Chris Hill is the CEO of HumblePod, a company that helps businesses develop authentic podcasts and happens to produce Screaming in the Cloud. Prior to founding HumblePod, Chris worked as a business development director and Chief Operating Officer at Smallball Media, a sales development manager at Finworx, a project manager at High Profile Enterprises, and an account manager at AT&T, among other positions. Chris lives in Knoxville, Tenn. Join Corey and Chris as they discuss how Chris got started in the podcast business, the genesis of the name HumblePod, how the feedback model is remarkably different for podcasts versus newsletters, how podcasting opens up the doors to having conversations with titans of industries that would otherwise be impossible, why Chris thinks podcasting is like a magic wand, why people are more willing to hop on a podcast than sit down for a video interview, the importance of having high-quality equipment to record podcasts with, why podcasting makes attribution difficult for advertisers, and more.
Episode Show Notes & Transcript
About Chris Hill
Chris is a Knoxville, TN native and owner of the podcast production company, HumblePod. In addition to producing podcasts for nationally-recognized thought leaders, Chris is the co-host and producer of the award-winning Our Humble Beer Podcast. He also lectures at the University of Tennessee, where he leads courses on podcasts and marketing. He received his undergraduate degree in business at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he majored in Marketing & Entrepreneurship, and he later received his MBA from King University.
Chris currently serves his community the American Marketing Association in Knoxville, where he is currently the President-Elect. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with the local craft beer community, international travel, exploring the great outdoors, and his many creative pursuits.
Corey: This episode is sponsored in part by ParkMyCloud, fellow worshipers at the altar of turn-that-[censored]-off.
ParkMyCloud makes it easy for you to ensure you're using public cloud like the utility it's meant to be. Just like water and electricity, you pay for most cloud resources when they're turned on, whether or not you're using them. Just like water and electricity, keep them away from the other computers.
Use ParkMyCloud to automatically identify and eliminate wasted cloud spend from idle, oversized and unnecessary resources. It's easy to use and start reducing your cloud bills. Get started for free at parkmycloud.com/screaming.
Corey: Do you know what your cloud is doing when you're listening to this podcast? Turbot does. Give Turbot permission to record every configuration change, tag every resource, remove security threats, and delete unused, not to mention costly, resources.
With Turbot watching over your cloud you can enjoy my rants more and worry less. With Turbot you can discover everything and remediate anything. Tune in to their upcoming episode on June 24th to learn more.
Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Cloud Economist Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world, and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.
Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn. I'm joined this week—for a bit of a different episode—specifically, I’m here with Chris Hill, the CEO, and founder of HumblePod, the company that produces this and other lesser podcasts. Chris, welcome to the show.
Chris: Thanks for having me, Corey.
Corey: So, I've been fielding a few questions here and there about how I wind up producing the podcast, and the honest answer that I try and weasel my way out of is, “I don't know.” I invite people to a recording link, much like the one that we're on. I say, “Hey, come on, and let's talk about something vaguely related to the world of Cloud.” Some people—read as white dudes—say yes before I get the full sentence out. Other folks need a little bit more convincing, but by the time I'm inviting someone, I already have a rough idea of the stories I want to tell. I already know what notes I'd like to hit, so I have a rough idea in my mind already. Once I've convinced other people that yes, they do, in fact, have a story that they should tell, that I want to hear, that I want to help them tell, and here's a platform: let's go. I throw a recording link, we record. And then, at the end of it, we say goodbye, and that's the last I really deal with it. The rest is all in your hands. So, to field some of these questions, it seems like you're the right person to bring on to, I guess, answer this reader's choice style of listener mailbag questions.
Corey: Before we dive into that, tell me a little bit about HumblePod. It doesn't seem like a typical Harvard Business School business case where, “I’m going to start a podcasting company,” is a common request. How did you get where you are?
Chris: So, I started podcasting, well, it goes back several years. If we go all the way back to 2006, I was turned on to a podcast called Letters to America. And Letters to America was a podcast about an ex-American patriot living in Ireland. And where the story gets interesting is that ultimately, the guy doing this podcast moved to the United States. I'm from Knoxville, Tennessee; this guy moved to Nashville. And at the time, I was actually in school in Chattanooga.
