Tim Ferriss Shares the Strategy for his Podcasting Success

Tim Ferriss is the author of three best-selling books in which he shares the results of self-experimentation for the purpose of designing an ideal lifestyle. On The Wolf Den podcast Tim tells host Adam Sachs that the thread connecting The 4-Hour Work Week, The 4-Hour Body and the 4-Hour Chef is the approach of doing hard thinking and analysis up front, rather than looking for shortcuts, so that you can focus on the 20% of activities, methods or strategies that yield the best results.

“Methodically teaching yourself… how to ask the right questions is very important. The question isn’t, ‘How do I make a million dollars?’ if money is something that you trade for experiences and possessions. The question is, ‘How do I get those experiences and possessions most intelligently?’” Tim explains.

He applied the same methodology to starting his popular podcast, The Tim Ferris Show, consistently ranked at the top of the iTunes business podcast chart.

“The decision to try a podcast–and try is a very important word–was based on my personal experience being a guest on podcasts, and enjoying being a guest on longform podcasts, and realizing how frustrating it was for me to do, say, morning shows or television where you are crammed into a 2 or 3 minute segment and… you have maybe 15 to 30 seconds to get your message across.” Tim notes, “It’s not a conversation at all.”

When the show debuted his goal was to crack the top one hundred. Instead, within six hours of launching it was at number one, stayed there for a while, and stayed in the top ten for a few weeks. On the iTunes charts, Tim observes, “I’m essentially hanging out with my podcast idols.”

He looked at the podcast as a temporary experiment, where he would do between six and twelve episodes to see how he would like it. If it had turned out that he didn’t like hosting the show, he would quit. Tim says that people too often look at new endeavors, like starting a podcast or starting a business, as a permanent commitment, “but you don’t have to make mistakes that large.”

In fact, he says that he should have started a podcast much earlier. What held him back was he wanted to understand every aspect–from equipment to editing–and have it sound perfect before starting. But that was, “idiotic,” Tim says.

So he gave up on trying to make it perfect, and did his first episode with Kevin Rose. At the start of that show Tim told his audience, "This is going to be sloppy, guys, but that is the nature of what I do. I try things, experimentally, I make a mess, I stumble, I smack my head on the floor. I learn lessons from that, and then I explain what those lessons are to you guys. This is what it is.

“This is a beta. This is the minimally viable product that I’m shipping. So bare with me, and I promise I’ll try to make it improve over time.”

To hear Tim’s advice on how to debut your own podcast at the top of the charts, his method for producing his podcast efficiently and effectively, and why he advises to question the dominant assumptions about marketing, listen to the whole episode.

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