You took the plunge and started a podcast. You chose your format, picked a name for your show, artwork, theme music, everything.
And unlike the many, many podcasters who don’t continue, you’ve published your 50th episode.
Congrats! Now, you have to change what you do.
Today’s episode is based on a book titled What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, written by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter.
The premise of the book is, you cannot simply do more of what you already do to get where you want to go.
Just like the executives mentioned in the book, you’ve worked hard to get where you are, but now there are some subtle changes required for you to reach the next plateau of your Showrunning.
Here is the evolution required of you on your journey to 100 episodes and beyond:
- The three areas you need to analyze in your evolution
- How to objectively look at your show, audience, and distribution
- The importance of understanding your audience lifespan
Listen, learn, enjoy …
The Show Notes
- Follow Jerod on Twitter: @jerodmorris
- Follow Jonny on Twitter: @jonnastor
- What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter
- Podcasters: Stop Looking for an Audience (and Let Them Find You)
- No. 094 Sponsorships or Affiliate Marketing: Which Is Better for Your Podcast?
- No. 064 Listener Life Cycles: A Podcaster’s Guide
- No. 032 How (and Why) to Submit Your Show to Podcast Directories
No. 096 What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.
Jerod Morris: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.
Welcome to The Showrunner, where we have one goal: teach you how to develop, launch, and run a remarkable show. Ready?
Welcome back to The Showrunner, the podcast for people dedicated to creating remarkable audio experiences for their audience. This is episode No. 96. I am your host Jerod Morris, VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital, and I will be joined momentarily, as I always am, by my never-stops-thinking-about-audience-building co-host, Jonny Nastor, the host of Hack the Entrepreneur.
As always, The Showrunner brought to you by the all new StudioPress Sites, a turnkey solution that combines the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress. It’s perfect for bloggers, podcasters, and affiliate marketers, as well as those selling physical products, digital downloads, and membership programs. If you’re ready to take your WordPress site to the next level, see for yourself why over 200,000 website owners trust StudioPress. Go to Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress right now.
Jonny, just now, before we began recording, you remarked that this episode, which you put together the outline for, would have been perfect for our 100th episode. But you were feeling it, so we’re going to do it four episodes early. Yes, we are approaching our 100th episode, which we’re very excited about. So this is 100th-episode quality, but we’re doing it a few episodes early. So I just wanted to make sure to hype it up as much as possible before we begin discussing the topic.
Jonny Nastor: Well, I didn’t want to fall into that whole perfectionist mindset. As I was starting it, it was like, “Ooh, this would be perfect for episode 100, in four episodes, and I don’t have one for today.” You know what I mean? And I know that if I keep pushing it off, by the time a 100th comes around, you and I are going to come up with something different and better that fits at that moment in time with us. So I was like, “No, just keep doing. This is good. I like this.”
Jerod Morris: I like it. You sent this over, I was immediately intrigued by it and excited about it. So did this idea come about because of a book that you read?
Jonny Nastor: Yes, I believe I might have mentioned this book before on the show, in passing sort of. I was having lunch about two hours ago, and I was just on my Kindle looking at the different books on there. I was like “I’m going to just read this book for the next 20 minutes again.” Actually I was reading the highlights that I had highlighted through it, and then it just struck me. I was like, “This is today’s episode. This is it.”
Especially because it ties into some feedback we’ve gotten about the show, that some people would like to know more about veteran podcasting, sort of 50 episodes and beyond. And then it also ties back to that post I got to write for Copyblogger last week, about podcasting, podcast directories, and alternative search engines.
And the thing that seemed to strike some people was that tiny little variation I made between brand-new podcasters and veteran podcasters. Again, it kind of just took me as, “This book is the same. There’s a difference that kind of happens between beginning and veteran podcasting.” So I wanted to discuss it.
Jerod Morris: I like this. It reminds me actually of a quote that an old boss of mine always used to say when I lived and worked in Miami, which was, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” With the allusion, of course, to, “Hey, look, if you want to get something different, you got to do something different than you’ve always been doing.”
And obviously it just makes logical sense, and I think it’s especially applicable when we talk about podcasting and getting to that next level. So you ready to dive into it?
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, let’s do it.
Jerod Morris: All right, let’s do it.
