In this episode of the Project Ignite podcast, Derek interviews podcasting authority & podcast marketing expert Paul Colligan. Paul shares his thoughts on how podcasts have changed, how audiences have changed, how easy it is today to put together a great podcast, and how to market your podcast.
- Get Paul’s book here: http://www.amazon.ca/How-Podcast-2015-Broadcast-Connected-ebook/dp/B00Q5V25RE.
- This is the mic Paul mentions in the podcast: http://www.bluemic.com/nessie/.
- Sign up with Libsyn and enter keyword PAUL for your first month free at https://www.libsyn.com/.
- Get Paul’s special offer to help monetize your podcast at http://www.PaulColligan.com/Derek.
Hey guys, welcome to the Project Ignite podcast. This is your host, Derek Gehl, and today’s guest is someone who’s been in the world of online marketing for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been around a pretty darn long time.
Through his career, he’s played key roles in dozens of successful Internet products that have seen tens of millions of visitors and dollars in revenue; in addition to offering multiple Amazon bestsellers, he’s helped dozens of other authors release their books to top ten spots on Amazon; he’s cracked the code on youtube, getting millions of views there; and he’s also a leading authority on a topic that is pretty near and dear to my heart these days, and that is podcasting.
He has authored not one but two books on podcasting, and he has his own podcast, called the Podcast Report. So I’d like to introduce and welcome Paul Colligan to the Project Ignite Podcast.
Thank you so much for being here today.
Hey, thanks so much. And the sad thing is, it’s not two books on podcasting, it’s actually five on podcasting.
Seriously? You’ve done five books on podcasting?
Yeah [laughs]. I can’t stop myself. You know, the first step is admitting you have a problem.
You know, it’s funny, before we started recording, Paul and I were talking about how long he’s been doing podcasting for, and I don’t know anyone in this space that has been podcasting as long as Paul–since 2005.
Let’s kick things off, Paul, can you spend a few minutes and just tell us your story? You’ve been involved with Internet marketing, you’ve done so much; give us some background and how you eventually ended up where you are today.
I have a book on my bookshelf, it’s a big yellow nerdy book, and it’s called “The Beginner’s Guide to the Internet”. It came out before the web, okay. That’s how long I’ve been doing this. It has two paragraphs in it about this new thing called the web. That’s how long I’ve been involved. In 2000, I had a gig in a consulting firm in the World Trade Centre in Portland, Oregon. I had this gig, I learned a lot of business, I paid my bills, with great people, but it wasn’t the entrepreneur lifestyle. I had to check in every morning, check out every night.
The company that kept me alive honestly, was a company called Audible, which does digital book-on-tape. They’re still around, they’re still great. Back then, the machines that would allow me to run Audible would give me two hours a day, so as long as I remembered to sync up going to and from work, I was fine.
In 2000, I was about to launch my first product, and I got an email out of the blue from the president of Audible, saying, “whenever I’m in town, I look up our five oldest clients, and I buy them dinner.” And so then there’s a couple things for you Derek, there’s dinner–steak, actually, for free, which was even better, and the CEO of a company that I greatly admire.
This is the win, win, win. About three quarters of the way through the conversation, talking about needy to grab opportunities, the other people didn’t even show up! So it was me, a steak dinner, and the CEO of what I though was the most important Internet company that there was. I realized that the first product I was going to release, it would explode if it was on audible.
The reach that they had, the penetration they had, it was phenomenal. It just kind of happened during dinner, I just said, “hey, how can I get onto Audible?” and he said, “oh, no problem!”
And it was the best moment ever. Better than the steak dinner. He said, “well, it’s $500,000 to get in,” and at that time, that was just not even ascertainable. And I kind of just put my glass down and slumped down in my seat, and I can’t even remember the rest of the evening. It was so frustrating.
Podcasting shows up four years later, and I saw it as, I can start playing Audible. From day one. I can get my content to distributed to devices at any time, anywhere. There were no licensing fees, unlike Audible, who had done an incredible job of being on like 70% of all the devices, podcasting is on all of the devices.
With Audible there was all of this expense, and with podcasting there was no expenses for all sakes and purposes.
