But again, this is just us, you know, trying and failing and succeeding and then failing again because we’re just testing the waters. We don’t really know what works.
James: Well, I mean, this is fascinating. When I started my mastermind, and I hope the listener will forgive us for going slightly off the podcast topic but you know, this relates to monetizing a podcast. OK that was the call we’re talking about.
Actually, I partitioned off small groups of 10. I thought 10 was the number and I have four groups of 10 running concurrently that when I consolidated that into one group of 30, it was more powerful, it was simpler, it was more fun. It was more interesting. And that group that I have of almost 800 members, I think that will be a better community at 2,000 members the way that it works.
And probably it works because I don’t have a Facebook group. I don’t have a LinkedIn group. There’s only one place people go instead of fragmenting their attention. It’s just a very core… and importantly, it’s on an asset that I own and control. I’m very concerned about running something on Facebook just from a control issue.
Even though I get it that it’s super awesome but it is and it does get noisy and it’s hard to organize compared to forum platforms. But I’m a member of groups with 5,900 members on Facebook which is a fantastically powerful group. I’m a member of one with 1,214 members and I’m a member of one with 204 members and they’re all different groups but I use those for traffic. This is where you and I are slightly different.
I use Facebook and LinkedIn to bring customers in to my private memberships. And when it comes to monetizing the podcast, I’ve always thought of the podcast as always been a traffic rather than a product but you’ve shown me, like some people who sell some podcast transcriptions, you can make money as the podcast as an actual product using the traditional radio model of advertising.
But I’ve always felt that I’m better to set up products and services than advertise them myself. So even in this particular podcast, I’ve already mentioned SuperFastBusiness and I should mention SilverCircle so it’s kind of like I’m doing a… it’s almost the perfect blended radio insert within the content that is almost like a product placement but it’s my own products with a higher percentage margin than selling advertising space to someone else who’s going to then make more money than what they pay me.
John: And that is exactly the limitation that sponsorships have that you mentioned, that you know the kind of the model that I’m moving towards with the masterminds have that I really like to kind of break out of because you’re right, there is a limit on that sponsorship revenue. I mean for August of 2013, we made $17,500 just in sponsorship revenue alone for Entrepreneur on Fire which is a great number.
But that was the cap James! I sold 100% and we can’t go any higher unless we continue to jack the prices up. Like you said, there’s people in my sponsors who are making more money than I’m making because that’s why they’re having these sponsorships because they know the lifetime value of their clients.
So my listeners are being dragged away from my brands to go to Audible or to go to 99designs or go to Squarespace or wherever they’re going, it’s away from me. And, let’s be honest, I mean these sponsors that I have are great for entrepreneurs. They offer great value. There’s a $99 powerpack if you go to 99designs.com/fire but the reality is, it dilutes to podcast. It really does. It takes away from the main content that I’m trying to bring.
So what’s that weighing factor? For me, I really believe that your model is the best where it’s all about building the audience and getting into your funnel and then having that funnel take over and with Entrepreneur on Fire, I’ve been able to build a massive audience but you know, now, I really need to start working on that funnel.
James: Yeah I think that’s interesting where you build a big flywheel spinning fast is when you start putting monetization pressure on it to see how much it slows down.
Again, for comparisons of a very, very tiny subscription base, maybe I’m a 10th or whatever, or 15th, I could make about the same money as your advertising with just affiliate income from having guests who are really good at what they do and linking to their product as an affiliate and some of them are recurring products.
So a year today I’ve probably made a little more than affiliate income just from having the occasional guests. Like one example, my audience won’t be a stranger to is Clay Collins.
I think I’ve had him on four or five times and I’ve just been sure to get him on every couple of months because a) he’s an awesome guy, b) his products are absolutely phenomenal and I use them in my own business, and c) he’s always got new innovations and interesting information that’s useful for my audience even if they never buy anything.
So, it’s a perfect fit without diluting the quality and going back to one of my mentors, it was really about lack of compromise and for me I think having other people’s ads on my site would be a compromise.
So I think in the ideal world, you’ll have your JLD products and services. That’s short for John Lee Dumas in case our listener hasn’t connected it. That’s your codename in our forum. Then you would be able to top and tail your own show with your own products.
James: At my event, I have even wore a T-shirt from my web development company and for my SEO company, I’ve actually sponsored my own event which was kind of funny.
