a much more valuable, stronger relationship.”
While Eric loves LinkedIn for podcast networking, he says he’s not a fan of Facebook or Twitter for reaching out to potential guests. “Facebook feels too personal and Twitter makes it tough to get in touch because you’re not guaranteed a follow-back,” Eric says.
As he’s gained recognition, Eric says it’s become easier to land interviews with higher level guests that are tougher to book. “And now, suddenly people are starting to contact me,” he explains.
Eric credits his most famous guest, New York Times bestselling author, Brian Freeman, with coming on the show because of a previous interview with author Austin Petersen, the 2016 runner-up Libertarian presidential candidate.
“That name drop probably helped me get the interview,” says Eric. “If you get one guest on who people admire — and you do a good job with it — maybe they’ll recommend another person or two.”
4. Embrace trial and error as you grow your show
Though Eric established a regular podcasting cadence for a loyal base of listeners, he still runs into challenges: “Discovery,” he says. “And worse, getting people to actually listen.”
Sure, the crowded podcasting space makes it difficult to stand out, but Eric says it’s not just about getting Unstructured’s name out there — it’s about convincing people to press play.
“Just because you’re known doesn’t mean anybody has listened to your show,” Eric continues. “That’s a huge threshold I’m still overcoming. I’m making progress all the time.”
Eric remembers a recent episode with Susan Bennett, the original voice of Siri, who has over two million Twitter followers. Despite the fact that Susan urged her large following to tune in, Eric says the episode performed just five percent better than average.
However, Eric isn’t afraid to try new things to grow the show. He’s found success reaching new listeners through other avenues. For example, the podcast hosting platform Podbean has promoted Unstructured on banner ads and through the site’s “featured” section, the latter of which was especially effective.
Eric also adopts best practices from other successful podcasts. He made a small change recently that’s made a big difference. After noticing that uber-popular podcast This American Life labels the show in the “personal journals” sub-category of Apple Podcasts, he followed suit and moved Unstructured to the category. It has done wonders for Uncharted’s discoverability.
“Ever since I did it, I’ve been charting in iTunes.”