The Three Areas You Need to Analyze in Your Evolution
Jonny Nastor: Without further ado, the book is called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful. It was written by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter. I’ll link to it in the show notes for you if you want to track it down, but it’s called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, basically. You can find it on Amazon or wherever you find books.
The basic premise is that you simply cannot do more of what you’ve already done to get where you want to go. Just like Jerod’s old boss used to say. And it sounds so simple, Jerod, but when I read this book the first time, to me it was really profound. Because, you’re right, logically it makes sense, but I know from personal experience that I get so caught up in … what I’m doing right now is taking me to new places. It’s really, really cool.
So think of it, in the first 50 episodes, I went from literally nobody knowing who I was to building a decent little audience. It was really cool. So what happens is, I think we get caught up in this hustle. Or what I did was I got caught up in this hustle, was “I just need to find ways to do more of this. Do it faster. Do more of it. Just spend more hours at it. Just do everything I’ve done but just do more of it because what I’m doing is working.”
And this book is kind of exactly contrary to that. They’re all about sort of agreeing that there is a certain amount of that that will get you to a certain place, but it won’t get you, necessarily, to that next plateau. So the book is based around business.
What the book is stated as, in the intro, is, “The corporate world is filled with executives, men and women who have worked hard for years to reach the upper levels of management. They’re intelligent, skilled, and even charismatic.” Just like us, as showrunners, as we start, right? “But only a handful of them will ever reach that pinnacle. And as an executive coach Marshal Goldsmith shows in this book, the subtle nuances that make all the difference.”
So it really is subtle sort of changes, and lots of it’s even a mindset shift that you need to make. But hopefully this will help you to not fall into the trap that I fell into, which was, “I just need to do more of what I’m doing, and see if it will push me to that next place.” Because it’s not. You kind of just have to approach things in a different way.
Jerod Morris: I’m glad that you made mention of the subtle nuances making the difference, because I think the danger with advice like this is we can believe that the extreme end of it will lead to extreme results. Like, “Oh,” someone listening to this, “Okay, well, I need to do everything different then to get different results.” And that’s not the case.
If you are on a good path and if things have been working, it doesn’t mean that overhaul everything. But it is a subtle nuance here, a subtle change there, do something a little bit different, can help you get more out of the time or can open you up to a new audience. Can do something different that will just open you up additional results than what you’ve been getting. Especially with podcasting, I think you and I have gone through that.
So I think that part about the subtle nuances is really important. I don’t believe, we’ll see where the conversation goes, but I don’t believe that the advice here is going to be, overhaul what you do. It’s going to be subtle tweak here, subtle tweak there. This a little bit different, and you give yourself the ability to maximize the impact of your time with doing those few things differently.
Jonny Nastor: Yes and no. So there’s going to be a couple where it’s like a choose your own adventure, and there might be, when you assess it, a chance to really change what you’ve been doing. But overall, absolutely, Jerod. I absolutely agree. I just don’t want to completely go that way because when we get to one of the points, somebody’s going to be like, “Wait a minute.”
Jerod Morris: Okay, well, let’s see that. That will be interesting.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, so let’s take this as a podcaster. So you took that plunge, and you started the podcast. You chose your format, picked the name for your show, artwork, theme music, everything. And unlike many podcasters, it’s debatable what that number is, but most people don’t continue. They don’t continue past seven episodes, or 14, or 12, whatever it happens to be.
That number’s kind of irrelevant, but you, you’ve published your 50th episode. Congratulations is in order. But now I think is the time that you may have to change what you do to take it to that 100th-episode pinnacle. Because just like the executives mentioned in the book, you’ve worked hard to get where you are, but now there are going to be some subtle changes required for you to reach that next plateau of showrunning.
How to Objectively Look at Your Show, Audience, and Distribution
Jonny Nastor: So this is what we’re calling the evolution of a showrunner. And like evolution, in reality, it is subtle changes over time that help us, and then it’s not revolutionary. It’s evolutionary. So let’s get into. We broke it down into three broad topics under the evolution of the showrunner. So there’s the show, there’s the audience, and there’s distribution.
Jerod Morris: A good way to break it down.
#1: The Show
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. Let’s start with the show. Cause this is, I think, obviously where lots of people’s heads go with changing things, so let’s start with the show. In this we’ve got three separate parts, which we’ll go over in depth, but it’s double down or double back, step up, and then monetize.