And the guy, the host—his name is Jett Loe—he said, “Hey, I'm looking for things to do. I'm looking for people to interview, things to do around Nashville and East Tennessee, and just this whole region that I'm in, what would you suggest?” And as a listener, I was like, “Wow, this is really cool. He's near me, and he wants to talk to people.” So, I pitched him an idea for the show. And to my surprise, he said, “Yes, I'm going to come on. I'm going to come down to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and we're going to go on this adventure in Chattanooga together.”
So, that was my first introduction to podcasting in real life, and the crazy thing was he showed up at my house where I was living, at the time, with a bunch of other guys because I was still in college, and he just burst in the door. It had been raining outside; he was soaked, and he had a recorder in his hand. And he was just, like, talking nonstop, just describing everything around him and everything he was doing. And I was like, “A) this is really cool, and B) holy cow, this is all it takes to podcast, is just a handheld recorder? That's all this guy is doing?” And so it really, really just impressed upon me that anybody could really get into this, and it really excited me for what the future could be. So, that was a really fun experience, and then from there I just kind of caught the bug. And so over the years, I had the opportunity to do another business, actually my first startup. We got a trade for service with a radio station, and we did a radio show on social media marketing—yes, you heard that right—social media marketing on, of course, podcasting—or we did it as a podcast as well, I should say. So, that was really exciting and really fun to do.
And then, from there, it led to, “Okay, well, we've done that, I want to do something else.” That led into me ultimately starting a craft beer podcast with another one of my friends. Again, just as a hobby, just for fun, no intention on really starting it as a business other than, “Hey, if we get some free beer out of this, we can, and I think that'd be really cool.” And so, we ended up getting to the point where even during our first year, we got to be a pretty big craft beer podcast for the region and got to the point where, in East Tennessee—if you're familiar with Tennessee, or the southeast and the craft beer scene here, we ended up in front of Highland Brewing Company, actually, at their corporate headquarters, interviewing the founder, who’s—many people call the godfather of craft beer in the southeast, and he's one of the original people to really bring it, and one of the oldest breweries in the southeast right now. So, we got to interview Oscar Wong, his daughter Leah, and their female head brewer at the time, which was really cool.
So, we got to do all that, and I was just like, “Wow, podcasting has led me here in less than a year. That is crazy.” And then, from there—the name of that podcast was Our Humble Beer Podcast. We started calling it HumblePod for short, and from there, because I had been doing it, and because I've been doing it now—actually as of April, it'll be five years—since I've been doing it for so long, people started asking, “Hey, could you help me create a podcast? Could you help me do this?” And having my background in business, and marketing and everything like that just led me to go, “You know what? Yeah, I could. I could actually help you do this, and I could help you make it better because I understand not just the editing side of it, the technical side, but I also understand some of the marketing, and the promotion side as well.”
So, that's ultimately what led me to decide, hey, look, this podcast business could be a thing. And I started with a few friends, I started doing it pro bono so if I screwed up, nobody was asking for their money back; they couldn't be mad at me. And ended up doing all this, and telling it to your good friend and business partner Mike Julian, going, “Hey, look, I've got a couple people working for me.” And Mike said, “Hey, it'd be really cool if maybe you could do a podcast for me.” And so we talked about what that was, and that led to us starting his podcast, and ultimately led me to meeting you.
So just, kind of, has grown. And from there, it's been just a wild ride this past year as the business has grown. But yeah, I mean my goal isn't just, “Hey, let's make podcasts and have fun doing it.” My goal is to make it as easy and simple on someone who wants to do podcasting as possible. And so, like you said when you were prefacing this, we help you to where you don't really have to do or touch anything after we've got that recording. We take it, we do the transcript, we do the content writing, we do all the editing, we clean it up, we make it sound professional, and we put it out for you, so that you don't have to do anything other than have great conversations with people.
Corey: So, it's an interesting and winding road as far as getting to the point of doing the thing that you do now. And I've got a confession to make on my side in that I was never much of a podcast listener. I was for a few years, and then I started working from home, and it turns out that when I'm not driving anywhere, I don't have the availability to listen to them anymore. I can read sarcastically, quickly, so I don't absorb information auditorily in the same way that I can read it. So, that becomes, at least for me, a bit of a bottleneck. So, I'm not too up on what most quote-unquote “the kids” are doing in the world of podcasts. But I was told by a bunch of folks, not all of whom worked for podcasting companies, that it made sense for me to look into a podcast. So, I assumed that people were going to be right and that I was not my target audience, and I gave it a try. And I learned some interesting things along the way.
