Charles: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 226 of the Freelancer’s Show. This week on our panel we have Philip Morgan.
Philip: Hello, hello.
Charles: Jonathan Stark.
Charles: I’m Charles Max Wood from devchat.tv. This week we’re going to be talking about podcasting for freelancers. I think everybody on this call has and produces a podcast.
Philip: At least one.
Jonathan: At least one, yes.
Charles: Does anyone on here have more than one?
Philip: I had two until Monday, now I have three.
Charles: They’re multiplying.
Philip: Yes, they’re like tribbles.
Charles: I have five.
Jonathan: I have one that’s in hiatus and working on developing a second one with a co-host.
Charles: Nice. I have a few that I’ve been looking at starting and it’s primarily because first I had the audiences and now I’m building the products which is backward but I’m thinking that I want to specialize a little bit toward the audiences that specifically need the products that I’m building for the rest of my audiences.
Jonathan: Makes sense.
Philip: That’s something we should discuss. Which comes first, the audience or the monetization?
Charles: Yes, kind of.
Jonathan: Yeah, the audience right, the monetization brought you the product.
Charles: I think a lot of people get to the point where they’re just saying, “Look, should I start a podcast?” What are the benefits? Why would you want to start a podcast?
Philip: Yes, next question. I’ll dive in here. As folks may know, I’m a big fan of evaluating how a lead generation technique does in terms of building trust because for freelancers, for consultants, for people in the world of professional services, trust is really that critical factor in making a sale or moving somebody along from prospect to customer.
I think at least one reason podcasting can perform really, really well in that area as opposed unless you’re inherently untrustworthy where shifty is the word I think would have been used when I was growing up in the South, unless there’s just something wrong with you and you’re really not trustworthy, podcasting is a channel that performs particularly well and I think it’s because you can just tell so much from somebody’s voice, you can tell whether they’re thoughtful, whether they’re manipulative.
Maybe you’re wrong in how you read somebody based on your voice but you can kind of read people based on their voice alone and I think that makes podcasting super effective at building trust. That’s something to think about. It’s not an automatic yes, you should definitely be doing a podcast but it’s something that really is in the favor of podcasting. There’s other benefits as well, I’m sure we’ll get through as we talk through this.
Jonathan: I got a minor nuance to what you just said which is, I don’t think it’s binary like shifty or not shifty. It’s this person is a good fit for me. I’ve had 20 people tell me that they’ve heard me either on this show or on others that they’ve heard the same sort of things from everybody, from Alan Weiss to Blair End to Brennan Dunn. But my take on it, I usually just describe this pragmatic no nonsense kind of descriptive here’s what you do kind of thing. It has been the differentiator in many cases why someone would go with me for something like coaching instead of Brennan who offers the same thing and Blair who offers the same thing and Alan Weiss who offers a similar thing. It’s as much about finding a relationship match. I don’t think I’m a good coach for everyone and I think people, when they hear your voice, they can tell if you’re going to click.
Philip: I think you’re right. They hear how you put words together. There’s this meta sense that you get if you listen somebody for long enough. You can kind of imagine how they see the world. I agree completely. It’s weird because it’s asymmetric because there are people out there who feel like they know me or know you or anybody on this show and to me I don’t know them. I’ve never meet them. I don’t know them as well as they feel like they know me. They probably do know me better than I know them. That’s the weird part about it. Maybe we should talk about that in a minute too. It’s this kind of asymmetric vulnerability that you have, but you’re right. People get to know you in a way that’s I think quite different than the written word.
Charles: It’s interesting because I’ve had people that have come up to me and actually said that. “I feel like I know you.” The other thing that I do is I compare it a little bit to blogging or video and I think video is the highest bandwidth and the highest connection value but it’s also a lot more of a commitment. You can listen to podcast in the car if it’s audio or audio only and at the same time people just don’t get that nuance that they get when you speak, when they’re reading what you wrote. It really is in my opinion the best of all worlds where you get the high engagement, high throughput value.
People take you with them in the car when they go somewhere. They hear your voice and they feel like they really do get that connection with you. That’s the value that you really can’t get any other way emailing them or writing blog post or anything like that. It doesn’t put you in that same place as them feeling like they’re getting part of a conversation with you.
Philip: I’m glad you mentioned video because there’s more information technically in video, I mean not just size on storage but also there’s visual information in addition to auditory information and that cuts both ways. For some people who know how to use that, it makes it just dramatically more effective. But for other people, little things like you’re not making eye contact quite right with the video camera or you’re fidgeting.
On audio, that’s stuff, that extra information doesn’t get in the way of your message and the potential connection with the listener whereas in video it can ruin it even if the audio channel is great, even if what you’re saying is compelling, it can just ruin it for people if you just look nervous on camera or whatever. I think that’s worth taking into account when you’re thinking about all the marketing channels that are available to you. That’s one reason why video may not, even though it’s more full spectrum experience. It may not be the right channel to use for certain people.
Jonathan: I’ve ruled out video for a combination of reasons, vlogging or video podcasting, because it’s just kind of what Chuck said where it limits the number of ways that people can listen to it or watch it. You have to be in a specific eyes free mode that I think is relatively rare compared to going on a bike ride, in the car, or in the stairs master or something. Just feels a lot more accessible to at least have an audio version if you’re going to do a video podcast.
The other thing for me is I feel like I could do it. I do webcasts every month or two and I feel like they’re well received and they’re definitely powerful but the bang for the buck just isn’t there. Once you have podcasting down, you can bang out an episode in a half an hour and very little soup to nuts.
I see people who just throw their laptop on top of anything and they’ll just talk into the camera with terrible lighting and the background is disgusting and they seem to not care. Maybe it works for what their goals are but I will be a little bit more fastidious about it which causes complications like I have to put pants on, I have to comb my hair. It puts all of this friction in front of my content creation that I don’t necessarily feel is then rewarded with commensurate benefit for the listener or benefit for me if I’m looking to promote something.