John: I mean goodness. If I could just wake up tomorrow and have these sweeter products just ready to go, I would shut everything else down and…
James: You can do it. You could do it…
John: I know!
James: If you blocked one day a week, you can tell back on frequency. This is what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about is there too much content?
Are you creating more traffic at the expense of going for the next level of the funnel or you know… this is the meaty stuff. This is what I wanted to talk about so let’s forward JLD question back at you, from the time you set up this podcast to now, what’s a mistake that you made that you think you do differently if you could to do it again?
What’s a mistake that you made that you think you do differently if you could to do it again?
John: So from when I set the podcast up to now, one mistake that I made that I would absolutely do differently is I would have launched much earlier. I mean I held off two, two and a half months from my actual launch because I was scared that when the podcast is going to launch, it was going to be a crap and I was going to be a failure and until I did launch, It could never be labeled a failure because I hadn’t quite yet launched it.
But when it did, and it was successful, sort of picking up steam, I realized that those were just two incredibly wasted months and I think that that’s really valuable for the listeners that are you know just kind of holding back something or just waiting until they get a little bit better or just waiting for something.
I don’t even know what I was waiting for to be honest with you because I had all the interviews completed, I was just really scared to fail, that was my biggest mistake that I made. And another thing that you know, moving forward after I already launched the podcast, you know one thing that I really did well was I really did leverage the audience of my guest on that daily basis.
You know, really reaching out to James and to Seth Godin and to Tim Ferris you know after their podcast went live, I just left them a note and said, “Hey! These are the links and I’d love if you shared it.” Make it really easy for them to do.
But you know one thing that I really would kind of want to go back and just really kind of I guess maybe more focused on if I was to really be moving forward from the day 1, was September 22nd and moving forward is you know say, “Hey listen. Let’s just carve out some JLD time” where I’m not just trying to perfect the actual podcast itself but I’m looking more forward in the future and I’m carving out like seven, eight hours a week to just work on products.
Because I was getting emails from day two, from day three James, from my audience telling me what they needed, what they wanted, what they were struggling with and I would point them in different directions but why wasn’t I actually creating a sweeter product on my own? Here I sit, 11 months later with still nothing to really call my own besides the mastermind and then the podcast and there’s nobody to blame but myself for that.
James: Well that’s exactly what we’re talking about before and what Pat’s just done. I think earlier I’ve got a great metaphor for this it’s like when you travel, some people spend so much time thinking about what they’re going to pack and they get the bag out. They pack so much stuff and they microanalyze every single component and it just delays their whole departure thing.
All their productivity shrivels away. Whereas the experienced traveler will like pick up the backpack that’s sort of near the door that’s got two pairs of undies, three T-shirts and the minimum right? And, they’re out the door. They’re gone. They’re on the trip and they can buy a T-shirt at the shop if they run out of clothes. Like just get out in the traffic and get going instead of mucking around trying to prep and over-prep.
Probably you were scared of putting something out into the world that people might reject because you’d be outcast from society, stoned to death and die.
John: That’s exactly what I thought. I thought that it was going to be all over.
James: That’s our human instinct, it’s very normal.
How James Was Able To Life His Opt-In Conversions
James: And I’m glad you covered that. So, here’s the thing and I think I did this a little bit last year. I was grinding out a lot of content and luckily I already had a base of products and services and affiliations to send people to but I do spend more time now on making sure that I’ve got the goal or the point. What is the point of all this noise, this huff and stuff, this business, this regular content? Is it actually doing something?
So, I’ll share some stats with the actual SuperFastBusiness site. I’ve been able to lift my opt-in conversions. I’ve been able to quadruple it in this year compared to last year, I had some help with some conversions experts on that as well.
I’ve also been able to put out a little less content lately but get more comments, to get more downloads of each episode and to have a little bit more thought as to the storyline or what it is that that piece of content is actually doing which I, granted is hard for you with the same cookie-cut template, that’s why I was really curious if you got sick of it or if you feel you need to change it up or if you just simply add a different show to the mix.
John: Exactly. I mean, there’s just so many different ways to go but what that all comes down to and points back to is creating more content. And I just couldn’t agree with you more about having to really now take a step back and analyze what is this whole audience for? What are these 400,000 downloads? What do they mean to me, to the brand, to the business, to the bottom line, to the monetization? That’s the important thing.
