Podcasting definitely changed my life and so I am an evangelist for audio! Whether you want to start or improve your own show, or become a guest on other people's, you'll find lots of useful tips in this interview with Jerod Morris.
In the introduction, I give an update from New Orleans where I've been co-writing a dark fantasy story with Lindsay Buroker, J Thorn and Zach Bohannon this week. Lots of pics on my Facebook fiction page, JFPennAuthor.
If you like crime thrillers, you can get 12 free ebooks from British crime authors for a limited time. Click here to check them out.
This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets through the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.
Jerod Morris is the Vice President of marketing for Rainmaker Digital. He manages ongoing education at Digital Commerce Institute, and hosts The Showrunner on the Rainmaker FM podcast network. He also has a personal site www.primility.com.
- Why podcasting is having its moment now and whether it's too late to begin
- Basic podcasting tools and practices beginners can start with
- Suggestions for dealing with fear and interview tips
- How to be a good interviewee
- How to find your audience and get your podcast discovered
- Should podcasters worry about monetization?
- The future of podcasting, including Virtual Reality
You can find Jerod at The Showrunner and on Twitter @JerodMorris.
Go to www.showrunner.FM/report and enter your email address for the Beginners Guide to launching a remarkable podcast.
Transcript of Interview with Jerod Morris
Joanna: Hi everyone, I'm Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com, and today I'm here with Jerod Morris. Hi, Jerod.
Jerod: Hello Joanna, how are you?
Joanna: I'm great. It's so good to have you on the show. Just a little introduction.
Jerod is the Vice President of marketing for Rainmaker Digital. He manages ongoing education at Digital Commerce Institute, and hosts The Showrunner and The Digital Entrepreneur on the Rainmaker FM podcast network. And he also has a personal site primility.com which we're gonna come back to.
You do so much but we're going to focus in on podcasting today because we've both quite passionate about that, aren't we?
Jerod: Yes, and of all the things I do that's what I enjoy the most, so I can talk about it any time.
Joanna: Your show, The Showrunner is all about podcasting, so people can go listen to loads more stuff there. But first of all, why has podcasting become so prevalent now in terms of content marketing? It's been in the last couple of years, hasn't it?
It seems to have overtaken blogging or has it? What are your thoughts?
Jerod: I don't know that it has overtaken blogging. I think there are really three reasons why it's gotten big.
Number one, you had that watershed moment for podcasting when Serial happened, and Serial was the podcast that brought it into the mainstream not necessarily for podcast creators but for listeners, and obviously as we know when the demand goes up, when the audience grows in a particular medium, content creators like us are gonna flock there, and try to reach people.
I've been producing podcasts for a long time but Serial, for example, was when my wife first listened to a podcast. And it was when I knew, because she's was never really into consuming content online but when she started listening to podcasts I was like, “There's gonna be a lot more people who are coming to do this.” And so I think, you know, that was definitely one reason.
Another reason is the ability to create podcasts got easier, and got cheaper. Microphones got less expensive. And I think people realized, “Oh, this isn't really as difficult or as complicated as I thought.”
For a while I have a much more complicated microphone set up now, but for a while I just had a road podcast or mic that I plugged in via USB to my computer, and it wasn't that complicated. It actually surprised me how simple it was to get good enough audio. It wasn't like the quality that you would hear from the local radio station but it was good enough, and if your content is good enough, and you have that minimum level of audio quality, you're gonna be fine.
And then the third reason is, I think people like you and me who have been creating content for a long time recognized a different level of connection that you can get with a podcast. And this is why I think audiences flock to it, and again this is why content creators have flocked to it because the connection that you can get is so strong and it's so unique because there is something different about my voice being in your head, and my voice accompanying you on these intimate moments when we listen to podcasts.
Because a lot of times when we're listening to podcasts it's in the shower, it's on a walk, or doing dishes, or we're working out, or doing activities that typically we're only doing ourselves. Whereas before it might be music or it might be silence, either way, there's still that intimate feeling that develops there.
And so I think the ability to create that feeling and that connection was really valuable and really attractive to content creators like us. So I think those three reasons really started the podcast wave, and now, you know, we've just seen it seems like every month it gets a little bit bigger, and there's more podcasts out there.