Chris: Well, what did you learn, Corey? [laughs].
Corey: [laughs]. Among other things, that when I send out a newsletter and I get something wrong, oh boy, do I hear it. I get emails, I get tweets, I get people responding en masse. For podcasts, I don’t. People do not reply to podcasts. There's no ad for them to click on; many of them don't wind up typing in the code for whatever it is that we're selling them. And I was assuming for a while that oh, I probably forget to turn the microphone on.
Then I started going to conferences and getting mobbed by people who were big podcast listeners. It turns out that the feedback model is radically different. People are, for whatever reason, not likely to respond by email; they're not going to tweet at me, but when I'm there in person, people mention the podcast far more than they do the newsletters, the tweets, the blog posts, the ridiculous stunts I do, etcetera, etcetera. And it's either a different audience, or there's a tremendous sleeping giant out there of folks who consume this stuff but don't feel that they can hit reply in the same way that they could with other media.
Chris: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I definitely notice. It feels like there's a void sometimes when you create a podcast, but at least in my experience, I've noticed you'll be just out at the bar talking to somebody and all of a sudden it's randomly like, “Hey, yeah, you're the podcast guy, right? And you did this.” And all of a sudden people know very intimate details about you that you're like, “How do you know that?” And it's like, “Oh, yeah, I guess I said that on a podcast.” So, they're listening, but yeah, finding that way to get feedback is one of the biggest challenges of podcasting, for sure.
Corey: For me, at least, it was also a lot of learning experience. And again, now that I'm 100 some-odd episodes in, I can admit to the ulterior motive I had when I started. It turns out that if you're trying to sit down and have a conversation with folks who are giants of our industry, “Hey, do you want to grab a cup of coffee?” Doesn't get the same reaction as, “Hey, would you like to appear on my podcast?” And it gets me into conversations with people that, let me be blunt with you, I have no business speaking to. And yet, it works.
It's something that people are glad to be a part of. It's built friendships that I didn't see coming. It wasn't entirely business-driven, but it was also an approach of, get me out there. Get me talking to people who are outside of my bubble. I spent half my day crapping on, I don't know, Google Cloud to pick an example. And then, I'll have VPs from Google on who, first, are not going to crap on their own service, surprise. And secondly, are very willing to have a thoughtful conversation. Many of those conversations have in turn shaped my view on the companies in discussion.
Chris: Yeah. Well, I've always said that podcasting is a bit of a magic wand. Like I was mentioning earlier, when I was doing Humble Beer in that first year, getting to the point where we were in front of Highland Brewing Company was a big deal for us. And the free beer thing, while I joke about it, it would just kind of naturally happen. And I know those are small examples compared to, maybe, what you're describing, but that's a big deal. When you've got a podcast, just saying, “I’ve got a podcast,” makes people go, “Oh, yeah. You want me to be on the show?” Or people start really opening up in a way that they don't for other types of media. If you did the same thing and said, “Hey, I want to come do a video of you.” You might get people a little more hesitant to be involved in that for whatever reason, either they're afraid of being in front of the camera, they're not sure how they'll present themselves, those sorts of things, but for some reason, a podcast seems to be a more open forum for that. And yeah, I've definitely noticed that.
Corey: Oh, I have a face for radio. I'm right there with you.
Chris: Dude, I got my hair cut today for this. I'm not even kidding.
Corey: Excellent, excellent. Did you trim the beard as well?
Chris: Um, not yet. [laughs].
Corey: One of the strangest things for me, when I started down this road, was everyone has freakin’ equipment recommendations, and prejudices, and nonsense. I don't have an ear for this. I am the exact opposite of an audiophile. And back when I started and I was talking with you about what equipment do I get? You fell into the audiophile trap, initially, of, “Well, it depends on…” and you gave me an enormous list of variables. And my answer was, “Assume I have no budget. What should I get?” And the response was, “You don't want to say that,” because it turns out you can spend as much as a house on microphones.
Chris: Oh, yes.
