Episode 97

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Rob Walch was inducted into the Podcasting Hall of Fame in 2016. Rob is the Vice President of Podcaster Relations for Libsyn (LSYN) having joined Libsyn in 2007. Prior to joining Libsyn, he founded podCast411, Inc in 2004. Rob is Co-Author of the book “Tricks of the Podcasting Masters” in 2006, an editors pick as a Top 10 Reference book for 2006 by Amazon.com. Rob was listed as the 5th most influential person in podcasting according to the book “Podcasting for Dummies” Wiley Press 2005. He has consulted on podcasting for Jack Welch, Senator Edwards, Governor Bill Richardson, Noah Shanok (Stitcher), Tim Ferriss, Dr. Mark Hyman, and the Sacramento Kings/Monarchs to name just a few. He is also a monthly columnist for Podertainment: The Podcast Magazine. Rob is a member of the IAB Podcasting Working groups.

Rob started podcasting in 2004, and is the host of the award-winning podCast411 podcast, where he has interviewed such prominent podcasters as Quincy Jones, Walt Mossberg, Colin Ferguson (Eureka), Ronald Moore (Executive Producer of Battlestar Galactica), Phil Gordon (World Series of Poker), Larry Kudlow (CNBCs Kudlow and Company), and Leo Laporte (TechTV, G4 TV). Additionally, Rob is host of Today in iOS (iPhone) Podcast, the first and largest podcast about the iPhone and also the KC Startup 411 podcast which covers the Kansas City Startup scene.

Since 2004 Rob has presented at well over 100 events about podcasting.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Rob moved podcasting from his hobby to his career
  • The biggest and most important trends in podcasting
  • Why you should record a couple podcasts before you release your first one — but not so many that you never release one
  • The importance of having a way for your podcast listeners to contact you
  • Editing: an absolute must when it comes to podcasting
  • How many downloads the average podcast gets and how many downloads you need to make money
  • Different ways to monetize your podcast
  • How often to release an episode
  • Why you should never release an episode if it’s not ready
  • How to find great guests
  • Why you should edit out when a guest goes into full sales mode
  • The things you must do for your guests as a host
  • Why you shouldn’t ask the same questions to every guest
  • The mistake podcasters make when they feel indebted to their guests instead of their audience
  • How to start being a guest on podcasts you like
  • Why your podcast has to be about what you’re interested in regardless of whether that is popular or not
  • Why podcasts are much better than blogs

 

The Golden Nugget:

“You’re indebted to your audience, not your guest. If you have a bad interview, don't air it.” – @podcast411 Click To Tweet

 

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. I am Drew McClellan, your host, and I am excited selfishly and for your sake to talk to our guest today. Let me tell you a little bit about him. So Rob Walch is the vice president of Podcaster Relations at Libsyn. And if you’re not familiar with what Libsyn is, it’s probably the best known, and in my opinion, the most complete podcast hosting and publishing service out there. It’s certainly one of the tools that we use here at Build a Better agency. Rob was actually inducted into the podcasting hall of fame in 2016 and he joined Libsyn in 2007. Prior to that, he founded the podcast podCast411 or he founded the company podCast411 Inc. in ’04.

He’s the co-author of the book Tricks of the Podcasting Masters. He has gotten all kinds of accolades. That book was chosen as a top reference book around podcasting by amazon.com. He was listed as the fifth most influential person in podcasting according to the book, Podcasting For Dummies, and he’s consulted with a few people who you might recognize, people like Jack Welsh and Senator Edwards and Tim Ferris and all kinds of other folks. He’s a monthly columnist, and of course, as you might imagine he puts together a quite a podcast series. So he’s the host of today in IOS, so iPhone podcast. He also does the Kansas City startup podcast kcstartup411.com. And Rob is traveling all over the globe, talking to people about podcasting and how to do it well, and the benefits of podcasting. So Rob, welcome to the podcast.

Rob Walch:

Drew, thanks for having me on the show.

Drew McClellan:

You keep busy, it looks like, based on the introduction. It sounds like there’s not a lot of spare time in your day.

