Whether you’re currently a podcaster or just thinking of starting one, you’re probably aware of how much competition there is out there right now. What you need to do is find something that sets you apart from the rest of the pack. Something that will gain you visibility, attract an audience and turn them into customers.
Learning how to attract the widest audience can take some fine tuning. One way is to include those listeners that are perhaps new to the podcast world by removing some of the normal barriers to allow these first-timers to find you and listen with ease. Offering a format that is slightly different than the norm can also attract listeners as well as help you to engage them in a way that allows for future dialogue to continue.
Jared Easley has become the “podcasting guru”. In the past couple of years he has started a podcast – which was featured on Entrepreneur.com and Huffington Post – written a book and co founded the first international podcasting conference, Podcast Movement.
Rich: Hey everybody, this is Rich Brooks and you are listening to The Marketing Agents Podcast. Today we’ve got a great interview for you, we’ve got Jared Easley on the line. He is a genuine entrepreneur. He’s been called the “Zig Ziglar of the podcasting world”. In the past couple years he started up a podcast, written a book and co founded the first international podcasting conference – which is pretty sweet. Jared is a noticer, motivator, friend and power content creator. He has found a way to do all of this and still keep his family first. Jared,welcome to the show.
Jared: Rich, it’s a huge honor. I love what you do and it’s just great to connect with you again.
Rich: Yeah, I was on your show. I love that you’re doing some amazing things over on your podcast and I’m just glad to have you on the show. And because I love podcasting I knew that you were one of the great resources out there for podcasting, so I appreciate you making the time today.
Jared: Oh, my pleasure.
Rich: Ok, so podcasting is very popular now in our circles. However, when I’m out there and I’m doing a presentation I ask people, ”how many people out there have a podcast? How many people listen to podcasts? And – depending on the audience – but usually very few people are actively listening to podcasts, and almost nobody is actually doing a podcast. So for small businesses and entrepreneurs, is podcasting really a useful platform?
Jared: Yes and maybe and no. Rich, not everything is for everybody, and I totally get that. One of the reasons I was interested in podcasting in the beginning is I felt more comfortable talking and having a conversation rather than writing articles. And so that’s what compelled me to go down this rabbit hole. I think podcasting is a huge opportunity, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody. They think you can go and hit “record” and get out your core message and that can just sit out there in digital media dumping land, and some people won’t resonate with it at all if it’s not entertaining and informative and fun.
And so now it’s kind of tricky because there’s more and more people that are trying podcasting and it’s almost like a little bit of an art. Rich, you’ve been doing this for a long, long time and you’ve got your strategy down, you’ve got your technique, you’ve got your workflow and you’ve gotten better over time. And so someone who’s starting out that’s never done it before, they’re not going to have the same advantage that you have. So I think, yes, it can be. But don’t underestimate it either, it can be a lot of work and frustration to see what you think are immediate results.
So always be a little cautious when you try something new. Try to get good advice – like Rich teaches you – and don’t be afraid to take those steps and embrace your invisibility in the beginning because you may not have the masses right out of the gate. And that’s ok because it gives you a chance to practice, and practice makes perfect.
I think that podcasting is cool and I do think that businesses can benefit from it, but I don’t think it’s for everyone.
Rich: Well I like some of the things that you are saying in there, except about me, I was blushing. But one of the things you said is, first of all, “embrace your invisibility”, and I think that is absolutely true. People are so worried about what their first tweet is or what their first blog post is going to be like or what their first podcast is going to sound like, and the bottom line is, no one is watching. No one is listening. So you can get out all the kinks at the beginning, and I think almost every podcaster will tell you that it’s unbearable to go back and listen to their first show because they were so awkward and so uncomfortable doing this.
I’ve had this conversation with a lot of different podcasters and they all say the same things, and I know that you said it was easier a few years ago and now it seems like everybody’s getting into podcasting. And that’s definitely true in the internet marketing world, with the people that I think you and I like hanging out with.
But I think for a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs it’s still kind of a blue ocean out there. So there’s a lot of competition . If you go to the iTunes store you’re going to see a lot of business podcasts of whatever your category may be, but in the realm of human beings in the planet, most people still haven’t found a favorite podcast or are actively listening, so there are a lot of opportunities still in that.
So let’s say that I do decide that I want to do a podcast – or even before that – are there certain industries or types of businesses that might find podcasting to be a perfect fit? You mentioned you like talking, are there other “tells” that people might have to say that podcasting might be right to help them market their business?
