In this Skip the Queue podcast episode, everything has been turned on its head.
Paul has had an illustrious career in the attraction sector, having been Head of Operations for the Mary Rose Museum, Head of Visitor Operations for the London Historic Properties at English Heritage, and a guest lecturer at Southampton Solent University in Contemporary Tourism.
Kelly Molson is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Rubber Cheese. She’s the host of the Skip the Queue podcast, a podcast for visitor attractions professionals. She’s a champion of women in digital and is passionate about increasing the number of women agency owners in the UK. She founded Mob Happy, which is a series of not-for-profit events for women agency owners and runs intimate mastermind groups that support existing founders and inspire future leaders.
“Really think about what’s relevant to the audience that you’re trying to get in front of. Who your audience is? Where are they? What do they want? What is going to be relevant to them right now?”
What will you learn from this podcast?
- What it really takes to launch a podcast
- Why we started Skip The Queue in the first place
- Our top tips for anyone thinking about starting one
Should Kelly probably be worried about the ice breaker questions?
You can also read the full transcript below.
Your guest host, Paul Griffiths
Our guest, Kelly Molson
Paul Griffiths: Hello, and welcome to this latest edition of Skip The Queue. And I’m your guest presenter today, Paul Griffiths, and I’m delighted to have a very special guest for you today, Chief Cheese herself, Kelly Molson. Kelly, welcome to Skip The Queue.
Kelly Molson: Thank you for welcoming me to my podcast.
Paul Griffiths: All right, it’s an honour. I know we’ve been trying to get you on the show for a long time, so it’s great to finally get there. Now, we’re here today to talk about how you made a podcast, and how you turned Skip The Queue into the ultimate podcast for visitor attractions. But, before we do that, of course, regular listeners will know, we have to start with our ice breaker questions. Kelly, are you ready for some ice breaker questions?
Kelly Molson: No, I don’t think I am, if I’m completely honest. I’m starting to feel like this is a big mistake.
Paul Griffiths: No, no. Well just think, all the people you’ve had on, and all the questions you’ve asked them…
Kelly Molson: I am.
Paul Griffiths: I think we’re going very easy on you like you do for your guests. You hope you’ll not get difficult questions. Now Kelly, through the series of podcasts, I think we’ve all learned little bits about you from various things you’ve said, or say. So, I’ve tried to theme these questions slightly on your interests. So, I know you’re a big fan of all things ’80s, so particularly music. So, I want to know, and our guests want to know, what is your favourite ’80s dance floor filler of all time?
Kelly Molson: Oh, okay. Do you know what, so this is really weird because we were just talking about ’80s music on our morning catch up with the team. Because one of my team members… So, we’ve got a password system that we built ourselves, and it’s called Kenny Loggins.
Paul Griffiths: Nice.
Kelly Molson: And one of… Yeah, I know, great, right? But one of our team was like, “Who’s Kenny Loggins?” I lost my mind. Okay, so I think a great ’80s dance floor filler, it’s got to be Wham, hasn’t it? I feel like something like Club Tropicana.
Paul Griffiths: Nice.
Kelly Molson: Would be a good choice. But I do, on the theme of Kenny Loggins, I do love a bit of Footloose, and I also am a massive Top Gun fan. So, Highway To The Danger Zone. I mean, is there anything more ’80s than that?
Paul Griffiths: It’s the perfect song, isn’t it? The Aviator sunglasses. Funny enough you should mention Club Tropicana, my son Barney, who I think I got mentioned before on Skip The Queue, his class got the ’80s as an era for world music decade. Each class got a decade. And they had to vote on what song they wanted to sing and dance to. But Club Tropicana didn’t make it.
Kelly Molson: Oh.
Paul Griffiths: They had Club Tropicana, Madonna’s Holiday, or Madness’ Our House. And they went for Our House as a class vote.
Kelly Molson: Oh right. I’m disappointed. It’s the spirit of the ’80s for me.
Paul Griffiths: Absolutely. Okay, now we all know that you are a big Spurs fan, so we’re going to give you an option here, you’ve got to pick one of these two strikers, who is going to play for Spurs forever. But the one you reject is off to play for the Arsenal forever.
Kelly Molson: Oh.
Paul Griffiths: So, will you take Harry Kane upfront for Spurs forever, or will you an in his prime Gary Lineker to play for Spurs forever? The other’s off to The Emirates Stadium.
Kelly Molson: Oh, God.
Paul Griffiths: Now, I’ll give you some help here, maybe. Lineker scored 80 goals in 138 games for the Spurs. Kane’s, at the time of recording, 166 goals in 242 games. Obviously, a lot more games played now with European football. But, who are you going to take, and who’s off to The Emirates?
Kelly Molson: Oh my God. This is awful. This is a dreadful question if you’re a Tottenham fan, because Gary Lineker, Gary Lineker was just, I mean, he was just an absolute hero. Oh, and I can’t imagine him. No, God, this is dreadful. I’m going to have to go Lineker. Yeah, no, I’d have to, because I just feel like I couldn’t live with watching him on the telly, and him having played for Arsenal. No. I’d have to go for Lineker. I know that doesn’t work out in terms of how many goals, and stuff, but…
Paul Griffiths: No, but that ratio [crosstalk 00:04:58].
Kelly Molson: It’s from my childhood. Yeah, I couldn’t bear that.
Paul Griffiths: Oh, you Gazza as well as a package. He comes with Gazza [inaudible 00:05:07].
Kelly Molson: I wanted to marry Gazza, genuinely, when I was a kid. Gazza was like my… Yeah, I thought I was going to marry Paul Gascoigne. Maybe I had a bit of a lucky escape there, though.