Rob Walch:

No, my spare time is spent podcasting.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. I think that-

Rob Walch:

My job and my hobby.

Drew McClellan:

So what drew you to podcasting to begin with?

Rob Walch:

I was looking for a hobby. I had one of those jobs where you traveled five out of six weeks all around the world, and I just finished my MBA at UConn and I had this free time in the evening when I was traveling and I just needed a hobby. It was really that simple. I was just looking for something else to do.

Drew McClellan:

So this was your version of like the Ham Radio?

Rob Walch:

Yeah, exactly.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Rob Walch:

[crosstalk 00:03:05] and it was like, [yeah 00:03:06]. I was one of those annoying people that would call in the radio station every morning to the point where they’d give you the back door number so you could call in and get around all the busy signals. We had a joke. But I had an uncle who owned a radio your station who told me when I was… This is what I did when I was in high school. And he told me, “Whatever you do, don’t get into radio.” So I went and became an engineer instead, but I always liked the radio and I always liked the idea of talking on the air and that. So when podcasting came around, I was like, “Oh, well, I can make this just a hobby and have some fun.” And hobby soon became career.

Drew McClellan:

And boy, what a trajectory podcasting is on. It’s amazing when I look at the stats of how many people are listening to podcasts and how people are using podcasts. What are the trends that you are seeing in terms of the popularity and the usage of podcasts?

Rob Walch:

Well, I think the biggest trend, what we saw over the last few year, was the trend to the smartphone consumption, where a few years, five years ago, it was like 35% consumption on a smartphone, now it’s 86%.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Rob Walch:

But ironically, the amount of downloads to computers has not changed over that period of time. It’s just that smartphone consumption has gone up to the point where it’s now 86. So the growth really has all been about the smartphone. I know a lot of people go, “Oh, it’s Serial.” No, it wasn’t Serial. Serial came out at the right time. That was when iOS 8 became native in iOS… the podcast app became native in iOS 8 and Serial came out a couple months later, but podcasting made Serial, Serial didn’t make podcasting. It really was about iOS 8 making that podcast app native. That really was a takeoff point or an inflection point, I guess you would say.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. I think everybody basically carries the device in their pocket that allows them to access it all the time. I hear from listeners all the time who say, “Oh, you’re my morning walk companion, or you’re my treadmill buddy,” or whatever it is. But it seems like the phone has all of a sudden opened up a lot of doors that make podcasting very mainstream now. It’s not really a fringe thing anymore. It’s pretty darn mainstream. In fact, I just read a statistic that about how many podcasts or how many hours of podcasts people consume in a week and it really floored me.

Rob Walch:

Well, it’s the only medium for consuming content audio that’s multitask. So you can multitask. And podcasting makes it easy to find the audio to consume when you want to consume it, not when you have to consume it, like with radio. So I think that’s the bigger differentiation there. And unlike video and blogs where you can’t really watch a video or read a blog when you’re driving your car or when you’re at work. Well, you can, but you’ll get fired if you do it all day long.

Drew McClellan:

Sure. Right.

Rob Walch:

Or you crash your car. What you can do with a podcast is sit there and listen to it all day long. You can listen to it while you’re driving your car, you can listen to it while you’re working out, walking the dog, doing yard work. So it just gives people more opportunity in the day to consume your content, if you’re a content creator by making it available as audio.

Drew McClellan:

So you at Libsyn, you see, and I’m sure, a ton of podcasts. What are some of the best practices or on the flip side, the mistakes that if somebody is thinking about starting a podcast, and we’ll talk about the reasons why someone might do that in a minute, but if somebody wants to go down that road and create a podcast, what are some of the best practices that you are seeing that are growing up with the channel?

