Charley: Okay, James, a lot of people start a podcast because they want it to turn into basically, leads and revenue for their business. They’re not starting a podcast because they like the sound of their own voice. Although some do. No shame there if that’s what you’re into. But when we think about, like, how can we possibly monetize a podcast? What’s your take on the best strategies or the things you would look towards?
James: Well, I started with the offer first, Charley, and then I used all my other marketing things developed as a way to get people to it. So, it’s funny with podcasting, there’s a whole movement of people who feel that the best thing to do is just sell ads. And there are a few podcasters who do that.
But over time, I think the audience gets a bit sick of it. If you look at the trends of free-to-air TV and free-to-air radio, I can’t remember the last time I watched free-to-air TV, not now that we have Netflix or Amazon Prime, or even YouTube. It’s just dominating because we don’t want to suffer through the ads. And plenty of people will skip the ad or pay to not have the ad. So I think it’s probably got its moment, but it’s not something – I would say, don’t set up a podcast if you think the prime revenue source will be selling ads on it, because I don’t know if that’s a long-haul strategy. And it’s annoying as hell. I’m going to be polite.
As a consumer, it’s one reason I don’t really listen to podcasts. I just can’t stand the dribble that gets rolled out on podcasts, it annoys me. So I just, why I annoy myself? I just won’t listen to it. I’d much prefer to read a show note or transcription if its something of huge value.
Charley: By the way, guys, the podcast is brought to you by SuperFastBusiness. Nah, I’m just joking. There are no ads here.
James: That’s right. I do monetize my podcast. If I didn’t have a way for my podcast to make sales, I don’t think I would do it. I’m not that passionate about spending hours and hours of my life podcasting. And if you add it up, I’ve recorded at least 1000 episodes. So we could call that, conservatively, 850 hours of my life dedicated to it. Luckily, it’s generated probably tens of millions of dollars for me and my partners. And so it’s cool.
So the best thing that I would say is to have your offer, the thing that you actually sell, and then get in front of it with your podcast, get in front of it with your book, get in front of it with your social media. That was the reason I started. Not because I’m an artist, or creative or I love the sound of my voice. I hate the sound of my own voice. I still feel I’ve got a massive room for improvement in my podcasting technique, in my vocal range and variation. And I could probably put some more thought and effort into the structure, and the intros and the outros. Pros like you, Charley, and the stuff you’re doing at ValherMedia.com for your clients, I can really learn a lot from that. So we’ll have to have some more conversations about that. I want to know what your best clients are doing, the strategy, what your best clients are doing with their show premise, the cut-through they’re getting in distribution.
My main advantage, if we’re being frank, is I just got in early enough that I had some traction and momentum. And some people, for whatever reason, they just like to keep listening to it. And it keeps working for me. So, that’s really how I’ve arrived at what I’ve got. But in terms of monetization, I don’t go down the ad route. I would rather sponsor myself, and I do. Every single episode, I will usually mention my book, Work Less Make More available on Amazon or Audible, or I would mention SuperFastBusiness or SilverCircle. And I do get people interested in finding out more about that. So it’s my way of demonstrating my knowledge, it’s my way of featuring case studies of success stories from my community, which I love to do. That’s probably the most exciting thing of all, is to showcase the results people are getting that I’ve had close access to and enjoyed seeing them shine and succeed.
And then, of course, to get access to and reach to experts and authors and celebrities who generally might not give you the time of day. But when you have a show and you can get them reach and distribution, now they want to talk to you. And it’s been a great education. I think, when it all comes down to it, the education I’ve got from running my podcast is probably the prime benefit. The sales I’ve made from it would be very close to that. And I don’t get a huge joy or satisfaction from recording stuff like an artist might. It’s more of a process for me. But I find it so easy to do that it’s not work. So that’s why I’ve been able to do it for a decade.
And in terms of monetization, I would just say, if you don’t have a product or an offer or whatever, go and develop that, and then mention it in your podcast. That’s got to be the easiest way to do it. And if all else fails, then I guess, sell some time to someone for some ads. But you’re going to see that get disrupted. Because now advertisers are starting to be able to see how long people listen for. And people can change and rotate ads. And they can show different ads in different locations in the podcast. There’s some pretty cool tech coming and it will disrupt the old model of just sticking a price on it and hoping for the best. Like in the old days of advertising when someone would spend 50 grand on a TV ad and never know if it’s sold another box of detergent or not.
Charley: I must say I’m very excited by these tech coming through. We’re starting to see some flashes of like you can place ads on a certain percentage of an episode. Like if you want half your episodes to have sponsored by James and the other half sponsored by Charley.
James: It’s going to change the landscape a lot. And you can do it based on location and you can switch them in and out. I’m sure there’s a whole business in that. And it will make sense for some people. I mean, look, I’ve got some publishing websites where my whole strategy is showing ads. So I’m not against ads. I’m just saying if you’re an expert or author, or you want to have a core listenership for a long time, make sure you don’t fatigue your audience.
Charley: I like the idea of your premise around you want to be your own best sponsor.
James: Yeah, the same with my events. You know, I’ve been my own best sponsor of events. People come to my events, the number one stated reason is because it’s content-driven and massive value. And they’re not getting some disgusting, pushy pitch in a tasteless way which is pretty much the industry standard these days. Every single time a big name comes to town and they do their 150K Keynote that’s being paid for by all the other grubby speakers selling their back-of-the-room stuff and putting off the audience. I don’t know how long that industry’s got until that stops working because it seems to be on the death knell right now.
Charley: Interesting perspective on that, James. I must admit, I’ve seen probably less pitch events in recent times. So perhaps that’s a sign of the times when it comes to that.
What’s interesting, I want to take a round at this. We actually have a client at Valher Media and they do a podcast and their sole strategy is using it as a networking tool to get access to people in their industry. And how they monetize this is through speaking gigs, through joint ventures. Like that thing is their primary driver. They’re actually less interested in, like, actually growing the audience which is fascinating, but completely viable.
James: Perfect. It’s a great way to get access to high-level people. And I ask the questions that I want to learn about. I’ve learned so much from my podcast. I mean, I’ve listened to more of my podcasts than anyone possibly because I was there. Right?
I’ve never played them back. I want to just clarify that. I’m not even the slightest narcissist. I never listen to my podcast back. But I was there in the first place so I remember the conversation. And I do sometimes take notes. And I’ve learned some really valuable things by probing and being curious, same for speaking. The best value I’ve ever got from speaking is the other speakers at the event and having a peer. A meeting of peers in an authority position opens up doors.
Charley: Some really cool stuff you can do with podcasting and events, I really feel like there’s a great synergy at play, which is like, one of the examples is if you’ve got an event, you’ve got all these speakers coming, like to do pre-episodes and excite the audience about what’s to come or to do recaps after and talk about the event and hype up the next one if there’s going to be another event. I think there’s a lot of leverage you can kind of pull that isn’t captured if you’re not taking advantage of the media.
James: I’ve done that every single time I’ve run an event because I interview everyone who’s speaking at it. I warm up my audience, I get them excited about it, I give them context. It actually makes the job of training at the event easier for the expert because they’ve got the initial stuff out of the way. We don’t need to hear their 15-minute backstory as much. We can get straight into it. I love that technique. So, a super valuable one. And again, you’re sort of taking advantage of their audience as well. They might sell a few tickets by sharing that show.
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