Step 1: Double Down or Double Back
Jonny Nastor: So the first one is this contrary sort of aspects to it, we were saying at the beginning. So doubling down or doubling back, this is, to me, it’s really hard to do, especially if we’re just caught up in thinking we need to do more of the same thing, which I was.
Hopefully, I can get you to stop, breathe, and try and subjectively assess your show. Assess the format of the show. Assess the audio quality. Assess the content, assess the guests. Assess your narrative or whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish with your show.
And it’s really hard to do because it is you, and you’re in it. But if you can get a few people that you trust to maybe give you an honest assessment, then this is the point, at episode 50, where I’m going to say you either have to double down on what you’re doing and keep that show going and really enhance it in any ways you can, but know and trust that your format is good, that the content is good. And then keep going on that.
Either that, or you have to subjectively find a way to double back and then find out where you fell off. Like, did your intros get way too long? Are you talking about what you had for lunch? All these things that can just fall into the process of getting out 50 episodes, but when you subjectively assess it, you can now double back and fix those things, kind of cut them off before they get out of control, and start fresh with a tight, good, well-put-together show at this point and move forward.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, I like this. And, again, this doesn’t suggest that you have to make massive changes, and especially if you’ve been getting good results through the first 50 episodes, good enough that you want to keep going, and you’re excited about this process of subjectively assessing your format. It may be tweaking that intro, or if you’re really not getting results, but you’re committed to the idea, and you really believe a podcast can work in this niche, you may make a bigger change.
So I guess I can see, Jonny, what you were talking about, in this sense, that may be one spot where you do want to make a bigger change. I think part of that’s going to depend on the kind of results that you’ve been getting so far, and what the results of this assessment are, that you do. I think it’s very important to do it honestly, to be honest with yourself, and to listen to some of the feedback that you get from other people as well.
One risk that you run after 50 episodes is that you get too into it and get too close to it. And sometimes that can make it difficult to really get a good assessment that’s going to help you make good decisions. So I think you’ve got to do it subjectively, based on your experience with it, and also try to add in some objective opinion as well, either from listeners or from people that you trust, to see what are the things that you should tweak, what should you double down on, what do you need to double back on. But I agree with you, I think 50 episodes is a great time to do this.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, I feel that we get to 50 episodes based on one or two criteria, maybe. Like maybe people really relate to your vulnerability as a host and that you open up really well. But maybe your guest quality has been lacking, or else it’s not quite tight enough in some places. And yes, this aspect of you as a host has gotten you to here, which has gotten you past 99.9 percent of podcasts that have started. But if you really want to get to that next spot and be really, sort of, turn it into the show you want by episode 100, then now’s the time to subjectively critique the other aspects of your show.
Jerod Morris: Yup.
Step 2: Step Up
Jerod Morris: Moving on to the second element in the show, step up. And I love this one because after episode 50 it is the time to get serious. An example from my own past is, for a long time, I wasn’t using a great microphone, hadn’t really invested in my podcasting. I was doing it. I was certainly investing the time in it, but I still kind of had one foot in and one foot out, in a certain respect.
And I finally realized, “You know what? It’s time for me to step up. It’s time for me to get serious. It’s time for me to take the audio quality to the next level because that’s something that can definitely improve with the show.”
And it’s something that, for myself, is a declaration of “I am a showrunner. I am a serious showrunner. I’m taking this seriously. I’m in it to win it. I’m in it for the long haul.” And the representation of that for me was investing in better audio equipment — a boom arm, a PR40 microphone, a really good setup — so that I could get really good audio in my home office, which is not a room set up for good audio. I needed to invest in getting some better audio.
So I made that investment, however many hundreds of dollars it was. And not only did that improve the audio quality and make the shows better, but it changed my mindset, too. It really put both feet firmly planted in showrunning and podcasting. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t left a few shows behind that I started, even since that point, but I got serious about every single show, every single episode is going to have a purpose. And I’m really taking this seriously, and I think this is a great time to do that.
Step up or step back. And I think you’ll kind of know what the representation of that will be, whether it’s buying new equipment, doubling your output per week, whatever that is, but now is the time to make that decision. That is a subtle difference, a subtle change you can make that will start to get you different results than what you’ve been getting.
Step 3: Monetizing
Jonny Nastor: And the third and final aspect to look at in the evolution of your show is monetizing. We talked about this two episodes ago now. I’ll also link to that for you in the show notes if you haven’t had a chance to listen to it, that was sponsorships versus affiliate. But it’s monetization.
