Scott Voelker started The Amazing Seller podcast 18 months ago after two prior failed podcast attempts. Despite breaking all of the rules of podcast marketing, he has generated over 5,000,000 downloads and has created the #1 podcast in his category. In this episode Scott takes us behind the scenes and shows us how he did it.
To check out Scott’s website: theamazingseller.com
Transcription Episode 94: How His Podcast Hit 5,000,000 Downloads In 18 Months By Breaking All Of The Rules – With Scott Voelker
Welcome to the Project Ignite podcast, a podcast that just skips past all that BS, all that hype and give you guys real actionable tips and strategies from real digital entrepreneurs that are actually using this stuff to help you grow your business on the internet.This is your host, Derek Gehl, and today we’re going to be diving deep into podcasting and how to start a podcast show.
Our guest today, he’s a long time digital entrepreneur. He’s built numerous successful online business, selling digital products followed by a move into the Amazon physical products world where he’s crushing it as well and although I’d love to dig into both those topics today we’re actually going to focus in on the podcasting and how to start a successful podcast.
He’s had some pretty outstanding results since the he decided to create a podcast eighteen months ago. He decided to create a podcast called The Amazing Seller and to date he has had over five million downloads which is really an incredible feat when you consider, I think the mean average for podcast episode downloads hosted by Libsyn right now, I think it’s around 2,000. The average for the first thirty days is like a 150 downloads.
To pass 5,000,000, I’ve got some respect for this guy. He’s crushed the averages. Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Scott Voelker to the show.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Now, before we get started could you just take a second to expand on my introduction? You’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time. You came into the digital space. That segued into the physical space.Now you’re here today on my podcast being interviewed about how to create a podcast. Walk me through your journey. How’d you get started? Give us the Coles Notes here. What are your businesses? How did they expand?
No, it’s funny because I’m learning as I go through this process and I think anyone that’s getting started or even that’s in business, I think you have to expect that there’s going to be changes and there’s going to be times that you’re going to pivot.I’m a big take action guy. I say that on my podcast. It’s like our saying on there. It goes hand in hand with what I really believe in because I’ve found that as I’ve moved through different business or just different opportunities that I play around with it always opens up other doors and makes me aware of things that I normally wouldn’t have been aware of.
I’m a really basic guy as far as what I really need. What I really need and want is freedom and lifestyle and going back I guess now, I’m forty-four years old. I’ve been married now for twenty-two plus years. I’ve got three beautiful children and they range in ages, and you and I were talking in the pre-interview a little bit, from eight years old to an 18 year old, to a 21 year old.
I’m all over the map there with the kids then but I realized really soon, as I got out of high school, I didn’t go to college. I was brought in to my father’s business which was in construction and I learned the business of brick and mortar and a lot of hard work too, the labor, intensive.
I learned a lot about business and I also learned that that’s not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I think from that point it really made me realize that when I had kids especially that I wasn’t home as much as I wanted to.
I was working sixty plus hours a week and the problem with that though is that I felt like that’s all I knew and that’s all I could do and I wasn’t smart enough because I didn’t have a college degree that I couldn’t really get into a good job or something that I could do that I wasn’t doing something manually.
To fast forward a little bit in that, my wife and I sat down one day as I had my new child that was brought into the world and like two years after she was born and we said, you know what, there’s got to be something different.
We started talking about opening up our own part time photography business. We knew nothing about photography. Nothing at all but I figured I could figure this thing out. My wife was really good with a camera. She always got compliments on her pictures, even just with a throwaway camera. She just had a good eye for it, enjoyed it, and after we started bringing our little one to get pictures we’re like, we can do a better job. Just customer service wise but then also just pictures wise.
We’d seen that there was a really big market there and we were into that market, so we said, what the heck, let’s give it a shot. We did. I spent about two thousand dollars back then on camera stuff.
They didn’t have any digital stuff out back then. It was all 35 millimeter and we learned it. We learned it by going into bookstores and buying lighting books and photography books and we self taught ourselves.
Fast forward, we built that into a six figure business in about three years, left my job after 18 months of starting that business, which was very scary because we only had about a ten thousand dollar savings at that time and having a family and a house and all that stuff was pretty scary but I always knew I could fall back on my construction stuff.
Then to fast forward into that we started hearing about this online business stuff and as we evolved I started to see that maybe I could sell some of my information or some of our templates that we were using within photoshop on eBay.
I made my first sale there and then the rest is history as far as selling products online because that just opened my eyes to a whole other world and then started doing a little bit of digital products, teaching people about photoshop and editing and how to start their own business from scratch even if you’ve never went to school for it and now into this Amazon space and now the podcast. Yeah, that’s pretty much my journey.
I’d seen that some people were doing really well with just starting to sell on Amazon without having the background that I had and I’m like, hmm. If I can get in there and then tweak things and then maybe make my own or take my own information that I’ve learned through the years I could probably out market or just at least do a better job. Again, I seen revenue. I seen an opportunity to have another revenue stream and I think as entrepreneurs we’re always looking for how to diversify or at least we should be, because you shouldn’t be dependent on one revenue stream.
I was already selling a few things in eBay. I say a few things. Like what we did is, it’s funny, a funny story here. I’m into guitar. I play guitar. I was in a band when I was in high school, the whole thing, heavy metal. All that stuff. Had the long hair, the whole thing. I wanted to be a rock star. There’s a program called Garage Band that comes on your Mac and this is going probably back seven years ago.
I noticed that they have these things they call loops which you can buy or you can make yourself and all it is is it’s a little snippet of music and it just keeps looping. That’s why it’s called a loop. A lot of the rappers and a lot of the hip hop type stuff uses loops. That’s how they make their music a lot of times.