Charles: One of my friends John Sonmez, he puts a whole bunch of videos up on YouTube. I think he just takes the audio off and uses that for his podcast but his YouTube channel has generated quite a bit of traffic to his website. If you’re using that as another way to engage, in other words you have your podcast for the people who want to put you in their pocket and listen to you on their headphones and then you’ve got your videos on YouTube to bring people in who are going to sit and watch a bunch of YouTube videos and then you do the blogging for people who are searching for the “How do I do this?” kind of thing. You can put all those together to build a content strategy but as far as if you’re going to pick one, I definitely agree with you Jonathan on your take on which one should I do. It’s probably podcast.
Jonathan: My wife watches just oodles of knitting videos. Knitteos.
Charles: You should totally call them that.
Jonathan: They have a term for everything but I don’t think that one… She watches these knitting videos and they’re totally podcasting. They come up weekly. It’s usually a lady or two ladies, occasionally a guy and a girl just sitting in front of a computer, dim light and talking about, and some of them are better than others of course but most of them are really amateur. The personality coming off of these people is just unbelievable.
You get to see the inside of their house. I guess it’s knitting so an audio podcast can be really hard because they have to show tons of things, they’re always holding up stuff to the camera and showing you how they did this brioche pattern, whatever. I think it’s probably good for everybody but if you’re looking for bang for the buck for freelancers who do the kind of things freelancers usually do, I vote for audio definitely.
Philip: That sort of brings up a tangential issue which I hope we’ll get to later is what’s the purpose of this? Is it educational or is it something else? I do think when it’s a certain type of education, you do need that video component. I’m really just echoing what Jonathan said. I can see that applying in the world of freelancing but audio for sure is just a more universal format with a wider reach. Anyway, moving right along.
Charles: No, I think it’s a valid question. I mean, what is the strategy? Because if you can focus on that outcome, if you know what you want people to do after listening to or during listening to your podcast, that changes the conversation a bit because I get people asking like, “What should I talk about?” “Who should I target?” A lot of the questions are technical. I don’t know if we really want to dig into the technical issues because you can find that online. I don’t know that a lot of people are really talking about how do I get people from podcast listener to hiring me as a service provider. How do you make that leap? How do you get them from headphones in their ears on the road to on my website clicking the buy button?
Jonathan: That’s the tough part with podcasting. The conversion is brutal. The tracking is really pretty bad too.
Jonathan: The analytics are low in terms of the sense of accuracy and granularity in the analytics is really bad. There’s nothing to click and they’re probably driving. Putting a call to action in the audio itself is probably not that effective. Like in YouTube, everybody is like, “Click subscribe down below. Write a review.” All that stuff. It’s really a waste of time to put that in the audio itself because they’re not in the position to do it. They’re not going to remember. I’ve done hundreds of podcast episodes that I personally published. Never mind the ones that I’ve been on. It just doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for me.
I think the better approach is to do something like ask for questions at the end of an episode. “If you have any questions about this.” Some memorable something that they can do when they get back to their desk or something they could maybe do on their phone but probably not. At some point, they need to have some channel, whether it’s a Twitter account or Facebook page or a mailing list or just an email address where someone will eventually raise their hand and ask you a question or just say, “Wow, that was a great episode.” And then that’s where you can put in a clickable call to action like, “Oh, wow. Thanks for the compliment. Would you mind rating it in iTunes, it would be a huge help.” Or somebody has a question that they want to put on the show and they email you about it, that’s the time to reply and say, “Oh, if you want to ask questions like this all the time you should jump on my mailing list. Here’s the link.” Once the audience starts to engage with you in that whether it’s the best more or less, or at least when they’re not in their running shorts, ten that’s the place to give them some way to give back. Putting it into the actual audio is just really pretty rough.
Charles: I was going to say the way that I tend to this that we give them something to come back to the website for. That’s why we do picks on the episodes. Initially, we did picks because I like them but that is by far something that is very popular for people to come back to the website for. They’re looking for those links to pick. Then when they come back to the website then they get prompted to join the mailing list and then I can actually reach them when they’re sitting at their desk. Honestly, the mailing list is the critical piece at least for me in getting people from listening to the shows to actually in a position where I can tell them about something that they can then go purchase.
The other thing I’ll put out there is that if you are going to put some kind of offer out there like, “Hey, I’ve got this free thing that I know you’re really going to want.” And you know that they’re listening while they’re mowing their lawn or driving down the road and they really can’t check that out, repetition at that point is key.
The last thing I’ll put in there because there are really three things to this and the first two are those two. The last one is if you can set some kind of trigger for them. It’s, “Hey, next time you sit at your desk and you’re thinking about what do I do next, then go to devchat.tv and sign up for the webinar.” Or, “The next time you’re sifting through email and you realize that, oh, I’m so overwhelmed with all the email I get, then go pick up the product or the freebie that I’m giving away about how to manage your inbox.”
Those are the kinds of things that are going to then get people if they hear it four or five times, “Go get my email management thing. Go get my email management thing. Next time you’re sitting down, go get my email management thing.” They’ll sit down. They’ll open Gmail. They’ll take a look. They’ll see they have 100 messages. “Uh, I got a million things in my… oh, wait a minute there was that thing from Chuck.” And then they go to the website to go find it.
Jonathan: Nice. Never thought of that.
Philip: Yeah, that’s great. Part of the problem with podcasting is that freelancers really gravitate towards and benefit from using marketing that follows the direct response model. In direct response, there’s an action that the recipient of that marketing can take. That’s the next step or demonstrates interest or it moves them closer to becoming a customer. That action is embedded in the advertising somehow so there’s a button you can click, there’s a number you can call, there’s some specific action you can take. Podcasting limits your ability to have that kind of direct response embedded in the marketing itself if you’re thinking of podcasting as marketing, if you’re not just doing it as public service to somebody.
