Gary Leland Show Episode 7
This week I interview podcasting coach Dave Jackson. Long time friend and fellow podcaster, Dave is the creator of “The School of Podcasting” and many other projects over the years I've known him. – Produced By Gary Leland
Gary: Dave, welcome to the show, I’m excited to have you on here. I think this is the first time I have interviewed Dave Jackson from, “The School of Podcasting”.
Dave: I had you on my show, I don’t think we have ever flip flopped, I’m excited to be on here!
Gary: We have been on the same shows too, but never me actually conducting an interview with the long time podcaster, Dave Jackson, who has been podcasting since 2005. Have you had “The School of Podcasting” going since 2005 as well?
Dave: Yes, I started the first podcast in April of 2005 and had the school going a few months after that because after I got bit by the bug I thought it was just way too cool and started “The School of Podcasting”.
Gary: Would I be correct in assuming then that you have the longest running podcast on training people how to podcast?
Dave: Yes, it’s a great area because you can say “Podcast 411 with Rob Walsh”, and that was him interviewing podcasters. He occasionally would throw out tips on how to podcast, but I think if you were looking for strictly tips and how to podcast, then that would be me.
Gary: Dave’s site is schoolofpodcasting.com. He has been putting lessons on there since 2005 for how to podcast! One thing about your site, Dave, is that your stuff is affordable. You’re not one of these guys who are charging $1000 a lesson. Your stuff is very affordable, even to have regular access to all of your stuff. How much is that?
Dave: It’s $99 for the first month and $10 for each month after that. We tell people, come for the education but stay for the community. The reason I did that is because when I first started out it wasn’t that expensive and as I added more stuff, there was more value so I raised the price. I noticed that any time someone was involved at a lower price, they stuck around for years. So sure, I could keep it at $99 a month and you would stick around for 3 or 4 months, but if I drop that price down to $9 for each month after, you will stick around for years. Not only does that give me the money, but it gives me a better relationship and I get more insights into what you need, which helps me build a better product. That is the way it has worked for me and I love it that way. I do have people who joined in 2005 and are still members today.
Gary: When they join, or get involved with you for $99.95, they get access to 9 years worth of information.
Dave: Yes, there are many different courses. One of them is how to plan your podcast. A lot of that is just self-evaluation, like what makes you, you and then you have to define what the goal of the podcast is and who your listeners are. Then you figure out where all three of those cross each other and that is where you pick your topic. Then there is a lesson about hardware, what kind of microphone to order, all sorts of different questions you have to ask. It just walks you through the entire process including how to upload it into iTunes and how to promote it, how to monetize it if that’s what you want to do. These are all things that I have come across in my 9 years that I found useful. If a question arises that has not been answered then I will make a tutorial for it.
Gary: It’s a great site, tons of information; I highly recommend people go check it out. I know people are wondering about the first month being $99.95 and my thought is that if you charged a lower price for the information then someone could get in and get out of town after they gather all of the information.
Dave: And that is exactly why the first month is a little bit higher. You can go in and basically blow through everything in a weekend if you wanted to binge learn everything. But like I said, we have a great Facebook Group, we have a conference call once a month that is supposed to be 1 ½ hours, but it usually goes for about 3! We get to ask questions and network live, it’s a lot of fun!
Gary: That said, everyone needs to check that out. Let’s get on to helping people out here on this podcasting situation. Someone wants to get into podcasting to sell stuff, how would they start? Besides going to your site, what is the first thing they need to do? Let’s go through the steps of how to get them set up.
Dave: Well, you want to look at who your audience is, who uses your product and figure out what those people want to hear. Let’s say I make antiperspirant. I have to figure out what audience sweats because they need my product. It might be people who are into extreme sports or something of that nature, so I might consider doing an extreme sports show and you can use your product as the sponsor, “If you’re sweating when you’re bungee jumping, check out this product”. You have to identify your audience and figure out what they want to hear, what is going to inspire, entertain, and impact them because ultimately it comes back to your audience. That would be step number 1. A lot of times, you already have that information if you are already in a business because you can get that demographic from your orders. If you have an email list, I have heard of people messaging all of those people and telling them they are trying to make a podcast and ask what they would want to hear about. Let your audience decide what it is because they are the ones who are going to consume it.
