This article was written by Tom Hunt
Ever wonder why weight loss specialists always advise you to throw out all of your unhealthy food if you want to get fit?
Surely if you wanted to each that bag of chips, you would just head to the shop to get them, so why does it matter?
Or, even if they were in the cupboard, you have the self control to resist them, right?
I’m not so sure. Maybe they know something that we don’t.
How about when you commit to that 6 month blog posting schedule but then stop publishing after week 7 because you no longer have the motivation from day 1?
There must be a way those top bloggers manage to a long term, regular content schedule…
After nearly 4 years in online business, I’ve realized the importance of setting up conditions to make the achievement of a goal inevitable, as opposed to relying on your “self control”.
Systems like removing the unhealthy food from your house, placing your alarm clock on the other side of the room so you have to get up to turn it off or using software to physically block you from using Facebook.
This came to head again as I was considering the possibility of starting a daily podcast for a new business I was about to launch. I asked 12 top podcasters why you should NOT start a podcast.
And one of the most common answers was:
“Only if you are willing to commit long term”
“A podcast takes commitment and consistency to be successful” – @AndrewWarner
These answers made me think:
“What are the conditions that I can put in place that will make committing to podcasting for the long term inevitable?”
I needed a system.
In this post, I’ll teach you exactly how to make a podcast. I'll outline the system I’ve built to deliver a daily podcast with just 5 hours of my time and $30 of the Virtual Valley marketing budget per week.
We’ll then go on to investigate the method used to propel this very podcast to the #1 spot of the Business New & Noteworthy section of iTunes just 1 month after I decided to start podcasting:
But first, we need to narrow down your podcast topic.
4 Simple Questions to Narrow Down Your Podcast Topic
Your topic selection is crucial if you’re committing to your podcast for the long term.
If you wake up to record each day/week/month and you couldn’t care less about the topic which you will not last very long in the podcasting game.
Here are the questions that you should ask yourself during the your topic selection period:
Will this topic add value to your audience?
The goal of any content marketing activity should be to add value to your audience, full stop.
We chose to document our journey from idea to selling the business for 7 figures over two years in a daily podcast. This is valuable to our audience of startups and small businesses founders – it inspires and helps them to learn from our mistakes.
Does the value that you add by educating or inspiring through your content naturally lead onto your audience investing in your product/service?
You're in this to make money, right?
You don't want to just frivolously throw it out the window.
That's why you need to justify your investments with the potential return.
And luckily this post is ALL about reducing this initial investment to increase the likelihood of a positive ROI.
In 0-$4 Million, we share EXACTLY how we are growing and plan to grow our online business…
So our audience learns from our mistakes and implement what has worked for us, their online business should also grow…
And what is the next logical step for an entrepreneur to take when their business grows?
Well, you expand your team to free up your time for those high $ value tasks and it just so happens our marketplace makes this incredibly easy to do.
Do you LOVE this topic?
Podcasting is not a get rich quick scheme.
If you want to make money from a podcast, you’ve got to be in it for the long term.. If you can’t research, connect and speak passionately about your topic, it’s going to be a long, hard road ahead of you.
I love talking about startups, marketing growth and outsourcing, all of which are frequent topics on the 0-$4 Million Podcast. This makes my job a lot easier.
Can you leverage other positive outcomes through podcasting?
How else could podcasting make your life a little more awesome?
For example, if you interview top influencers in your industry, you can develop relationships with them. And you know how important relationships are, right?
People are much more likely to want to speak to you if the conversation is recorded and broadcast to your audience.
With 0-$4 Million,we track daily metrics and progress and make sure to review on a daily basis regardless, but it will be hard to ignore these if they have to be recorded on a podcast each day.
How to Decide on the Format of Your Podcast
After you’ve decided on the topic for your podcast, it's time to decide on the format. What type of podcast are you going to create? You have a few options.
Option 1: An Interview Podcast
Everyone and their dog is starting an interview podcast. It makes sense, too. Interview podcasts are great because:
You can tap into the audiences of your interviewees
It’s great for making new friends
Single voice podcasts can become boring
Tapping into the audiences of the influencers that you interview will have a BIG impact on the exposure of your podcast.
However, I have never been one to move with the trends, which is why we chose…
Option 2: The Documentary
We choose to create a new content category: “a business documentary”, that would chart our journey from idea to selling the business for seven-figure in 2 years through a series of monthly blog posts.
After spending time listening to a number of other entrepreneurial podcasts and wishing to relive my days as a student radio station presenter (If you studied at Imperial College London, you probably listened to: Break Yourself Live on IC Radio 7-8pm every Tuesday during term time), I was inspired to create a podcast to supplement the written content.