On the other hand, there’s this other whole category of marketing, display advertising, just kind of “branding advertising” where they’re not even asking for a response. You see that more in the world of big companies. Fashion advertising tends to follow this model. Look at the ad, they’re not asking for any kind of response. You cannot measure the success of that type of advertising and it’s frustrating to people on a limited budget like all of us are. All of us in the freelance world are on a relatively limited budget compared to big Fortune 500 brands. They can drop millions of dollars on an ad campaign with no measurable effect and it doesn’t seem to bother them that there is no way to measure it. That’s part of the problem. Podcasting spans both of those worlds of unmeasurable response. That was what Jonathan was talking about.
That brings up the question of is it good for freelancers? Chuck, some of your ideas about dealing with that are the first time I’ve heard of them and I think they’re great, they’re fantastic. I talked to one of the guys behind Podcast Motor.
Charles: Craig Hewitt.
Philip: Yeah, Craig. Very fine podcast editing service. A friend of the show, I suppose.
Charles: Editor of the show as a matter of fact.
Philip: Okay, there you go. Hi Craig. My question to Craig was what are people using as a call to action on podcast these days that seems to be particularly effective? And he said, “It’s less and less of a specific pitch for something.” Which is again, that specific pitch is more of the direct response model that we in the freelancing world tend to favor and are frustrated that we can’t use it successfully with podcasting. It’s more of an invitation to join an ongoing conversation which is what Jonathan was hinting at and sort of what you were hinting at, Chuck.
Things like joining a Facebook group or joining some community or asking a question, those are the types of call to action that seem to be more effective these days. In that sense, podcasting has to have a context in a larger system of moving somebody from anonymous person to client or customer. Said another way, podcasting can’t do the whole thing for you. Maybe it can in some cases but it’s not smart to rely on it to do all the heavy lifting of moving somebody from never heard of this guy to going to hire this guy to do thousands of dollars of work for us.
Charles: That being said, I have run across, in fact a couple of my first clients when I first went freelance, they listen to my show about Rails and then they watched a video series that I did about Rails and then they came to me and they said, “We want to hire you to do Rails,” and spent thousands of dollars paying me to write Rails Code. But I’ll tell you that was relatively rare. I think I got two jobs that way and the rest of them were somebody would listen to the podcast and they listened for a long time and then they hear me ask for, “Do you need help?” And then they’d come hire me or they would talk to somebody and somebody would say, “Well, I listen to this podcast from a guy that does freelancing and things like that.” It definitely pays to let people know what you’re capable of doing but it’s typically the other things. They’ve been in my mailing list for a while, they’ve heard from me and they’ve done all these other things that gets them to the place where I finally give them the pitch. “Do you have this problem?” “Why? Yes, I do.” “Well, I have this solution.” “Well, great. I think I’ll hire you.”
Philip: In that sense, a podcast is acting like a referral for you.
Philip: It has the same dynamics as business owner A says, “Oh, I need a Rails developer.” And asks their friend business owner B, “Do you know of a Rails developer?” And they get a referral to you. The podcast is kind of acting that same way.
Charles: I’ll also point out though, and this is a mistake that I see a lot of people make because it’s a mistake that I made. That is that I was podcasting to my peers and not my customers by podcasting to programmers. When I was out there trying to find freelance gigs off of that, it had to be a referral. Sometimes the referral was, “Oh, I’ll talk to my boss and see if you can join our team and augment our team.” But that was the closest I got to actually directly addressing anybody who was going to hire me.
Jonathan: There’s another aspect in addition to the marketing, that sort of like referral is that once someone is talking to you, if they listen to the podcast, you’re dramatically differentiated from anybody you’re going to be competing with.
Charles: That is so true.
Jonathan: Even if you are competing with anyone, it’s like a super warm lead, if not hot lead. If they’re a fan of the show and they need what you have, you’re probably the only person on their list. It’s really just the question of can they afford you and are you available. That’s been my experience. Actually, I can flip in on the other way and say it’s been that way for podcasts I’ve listened to. The very first podcast that I got completely addicted to was Boagworld by Paul Boag and Marcus Lillington.
Charles: Those guys are hilarious.
Jonathan: Yeah, they’re a riot and they were like rock stars to me. And eventually, I can’t remember what was for. I think I needed some sort of a website tear down or something and I paid for a Skype call with Paul and I was borderline starstruck. I wasn’t shopping around for other people like, “Okay, let me get the price from Paul and see what the prices are around the internet.” I was like, “You give me the price list. I can afford that.” Done. I think it dramatically decreases the shopping around factor.
Charles: Yup. On a similar vein, I’ll also point out that there were people who I either approached or they approached me because they got my name from somewhere. We started talking and I’ve mentioned that I was the host of Ruby Rogues or that I have been doing the Teach Me To Code screencasts. And so, then they would go and check that out and they’d come back and like all of a sudden everybody else was off the table because they went and they saw this body of work that I had and realized, “I’m not just talking to somebody who can solve my problem. I’m talking to somebody who teaches the people that would solve my problem how to solve my problem.”
Philip: I think that’s an argument for doing a podcast to your peers rather than to your clients. In every case, you should do one or the other. I think there’s evidence on both sides. I guess this is the time for me to strut out my new favorite recent meta statistic which comes from not the most scientific of sources, Reader’s Digest. It’s a poll of the hundred most trusted people in America. I’ll just summarize this so I won’t go to the whole thing but seven of the top 10 most trusted people on America are entertainers like actors, actresses, that kind of thing.
The most trusted politician is Jimmy Carter, number 24. The most trusted religious personality is Billy Graham at number 67, and people who are in the world of entertainment, storytelling and pop culture are highly over represented on this list compared to more “authoritative personalities.”
To me, the lesson is if they’re a fan of your show, you are probably the only choice in their mind. There’s something about that repeated exposure, that someone is there consistently every week in your earholes. There’s just something about that that really does build up trust. Even if you’re not just listing out facts or doing groundbreaking research, even if you’re not the most authoritative authority in your field, you can still become the most trusted person for a particular listener of your show. I think that’s very powerful.