Jared: Just when I think I know the answer on that, Rich, there’s somebody out there that surprises me. So you and I might not think a certain topic has a better opportunity with podcasting, but then there’s a group of people that really resonates with it. And this is not the example, but to just prove that podcasting is becoming more relevant and more and more people are listening is this somewhat new podcast called Serial. Are you familiar with this, Rich?
Rich: I don’t think…oh, wait,” cereal” not as in my breakfast treat, but “serial” the thing that’s done by the guy that used to work for This American Life?
Jared: That’s right. This lady named Sarah that used to be an investigative reporter and now she’s doing a podcast. And that’s what it is, it’s just a podcast on a radio show. I think it did stem from This American Life. She is basically reporting on this murder case that happened in Baltimore back in 1999, and millions of people are listening in every week because it is very good, well produced, well planned out. The story hooks you and I think that the key there is to just tell a story. If you can capture stories or share stories, I think you have a good chance of sharing that core message and more and more people being able to connect with it and relate to it.
So I love Serial. I would say anybody who is not into a lot of podcasts outside of internet marketing should consider checking that one out, just to see how their framework is. It’s interesting to compare that to some of the other shows that you and I might listen to, it’s just kind of a neat strategy that they do and it’s great.
Rich: That’s actually great. I’m going to go and download all of those episodes because you are not the first person to mention Serial to me and I think it’s about time that I go check that out. And I also think that’s a great point that very often those of us that are in the marketing world and in the business world, what we do is we listen to all these business podcasts and we make our podcasts just like everybody else’s because that seems to be the way to do it.
When I first started thinking seriously about doing a podcast, this was actually my second podcast, but now when I sat down to do this one what I did was I found the most popular podcast from every category on iTunes and started listening to them. And although most of them I gave up on, because they really weren’t meant for me anyways, I got addicted to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, and I never miss an episode of that. So sometimes it is good to go out of your comfort zone to get new ideas.
Jared: Oh no, I’m with you 100% on that. For the business owner I’d say what are some of the podcasts that you really enjoy, what do you like about them? Is that possible to mix in the message that you want to share with your business? Is there one think about your business that you can’t stop talking about, could that now be filtered through this format in a podcast?
It doesn’t hurt to try something out, you can always just post a few audio files via SoundCloud or another method, and then just share those that resonate with you. Ask what people think about those and then get that feedback to then launch a podcast. So I would recommend that you maybe do a test run first.
Rich: That’s a good idea, doing like a beta test version of a podcast first and then sharing it among friends. Now let’s say that I’m interested in doing some sort of podcast together, either because I like it or I’m a good story teller or whatever the case may be, but my concern is that people don’t know that I have a podcast or they don’t listen to podcasts. Any ideas or suggestions of how I build awareness for my podcast?
Jared: Oh, there’s several ways, Rich. For someone like that I would say, “What’s the framework of your podcast?” Our friend Pat Flynn, he does the “Ask Pat” show – or other people that have formed similar shows – since he’s created that it’s just done amazing things for him because he solved a problem. He was getting questions all day, every day – over 300 a day, probably – and now people can ask a question and they can be the star of the podcast. And there’s a key there, make other people the star. And he makes them the star and he answers the question and the episode is less than 10 minutes and he puts one out Monday through Friday.
And what if your business could be the business that answers questions? Maybe not every episode needs to be that way, but you could be answering questions just like Pat Flynn does, and then that gets people interested. Your answering and solving a problem, but you’re also creating this content library that you can point other people to that have similar questions. So it’s just a unique way to interact.
I’m not tied down to one particular host, but I like any podcast hosting that offers the ability to play the audio in an embedded tweet or Facebook or somewhere on a social media post. SoundCloud does a good job at that, and there are other hosts that do that as well, but I love with SoundCloud I can just take my podcast episode and then I can share that in a tweet or on a Facebook status. And the people that aren’t technical or probably aren’t going to go figure out how to listen to a podcast can just hit ‘play’ in social media and listen to it that way. I’ve had a number of people tell me that that’s how they got started listening just because they found it on social media.
So there are ways to test and try without getting into iTunes and without getting into these other places like Stitcher Radio, simply by embedding an audio file into a tweet. And it’s just like a YouTube video. If you paste a YouTube video URL link in Facebook, then most people can just click on that and watch that video in Facebook. It’s the same thing with SoundCloud, you click ‘play’ and they can hear it.