Rob Walch:

Well, I think the best practice is get a couple under your belt before you’re at least out to the world. Don’t even release them but just figure out the technology. I think, you can release out the gate to the world one episode, you don’t have to have 10.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Rob Walch:

But you need to practice a couple before you release that first one. All too often, people worry about the wrong thing. Like, “Is this mic recording?” And they’re worrying about all the things they shouldn’t be worrying about when they should be worrying about the content. So the best practices that I see are people that have taken the time to really concentrate on the content that they’re presenting and got the tech worked out ahead of time. So when they come out the gate, they have something interesting to say and not like, “Oh, how do I sound? [inaudible 00:07:37] sound good? Let me know.” Assume you sound good and move on.

Drew McClellan:

Well, and the practice will test the technology side as well, but it gets you comfortable initiating and having the… It’s like you wouldn’t open a bakery with your very first pie.

Rob Walch:

Right.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Rob Walch:

If you’re going to do an interview podcast, interview your friend, interview your cousin, interview your kids, your spouse and throw them away.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Rob Walch:

And then, do the real one and get that out. Now, on the flip side, people, we call them free pre-faders. They go too much onto this and they will wait, “Oh, I’m not going to release until I get 10 episodes done.” And they never get 10 episodes done and they never release. So they just spend all this money, they actually get the equipment, they get the hosting, and they never actually launch the show. And I think that’s even a bigger mistake. You need to get those out there and have a calling number. Every podcast should have a calling number, should have an email address, someplace where people can easily get contact and feedback to you, because it is a feedback loop.

You want to get that feedback. You want to hear what people have to say about your show, what they like, what they don’t like, and you don’t have to take every piece of feedback to heart, but you should look at the trend. If everybody’s saying, you really need to lock your door and keep your dog out of there because he’s snoring in the background, get the pug off your lap because he’s snoring, you might want to get the pug off your lap.

Drew McClellan:

Right. What are some other… because as you were talking, I was thinking back to when I launched mine and you’re right there, I left a lot of it on the floor in the beginning. And then was finally like, “Okay, I have a handful of episodes that I think are rock solid. So now it’s time to get out the door and I’ll learn as I go.” But I won’t learn and I won’t stay committed to it if I haven’t made the commitment and hit the publish button.

Rob Walch:

Your best practices, another one would be editing.

Drew McClellan:

Yes.

Rob Walch:

Too people don’t edit. They’ll do an interview with somebody and they leave all the um, uhs, you knows, gaffs, “Hey, let me restart that,” knocks out the door, phone call rings. They’ll leave all that stuff in, very long pregnant pauses. They’ll leave those in where they should have edited them out. And especially if you’re doing an interview podcast, if you edit the person you interview, you make them sound brilliant and let them know that you’re going to edit and make them sound brilliant. They’re a lot more likely to promote that interview than the one they came on, and they’re not used to talking, and you’re the first one interviewing this person. And he says you know 50 times and he goes back, he starts listening to it and he goes, “Oh, I sound like an idiot.” [crosstalk 00:10:18] he thinks he sounds like an idiot, zero chance he will ever promote that.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. That’s a really good point. I guess it never occurred to me… This is my naivete… that people don’t edit them. So it must be the ones that I listen to and I consume quite a few, but they must all do the editing. So, even as the host, I would be horrified if we put an unedited version out and I didn’t sound as crisp and sharp as I wanted to.

Rob Walch:

Well, there’s some people that promote hit record, hit stop, post.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Okay. I’m going to vote no on that.

Rob Walch:

Yeah. There’s people who promote that and I’m like, “Nah, yeah. There’s some people that can do lie, can do that, and get away with that.” They’re really good and they have good hosts that are articulate and used to speaking. But most people aren’t that good live and their guests aren’t either.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. That to me is the equivalent of brushing your hair without looking in the mirror and then just heading out.

Rob Walch:

Well, it’s a churn and turn, whatever you call it, mentality, where they just want to churn out as many as they can in the shortest period of time. And the way to do that is not edit.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Rob Walch:

Yes. You do. You turn out a lot of episodes, which all get 12 downloads.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Rob Walch:

Hey, no offense to the guy that’s getting 12 downloads, it’s really doing the work. But there are people that could be getting a lot more downloads if they put a little bit of work into it.

