Allan Karl – Why Authors Should Start a Podcast or Video Series and How to Startstrong>
Nonfiction Authors Association Podcast | May 18, 2022
Allan Karl’s bestselling book, Forks: A Quest for em> em>Culture, Cuisine, and Connection, brings to life his three-year motorcycle adventure in stories, photos, and food from each of the 35 countries he traveled. A dynamic and inspiring professional speaker, Allan has explored blogging, video storytelling, and live online events to share his own journeys, the stories from the people he meets along the way, and a wide variety of podcast guests. Before embarking on these adventures, he co-founded Wirestone, a national digital agency that Accenture acquired in 2017. He brought his knowledge from Wirestone to his career as an author and speaker, including brand positioning, customer research, marketing strategy, promotions, design and technology enablement, all that stuff that we all need to know about. You can find out more about Allan at AllanKarl.com, at worldrider.com, and forksthebook.com.
Find the video podcast, show notes, links, quotes, and podcast transcript below.
May 18, 2022 at 10:00am PT
Got feedback on our podcast? Want us to consider a guest or topic? Please let us know on our feedback form here.
- Listen to Allan’s Journeys Webcast
- Allan Karl Website
- WorldRider Website
- WorldRider Podcast
- WorldRider YouTube channel
- WorldRider – Instagram
Tools you can use
- Adobe Audition
- Final Cut Pro (Apple)
- Adobe Premiere
In this episode…strong>
- Reasons to start a podcast.
- How to continue a relationship with your audience after publishing a book.
- Basics of starting a podcast.
- How to start a podcast with no experience.
- How a podcast benefits author and speaker careers.
- How to create an engaging episode.
- Podcast creation tools.
- How to find guests for your podcast.
- Interesting content and assets you can add to your podcast episodes.
- Production tool recommendations.
- Distribution channel recommendations.
- How to repurpose your podcasts.
Hello and welcome to the interview series for the Nonfiction Authors Association. Today’s session is with Allan Karl and we will be talking about why authors should start a podcast or video series, and how to start. I’m Carla King, your host, and I’m happy to have you with us today. This interview will last only 30 minutes and you can find recordings on our Nonfiction Authors Association website and social media platforms including YouTube.
If you’re new to us, our members receive our Author Advisor email every Friday featuring cultivated media leads and links to exclusive member content.
Members can also participate in free mastermind groups we call the Author Brainstorm Exchange and get access to our private community on Facebook.
Discounts are available for our year-round Nonfiction Book Awards program, the annual Nonfiction Writers Conference, and our Book Marketing AND Book Publishing Master Courses, both with optional professional certification.
We can’t forget discounts with our awesome partners including Lulu, Findaway Voices, Office Depot, IngramSpark, and others.
Finally, we’d love for you to join us at NonfictionAuthorsAssociation.com. Get on our email list and explore our popular free reports on topics and processes to help you write, publish, and profit as a nonfiction author.
I’d love to introduce our guest, Allan Karl. His bestselling book Forks: A Quest for em> em>Culture, Cuisine, and Connection brings to life his three-year motorcycle adventure in stories, photos, and food from each of the 35 countries he traveled. A dynamic and inspiring professional speaker, Allan has explored blogging, video storytelling, and live online events to share his own journeys, the stories from the people he meets along the way, and a wide variety of podcast guests. Before embarking on these adventures, he co-founded Wirestone, a national digital agency that Accenture acquired in 2017. He brought his knowledge from Wirestone to his career as an author and speaker, including brand positioning, customer research, marketing strategy, promotions, design and technology enablement, all that stuff that we all need to know about. You can find out more about Allan at AllanKarl.com, at worldrider.com, and forksthebook.com–all these websites. Alan, hi, thanks. Welcome to the podcast.
Allan: Great! Thanks for having me. I’m very excited about today’s event.