Gary: That’s a good tip to let your audience give you an idea or give you information.
Dave: Yeah because you may have wanted to go in one direction, but your audience might say that they want to hear about something else that you hadn’t thought of yet. One company, Evernote, they don’t have a physical product but their CEO, main developer, and the guy who does the podcast will take questions from the users. When you get direct contact with the head of the company and he thinks something is a good idea, it’s a really interesting thing. They let people explain how they are using their product. It ends up being a commercial, it just doesn’t sound like a commercial. It’s an interesting way that they spin that. It gives that direct contact between the customers and the CEO of the company.
Gary: Let’s say we have our subject down, I think that most people who listen to my show already have a business so we definitely know who our customers are, and the interesting point was who to go after. What would be my next step?
Dave: If you already know your audience, then you can go into Facebook groups, Google+ has groups, LinkedIn has groups and you can use these to your advantage. You can go into these groups and see what questions are being asked over and over again, which is usually a good sign of something else that will impact your audience. You can get that reaction of people saying they couldn’t find that answer anywhere else. If you can cover that in your podcast, that would be good content. The other thing is that with a physical product, you have a couple of things you can do. The first, which you don’t want to do too much of it, is describing the product physically and you can play on the theater of the mind. You may be able to help them see it and entice them to go to your website, so they can actually see the product and what you are talking about. Now that they are on your website, they are one click away from buying the product. I don’t know that I would want to listen to too much if it were an audio podcast, but obviously if it’s a video podcast it’s great because they can actually see the product. If you’re using audio podcast, you would describe what it looks like, feels like, smells like, and really get them picturing it in their mind, which might get them to go to your website so they can really see it, but I wouldn’t do it for the whole show because you can’t show them the product without them going to your website. Make it super easy to get to your website. If you are using Word Press, there is a plug in called Pretty Link which makes it easy to remember the website to go straight to the product. The fun about podcasting is your audience is listening to your podcast while they are driving, or walking the dog, or walking on the treadmill, so you have to make it easy to remember. The last episode at the School of Podcasting was episode 426, so I just tell people to go to schoolofpodcasting.com/426 and it will take them right there. If you are talking about a product, for example a super slugger, then you tell people to go to garyswebsite.com/superslugger and it will take them right there. If you get them enticed with the content, then you want to make it easy for them to get back to the website because the website has the buy button.
Gary: With hosting, what do you recommend? They have to have a place to put their show file.
Dave: There are 2 kinds of hosting. One is website hosting, the one I use is Host Gator, and there are plenty of others out there, but that’s the one I have been using. Their support is great. The other thing a lot of people don’t realize is that your media matters. There are many websites that say that they have unlimited bandwidth and unlimited storage, that’s true, but that’s for a website not for media files. I have actually had a couple of people who have been asked to either move their website or they get shut down in some cases because the webhost is not ready for 1000 people to grab that audio file at the same time. When they try to do that, when they try to serve up that file, it really puts tremendous strain on their hardware. I recommend a media hosting company that is made to take that hit, they are made to go through and serve that file up quickly. I use a company called Libsyn.com and they have been around since 2004. I have used them for The School of Podcasting pretty much since day one and have never had a problem.
Gary: I use Libsyn myself and I have been using them forever. I have a couple of questions. If someone is filling out this Libsyn information on their account, it’s pretty cut and dry like your description, your title, upload photos, and all of that. I don’t understand some things to this day. On the right hand side here, where it goes to category, what does that mean?
Dave: When Libsyn launched, they were trying to be everything that you needed, including your website. Let’s say you have one category for strategies and another for opinion. A category can be used as a filter. So you can put a button on the website that points at all of the posts that are tagged as strategy and then you can add another button or link that says, “click here to view all of the opinion posts”. Most people that I know use Libsyn for their media hosting and not for their website.
Gary: My other question I had for you is about the tags and key words.