Paul Griffiths: I was just going say, probably better you didn’t [inaudible 00:05:15]. Right, and the other thing we know you love is visitor attractions, especially as you’ve spent so much time on podcast talking. So, there’s some either ors for you here, would you go to, Disney Park, or Merlin Park?
Kelly Molson: Disney.
Paul Griffiths: Museum or stately home?
Kelly Molson: Stately home because I really like the grounds as well that become part of a… Like that kind of outside space too. So, stately home I think.
Paul Griffiths: Good answer. National Park, or landscape garden.
Kelly Molson: Oh, that would be National Park.
Paul Griffiths: Fair enough.
Kelly Molson: I’m going to feel like I’ve upset… I’m going to upset someone along the line, aren’t I? But how can I not say National Parks?
Paul Griffiths: And that’s what ice breakers are all about, but moving on to upsetting people, of course, we have to ask you, what is your unpopular opinion?
Kelly Molson: Right, well I thought about this, and I’ve got many. I’ve got one about Lorraine Kelly, but I don’t know if I’m prepared to take the backlash for that one yet, so, I might save that for another day. So, I’m going to go… Oh, I’ve got so many, I’m going to go with afternoon tea is rubbish, absolute rubbish. I don’t understand why, when you get to a certain age as a woman, every… I don’t know, all of your mates are like, “Hey, let’s go out for afternoon tea.” Like, “Really?” I’d rather go to the pub.
And, I don’t understand what meal afternoon tea actually is, because you always have it at about 3.00 o’clock. So, do you have lunch before you go, because I’d be hungry by 3.00. So do you have lunch, and then you have tea? And then dinner? So you’re having an extra meal. And then you never get enough sandwiches. Too much sweet stuff, not enough sandwiches. And you have it with tea. I just don’t get it. It’s just not for me.
Paul Griffiths: That’s a really well thought out answer, Kelly, there. And I have to say, I’m with you on a lot of those points, although, as someone who’s selling afternoon teas from this afternoon on, I’m a great fan of course. But ours do come with Prosecco, so maybe that’s an added bonus.
Kelly Molson: Yeah, I mean… Yeah, if it is a Prosecco based one, it elevates it slightly for me, but I still just… I don’t understand the big hoo-ha about an afternoon tea. And I just… The idea of it is actually better than the reality I think.
Paul Griffiths: I think that’s going to be an unpopular opinion that splits a few of our listeners, but I think it’s a good answer, and well thought out.
Kelly Molson: Thank you.
Paul Griffiths: It’s okay. Thanks for coming to the show.
Kelly Molson: You’re very welcome.
Paul Griffiths: No, it’s great to have you. You know that we’re all great fans of Skip The Queue, and I think we’ll talk about it later, you’ve got an amazing, almost family, of listeners who almost become a little group that talk regularly together, et cetera. And it has been a lifeline for many over the last year, with resource, and with so much great content that’s helped so many of us through lockdown, re-opening, sharing… I mean, the amount of times I’ve been in the car chortling at peoples’ experiences because of the laughter of recognition because I’ve been there myself.
Now I think we want to know a little about how you set up the podcast, and I thought it would be really useful to start with because, over the podcast, we’ve learned a lot about you as well. But I thought it would great if you told us a bit about how you became ‘Chief Cheese’, and how you set up Rubber Cheese, why you got the name. I know you did tell us on another podcast, but people might not have listened to our American friends. So, just chat a bit about the background before we go into podcasting.
Kelly Molson: Gosh. So, Rubber Cheese has been around for 18 years now, which is… It is the longest job that I’ve ever had in my entire life. I met my co-founder, Paul, when we were working at an internet company. So it was like… It was the first foray into people being able to build their own e-commerce stores. You know you’ve got Shopify now, where you can go on and load your own store. So, about 20 years ago, there was a version of that called iShop which is still around now. And Paul and I met working there.
And I think there was just something. We just always wanted to do something for ourselves. So I think I worked there for a couple of years, got a bit of a taste for web stuff. I was a graphic designer previously to that. I used to design branding, and brochures, and marketing materials, all kinds of stuff, and packaging as well. And so, yeah, we were 24, and 25, and we just thought, “Hey, let’s leave our jobs, and go and set up an agency, right? What could be difficult about that?”
Paul Griffiths: What could go wrong?
Kelly Molson: What could go wrong? And lots went wrong. But no, actually, it was great. It was… Look we didn’t really have a huge amount of ties at that point, so it was like, “Let’s just give this a go, and see what happens after a year.” And about two months in, we won a really big contract with Tescos, via a friend of mine who I had recently reconnected with on Friends Reunited, which is really ageing me.
Paul Griffiths: Yeah, we are ageing ourselves there, for both doing that one, yeah.
Kelly Molson: Massively. And just… It started there really, so we won this big contract with Tescos, it was a two-year contract, it put us in a really great position of then being able to go, “Okay, well great, our rent’s paid.” And we could then start to look at clients that we were working with, and just grew quite organically. It was just the two of us for five years. And then we took on our first full-time employee, who… She came in as a designer. So she took my design role, and then that was at the point where I became Chief Cheese. So I then had to stop learning about design, so to speak, and start learning a lot about spreadsheets, and pipelines, and sales forecasts, and all the stuff that was really hugely complicated to my creative brain.
And it’s just gone from strength to strength really. So we’ve been really, incredibly lucky. I mean, there’s seven of us. We’re not a huge, huge agency, but we work with global brands, and I just think we’ve been so incredibly fortunate over the years to work with some amazing clients.
And the last six, seven years, a lot of them have been within the tourism attractions sector, which is where we end up today.