It was just phenomenal. It was eye opening. I was in love from day one. I can record it, click a button, and in literally twenty minutes someone in India has downloaded it and is enriching their lives with it. It’s phenomenal.
So I came to podcasting very differently than anyone else, I came to it with this vision of getting my content out with a network that I already saw. Tom over at Audible is a brilliant man, and he’s maintained that vision where he’s getting stuff, that’s there as well, and his is premium and payable, but there are times when you want to do it free. I’ve been doing that from the beginning and it’s just been a blast.
I started a show right away, oftentimes just exploring the medium, my first show was a show with Alex Mandossian, and it was called Marketing Online Live with Paul Colligan and Alex Mandossian. And on that show, we basically just turned on the phone lines and tried to figure out what this whole world meant. At the time iPods were all locked up, and it was hard to do anything with the iPod at that level, and we had this vision as speakers of giving pre-loaded media players to people, but there’s just no way to do it.
We kept saying on the show, “wouldn’t it be great if there was someone that made pre-loaded media players?” Well, Podcast Expo number one, there were about a hundred of us that attended. This guy walks up to me and says “my name’s Dan Safkow,” and I said, “what do you do, Dan?” and he said, “Well, I produce pre-loaded media players for speakers and consultants.” Like, wow! We’ve been hoping for this!! And he said, “well yeah, that’s where I got the idea. I was listening to your show, it made sense, and so I launched a company.” You launched a company as a result of my podcast?! “Yeah.”
So I got back from Podcast Movement, and guess what was in my suitcase? A bunch of pre-loaded media players from Dan Safkow over at Logo Your Audio, so you know, companies and empires can be launched with great success. We’re in the early days of your show, but it would be fun to come back and explore it in a year to see what happens with you. It’s just amazing what’s possible now.
It’s absolutely incredible. And we were talking before we started recording here, and you just came back from Podcast Movement, and we were talking about how it’s really just been the past 18 to 24 months that podcasting has really just exploded. You’ve been doing it since 2005, though. After attending podcast Movement, what do you reckon has been the catalyst that has been making this so mainstream all of a sudden?
What’s funny is the old timers, the mainstreamers. They love to say there’s no Renaissance, there’s no explosion, there’s no nothing.
And I could sort of argue with them, but the fact is that something happened. What is it that happened? If you look at the stats of podcast consumption over the past ten years, the growth has been very predictable, very steady, despite what everybody thinks, has constantly been going up. The big thing is the smartphone. It used to be that when I got into my car in 2000, I had a pocket PC from Microsoft with a 16 megabyte card that took me 30 minutes to sync up my show, and I had to do that every day. Podcasting pops up, and I’ve got an iPod with a little more space, but it’s still something that has to happen.
Now, my family is on T-Mobile, and everyone has 2.5 gigabytes of high speed bandwidth on their phones for their $10 per month family plan. More Americans than not have a smartphone. The statistics have come out that the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to listen to a podcast, because you’ve got the smartphone and the data plan. Get in the car, and you look at the radio and go “ugh, it’s radio,” but you’ve got this device that allows you to listen to what you want, when you want, and how you want.
I got in the car about six or seven years ago with my eldest, and I go, “oh man, I forgot the iPod!” And she said, “what are we gonna do?” She was about six or seven then. And I say, “well, we’ll listen to radio.” Then she said, “what’s radio?” And I just had to laugh. Everything they say about the future is true. So how do we explain radio? So I say, “radio is kind of like an iPod, but instead of us choosing what we want to listen to, someone else chooses what we want to listen to.” It was the best I could do on the fly. What does she say? “Why would we wanna do that?”
And that’s what we think of the radio. So there’s content out there to consume, based on what we want. You’ve got entrepreneurs, someone else has leaky bowel syndrome, the other guy has classical painting, the other guy has rock music. The content that you’re looking for is available when you’re ready on the device you happen to be carrying. Of course it’s going to explode. Podcasting really hasn’t changed, but what’s happened is it’s so easy to consume and so easy to produce now that I think that has just brought it into the public perception in pretty amazing ways.