Again, I didn’t want to wait for this episode for that perfect time because that perfect time typically doesn’t come. If you’ve been waiting for that perfect time to begin monetizing your show, that time is now. It really, truly is.
If you can’t find a sponsor, that’s totally cool. Start running affiliate adds. Start running them in place of pre-rolls and mid-rolls — if you don’t know, again, go back to that episode, and we’ll talk about those. But start running those as affiliates right now. Because this doesn’t just monetize your show. This, again, like the stepping up and changing your mindset like Jerod just went over, this also does that.
This teaches you, and your mindset, that your show is that level. It’s 50 and beyond. Now it’s time to step up as a real showrunner. Plus it has this added benefit of making your audience see you as a real show. Every ‘real podcast,’ like professional podcast that we listen to has adds. Yours needs to have ads from episode 50 and onward.
Jerod Morris: I agree wholeheartedly with that. And speaking of adds, perfect segue there, Jonny. We told you about StudioPress Sites at the beginning of this episode, and we want to tell you about them again. StudioPress Sites, really what it is, it’s WordPress made easy, without sacrificing power or flexibility. And that’s what makes it perfect for bloggers, for podcasters, for affiliate marketers, as well as people selling physical products, digital downloads, and membership programs. Because with StudioPress Sites you get a lot.
You get an industry-standard design framework, the Genesis Framework, and on top of that, you can add 20 mobile-optimized HTML5 designs. They’re all built right in. You can add them to your site in a click. You get fast-loading performance. You get zero hosting hustles. You get rock-solid security, and of course, you get world-class support. In addition to that, advanced SEO functionality, automatic WordPress and Genesis updates, and a lot more. So much so, that I can’t even say it all without stumbling over my words. That’s how much you get with StudioPress Sites.
But I would urge you not to take my word for it. And this could be a subtle change that you may need to make after 50 episodes. I’ve seen a lot of shows that put themselves out there, but they just have a simple feed. They’re not really paying much attention to their website.
One of the subtle changes that you may want to make at episode 50, is doing more with your website. Adding a call to action, allowing people to subscribe to your newsletter, adding a free course, adding blog posts that go in between your podcast episodes to add more insight. There’s a lot that you can do, and in fact, we’re going to talk about a few of those things here coming up. You need a website that’s going to be able to handle all of that, and a website built on StudioPress Sites will be able to do that.
So to find out for yourself, go to Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress. Take it for a test drive. Kick the tires. See what you think.
#2: The Audience
Jerod Morris: All right, Jonny, should we dive into the audience section of the show? We just talked about the show, and now it’s time for the audience.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, let’s do it. So the audience, again, is broken into three separate tiers. We have beyond the ears, go deep, and then teach what you know.
Step 1: Beyond the Ears
Jonny Nastor: So to start with, we have beyond the ears.
Jerod Morris: That’d be a great name for a podcast, by the way. Actually, all of these would be.
Jonny Nastor: I possibly worked too hard on these names, actually.
Jerod Morris: Beyond the Ears, that’d be awesome.
Jonny Nastor: But this is video, Facebook Live, Periscope, blogging, books, whatever you want.
Jerod Morris: YouTube Live.
Jonny Nastor: YouTube Live, yeah, anything that goes beyond your audio on-demand content. Not everyone listens to podcasts, damn them, but they don’t. So we have to create ways to repurpose our content in multiple formats, across multiple platforms and places where people can find us and our content. This is time to now grow your audience.
Not just necessarily your ‘podcast audience,’ but your audience in general. This is why we run shows. You have a platform of 50 episodes. That puts you above and beyond so many other people creating video, blogging, and books. You have a pile of content behind you that now can be repurposed in an endless number of ways and spread out to move your audience, find your audience, and grow your audience beyond the ears.
Jerod Morris: And it’s not just beyond the ears. It’s beyond whatever the primary way that people have been consuming certain content is. So let me give you an example. The Assembly Call, obviously, we do a postgame show for IU basketball games. People watch the video. They listen to the podcast. Well, this off season I started writing some blog posts. And I would just put a blog post together. They’d be about a 1,000 words. I called them Three Point Shots, just kind of a clever little tie in to basketball, and then I’d have three points.