Charles: I kind of want to change tactics a little bit because well, it’s along the same veins, I mean you’re telling the story, you’re framing the narrative and I don’t talk about people’s earholes in public but they’re listening to you. I was trying to be funny. Anyway, then the question becomes, “Well then, what do I talk about?”
Jonathan: Oh, good one.
Charles: Yeah. That’s probably besides the, “Okay, what do I need to start a podcast?” It’s like a microphone and a website. In a nutshell that’s all you need. It’s, “Okay, well what do I talk about?” “I don’t even know what to talk about.”
Jonathan: I know what not to talk about. Everything.
Philip: Yeah, right. The first question is who are you talking to? Are you talking to your clients or your peers? I guess we’ve already discussed that but that’s the first level of narrowing down.
Charles: Absolutely. Either way, yeah. So, then what?
Philip: Jonathan and I are both raving fans of somewhat polarizing contrarian point of view. Would you agree with that Jonathan?
Jonathan: 100%. Yup.
Philip: I have been talking to a number of people lately. They’ve been saying, “How do I develop that?” Because I remember being in this place when I started out freelancing. You lack the confidence to get up, to stick your head above the crowd and say, “You’re wrong and here’s why you’re wrong.” Not that you’ll come across that way but there’s a feeling that you’re doing that when you are calling out bad practices in the industry or saying, “This is a bad idea. You should do this instead.” You really feel like you’re setting yourself up at some kind of a false profit at first and then you get more comfortable with it.
Jonathan: Par pariah. Where does the contrarian view come from? That’s an interesting question.
Philip: I have some specific questions people can ask themselves to generate specific topics.
Philip: There’s always some kind of hype train going on in the industry. There’s always something that’s like “of the moment” that people are excited about. That’s a way you can start to focus your thinking onto contrarian ideas, like is there something that’s fundamentally flawed about the hype train and where it’s headed? Is there something that is leaving out that’s important? Is there some risk to it that people are not aware of? These may not become your big mission in your business but they can certainly be topics that are somewhat contrarian that you can start to incorporate into something like a podcast or even email marketing. Looking at the hype train, looking at the common mistakes people make, looking at the forgotten fundamentals of success that people are ignoring. When I say success, I don’t mean success in life but success in programming or success in whatever your discipline is. Those are some ways that I’ve been suggesting people to think about generating content that are somewhat controversial or at least have a specific point of view.
Charles: Yeah, but that’s not addressing an issue in your area of expertise. You’re just taking a position against a technology or something like that.
Jonathan: That’s what I’m trying to warn people not to do. I wouldn’t just randomly pick one. Philip’s advice is good but I’m just adding that you want it to be something you’ll genuinely believe and care about. Not like, “Oh, here’s a hype train.” I think it needs to be genuine. Obviously, mine is hourly billing. I genuinely believe that. I believed it for over a decade. I can point to hundreds of examples of why it’s true. I didn’t just make it up.
Charles: The thing is you’re not just talking about, “Quit hourly billing.” But you’re talking specifically about a solution too and so your conversation isn’t so much about Hourly Billing is Nuts. You make your case and then the rest of your conversation is, “Here’s what to do so that you don’t have the pain that comes with the hourly billing.” If you can make a message like that where, “Hey, look, this is a problem you probably didn’t even think you had. Now that you recognize that really is painful, here’s a way around it.”
Philip: That’s absolutely true. I agree, Jonathan. I find myself getting these questions from people and I see these in my own experience. There’s this stage in your marketing maturity, I guess, where you can see the benefit of having that strong point of view or you see the benefit of whatever. It’s that awkward adolescent stage. You know what it is to be a cool guy who gets all the chicks or whatever but you just can’t quite pull it off. You just have to fail your way forward, I think.
I just want to add that context. That’s where I’m coming from when I tell people to, I am definitely saying to experiment. Some stuff is going to stick and some is not. It’s better, obviously, if you know what your mission is. We’ll point out for the benefit of the listeners that I’ve never met anybody who’s quite as gifted as Jonathan as at knowing what’s important to him almost immediately as soon as you see it. You should tell the Apple announcement story about the iPhone if you want.
Jonathan: It’s like my super power. Somebody asked me recently secret of success type question. It’s like that I get obsessed with things and I immediately know that that’s all I want to do for the next decade which I know from talking to hundreds of people is extremely rare.
I was a general-purpose web developer in 2007 and Steve Jobs came on stage in January 2007 and held up that iPhone, I was like, “That’s what I’m doing from now on.” It was just so obvious to me. Chuck said a similar experience with Apple TV. It’s like immediately it was like, “Oh, that’s so cool.” For whatever reason, I was close enough. I was a web developer so I was like, okay, I don’t want to go straight to just chuck everything and become an iOS developer. I still love being a web developer but I just wanted to focus down onto just things that really matter, to the things that were very, very specific to the iPhone because it was really the only modern smartphone at the time.
Charles: Yes, in a lot of ways, it is.
Jonathan: The allure is gone for me now because it was this pond and now it’s the air, it’s like the water, everywhere you look. It somehow has lost some of the appeal. It’s almost like that band that you loved because you were the first one that discovered them and then now that they’re famous and they’re just not as cool anymore. I don’t know. It’s like, now that it’s so prevalent, it’s less interesting to me and I find myself more interested with things that’s maybe more cutting edge.
And certainly, lately it’s been business topics for people who care about technology. If you don’t automatically have that, it’s really hard. I think the best thing to do to help you find that is to look back at your passions. If you found yourself with a Saturday to yourself, what would you do? Knitting, playing guitar, cycling, rock climbing. Find a way to apply your existing skill set to perhaps to a vertical that involves your passion. At least you’ll be hanging out with people that you totally dig. If you do have to fly to a client site, it’d be some place cool that you want to spend the next three couple of days. But it is hard to counsel people about how figure that out if it doesn’t come naturally. I haven’t found a great way to do it.