That’s really interesting. And you’re a wealth of knowledge, because you’ve been doing this for so long. So I was really looking forward to doing this, because I’ve got lots of things that I want to know. And you just got back from Podcast Movement, so you’re really up on this. When you look at podcasting in our space–the entrepreneurial, Internet marketing space–there’s all sorts of podcasts, right? We’re typically early adopters, you especially! What do you see, beyond the mainstream stuff? Are people starting to podcast in those micro niches, and is there demand for podcasts in the micro niches beyond say, mainstream entrepreneur, or health, etc.?
The right information to the right person at the right time is extremely valuable. I do this podcast, called the Podcast Report, it’s sort of my perceptions and ideas about what’s happening in the industry, and there’s this idea that the only metric is downloads.And I said one day, “there isn’t a person listening to this show who would be upset with the download of one, if that download was the President of the United States of America.”
What we want to do is get our message to the right person. In some cases, that’s getting our message to a thousand people and collecting a dollar from each one of them. And in some cases, that’s getting that message to one person and collecting a thousand dollars from them. Niche-ifying your podcast and letting Apple distribute for you is absolutely fantastic. In the old days, we had to find a store at the right place, with the right foot traffic, and we had to buy the right inventory at the right price to make the right margins. Terrifying! Now, everything is on demand. We could be located wherever we want to record this–you’re on vacation right now!
[laughs] Yeah, I’m up at Whistler.
And that’s the beauty of it! So I can niche-ify, and the whole world is open. I was doing research for a client of mine, and [there’s this one podcaster] in Turkmenistan, and this guy has great downloads. So I look up Turkmenistan in Google, and lo and behold, the first listing in the CIA world factbook, and the second is the freedom of the press negative report kind of thing, you know, this is a country where less than five percent of the country has Internet access, it’s still controlled by Russia, it’s all of those Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, it’s all totally banned, but this guy’s podcast is getting downloaded on a regular basis there. That is fantastic, you know?
So I think niche-ifying is perfect. The problem with that is you can’t–well, I had a hashtag going at a presentation I gave. The hashtag was #itsjustmath. And what I mean by that is, it’s all about monetization–if you’ve got one customer, and you get $5 a year annually from him, you might need to rethink your strategy. It’s just math. Get a calculator and make the stuff work out.
So now what I want to do, for most people that are listening, they listen to podcasts and they know that podcasts are this great tool to engage and bring more people to their businesses. But there’s a bit of intimidation there. I had one of my students ask me the other day, you know, “how much does it cost to broadcast a podcast?” So there’s this perception that starting a podcast is difficult. I was flipping through your book, How to Podcast in 2015, and you have this great definition of podcasting, could you share that?
Yep, yep. There’s a great–you know, I love entrepreneurs. But there are a lot of people making a lot of money in making podcasting very complicated. Some of them do it out of the pure love of–like, they’re the same people that would spend six years deconstructing and reconstructing a car. So it isn’t always bad that they make it complicated, but it just isn’t.
I struggled over this part of the book, I spent more time on this part than anywhere else, but podcast is simply audio or video made available online, for both easy on-demand consumption, and/or subscription based delivery. So we make it available online, you know, we all have computers, we can make that stuff pretty quick, put it online, put some tech into play for subscription based distribution, and that’s the true power, which I think a lot of people forget.
It’s funny because, think–how expensive is it to write a book or record a song? It’s what you do with the podcast that matters. I thought, let’s write a book and get it out of the way.
So I wrote this really simple book, and when I was done, it was only 66 pages long, and that was with a little bit of self reflection. I put it up on Amazon, and some people are going to say, “thanks for not wasting my time,” but the whiners–and we all know them–are going to say “the book’s too short”.
So the rest of the book, I had some of my friends in the industry that are killing it do a couple interviews, articles, blog posts. It’s all supplementary information on how to podcast. Really, totally, there’s a book called How to Podcast 2015, and if you’re listening to this in 2016–guess what it’ll be called then. This book really is the entirety of everything you need with at least three or four pages dedicated to registering the book so I can keep in contact with you. It’s really not that complicated.
I’ll include a link to the book in my show notes. I’ve purchased a copy, and if you’re starting out with podcasts, you know, I flipped through it and I was one of those “thanks for not wasting my time” guys. It’s straight to the point, it doesn’t over complicated it, and the problem I see with podcasting is people start down this path and then all of a sudden, what equipment do I need? You know, they overwhelm themselves. They over complicate it.