I’m like, this is pretty cool. I was playing around with it, having fun, and I’m like, I wonder if you could sell expansion packs or something. I sat down one day and I made a thousand loops and I put them up on eBay. This is when eBay would allow you to do downloads. I went ahead and I made a thousand of them.
I put them up there, no CD, nothing, no DVDs back then at this point, or as far as you were delivering and I was selling them for $25. I was selling four or five a day. It was insane. I’m like, holy crap, this is pretty cool.
Then eBay made a change, again, going back into change, they made a big change where they said, we’re no longer going to let you just sell digital products there because people were spamming it. Now they were doing one cent books. Again, the marketers ruin it for a lot of people.
Yeah. I went ahead and I said, now how am I going to get around this? I said, what I’m going to do is I’m going to send my CDs out to people. I’ll physically mail them. It’s a little bit of a pain in the butt but I’ll do it.I did it and again I continued to sell them and then I’m like, maybe there’s other things that we could do. Then we were into photoshop and stuff and teaching. That stuff, I’m like, I’ve got templates for weddings, cards, and all that kind of stuff.
I said, let me see if I can do that. I did that and we were selling them for $24.95 and then I built that into a membership site. That’s just how it led me to that but Amazon was just another thing that I seen that was an opportunity. I started hearing people do this retail arbitrage thing where people would buy a product at a discount and then they would sell it for full price on Amazon. I’m like, let me try that.
I tried it. I didn’t like that because it was a lot of work. I went and started hearing about this private label thing and that’s where I really started to get interested because it was very similar to digital where I could find a product that I could market and sell on an ongoing basis and all I had to do was just replenish the inventory and now Amazon has this thing called FBA which is fulfilled by Amazon where they’ll do all of the heavy lifting.
They’ll do all the fulfillment for you. They’ll do all the refunds, all that stuff. That’s what got me interested in it and I started doing it and I started making some money at it and then I said, maybe I could start helping some other people with this and just document my story. I follow Pat Flynn. I don’t know if you follow Pat Flynn at all.
Fantastic. For everybody listening, one of the things I would want to point out there which you said Scott which I think is really valuable is right now if you’ve never run a business or been an entrepreneur and you don’t have those skill sets to identify ideas it can feel like there’s no business ideas out there, but once you’ve start to gain those skills, once you’ve tried a few things, even if they didn’t work you’re going to build skills and through that knowledge all of a sudden these opportunities start to crystallize around and you’re like, oh my God, there’s an opportunity here.There’s an opportunity there, and you learn to think in a new way. I loved the story you told there because you just happened upon ideas that probably, how many people a day use Garage Band?
Totally. I always tell people, I’m like, listen, you may do something. Like today we talked a lot about Amazon because that’s what people know me for in this space but again I offer a lot more than that but it’s the way that I’ve gotten the attention which is fine, but I always tell people, listen even if this doesn’t work for you you’re building an asset in you having the skill set to take that to something else.Or maybe you learn something here, you create a podcast, you try a product, that product doesn’t even succeed to where you thought it would but you learned the process on how to launch a product and then you’re at a party and someone says, I got this product that I’m selling locally at a gift shop and this that and the other thing, and you’re like, “wait a minute here, I didn’t have a good product but that’s a damn good product. Maybe I can help this product launch that product and take a portion of the profit because they don’t know anything about selling on Amazon.”
You’ve got a skill set you didn’t even realize you had but the opportunity was there because you were at the party.
Whether you’re at a party, whether you’re in the grocery store, whether you’re in the bank, you see people talking about something that might create an opportunity for you. Whether it’s with that person or not you may go back to the drawing board and go, wait a minute, I’ve got something here.
There’s an issue here that people keep talking about, I keep hearing about it, and then you look into it. Then there’s these vehicles that we can actually use to get that out there, whether it’s Amazon, whether it’s eBay, whether it’s Etsy, whether it’s your own website, whether it’s a podcast. Whatever is that thing you can then adapt it to that channel.
That’s what so cool about today. Let’s think back. Let’s rewind 20 years ago. If I had an idea 20 years ago to take an idea and create a business around it, the amount of money you’d have to invest in, God, I don’t even remember what business looked like back then to be totally honest. It would be so much harder. Yeah, now we have all these channels we can just plug into.Okay, let’s go back then. You would’ve had to create the product. Let’s say you want to go to tradition retail you would’ve had to get it into the big department stores and go through all their channels and jump through all those hoops and now you can sit at home. It’s the perfect world for introverts and people who don’t want a job, because we can create these incredible things.
I was just going to end there and just say, when people say right now it’s hard to get started, I still get people that say, Scott, it’s just so hard now to get started even on Amazon and I’m like, you’re missing the big picture. It’s not just that.We talk about private labeling, that’s what we talk about, like taking your own product or taking a product that’s generic and making it your own and branding it. That’s what we talk about. That could be done in any market. It doesn’t have to be just Amazon but so many people get so closed minded because they think it has to be set in stone, that it has to be that way. It really doesn’t. You know?
There wasn’t a word for membership site. It was a whole different time and place. Now let’s shift gears. Let’s talk about podcasting and how to create a podcast and I guess let’s start at the beginning. You’ve had a history of businesses where you’re selling products which, very measurable returns for the efforts you put in. You list on Amazon, it sells. It’s very measurable.Podcasting’s a little bit of a different beast. What was your business case or reason for deciding to create a podcast?
Then this is a great question. I just want people to understand this too because we always talk about the wins. We don’t talk about the losses. I tried to create a podcast two other times and I recorded 25 episodes on each. I gave myself that runway.Again, you guys heard a little bit about me saying I wanted to be a rock star. That means I don’t mind being in front of a mic. I like that. It’s like I like to be able to get out there and either entertain or get out there and help. That’s just me in general. I’m like, to create a podcast is a great vehicle for me. I don’t like writing. I love talking and I love to record something and get it back out there.