Drew McClellan:

I just saw some statistics that you guys had released speaking of downloads. What should someone expect if they produce a podcast? What is the range of cutting off the outliers who are getting millions of downloads? But for the average Joe, who has a podcast around a specific subject or topic, so they’ve got a narrow audience. They’re not talking to everyone in the world. What’s reasonable in terms of downloads and what’s what should be considered air quote, success?

Rob Walch:

Okay. So the median number. So when we look at this median number of downloads, and this is based on, the episodes on an average are 45 days old. So when we look at the median number of downloads across our network, it is about 200. It was like 212, I think the most recent month. So half the episodes release had less than 212 and half had more than 212. So that’s the median. Now, when we start getting into the averages, those numbers go up, because it shows skew things. Now, what I always like to say is, if you hit 500 downloads on an episode, that’s definitely in the area of success because now you’ve broken away from friends, family, and anybody you’ve ever known, and you’ve broken into new audience members. People that had no idea who you were, they’re discovering you because of your podcast, they’re listening to you for the first time.

Most people, that 500 number is what I would consider a success. Now, if we get into the average number, that average number, and I call it an adjusted average, where I take those half percenters, the Joe Rogans, the Marc Marons, the Nerdist Dan Carlins. I throw those folks out, the top half percent and I take anything three or less out. Then the average is around 2500 to 3000.

Drew McClellan:

Okay.

Rob Walch:

So if you get up in those numbers, then you really are successful. And if you get above 5000, you’ve broken into the top 10% of shows. And that’s where you can start looking at monetization. I was recently at social media marketing world, and I was speaking, and I asked the audience, 70, 80 people in the room and I said, “How many people in here are not yet podcasting, but get ready to podcast and they plan to monetize via advertising?” And over half the hands went up, and I was shocked and I was like, “Okay, runaway.”

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Rob Walch:

Most people aren’t going to make money through advertising the podcast. Now, if you have a niche, you can monetize through your niche and it’s usually more kind of a sponsorship than a true on advertising, Harry’s razors or Warby Parker. That’s an advertisement. And you might get a sponsorship if you say, have a cigar aficionado podcast. You have a podcast about cigars and and a Humidor manufacturer comes to you. They could do a sponsorship where the sponsor shall pay you more than a quote unquote CPM rate for your audience because 100% of your thousand listeners may stay on that cigar podcast, there’s going to be 100% hit rate for interest in their product.

And you talk about agencies and you look at your clients, don’t look about how big the show gets you. You got to look at if your show is niche or topical based? Does it hit 100% think psychographics? Not demographics.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Right.

Rob Walch:

It’s what I like to say. And podcasting is a really good way to do that. Don’t think of it so much as radio. A lot of people like to think of podcasting like radio. Think of it more as an audio magazine because a lot of them are niche based.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. That’s a good distinction. But when you think about monetizing the podcast, one of the things that I talk to agency owners about, because I think for an agency that has a niche, they serve a certain industry, or they have depth of expertise around a certain audience, whether it’s millennials or a certain ethnic group or whatever it may be, there’s incredible power and value in the podcast and there’s lots of ways to monetize it. So for some of them having their perspective, the people that they would like to have as clients, honest guests is a great way to open the door. My friend, Stephen Woessner, who produces the podcast Onward Nation, when they talk to their clients who by the way in full disclosure is who produces my podcast, but he talks about it as the Trojan horse of selling and that it’s a way to get in the door with prospects who normally wouldn’t take your call but they’re happy to be your guest, and all of a sudden you have an opportunity to create a relationship with them. That’s a great way to monetize your podcast.

Rob Walch:

Oh, absolutely. John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing will tell you that.

Drew McClellan:

Yep.

Rob Walch:

He’s talked about it that it opened up so many doors for him and got him in front of all the people that he wanted to have as clients and talk with and… Absolutely, that is a great way to… I would say this, that’s probably the best way to monetize a podcast-

Drew McClellan:

Right. One client is more than a sponsor would ever pay you, right?