Can you imagine a writer who doesn’t write because he doesn’t know what pen to buy?
Or if Bob Dylan spent too much time deciding on which guitar to play. These are just tools. Means to an end. Let the tech go.
Okay I know a lot of listeners here are thinking, “I like listening to podcasts, I like the value, but is it right for my business?” Are there businesses that shouldn’t use podcasts, or should? What kind of businesses would this benefit the most?
Any business with a message that could be consumed by podcast, it just makes sense to use podcasts. My bookkeeper, unfortunately, every year, we realize, taxes are due and we have our panic meeting, and that kind of stuff. I’ve been joking with him for ten years, if you just sent me ten minutes every week on what I should be thinking about that week, imagine where I’d be at the end of the year? It’s a service to me as a client, but I’d also share it with everyone I knew. This guy would have so much businesses he wouldn’t know what to do with it. So, a bookkeeping podcast. Would you listen to ten minutes a week to stay on track financially?
Oh, no question.
Of course you would. Now, if you’re a toilet repairman, god bless you, but I’m not going to consume this type of content from you. If there’s a home construction podcast, that’s part of the game, and your presence there makes it really interesting.Basically, if you’ve ever been getting content to your clients, then the ideal place is podcasting. If you’ve never given content to your clients ever, not only are you not the right person for podcasts, but I don’t know how long your business is going to last.
Because business is relationships. It’s long term. Nobody makes money on the first sale, or the first consultation, it’s got to be a long term game. This is how to do it. Think about the intimacy, here. You take me to work with you! You take me to the gym with you! And that’s phenomenal. If you want to get information to your client base in the most intimate way, this is how to do it.
Today, I had a client send me a 6 minute video and I was answering emails with that video playing up in the top corner. If he’d just sent me audio, I would’ve taken it in the car with me; it’s just an entirely different vehicle for consumption. So I think it’s for a lot more once you get this idea that it’s just like a show. The evening news. That’s when I realized that you were getting information to the people that matters.
Another element of podcasting that I see, it goes back to–well, do you write a book to make money?
Exactly. It increases your credibility, maybe, you know, when people realize you have a book up on Amazon. But from my perspective, writing a book is a lot of work. What we now have is the ability to sit down with a mic and create a message, and educate, and build credibility, but now we can publish this on iTunes. On a platform where in the average market, that builds huge credibility. But what most people don’t know is that anybody can do this.
And, if you do a blog post, the average blog post takes about 2.5 hours. How long does a 15 minute podcast take, if you do it right? 15 minutes! So you’re positioned in a way that you’ve never been before, and it’s also less work. Like, hopefully, your customers are not reading your blog while they’re driving to work. My wife a couple years ago, asked me, “why do you blog?” And I gave her all of these buzz words in return, and she just said, “Paul, everybody blogs. It’s not special.”
And she’s right!
There are like 18 trillion blogs. But podcasting is special.
I think it’s still in its infancy, in that there’s so much room in all of these niches for people to come in and start filling those voids where people are looking for that information. It’s gonna be a lot harder to get into that New and Noteworthy in a few years. I think it’s a great strategy to start acting on this now.So here’s the question, when someone is thinking about podcasting, these are the questions that I get and that I know you get as well.
So for example, I’m new to podcasting, and I say, “Paul, I want to start a podcast for my business. What do I need today to get started?”
First of all, I would say that your phone is probably more than enough. You really don’t need anything. The question is, what do you need to have decent sound? You need a microphone. You need a USB microphone, there are plenty under a hundred dollars. Right now, my favourite microphone is the Blue Nessie. It’s great, portable, does great sound, I’m using it right now. It has a little clip on it that makes your voice a little bit deeper and gives a better sound.There are plenty of hosting companies.
A lot of us nerdy entrepreneurs would probably think that our existing host would have everything that we need. Media hosting is slightly trickier, but the good news is that there are options starting at $5 per month to handle all of this. I don’t have a single podcast that pays more than $20 for hosting. There’s a company called Libsyn, that is kind of the de facto podcast hosting platform. Right now, coupon code PAUL will get you your first month free. They only bill on the first, too, so if you sign up on the third, you’ll get that month free, and the next one free, and you wouldn’t be billed until the following first.
