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Can You Still Make A Really Big Podcast In 2022?
Episode 718th May 2022 • Podcast Pontifications • Evo Terra
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Evo Terra:

Today's podcast landscape is busy.

Evo Terra:

So is it still possible to grow a really big podcast?

Evo Terra:

Yes, but you can't rely on just good content and luck.

Evo Terra:

You have to address these five realities.

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And get a little lucky.

Evo Terra:

Hello, and welcome to another Podcast Pontifications with me, Evo Terra.

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What does it take to have a really, really big podcast?

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More to the point, what would it take for you to have a really, really big podcast?

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Now, I've talked previously about the need to focus on making great content.

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And while I'm sure you can point to many mediocre podcasts out

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there that managed to get big, those are exceptions to the rule.

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And you've heard me talk about the importance of making content

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that your audience loves.

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And I know you've heard me say "know who you are for and why

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they are there" many, many times.

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But you've also heard me say that podcasts tend to get the audience they deserve.

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So sure, make great content that fits in perfectly with what your audience

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wants and your show has the basics in place that makes it quite possible for

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the show to, in fact, grow over time.

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But what if you want more?

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What if you're not content to just let it grow?

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What if you want to have a really, really big podcast?

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A podcast that's demonstrably big?

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How do you do that today?

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Well, this should come as no surprise, I'm not going to give you a recipe

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because a recipe does not exist for that.

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If one existed, everyone would follow it.

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So instead, I'm going to help you have a difficult and honest

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conversation with yourself.

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Specifically, I'm going to give you five realities, if you will, that will

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help you figure out whether or not you are really prepared to do what it

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takes to have a big podcast in 2022.

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Okay, here are those five realities if you really want to have a really big podcast.

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Reality number one, reality trumps a BHAG.

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Now, a BHAG, that stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

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And no, having a big podcast is not a BHAG.

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It's only a BHAG when you can get really specific and you

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can define what that goal is.

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No, you need to be able to clearly convey what you mean by a "big podcast."

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What does that mean for you?

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And you also need to be very real about your chances.

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Do you want to have the number one show in your category, knocking the

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current leader out of the iTunes charts or the Apple Podcasts charts, whatever

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we're going to call them these days?

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Or maybe you just want to be in the top 10 of those charts in your category.

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That's a BHAG for sure.

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But do you know what the people who are already on that

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list have done to get there?

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Do you know what sort of a new subscriber rate and engagement

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rate they get with their shows?

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If not, how will you know that you're trending in the right direction?

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Maybe you want to have a hundred thousand downloads per episode.

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Okay.

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Very much a BHAG.

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However, is that an even realistic number for the top

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shows in your category right now?

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And if it is, well, how did those other shows gain that sort of traction?

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Where did they find their audience?

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And do you have the connections or the platform so that you

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can do something similar?

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Because you need to understand what, what it is you can realistically, with

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a high degree of confidence, achieve.

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And no, getting lucky isn't something you should bank on.

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Reality number two, become undeniably unique.

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Now look, I know that you and your show is special and it's different from the others

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who talk about similar things as you do.

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But I'm sorry, special and different aren't enough if you want to have a really

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big podcast that defines the category.

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It needs to be demonstrably different.

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Note I didn't say better.

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I mean, sure, it needs to be that too, obviously, but it's probably even

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more important that you have strong distinctions between what you do and

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what the others in your category do.

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Now, that means more than just developing your voice.

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It means making sure that your voice is strong and consistent

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throughout your episodes.

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Sorry, no sitting back, relying on your guests to do the heavy lifting.

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You have to put in the work.

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You have to figure out what you want to talk about and to make sure

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that you are as integral to the conversation as your guests are.

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And make sure that your undeniable uniqueness, if you will, carries

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through to all aspects of your show - your website, your social media

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shares, even the emails you send out.

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You have to share your voice in everything you do.

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Forget neutral.

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Bring out what it is that makes you and your show truly special.

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And don't shy away from that.

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And if that means changing from doing what you like to do in other

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channels, well, that's a price you have to pay to have a really big

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podcast, if in fact you still want it.

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Reality number three, your angle is more important than your topic.

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I've talked about this before, but think about this, with a few million

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podcasts out there, we're way, way past the blue ocean paradigm.

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Yes, podcasting is getting crowded.

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There, I said it.