Paul Griffiths: What about the name, how did you come up with Rubber Cheese, because it is fabulous?
Kelly Molson: Thank you. I really want to tell you that there’s an amazing story behind it, but it’s so dull. So Paul and I were, again, this is nearly 20 years ago, we were teaching ourselves to use Flash animation, which was all the rage back then. And we needed a website where we could upload stuff, and test it out, and see if it was working. And Paul was like, “Oh, we’ll buy a domain. Rubber Cheese, that’ll do.” So we just bought this domain, and then when we left the company, we said, “Well, we’ll take that domain with us, we’ll buy it, and take it with us.”
And that was it. There was no… It was just, “Okay, well great, we’ve got this ridiculous name, that will draw some attention, won’t it?” So, I’d love to say from a branding perspective, you should really think about your name, and what that means. But we didn’t do any of that whatsoever. It just became this odd name. But it was quite… It was quite funny because when we’d start to go networking events, or even just a bank to pay in a cheque, how retro is that? You’d get asked, “What is Rubber Cheese?”
And you’d end up having these great conversations with people about what it was. Sometimes I’d go to a networking event and people would go, “We’ve been waiting for you to turn up, because we really wanted to know what Rubber Cheese is.” And it was like, “Oh, this works in a way.” Because people want to talk to you and find out a little bit more. I think we did… We might have thought about changing the name at one point, but it’s there to stay.
Paul Griffiths: Perfect. And then now, she’s been Chief Cheese, what more could you want?
Kelly Molson: Exactly.
Paul Griffiths: Brilliant. So, from Rubber Cheese, and obviously you’ve said, in the last six, seven years you’ve been focusing… Well, not focusing, but doing a lot of visitor attractions, talk a little bit about how you set up Skip The Queue, and what made you do that and why, if you’re working in a number of sectors, you thought actually tourism, we’ll focus on visitor attractions.
Kelly Molson: So we have worked in lots of different sectors over the years. We’ve been really lucky. But what happened is, we started working so… I mentioned a global client earlier, we’ve been working with Pernod Ricard for, probably about 10 years, in various forms. And probably, it must have been about five or six years ago, that we started talking to them about the Plymouth Gin Distillery Visitors’ Center, a fabulous place.
And we were contracted to build a platform for them, which was a ticket booking platform. And what was really great about that project is, it was our first foray into understanding the visitor experience, and the experience economy, and a tourist attraction, and a visitor attraction, and what challenges they had. And it was the best project. Everybody loved working on this project. And it was such a good learning experience for us, and so that worked really well for them.
They then rolled it out to the Beefeater Distillery, and then we’ve been working it again with four of the Whiskey Distilleries up in Scotland as well. And so, over those three years, four years that we’ve worked with them, we’ve just built up this huge amount of knowledge about what they were doing, and their challenges, and how we could make things work better for them, which then led to winning other projects in that sector. So, it was fabulous that we worked with Eureka, The National Children’s Museum, who are just wonderful. If you haven’t been there, please go. Find a child to take so that you can go. It’s definitely, it’s worth it, you know.
Paul Griffiths: Brilliant. One of your podcasts with you a few episodes ago and listen to a chat about the new Eureka, that’s really inspiring. I think everyone then was like, “I want to go, I want to go.”
Kelly Molson: Oh definitely. Yeah. And the new centre is going to be incredible, I cannot wait for next year when that opens.
Paul Griffiths: We’ll go with our Crocs and socks on.
Kelly Molson: Oh, Michelle. Michelle. No Crocs and socks. Please don’t do that. So yeah. It came from there really, and I think what was interesting is that all of the team are very much… We’re all people that spend our money on doing things, rather than buying stuff if that makes sense.
Paul Griffiths: Yeah, it does.
Kelly Molson: We want to spend our money on things that make memories, so we love to travel, Lee and I, we travel a lot. We like to go to different places, we like to… Even like Christmas presents, we don’t really buy each other stuff, we’ll go, “Okay, well, why don’t we go to the theatre, or why don’t we go and…” That’s what we would rather do with the money that we have. And we just spoke to the team, and said, “Look, we’ve never done this before, but we’d really like to focus all of our attention on one sector, what do you think?” And everyone was up for it. Everyone was behind it. And that’s really where the idea came from because although we’d been working in that sector, we didn’t know enough, it wasn’t broad enough for us. So the podcast was a way for us to learn more from people.
Paul Griffiths: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kelly Molson: And so that’s how we came up with the idea of starting it.
Paul Griffiths: I should have said earlier actually, I must say thank you to a number of regular listeners who have emailed in or LinkedIn or Twitter with questions. And lots of these, I hope I’m covering in the next bit of the show. And a number of questions that people have sent in. And a lot of people are interested, Kelly, to know how you initially set this up from a brainwave of, “Let’s do a podcast.” To recording and turning Skip The Queue into what it is. But how did you start up in that sense?
Kelly Molson: So, I guess there are quite a few facets to it really because you have to think about why you’re doing it in the first place. So that for me is the first starting point. It’s like, “Why are you doing it?” So, what are your objectives with the podcast, and ours was really… It was initially about education. We wanted to understand about the sector, understand about people’s individual challenges, what the sector was going through. Good things, bad things.
We wanted to meet people in the sector, so again, we wanted to expand our network. We really wanted to create a platform where we celebrated the people that worked in attractions as well, because we thought that was really important. There’s a lot of things that happen behind the scenes in attractions that you don’t realise when you visit them. And even the people that you’re talking to front of house, you don’t realise the kind of pressures that they’re under, or you’re sometimes not aware of the service that they’re delivering you. So it was like, “Well, why don’t we celebrate that?” And then, ultimately, it was a way of raising our profile in the sector as well.