Corey: And that was not something I cared about. But we had to dial it in because on the other end of the spectrum, in the very early days again, you were saying, “Well, this microphone works. This other one's better, but this one saves $20, so it makes sense.” And this is part of a business strategy. This is effectively the marketing arm of my consultancy, like it or not. When people know who I am and hear what I have to say, business follows. We don't have a direct relationship between me going on the podcast and business coming in, but when I talk to existing customers, they first heard of me through the podcast, through the newsletters, through Twitter, and they don't really remember which they encountered first, which is super difficult for attribution.
Chris: Yeah. So, I mean, I think when it comes to good quality equipment, the important thing there is it's a very subtle thing, but especially—you've just kind of proven this out for me as we've built this podcast—has been that quality does matter to people even if they say it doesn’t, and they say you can get away with lower quality gear and things like that. The minute you get into the ins and outs of gear, just having good audio and really just honestly, for those of you all out there thinking, “How am I going to get my podcast started? How am I going to do this?” You don't have to start with the most expensive equipment out there or even the fanciest. Even the stuff that both Corey and I are using today. You can start with something simple and low cost. I still think at the end of the day, with podcasting, it's all about just getting out there and executing. But beyond that, once you get to the place where we're at, where you're looking at advertisers, and you're doing that, having good quality equipment allows you to present yourself at a higher level, more professional way. And I think it's just one of the subtle things that we do that helps bring better quality and drive more interest in the show because how many shows have you listened to where the quality is not good? You might listen for a little while but chances are you're not going to be a long term dedicated listener to a show with low quality for every episode.
Corey: If you're like me, one of your favorite hobbies is screwing up CI/CD. Consider instead looking at CircleCI. Designed for modern software teams, CircleCI’s continuous integration and delivery platform helps developers push code with undeserved confidence. Companies of all shapes and sizes use CircleCI to take their software from bad idea to worse delivery, but do so quickly, safely, and at scale.
Visit circle.ci/screaming to learn why high-performing DevOps teams use CircleCI to automate and accelerate their CI/CD pipelines. Alternately, the best advertisement I can think of for CircleCI is to try to string together AWS’s CodeBuild/Deploy/Pipeline suite of services, but trust me, circle.ci/screaming is going to be a heck of a lot less painful and it's where you're ultimately going to end up anyway.
Thanks again, to CircleCI for their support of this ridiculous podcast.
Corey: It gets worse than that. At one point, I was listening to a podcast somewhat recently, I think it was Federico Viticci was interviewing a Craig Federighi of Apple about something and the audio quality was just absolute garbage, and I could barely stand to listen to it. It was awful, and I don't understand how they let that audio quality out. And then, near the end of the show, I was playing with my podcast player, and it turns out that there's an audio setting for arena that I was listening to in the audio playback. So, it turns out that yeah, with booming echoes and sounding like you're in a stadium, the audio quality is awful; I turned that off and suddenly it was clear as a bell, and I felt like a complete idiot. And of course, I should never have doubted Federico and his amazing work. But my god did that absolutely resonate. I didn't really understand what you were getting at until that terrible experience; entirely self-inflicted.
Chris: Yeah, yeah. And there have been other un-self-inflicted ones. I remember one recently with—what is it—Reid Hoffman, Masters of Scale where he interviewed Bill Gates, and for some reason, I guess it was just a timing thing, but whenever they recorded him, it sounds like their interview for him is on an iPhone and they repeatedly bring that up on episode after episode, and it's just like, for everything that they do, and the quality they have on the show, why this quality? But yeah, it makes a difference for sure.
Corey: Yeah. Other questions people have asked, “If I'm podcasting and my child walks in, do I roll with it or stop the recording? Remove the child in an orderly manner, etcetera.” And the nice thing is, this isn't live. My apologies for those who believed otherwise, I can say, “Oh, hang on a second, remove said child,” and pick up right where I left off. And we just—well, I don't cut that out, you cut that out, and that's what makes this awesome. That's the entire point of having guests on a podcast is people were initially surprised by the fact that this wasn't a sarcastic show, where I dragged my guests. It turns out that unless you're very careful in how you do that and you have guests who can hang with it, you're beating someone up. And when you start down that path, it's very hard to get another guest ever again. And that's not really the person I wanted to be.