Dave: Tags and key words used to be much more important for iTunes, SEO, and other purposes. There is a really popular plug in with Word Press called Power Press where in their next update they are going to take key words completely out because at this point, no one is using them anymore. It used to be something that would raise you in the rankings; iTunes would give them a lot of credibility. From what I understand, now iTunes and everyone else ignores them because people were abusing them, it would just be key words everywhere in all sorts of bazaar things. So to be able to deliver relevant searches, most technology these days are just ignoring them.
Gary: I just heard on a podcast the other day that YouTube is using that information for the first week or two to know where to stick you, but after that they figure it out on their own and they are of no use. They do help right off the bat but six months down the road they don’t mean anything. I have one more question is about the subtitle. Where is the subtitle used?
Dave: You know what? If I find out I will let you know, I have been asking that question for a long time. The only thing I can think of is that Libsyn has their own directory that feeds other technology, but I have no idea where that shows up. When I find out I will let you know!
Gary: Then you are in the same situation, everything else I understood. I thought that maybe that just applies to the Libsyn blog.
Dave: Yeah that might be, it might be something that is only associated with the website. The one thing about Libsyn is they have great support so I will have to send them an email because I have been wondering about this for about 9 years now.
Gary: Let’s go over the other site you named, the Power Press, that is another way that you can work your podcast into your Word Press blog.
Dave: Word Press creates a thing called and RSS feed and I always tell people it’s a little bit as if you were a radio station. Do you have a favorite radio station, Gary?
Gary: No, I haven’t listened to the radio since 2004! The story I always tell, Dave, is that back in 2005 BBC interviewed me and I had to get up at like 4 in the morning to do it. While we were talking, they asked me how I thought that this would affect radio and I told them that I hadn’t listened to my radio in a year! Then BBC Radio moved on to the next subject very quickly.
Dave: So you have this RSS feed and I just tell people it is like your signal if you were a radio station. In Cleveland there is 100.7, so people tune into 100.7 and you hear what’s on the radio. Well on your website you have the RSS feed and iTunes tunes into that. Being that they are Apple and they can do stuff like that, they said that they like RSS Feeds but you have to do all of this extra stuff that we need and we can demand it because we’re Apple. What Power Press does is it adds this extra stuff that Apple needs so it basically takes your standard RSS feed and makes it compatible with iTunes as well as it will put a player on your website and download links and other fun stuff that makes it easier to create a podcast. Libsyn will actually do that as well but they have built in settings if you don’t want to use Power Press, you can do that through Libsyn as well. Back in 2004 there were not many but now there are a couple of different doors to get in there. Power Press is a great because it puts the player right on your website, it puts a player in a new window and a lot of people listen to podcasts at work so they can put it in a new window. Also it allows you to let your listeners download the show for later.
Gary: Well I thought you just put your feed in there and then put a short code on my site and that’s it.
Dave: That’s pretty much it. There are some settings in there where all of that description, key words, who’s the author, what category your podcast is in and things like that, some of that is for iTunes. So you fill that in and then you go into iTunes and you point them at your website and tell them that that is where the feed is, and it’s kind of like tuning into a radio station.
Gary: Ok so you’re telling iTunes to pick up your feed from your Word Press blog, not from Libsyn?
Dave: Right, and you could do either or. I always tell people it’s 6 one-way and a half a dozen the other. There are pros and cons of each. The only thing I sometimes worry about with Word Press is there are so many plug ins, it’s kind of like adding air conditioning to your car; you can add all of these extra features. For the most part, everything plays nice together because each plug in is written by different people and in theory they are supposed to play nice together. For instance, the Power Press plug in itself is fine, but someone can write another thing because maybe you want to add Twitter buttons or something like that and it could conflict with Power Press and your feed goes nuts. For me, I like Power Press, I just don’t use a lot of plug ins unless if I really need them on my website and if I add one the first thing I do is make sure my feed still works. If you use Libsyn’s feed, it’s just Libsyn. It’s plain and simple, you upload your post and media, you type in a few notes and there is nothing that is going to conflict with that feed. Depending on what you are doing, both are fine. I have only had one website that I have every had a problem with and it was because I had this bazaar feed plug in, so that’s why you should use the Libsyn feed. I think they are both fine, you just have to be somewhat cautious with Word Press.