Charles: I will chime in here though because you’re talking about again, about an area of technology but one of my other passions besides technology podcasting is Boy Scouts. I really am about Boy Scouts. I’ve actually been working on some iOS and tvOS apps for scouting. Sometimes, the technology just really doesn’t grip me. It’s like, “Okay, I have to make another layout for this app.” If that’s where you get fired up then be there. If it is mobile apps, then be there. It doesn’t have to be some area of technology. It can be some other area of society where you feel like you can make a difference by bringing web technology or mobile technology there. And then if you have that passion, that excitement, then you can start talking about the concerns and the ideas and the problems in that area and really start hitting them hard.
One thing that I have an example on is I’ve been working on a book for new programmers on how to find a job which really doesn’t apply to this market if you’re freelance unless you’re trying to find a job, a full time W2 job. But at the same time, I’ve been working on it for a while. I haven’t quite pulled the trigger and started recording yet but I’ve been working on a podcast for new programmers and I’m going to talk about all concerns that new programmers have. Some of it is going to be technology focused and some of it is going to be career focused and some of it is going to be boot camps and how do I learn focused.
I’m going to hit the concerns that those people have and what that does is it allows me to have a conversation with them which will ultimately bring them back and get them on my mailing list and get them to buy the book. That is one of the reasons why I’m doing it. I also feel like I can help people there and that’s another reason why I’m doing it. But it’s something that I’m excited about. That’s an area I feel like I can make a difference in so that’s why I’m going with it. Just to give this kind of full example. It’s not about an area of technology. It’s about a segment of a market that I serve.
Jonathan: Just a quick point, you just nailed it with I’m excited about it. Pick something you’re excited about.
Charles: Yeah, absolutely.
Philip: Just to point out. That’s the other meta category of topics is stuff that’s interesting to your clients. Personally, I think there’s value in both approaches. Having a podcast for your peers can work. Having a podcast for your clients can work also. I tend to say we’re having a podcast for your clients because then you’re getting practice speaking to the people who would be hiring you. I think that’s a valuable skill for any freelancer or self-employed person to develop. Just wanted to point out for folks, that’s a second category of podcast topics.
Charles: I’m going to use this to segue into something else. That is that you have the podcast for your clients. It seems like it’s pretty obvious. You can pull stuff out of the conversations you’re having with your clients for your podcast or vice versa. But if you have a podcast for your peers already, I did Ruby Rogues for, man we’ve been doing that for a little over five or six years now. I think we’re five and a half years. I was in a position where I had this podcast for my peers and they really weren’t yielding that many new contracts. What do you do if you have that podcast for your peers and it’s really not paying off for you and finding off for you and finding it work. I have my own experience here but I want to hear what you guys have to say.
Jonathan: I don’t have a good answer for that. The first podcast I did seriously was with my partner and client Kelli Shaver and we did a podcast called The Niche Podcast which was really about building apps that run everywhere. It was a spin off concept of the kind of work that we were going together. She’s a Rails developer, full stack web developer and we would talk about, most of the shows are really technical, about how to build a web app that we burn on a Pebble smartwatch. Really highly accessible, highly flexible applications. They were very API driven. It was definitely for people like us.
The people that listen to it were other developers who didn’t mainly have as much time as we did to branch out in other areas. They just have their job and they had to do it so they would code vicariously through us in a way. We just did it for fun. We thought it was fun. It was exciting. There was no grand plan. I don’t even know whose idea it was. We just decided we would start doing it. It was very educational in the sense of how to do a weekly podcast and there really never was a motive other than it was an hour in a week that we both look forward to so we did it.
But every once in awhile, we do these episodes about the ramifications of technology. We found those were the ones that got the most shares and those are the ones that got the most emails so we ended up just stopping that show and relaunching essentially a part two of Terrifying Robot Dog which is specifically about how technology is changing the way we interact with the world which is a much more NPR style focused where anybody really could listen to it to try and get some sense of what technology is emerging and how it’s affecting society.
This one, once we got less tech specific, there were episode where we will be talking about bugs and code like weird bugs and Rails, it was super geeky. This new one is also very geeky but it’s much more aligned with the strategic stuff that I do with my mobile consulting. I have found that I don’t push it on the show. I don’t say like I do speaking gigs or whatever but it’s probably featured on my website. If anybody Googles me who listens to the show and search anything for about me in terms of mobile tech, then it’s back to what we talked about earlier where they’re not even looking for anyone else. If I can’t do the job, they’ll ask me, “Who should we look for?” If I’m booked already or something. They’ll say, “Oh, could you suggest someone else?” they don’t even know what to Google. That was kind of a monologue.
I think the question I’m answering is how do you figure out how to monetize to your peers. I mean what we did, we just stopped that show and I could’ve sold maybe a video course or something. I’m sure that would’ve worked but it wasn’t really what we wanted to do. It was it wasn’t the goal. We were just having fun and then once we saw that there was this other kind of place to go we went there and it certainly had a beneficial impact. It’s closed a number of deals for me for sure but it’s a very abstract way like Philip was saying earlier. It’s not a direct response type of marketing.
Philip: You’re talking about the troubles of trying to apply direct response thinking to a medium that’s not inherently compatible with that. To Chuck’s question, I would say maybe look for opportunities to integrate that podcast content into whatever outreach you’re doing to your clients. Use it for credibility, for social proof. Maybe it’s not a direct vehicle to find the clients but it’s complimentary to some other effort that you’re doing to find clients. Let’s say you’re using outbound marketing to find clients, you can include podcast episode in your outreach to them as either a social proof or as free education to them. That’s the direction I’m thinking in if you have some peer focused podcast it’s not achieving your goals of attracting clients either change the game like Jonathan mentioned or just try to fold it into strengthen your outreach to clients.