Chris: Yeah, that is definitely for sure. You want to make sure that things are clean and professional from an editing standpoint as well as just, definitely very important to make sure the editing is done well and done professionally, too. Because I mean, there is to some level, a degree to which you want people to see behind the curtain; you want to see some of that transparency, but if it's your child running and screaming every five seconds, then you're probably not going to be wanting to continue to listen to a show like that. You want to hear something that's nice, clean, professional.
Corey: Exactly. And, “Sorry, I'm expecting a package, I’m having a dog barking in the background,” is said occasionally on some shows, and you'll never hear it. It's taken out super well. You also have it during a brief moment during the recording, not the entire episode. People will tolerate momentary disruptions, but at some point, you try and create a good experience. Not to mention it's super distracting for guests.
So, another question I've periodically gotten that in fact, I don't have a good answer for, I'm hoping you do. There's a thing in the world of podcasts called dynamic ads where it can apparently, and correct me if I'm wrong on this, insert different advertisements based upon where the listener is located.
Chris: Yeah, so they're getting there. And dynamic ads are pretty cool from the perspective of they're allowed to insert ads into spots on the podcast that are pre-determined by the editor. And for those who want to know the bare bones behind that, basically what you do is you create a marker on the back end of the podcast. And you actually literally just insert that digital marker in the show and then put it up on the podcast host, and the host itself will actually pick that spot and say, “All right, this is where we insert the ad here.”
You see that most commonly on people that do podcasts on Anchor. That's a really common one, and Libsyn is another common one that does dynamically-inserted ads. And you can do it at any level: you don't have to have a billion followers or a million downloads an episode to qualify for these, but a lot of times with dynamic ad insertion, the challenge becomes that you really do need a decent-sized audience if you want to make a living at being a podcaster in that way.
And that goes for a lot of different ads when they're broken up into what I call a CPM ad, which is cost per millia or cost per thousand, meaning that the advertiser is paying you for every 1000 downloads you get to your podcast. And typically that rate is somewhere between $8 and $35 for every thousand downloads that you get. So, you end up in a situation where you do have to have twenty, thirty, forty thousand, hundred thousand, two hundred thousand to really start making serious money and consider podcasting as a career as opposed to just on your own. What we find though—and Corey, I know you guys are great here at Screaming in the Cloud, but listeners probably noticed we're not using dynamically inserted ads in this show.
Corey: No, generally I tend to speak personally about the sponsors that have sponsored the show. And that leads to an excellent question as well. Why don't we sell mattresses on the show?
Chris: Well, that is a great question. We don't sell mattresses, like Casper—they're going to pay us for that later, I guess—but we don't sell mattresses on this show because we are not really focused on being a CPM show. I mean, there's this little thing in marketing called positioning. And it's how you position your business, and where you really say that your focus is. And with every podcast, I consider every podcast to be, really its own independent business unit, especially in your all's case—or for some of my clients, it is their job. For some people, it's just another extension of their brand, and positioning is really all about where you stand in the mind of your customer, or in your listener.
And with positioning for a show like this, you're not trying to reach the masses. I'm not going to have my wife, who's a schoolteacher say, “Hey, listen to this episode of Screaming in the Cloud, I'm sure you'll find it super relevant to your sixth-grade students,” Unless you do one that has to do with history in data cloud storage, they're probably not going to be a listener to that audience. And the advertisers that you want for that show, like a mattress seller like Casper, are not going to be the type of people you really even want to have advertising to that audience. So, what we find in cases like you all is that really a flat fee advertising structure is really better for you guys. So, you say we're going to charge X dollars per episode, one-time flat fee to be an advertiser on the show because you're reaching this niche audience that's a dedicated listener base to me. Like you were talking about and like we've talked about on-air, off-air: you have listeners, you have fans that come up to you and talk to you and engage, and they're all at the conferences you go to and all where you are. So, you're an influencer, if you will, in that space and I think we—
Corey: I prefer the term Quinnfluencer but I’ll take what I can get.
