“What do you want to make? Not, what should I be making?”
Christian Hull has built up a huge audience of “loyal and crazy fans” who are highly engaged and have helped him grow his media profile to a point where he can monetise it.
He shares some lessons with radioinfo about how he became a successful podcaster, how to monetise social media and how to diversify your media career.
- What radio stations have you worked at?
I did a few years in community radio at 2RRR in Gladesville NSW, FBi 94.5 in Redfern, NSW. Community radio was where it was at! SO MUCH FUN!
After AFTRS my first gig was at a regional station in Young, NSW then I joined SCA and was there for nine years working at NXFM, SAFM, FOXFM and 2DayFM.
- What was the most important thing you learned about radio at AFTRS?
Probably how closely you work with people. Radio is not a place to just work alone, speaking from a content perspective. I have always been someone who likes to work by myself and just do my own thing but I was suddenly in an environment where I had to work in a team. I have never really had that before. It was an adjustment and I learned a lot about work loads and allowing others to shine, don’t hog all the spotlight. THAT WAS A STRUGGLE! HAHA!
- You transitioned from a behind the scenes to an on air role by doing segments, was that part of a career strategy, or just luck?
Mostly luck I think. I won’t lie, I feel as though radio is a lot about being at the right place at the right time.
I was working as the assistant music director at NXFM and keen to get on air. An opportunity arose for me to play a character on the Breakfast show, so I became this flamboyant character giving out prizes. It was so much fun and did well and was a really good start into what would create the monster that is what I do now. I was really able to be myself in that role. Something that I struggled to be able to do in a music shift.
- You have a successful audio podcast channel and also a successful vodcast channel on Youtube. Which is more important for you professionally? Why?
I started the podcast when I was working in radio. I always wanted a radio show of my own and it never happened, so I though fuck it ill just start a podcast. I was already on Youtube at that point so I just filmed my podcasts and uploaded them. I think they are both so important, I am far more open on the podcast, for some reason I feel safer staying much more explicit things on it. In terms of exposure and dollars, Youtube is more beneficial but I love them both equally.
- Is audio your natural medium, given your radio background?
Maybe that’s why I’m so comfortable sharing my life on such a personal level on my podcast. I have never really thought about it. I definitely never hesitated when I started podcasting, I took to it pretty naturally. That’s obviously all radio’s doing.
- What is different in podcasting compared with radio?
SEE MY ANSWER FOR STAND UP! LOL! I’d say no meddling from management. Total freedom. In my case anyway.
When you look at the bigger picture podcasting is an on demand service. When I have free time I can login and listen to so many things. Not just a 3 minute interview but an in depth discussion. Radio doesn’t offer that. Radio is time and temp and a tight 5. If you do get anything good going it’s then interrupted with ads.
Radio used to be the place to hear your favourite stars talk about their life, play a fun game and then hear their song for the first time. Then the internet came along and ruined all that. It just doesn’t offer what it used. We now have direct access to twitter feeds, instagram stories and live streams of all these major celebrities.
- How does your podcast audience respond to your podcasts, do they listen right through, do they skip, what kind of audience habits are you noticing?
My favourite comments are “I listen to this podcast to fall asleep.” If that’s not the best endorsement!
To be totally honest I don’t look at the listening habits that closely. I have fun recording each episode and it’s almost a form of therapy for me. If I have 10 or 1000 listeners I’m so happy.
- What makes a great podcast?
Originality. I also think that the niche podcasts are some of the most successful. They are hosted by a really passionate person in a topic that they love and are currently involved in. Take the podcast ‘A Life Of Greatness’. The host, Sarah Grynberg, wasn’t someone with a big social media following. In fact she didn’t have a social following at all. She had passion and determination. She built a podcast from the ground up and now interviews some of the leading figures in her field, we are talking HUGE! Dr Joe Dispenza HUGE. She has also spoken with massive Aussie celebrities and built a big audience.
Podcasting has allowed people like Sarah these opportunities. People are now creating the success themselves. No longer do we need someone to ‘make us a star’.
She made the podcast work for her, she took something she loved and turned it into a business. People sometimes think podcasting is easy. Let’s just talk shit and then we will get all these listeners. That really only works if you have a big social following and people know who you really are.
If you want to start a podcast, why? I also think people can get into podcasting for the wrong reasons and go down a totally different path than what they intended. Many want to be the focus but instead create a podcast that shines a light on their guests. They think they need to interview people or have a guest to banter. When all people want from them is to hear them do their thing.
It all comes down to being authentic. What do you want to make? Not, what should I be making?
- Did your radio profile help you build your social media profile, or was it the other way around?