Charles: I’ll chime in here because I did. I find myself in this position. At the time, Ruby Rogues was getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 downloads per episode and so it felt a little bit silly to transition away from it and I did use it as a social proof but one other thing that I started doing is I started, and this came out in a lot of ways, people reaching out to me and basically asking me how to give me money. What I wind up doing was A, the sponsorships really helped offset the time I had to put into the podcast and then the other thing that I did was I started building training programs and products for them. Instead of transitioning my podcast to match what I was trying to do, I transitioned my business to serve the people whose attention I had. That’s kind of the third way to go with this.
Definitely, I was getting gigs off of people who were saying, “I’d like to work with Chuck and he says that he has time to work with my team.” I got training gigs. I did some training for careerbuilder.com out in Atlanta. I went out there a couple of times and I’ve done training locally for just a group of people that wanted training. I built enough of a reputation here locally to where I was getting referrals from people who knew that I was freelance and that’s what they needed and that’s where I was at.
People knew that I had the expertise because I had built up that reputation through the podcast but ultimately what I’ve done lately is I have transitioned toward building products for programmers. I do the Remote Conferences. I’m working on some courses and some online materials. Working on some handouts to get people on the mailing list. The mailing list has 10,00 people on it now and so I figured out pretty fast, “Hey, look I’ve got enough people’s attention and trust that I can work over here for them and make it work for me too.” That’s the direction that I’ve gone with this.
Philip: Maybe I’m interrupting but one question I wanted us to touch on is how do you make your content interesting for whatever audience it’s for?
Jonathan: To help answer that question, I have two questions that are rumbling around my head too. One of it I think is kind of in the same area that is format questions. What format should you use? This is a panel show, there are interview shows. There’s topic shows where the host just talks. There’s co-host shows. I feel like that’s maybe in the same area that Philip was asking. How do you make the information entertaining? Chuck, you are by far the most experienced.
Charles: Yeah. People ask me about format and honestly the format really depends on the host. It depends on the host much more than it depends on the audience in my opinion because it comes back to something that you said earlier and that’s just passion and personality. Am I the kind of person that can get on the podcast and monologue for 20 minutes. If I want to do an hour show, am I the kind person that can get on the monologue for an hour because then I could just do a just me podcast. And then the people who want to hear what Chuck has to say can do that.
I’ve also seen Q&A style podcast. That’s what my friend Cliff Ravenscraft does, it’s what Dan Miller does, it’s what a lot of other folks do. They get questions from their audience and then they answer those questions and they hit that what do people want to hear about. They want to hear about what they’re asking about and at the same time they don’t have any schedules to figure out with anybody else. They don’t have to worry about any connection issues. They don’t have any of those other kinds of things that come up when you have a co-host.
Other people like the guys on .NET Rocks, there are whole bunch of other shows. They do really well playing off of somebody that they know really well. They’ll bring a guest on but there’s kind of this inside conversation that’s happening week after week because you have co-hosts and then you have a guest that comes in and brings some other flavor periodically or every week. You can look at it that way as far as whether you’re going to do interviews or whether you’re going to have guest on your show or whatever.
John Lee Dumas, he likes to talk to other people and so EntrepreneurOnFire is interviews. He knows what he wants to know from them so he has the same questions he asks people week to week or day to day. That works out for them.
And then you have the panels. I like the panels because I like having nuance conversation with people who have a different experience from what I do. I like bringing the same experts week after week so people can get to know them and recognize, “Okay, there are a whole bunch of experienced people on the show that I can get a whole bunch of value out of.” That’s the direction that I’ve gone because I like the conversations. I like the banter that goes back and forth. People feel like they’re part of the conversation and so I like that.
What I recommend to people is that they think about it. They think about their personality. They think about the types of conversations they like to have, the types of podcast they like to listen to because that’s also a good indicator and then try it.
The thing that’s really funny is the people are like, “Well, what if it doesn’t work?” I said, “Then reboot the podcast.” It’s not a permanent decision. I recommend to people that they do at least five or six episodes in whatever style they decide on and then if it’s not working for them then just post a five-minute audio or video that says, “Hey folks, look, the format is just not really working for me. I’m still excited about the content and so I’m going to try and do this a little bit differently.” Just do it different and make it work. That seems to work out pretty well for most people. I’ve met people that have tried two or three formats and then they figured out what works for them.
I know other people that they’re like, “Yeah, I bought the mic. I started talking and I had five episodes recorded before I knew it.” They just monologues and that worked for them. It really just boils down to, “What kind of person am I?” “What am I trying to accomplish with it?” “What am I trying to get out of it?” Because guest lend you credibility in a lot of ways. “Who am I trying to reach?” And then, “How does this work for me?” “The scheduling hassles are just too much stress so I’m just going to do it by myself.” Fine, just whatever. The more you know about yourself and how that works, that’s the way you want to go as far as format goes. I forgot what the other part was that you were asking.
Jonathan: How do you keep it entertaining?
Charles: How do you keep it entertaining? If you’re enjoying it, most of the time the people who are like you will gravitate to your show.
Philip: Oh man, I think that’s such a great advice. If you’re not having fun, that’s a great sign you’re doing something wrong.
Charles: The other thing is that I get people on there like, “Well, I went and looked up business podcasts and there are thousands of business podcasts.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but there are people out there who are looking for a show from someone like you because they’re someone like you.” And so, if you’re putting out the show that you want, then you’re going to attract the people who you want to interact with. You might have to do a little bit of work to get the word out and things like that but people generally gravitate to the types of shows that are about and for people like them. If you go out there and you put the show out and you reach 500 people, then you’re doing pretty darn good. If you think about a room full of 500 people and it’s hard for people to imagine this but most of the middle of the road sized conferences, the keynote room holds about 500 people.
Jonathan: 500 is a good-sized conference room. It’s a good room.