Chris: Quinnfluencer, yes, yes sorry you’re a Quinnfluencer. I will use that from here on out. But as the Quinnfluencer, I think you're the—I saw somewhere—the number one cloud influencer online. I don't know how verifiable that is, but that's awesome. But that said, having that level of clout, being able to influence like that, being able to say that people listen to me when I talk is a big deal. And people do listen to you when you talk, and people are responding, and are engaging with you in that way.
And so you have an audience there that someone who's just talking about video games, or just talking about politics, or sports isn't going to have, and it doesn't reach as broad of an audience, but it's still a very important audience. And I think that's really why you all don't sell mattresses.
Corey: Attribution is always one of the strangest parts of podcast advertising because when you think about it, people are listening to this show when they're commuting, they're listening when their hands are full, they're usually not going to stop and punch in a URL for something, but it is brand awareness. I had a sponsor, who I'm not going to name, that in the early days, sponsored a bunch of episodes and then decided not to renew—this is normal, incidentally. No one sponsors the same thing for years on end in most cases—and what was atypical was that they came running back about three or four months later, trying to buy out everything we'd sell them, and, “Well, this is interesting and welcome, but may I ask what changed?” It turned out that they'd spoken to a couple of their larger customers and hearing about the product on this show was what in turn inspired them to start trying it out. And, “Oh, yeah, that's right, there's that thing I heard about,” and it turned into a business deal.
The hard part is it's very challenging to tie listenership or any particular ad back to specific customer actions. There's this idea of effective frequency that you have to see an advertisement or a brand something like 20 times before you buy. And we have this attribution problem across all of advertising, where the last thing that they saw that they click on and buy the thing gets all of the credit and everything that happened before that point was money wasted. It never actually works that way; we find this as much more akin to brand advertising and getting awareness out there.
It's challenging to get people to sign up for things on a podcast. It's challenging to get people to punch in a discount code. I had one sponsor very early on, they wanted me to read a very long URL, including a bunch of tracking parameters. No one in the world is going to click on that. That's why I built the snark.cloud redirector for some of these things because people want to figure out how well is this message resonating? Are people taking action based upon what it is that they're hearing? And the answer is they are, but it doesn't always take the form that folks would expect. This is the dark art of demand generation, really, is understanding how what you're doing interacts with any particular audience. Yeah, if we were using CPMs and effectively going after mattress sales, we would make far, far, far less money than the show cost to produce. But in this case, because of who the audience is, what the listenership is comprised of and what the topics are, it instead turns into a surprisingly lucrative endeavor, even though that wasn't the initial intent when I set out to do this.
Chris: That's a very, very good point is that it takes multiple touches for people to become customers. The sales process—any sales cycle is never a one time, close deal, you're done. I mean, that can happen when you get to a certain point in your business, but they've typically either done their research beforehand, they've looked at other options, they've talked to other people, and then they've made their decision. It's never a—you're introduced to it, you immediately buy it with something like the products that are advertised and marketed on this show. And so it's a very long, long process.
And also, what you're building through this show, too, is essentially a long tail for the content that you're creating as well, because these ads will live on, essentially, in perpetuity. Until this show or these episodes are no longer hosted on iTunes, anybody can go back and say, listen to an old episode with Jessie Frazelle and go and listen to that from months and months and months ago, and it'll still have those same advertisers on there that were there when you originally recorded it. So, there's a lot of advantage to that in that regard, too because, I mean, I just saw this on the stats for our Humble Beer just in the past day or so where I had somebody listening to episode number one. I had three listens to episode number one just in the past few days. And I'm like, that was five years ago. People still want to go back and listen to that content, and I'm sure people are listening to your content as you build up that library too. So, there's a lot of opportunity for advertising in that way, and it grows, and it opens up opportunities for developing those opportunities after the fact even after that episode initially airs.
Corey: I will also admit freely that I am not particularly up to speed on the business of running this podcast, let alone others. I have you doing all of the production pieces where I just record, I yap into a microphone for half an hour and then throw it over the wall. But on the editorial side, which is kind of neat, we have a full time employee, Caroline, who winds up handling the sales for all the sponsorship stuff. So, very often I will not know—for example, right now I have no idea at the time of this recording which is, sponsors are going to be sponsoring this episode, so as a result, I don't need to worry about what I say, how I say it. The same story with the AWS Morning Brief, my other podcast, as well as the newsletter. The sponsorship things are the last piece of all of it that I do, so I don't have to worry, necessarily, about whether what I say is going to upset a sponsor.