Gary: Now we found out what kind of show we have, we know where we are going to put the file, now how do you get the word out about it? People can figure out how to do it, now where do they put it so it can be found?
Dave: The big gorilla still is iTunes and you just have to tell them once where it is and they will always update it. Another is called Stitcher.com and it is very popular on the Android side of the world because there really isn’t a one size fits all app for the Android. Where the podcast app is great on the iPhone and iPad and iTunes is great on the computer, on the Android side it’s a little light so Stitcher has filled that void. Another really popular one is Tune In, I believe its tunein.com. Microsoft is a bit of a head scratcher at this point, they used to have a directory and at this point it’s very up in the air. They aren’t abandoning it, but you have to already have an RSS feed on your website that is clearly marked and they are going to come by and Bing is going to scrape it so it’s very weird. It seems like you don’t submit anything to Microsoft anymore, they just come and find you. Blackberry is a little bit of a question mark as well, they used to have a directory but are kind of MIA at this point. So those are kind of the biggies right now, Tune In, Stitcher, and iTunes.
Gary: How about Pocket Cast?
Dave: Pocket Cast is another one. If you go to Podcast 411, which is done by Rob Walsh who is another guy who has been doing it since 2004, he actually works for Libsyn and he has a directory of directories that he has been maintaining for a very long time. The thing I like about his is that there are links to every submit page. You don’t have to go to another website and click around trying to figure out where to go. Some of these are helpful, some of them are so small, but if nothing else it gives you a link back to your website.
Gary: Oh absolutely, I wasn’t going over the whole list because there are so many, but is Pocket Cast considered a big one, or is a little one?
Dave: It’s fairly popular. There is Down Cast, there’s Pocket Cast, and what they will do is they are basically able to tie into the back end of iTunes so if you’re already in iTunes they will automatically add you into their software. I think that if you’re in Pocket Cast then you are automatically in iTunes. A lot of those are set up that way. A new one called Over Cast is set up the same way; if you’re in iTunes then you are set up on the back end of iTunes because of Over Cast. It just becomes a big nightmare trying to track all of that, a couple of hundred thousand podcasts at this point.
Gary: So we now know how to get them in there, so how do we get the word out?
Dave: This is the fun part. Everyone is looking for that giant switch that will get him or her 10,000 downloads and I wish I could tell you where to get that, but it doesn’t exist! Because you know who your audience is, you are creating content that is going to impact and engage them and hopefully its in such a way that they tell their friends. You can use Facebook groups, Google+ groups, Meet Up.com has a lot of sites where people meet face to face, and you are going to network with people. I always break this down into four steps: first find your audience, two figure out where they are, and everyone wants to skip the third step, which is to develop relationships with these people. A lot of times that is where your podcast comes into play. Once you walk in and add value to the conversation, then you can tell them about your podcast. You want them to say, “wow this guy really knows his stuff” and then you can reference your podcast and tell them where to find it. That way you have shown them that you have valuable information and then they will be interested to hear what you have on that podcast.
Gary: Before you go, I want you to give a tip for something we did not go over yet that you think that people really need to know before they go into podcasting.
Dave: The big one is that it is a slow burn. Now I could say everyone needs to start a podcast and you will be rich in weeks, but that’s not the case. You’re going to end up monetizing your relationship, so you need to build that relationship and trust but that takes a little bit of time. Plan a couple of months to make that happen. I always say there is a 4 to 1 rule in an audio podcast. What that means is that if you are going to do a 15-minute podcast, times that by 4 and it’s going to take an hour to do a 15-minute show. First you have to figure out what you are going to talk about, then you have to record it, you have to upload it, and you have to write up a little blog post on it. Unfortunately Google doesn’t listen to your podcast so you have to type in some words for when people search for new baseball gloves it will bring them to your site and they explore from there. Know going in that it’s not a great get rich quick scheme but it is a great relationship builder, it will help you understand your audience better, which will help you build a better product. So it will take a little bit of time, but you are reaching a global audience and there is no spam – people won’t listen to your podcast unless if they want to. The people who are listening are just as passionate as you are about the subject, so at that point you will be making that connection because you are literally right in their ears and that connection is what will help you grow your business.
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