So from a marketing perspective, a podcast is a really great thing to have, because it can position you right in the centre of that industry that you want to be part of. So that was a big part of it. And then, we had to look at how we were going to do this. And what skills did we have internally to be able to set up a podcast? And so, I think Paul and I were like, “Okay, well we can host.” I do a lot of public speaking for the agency anyway, so I was quite comfortable talking, although a podcast is very different from standing up in front of hundreds of people at an event. It’s… In some ways, it’s more uncomfortable, but I’ll tell you why it started off being a bit more uncomfortable. And then you have to think about what format your podcast is going to be.
Kelly Molson: So, is it going to be you just delivering your knowledge, or are you going to try and get guests in? What are those topics going to be? What are you going to talk about? How are you going to find the guests that you want to come on? Are they going to say, “Yes?” Is anyone going to say, “Yes,” they want to come on this podcast, I don’t know. What kind of content is there going to be? And then you have to really think about where your audience is because anyone can set up a podcast but not everyone is going to find it, and listen to it.
So you have to think about, “Is there an element of community building that you need to do around this podcast as well?” Where you promote it, and how you get that out to the right people. And then, once you’ve done all of that, you have to think about, “Okay, well, who’s going to edit this podcast? How are we going to actually make it a thing?” I can sit and record something.
None of us internally had any podcast editing skills, and we made the decision really early, that nobody was going to learn that. It was going to be too much of a time drain for us. So we were going to outsource that element, so we work with Steve Folland, who is super. We knew Steve, he works and is based locally to where our office is. But he works on some really awesome podcasts. And he actually has his own podcast, Doing It For The Kids. He’s got a really great podcast for the freelance community as well.
And then it’s down to, where are you going to host the podcast, you need some kind of platform to host it on? What are you going to record it on? And how are you going to promote it? So, we talked about building a community. If you’re going to promote a podcast, you need things like graphics created. Are you going to have our podcast transcribed? That was really important to us.
We wanted to make the podcast as accessible as possible to everyone, so not everyone can listen to a podcast. So we make sure that it’s transcribed, so you need to have that done so that people can read the podcast if they want to. So there is a huge amount of things to decide on before you go, “Right, let’s do it.”
Paul Griffiths: It’s interesting. Lots of the points you’ve touched on, I’d like to delve into a bit more in detail, if we can, over the next few questions. A lot of people… One of the things that came up a lot when we put a plea out for questions, and what people want to know was costs. Because you just described things that people aren’t doing free of charge. And I wondered if you could give an idea of what it costs to do an episode, or what it costs to set up, or whatever figures you’re happy to give. It’s just, I think a lot of people would be interested to know what sort of budgets they would need if they’re looking to set up a podcast.
Kelly Molson: Yeah, totally. So, I’ve thought about this in quite great detail. So because we knew initially we were not going to edit, we didn’t have to buy any editing equipment. So I’m really sorry I can’t answer any questions about that because genuinely, the best thing that we ever did was hire Steve to do the editing. He’s a specialist. He makes everything sound brilliant. He even makes me sound funny sometimes. But what we did purchase were things like a really good microphone. So this is my microphone. A blue yeti microphone. Which was about £120, £150, somewhere around that.
But that’s a really great investment. It was a bit of trial and error actually, we bought other microphones that weren’t that great, and ended up going back, but this has been the best one that we’ve bought. You need good headphones. These are average headphones. My good headphones I actually left at the office, and I haven’t been back there for a while. So a good pair of headphones, noise cancelling ones are normally quite good. I don’t know, 30, 40 quid for a pair like that. You could go higher if you want, but something around that price bracket would be fine. Editing an episode is an interesting one. You can hear my little dog barking in the background. Steve will edit her out.
Paul Griffiths: Oh really?
Kelly Molson: He’ll work his magic somehow. You probably won’t be able to hear her. But that for us is worth the weight in gold. So…
Paul Griffiths: Desperate to be on the show, isn’t she?
Kelly Molson: She’s such a drama queen. She’s just… She craves attention. I mean, I wonder where she gets that from?
Paul Griffiths: Ooh.
Kelly Molson: But then you need to think about your site hosting. So we host our podcast on a platform called Simplecast. That’s about £15 per month. We record through Zoom. And Steve curses me for recording through Zoom because the sound quality is not great. We used to record through a platform called Zencaster, which again, is a cloud-based platform. It’s about £15 a month. Now, the reason we stopped recording through Zencaster is, it became a bit complex for the guests, and sometimes some of the guests didn’t really understand what they need to do, even if I’d sent instructions.
People are really busy. They don’t always read the things that they need to before they come on, which is understandable. Zoom, everyone was really comfortable using, because they were using it every day for all of their meetings. So it just became easier for us to do Zoom. So we’ve got a pro Zoom account. But obviously, we use that for other things as well, so I don’t really tie that into podcast costs. But then you need to think about who’s going to create your promotion graphics for this. We’re lucky, we’ve got in-house designers.
We’ve got an amazing VA who supports me hugely with our podcasts. So we’ve got templates set up, she will then create all of the podcast graphics from the templates that we’ve already got in place, but that is potentially a cost that someone needs to think about.
Paul Griffiths: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kelly Molson: Then I said we get it transcribed, each episode. It’s roughly about $40 to get it transcribed. So there are lots of little things that you don’t think about, that you need to think about in advance. We also run a competition. So there is a cost to that in the fact that you have to purchase the books that people recommend, sometimes they recommend two or three when I ask for one. And then that puts my budget up. And then the postage for that, and things like that. So I think we worked it out that the podcast probably costs about five, to six grand a year.