So one day I had just a little bit of extra time on my hands, and I was like, “You know what? Why don’t I … let me just hop on, do a Google Hangout, I’ll hop on, and I’ll read the blog post, and then just kind of give a little bit of commentary about it, and post it as a podcast. Let’s just see how this goes.”
And so I did that, and I cannot tell you how many people have Tweeted me and emailed me to let me know, “Thank you so much for doing the audio portion of the blog. I don’t have time to read blogs. That’s not really how I consume my IU content. But being able to get this via audio and listen to it on my drive in a shorter format,” they were like 15, 20 minutes, “this is awesome. Are you going to be doing more of these?”
And I was like, “Wow.” It was just totally on a whim that I did it, and I’d known this. People have been talking about doing this for a while, but it was like actually doing it and seeing it hit the audience and just the positive feedback loop, it was incredible. And so in that case, it was beyond the eyes because people wanted that content with their ears.
But there are probably just as many people who can’t listen to all of our episodes because they don’t have time carved out in their day to listen to podcasts, but now they’re interacting more with the site because they read the blog post, because that’s more how they consume their content, and subscribe on a reader and all of that stuff.
So it’s not just beyond the ears. Just go beyond, and give people, as Jonny said, multiple ways to interact with even the same content. It’s amazing how you open yourself up to entirely new audiences. And it’s a way to work smarter, not harder, because you can really invest time in a piece of content, an idea, and be able to put that out in many different ways. And the results can be really remarkable.
So definitely pay attention to this one, and if you’ve already been producing a lot of content, which if you’re at 50 episodes you probably are, this is one of the techniques, of all the ones that we talk about, that can really give you, perhaps, the most instantaneous impact and immediate feedback. And that is always encouraging and motivating, no matter how many episodes in you are.
Jonny Nastor: So 15 or 20 minutes to read a blog post? I’m guessing you were ad-libbing and adding commentary?
Jerod Morris: Yeah, I would read, and then I would do an aside if something came up. Maybe a little note that, as I was writing it, it didn’t make it into the blog post. I didn’t want it to just sound like me reading. I wanted it to sound like, “Okay, here’s a paragraph … ,” kind of reading it casually, but then also breaking off for a little bit of additional insight or a little additional talking about it. That just fit naturally for me, but I think even if I just read the blog post straight, people still would have liked it because they wouldn’t have been able to get the content otherwise.
Step 2: Go Deep
Jerod Morris: Okay, so the next one then, in audience, is go deep. So when we’re talking about going deep, this is finding additional ways to really connect with your audience. One great, really one essential way that you need to do this, is making sure that all the calls to action get your listeners onto an email list.
Now, what you do on that email list is going to depend. You might have a regular newsletter. You might have a free email course. You might only give transcripts or advanced show notes to people who are on the email list or who are a member. So many different things that you can do, but after 50 episodes, if you’re not doing it already, this is the time to connect. This is the time to get serious about going from just being the voice inside their head in their headphones, to also a voice that connects with them in their inbox.
And yes, we’re talking email over social media. Social media is a great way to converse and to connect in its own way, but email is much more intimate. And eventually, if you’re going to grow this podcast into something greater, you want to have that email connection. It is such an amazing way to both connect and to convert.
So again, maybe you’ve been doing this. Maybe you did this from the start, and if so, kudos to you. But now it’s definitely the time to step back and say, “Okay, where are my calls to action going? What is my purpose for this? What is my intention?” And if you don’t have a call to action that is geared toward getting people onto an email list, you need to have a really, really good reason why that is.
Maybe there is one, but you at least need to really think about it and be intentional about that choice. I think Jonny and I both agree, having that call to action being getting someone on an email list is the smartest and certainly the most proven way to go.
The Importance of Understanding Your Audience Lifespan
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, I’m going to toot our own horn and say we did a really good episode. It was quite a while ago now, maybe almost a year ago, about audience lifespans, I believe. And this really hits this. So it’s going deep, like with email, but it’s also the knowledge and the understanding that no matter how much you love a show, how much your audience loves your show, every audience member has a lifespan to them, meaning that they’re not going to stick around forever.
Not because you did anything wrong, but just because we move on to other things. They might come back. They might come back in a month. They might come back in six months. They might come back in a year. But it’s just the way it works. Think of any of your favorite shows, and then think of the ones that, “Oh wow, I haven’t listened to that show in like six or seven months.” It’s just the way it works.