I thought to myself, these two things didn’t work. Why didn’t they work? One of them was in a health and fitness type thing, because I was really big into my health and fitness. I still am but I was almost like body building in a sense but I’m not anymore but I find that balance.
I was really into it. I was like, I’m sure other people would want this but it was too broad. I started finding out that the broad topics didn’t really do as well as if I had really narrowed it down.
Then I started to create a podcast talking a little bit just about marketing in general, again to generalize. It didn’t do that well. Like you were saying in the beginning a 100 downloads, 150 downloads. That was great. That was it.
Then I’m like, let me go ahead and just not even really have much of a plan to create a podcast other than if I can get out there and help people and reach these people and truly give them value in a specific niche or niche, depending on how you want to say it.
That’s another thing. If I can do that number one I’m going to learn through this process because I’m going to be able to be held accountable. I’m going to also want to expand my learning in this topic and the topic at the time and still is, is Amazon and not just Amazon it’s just ecommerce.
How to really get product to market, that was my thing. I’m like, I’m just going to lead people through the process and when I do that I’m going to learn, I’m going to be able to reach people. I’m going to be able to network with people and that’ll expand my network. Then, at that point in time I’ll decide, how could I possibly monetize this?
To me there was not even a plan. I wasn’t like, I’m going to start this thing and then the next phase is going to be this and the next phase is going to be this. I was like, let me just get an audience that really wants to listen to what I have to say and also network with other people. That was my plan.
Again, to let people know, you’re always going to have doubts, because I tried to create a podcast two other times. It didn’t work out for me. I had other successes in other things but this year I said I want to try to create a podcast because I really would love to just be able to almost get paid in a sense to talk about something I love and help people.
I remember my wife who’s awesome by the way because again she’s been with me for 22 years. She’s got to be awesome, for an entrepreneur that’s just always all over the place. You know what i mean?
She says, go for it, create a podcast, and I say, yeah, but I did this over here and it didn’t really take off and this, that, and the other thing, like I said, but I really love talking about this and I think that I could really help people and I think it’d just be nice to share what I’m doing.
I’m not an expert or anything so if I’m going to create a podcast I’m just going to lead people through and I’m looking at Pat Flynn and I’m like, that’s all he really did. He built a niche site and that’s what he did, he just led people through that process and I’m like, I don’t know and I just kept going back and forth and she was, just do it. What do you have to lose? Just commit to 25 episodes and see what happens.
I was involved in a little Facebook group, had about maybe 10,000 members in it at the time and I was very active in there and I was just helping people. I just literally asked if anyone would listen if i decided to create a podcast. I had about 100 people say yes. I’m like, I’m going to do it, I’ll create a podcast. That’s what I did.
In order to create a podcast I recorded like four or five episodes and then I went live on iTunes. I didn’t follow any plan as far as how to get in noteworthy. I didn’t follow any of the launch strategies although I probably should have, but i didn’t.
I just said, I’m just going to go ahead and throw it out there. I’m going to have three in the bank so people have something to listen to and we’ll see what happens and I’ll let people know in that Facebook group that I decided to go ahead and create a podcast. That’s all I did. That’s literally all I did.
I’ve never run an ad to get people to listen to the podcast. Not one. I’ve ran ads to other things which we can talk about in a little bit if you want to but I have never run any to the podcast to say, I just published a podcast, go and listen to it, on this topic. I’ve never done that.
Wow. I just want to pause for a second and just go back to something with the listeners here because you’re like the poster entrepreneur for, you don’t fail. You’re not afraid to try stuff and it’s not a failure, it’s a lesson and you move forward.The other reason I want to come back to this, I know a lot of people are getting started and stuff, and I hear this a lot with entrepreneurs, what if it doesn’t work? You’re like, yeah, what if it doesn’t work? You’re going to learn a lot along the way and then you’ll apply what you learned to something else.
I love the fact that you didn’t just create a podcast and hit a homerun. You had a few in the cemetery behind you along the way but all i hear from you in your language is I did it, I learned, I did it, I learned and then I learned from my mistakes and now I’m a success. Right?
You know what though, Derek? I can elaborate on a little bit more there because there are some things that I took from my previous knowledge when I tried to create a podcast, let’s tie this back in now so people can understand how I applied my lessons learned from before and the things that I learned to help me grow it to where it is today.Here is the deal. I really knew that if I create a podcast, once I had momentum that I’d definitely need to start building an email list. Period. I knew that from my photography business. I knew it from my father’s brick and mortar business when I was 23 years old swinging a hammer. I knew the importance of that all the way back then and as I started getting more on the online space I knew it even more.
Even though there’s people on these social platforms I still want to have a place where I can communicate with them directly. Immediately, I set up a blog and my blog right now is really just all of my podcasts transcribed and put up in one place, but I also have a place there where you can join the newsletter.
I call mine like updates in the insider scoop or whatever. Now, I’ve got a few places for some resources but I’m building that email list and I knew that right from the beginning that I really needed to do that. I also knew that community was going to be a big part of this. I knew that I wanted to create something.
Forums were eh, yes, they’re still out there but Facebook is where everybody is so let’s build a Facebook group. We built that group from scratch and I did this I think it was four months after I decided to create a podcast. I probably should’ve started it a little bit sooner but we’re up over I think 37,000 people in that group right now, actively and it’s a very active group but again, I wouldn’t have done those things if I had not done the things before. I wouldn’t have known what to do to really make sure that I was able to build something that was going to turn into something great.
That’s really what I think that people need to understand is that yes, if I didn’t have those experiences, but I’m sharing this with you, Derek has shared what he’s shared with you. You need to understand that we’ve been there, we’ve done that. Learn from that as you go.