Paul Griffiths: Oh.
Kelly Molson: Which isn’t a huge amount if you’ve got… It depends on what your marketing budget is, but it also then depends on what the returns, or what your expected returns are for that podcast, and for that amount.
Paul Griffiths: Yeah.
Kelly Molson: So you have to work out… And that takes you back to why are you doing this in the first place? And is this a worthwhile investment for you?
Paul Griffiths: I think that that would be one of my later questions actually. Thank you for that Kelly, that’s really honest, and I think that’s really useful for people. Because I think that’s one of the things that a lot of people, me included, probably felt that you go on Zoom, you record speaking to someone, bang, it’s up live. But actually, there’s so much more work behind it which is just quite frightening.
You obviously manage to attract brilliant guests, and I think they get better and better all the time, but how did you go about… Well, firstly can you tell us about how you got the initial guest, because you had no podcast, you were starting up. You had to invite 10 people on, and you had some fabulous people in those early days, real industry leaders coming on the show. And then, how do you now go about getting guests and picking topics, and thinking about what people might want to hear about?
Kelly Molson: Yeah, so it was really difficult to get guests when we first started because you haven’t got anything to show them. You’ve no proof of concept, you’re just getting in touch with people and saying, “Hey, we’ve started this podcast, it’s about this subject, we’d really love you to come on and talk to us, how do you feel about it?” And we would get emails back from people, and they’d be like, “Well, can you send us an episode? What is it? How many listeners have you got? How long…” We were like, “Well, zero listeners at this moment in time. Hey, we’re listening.”
So, it was quite tricky. We lucked out a little bit, I’m not going to lie. So we had the CEO of Paradise Wildlife Park come on. Which, for us, was quite a big coup, because they’re quite local to where we are, but the luck that we had is, one of our team members was actually related to her. So we had a little bit of an ins there already.
And then I think some of the others we, again, it was just… We maybe just got them at the right time. They had something that they wanted to talk about, that they were quite keen to get out in the world. And then, actually, it was a case of, I stalked people a little bit. So, I went to the visitor attractions conference at the end of 2018, or no, it was in 2019. So, I’d been stalking people that had spoken at the attractions conference previously, and saying, “Oh, I really loved your talk, it was really interesting, I wondered if you could come on and talk about the same thing on our podcast?” And that’s how I got a few of the early, of the second series people, come on.
So Jules Ozbek, who I think is fantastic, I heard her speak at the Visitor Attractions Conference at the end of 2019, and then I… I basically just stalked her a little bit on LinkedIn and asked her really kindly if she would come on the podcast, which she agreed to. And also Abbigail Olive, as well, who was awesome, from Castle Howard. Her story about… She shared the love story.
Paul Griffiths: Yes.
Kelly Molson: You must go back and listen to this episode because it’s a brilliant story. But it was about how they… There’s a wonderful love story that had happened that then brought them all of these incredible Chinese tourists to the place. And she was fabulous. And I think once people hear the calibre of guests that you can get, it sort of spirals a little bit from then.
But those first ones were… It was really, really tough. And I just think you’ve just got to keep ploughing on, and asking people. People will say no, but don’t be offended by that. Some of the people that have said no, would probably say yes now if I went back because I can showcase what we’ve done, and who’s been on.
Paul Griffiths: And so, how about now Kelly, do you have a long waiting list of guests lined up, you plan your series, don’t you? So, are you finding it easier to get guests now, how do you go about it now, now you’re that you’re already onto this podcast?
Kelly Molson: So, I still stalk people, if I’m honest. So, what I think, what’s great is that the guests we’ve had on… There is something really lovely about the attractions sector, in that, there is a community there already.
Paul Griffiths: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Kelly Molson: And what is wonderful is that we’ve had guests on, that I’ve then been able to say, “Who do you think that we should have on? Who do you think has got a really interesting story?” And I can remember doing this with Carly Straughan, and Johnny Lyle as well, both of them. I had really good chats with them after their episodes. And said, “Could you recommend some people that you think that would be really great for us?” And they’re so well connected, and they know everybody in the industry, and they were like, “Yeah.”
And they sent me lists of people. They were like, “You need to speak to this person, this person would be great.” And so, that’s how it spiralled. But because they knew them, obviously those guests come on, and then they knew more people and more people. So, that’s one of the best ways, is like saying to your guests, “Who do you think should come on and talk about this? Because you know the industry better than we do right now.”
And then I do stalk people. I go on to Twitter, and like I said, there is quite an active attractions community on Twitter. And I see who people are talking to, or I see Blooloop is a fantastic resource, Attractions Magazine is another great resource. I see stories that come up in there, and I think, “Wow, that would make a great podcast episode, let’s talk to them.” So I’ve got my eye on the Black County Living Museum at the moment. So, I’m doing a little bit of stalking at the moment, because I’d love them to come on and talk about their Tik Tok fame.
And so, stuff like that happens where you see what’s going on, and you think, “Great, they would be awesome. And then you just reach out to them.” But you do… I do get people to email us. Not very often actually, but occasionally people email us and say, “I think this person would make a great guest on the podcast, or we’ve got this thing that we’d love to talk about.” I have to be really conscious that there are sometimes will contact that… I don’t want the podcast ever to be salesy.
Paul Griffiths: Right yeah.
Kelly Molson: For me, it is an education piece, and it’s really important that it stays an education piece, so I’ll try to get that balance right between the kind of people that do come on, and what they’re talking about and those topics. So, sometimes people will say, “I’ve got this thing that I’ve launched, and I want to come and talk about.” And I don’t know that that’s a good fit for the audience at that point. So…
Paul Griffiths: Fab. And what about the promotion of a podcast, from the early days of getting it known, I guess was word of mouth. And now, how do you promote it? How do you keep gaining more listeners, and how have you got your success?