If learning about YOUR journey could add value to your audience and you are willing to share your successes and failures (there will be many), this could be a viable format for your podcast.
E.g. The audience of your dog training podcast are probably not interested in the evolution of your business but would be interested in listening to your journey training a particularly naughty spaniel.
Option 3: The 5 o'Clock News (For Your Industry)
If you exist in a vibrant and constantly changing industry, there could be value in collating and summarizing news on a regular basis through your podcast.
Remember that in this world of information overload, immense value can be produced through curation as opposed to creation.
Your podcast does not have to adopt any of these formats exclusively, it could contain a segment with each of these, or even vary between episodes.
How to Choose the Length of Your Show
If you podcast consistently, you need to be able make it as easy as possible for you to create the content at the quality standards required to thrive.
With this in mind, it may not be the best idea to commit to releasing a daily 40 minute episode if you are already strapped for time Plus, if you have not chosen the interview route, people probably don’t want to listen to your voice for that long each day 😉
You need to hit the sweet spot between creating engaging content and ensuring consistency.
Why You Must Include Regular Features
Regardless of which format you choose, you must include and maintain consistent features within your show.
Now I am not exactly sure why audiences enjoy regular features, but we have to take a leap of faith due to the fact that just about every successful TV/Radio show contains regular features, there must be a reason.
This could be in the form of a consistent set of questions you ask each interviewee, an update on the news in your industry or a question from your audience.
With 0-$4 Million, each 10 minute episode contains 3 main segments:
Update – Metrics/progress
Content – One learning or obstacle we have faced that week
Resource – One resource that we have used on journey
We chose to include the final Resource section as we felt it would add value to the audience but would also enable us to reach out the people responsible for those resources each day to request them to share the show:
After you’ve chosen regular features, you can start creating episodes.
How to Start Your Podcast
We now need to define and document the end to end process that will be followed periodically to record, edit, tag and distribute each episode.
You will need to move through one full iteration of the podcasting process, documenting everything along the way in a Working Procedure, before outsourcing anything.
Preparing Your Podcast
The amount of preparation required for your podcast will depend on its format:
Interview – Requesting interviews, dealing with interview requests, preparing questions
Business Documentary – Tracking metrics, preparing content and resources to share
News Update – Reviewing and curating news
There are parts of each of these tasks that could easily be handed over to your General Virtual Assistant, once you are completely aware of what is required and have documented each activity in your Working Procedure.
Recording Your Episodes
It is important that the raw .mp3 files for your podcast are created by the host of the podcast: YOU.
If possible,block out time in your calendar where you can record a number of episodes in one session and then over time, this session will be incorporated into your daily/weekly/monthly routine.
With 0-$4 Million, I record a 2 minute daily update on the previous day’s metrics and progress during my morning ritual and then record the rest of the podcast content in one session each Friday morning
This is literally EVERYTHING I have to do for the creation and distribution of the 0-$4 Million Podcast, awesome right?
Once per week I then upload all of the un-edited .mp3 files in a specified folder in Google Drive.
Document your recording schedule and upload location in your Working Procedure.
Editing and Polishing Your Episodes
This is the one task you are NOT actually required to perform (unless you have editing skills), prior to outsourcing.
However, you will need to provide an outline of the show to act as a guidelines for your editor in your Working Procedure. here is an example of ours:
00:00 – Segment 0 – Intro
00:10 – Recorded Intro With Music
00:30 – Segment 1 – Update and Metrics
03:30 – Music fade
03:40 – Segment 2 – Core Content
08:00 – Music fade
08:10 – Segment 3 – Resource
09:50 – Music fade
10:00 – Call To Action and Consistent Goodbye
How to Make Sure People Can Find Your Podcast?
To increase the chances of people finding your podcast in each directory and to increase the likelihood that someone will want to listen, you need to tag your edited .mp3 accurately.
This can be completed very easily within iTunes, which also enables you to upload your artwork, document your actions in your Working Procedure.
Upload Your Podcast
Your edited and tagged .mp3 file will need to be uploaded to a separate podcast host to ensure fast streaming, we use Libsyn:
Document your login credentials, podcast tags and any scheduling information in your Working Procedure.
Share Your Podcast
Once your podcast has been uploaded to Libsyn it will automatically syndicate to any podcast directory you have submitted to (iTunes, Stitcher…), however your work does not stop there. Create a blog post with your embedded podcast file and show notes (for bonus points, offer a content upgrade to harvest the email addresses of your podcast) and share this on your social media profiles with each show.
You also will want to integrate Soundcloud with our podcast host (this article shows how to do this with Libsyn) to enable our audio file to be added to your Soundcloud feed:
Now you have your podcast episodes syndicating to Soundcloud, create an IFTTT recipe:
To automatically Tweet a “playable“ link to your Soundcloud embedded podcast file into the newsfeed of your followers
That is the current extent of the automated distribution of our podcast.Though I am sure that further marketing and distribution process will be added in the future.