It’s all long term play, here. That’s all you really need.
Next question, is “how often should I podcast? And how to I come up with content?”
How often is like, how long is a piece of string? It depends on what the use is. You might defer to human psychology. The whole purpose of podcasting is to be trusted, and a huge part of trust is predictability. And a huge part of predictability is predictability! Once a week seems to be the sweet spot. That way, I never ask, is he on or not? I ask, am I going to listen to it or not? Beyond that, it gets complicated to track. Whatever you do, just be extremely predictable.
I know a guy that does a show on the 1st and the 15th of the month, even though those dates fall on different days each week. Predictability, once a week seems to go well.Content is kind of a funny question. I have people all the time who just don’t think full cycle.
Someone will ask me, how do I find the top video on iTunes for X? Well… You go to iTunes, and you type it in… And see what comes up. If you know your industry, and your topic, you know what the questions are that people ask you over and over again.
My second book was called Podcast Strategies, and it came from the top twenty questions that people ask me over and over and over again. Questions like how to market your podcast, how to grow your podcast, how to get podcast listeners when your brand new with no list… effectively everything you need to know about promoting your podcast.
They were actually recorded as a podcast. Episode one was question one. They were transcribed, an editor came in, and then we put it up on Amazon. If you know your industry, you know what the questions are. There’s no one on here that, if they know their industry, couldn’t sit down with wine or coffee and a pen, and write out 50 questions about your industry.
Just like that, you’ve got your first year of podcasts scheduled out. You could also just ask your audience, “what do you want to know?” Certain questions will rise to the top, and that’s where you start.
A lot of people go to Google and type in questions, nowadays. If you title your podcast as a question, that’s a piece of SEO perfection if you do it right. If you come up to me and say, “I’m an expert on X, and I can only drum up 15 minutes of content, then you’re not an expert on X.”
It is not that complicated. #itsjustmath. We think about all these things, I call my bookkeeper with the same couple questions every year, you know, can I write this off? He knows this stuff. If he just did a podcast and answered all of these questions, it could be phenomenal. You know your audience. They want these answers!
Now I want to go back to frequency again. A lot of people listen to podcasts like Entrepreneur On Fire, where John Lee Dumas is podcasting every single day. And then there’s the philosophies that when you first start out, you want to get up into New and Noteworthy within your category, minimum two or three times a week. What’s your take on that, when you’re getting started?
There’s a lot in that. Good questions. John is a good friend of mine, and I have nothing of tremendous respect for him. He has done what’s made sense for him, and he’s knocked it out of the park. That formula worked for him. Let me give you facts. Fact #1: to be in New and Noteworthy, you need one thing. You have to be new.
[laughs] Well, that was complex.
You need one episode to be New and Noteworthy. A couple dozen downloads to prove it wasn’t you hitting subscribe twenty times. So let’s do the math. I’ve done several high-level launches. One client, we got to #1 in all of iTunes. Another client we got to #4. That client was told, you’ve got to have 5 episodes in the bag. So she put up five episodes. When you sign into iTunes, you know what it downloads? The newest episode. So people were subscribing, and what did they get?
That fifth episode. Not the intro, or what I’m doing, or why I’m here. That episode 5 even today has still been downloaded more than number one. We’ve all been to that YouTube page with three views. The guy who uploaded it, the guy who checked it, and his mom. So there’s one episode, and you wonder, is this going to have any longevity to it? That’s going to be answered more by the artwork, and the quality of the content, and I know people that want to get ten or twelve up before I market it. No. Put one up.Another thing, don’t count on New and Noteworthy to do much for you.
Most people that go to iTunes and search things up are podcasters. Most of us check out a podcast because it’s been recommended by somebody else. And most of us go to websites and click the iTunes button. If anyone took an average show and asked ten clients where the charts were on iTunes, I bet statistically speaking, none of them could call to it.