Rich: So this is interesting, I want to go down this rabbit hole just for a minute. So when I’ve seen something on SoundCloud before it didn’t impress me, I didn’t think about it, I just downloaded it in iTunes. But what you’re saying is you’ve actually used SoundCloud as a way of bringing people into the fold – like a gateway drug, so to speak – to get people to check out your podcast because it may be easier for them that way.
Jared: Well yeah, I think there’s going to be people in your ideal audience – people you want to speak to, people you want to serve – that may not be overly technical or know about podcasting, but they do know about Facebook and they can see your status and see an opportunity to click ‘play’. Then the next thing you know they’re listening to an episode and getting into it and wonder why they didn’t get into it before or even know about it. So it’s an opportunity to potentially connect with people that aren’t necessarily in iTunes or used to downloading podcasts.
Rich: Now for those of us that care about the number of downloads we have – either for ego or because we are selling sponsorships – does SoundCloud track that, and/or does it connect with Libsyn, because that’s what I use for sending my stuff out to iTunes and Stitcher Radio? Do those work together, or how do you handle those different sets?
Jared: The good news is for anyone that’s hosting a podcast with Libsyn, is Libsyn now has an opportunity to embed their audio in Facebook statuses – it’s one of the new updates – and yes, that play is counted as a download. And the same thing with SoundCloud. Any reputable host is going to be able to track that in their analytics and you’ll have access to that.
So yeah, I think that’s the cool thing is that there is more than one way to deliver a podcast now, and more and more podcasters are starting to figure that out and they’re seeing cool opportunities that open up from that.
Rich: Well that’s very cool. So if I understand what you’re saying, basically – I did not know this, I do use Libsyn because it automatically goes to iTunes and it automatically goes to Stitcher Radio – but now you’re saying there’s a feature where I can put it into Facebook. Do you know if I can also do this same thing for Twitter or any other of these social media platforms?
Jared: If it’s not available for Twitter yet, then it’s coming soon. I mean Libsyn’s been awesome about listening to their users and trying to make sure they have what they need. So I know Facebook groups is an awesome place to start figuring out what the market wants, what’s going on. In these podcasting Facebook groups people have talked about this opportunity to embed audio in social media and Libsyn saw that and they responded, and a couple weeks later they had that option on Facebook. It may not be 100% perfect but I think it’s good enough and the end goal is just being able to allow someone who’s not used to downloading podcasts to check out what you’re doing without clicking on your site right away.
Rich: I think that just removing that barrier of the non technical person, because everybody knows how to click on a link on Facebook. If you can remove that barrier because ‘subscribing’ to a podcast sounds like some sort of incredibly complex code to the uninitiated. So if you don’t listen to podcasts, the whole thing is, “Do I need an app for that? Do I need software? What’s it going to cost?” And now you’ve removed all of those barriers and we’ve put up something to SoundCloud or perhaps to Libsyn or any of the other tools, so I think that’s fantastic.
Jared: Here’s something that seems to work, Rich. It’s not perfect, but when I do a post in Facebook, maybe a quote or something from the episode, maybe sometimes I’ll add a featured image and then I’ll say “link in the comments”. And what I’ve found is when I do that SoundCloud link in the comments, more and more people see that post. If I just put the link in the normal status of Facebook, it seems like the algorithm kicks in for Facebook and less people see it. But if I just put that link in the first comment, now all of a sudden people are checking it out. It’s kind of a weird hack but it works.
Rich: That is a weird hack which I’m sure they’ll fix, but in the meantime everybody, that’s what I’m doing from here on out. I always take one of my favorite quotes from the episode – actually my transcriptionist does this for me now because she’s so awesome – but she will take the quote, we grab it from her, we put it up with the face and then that’s something that we share through all the social channels along with a link over to the episode. But I think I’m going to use your approach from now on and use the link just in the comments. Because there is that Facebook thing now where they don’t want you uploading an image and then creating a link somewhere else. That seems to be a negative thing right now.
Jared: Rich, one idea is you can have one comment be the SoundCloud or the Libsyn link, and the other comment can be like, “Here’s the link if you want to read the post.” And you might get people saying, “Well, let me just read the summary.”, and then click it on your page. So there’s different things you can test there.
Rich: Absolutely. So, you’re doing an interview-style show, do you find that to be the easiest one for people to get into?
Jared: There’s a lot of interview podcasts, and I think in the beginning that was true. But what I found now is with more people who are trying it – which is a wonderful thing and I encourage that – I’m having to test my own creativity. So I’m glad that there’s a lot of interview show because now it’s compelled me to say, “How can I try something a little bit unique and just stand out, even just a little bit?” I’ve tried some things like guest co-host.