Radio taught me all the necessary lessons to be able to build my social profile.
Having constant airchecks and sitting in countless meetings about what audiences want and their listening habits, I learnt how to get my point across quickly and effectively in my videos. I started with the ‘get to the point (punchline) as quickly as possible’ and it took off pretty quickly.
At the time I was posting my own content I had been working in the social media side of SCA for about 18 months. I had a good amount of knowledge about how to get in and get stuff done. I also did something very cheeky and actually used SCA big social following on Facebook to share my own videos off my page. It’s totally cheating but my logic was that we were sharing all these popular American creators funny video why can’t we share content from within SCA. I got away with it for about a month until I was pulled up and told I needed to stop.
I always thought that it was weird I was told to stop sharing content I was making. Here was a perfect opportunity to work with me, but instead it was shut down. I was happy to concede defeat, the scheme was up. I had at that point amassed about 20K followers on Facebook. I was so happy with that.
· You are all over all the social platforms, including TikTok. Which is the best for you? Why?
They are all hugely beneficial. Each platform speaks to different people.
TikTok has exploded for me and is one of my biggest audiences. I have been able to reach a huge US audience and a much younger one. I have recently had huge success in the States when I uploaded TikToks of me guessing paint colours. The most bland videos blew up and I have been inundated with interview opportunities. It featured on BBC radio in the UK and also I’m about to do a chat with a show on Comedy Central and even had the Ellen Show reach out. ALL BECAUSE I GUESSED PAINT COLOURS. That’s the power of social media.
- Facebook is still the big gorilla of social media, but it seems its audience has changed. Do you need to do different content for different platforms?
YES! You can film one piece of content and post it everywhere ,but the key is to make platform specific content.
Shoot it in the right dimensions, make sure it’s under a minute for TikTok. Youtube love longer form videos.
It’s almost impossible to make different videos for all the different platforms. That’s just so much work. You can however make sure you don’t just throw up the same video everywhere, I don’t think that’s a great idea, you spread yourself too thin. If you are going to do that you may as well just pick one platform and focus all your energy on it, but… I also think that’s a bad idea.
The more platforms you are on the more secure you will be. I am on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Podcasting. If one platform suddenly dies, for example if they do remove TikTok, my business won’t disappear.
- What are your top tips for a successful social media public profile?
Social media will continue to change and it will be a constant battle to make stuff that works on each platform. I have learnt that for me to be able to maintain my sanity, I need to not play into the algorithm and try and make stuff I think will be pushed into people’s feeds. Some people try and make content they think will work rather than make stuff authentic to them. I have fallen down that trap, but these days I don’t care so much about the views and shares, but more about making stuff I actually enjoy and find fun.
Like radio you will have low ratings periods and your content won’t perform as well as it has been. You can’t have wins without losses, otherwise how do you know when you have won. Sometimes stuff works and sometimes it doesn’t. You can’t live by the ‘ratings/views’. I think creators burn out because they think that for something to be successful they need to constantly make bigger and better content everytime and that is simply not true.
People will follow you because they like what you do, they like the story you tell. They enjoy watching you. Not the scale of the event. If you are authentic real people will be able to relate to it. You can’t be fake, don’t stage pranks, don’t lie, it will only bite you on the arse and people can spot it from a mile away.
- Comedy is a big part of your profile. How would you describe your style of comedy?
Story telling. I wouldn’t say I fit the ‘classic’ stand up comedian.
Yes I’m on stage doing comedy, but I think of myself as a dramatic story teller. I share stories from my life and observations in a dramatic and comedic way. That’s why people love the videos I make and I just take that to a new level on stage.
I asked people to send pics of their proudest costume! ##halloween
- How is standup comedy different from radio?
It is absolutely uncensored and the comedian can say whatever they want. They are not beholden to advertising dollars and broadcasting rules. They get the loud laughs instantly, there are no competing egos in the room and no one from management is telling them what they think their audience wants to hear.
- You did a recent video on dad jokes. It really emphasised how powerful laughter is and how important a good laugh is for a media personality. Do you agree? Is your laugh real and spontaneous or do you ‘perform’ it for the camera/mic and exaggerate it a bit when performing?
I have always been someone who is a really easy audience. I laugh at almost anything. When I worked on the Dan & Maz Show, Dan used to say that I was the worst person to run a joke past as I laughed at everything. I really do.
I can work myself into a laughing fit over the smallest and stupidest things. If I see people having fun in videos usually I’m loving it to so I don’t post content where I’m not enjoying myself.
I’m also naturally a very over the top person, my reactions to things are about 10 times more than the average person.