Kelly Molson: Well, it’s lovely that you think it’s successful. It is interesting because I think that success is really subjective. So, again, it goes back to your objectives, and what you are trying to achieve from it. Because our top one was always about education, we weren’t that focused on what the numbers were. So, people are, “Oh, how many downloads do you get?” It’s not really that relevant to us because that’s not what we were… We weren’t aiming to be number one in the podcast charts. So, the way that we’ve promoted it is by understanding where the community is. So, where do the people that would be our listeners hang out, and it’s mostly Twitter.
It’s a very active community on Twitter, so that’s really where we do most of our promotion. So we’ve got a Twitter account, specifically for Skip The Queue. We will post out on there when the new episodes are coming, and we’ll make graphics and snippets, and we’ll do as much as we can to promote the guest.
It’s actually probably more about promoting the guest than it is about promoting the podcast if that makes sense? So we really try to highlight those people and raise them up. And what’s great is that so many people then help us spread the word. So, the best people to share, and promote the podcasts, are the guests that come on. And we’ve been really lucky that we’ve had great guests that have wanted to do that.
We’ve had other great guests that have come on, and that’s it. They’ve come on, they’ve done the podcast, they’ve shared their knowledge, we don’t hear from them again. They’re not, they haven’t shared any of the Tweets, or any of the posts. And that’s fine. If that’s not their bag. But then, you do get a huge proportion of people that really want to. They’re really proud of the fact that they’ve been on. They want to share what they’ve done with other people. And that’s really where you see the numbers start to grow, and the interaction happen. We’ve got some really incredible loyal fan base.
You are one of them, Paul. You’re always super generous with sharing what you think about the podcast, or what you’ve learned from it. And Mark Ellis does as well, from the National Arboretum. And that’s how you spread the word. There are other things that you can do, which we haven’t done as actively as we could. But things like going on other people’s podcasts is a really good way of promoting your own podcast.
Paul Griffiths: Right.
Kelly Molson: And I was very kindly invited on the Attraction Pros podcast, which is our… It’s the US equivalent. Josh and Matt who run that are fabulous. And honestly, all of our listeners should subscribe to that if you’re not already because they get some really interesting guests on there, and they ask great questions as well. So that was a really lovely opportunity for us to cross-promote. And Matt and Josh have both been back on our podcast as well. So hopefully, that’s helped and crossed the big pond.
Sometimes it is also about getting a big name to come on the podcast too. And that drives up your listeners because they… So I reached out, oh God, I was so nervous about doing this. So I asked the ex VP of Disney if he would come on the podcast. And I was terrified. I sent this email on LinkedIn thinking, “He’s never going to reply to me.” And honestly, five minutes later he emailed back, and was like, “Yeah, I’ll come on.” “Oh God, now I’ve got to actually interview him.” I was so nervous. But that was incredible, the value that that gave to the podcast, and how it was able to position it. After that, no one said no to coming on the podcast since that point so…
Paul Griffiths: Lee Cockerell and you really are hard-hitting, aren’t you? And of course, I think from his perspective, I guess because he’s got a brilliant weekly podcast. Dan’s got a brilliant weekly podcast. So they are, as you said, going on other people’s podcast as a guest is a great way. And you said, was a brilliant episode of you on Attractions Pro, as was then, Matt and Josh came on yours. You talk about not worrying about the stats. Is there a little bit of you Kelly, that thinks it’s like Top of The Pops, back in the old days, and you’re wanting to see where you are on that list, and seeing how many people are listening, I know I would?
Kelly Molson: I don’t check it very frequently. I’ll be completely honest.
Paul Griffiths: Really.
Kelly Molson: No, I don’t check it very frequently. I started to do a top three on Twitter. Like the top three downloaded episodes, because I thought that would be interesting for listeners to know. But I did check it before we recorded this because I knew you were going to ask, so the most downloaded episode at the moment is The Making Of Harry Potter.
Paul Griffiths: Oh yeah. It was a-
Kelly Molson: With Geoff Spooner So, that was a great episode. And that, at the moment is on about 270 downloads. So, that’s like 270 individual brand new downloads. And at the minute I think we’re just about to hit 6,000 downloads in total. I don’t really even know what that means though. So, again, I’m just not that bothered about it. It is a niche podcast. It’s not for everybody.
Paul Griffiths: No.
Kelly Molson: And it was never made to be for everybody as well. So, I just think, for me, the numbers don’t really matter that much.
Paul Griffiths: Good answer. Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it? And I suppose for you it’s a quality, not quantity because you’re getting some people who are in that business, and going back to your original objectives, might well want to work with a digital agency, and you guys are therefore on the tips of everyone’s tongues I guess, which is achieving your objective.
Kelly Molson: Hopefully, yes. If it’s achieving one of the objectives, that would be wonderful.
Paul Griffiths: Yeah. Absolutely. The next question was all about the tech side, and I think you’ve already talked about a lot of things like the equipment you need, but also… So, when you’re planning your episodes, so your guest has agreed to come on. You’ve contacted them, and stalked them through various social medias, they know they’re being followed, and it’s like, “Better say yes, otherwise Kelly is never going to leave me alone.” Tell me a bit about what you do after that to prepare your guests, or to plan the episode.