Carla: I’m so glad you’re here, because you have been such a role model for me in streaming and podcasting, and just having conversations with people in the most natural and casual way. You’ve done it ad hoc and in a very unthreatening way. But why? Why do you start a podcast? There are a ton of reasons. Tell us–what is the why,em> and how has this benefited your author and speaking career?
Allan: Well, I think for all speakers, authors, memoirists, especially nonfiction–at heart, we’re storytellers. Our story doesn’t just end with the book, or the Kindle, or the audiobook. What we need to do, especially in this overly connected society, Carla, is strengthen relationships with our readers. For me–I’ve been blogging. And I podcasted before people even knew really what the word was. I think my first podcast might have been in 2005 or 2006. And the goal always was to create a further extension of the story I was already telling through my books, through my blog, and bringing a more intimate experience, letting people know more about you as an author. People want to connect.
If you have a string of books you’re doing, your best customers, of course, are those customers that have already purchased from you. There’s an old marketing adage–I don’t know the exact multiple, but let’s just say it’s grandiose–it might cost you twenty times the marketing effort to get a new customer than it does to retain and keep a new one. So I think podcasting, live streaming is an excellent tool to continue to strengthen that bond, that relationship, and make it tighter with you as an author so you can certainly sell past books and the new books that are coming forward. And remember, everyone you touch on that podcast will also touch another two or three or four, and many more people. So strengthening that relationship with them not only is between them, it’s between their network as well.
Carla: That’s true. And also, I was thinking about you as a speaker and your speaking career, and your book is a big business card for your speaking career. It’s a big color book. I don’t know if you have it, you could hold it up to the screen. And you are paid for speaking so yeah, there it is. It’s gorgeous.
Allan: It’s gorgeous. It’s a coffee table book, a hardcover, lots of photos, recipes. Really cool.
Carla: One day we may talk about InDesign and how to do a color book, but today, we’ve only got half an hour or so. We’re going to narrow it down.
Allan: We’re going to have many of these. These will be a series, I think, in the end.
Carla: Exactly. So how have your book and podcasting–especially podcasting–helped your speaking career?
Allan: It comes back to that same thing–once I published this book, and believe me, this was an effort. This is a really big effort because it’s not just writing. Let’s face it, as writers, we have a hard time just getting pen to paper, or keys to the keyboard, and finishing our great American novel, or a great memoir, or whatever we’re doing–that business how-to leadership book you’re writing. Once it’s done, it’s sitting there. It’s a live thing. But by doing the podcast, I’m able to continue to be in front of people to talk about what I do, how I do it, and why it’s important to my audience–to the readers and potential new readers.
The podcast has also been a tool to connect with other authors. The other thing we can do is network. I had on one of my podcasts Sasha Martin, who wrote a memoir. She had an incredibly rough childhood. Her healing journey in this particular book–she was an author that was a guest on my podcast. Her [travel] journey was very similar. This is why we connected. She, for a period of three years, cooked a meal from every country in the world. And she blogged about it. And in the end, she wrote this memoir, which was kind of the punctuation point, the exclamation point at the end of her journey of cooking these things. Her healing journey. She was such a great guest, and she lives in Oklahoma City. She ended up marrying a guy that she found because she got a motorcycle, Carla. She actually got a motorcycle and met her husband. They’ve been married many years, but she had never ridden a motorcycle, and just joined a club. So anyway, it’s these kinds of things that you can do as an author—network with other authors. You can network with people that inspire you. Once you have a podcast and you build a little audience, you’ll find that you’ll be able to create a new network, a new community of fellow authors, and even fellow podcasters.
Carla: That is so true. And we can all co-promote each other. Like your friend has a book about travel and recipes, and your book is about travel and recipes. Now nobody just buys one book about something they’re interested in. They buy all the books. So it’s a win-win, for sure. Do you also use it as sort of a demo reel for your speaking gigs?