What’s interesting is, I spoke to that on-demand OR subscription based content, this is really key. Well, most of us, we tend to be really in love with our blogs. So we say, come to my blog, check it out, and click the play button. Well the problem with that is that every time you have a new episode, you have to make them do that again. With subscriptions, it does that automatically.
With my client that got to #4, every time she releases an episode, in the course of 24 hours, she gets about 18 thousand downloads. Without marketing it. Because they got the subscribe. That came not from 18,000 people looking at the chart and downloading. This came from 100,000 emails going out to let people know it was available. Thats what you want to think about.
That was invaluable. That goes against so much what’s out there, but it makes so much more sense than other theories that I’ve heard.
I can get anybody on New and Notable, fast. Some, not even on purpose, without album art, many without a single review. You have to be new, and downloaded. That’s it.
Something else you said that was really interesting, I see this happening a lot with podcasting, is when people launch it, and they embed the player on their website, and they make people listen to it there. That does negate the need to subscribe to that podcast. So when you run your podcast, do you ever embed that on your website? Or do you force them to go to iTunes?
I’ve played with all of it. I have a podcast called, do Podcast Websites Even Matter? For each visit to my website, I get about 80 downloads. The stats are right there. My message is to always subscribe.
Now, for the person just getting started, if I am new and I don’t have a database, how do I kickstart a podcast to start getting listeners?
The big question: How to market your podcast when you have ZERO listeners?
So, John Lee, great guy, has such an impact on the space that we call it the John Lee Dumas effect. He posts seven interviews per week. The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot of the interview that thinks the purpose of the Internet is to interview other podcasts about their podcasts. The beautiful thing about this now, is that you take your topic, type in your topic, take a look at all the podcasts, and you contact them and offer to give an interview. Something of value, and then you ask them for the same in return.
Here’s a little secret: let’s say you weren’t Derek, and you had a listenership of four. If you do a podcast about my topic, and add my keywords, you’re gonna post to my show. And now I have an inbound link. That’s SEO gold.
I asked John Lee about this over lunch one day, I said, “why are you killing yourself like this? You could be doing one show per week instead of seven.” And he said, “because this way, I have someone advertising my show every single day of the year.”
He just passed his 1000th show. That means 1000 people have marketed his show. It’s just math.
But don’t forget about your existing list. Once you tell people, “I have a podcast”, you might lose them. But if my bookkeeper says, instead of “I have a podcast”, “every Monday morning I have this thing that will round-up what you need to be thinking about this week,” wow. I’m sold. If the message is, I have this message to convey whenever you have time, on your terms, it’ll be an incredible success story for your audience. And then they’ll give it to their friends.
Now, I have one more question for you. Now that you’ve told us how to market your podcast, how do you monetize it?
There are four ways to monetize a podcast. Only four:
- Number one, pre-sell the show. There are people that get gigs making podcasts for someone else.
- Number two, sell somebody else. That’s the majority of what you see right now. Advertising. You hear Go Daddy ads, or funnily enough, Audible ads, full circle.
- The third is that you can sell yourself, your time, by way of membership, or subscriptions.
- The fourth way is to sell content. People say, wait a minute, I give it away for free–can I really sell it? Yes. You can sell books, podcasts, subscriptions, DVDs, BluRays, supplementary material. Rehashing of that free content. It’s all numbers games. Wouldn’t it be great if there were calculators that let you figure out which one is the best?
You know, Paul, I think there might be.
Absolutely! And in my presentation for Podcast Movement we go over all of the stuff on how to market your podcast, and I give you a calculator for all four of those models and I’d love to give them to you guys.The majority of your market is international right?
Just think global.
Okay. Go to PaulColligan.com/Derek. Let’s stick with that. I’ll then give you the ability to opt in and grab the presentations and the calculators. It’s just the four models and running the numbers on it, and deciding what you want to do. It’s just numbers!
Paul, thank you so much for your generosity, the URL will be included in the show notes. He’s got some really cool stuff there, that I will definitely be taking advantage of there. Thank you so much Paul for sharing so much with us. I’m definitely going to have you back on. Thank you to everyone who made time to be here today, if you haven’t subscribed already, do it now–we’ve got tons of amazing people and things that you can apply to your businesses and your websites. So thank you again, and we’ll see you next time.