Charles: Yeah. If you think about that in those terms, you’re reaching that many people and just think for a minute, okay, well what if you say something that has an impact on somebody? They get an idea from you about how they can improve their career or how they can make more money or how they can make a difference for somebody else or whatever. In my opinion that’s worth it. And when you get that over and over and over again, that’s a major payoff. That’s the payoff that I get from these shows is that I go to conferences and people are like, “Oh, well I was thinking about going freelance and I listen to the entire backlog of Freelancers’ Show and now I know I know pretty much exactly what I’m going to do and in fact I’ve already got two clients and I made $50,000 this year.” That’s a win for me.
Jonathan: Big time.
Ultimately, in most of these shows, we’re just talking about the stuff that we thought would be interesting to discuss, that we thought would be valuable to somebody else. How do you keep it interesting? That’s basically it. We enjoy doing the show every week. There’s some payoff for each of us and it’s probably a little bit different for each of us but that’s what drives a lot of the energy for the show. That’s why I keep showing up every week. It’s because I get the payoff in the ways that I described.
Jonathan: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t want to get into tactics really but I do feel like there’s this key thing that just solves a lot of problems which is if you’re really excited about something, you’re passionate about a particular thing and you just come at it from that same thing and come at it from different angles, every week or how often you do it. I feel like that solves a lot of problems. Unless you’re just doing it to have fun which I think is not what we’re talking about here. This is like the show for people who are trying to make a living freelancing. Obviously, if you are just podcasting for fun that’s different but if you’re podcasting for your business and you want to make an impact, a specific impact on people’s lives, knowing what the show is about, I think, is pretty important.
Jonathan: If you have that, then the episodes are a big success and you stay with for a year or two years to get 50, 100, 200, 300 episodes. They’ll all hang together. They’ll all makes sense together. The same person you can actually listen into entire backlog like you just said Chuck. They’ll all make sense.
If I was going to add one piece of take away advice, it would be just pick a focus and stick with that for the podcast. If it doesn’t work, start a new podcast. But if it does, I think you will be increasing your chances that it will and then if it does, as you create more and more episodes, they’ll make sense.
Philip: Naturally, I agree. I feel like Jonathan if you just take out the word podcast, what you’re talking about is really true. Like self-employment, it’s like the more feeling of connection you have to being able to make a specific kind of impact, the world is really too large but on the subset of the world that you can influence through your work and even through your marketing, a lot of the questions do really take care of themselves.
Jonathan: Yeah, 1,000 True Fans, the Kevin Kelly post. Chuck’s numbers are 10 times higher than anything I’ve had on my other two podcast and then the one that I just launched maybe a couple hundred subscribers so far. I’d like it if it was getting 10,000 downloads a week, that would be nice. That would feel like I was helping more people but it doesn’t need to be, I don’t think, from a business standpoint, it doesn’t really need to be.
Charles: The other thing is that, I have a friend and I’ve promised him I wouldn’t divulge his numbers but let’s say he has between 500 and 1,000 listeners and he makes easily $200,000, $300,000 by selling products to his audience. They’re usually videos or courses and the course is not cheap if you buy his course. If you’re looking to build a business off of that and you can get enough people who are excited about what you’re doing, you don’t need an audience of 20,000 people or 50,000 people or 100,000 people. You can do it with a few hundred. If that few hundred is a significant portion of the market that you’re trying to serve, then pretty much everybody knows who you are and it’s not hard to find work.
I think that’s the other trap that people fall into is they get it in their head. Jonathan saying, “Yeah, you know some of Chuck’s show have 10 times of audience than mine does.” But the fact that the matter is that if you have enough of those excited people in your audience, you can do it with 200 or 300. That’s enough especially if you have a high ticket offering that you’re offering or a high value, high ticket offering, I should say. Or you have some other expertise that is just going to rock at somebody’s business. The other thing is I’ve seen people make it with $1,000 offering in an audience of 500 people.
Jonathan: Yeah, that’s where I’m at now. Where I’ve got a few offerings from $50 to $3,000. This new podcast that I launched, I’m sure it’s no surprise, obviously, I hope people end up liking the content and trusting me and maybe considering buying some of those products if they feel like they’re going to improve their lives. But this is the first time I’ve launched a podcast with the products in place first which is a very different feeling. It’s also the first time I’ve done a solo podcast so it’s a very different feeling which is wild. If people have questions about how it goes, I’d of course be happy to report back but it feels like, we had a show back where people asked like how much should you share and we were all kind of like, “Let’s share everything.” You cannot just share everything.
That’s my approach here. With the podcast, I’m going to give away really all the secrets. That’s not what the products are about. The products are about one on one assistance and custom assistance that you can’t get with DIY type stuff. For people who can afford $3,000 a month, they can listen to the podcast. I can point them and say, “Hey, here are these webcast, here are these podcast, they’re free. Just check them out. Join the email list. Ask me questions on the email list. It’s all free.”
For people who want to super accelerate that process and not have to do everything themselves and figure out things the hard way, for people more money than time, they can just sign up. I don’t know. It feels like a really natural fit if you have $1,000 product and you’ve got 200, 300, 400 people on your podcast list and subscribed to your podcast, you could probably do just fine. I’ll let you know in about six months.
Charles: I’m going to rephrase what you said though because I think the real meat there is that, well first I want to point out that if your business is down to the one secret that you absolutely can’t divulge on your podcast or your business caput, you’re betting on the wrong horse.
Jonathan: Totally, yes.
Charles: If you can share all of the secrets, all of the how to’s, all of the nitty gritty details on how to do exactly what it is that you are offering, and then the execution is the hard part, I mean that’s what the coaching is about. That’s what people are going to pay you for. You’re going to get in and you’re going to say, “Now, do this.” Then they’ll execute or you’ll execute together and that’s what they’re paying for. That’s the payout right there.