So the email allows you to kind of make that connection. It speeds up the process of the relationship building, and then obviously, with the newsletters, the courses, and stuff, it can allow you to monetize. It can allow you to take that relationship and that lifespan and make the most of it if you can.
I can’t remember exactly what that episode is called. But again, I’ll link to that as well in the show notes, so you can listen to it. I still remember that one being remarkably fun to do and an interesting sort of concept we went over. That, to me, it’s not just build your email list because that’s completely useless unless you have the deeper understanding to it.
Step 3: Teach What You Know
Jonny Nastor: So the last one of the audience is to teach what you know. You are absolutely considered an expert in your field at this point. You have 50 episodes or more under your belt. You absolutely are. You are ready to run webinars, workshops, mini courses, full courses, to speak, to do whatever it is you want to do. But you need to start teaching everything that you know. You really, truly do.
There’s nobody that’s going to come up and tell you that you are now an expert, but you have 50 episodes. You’re not beginning anymore. You are a veteran in this. And that much content behind you, on your specific topic, absolutely makes you ready to teach everything that you know.
You can start small, but you do absolutely have to start. You can’t put this off until episode 100. This is one of the things that needs to happen now. Again, it’s an evolution, so start in the smallest ways you want to. Run a free webinar or a free workshop to the 53 people on your email list if that’s what you want to do. That’s totally cool, but you have to start doing it at this point.
It is one of the essential things that is going to change the way people see you and the way you see your show and sort of take you to that next level that you want to be.
Jerod Morris: So we’re talking about the evolution of the showrunner, and we’ve talked about the show, doubling down or doubling back, stepping up, and monetizing. We’ve talked about the audience, going beyond the ears, going deep, and teaching what you know. And now we’ll talk about the third element, which is distribution.
Obviously, you’ve reached a point after 50 episodes where a certain number of people are listening to your show, a certain number of people are subscribed to your show. And one of the great areas of growth, and certainly one of the great goals that most people have after 50 episodes, is, “Okay, I’ve got to spread the word. I want to grow. I want to get more listeners. I want to bring more people into my sphere.” So let’s talk about three ways that you can do that.
Step 1: Going Wide
Jerod Morris: The first is going wide. And I love this one, Jonny. With this one, you want to get onto every other show in your market. You want to do interview swaps, have guest hosts, make friends with other podcasters. And if you can guest blog on other sites, this can have a dramatic effect on your distribution as well. But what you want to do here is identify other places where the kinds of people that you hope to bring into your audience are congregating.
And after 50 episodes, whatever your topic is, by this time you should probably have some big, core ideas. Some cornerstone ideas that you know, that you understand, that at the drop of a hat, or the close of an elevator door, you could explain to someone standing next to you — about what your show is, what you represent, what you’ve learned, what the key things are that you want people to take away.
And now, you want to get those ideas in front of more people and hopefully impress them and intrigue them, maybe even inspire them, to come over to your show and take a longer look. And this is where working smarter, not harder, is important. Instead of just banging away at your own show — obviously you have to keep producing content and keep up your schedule — but don’t just keep doing that and expect people to come to you. Go out and target where those people are.
And a lot of times, those are people listening to other shows, reading other blogs. Identify that. Do what you can to provide value to that showrunner and to that audience, having the faith that you will eventually be paid back with people coming to your show, giving it a longer look, and maybe even subscribing.
But casting a much wider net now than what you have been doing before, and doing it with confidence, because you’re better at explaining your ideas now. You have it narrowed down more — what you are, what you stand for, what those core principles are. Now it’s time to go wide, and that’s a huge step in the distribution of your show.
Step 2: Directory Diving
Jonny Nastor: The second one of the distribution part of your show is the directory diving. And this is sort of the spark that then, when I was reading this book over lunch, kind of ignited the whole thing, ignited this episode — which was, the idea of we’ve spent a lot of time talking to you about starting a podcast, running the first 10 episodes, 20 episodes, all the way up to the first 50.
And we emphasize how important it is to focus on one or two channels, so one or two directories — so iTunes and, say, Stitcher, now Google Play. One or two of those, and focus hard on those because they’re big, massive pools of shows, and they need your laser focus on those and pushing as many people, subscribers, and listeners to those specific places as possible so that you can move up the ranks and get seen by more people.