If you’re going to create a podcast understand that maybe you give yourself a little bit of a test run and you give yourself and you commit to that amount of time and that many downloads. Then you might give yourself, like if I don’t hit a thousand downloads after the 25th one then okay, I’m going to reevaluate and say, now what’s going on here? Or if I have more than a thousand then we can see what we can do.
Then you start to implement these different pieces into the mix. That’s really I think moving forward for anyone is a great lesson is to understand that I took the skills and the things that I learned from those past things and I brought it into the podcast. That’s why I do think that I’ve been able to really ramp it up and build such a thriving community.
There really is not formula other than I really wanted to do a three show per week. I wanted to publish. At first I didn’t really think of that. Honestly, I just thought I’m just publishing more frequently to give people more of what they wanted and then I can maybe get out there so they won’t forget about me. I was like, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. That seems cool. Yeah, okay, I’ll commit to Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I committed to Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I have not missed an episode.We’re at like 270 something now and every single episode is like you said, between 30 and 60. Now I don’t have a have number there. I don’t say I need to make this a 30 minute episode. If it goes 22, it goes 22. If it goes 35 it goes 35. There’s no figure, because I believe that the value that I’m putting on that show if people can only listen for 20 minutes on the way to work they’re going to listen to the rest of it on the way home. Or they’re going to sneak in at lunch and listen because it was so damn good.
I know that some people said, yeah, you should really make it between 25, 20, 25 if you’re going to create a podcast because that’s the average the time it is to go to work. I don’t think about it that much. I just think about the value I can add to that. To me it was Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Then I’m like, holy crap, how am I going to have new stuff to constantly talk about? That’s the big fear that a lot of people have.
Once you build these communities, once you build an email list, it’s very easy because now you just listen to what people are talking about or you share something that happened inside of your community and then it becomes easy. The other thing that I’ve found is I do on Fridays something I call Ask Scott. I stole that from Pat Flynn which I told him and I said, just want to let you know I’m copying that a little bit and he said, go for it.
It’s one of those things that it’s something that is scheduled. I know what Friday is. Friday is an ask Scott session and that pretty much is going to be three to four questions asked by my audience. Again I pulled this from Pat. Pat has something, another podcast he calls Ask Pat and that’s all it is. What it is is people send in their voice mails. I listen to voice mails that come in and I will answer three to four questions.
The other cool thing about this is it allows me to connect with my audience and then there my audience hears their voice on my podcast and then the audience hears people talking about me too which is also, if you’ve ever been in the marketing world for any amount of time social proof is great.
We’ve got people now that are saying, hey Scott, the podcast is awesome. This is so great, you’ve helped me so much, and by the way here’s my question. What better way than for me to say that someone said that? It’s better to hear it from their own voice.
Fridays for me and the Ask Scott is really about me sitting in the coffee shop with my community talking questions and that’s how I treat it. It’s like, we’re in the coffee shop, we’re just hanging out, and we’re just going to talk about your questions. Those are great. People love them.
Mondays and Wednesdays are just whatever I want to put on there. Generally I like Mondays to be, I try to make them where it’s either just me or someone else that we’re going at it about maybe a technique or a tactic and then Wednesday’s usually an interview but again, there’s no format that I have to stick to there. It’s whatever happens I put in there but Fridays are always the ask Scott session.
One of the things I want to point out to the audience listening to you and I think it’s very valuable is, it’s focused more on building value and offering good content and worry less about the formula. I think something you said there was key. You were like, we always want a formula. That’s true. People want a formula.Here’s what I’m finding is I’ve been interviewed on a few podcasts where there is a formula to the show or it’s very scripted. Here’s what I find – I find the content is shallow. It never goes deep. I don’t believe the value’s really there. Frankly, let’s say 20 minutes, to offer value in 20 minutes on anything meaningful is quite difficult.
I was interested to hear those thoughts on that because I follow the same path you do of let’s have a really good conversation and dig into the issues and go deep where we see value. Right?
It really does. I just find that people, they just want the value. Yes, here’s the thing too. They don’t want to sit here and hear us talk about what we had for dinner last night. Sometimes you might throw that in there just to be funny or you might have a quick little story but people don’t want to sit here and listen about the weather in your area for 15 minutes. I get that. I don’t want that either but I do think you have to splash a little bit of your flavor in there.I don’t want everyone that listens to my show necessarily to just listen because I make them listen. I want them to listen because they like Scott. I’m finding that and it’s so funny. You always hear this, you’re like, you want to attract your ideal avatar. I believe that but I’m like, yeah, that’s just, I don’t know. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t.
I’m like, you know what, let me look back now and look at my listeners and I’ve done some live events now where either I meet people at a meetup or I have my own live events and it’s so crazy because in the room is people that I genuinely want to hang out with. It’s really crazy.
It’s like, this guy or this girl is just like me and they have really similar back stories or they’re very similar in their belief system as far as business or life and it’s just so really cool but that all come from me being me and not trying to be someone I’m not.
I wouldn’t want you to be like, Scott, you’re really messing up on how you’re saying certain things because you really shouldn’t say that and you shouldn’t say all those ums, if I got to think like that I don’t want you at my party because I’m going to feel like I can’t talk. You see what I’m saying?
I think people have to be real and obviously you have to be comfortable with it and it takes a little while. If you go back and listen to my first episode you’ll probably hear that I was a little stiffer than now and that’s like anything. You’re practicing.I just think being real, there’s nothing better than that and it’s great when you get to meet people that you have listeners, they’re like, Scott you’re the same person you are that I listen to on the podcast. It’s just awesome.
Absolutely. I think that’s such an important message because I watch people create a podcast and they want to appeal to everyone and if there’s a rule in marketing that if you want everybody to like you end up with nobody really loving you.If you’re going to create a podcast you need to be yourself and don’t be afraid to polarize your listeners and the people that don’t like you won’t stay but if the people that really connect, if you can get the other half to really connect with you those are the people that are going to be your rabid loyal fans for forever.