That’s why they’re going to hire you to do the coaching in Jonathan’s case or to do the development or to do whatever else it is because they ultimately have something that needs to get done to solve some pain and just having you there with your expertise, you’re trained eye to look at what they’re doing and say, “No, don’t do that. Do this.” And then they go execute and they get to payoff. That’s the product. You can give them the product on the podcast but ultimately because the execution is so hard, that’s what they’re going to buy from you.
Jonathan: There’s all sorts of things. Decreases risk, increases accountability, the specificity is much higher. You can get generic guidelines and advice are one thing but actually looking into somebody’s pipeline and finances and home life and you can get really, really specific about what you do in this particular person’s case.
Charles: Yup. Alright. Well I’ve got to get to picks. This I think has been really helpful and if you have any questions about podcasting, feel free to go to Freelancers Show and you can just type it in on our topic recommendations form or you can actually go to our questions for our Q&A which we do every month. We can answer some of that there as well. Jonathan, do you want to start us off with picks?
Jonathan: Certainly. I’ll just let people know the podcast I’m talking about here is called Ditching Hourly and you can go to ditchinghourly.com to hear about ditching hourly billing. Fans of the Freelancers Show will know that I’m struggling against that. I get into all the details and give away all the secrets on the podcast. Just launched, there’s only five episodes so far. It’s going to be a mix of interviews, Q&A and just educational. I hope people enjoy that and get something out of it.
Another thing, this is sort of random but it is I guess podcast related. I heard a fellow named Todd Tresidder talking about financial independence on Brennan Dunn’s podcast. Financial investment people online are just like usually the worst of the worst like standing in front of a Lamborghini and talking about whatever, they put a lot of money in their hands.
This guy just totally clicked with me. He’s just like attitude and personality and his take on things was literally the first person ever and I’ve worked in person with financial advisers, literally the first person who was like, “Oh man, I get this guy. This guy will get me. This is a good fit.”
He had a course, just like $500 or $600 and I ran to sign up for it because it was just from the podcast. Folks, my recommendation is to check out the Todd Tresidder episode of the Double Your Freelancing podcast. If you dig Todd’s stick and you’re interested in how to save some of that money that you’re making, then you can check out his stuff at financialmentor.com. I’m super, super happy with it. It’s like the perfect thing for me. There you go.
Charles: Very cool. Philip, what are your picks?
Philip: Two picks. A fair bit of context to support the first one. Folks who listen to music on headphones maybe aware of binaural recordings. These are recordings that look like a head on a shopping store dummy that they’ll use to show off clothing. It’s just a head with microphones mounted in the ears. I’m looking at one of these right now made by Neumann, it’s the KU 100. It’s $8,000, 6 to 10-week special lead time for one of these things. They’re not very commonly used to make studio albums, they’re often used to make live concert recordings, that kind of thing. Because the microphones are mounted inside some plastic ears on a plastic head, when the sounds reproduced to your headphones, it sounds particularly life like.
There’s a record label called Chesky that tends to make really, really great recordings that aren’t overly compressed, that don’t have the life squashed out of them and they like making binaural recordings but they also tend to have a hard time getting mainstream artists to do that kind of a studio album so most of the binaural recordings out there are world music and inaccessible jazz type stuff that doesn’t really interest me that much.
Macy Gray recently recorded an album called Stripped that was done by Chesky and done with the binaural recording. Sounds just amazing on headphones. It’s a really good album too. It was a jazz four-piece band but have a nice variety of songs and covers and some original stuff in there. I would recommend people check that out if you like listening to music on headphones and want a particularly interesting experience doing that. Macy Gray, the album is Stripped.
My second pick, when Jonathan mentioned the 1,000 True Fans experiment, I remember the blog post series on a blog called The Online Photographer, a photographer there, not the author of the blog but the other guy named Ctein did an experiment. A real-life experiment where he walks through this idea of 1,000 True Fans to figure out if he could support himself in that way. It’s a series of five blog posts talking about some of the ins and outs of this 1,000 True Fans idea. Obviously, I’m not going to give the URL. I’ll just put those links on the show notes but I would recommend folks to check that out for at least one nice rich data point on this idea of 1,000 True Fans idea.
Charles: Alright, I’ve got a couple of picks. Since we talked about podcasting I’m going to pick a couple of podcasts that I like about podcasting. One of them is Podcast Answer Man. I think he rebranded it all to The Cliff Ravenscraft Show but he still talks a lot about podcasting. Definitely worth checking out.
He also has a course on podcasting and it’s Podcasting A to Z. Last time I looked the course was basically $2,000, $1,999 and he sent me a discount code a while back. The discount code is my last name wood, all lowercase. If you do that, he’ll actually get you a $500 discount. You can go check it out at podcastingatoz.com. That’s the word to not the number two. Cliff has taught hundreds of people to podcast and it’s really a great course from the people I know who have taken it. I was listening to Cliff in podcasting before he came out with the course so I have never taken it myself but definitely check that out.
Last week, I mentioned that I’ve been reading The 12 Week Year which is a book about planning and goals and stuff. I’ve actually got two weeks into my 12-week year and I am just loving the system. It is awesome. Somebody from my mastermind group actually created a spreadsheet that keeps track of all of your tactics and goals and your weeks and make sure that you’re doing the stuff that you need to be doing. Definitely check that out as well. At least to my 12-week year. The first week I really didn’t track things well or scored a week but I’m doing that from here on out through the end of the year. I’m super excited about that so you can go check that out.
I’m considering putting on a Podcast Remote Conf so if you’re interested in that just shoot me an email email@example.com. Those are my picks. I just want to hear again the pitch for Ditching Hourly Jonathan before we wrap up.
Jonathan: Well, Ditching Hourly is terrible for you, your projects and your customers so you should switch over to not trading time for money.
Charles: Alright, go check it out. That’s ditchinghourly.com.
Jonathan: That is correct.
Charles: Alright, we’ll go ahead and wrap this one up. We’ll catch you all next week.