This is distribution, how it works, and it’s not only going to make you lose focus by trying to get into 25 directories in the first couple weeks of your show, but really, more than that, it affects the fact that you cannot drive enough people and get enough people subscribing in just that one place. iTunes, still to this day, is like 80 to 85 percent of all podcast downloads that I get come through iTunes. It’s absolutely how it works. There are hundreds of directories around now, and 85 percent. If you’re ever looking for that 20 percent of effort that will get you that 80 percent of results, that whole 80-20, iTunes is absolutely it.
But now, since you’re hitting episode 50 and you’re moving forward, now’s the time to allow an hour a week, say, half an hour a week, whatever you have extra, to find and submit your show to, say, two, three, four, or five new directories every week. And do that for the next two months or three months.
Some of these directories might only get you a 1,000 listens over the next year or two, but that’s a 1,000 people out there listening. Literally, a directory is where you submit your feed URL, and it has to get approved or whatever it takes. Then it gets submitted, and it’s there. Now every time you post a new episode, it goes out to more and more people.
Yes, there’s less and less and less and less people at some of these directories, but it’s the concerted effort of your part to get them into everywhere now that people want to consume your show via audio, that you are going to be there. Again, the first 50 episodes, you need to focus. You need to focus on iTunes, and then pick your other one that you want, whether that’s Stitcher, Google Play, whatever that happens to be. But now it’s time to really make time every single week. Make a goal that you’re going to submit to two, or three, or four, or five new directories.
We did an episode where I think we listed 10 or 15 different podcast directories you could start with, and I’ll link, again, to that in the show notes for you, so you can track it down. But you Google ‘podcast directories,’ and I’m sure there’s hundreds of them at this point. So start with the bigger ones, obviously, because you’re going to get more return. But really, really make an effort to every single week hit your goal of submitting two new directories, and keep going until you absolutely run out of them.
Jerod Morris: I can’t emphasize this enough. So, Jonny, last week I counted, and we have done now 306 episodes of The Assembly Call, between postgame shows and just other off-season episodes, that kind of thing. Just this past week, I added the The Assembly Call to SoundCloud. About a month and a half ago I added The Assembly Call to iHeartRadio. Maybe about three months before that, we got on Spreaker. Six months or so before that we got on TuneIn Radio. I say this to underscore the point, Jonny, that you make about, in the beginning, really, really focus.
If you look at The Assembly Call right now, it looks like it’s everywhere, and so if you’re newer, even if you’re at 50 episodes, you might say, “Okay, well, shoot, I need to be everywhere, too.” Well, just understand how that evolves, and understand that the focus, especially early, was all iTunes. And then we got on Stitcher after that. I believe after that we made the switch to recording our show on YouTube so that we could also be in YouTube.
So it was kind of step by step, and finding, when there was a little bit of time here and there, to really investigate it, and get into this, that, and the other directory, and then adding it to the autoresponder when people subscribe, to let them know, “Hey, here are all the different ways that you can subscribe to our show and that you can connect with us,” to give people more options.
So I do think this absolutely needs to be in your long-term plan. It’s something that you want to do systematically, but again, make sure that you are focusing, especially early, because you can’t do them all well in the beginning. You eventually want to have them all, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t actually detract from your ability to focus and get subscribers in one place because you’re trying to do everything.
And I speak from experience because I’m still episode 300 and some, and I probably could have done a little bit faster. But it just goes to show you, you can effectively grow an audience. You don’t have to be in all of these places, but you want to have a plan to get there eventually.
Step 3: Pay to Play
Jerod Morris: All right, and now, the third section in distribution, which is pay to play. So you have your calls to action that are pushing listeners to your email list, and you have a plan for turning those subscribers into fans. When that is in place, you can now use paid ads to drive new listeners directly to your episodes. Yes, paying for advertising, whether it be on Facebook or Twitter, to send people to episodes, obviously in hopes that they listen and in hopes that they subscribe. That’s why you want to have your calls to action in place and a plan to turn those subscribers into fans.
So when you’re starting out, and your call to action is to give you a rating and review — because you’re really focused on iTunes, driving iTunes, and pushing your show up there — it’s too costly to pay for ads. There’s not really, in a lot of ways, a direct or an indirect return on what you’re paying for. But at 50 episodes, that’s changed. You’ve spent that time in iTunes. You’ve really focused there.