Here’s the best part. I’d rather be myself and enjoy myself than trying to be somebody I’m not anyway.
Yeah. It’s funny too, Derek. Just yesterday I literally did a Facebook live video for my community for my Facebook, my TAS page. The reason why I did that is it’s been growing really fast. Like I said, we’re up over 37,000 people.When you get that many people in there you’re going to have people that are either haters or there are going to people that are going to talk crap. The way I look at it that’s my backyard, like that’s my house, that’s my place where you’re hanging out. You’re there because yes, I started something. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything I say but it means that you have to be polite, you have to be respectful, you have to give value.
You can’t just be a taker and you can’t tell people they’re asking stupid questions. It’s just normal basic stuff. I said, you know what, I got fed up, I said, and I’ve got admins that help me with all this stuff but I’m like, you know what, I’ve got to get in there and just personally tell people, we’ve heard of Google slaps.
We’ve heard of Amazon slaps. Now there’s going to be a TAS slap because I’m tired of it and I’m going to let people know that this is what I stand for, this is our mission, and you guys believe in it, great. If you don’t, there’s the door. It was so awesome because it got such great response but then it’s going to repel the people that I don’t want.
I think it made the group even stronger now because people are just rallying behind it. Literally it’s less than 15 hours, I think we had over 6,500 views on the video and we’ve got over 500 comments of people just coming and saying, I’m just a huge fan and I want to stay here forever kind of thing.
Yeah. No, you’re 100 percent right. The way that I put it even in my video yesterday, I’m like, If you were at my house and I had guests over and you guys met would you treat that person rude like that in my house? Would you do that? I asked people.I’m like, ask yourself that, because if the answer is you would not then don’t do it here. This is my place. This is my house. I literally put it that way.
That is great. That is fantastic. I wish more groups would do that. I really do. I think if anybody listening that has a Facebook group, and I know a lot of people are starting them these days, lay down the law and again what you said there Scott is you woke up but engaged with and really resonated with the people you want to do business with, which is amazing.Let’s shift back now to how to create a podcast. Let’s talk a little bit about workflow and how to start a successful podcast, because look, you do a lot of podcasting, recording episodes, you do pages, show notes. You do all that stuff. Obviously you’re not the guy doing it all. Walk us through the work flow. How do you automate that? How much time are you putting in?
In the beginning after I decided to create a podcast I did do a lot of that work. I think that’s part of the process. We’re going to do that work because in the beginning in order to create a podcast we have to. Here’s the deal. In the very beginning it was very basic show notes. It was like me doing bullet points and very bad bullet points by the way but I wanted something up there, but you’re right.Once it started going, but then again in the beginning you’re not making any money with the podcast. I’ve always said in the beginning that I didn’t want to have advertisers on my podcast if I could at all help it.
Right now, currently I don’t have any sponsorships which I’ve had some pretty good sized offers and I’ve turned them down and we can talk about that after if you want to, but I really want to just keep it clean. I’m thinking to myself, how do I do this? I’m going to be spending some money.
I’m not really making any money yet on this and I had a few ideas on how we were going to be able to, but I said, you know what, I’m just going to go ahead and invest in these because I think that that’s what they’re going to want.
To cut down on my time I hired someone to basically come on and what they would do is all they’d do is I’d create a podcast then just upload my file, my audio file, I’d uploaded to a drop box that we share and then once it’s up there they go ahead and they do show notes, they transcribe it, and then from there they put it up on my blog, they tag it.
They put it into the Libsyn plugin that goes back into, or to feed it out to iTunes and all of that stuff. Really my workflow right now is sitting down, hitting record, hitting end, and then sending it off. That’s my work. With that in mind it’s pretty darn expensive to do a show that’s between 35 and 60 minutes, especially transcripts.
Transcripts alone are costing over 40 bucks to create a podcast episode. Just for people to understand. That’s just transcripts. That’s not show notes. That’s not editing. That’s not your edit guy. That’s just that. It can become expensive but again you don’t need that right off the bat.
I didn’t do transcripts I think until episode 120, maybe. I didn’t offer transcripts yet. I just offered the bullet points and quick show notes and links and stuff like that. That was it but as you grow you’re going to see if the audience wants it and needs it and if they do then you’re going to offer it to them.
No. It’s cool though. I asked my show notes guy. He did want to have a stab at it but he was actually more expensive than another guy that I found that that’s all that he did. What I did is they work together now. They share the same drop box but my show notes guy needs the transcripts done before he can do the blog posts, because if not he’s going to have to go back twice.I actually found two different guys to do those different tasks but they’re working together. It’s funny. When my show notes is down I see an email that I can see how it’s been sent and it gets sent over to my show notes guy and it says, hey team just want to let you know, episode 250 is done. Or something like that. Then they pick it up from there and then they take it and they do the rest. Yeah. That’s awesome.
They’re totally in the states and they’re really good guys where I can create a podcast episode and literally drop them an email in two seconds and they’re right back to me. I could probably get it done cheaper if I went overseas and I know some people that have and they have good results.This works for me and I’ve got a really good relationship with each of these guys. I might pay a little bit more but I love having that face to who I’m dealing with and I love that they’re taking such care with my stuff.
Going back to again in the beginning, really, not a whole heck of a lot. What I really do is I create a podcast episode and it publishes up on iTunes. Obviously it goes live. At first it goes live on the blog and then from there it triggers iTunes. That’s how it works for anyone that wants to know. It’s loaded up in Libsyn.It’s also in Libsyn’s… I believe it’s in their search engine that they have there internally. It also gets sent out to Stitcher but that’s all done behind the scenes but it really launches on the blog.