Allan: For the speaking gigs–it’s really interesting because you’ve seen a lot of keynote speakers, all of us have been in associations or companies. At the end of the keynote, maybe he or she is sitting in the back signing and selling books, which of course I do. I also sometimes will negotiate a fee. So instead of actually paying the full fee for the speaking gig, I’ll have them buy 100 books at full retail, and we’ll work a deal out with them. This is a way to get your book in front of a lot of people at once.
As you said, a book is like a business card, a marketing tool. Particularly this one, because when you hold it, you feel it. It’s this tangible thing. And it’s big. It’s not just a normal business size book.
Carla: Well, yours is a real coffee table book. I love it. It’s beautiful.
Allan: It’s really been great, because when I get somebody interested, I’m not opposed to sending the book to a potential meeting planner, or somebody who’s in charge of hiring speakers for events, for sure. It’s a great tool. And let potential meeting planners or people that are hiring speakers know you have a book, and you’ve got your podcast, and you have multiple places where you’re sharing your message or telling your story.
Carla: And they want to look at that and see how you are onstage, along with the reels and things that are on your website. It gives them the confidence to hire you for the big bucks, right?
Allan: Yes, for huge bucks. And speaking is a thing–we didn’t talk too much about it, but there’s a whole line you’ve got to go down to make sure you’ve got all your checkmarks. Just as much as you’re going to do in a podcast. In a speaking thing, you need those reels, like you said. You need to have a keynote that’s polished and has a clear, concise message. And it relates to the content that you’re writing about overall.
Carla: Yeah, oh my gosh, we could do a whole session on that as well. So let’s move to the tech tools. It’s intimidating, for sure. For somebody getting started–you’ve tried a lot of them. Do you want to just name a few you’ve tried? Or do you just want to go to what you ended up with? Maybe we’ll just go into what you ended up with.
Allan: So even before that–a lot of authors that are listening to this right now are watching us and wondering, ‘How do you even get to know what tools and what categories to choose?’ I think the real quick thing is, there’s a few things that you have to get in order before you do that podcast. And one is, just going into the basic tech stuff and audio interface: you need a microphone like this. You need software. And you need a hosting platform. And then from there, you obviously need to then market and promote.
At the very beginning, my audio interface is a M1 two-channel digital interface that connects by USB into my computer. A lot of podcasters might use Focusrite, which is another brand. They make these Scarlett interfaces—and these are less than $100—that allow you to plug in a microphone. You certainly could use a direct USB microphone to go into that. But I found that the audio quality and the overhead it puts on your computer is tough. So I use a Shure SM7B microphone. It’s expensive for podcasters just starting out. I would say go get this [one I’m using]. The Blue Yeti, for example, is a very common mic used by a lot of people.
Carla: The Audio Technica.
Allan: There you go. So you can get a nice microphone for under 100 bucks, for sure. Don’t go too cheap, because you don’t want to sound ten.
And then the software, it’s pretty simple. There’s two kinds of things: you need to edit the podcast, but you also need to capture it, like we’re doing right here. You use Zoom.
And a lot of people use Zoom. There are a few other web-based services like Zencastr. What’s the other one? Crowdcast, which is more of a webinar platform. Riverside.fm. And Squadcast.
Now what I have chosen to use is StreamYard. And what I like about StreamYard…so this is the hosting platform. This is how it’ll record. Let me back up a bit. We’re recording this, and it will be aired and published on Spotify and Apple podcasts and all that next week. But if you want to do something live, you can use these platforms as well. So StreamYard gives us the ability to stream your live podcast to Facebook and YouTube at the same time. And there are other options as well. But we’ll just kind of stick to that. And then, of course, it records it. So then you can post this as a replay on there.
Now I use it both ways. I do a live stream Journeys webcast, and I’ll use StreamYard for that. And I’ll also have podcasts where the timing doesn’t work with my guest, so I just record it, like we’re doing right now. It’s $20 or $15 a month. And it has some advanced tools that I like to use, such as bringing in photographs, videos, and other kinds of content with my guests. So StreamYard is what I use and have chosen.