It might; it hasn't happened yet. I'm sure it's inevitable, but I don't tie the two things together in such a way that I wind up having to apologize for it. And I don't let who is paying for any given episode influence what happens. The only restriction I put out there is that if you are sponsoring this podcast, you also can't have a guest from your company on unless it's a promoted episode because, at that point, it just becomes super weird. Conversely, we also aren't going to let you put a sponsor in that's your direct competitor, because that's not great. This is somehow challenging with AWS because they compete with basically everyone and everything, but they've smiled, shrugged, and come to the acceptance phase of bargaining.
Chris: Yeah. And I think that's a really good place to be with yourself as an advertiser, because, and especially by just articulating that to your audience, I think what you're showing too is, “Hey, look, we're not being manipulated,” if you will. Not that you would be, but you're not being influenced by your advertisers to say things or to do things. You're still maintaining that level of autonomy. And I think that's important, especially when you're in the position you all are in, talking about the Cloud and talking about Amazon, and things like that, that you're not doing it from an internal company, “I’m paid to say these things,” perspective. So, I think that's actually a really good way to have it structured.
Corey: The challenge, of course, is always making sure that we're not ambushing people. When I wind up doing a sponsored podcast with a guest that is a sponsored guest—which we call promoted episodes—I’m always going through the same process with them than I am with everyone else, which is, what do we want to talk about? What do we want to make sure that we don't hit on because that's going to be overly sensitive? And what questions can I ask that give you the opportunity to tell a story you don't get to tell very often? It gives people an opportunity to shine light from a different angle than a lot of other folks do. I don't have any particular agenda when I sit down with someone and start having a conversation here. My goal is to have a good conversation and keep it entertaining. Anything else and I get bored and zone out, which is a question someone asked me on Twitter about podcasting techniques. How do I keep myself focused? I have good guests, and I entertain folks that are going to have a conversation that keeps everyone engaged. Without that, it's just not a very good episode.
Chris: Absolutely. You need to stay engaged, and stay active, and listen actively, I think is one of the important things for those, again, out there that might be listening to this going, oh, I'd like to start a podcast myself. Active listening, taking notes, doing things like that, staying engaged with the guest is important. And of course, having interesting guests is good too. So, yeah, I totally agree there.
And by the way, just a side note, you mentioned having an agenda when you talk to somebody. I had one episode where we actually had an advertiser for my personal podcast that we were doing, and they had asked us to ask us one very specific question of an advertiser, and I won't go into details, but it did not go well. So, I would advise staying away from trying to have an agenda when you interview someone unless that agenda is very much agreed to before you start the interview.
Corey: And making sure that you wind up setting the expectations and then living up to them is critical. I think without that we wouldn't have the audience, we wouldn’t have the guests that we do, and we wouldn't have the voice that we've accidentally stumbled upon and built for ourselves.
Chris: But it's a great voice.
Corey: Well, thank you. So, if people want to learn more about your thoughts, generally probably as related to podcasting and/or craft beer, where can they find you?
Chris: You can find me at HumblePod.com. That’s the easiest place to find out everything about me. You can find out the other shows we edit. You can find out a little bit more about the services we offer, and by the time this goes live, there’ll also be some stuff up about gear and equipment. You'll even be able to see what Corey uses on his podcast as part of that, as well. So, that's where I would go to check things out. If you want to find me personally, I'm on Twitter at @christopholies. And yeah, that's really about it.
Corey: Chris, thank you so much for taking the time to field the slings and arrows of Twitter on this podcast. It's appreciated. And as always, thank you for the fine work that you and your team do as far as making the nonsense that comes out of my mouth borderline intelligible.
Chris: Alrighty, well, thank you, Corey, and it's a pleasure editing the show for you.
Corey: Chris Hill, CEO of HumblePod. I'm Cloud Economist Corey Quinn fixing AWS bills in San Francisco, or wherever I happen to find them. And this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you've enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. If you've hated this podcast, it's probably the editing and Chris's fault, but please leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts regardless.
Announcer: This has been this week’s episode of Screaming in the Cloud. You can also find more Corey at ScreamingintheCloud.com, or wherever fine snark is sold.
This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.