Kelly Molson: So, a lot of the time I will have invited that guest on for a specific reason. So, there will have been something that I’ve seen, that they’ve been talking about, that I’ll think, “That would be really great to understand a bit more about that, and I think our listeners would like that as well.” So, that’s normally how it starts. Sometimes we have a pre podcast chat, so it might just be a five or 10-minute chat about what we’re going to talk about. Sometimes it might just be, I’ll email over and say, “Look, I heard you speak about this topic, I think it would be great to come on to the podcast, how do you fancy it?” If they say yes, then I work out a few pre questions. So, I don’t like it to be super structured, I mean, obviously, there is a structure to the podcast.
You all know that there’s ice breaker questions coming. You know that I’m going to ask for an unpopular opinion. But the rest of the podcast is… I try to structure it in a way where there’s three or four key questions that I really want to understand, but the rest of it is quite conversational, so it can go off on a bit of a tangent, and sometimes that’s a bit more relaxed for the guest. But also, some guests, they like to know what we’re going to be talking about, and what they’re going to be asked. So, by giving them three or four questions that structure the topic of that conversation, it makes them feel a bit more at ease because they know what to expect.
So that’s what I do. I just… And then there’ll be other times where I just think, “This person’s really great, and they would make a really great guest. I think they’d be a great guest.” But I might not have seen anything that I think they’ve been showcasing, or they’ve been talking about.
So then we’ll have a chat and say, “What could you share with the listeners?” What would you think would be relevant for them right now? Have you been through anything recently that’s been a learning curve for you? Have you had any challenges that you’re happy to come on and talk about?” Or, “Is something really exciting just about to happen that you think our listeners would be really interested in understanding more about why that’s happened?” So it’s a bit of a mixture.
Paul Griffiths: Brilliant. So, I’m sure some of our listeners today have been listening in because they are thinking about starting a podcast, or they’ve… And I think it’s been really great, Kelly, you’ve been so honest. Because I think it isn’t an easy process it seems. There’s a lot of work involved in it. I think it’s great that people know that. But if people were thinking of starting a podcast, what are your key tips, or advice you’d give them?
Kelly Molson: So I think that it’s going back to what we talked about initially, so it’s, “Why are you doing this in the first place? What are your objectives for starting a podcast?” And they’re going to be very different, depending on what you do as an organisation, whether you’re a supplier to the industry, whether you are the National Football Museum, for example, came on. And they talked a lot about why they started their podcast.
Paul Griffiths: Yes of course.
Kelly Molson: And a lot of that was to facilitate the fact that they weren’t open, they’d got all of these fantastic artefacts, shirts, all of those things that they could talk about, and have conversations about. And they’ve got a lot of content already that they knew that they could do something with. So the podcast seemed like a natural way of getting that out to the public when they couldn’t visit the centre. So, go right back, and think about what it is that you want to achieve by setting up this podcast.
And that might education, it might be getting something out to the world that you’ve got to share. It might be… It genuinely might just be, you’re an agency and you want to position yourselves in a certain sector. There’s other agencies that we know have podcasts who work in the tech sector, for instance. So they focus on having tech guests, and those kinds of conversations.
And then you really need to think about where your audience is, because I don’t think it’s enough to just have a podcast. You really want to be building some kind of community around that podcast. Or it’s just output all the time. There’s no engagement. There’s no… It doesn’t go to a deeper level. We’ve had so many incredible guests on there now. And a lot of those guests have turned into people that I can just call on about stuff. Or I can email and say, “How about this?” Or, “Oh, I saw this thing that I think that you’d really love. Here you go”
And I like that. I think that there’s a real positive energy to that. So, really think about what your objectives are? Who your audience is? Where they are? What do they want? What does your audience want to listen to? What is going to be relevant to them right now? We launched Skip The Queue in the middle of 2019, which was very different to the middle of 2020. And so, when we brought it back in 2020, for us, it was all about, “Okay, maybe COVID situation has given us a little bit of an opportunity here, because our audience is going to be, probably, far more engaged this year than they would last year. They’ve got a lot of time on their hands, sadly, with venues being closed and people on furlough. What would help them right now? What would be useful to them right now?”
And so, we pitched it as, “Let’s get people on that can share their experiences of how this has impacted them, what they’re doing to plan for re-opening. What things are they thinking about past COVID? How has this changed what their marketing plans might look like? How has this changed their digital strategy, and what that might look like?”
So, really, really think about what’s relevant to the audience that you’re trying to get in front of, at that time. Yeah, I think they’re my top tips.
Paul Griffiths: You’ve mentioned objectives quite a bit, Kelly, which is fascinating during this. And do you feel, when you sit back or look back at why you started it out, you’ve ticked those objectives? I mean, it sounds like you have, but do you feel that you have?
Kelly Molson: Yeah, I do. And I feel really proud of what we’ve achieved actually. I think that I’ve always been quite honest and said that I think that actually, the podcast was the thing that got me through last year, because although we work in the sector, we were very fortunate to be relatively busy last year as a digital agency, because of the situation, and people having to pivot, and make those changes. But it was still really, really tough, and for me, being able to speak to someone new and really interesting every week, or every couple of weeks, that could come on the podcast, was just a bit of a lifesaver really. It really helped me. But yeah. In terms of the objectives, has it ticked all the boxes? I mean, absolutely. I mean, what we know now about the sector, and what we know about the people in it, and the network that we have in it, is phenomenal. I couldn’t have asked for more from it.
And it has really brought some really interesting things. So, for example, I talked about going on the Attractions Pro’s podcast. Because of our podcast, we’ve been asked to go on to other people’s podcast. And that’s helped promote our services. And our services, and what we do isn’t really what we talk about on the podcast that much. So, that’s been really nice. We’ve been asked to speak at webinars. We were always going to exhibit at the Visitor Attractions conference last year, which we did. But I think the fact that we had the podcast helped me then get a speaker slot at that as well, because they could hear that I was, maybe not a bumbling idiot.