Once it launches on the blog then it publishes and then it sends out a signal to iTunes and lets iTunes know that there’s a new episode. That’s what happens there. On the backside of that I do have someone on my team that goes in and loads everything up in Edgar, Meet Edgar. I don’t know if you’ve used that one.
It’s a social media post-it, which basically will go into my Facebook group and it’ll post the episode and then that also gets into my content flow. Basically you have little buckets that you can create and then what it’ll do is it’ll start to put them in on days that you want to publish.
Obviously when I create a podcast episode it’s always published on my Facebook group and the only time that I email my list about them is again something I’ve trained my list to know that it’s coming is on Fridays, I send out a recap email. I send out basically a TAS recap weekly plus why I drank my coffee with a police officer this morning. Right?
I put in a little something that happened in my day and then they’re curious and then I’ll also give them the recap. Then I tell a little story in my email and it’s funny too, Derek. I was just at my live event in Phoenix.We had about 30 Amazon sellers there and ecommerce sellers and one of the guys that’s on my team he does some of the infusion stuff and stuff behind the scenes stuff, and he was bragging about me in a sense that I write really good email copy and really good email and it’s crazy because I’ve never thought of myself as being a good email copywriter but it goes back to me just telling my story. That’s it.
Literally, if my English teacher looked at it they would probably cringe because there’s not indents and there’s not proper spacing. I make it readable so you can scan it and so you can consume it in chunks, not just a big blob of text.
I talk as I speak, just like this. I cut out the um’s and ah’s of course, but it’s just me sharing a story, maybe something that happened in the morning and then I’ll get into the recap and make people laugh, made people smile a little bit and then tell them to get out there and take action and make something happen.
That’s Fridays. Friday is really my day that my email list gets notified if they didn’t already know that there was a podcast published. I don’t publish one every time it airs.
What I teach people to do and I’ve been doing email marketing since the 1990’s, and I’ve never changed my formula is keep it conversational, keep it simple and weave a story.When you do that it looks personal, it feels personal, and it gets engagement but I’m watching everybody sway to that, now we have hd mail, now we have images, now we have all this crazy stuff and I still can’t beat just the standard conversational looks personal kind of message, exactly what you’re doing there, which is key, which is awesome.
The last thing I want to talk about as far as steps for starting a podcast is monetization. You said something interesting which was you don’t have sponsors and I’m in the same vein as you. I’ve had a few people approach me but I’m like, I’m not really interested in throwing ads in the middle of my podcasts, because my belief honestly is I’m doing this to build my channel, not to drive people to HostGator or whatever.
That’s not what this is about for me. How are you monetizing? What’s your philosophy there and how do you use to grow your business?
I have to say, this was a very hard thing for me to be honest with you. If you guys haven’t been able to tell this far in the interview or whatever, I am a regular guy. I’m a honest guy. I want to sleep at night. I’m not out there just to make the money. I want to make sure I’m delivering value and then from there I want to make sure I can possibly make a little bit of money by doing something I really love, but with that being said, it was a very hard thing for me.I think it was up to about episode maybe 50 or 60 before I even had a way to monetize. I think I did 50 or 60 episodes without even having any money rolling in, which was fine but again at that point in time you’ve got to ask yourself, what is the best way, what is the right way and how are people going to respond to this?
The very first thing that I did was, I believe it was an affiliate offer but the affiliate offer was a tool that I was already using. I was using this tool, I was having great success with it, and I think I just went out there and started, I did a podcast with the creator of it and I genuinely wanted to hop on with him.
Now he’s become a really good friend of mine. We’re like buddies, but I only wanted to promote people too that I was using their product or I have had experience with their product and that I knew would be helpful and I also knew the person behind it. I didn’t create a podcast to just promote an offer and right now currently I probably only have a handful of people that I actually stand behind and that I get behind that I actually gain affiliate income from.
Which, I could get a lot more. I’ve left thousands upon thousands of dollars on the table because I did not trust the person that they had a product, they just created it to swoop in, make some money quick, and leave and I don’t want that person to say, Scott, you led me here and now they’re gone. Like, why? They just took all my money. I don’t want that.
I think the first one was an affiliate offer and I brought in some money that way and that was cool and I was like, that went okay and I didn’t get any flak from it. I’m like, that’s good. It built my confidence a little bit, but then I kept getting people asking me to coach them.
They wanted to hire me for a coach or a mentor and I’m like, I know a little bit more than you maybe but I don’t feel as though I’m that caliber. I think that’s a big struggle for a lot of people. They don’t think that they are the caliber but i think that they are.
I’m like, I just kept getting people asking me if I would do a course of some kind. I didn’t want to be the guy that was just doing the next course, but I’m like what would I have wanted and what do people need and what do they keep asking for? It really was, they wanted me to walk them through step by step, even though I was publishing everything on the podcast, they wanted me to put It into a nice flow of looking over my shoulder.
They also wanted community. They wanted accountability. They wanted to get on coaching calls maybe once a month. That’s what I created. How I created it was I tested the whole thing by doing a webinar and I let people know that I was going to be announcing something but I also was going to teach them the five phases for launching a product on Amazon.
I did that and I said, I’m going to do a beta group of just 25 people and the first 25 that get in I’ll go through this. I don’t know if I’m ever going to launch it again because honestly if this doesn’t work then i’m just going to not do it anymore. I want to give you guys what you want. I want you guys to help me build this but I want to give you something that you want.
Derek, within a minute we sold all 25 spots and it was insane. I’m like, I think they want it. That’s been our flagship course. Actually I don’t even call it a course. It’s our class. It’s called PLC, it’s Private Label Classroom and that’s basically the main thing and I think we did that in April of ’15.