Rich: Yeah, I’ve noticed. That was kind of interesting.
Jared: I’ve tried some things like panels, and in some cases I’ll have a guest and I’ll say, “Hey, who’s someone in your network that you’d like to have on the show?” And they’ll just co-host with me and we’ll have a rapport and it’ll be just a fun conversation the three of us will have. And what I’ve found is more and more people start to find out about the show and more people are involved and the guest loves it because they get to involve someone else, the co-host is then sharing it and they’re a part of something that they probably wouldn’t have been a part of on a normal circumstance.
So I’m not claiming that’s the answer, the solution or the perfect way to do it. And I’ve tested this now for several months, and the best traction I’ve seen and the best results I’ve seen have come from trying to include as many people as possible without diluting the conversation, if that makes sense.
Rich: It does, but let me ask you a technical question. So right now we’re doing this interview via Skype using Call Recorder – which kind of records everything and then splits the conversation so if you’re talking louder or softer than me, I can kind of fix that in post. What’s the technology you’re using when you’re interviewing a panel or at least just more than one person at a time?
Jared: Well, I try to stick with Skype because I’m a creature of habit. But one option I found recently is UberConference. You’ve probably heard of that, Rich. The free account allows up to 10 people to be on a “conference call”, but it’s really high quality audio. So you can be on a voice over IP mike and you can have a conversation with multiple people – up to 10 for free – and then that output audio file that comes from that UberConference call is such high quality that that could actually be your audio for your podcast.
Jared: And what’s interesting about that is that some of your guests that you’re connecting with on your podcast, maybe they’re not technical and don’t have a microphone set up, maybe they just know how to use a phone. No problem, UberConference allows them to just call in to a line. There’s a PIN code, it’s very simple and easy. So they call in and now they’re on the conversation that you’re recording and it’s still really good quality. It’s something to test, Rich.
Rich: Yeah, absolutely. I like the idea of mixing it up a little bit. So one potential drawback of a podcast is that while you’re listening there’s very little way to engage. In other words, there’s no obvious click through opportunities. So I’m wondering, what ways have you found to get your audience to take some sort of desired action, such as signing up for a newsletter or filling out a contact form or maybe even just buying something?
Jared: I try different stuff all the time and I see different results. Obviously contests and giveaways are fun, that tends to work, people get excited about that. You say, “Hey, I’m giving away this microphone, comment in the show notes (or message me or whatever method that you choose there).” You’ll a lot more people that are engaged that way.
What’s kind of funny and very simple, Rich, is I’ll stop in the middle of the show and I’ll just say, “Hey, what do you think about this? Open up your email right now and send me an email. Just put “Rich” in the subject line and send me a blank email.” And something like that will get me dozens of people emailing me, and now I’ve got going some kind of conversation with them. And it was really just as simple as me talking about something in the show and asking for feedback.
Another thing is hashtags, Rich. You could say, “Tweet the hashtag #Serial”, and people do that, too. So I think if you’re looking for creative ways to encourage people to communicate with you, I think a reasonable formula is asking a question – something compelling, something that’s maybe a little contrary or a little different than what they’re used to – and then asking them to email you or tweet you right there. It’s not perfect but it’s something different, not every podcaster is doing that and you can get some cool conversations started that way.
Rich: Yeah, that’s definitely cool. I mean, obviously that increases engagement which can lead to the click through. That’s still something I’m struggling with. For The Marketing Agents Podcast, I’m not necessarily trying to sell anything right now, but I am thinking about as businesses and entrepreneurs are thinking about marketing to their audiences, trying to get them to have a reason to go to the website – so I like the contest idea – and then you can make them some sort of offer there. If you get them onto an email list, then you can email them with some sort of offer, some sort of way of taking what might be an audience and turning them into a customer or client.
And that may not be everybody’s deal, but for some people who are looking to start a podcast, they are looking at ways of how to turn an audience into a paying customer or client for life. So I’m always looking for ways of how do we do that. Sometimes just using The Marketing Agents as a testing ground for that even though I have nothing to sell, per se.