Rob Walch:

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, you talk about not just Duct Tape Marketing, but Manager Tools is another one where they did the same thing and they got clients and they were charging four times their rate a couple years after launching their podcast, their hourly rate than they were charging before, and they were sold out, and they were having to raise the rate because they were sold out even at that point. So yeah, podcasting is a great connection tool.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. And another way to monetize your podcast is, if you have a book that you’re selling, or you sell workshops, or you’ve got an online course, again, creating thought leadership around all of that. So just because you can’t sell ads or you can’t sell a sponsorship because your audience isn’t wide enough or deep enough to make those numbers, well, it doesn’t mean you can’t make money doing your podcast, right?

Rob Walch:

Right. I mean, you could have a 250 listeners to your podcast to make more money than a show with 25,000.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Rob Walch:

If you got the right 250.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Rob Walch:

There’s a podcast out there, the SwineCast, which is about reaching out to professional pig farmers.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. That one I have not caught yet. I’m going to have to check that out.

Rob Walch:

Yeah. John Blue’s been doing SwineCast, oh, 11 years, I think roughly.

Drew McClellan:

Wow.

Rob Walch:

Yeah. Long time.

Drew McClellan:

But to your point is, for most of the world, probably that’s not a podcast they’re going to down the load, but for the people that care about that topic, there’s probably not a lot of great resources around that topic, so that would make him incredibly valuable.

Rob Walch:

Correct.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. So if people are thinking about doing a podcast, what is the right cadence? So some people have a podcast every day of the week, some people have a podcast once a week, once a month. What do you guys see in terms of… Again, you have access to so much data. What do you see as the most successful model?

Rob Walch:

The most successful podcasts are the ones that release on the cadence that they can maintain So-

Drew McClellan:

Right. If you’re going to a make a promise, keep [a 00:18:50] promise.

Rob Walch:

Well, it is not even that, it’s when you can release good content, that’s the most important. Anyway, releasing consistently good content. After you get away from that, then it’s weekly, then weekly comes into play. But you don’t even have to be on a regular release schedule. Common Sense Dan Carlin and Hardcore History Dan Carlin are released on a whatever schedule, and he gets 5 to 10 million listeners for his Hardcore History podcast, which is once a quarter and close to a million for Common Sense, which is once a month, roughly. And who knows when in the month it’s going to be?

If you have great content, your audience will come back. It’s really that simple. Now, if you’re trying to grow and get up to that point, releasing once a week is an ideal thing, but remember this, don’t release on Monday at 11:30 AM, because the last you always release at 11:30, if you come around to that Monday and your show’s not ready, you are better to delay an episode and release it when it’s right than to release it right now, is a bad episode, because one bad episode will destroy months of work.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Rob Walch:

People will be like, “Why am I listening to this? This is horrible.” A good email is, “Hey, when are you releasing the episode? I’m waiting for it.” A bad email is, “Wow. Why did you release that episode?”

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Right. Well, and I’m assuming that best practice is to be a little bit ahead so that if you have a bad episode, you are not having to decide not to release one this week, you just know you need to pick up the pace and get another one because the one that you had scheduled it for three weeks from now was a dog and you can’t release it.

Rob Walch:

Right. If you can do that, absolutely. Some people can, some people can’t. It depends on your show. If your show is Mac OS Ken, or today, an iPhone, you really can’t prerecord episodes because you’re talking about what’s going on, on the latest news.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Rob Walch:

So you really are hand to mouth because you’re going off of news. But if you’re doing an interview show absolutely where the topic is evergreen and your content’s evergreen, you absolutely can build up a repertoire or a buffer of content so that when something happens where you get sick, the kids get sick, your host gets sick, your guest gets sick, whatever the issue might be, or your guest is just absolutely horrible, you can actually just, “Oops, sorry. That episode got corrupted. We’ll have to just skip it and move on.” And you’ve got the other one to fill in.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. I want to talk about guests and how to find good guests and how to prep them in a second. But let’s first take a quick break and then we’ll come right back. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, odds are, you’ve heard me mention the AMI peer networks or the Agency Owner network. And what that is really is that’s…. It’s like a Vistage group or an EO group, but only everybody around the table owns an ag