Celebrating 100 Episodes of Ctrl Alt Delete
Today my 100th episode has gone live on iTunes!
That’s 100 guests, 100 locations, 100 different topics, over 1 million downloads and whole load of listening, from me as the host, and listeners all around the world.
I think this calls for a digital celebration and some trip-down-memory-lane reflection. I wasn’t really going to do anything for my 100th episode, until I realised that no-one is responsible for shouting about anything for you – it’s up to you! If you want to say “WOO HOO” about something then do it. And hey, that’s what having a blog is for. 100 episodes!!!!
The 100th episode is a compilation-style medley of some of my favourite interviews and some behind-the-scenes chat in between each clip about what I’ve learned and enjoyed along the way, including snippets from Lena Dunham, Gillian Anderson, Will Young, Deborah Frances-White and Nimko Ali.
🎙 Please do have a listen to the 100th episode here. 🎙
The reason I am so proud of my podcast isn’t because it’s the best (it’s not) or because it’s award-winning (it’s not) but because I’ve made something that I think is a genuine reflection of my ideas, vibe and creativity. Sometimes I feel like the evolution of the online media industry has meant soulless opportunities, the race for ‘clicks’, repetitive material, or work that’s ‘just for the money’. I wanted to make something with a sense of purity and genuine curiosity. But hey do you know what? I’ve also managed to make a fair bit of cash out of this project too.
This podcast was a free space for me to explore, with no one else’s permission. I dreamed of having my own radio show when I was younger. Well, I’ve essentially made my own. In some ways, I think having a podcast is better than having a radio show, because it’s yours to create, edit, market and share with people and it’s less performative. It’s also something that lives on – I absolutely love it when new listeners message me telling me their listening to the old early episodes. I know I’ve improved and grown in my editing and interviewing skills, not to mention the quality of the mic, but I love how old episodes can live online forever.
Scroll down for 7 things I’ve learned from starting my own podcast..
1. Ask(!) nicely and confidently!
People always ask me how I manage to get my amazing selection of guests. All I can say is: don’t be afraid to ASK. The worst thing people can say is ‘no’. No one will give you anything if you don’t ask. I remember sitting in a café one random Tuesday morning and thinking to myself “I really want Seth Godin to come on my podcast”. Now he is super successful and famously hard to track down. Literally, in interviews on YouTube he says stuff like “don’t both emailing me, I don’t check my emails. I hate emails.” So I’m sat there thinking how on earth do I even contact him then? He doesn’t run his own Twitter account and I’m not going to send him a message via Hedwig, so I Googled “contact Seth Godin” and there was his email. I might as well give it go, I thought. So I wrote an email. The subject line was “Another one of those emails”, because I wanted him to know that I got it and I already knew he hated emails because I’d done my research. I said he should come on my podcast because even though he’s gone on loads of podcasts before, mine is different. Why? Well my podcast listenership is primarily Millennial woman, and I think a lot of what he talks about could really resonate with that audience. I sold it to him in a way that made it seem mad to turn down. He emailed back within 5 minutes, to say he’d do it.
2. Promote it, but have a plan!
Promotion and marketing is a big part of having any ~side-hustle~ and I go much more into this in my new book that comes out next year. Did I mention I have a book coming out? (See: not so subtle self-promotion). The first part of self-promo is actually having something to talk about that you genuinely love. Whenever I talk about my podcast I never feel weird or awkward talking about it because I like it! I like my guests! Also because it’s an interview podcast technically I’m mainly promoting my guests and their work which feels really really good. I have a good relationship with my podcast provider who have a good relationship with iTunes so I have appeared on the top banner, Editor’s choice and the New and Noteworthy section which helps get more downloads.
I made a basic-bitch guide-style video for Penguin books on how to make your own podcast! I make a video on how to edit your podcast for Adobe! I was selected as one of the best curious-minded podcast of 2017 by WIRED magazine! I did a session on podcasting for the BBC! I went on Woman’s Hour! I was in ELLE, Marie Claire, The Times and Red magazine’s ‘best podcasts for women’ feature.