I used to use a webinar platform, and the disadvantage of using StreamYard or Skype or Zoom is that you’re not really getting the analytics. You don’t know how many people–you get a hint after it’s published–but you just really don’t know how many people are coming into your live stream or watching or listening to your podcast. And those analytics will help you find the content that is more interesting to your audience, for sure.
Carla: That can be different on Facebook and YouTube. I was talking to somebody about TikTok recently too.
Allan: I mean, what you can do–let me jump into TikTok. And also, Instagram has this thing called Reels. TikTok and Reels are limited to 60 seconds or–
Carla: They’re going to 10 minutes. TikTok is.
Allan: Are they going to 10?
Carla: They’re in beta for that.
Allan: So even if you stuck to the 60 seconds–let’s say you record your podcast with video like this. Take a clip out of it, and use it to market it. So then you played 60 seconds with some powerful message that you or your guests said, and bam, ‘You’d like to see this? Watch the full interview.’ Boom, you link them back to the podcast platform that you’re using, or to your website.
Carla: Now, here at the Nonfiction Authors Association, we aren’t fancy. I’m just opening Zoom, and I’m clicking Record. And we’re going to show it to everybody later. I have done podcasts where I use a tool to mix in intro audio, and maybe a little ad for something that I’m doing–some training or something–and then an exit audio with little peppy music and stuff. And I only did audio for that one. But now, video is getting easier and easier. Does StreamYard let you do that? Or is there any of what’s called “post production” to add all that stuff in?
Allan: You can do it both ways. So what I do on StreamYard is I’ve gone ahead and recorded an opening. And I’ve recorded an exit closing. And I upload them into StreamYard. And as I am starting the interview, I tell my guests, ‘Okay, I’m going to run this video.’ So I’m able to–using the web-based interface with StreamYard–play that video, and then go right into the interview. And then at the very end, I go ‘Thank you again for tuning in to the Journeys webcast. See you next time.’ And then it plays my closer, which is uploaded.
Carla: Nice. Okay, good. Now, is it hard for the average person to learn that? What if you have no experience in this?
Allan: Hey, look, if you can navigate Facebook, and make a post on Facebook, you can use StreamYard. It’s really fairly simple. It gives you a handful of options. Like when we’re looking at your Zoom screen, there’s just two of us. We’re side by side. Okay, you can choose–and you can do this live as you’re doing it–to have one person dominate the screen, and you in a little box. You’ve seen that kind of editing. Or you can have both of you about the same size. So there’s some options, and all they are is just clicks on there. And they have this thing called, I think, your branding assets. So you’re able to upload logos– if you use a PNG file that’s got a transparent background, you can have that as an overlay on here. You can really do more than you can do with Zoom or Skype or some of these other tools. You can brand it.
Carla: So maybe we can get a little Nonfiction Authors Association badge up here on the upper right-hand side of the screen. That would be fun.
Allan: And you can do lower thirds so that you can put the name of the person and the host.
Carla: Yes, we’re doing that in post-production. So I am getting a little fancier. But I’m doing that in Camtasia. And that’s just a big unwieldy process. When I was on your podcast, I think when you showed my book, there was a diagonal orange blank spot and you showed my book and there was some writing on it. So we were over here, and my book was here. So you can start to use these things as you get to know the platform better.
Allan: Some of that you have to do while you’re interviewing, unless you’ve got a producer sitting over there with the controls. So if you’re uncomfortable with that, certainly using something like Camtasia, or I use Final Cut, you can use Premiere. There are a number of tools. iMovie. If you’re doing audio-only, GarageBand is a great one. Then you can do those things like add a music bed and these kinds of things. So these are great tools to play with.
Find out what’s most comfortable for you. I’m pretty comfortable speaking and navigating the interface of StreamYard, and I’m no expert by any means in that, but I can get through it. And there are a ton of people–we can always go to our favorite education source: YouTube. You could just search for StreamYard tips and tricks and dozens of people will come up. You can watch a few of those videos, as you can for Final Cut, Camtasia, and the other kinds of tools.
The other thing we haven’t talked about is the hosting platform. So now we’ve got the software, we’re capturing that. And we’re assuming all these interviews that our authors are doing are remote like we’re doing right now. Now, the whole game changes if you’re going to do these live, but we’re living in different times. And now people are much more comfortable with this remote format for such interviews. But there are a number of places such as Anchor.fm and Libsyn, who I use. There are platforms that will get your podcast out to all of the places that people can listen to it, including Spotify, Last.fm, Apple podcasts, all of the big ones. Google. So that’s something that does require a little bit of an investment. There are some platforms that may offer it for free, but they may inject their own ads at the beginning or the end of that. So you just have to figure out what you’re comfortable with and choose a set of tools that doesn’t become a hindrance to what you’d want to do. You’re authors. You want to tell the story. And you want to bring in other people to help them tell their stories. So don’t let the tools interfere with what you do best.
Carla: Keep it simple at first and then maybe start adding things. So when you sit down to do a podcast interview using StreamYard, you turn on your mic, what do you pull up? What is the process step by step?
Allan: So the first process is finding a guest. That’s number one. A remote calendaring program is very handy. There’s one that I use called Calendly. I think it’s got a free version. You can populate this calendar with the times that you’re going to be available for the interview and give that guest the option to choose the time they want to do it. It’s just another little tool.
So I will make sure I get the guest. Schedule that. And by the way, there is another tool–we keep talking tools. There is a service for once your podcast gets enough episodes out, you can sign up for PodMatch. It’s a networking platform for people who want to appear and be interviewed on your podcast. And they’re all in different categories. So if you ever get stuck, like who am I going to interview? then this is a place you can find some really interesting people.
Carla: And as authors, even if we’re not doing podcasts ourselves, you can go sign up to be interviewed?
Allan: Exactly. If you’re an author, go sign up. There’s a slight fee, but you can then be put in front of hundreds, and thousands I guess by now. I think they’ve got thousands of podcasters that use the service to source guests. And once I do that, I make sure that I give them, I’ve set up a little PDF file that’s a really easy link that tells them how they’re going to get into StreamYard. I make sure that they get the StreamYard link. And then what I do, if I’m interviewing an author, I’m going to do my best. If I don’t read the whole book, I’m going to read a lot of their book. I also do research because you want to be knowledgeable. You want to have some depth to this conversation. So I will do the research about my guest, and I have my notes. I have a handful of potential questions that I use like an outline. If I get lost, I’ve got those questions. But I like to be organic and get my guests and me on a deeper level in terms of the conversation. So I kind of let it flow, as opposed to just having a list of questions. That’s my style. Now your authors can do what makes them comfortable.
Once I get the author on there, you know, I have to enable the recording on StreamYard. And once the recording is going, I usually will, I’m going to edit the recording a little bit at some point. So I try to make sure that my guest is comfortable. We’ll do a little test, like a greenroom kind of thing. And then once I go live, not necessarily live, but we’re recording, I go at the guest.
I also have assets that I’ve set up. If I’ve found their book, like I used your book to bring up, I’ll bring up a graphic of their book. I may bring up a video that I found–maybe they have a video trailer for their book. I might play that and get people to talk about it.
So I’ve already got my assets. So there’s a little bit of pre-production and planning for the interview. But once it’s live, I’ve got an idea, I’ve got a potential list of questions, I’ve got some assets that I can share. Especially nowadays, the podcasts are more video. Now I also will use the audio-only portion of that, because obviously, Apple podcast at this point doesn’t support video, does it? Right. So where the video podcasts end up on some of these other ones, particularly using YouTube as a source. Every author should have a YouTube channel as well. So that becomes another platform to put these video podcasts.
Carla: The podcast audio-only just for the picture.
Allan: Yeah, it used to be YouTube, with their algorithm, would have kind of turned the other way on that. You might not get a lot of pickups on that when it was just a static image. I put some of mine up there. But but now we can do this–what’s really cool about StreamYard is, once it’s all done, I can download the video file. And I can download only the audio. So I don’t have to then go into the video and extract the audio. So I can download both versions of that and be able to create and repurpose only the audio for those platforms that only support audio.
Carla: And then you schedule it for release, and you have the full podcast for release. And do you repurpose it? I’s already on YouTube? Do you put it on Facebook?
Allan: I put a link to Facebook. I create a blog post for it, because I still have subscribers. I make and embed the video in the blog post.
Carla: The YouTube video, because they make it really easy to put that in.
Allan: And for my audio-only podcasts, because I still do some of those, I also will embed the Libsyn. I use Libsyn as my hosting platform. I will embed the Libsyn audio player in that blog post as well. And I will use Twitter to put links in and I’ll use Twitter cards. I’ll create a graphic. I love to use Canva. If you are not familiar with Canva–this is a great free tool. If you pay a little bit, compared to the Adobe products or something like this, you can create. There are so many templates. It’s so easy. And you buy it, you pay a little extra, you get the pro [version]. They even have video content, audio content that you can use in creating a marketing Ad Card or otherwise. Great tool canva.com.
Carla: And that also helps you market it. Just create a video card and market it everywhere. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, we said. Everywhere else. Okay, great. Wow.
Allan: To create your thumbnail for YouTube, it’s a great tool. As well as just a Twitter card. a graphic to put on there.
Carla: Well, geez. We’re running out of time. Now, we were going to ask you if there are any other tips you’d like to share, but I think we’ve probably covered enough. Thanks for sharing all of those tools. I’m going to put it in the show notes so you can get it at the nonfictionauthorsassociation.com Events page. So finally, I’d love for you to tell our audience about your books, and how to find you online, and if you offer any services to authors who want to start podcasts. Anything you’d like, where to find you.
Allan: Yeah, so my book is called Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection. It’s available on Amazon and at forksthebook.com. Who doesn’t love to travel? Who doesn’t love food? Who doesn’t love just humanity? This book brings all that together as you said at the beginning. If you’re having a tough time, you’re at a fork in the road. Do you want to do a podcast? Do you want to do a webcast? What are the tools? How do you get set up? I definitely offer coaching and consulting to help authors and speakers to set up podcasts to go ahead and navigate through that maze. And certainly, find me online at worldrider, like motorcycle rider, #worldrider at Instagram, YouTube, all the usual platforms. worldrider, that’s my brand. I’d be happy to help you if you want to contact me.
Carla: You’re hired. Thanks so much, Allan, for being our guest today. And thank you to our audience for joining us. We conduct these interviews every single Wednesday, so please check the schedule or sign up for our mailing list to get notifications about events. You can do that at nonfictionauthorsassociation.com. See you next time.
And thank you to our listeners for joining us today and every week. For a list of guests and topics just check our schedule on the site, use your favorite search engine, or better yet, sign up for our mailing list at NonfictionAuthorsAssociation.com.
Quotes from our guest…
“By doing the podcast, I’m able to continue to be in front of people to talk about what I do, how I do it, and why it’s important to my audience, to the readers, and potential new readers.”
“Once you have a podcast and you build a little audience, you’ll find that you’ll be able to create a new network, a new community of fellow authors, and even fellow podcasters.”
“Let potential meeting planners–or people that are hiring speakers–know you have a book. Plus you’ve got your podcast. Have multiple places where you’re sharing your message or telling your story.”
“Figure out what you’re comfortable with, and choose a set of tools that doesn’t become a hindrance to what you want to do.”
“You’re authors. You want to tell the story. And you want to bring in other people to help them tell their stories. So don’t let the tools interfere with what you do best.”
We want to hear from you!
Who do you want us to interview? What topics would you like to explore? Take this short survey to let us know!