That’s the important number. The important number is not 400,000 downloads, the more important numbers are how many dollars am I able to translate that into to sustain the business and that’s why I needed to step back and say, “Hey, OK, where are my products that fit perfectly with the Entrepreneur on Fire brand that are just going to naturally drive people to the site, to the products page and then to the conversion?”
James: That’s it. You can’t go and buy groceries with your podcast downloads.
John: No, you can’t.
James: It’s like go to checkout with your food, ah yes, but I get 400,000 so it’s money in the bank.
John: I’m being featured on iTunes, help me!
More Questions For John
James: Now, I’ve got a couple of other questions and I’ll release you. Probably, you’ve got a little bit of friction going on now. So, interesting, you’ve got the big title tag thing. It looks a little keyword spammy to me but do you think it’s important to get that poll position in iTunes? Do you think that it could be moderated like how passionate are you about the SEO podcast optimization these days?
John: Incredibly passionate about it. I rank very high, very high, almost number one position for almost every key term that I want to all because of the title, all because of the description. I know how to go into Libsyn and to actually title that out.
So when people are using that search bar, the 45 million people that are going to iTunes on a monthly basis and they’re typing in something. They’re typing in “content marketing,” they’re typing in “startup business,” they’re typing in the word “entrepreneur” and the first thing that comes up is a free podcast that’s called Entrepreneur on Fire.
That fact that my SEO ranking is so incredible and so high within the iTunes rankings is something that I think is critical and I think it pushes my downloads. I mean, you know, while you were kind of going on your little spiel, I just logged into the Australian iTunes, I was curious as I’m talking to you and the Australian audience and Entrepreneur on Fire’s the number one ranked business podcast in Australia.
I don’t know why, I know it’s not from the SuperFastBusiness community, but it’s from some people who are deciding, “Hey, I’m going to check this podcast out.” You know, Pat Flynn is six, Dan Miller’s eight, there’s just a lot of really great podcasts that are in this mix, and I think that that search bar has a lot to do with people going, not even knowing what they want, typing in something, and then stumbling.
James: Right. So in my Australian podcast tunes, Freedom Ocean I’ve got as number one. And Entrepreneur on Fire is number two.
John: (Gasp) Number two?
James: Well, at least I’m beating you there. We’re going to take a screenshot just in case.
John: You’ll have to, because I’m taking a screenshot right now, I’m going to have Dan Norris post it in your forum.
James: Right, so the thing is, it’s a Libsyn function. Is that where you’re doing this?
John: Yes, all via Libsyn and there’s some pretty underground places you have to put it, and it’s interesting about where it is, but you know, fortunately this is what I do, and I spend an incredible amount of time kind of just under the hood, so to speak, of my media host as well as iTunes.
And because I’ve now been featured on the iTunes podcast homepage twice, for one week in July and now for two weeks here in August, I’ve actually built up a relationship with a couple of people in iTunes because of that.
And you know, we started querying them, and they’re like, “Yeah to be honest, X, Y and Z is really where we pull the iTunes SEO from,” and I’ve been able to take that information and put it into my podcast and rank because of it.
The Pat Flynn Effect
James: Yeah, well you were definitely number one in the States, so it’s working. Now I use Blubrry podcasting thing, and I think it pulls stuff just from the WordPress. So, you know, I’ve wondered how you did it. It’s about the only one in the top 10 that’s doing it. Except maybe Pat Flynn, looks like he’s doing it as well.
John: And actually Pat Flynn is doing it because I sent him a screen grab or a screen video, a screenshot video, that I created showing him how I did it, and then he did it, identical with his keywords that he wanted, and then the following week, guess what? My value ad got me on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast.
And very interestingly enough, that was last week, Episode 77, and that was a huge, huge boost to Entrepreneur on Fire. I’m actually doing a post, James, called “The Pat Flynn Effect,” of what happens when you’re on the Pat Flynn show.
I’m publishing numbers, website visits, podcast increases, all the whole shebang. It’s really going to be a fascinating article, but number two, this Friday, today, Pat Flynn interviewed your friend, Clay Collins, and he’s doing the exact same thing that you’re talking about. And they actually are having now a webinar this coming Thursday about it, so it’s very fascinating.