3. Live podcasts are a fun way to create bonus episodes
I did my first live podcast at Cheltenham Festival with Laura Bates in front of 300 people because I like to dive in at the deep end (gulp). But in all seriousness I’d love how new it felt, I don’t think Cheltenham had done a live podcast before, and Laura Bates is one of the most articulate clever and brilliant women in the media industry so I was in incredibly safe hands and she made my job as interview very easy indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s one of my most commented on episodes. I also partnered with BFI to do a special live episode with Alice Lowe – we tried not to make it about being a ~woman in film~ but it felt really cool to be supporting her filmmaking and talking on her first solo feature film. I’ve also done quite a few different live episodes in Waterstones (Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street). My first ever live podcast at Waterstones was with Cherry Healey then Gemma Cairney and Emily Reynolds. Live podcasts in book stores for the win.
4. Equipment failures and eff-ups
My podcast is DIY by nature and I’m not embarrassed about trying new things and getting it slightly wrong. I truly learned as I went along which personally, I find a better way of learning. By doing. Anyway my first mic was a Blue Yeti that someone recommended I use because it’s piss-easy to get up and running without wasting too much money on the wrong thing. So I bought one off Amazon and it arrived the next day. It worked OK for the first few episodes but I knew I needed to step up my game, quickly. I now use my Zoom H4N and Audition because I can do way more with it and also save out a file in .wav and not shitty mp2. I made a video with Adobe about editing here. Other learnings include recording in a big marble kitchen which sounded like I was recording in wind tunnel, and I’ve had times where I forgot that the mic needed to be nearish our MOUTHS. For some reason in a few interviews I kind of left the mic on the floor and there’s just a massive buzzing sound throughout the episode because the angles are all wrong. Cringe.
5. Ditching the studio
I know some people want radio studio quality and feel like they can complain about other people’s hard work and content that they give out for free (yawn) but I purposefully make sure I don’t drag any of my guests into a studio. It’s not the vibe I’m after. It’s not radio and we’re not performing. I don’t want my guests to feel like they are ON AIR and that every word is being closely monitored. I always wanted it to be fly-on-the-wall, for us both to forget the mic was there and just have an honest conversation and if they say something they want editing out, that’s fine too. I wanted a relaxed environment, not a press junket.
6. Monetisation and how it works
So with sponsors and monetisation, essentially podcasts have one of the highest monetisation rates going at the moment. Way higher than YouTube I believe, at £25 per 1,000 impressions. Worth mentioning that I didn’t get any sponsors until a few months in, it takes time to grow an audience. “£25 CPM” is the fancy industry way of saying it. The brand or client will buy impressions, so they get their moneys worth with the in-between sponsor reads when the host reads them out. My favourite collaboration was with EMMI Café Latte as they sponsored me last year and this year and for three months at a time – I always prefer to have a long-term partner rather than bits here and there. I’m proud to have worked with brands like Penguin, Starling, Hello Fresh, Natwest, Lyst, EMMI, Brita and more.
Also, sponsored episodes work where the company pays for you to chat to someone for the entire episode and talk a little bit about the product in a natural way. I like doing these because I actually think they are more natural than putting unrelated adverts in between the conversation. Live shows can also be monetised with an IRL sponsor. I have absolutely no issue having ads or talking about sponsorship. As long as the ratio isn’t off (like an issue of Vogue with a million ads before you get to one piece of actual content, for example, bit annoying). I don’t think a few 30-sec sponsorship reads are that bad at all, as long as the balance is good. I have unsubscribed from podcasts with over tons of ads. (I don’t go over 3 reads per episode). The main bulk of the episode is the interview and it’s free content. Sponsors mean that the podcast can keep on being made, and the host/producer/editor can buy equipment and make a profit, just like any other business or content creator.
7. What it can lead to 👀
Little did I know that my little podcast and blog would end up featuring in a Microsoft advert this year. The client and advertising agency were looking for a multi-hyphenate which was totally me! I got to talk about making and editing my podcast on national TV which was also shown in cinemas. You just don’t know where your little DIY side-hustle will end up. Proof that you can start something with hardly any budget and make something of it.
Thanks to EVERYONE, from the people who have dipped in, to those of you who messaged to say you’ve listened along the way to every single episode. I am so glad you enjoy it, because I absolutely adore making it.
Here’s to the next 100….?
How I Grew Up Online
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"– The Debrief
“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic