Episode 500!

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Podcast Transcript

Back in July of 2020, a man in the middle of a pandemic decided to launch a new podcast. It would be a daily podcast that would cover, well, everything.

It was an ambitious project that everyone told him was crazy to do, but it pushed ahead and did it anyhow. 

Today, 16 months later, that podcast is celebrating its 500th episode. 

Learn more about Everything Everywhere Daily on this episode of Everything Everywhere Daily.

It has been over a year, 400 episodes to be exact, since I’ve done a show that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the podcast and what goes in to making it.

I figured a 500th episode was a good time to do an update and every 500 episodes would be a good length of time to revisit the subject. 

For those of you who don’t know the backstory, I sold my home in 2007 to travel around the world for a year or two, and I just sort of never stopped. 

I started a blog when I began traveling where I documented my travels around the world. Over time, the website became successful and after that happened the online world began to change. 

Social media became a bigger thing and people stopped going to blogs directly to follow people. This was a huge change in the internet. Instead of having a place online where people could go to hear from you, you had to go through a third-party company that filtered what everyone saw.

The results of this are things you are probably familiar with: clickbait, sensationalism, and outrage. 

In the world of travel, where I was, everything became about delivering what the algorithm wanted. If you didn’t do that, no one would ever see what you created. The end result was that everyone was and is writing the same thing. 

Moreover, I never started traveling to visit hotels and to fly on airplanes. Those were necessary parts of traveling, but it wasn’t why I did it. Yet, that is exactly what so many people are focused on. They will obsess about which business class seat lies the flattest, but won’t pay any attention to the culture or the history of the places they were visiting.

About 5 years ago, I began thinking about doing a podcast that wasn’t about travel per se. The great thing about podcasting is that it is one of the last areas of the internet that isn’t governed by algorithms. 

I came up with the idea for a show where I would address different topics in every episode. I got artwork and theme music for the show all lined up.

My first episode was going to be trying to explain why the Mona Lisa was the most famous painting in the world. I went really in-depth into my research, reading many books and articles on the topic, and I had notes that would probably have made for a two or three-hour show. 

While I could edit the research down, it would still be a really long show, and I figured I could only do about one show every two weeks. 

I abandoned the idea and put it aside. 

Flash forward to March 2020. Something which I never ever thought would happen happened. The entire travel and tourism industry came to a halt. Borders were closed. Airlines stopped all their flights. 

Everything in my world came crashing down. Within a span of weeks, all the contracts and projects I had in the works were canceled. Traffic to my website dried up because no one was planning trips anymore. 

At first, I thought that this would be temporary and that this would all pass in a few weeks. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. 

By May, I began talking to some high-level people in the travel and tourism industry, and their prognosis was very dim. This wasn’t going to be over in weeks or months, this was going to take years to resolve. 

I needed to radically rethink everything I was doing. One of my first thoughts was to the podcast that I had abandoned. 

Dan Carlin can get away with doing a 5-hour podcast, but I didn’t think that doing such a long show would necessarily work. 

I really liked the idea for the show, but that format wouldn’t work.

So, I thought about doing the exact opposite. Instead of a really long show, I could do more frequent short shows. I knew someone who had a daily show and it was extremely successful. Moreover, I just sat down and did the math, and all made more sense. 

I pitched the ideas to several of my podcaster friends. They all basically said the same thing: it was a great idea, but it would be a lot of work. 

Well, with everything else I had going on falling apart, time was something I had plenty of, so I went to work. I sat down and come up with a list of 100 potential episodes. 

I developed a format for the show which I have stuck with for every episode and went to work.  500 episodes later here I am. 

I’ve gotten many of the same questions about the show, so I’ll take some time to answer them here.

One of the most popular questions I get is, how do I come up with ideas for episodes? 

Basically, I keep a running list of show ideas. I just use Google Docs so I can edit it on different computers or on my phone. Whenever I come up with an idea, I just write it down. Ideas will often come from researching other episodes. One episode might beget several other episodes. 

Sometimes people give me suggestions for episodes. Some are good, but others are just facts. There needs to be more than just a single fact. There needs to be some sort of story or some sort of arc which explains how something came to be. 

How long does it take for me to create an episode?

On average, it takes me about 5 hours to research and write a show. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I usually have a very rough idea of what I’m going to say before I begin to write the script for the show, and I will usually have done some casual research before that 5 hours begins.

Do I work ahead?

No. I do not. I’m literally recording and working on a show up until the moment I hit publish. If you download an episode at about 4-5 am central time in the US, what you are downloading I finished just minutes before. Yes, that means I’m staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning every day. 

Does anyone help me with the show? 

No. I literally do everything associated with the show and no one else helps me in any aspect of production. The associate and executive producers of the show are supporter roles over at Patreon. I’m really happy for their support, but all the work is done by me. 

Can I make a living off of the podcast?

Not yet, but that is my goal. Podcasting is a very weird business. Revenue doesn’t scale with audience size. Most advertisers won’t even consider you unless you are amongst the top 1 or 2% of podcasts. 

I recently spoke to one advertiser who reached out to me who loved the show and thought that it was a great fit for their company, and it was. However, they passed because the audience wasn’t big enough yet. I suggested they just pay less, but that isn’t how they think. 

Right now, all of my efforts are put into getting a new show out the door every day and growing the audience. That is one of the reasons why word of mouth is so important to growing a podcast. 

There is no one single company that controls podcasting, which is good, but there is also no algorithm that you can game. 

Am I going to travel again?

Yes, but not any time soon. Right now this show is my primary focus. I’ve been invited on several trips in just the last month and I’ve turned them all down because I don’t want to take an extended break from the show. 

It is still a pain to travel internationally with all the covid testing. You need to take tests within a certain time period. Some destinations might quarantine you when you arrive if you test positive. Different countries have different policies for what vaccinations they will accept and even the language the vaccination card has to be in. 

Are there show ideas that I won’t do?

There are some episode ideas that I just don’t think would translate well to audio. Many mathematical topics are particularly difficult. I have several show ideas that are math-related, but they tend to do with simple things like the Pythagorean theorem or biographies of mathematicians. 

I stay away from current events because there are more than enough outlets for that. However, I have occasionally done a historical background on a subject that might be in the news. 

What does the future hold for the podcast?

I have several plans for what I want to do in the future, but all of those take a backseat to growing the podcast.

It is a bit of a catch-22. To start bringing in revenue, I need to grow the show, but to grow the show I need revenue to spend money on promotion. 

As of right now, I still need to grow the audience of the show by another 50 to 100%. That sounds like a lot, but in terms of absolute numbers, it isn’t necessarily. One good recommendation from a publication or on another podcast, and it could happen overnight. 

However, once I can reach that level, it will unlock the ability for me to start doing a lot more.

One of the first things I want to do is hire writers and researchers. This would take a big load off of me if I could have a few episodes a week taken off my shoulders. 

Eventually, I’d also like to hire an actual producer to improve the audio quality of the show. It isn’t horrible right now, but there are things that could be done to make it better. 

As I have all the audio from my episodes and the scripts, it would be possible to create actual videos for most of the shows I’ve done. Doing a proper YouTube video on top of what I’m currently doing to create a show is simply too much, but I’ll have content for 100’s of shows ready to go.

Likewise, I’ve probably written around 750,000 words for all the scripts I’ve created, and those can be edited and repackaged into ebooks. 

One of the things I’ve been thinking more about lately is the idea of what should a relatively intelligent adult know. There will never be a definitive answer to that question, but I do think that there is a body of knowledge that most adults should know. This includes basic facts and ideas from history, science, mathematics, geography, economics, and philosophy. 

This body of knowledge isn’t something that if you don’t have that body of knowledge you are a failure, but rather it should be considered a long-term goal for lifetime learning.  

This could be the basis of a future book.

I’ve also given some thought to doing special episodes for supporters on Patreon and possibly some interviews with historians and authors who can talk more in-depth about some of the subjects that I’ve dealt with in the show.

There also might be merchandise, and of course the tours. 

I’m getting close to announced prices and dates for the Rome 2022 tour by the way. Everyone who signed up by email will be notified as soon as I have the information. 

So, that is the State of the Podcast as it sits at episode 500. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy doing it. Reading and reaching about a wide variety of topics is something I’d be doing anyhow, so this is a way for me to channel that curiosity into something productive. 

Most importantly, I’d like to thank all of you for listening. For taking 10 minutes out of your day to learn something new you might not have known about the world you live in.