It’s been just over a year, a little over year. I think maybe it was ’14. I don’t know. It’s been about a year and maybe four months but we rolled that out and that’s been our flagship, I guess product as you would call it but to me it’s a community.
Then now I’ve had, like I said, a handful of affiliate offers. I don’t promote them in the beginning where I’m like, this is Scott and today’s episode is sponsored by Jungle Scout. I don’t do that. It’s like, I’ll create a podcast episode and say today I’m having on Greg Mercer and we’re going to talk about how to find a product and then in that obviously he does have a service but you don’t have to buy his service because we’re going to show you how to use it without the service.
It’s similar to what Leadpages does. Leadpages is great at it. They teach you how to get email subscribers the hard way but they have an easier way to do it if you want to use their software. It’s a no brainer. You’re not covering anything up, it’s just a super easy and you’re not sales-y. That’s really my monetization strategy as of right now. It’s working really well. I’m happy. They’re happy.
It’s turned into a pretty sizable company now which is crazy that this thing that I wasn’t even sure that I was going to start has turned into something just incredible and I never would’ve done it if I didn’t just face my fears a little bit and say you know what, I know I’ve tried this before but let me just go ahead and create a podcast and do it again.
Honestly in the beginning I just decided to create a podcast to really serve people and to serve myself, to educate myself further, and knew that i could eventually maybe make a little bit of money at it. Maybe just a little bit and now it’s just turned into this crazy adventure.
Everybody listening here a couple things that I want to highlight there. First of all you know what you said, Scott about not endorsing everything that comes along and being very cautious about what you’ll put your name behind. That’s such a big lesson that I think too many people just promote whatever they think is going to make them the most money.Unfortunately there’s a lot of great marketers out there that can put together incredible offers but just have crap on the back end. When you build a community and an audience the fastest way to lose trust is by endorsing stuff that is garbage and doesn’t work.
We all see the big product launches and everybody gets behind these and mails and stuff like that. That’s all good and well as long as it’s a solid product but so many times what you see behind the scene isn’t. Your reputation’s like your virginity. You got to lose it once. That’s it. Then you’re done. What was my other point? Dang.
I’ll just say, to what you were saying there is, I think it’s really important that if you create a podcast, you need to really be the one looking out for your audience. I think if you do that and you clearly show that people will see that through your transparency and then they’ll be more than happy to go through your link.I clearly do this and I learned this from Pat Flynn. He was so obvious about it and I’m like, you know what, if someone told me to do this I would think it would be weird because I wouldn’t want to just blatantly say, by the way if you do go through my link I will make money. I didn’t want to be like that but I wanted to be upfront.
I’ve always told people, like listen guys, you can go through my link. I will get compensated for that. You’ll buy me a cup of coffee and you guys know I love coffee but if you don’t that’s cool too.
You don’t have to, but just understand that if you do you will get this and you will also get this one little feature. They always give me a little something extra that they can’t get if they just went straight through their website.
That’s how they’re getting on the show in a sense where they’re giving my audience something more. The only way you can get on my show and offer something is number one if I believe in it and if I’ve used it or I know people that have used it and they love it and I know the people.
That’s the only way but the other way is you have to give a discount or you have to give a bonus of some kind that’s only offered to my audience. I always make that very clear. Then this way here, some people would come on and go Scott, I’ll tell you, I want to get on your show and I’ll pay you a thousand dollars to get on your show. I’d be like, sorry, because I need to love it. I need to believe it.
I need to know you and I need something extra for my audience. That’s the easiest way for me to really explain. You really need to protect your audience and you need to show them that you’re protecting your audience.
I’ve even came out and told people, like listen, I could’ve sold you guys so many different things and I’ve lost a lot of money because of that. I didn’t lose it. I never got it but I didn’t do that because I want to make sure that I’m bringing the best to you guys and I always want to do that. I know that in the long run that will always come back to pay you back.
I think that’s an important strategy there that you just emphasized as well that you let people know that that’s your philosophy. You have that conversation. So many times I’m on people’s list, I see all the stuff they promote. I know they’re good people. I see the stuff they recommend but what we don’t see is the stuff that they’re turning away, that they won’t push to their community.Now you don’t have to obviously trash talk the products you don’t like but just saying look guys, there’s stuff that I’m not recommending to you that I could, it’s a good trust builder there and I think that’s important to communicate to that community that you’re building.
Yeah, you’re being totally upfront with them. The other cool thing about this too is you’re going to get emails from people that say, Scott, I went ahead and I just went through your link so that way you can buy that cup of coffee.Just wanted to let you know and, can you email them to make sure that you’re going to get the credit? They’ll actually say that. They want to make sure that you got credit because they love the value that you’re giving on the podcast. Whether they join my class or not there’s other ways for them to buy you that cup of coffee or to buy you a dinner, which I have had so many people email me and go, Scott, I just want to buy you dinner, a steak dinner or whatever.
This is a way for them to do that. Again, you’re letting them know up front and then you’re also letting them know, listen, there’s other offers I could’ve sent your way and I haven’t and yes, I’ve lost money on that deal but it’s okay because I want to make sure that we’re all good here.
It works and to me it’s just, that way you can sleep at night too. You’re not like, I just mailed for that because they made me. I built a relationship with this one guy and then he came out with this crappy product and now I feel like I owe it to him to promote it out. I don’t want to feel like that. You know?
They do. It’s the dollar signs. I get it. When you first starting and you’re like, I’ve got to turn this thing into something or else it’s not worth it. I think if you can reverse that and say, can I just deliver a ton of value that most people aren’t willing to give? How many times have you went through something and they give you a ton of fake value where it’s like, almost all of it and then all of a sudden in order to get it you have to pay for something.I’m the total opposite. I have people that say, Scott, what am I going to get different in your course that you haven’t got in the podcast? I tell them right out, everything that I cover in the class is pretty much on the podcast.