As you move through the process, you MUST record every little step in your Working Procedure (with images and video if necessary).Here is a copy of our full process. Feel free to download and use as a basis for your Working Procedure.
How To NOT Give Up On Your Podcast Publishing Schedule
Once your full podcast process is documented and is being operated by yourself, it is now time to identify which parts of the process you should be operating and which you shouldn’t.
Once this is clear, you can now start to build the system that will churn out reproducible, high quality podcasts each day/week/month.
Podcasting is a lot of work, and it would be very difficult to do it alone. That's where a virtual assistant comes in.
I would recommend the following assignment:
Content Preparation – You/General Virtual Assistan
Audio Recording – You
Editing – Editor
Tagging – General Virtual Assistant
Uploading – General Virtual Assistant
Distribution – General Virtual Assistant
With this assignment we are able to produce 0-$4 Million with just 5 hours of my time and $30 of the Virtual Valley marketing budget:
5 hours per week – Record the content for each episode
$15 per week – Spartak (Editor) for 5 times 10 minute episodes
$15 per week – Zandro (GVA) for 5 hours (@$3 per hour) to tag, upload and distribute
Let’s get hiring…
Head to Upwork and create a job posting entitled:
(Be sure to change up the title to suit your industry)
Your description does not have to go into too much detail:
Now, perform a search for freelancers:
Invite those that seem credible to your job post, within a couple of hours you should have proposals from around 10 freelancers.
Drop the most promising a message through the platform to explain little more about the project and then send over the first audio files to test out their skillz prior to awarding the contract.
Review the output and choose the best and create a contract through Upwork:
(Feel free to head to Spartak’s profile if you would like to hire him, he’s awesome) As for your General VA, we have made a list of all the possible options here and have documented our learnings from hiring 57 Virtual Assistants here. Unfortunately our GVA Zandro, is not up for hire, but if you would like him to browse the Virtual Valley database to find you an awesome General Virtual Assistant for $3-5 per hour, drop him a message here.
You can now share the Working Procedure of the podcast process you created in the last stage with your new GVA and Editor, have them review the process and then contact you with any questions.
Once answered, you are now ready to run the first podcast episode through your process!
The first couple of times may not go 100% to plan, this is natural. With time the process will mature and your Working Procedure will become more and more efficient with constant improvements being applied (and documented in your Working Procedure).
And in a couple of weeks you will be surprised to see new episodes appear on your iTunes podcast page as it will hardly feel like you have contributed.
How To Hit #1 iTunes New & Noteworthy
You podcast system is primed and ready to go, all you need is some exposure…
It would make sense to place advertisements around the internet in front of your potential listeners right?
This would be a viable approach, but there is one problem.
I am making the assumption that your podcast is yet to be monetized and therefore you are uncertain of your ROI, which gives you good reason to be cautious about a large upfront advertising cost.
But what if I could tell you that we could place your podcast in front of thousands of hungry podcast consumers just two days after launch?
You would probably say:
“Ok Tom, but didn't we discuss that it may not be a good idea of invest in ad spend at this point?”
Yes, we did.
The method I am about to share with you is free. Free in terms of financial investment, and requires just a few hours of your time.
Yep, we're talking New & Noteworthy:
Apple will feature your podcast within their New & Noteworthy section if you receive a certain number of downloads, reviews and ratings in 24-48 hour period (the contributing factors are kept secret but these are widely accepted by podcasters to have a big effect.)
I am about to reveal the formula we followed to skyrocket: 0-$4 Million: A Startup's Bootstrapped Journey To A Seven-Figure Exit to the #1 position in Business New & Noteworthy and #14 in the overall iTunes New & Noteworthy sections, with zero financial investment and just a few hours of my time in the launch.
I share these methods in the assumption that your podcast produces awesome audio content that truly adds value to your audience. As if it does not, there is no point in you reading further.
It will be possible for you to reach the heights of the iTunes New & Noteworthy section but these efforts will be in vain, as these subscribers will simply fade away.
With that said, let’s move on and bring you some well deserved free exposure…
1. Have 5-10 Episodes Loaded In iTunes
As mentioned above it is widely accepted in the podcasting community that download figures play a large part in your New & Noteworthy ranking, so it would make sense to maximize the amount of downloads that it is possible for you to receive during your launch period.
Thus, make sure that your iTunes page is populated by at least 5-10 existing episodes when you decide to start your launch.
2. Create A SIMPLE Instruction Page
I LOVE this behavioral model:
Though I won't labor this point as I don't want this to turn into a psychology lesson.