Now that you have a more mature site and a more mature funnel, now you can pay for those ads to get people to listen to the shows. And you can draw a more direct line between, “Okay, this money that I spend on this ad was successful because it helped lead to this many subscribers.” And if you have a good plan for those subscribers, that can eventually lead to your profit, whether that’s direct, indirect, or intrinsic profit, whatever you’re focusing on at this time.
But you’re at the point now where you can start considering pay to play. And unfortunately, with the way social media has gone, a lot of times to get the reach, to get the attention that maybe you could have gotten without paying three or four years ago, much, much harder to do now. So if you’re going to be realistic about social media, figuring out when that time is that you’re going to have to start paying to play is a smart thing to do and a mature thing to do as a showrunner.
But now is the point in time where you can start thinking about it. Just make sure that you have a plan for what those people are going to do when they listen, and what you’re going to do with them when they subscribe, so that you actually get a return on this investment that you’re making in the paid ads.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, and this is not just the last point on our list. This is, and should be, your last step of the evolution. So with the show, in the evolution, you double down or you doubled back. Then you’ve stepped up your game, in whatever way you see necessary. And you began to monetize, whether that’s through sponsors or affiliates, but you began to monetize. This monetization is going to be one of the things that is going to directly allow you to pay to play at that last step.
Then, as you move beyond the ears and find ways to repurpose your content, you’re going just to keep building more audience. That audience, again, can be further monetized, with getting people onto email and then learning to teach people what you know, with workshops, webinars, mini courses, paid or free. All of that is working to build your audience to add back to monetization, which, again, in turn, allows you and gives you more revenue to pay to play and continue to get that funnel going or that process going, I should say.
Then when you go into distribution, you’re going wide, and you’re reaching out to everyone in your market. You’re kind of becoming more known as an authority and also as somebody that can be worked with and can be helped to grow their show further. Then you make a plan to dive deep into directories, and focus every single week. Set yourself a goal — whether it’s one, or two, or five directories a week — submit those every single week, and hit that goal. All of these things lead up to your show being better. It changes what you’ve done up till now, but it is what’s going to get you to where you want to be at episode 100.
And then it ties into paying to play, which is because everything else is set up before this, the eight points before this and the eight steps, those are the ones that are going to allow you and give you the revenue to create that remarkable show and to further build that audience even further.
Jerod Morris: Absolutely. So two calls to action here at the end of this episode. You choose which one fits best for you. The first is, if you are the person that we have been talking to at this episode, if you are past 50 episodes, then we’d like for you to let us know which of the nine elements that we just talked about here in the evolution of the showrunner are you going to do next — which is the right one for you right now?
Are you right there at that point of doubling down and doubling back? Or have you kind of gotten past that a little bit, and you’re ready to go deep, or you’re ready to take that step of directory diving? Tweet us, @JerodMorris, @JonNastor. Let us know because we’re really curious. We want to know. Let us know what that next step is.
Now, maybe you’re not at this point yet. Maybe you’re still in the beginning phase. Maybe you’re still in the exploratory phase, and you’re still thinking about whether you even want to launch a podcast.
Well, we have something for you, too. It’s called What Could Happen If You Launch a Podcast in the Next 30 Days? And if you go to Showrunner.FM/Report, you will find our report, The Beginner’s Guide to Launching a Remarkable Podcast, which will help you both make that decision and then take the next steps once you have made that decision, if it is in the affirmative, that yes, you’re going to be a showrunner.
And of course, that’s the one that we suggest, and hopefully are inspiring you to make. But this report is a simple, no-frills, nine-step plan to get your podcast off the ground and to get it rolling. And it is geared toward beginners, but it’s not just for beginners because everything in there is good review. Because as you move forward as a podcaster, as a showrunner, it can be easy to start focusing on D, E, and F steps, and forgetting about the ABCs. But you’ve got to make sure that your show is built on a foundation of the ABCs, and that’s what we go through in this report.
So go to Showrunner.FM/Report. All you have to do is submit your email address. You’ll also get a very helpful autoresponder series that will go through some additional thought processes that you need as a showrunner. So go to Showrunner.FM/Report. Submit your email address. Get that report. Or if you’re already past that 50-episode mark, send us a Tweet. Let us know which step is next for you.
Jonny Nastor: That was fun.
Jerod Morris: That was fun. Guess we’ll talk to him next week.
Jonny Nastor: I think we will.
Jerod Morris: I think we will. Talk to you then, everybody.