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But no, you didn't miss your chance, and yes, someone is already out

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there talking about the same topic as you talk about on your podcast.

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Being one more voice in an already crowded space isn't going to rocket you

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into big podcast success now, is it?

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So what's your take?

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Why should anyone listen to what you have to say on a topic?

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A topic that maybe already is well covered.

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Now, if you're citing your expertise, I'm just going to stop you right there.

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That is not enough to get someone to switch to you unless you are already

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the recognized expert in your category.

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You have to have an angle that clearly demonstrates why you and your podcast

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should be the authoritative voice.

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An angle that shows your perspective, a perspective that sits apart from

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all others who have a podcast on this topic, and an angle that makes

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it clear to listeners that what you give, they quite literally can't

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get from anywhere or anyone else.

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Reality number four, this is going to cost money so make sure it's worth it.

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Yeah, yeah, time is money for sure, but having a really big podcast

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today almost certainly means putting a marketing budget behind it.

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And it may also mean, depending on your skillset, hiring a team to help make your

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worthy-of-being-huge podcast episodes.

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Perhaps, jaw-dropping amounts of money on each of those.

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And that only makes sense if you know your ROPS.

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That's what I'm calling your return on podcast spend.

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Yeah, I just made that up and no, I don't expect it to catch it on.

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Whatever.

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Regardless, knowing what the payoff will be on spending serious

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money to make and promote a seriously big podcast is required.

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Unless, of course, you're independently wealthy, I guess.

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But the trick there is knowing the payoff, knowing how to measure the payoff.

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I mean, sure, you could drop 10-15 grand per episode and hire a top-notch

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production firm to make your episode sound amazing, but how will you

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know that money was well spent?

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And how will you know you made any of that money back?

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What's your specific plan to recoup those costs?

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Sure, you could spend $50,000 per month on a promotional plan to grow

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your already amazing show, but don't do that without having clear campaign

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measurement systems in place with plenty of time reserved to check in

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on the progress of those campaigns.

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And even before that, make sure you're able to recoup that

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investment with meaningful revenue returns that aren't based on hope.

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And the final, reality number five, to keep your eye on the prize.

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This isn't a set it and forget it proposition.

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Making the conscious effort and massive investments that are required

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to have a really big podcast is going to be a full-time job on top

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of your already full-time job, which probably is making the podcast.

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You've got to execute now.

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Every day.

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Track them back to that realistic goal you've set forth.

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And yeah, this means obsessively checking your stats, something I rarely tell anyone

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to do, but this is one of those times.

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Look, you're investing seriously in this idea of getting a really big podcast for

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yourself so you need to ensure that your money is well spent and that you are

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seeing actual, measurable results on a timescale of when you should see them.

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And if you're not seeing them, either they're coming in too

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slowly or not working at all, then prepare to make adjustments.

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Look, just because you put it in your plan it doesn't mean it's going to work.

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In fact, many of the tactics and strategies you put in place won't work.

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So you'll have to adapt constantly, keeping your eye on the goal.

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But, you know, just because you heard about something new and cool that someone

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else used to blow up their show quickly, it doesn't mean it's going to work for you

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so don't drop everything to try it out.

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Keep your eye on the prize and only do what aligns to

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what you're trying to achieve.

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Don't go chasing crazy ideas without fully vetting them.

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Now, that's what it takes to have a big podcast in 2022.

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And yeah, that's quite different than what it took five years ago.

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And it's completely disassociated from any advice that you might've received 15

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years ago, back when "just keep plugging along" was all you had to do to have a

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really good shot at making a big podcast.

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It's a new world out there.

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But keep this in mind, you don't have to do this.

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The five realities I just laid out are my views on a mindset it takes to have

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a really, really big podcast today.

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But most podcasts aren't really big.

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In fact, it's quite possible to have a very successful podcast without

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growing it to be really, really big.

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But if really, really big is what you want, well, then you've

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got your work cut out for you.

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Best of luck.

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With that, I shall be back next week with yet another Podcast Pontifications.

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Cheers!

Evo Terra:

Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra.

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He's on a mission to make podcasting better.

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Links to everything mentioned in today's episode are in the notes

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section of your podcast listening app.

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A written-to-be-read article based on today's episode is available at

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podcastpontifications.com where you'll also find a video version and a corrected

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transcript, both created by Allie Press.

Evo Terra:

Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.