1. Tell us what you do, what your audience is.
Podcast Answer Man is my primary audience that I mostly focus on. I teach people, small business owners, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, I teach them how to take their message, their business, and their life to the next level.
2. Tell us a little bit about your entrepreneur journey so our listeners will know about you.
Yeah, so I started podcasting as a hobby about the TV show Lost, and it was just a lot of fun for me, I was a geek and technology enthusiast. I started in December 2005 and by my third episode, I had 17,000 subscribers. At the time I was an insurance agent and I was very successful, worked in a family-run insurance agency. The agency has been in the family since 1935 and I was next in line to take it over. I thought that was what I was supposed to do in life because that’s the way I was brought up, obviously.
Anyway, when I started podcasting and had this entire audience, all of a sudden people wanted to know about other areas of my life and my wife and I were asked for advice in a lot of different areas, so we decided that—by the way, that we’re not devoted to the TV show Lost, so we created other podcasts, like Family From the Heart, Encouraging Others Through Christ, Business Tech Weekly, and all these other different shows.
As a result of that, I got to the place where I fell so much in love with podcasting that I could not see myself doing insurance for the rest of my life. I wanted to do what felt most beneficial to the people that I was serving, I wanted to actually serve a larger number of people than just one on one clients through insurance.
In insurance, it got to the place where I felt like I was just an order taker, but with podcasting, I really felt like I was changing people’s lives, helping them to have a better life and so that’s what I wanted to do. After 2 years of podcasting as a hobby, where I was working about 40 hours a week in insurance and about 20-40 hours a week in podcasting, after 2 years, I decided to quit my career in insurance and pursue podcasting full time.
My first year that I did podcasting full time, I made $11,000 in personal income and that was the most difficult year financially, however, it was the most rewarding year of my life. I had never had so much stress, but at the same time, I was so full of joy and passion every single day, I couldn’t wait to wake up and start the day. In fact, I worked 7 days a week, 14 hours a day and I absolutely loved it.
We were debt free before I quit my job and we had our mortgage, was the only thing that we had going for us. We were able to make it, I had a pension, we just barely eked by. 2008 was extremely difficult, 2009 was a little bit better, 2010 things started to take off and then from late 2010 through today has been a wild ride. People have come to follow my story and now I actually have literally millions of people around the world who know who I am and my business made over a half-million dollars last year.
3. So how did you build the audience? How do you recommend people build the audience with a podcast?
Well, it depends on what podcast they’re doing, what their goals are, why they want to do it and I would instruct them to do it different ways. It’s a tough question to answer in a generalized way, but my recommendation is to actually pick a niche audience, a niche topic, and go out and find people who are passionate about whatever topic it is you’re podcasting about.
My own personal approach is start slow and go with measured growth. If you go and find your first hundred subscribers, the majority of podcasters out there, they say, “How can I get another hundred subscribers? How do I get to 1,000 subscribers?” When they get to 1,000 subscribers, they’re, “How can I get to 5,000 subscribers?” My question is, if you have 1,000 subscribers and all of a sudden you’re asking, “How do I get to 5,000 subscribers?” my thought on that process is, you shouldn’t go to 5,000, you’re not even caring for the 1,000 that you have now. If you use the phrase, “I only have,” and you say 1,000 people, it’s like you’ve obviously never spoke in a conference with 1,000 people sitting in front of you, because that’s a lot of people and if those people are listening to your podcast every single week, you have so much influence, so much power at your disposal, and you’re not taking advantage of it.
4. How does podcasting help you make a connection with your audience?
Well, the reality is, is that the only other two options out there, to actually communicate to your audience is through a blog or through video. Well, with a blog there are over 450,000 active English language blogs and the average person who reads a blog post will never give you any more than three minutes of their time, on average, three minutes maximum.
Now because of that, people go over to video, they say, “Well, YouTube is the number two search engine in the world.” There are over 100 hours of brand new video content uploaded to YouTube every single minute. It’s over 4 million hours of new video every month. The average amount of time people will give you for a video, to actually listen or to consume your video, is right around 3-1/2 to 5 minutes, maximum 10 minutes on average. So you’re not going to have a lot of connection, a lot of influence with your audience there.
What you can do with an audio podcast, is you can actually say, “You know what? You don’t have to stop doing your work, you don’t have to stop doing this to watch. You can actually listen to me while you’re driving the car—which by the way, 97 million people in the United States drive to work alone every single day. Average commute time? 26.2 minutes. 47 million people have a gym membership, they can listen to you while they’re driving and hear every word you say and still be fully engaged with whatever it is they’re doing, whether it’s driving, walking the dog, jogging, doing the dishes. Here’s the thing, the average podcast subscriber that listens to you, listens to your audio podcast, they will listen to you for 20 minutes all the way up to an hour and never miss a single minute, not a single word you say, and they will listen to you every single week without fail.
5. So if our viewers want to get more of you and learn how to do podcasting, where should they go?
I would tell them the first place to go is to LearnHowToPodcast.com, that’s my basic foundation, free tutorial and it’s not even a sales funnel or anything like that, I don’t even ask for your email address, so go there, LearnHotToPodcast.com.
6. If they want more of you, if they want more of your course, where would they go next?
When you’re on the site, there is the last video, we’ll talk about all the different products and services that I have and stuff like that. Again, no high pressure sales or anything like that. The only thing I do today is group coaching through my course called Podcasting A to Z, which is a four-week course where I teach people who want to get very serious about taking their message, their business, and their life to the next level. I work with them over a course of four weeks in an online training course.
Watch our interview with Cliff Ravenscraft at Social Media Marketing World