Jared: One thing I’m seeing that’s very unique that some people are trying now, a lot of people when they podcast they write these show notes, it’s almost like a blog post, and in most cases a description of the episode and various takeaways. What some folks are doing now is they’re just putting a very basic “skeleton show notes”, and then they take what would have been their blog post and that becomes a pdf or a guide. There’s a perceived value in a guide versus just going to a page with show notes. People will say, “Hey, go to this link and you can get the guide for this episode.” And there are some people that are into that and use it for opt ins to get email addresses or just get people to check out the page. It’s just changing something up real simple that you might have done anyway, but just calling it something different, if that makes sense.
Rich: Yup. I think that’s a very good approach. So shifting gears from podcasting for just a second before we let you go, you put on a live event about podcasting, what made you do that?
Jared: The market. I’ve listened to your shows, Rich, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts in business and that taught me to try to pay attention to what the market is looking for. I was at New Media Expo this year in January.
Rich: That’s the first one I’ve ever missed.
Jared: I was there and I overheard people saying, “Why isn’t there a podcast conference?” And I just knew right then if I didn’t get with the guys and create this, someone else will do it. And I think this is a huge opportunity and the market wants it. So I thought I heard about a ”podcamp” in Dallas and thought Dallas might be a reasonable city to have an event like this because there’s a proof of concept and there’s podcasters in Dallas that would potentially support this. And it’s central and people can fly their quickly or reasonably fast from LA or the east coast, it’s easy to get to is what I’m trying to say.
So then it was like, well, how do you do it? I had conversations with other people trying to figure out how they did conferences and then we did a Kickstarter campaign – as a validation, really – we didn’t have tons of money to go and invest in a conference that might fail, so we used Kickstarter as a way to see if the market wants to support it, and we put it out there and in nine hours we hit $11,000. which was our minimum goal. It wasn’t enough to put on the event but it was enough to get the ball rolling. Fast forward to August 2014 and this year we had the first Podcast Movement Conference and had over 6,000 podcasters there, and it’s still amazing to think about how that all came together. You do live events, Rich, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It was an amazing thing to see people come together like that, and we’re doing it again this next year.
Rich: Yeah, I saw that on the website it looks very cool. I’m a huge fan of live events. You know we talked a little bit about podcasting getting a little bit more competitive, we’ve certainly seen that on Facebook and Twitter and all these other social channels. And as something is proven to be successful, more and more people come to it and then it gets overcrowded.
I‘ve been putting on events now for over six years, and I really feel like events are the new social media platform. Getting people out away from their computers – even though they’re still bringing their tablets and smartphones – and into a room where they can share the energy really allows you create your own platform. And obviously you’ve done that. And even if you don’t of yourself as a podcasting guru, so many hundreds of people now do. And so many of the
That’s obviously done wonders for your business and your visibility. So just one of those things where it’s like, both podcasting adn putting on live events are great ways of establishing credibility and building an audience for whatever you want to put out there in the market place.
Jared: I agree, Rich. Case in point, we tried a smaller event in Orlando this past week – I live in Florida – so we did a Podcast Florida event getting just podcasters in the state of Florida to come together for a one day event. We thought maybe we’d get 20ish people, and we put it out there and it was a little bit risky, we didn’t put tons of marketing into this just word of mouth and a basic page.
We had over 70 people come to an event that had no big name speakers, it was just kind of podcasters getting up and sharing their knowledge and it went really well. That just blew me away, because really anybody can do this in your niche or your market, you just need to get people together and have them share their stories and that creates an opportunity.
Rich: Absolutely. Jared this has been some really great stuff. You obviously have a lot to share, I know you have a number of things going on, where can we check out these things online?
Jared: First of all, they should be listening to your podcast. And then if they run out of episodes, and they have room for another one, then I have one called Starve The Doubts. And a good starting point is Rich’s episode. Rich and I had a conversation earlier this year and it was a great one, I’d say that’s a good one to check out.
And then the conference that we were talking about is called Podcast Movement, so if podcasting is interesting to you or that’s something you think you might get into down the road, that’s a conference where it’s all podcasters and you’ll be surrounded by people who are wanting to start, who have started or who have been doing it for years. And it’s just an amazing opportunity, so first of all go to Rich’s event, and then if you have room for another event, then maybe consider checking out Podcast Movement.
Rich: Alright, awesome, Well, we’ll share all those links and more in the show notes and in the transcription. Just one more reason to visit our website, I guess. But I want to thank you, Jared, very much for your time and your knowledge today.
Jared: Rich, thank you so much.
Check out “podcast guru”Jared on his own podcast, Starve The Doubts.
Check out Jared’s book, Podcasting Good To Great: How To Grow Your Audience Through Collaboration.
Follow Jared on Twitter.