I don’t know? So, maybe that bolstered my chance of getting a speaker slot. And we’ve been asked to contribute to publications, we, like I said, we’ve got an amazing network, we’ve built up all of these fantastic connections and community. But actually, it has brought leads as well. It has brought us leads and things into the business, where people have said, “Well, I was looking for an agency and found you, but then I heard the podcast as well.” And so it reinforces your understanding of the sector, which I think makes people feel more trustworthy towards you. And more confident that you know… You’ll understand what’s important to them in their challenges.
Paul Griffiths: Yeah. No, I think it’s really done that. And moving forward, obviously, the last year has been successful, as we’ve said earlier, some amazing guests. What do you see… How do you take it forward? How do you take Skip The Queue forward, is it more of the same, or do you branch off into different things? Or what do you do next?
Kelly Molson: That’s a really good question. So, there’s lots of things that I’ve been thinking about doing. We are going to have a little bit of a Summer break.
Paul Griffiths: Yeah.
Kelly Molson: And we’re going to come back in October. So, just because we’ve been doing this continuously for a whole year now. And it wasn’t what I expected. I always thought we’d do… I thought we’d make it very seasonal. So we’d do eight or 10 episodes, and then have a break, and then do more. But I loved it so much last year, and genuinely it was keeping my spirits up, I said to Paul, “I’m just going to carry on. I’m just going to keep going through.” But it is definitely time for a little bit of a rest while all you guys open up this Summer, and go crazy with all the visitors that are going to come. I might just put my feet up for a little while.
I definitely want to do some panel events. There’s some things that Hannah and I, Hannah Monteverde from BeWILDerwood, spoke about. About women in the sector, which I think would be really interesting.
Paul Griffiths: Yeah.
Kelly Molson: And I’d like to get more… I’d like to do more panel events in terms of hot topics in the sector as well. And so, have three or four panellists that come on and talk about things. I really would like to do an event. I would love to do some kind of Skip The Queue event. I don’t know what that would be, whether it would be like a little mini-conference or a live podcast event. I think live podcast… Steve would probably go insane listening to this, and go, “No, don’t do it.” But I think I would really like to do something where we get everybody together because it has really felt like a bit of a community effort where people have got behind us.
Paul Griffiths: Yeah.
Kelly Molson: And it would be really nice to put something on when we’ve got everyone together when we’re able to do. So, I’ve got something like that ticking around in my head. Definitely more of the same as well. If that’s what everyone wants to hear. But I take this opportunity to ask, what would our listeners want? If you’re happy with the way it’s going, great. We’ll do more of that. If there are extra things that you’d love us to do, or you think would be really interesting, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t be shy.
Paul Griffiths: Brilliant. Kelly, thank you so much for sharing everything with us today, but more importantly, thank you for everything you’ve done in the last year. These podcasts have been a lifeline for so many of us. We’ve all loved listening, and you’ve built up this family of regular listeners who comment all the time. And I know people look forward to it, and can’t wait to download and listen. And you see that now, how quickly are responding to your episodes, and we’ve commented on it. But I know, from what you’ve told us today, you’ve really got into just how much work it is. So, on behalf of everyone, all the listeners, thank you so much.
But we can’t finish, of course, without a book recommendation, and I hope you’ve got several. So you have to drive your marketing budget through the roof, so, Kelly, I want to know a book that you would recommend, and our listeners can get by re-Tweeting this episode, and saying, “I want Kelly’s book.” On Twitter. So, what is your book recommendation?
Kelly Molson: So, this is the book that I have probably recommended the most throughout my career. And I read it about a year into having set up Rubber Cheese, well maybe about six to eight months into setting up Rubber Cheese, because somebody said to me, “Oh you need to get out, and you need to start networking.” And I was like, “What the hell is that then? I don’t know. What is networking? What do you do?” And they said, “Oh you go to meetings, and you meet loads of interesting people, and you just talk to them.” And I was like, “All right.” I was 25. I was like, “Okay, that sounds weird, but I’ll do it.” But somebody recommended Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People.
Paul Griffiths: Really?
Kelly Molson: And it is a really old book, but it is genuinely the book that I credit with changing my whole perspective about how to listen to people. About how to have really good conversations. And ultimately, it is the book that I’ve given out the most to people. So, I think a really lovely girl that I know, I was mentoring her for a little while a couple of years ago, and that was the first book that I sent her. And said, “Have a read of this, I think you’ll really enjoy it.” And it’s just the one book that I’ve sent out religiously to people. I’ve made Lee read when he started his photography business. Because I just think there’s something about it that just makes you really understand that it is about the other person, more than it is about you.
Paul Griffiths: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kelly Molson: And I think when you’re younger, you maybe… Well, me personally, when I was younger, maybe didn’t really understand that fully, about how to listen to people, and understand what was important to them, and letting them speak. So, that would be my recommendation.
Paul Griffiths: Well, thank you. And as I said, if you want that book, re-Tweet this episode link, and put, “I want Kelly’s book.” And Kelly will send you a copy if you’re the winner.
Kelly Molson: I will.
Paul Griffiths: If you’re the one lucky winner, I should say. She won’t send them out to everyone, because Kelly’s budget doesn’t stretch that far. Well, Kelly, thank you so much for coming on Skip The Queue, it’s been so insightful, so brilliant. And thank you for coming on.
Kelly Molson: Oh, you’re welcome. I really enjoyed this Paul. So thank you for being a fabulous interviewer today.
Paul Griffiths: You’re very kind.
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