You’ve just got to go find it all in all these different areas but the other thing that you don’t get is you don’t get a monthly coaching call with me, with everybody that’s on in the class. You don’t get access to the community of people that are in there actively taking action, that they’re not just tire kickers.
You’re getting these different things that they don’t get and you also get features and stuff and bonuses that come out that normally they wouldn’t get. There’s other things other than just the content. There’s other things that you can create within that community and that’s the buyin in a sense.
I would say, go to theamazingseller.com That’s where I would go. I don’t have a squeeze page to send you to right now other than, the only one that I would send you to is our workshop.We do a workshop and on that workshop it basically walks you through the five phases of launching a product or we have another one depending on when you show up at that page, we’ll do one on just product selection. On those I practice what I preach. I do those workshops and I call them workshops, not webinars because what they are is me teaching for 60 minutes and then I mentioned my program and then we go into live Q&A.
It’s like I give you 85, maybe 90 percent content and then I sprinkle in a slight pitch that you can join my class. That’s the best way for me and I think anyone else out there rather than just teasing you with what’s going to be on the inside and then have you pay for it. That’s what I have but you’ll find that. If you go over theamazingseller.com everything’s there, all my podcasts, resources. I have a great resource page there and all that stuff. That’s pretty much it. I’m a pretty simple guy.
Cool. For everybody listening, we’ve been talking about podcasting obviously. Scott’s programs though, this is about Amazon. This is about creating Amazon businesses, launching products on Amazon.If you’ve ever had an inkling to go down that road or you’re already going down that road, this is the place you need to be, subscribe to his podcasts. I was going through some episodes. There’s packed with value.
One of the things that I saw too is as Amazon’s making changes you’re discussing those changes, keeping stuff up to date. There’s so much of value. It’s like an Amazon news show basically.
Yeah. Derek let me just say too, and people that are new to this space and you’ve also heard our story today and talking through it, but you’re going to also see, if you do listen to the podcasts you’re going to start to see how I’m pivoting inside of the show.There’s pivots going on right this second and that pivot is, Amazon, when I started the podcast it was about starting on Amazon because that’s where I was starting and that’s where I was leading people through, but as these changes have started to come into the mix I’ve had to start to say, you know what guys, wait a minute, whoa, let’s start on Amazon but let’s start preparing on how we can also build our external channel.
Now how can I teach that? I’ve done it before in other businesses. See how I’m bringing it all back, Derek?
You’ve got all that knowledge that you’ve built on online businesses in the past and I’m able to bring that back in. Now we’re starting to talk about how to build your external email list so you can launch your products on Amazon or on other platforms.I’m starting to pivot within inside of the amazing seller podcast. Just again guys you can see how it’s all evolving whether you subscribe or not but you’ll see that and just again, it’s a part of the process. The pivoting to me is huge, it’s just finding that balance on how and when to do that.
Absolutely. We could go off on an Amazon talk for the next three hours. What you said there, Amazon is changing and honestly, I come from the direct marketing background and info marketing and I’ve gone into the commerce.I used to do a lot on eBay and stuff like that but my one challenge with it initially was a lack of ability to build databases and build out their own channel and I’ve been sitting and watching for the past few years is the Amazon hype has taken off and everybody runs to Amazon going, this is great. I don’t need a website. I don’t have to do anything. It just sells.
I’m sitting there, I’m shaking my head, going, guys that’s not going to last. If you want to build as sustainable business and an asset that you own you’ve got to have a website. You’ve got to have that email. For anybody selling on Amazon you need to be listening to what Scott’s teaching here because Amazon is changing. Like eBay did in the early days.
Just look at Google. Look at the slaps that they’ve come out with. People had businesses that they were ranking websites, almost over night, again, using black hat stuff, again, marketers ruining it for us.Then all of a sudden Google comes out with a slap and you lose your site over night and you lose all your traffic and all your income. Now what do you do? You pivot. It’s no different than that.
I will say this though and not to scare people away from Amazon because I’m still a big believer that there’s a ton of opportunity there, but, and a big but here, you also want to understand external platforms, external channels, so this way here you can then piggyback off of both of them.
I think that once you have a really good product you can sell it on all those platforms, but Amazon is one of the easiest ones. I say that lightly because I don’t want to ever sound like something’s easy. It’s going to take work but it’s the easiest one if you’re brand spanking new to get a product up and running and then start building the external stuff.
That’s what I would say there. It’s still a great opportunity. It’s just there are always going to be changes that you have to adapt to and it’s been happening like you said for years. You just have to be willing to adapt and try to prepare for that.
Absolutely. You know what, I think what I’m going to do Scott is I’m going to hit you up early in the new year and we need to do a show on these changes and dig into it, because I think too many people are still coasting on the assumption that Amazon’s the answer and it’s going to be there forever and it’s just not. Not in its current state.All right. Scott thank you so much. That was awesome. Just so much value has just passed to our listeners. Thank you for unconditionally sharing all of it with us.
Awesome. Thanks Scott. All right everyone, that was Amazon and podcasting expert Scott Voelker and as always any of the links we talked about in the interview will be in the show notes along with the entire transcript.You’ll find all of that at projectignite.com/podcast. and don’t forget, if you haven’t done so already make sure you’ve subscribed on iTunes and while you’re over there leave me a rating, leave me a review. Same goes on SoundCloud if you use Android.
And guys now it’s time to take the podcasting strategies that Scott shared with us today, and not just podcasting. We covered a lot.
Take those strategies and apply the ingredient that’s actually going to make them make a difference in your life and your business. That ingredient is action. Without it there was no point in even listening to this podcast today.
Go forth, take action, even just pick one thing. Apply what you’ve learned and stay tuned for more info packed episodes of the Project Ignite podcast.
This is your host Derek Gehl signing off.