Look at the x axis…
This graph shows that if we are able to increase the ability (moving from “Hard to Do” to “Easy to Do”) that a person has to perform a certain action, the more likely they are to do so, when presented with a trigger (See Stage 4).
With our launch, we built a specific page on our blog with the sole purpose of walking our supporters hand in hand through the subscription, rating and review process in iTunes for BOTH mobile and desktop devices.
3. Launch With A BIG Episode
Landing in the New & Noteworthy section in iTunes is a vanity metric.
You don't get paid for reaching #1 and it is unlikely that the world will become a better place by you landing there.
No, you will make the world a better place (and get paid) if you are able to add valuable information to your audience through your podcast going forward.
Though to be able to do this, you need their attention.
And the best way to do this is to ensure the episode that you release on launch day is your podcast defining, flagship episode that adds MASSIVE value to your listeners to ensure that they keep coming back for more.
We decided to launch with a live customer feedback session with one of our first users as we felt this could provide really useful insight to our listeners as well as giving them a good idea of the brutal honesty that the podcast would become known for.
4. Promotion Hustle
Where the rubber meets the road…
Everything is in place, the podcast, the instruction page, an awesome episode, all you need now is the listeners.
And unless you already have 20k followers on Twitter and a 5k list of double opt in email subscribers, you will need some manual outreach in order to get your podcast featured.
Here are the channels we utilized:
This is the email we sent to the full Virtual Valley list, my personal email list and list associated with a monthly London Startup Marketing Event I organize:
Note the following aspects of the mail:
- Show an awareness of their time in the opening
- Build motivation and urgency by explaining the situation and providing an incentive
- Providing clear links for instructions and sharing.
Try to include similar elements in your email, too. Remember that making it explicit and easy for people to take action is key to follow through.
Building Buzz on Social Media
We performed a number of social updates throughout the 48 hours of the launch on each of our active channels.
Once we started to appear in the charts we made further updates to inform people of our progress, which also provide social proof to attract further new subscribers:
Communities (Slack, Facebook, LinkedIn)
I am part of a number of online communities and groups within Facebook, LinkedIn and Slack that contain potential subscribers and reviewers.
Because I’m a nice guy, I initially reached out to the owners of these groups for their permission:
Which led to this well received post:
And then proceeded to post in each of the other relevant communities that I was part of without permission of the owner and encountered no issues.
Manual outreach can be very effective for getting the word out there about your podcast. Here are the platforms we used: Twitter
If you have been tweeting for a while, you should have started to build up relationships with other influencers in your niche…
It’s now time to drop them each an individual Tweet requesting them to subscribe/review OR share your podcast. With our business and my personal profiles, we have Twitter Lists assigned specifically for the purpose of networking with influencers in our niche, therefore we were able to scroll through those lists.
I literally went through ALL of my personal Facebook messages and messaged around 50% of my previous 100 people with a link to the review page and a short message asking them for a favour.
Email For the specific influencers that you think would share your podcast with their audience, I would recommend emailing them as well as Tweeting/Messaging.
The email copy itself can be similar to the bulk mail you send to your list/lists but I would include a specific message to that person so that they are aware you have sent it JUST to them.
For the next 48 hours, anyone that owns an iPhone comes within a 5 metre radius of you must approached and requested to subscribe and review.
Not really… (Though that would be a good reason to speak to someone on the bus.)
But when you are dinner with your parents, or in the coffee shop with your friends, hassle them until you get the subscription and review, they all count.
5. Be A Legend
An overarching point…
And I am skirting the line between being vain and being real.
There is no way that our podcast would have received so much support in these early stages if I had not been adding value to these communities for the past 6 months.
When you have continuously been creating free content, retweeting people, helping and connecting people and you finally go to them and ask them for 2 minutes of their time, what do you think they will say?
So if you're considering launching your podcast and don't have a list of 50 people you would be happy to personally approach for support on launch day, I'm afraid you will have to go back to the drawing board my friend, it's time to become a legend.
We have effectively “removed the bag of chips” from your house to prevent you from eating them. And you now know how those top content producers stay consistent over the long term:
We have set up the conditions, in the form of an outsourced system that will make your ability to podcast consistently, inevitable.
“You shouldn't start a podcast if you're not committed to serving your audience for the long-term” – @ChrisDucker
And finally, I need a favour… You know that friend who is always saying that they plan to start a podcast but still hasn’t? Feel free to use the social icons to the left to send this post over to them to show what is possible.
Tom is the Founder of Virtual Valley, a platform that connects Entrepreneurs and Rockstar Virtual Assistants with the mission of giving Entrepreneurs back 1 million hours of their time by 2018. Tom also sends an AWESOME weekly marketing tip to all the legends that sign up here.