But just because there are more shows out there, that doesn't mean that the opportunity has passed you by if you've been thinking about starting a podcast not even close.
Joanna: Yeah, and we'll come back to that. Your wife when she started listening to Serial, did she listen on her phone?
Joanna: Because that's the other thing, isn't it? Before smart phones, you would have to download on your computer, and then sync to your MP3 device, and then plug in.
I think the biggest shift I think for me personally is having them on my phone, and it's much easier to try out shows, isn't it?
Jerod: Yes, and I'm glad you pointed that out. I often forget that, and take that for granted because I've been listening too on my phone for so long but yes that made it so much easier for someone like her who hadn't done something like that. It was just like when she realized how to do it, it was just like punching up Spotify or Pandora, and being able to listen. So it's a great point.
Joanna: Yeah, and that's why I get so excited about the global internet coming to more developing countries because when they get smart phones, it's always gonna go boom!
Talking about things blowing up, you mentioned very quickly there about how we're not even touching the growth side of things yet, so is it too late? Many people feel it's too late to start a podcast, like my show has been going since 2009.
People feel like, maybe they've missed the curve, so are there too many podcasts?
Jerod: Not at all. Look, would you have rather started in 2008 and started building your audience then? It's like anything else. Of course you would rather started before but maybe you weren't ready, and maybe the audience wasn't there either.
I think now is a perfectly good time to start, and one of the advantages that you have if you start now is you can really identify where the gaps are in the market and really figure out what niche you want to begin with.
Because if you are going to start a show now I would advise not just picking a general topic and trying to go out the door with that and thinking that the audience will just flock. You do have to be savvy about it, you have to be intentional about who you're targeting.
And what you have now, are a lot of markets with a lot of experience with shows out there, and you can see which ones have succeeded, which ones haven't, and you can really identify, my topic is X, right? And there are five other shows out there about X, three of which have been successful two of which they don't even look like they're still going anymore.
But where is the gap in there that I can fit myself in? And so it allows you to make even a better choice as far as that goes, and what's important about that is you've gotta be different to attract that attention.
But then as the audience grows, as you start getting more attention, you can expand what you're talking about a little bit. But I think it's like anything else. Sometimes those constraints can be blessings, and I think now there's a bit more of a constraint in how you want to go out, and how narrow you wanna be in terms of your topic but that can actually really help you in the long run.
Joanna: Yeah, and there's certainly a lot more help around now. When I started podcasting, it really wasn't even podcasting. It was very different.
The other thing I notice is gender and racial differences, because to be blunt, the vast majority of podcasters are white American men. Would you agree with that?
Jerod: I think so. I don't know the exact numbers on that but just from anecdotal experience, I would agree with that.
Joanna: I was talking to Tara Gentile about how there are so few female podcasters with an entrepreneurial niche particularly. And then I was like, “Yeah, where are the other voices?” I'm excited about other people.
There's one guy, Amar Vyas, who listens to the show. He has the MyKitaab Podcast which is about the Indian book market and self-publishing, and I believe it's the first one, maybe the only one coming out of India in that niche.
So that's the other thing for people is to think much wider.
You can still talk about the same topic but you can talk about it with a different voice and a different perspective, and people will resonate with that in a different way.
Jerod: Absolutely, and again that's a great point. For someone who is thinking about starting a podcast, and you have your topic, and you go there. It can be a little bit intimidating to see 10 shows about a topic but that's just the starting point.
Now you've really got to look at what audiences are they targeting? What can I authentically bring to this conversation and who can I relate with? And then really see, and I think for the most part you'll find that niche, any niche that you can get into, and you just described one perfectly.
Joanna: So obviously, we don't have time to go exactly into all the technical detail on how to podcast, and when I started I just had a handheld recorder which I held next to the phone, an actual phone on speaker which is ridiculous, and you said you started with a basic mic.
If people are starting now, what is the baseline that they could get started with?
Jerod: If you really just want to start and start recording something, you could record something with the little earphones that have the microphone on the cord, is that gonna get you good audio? No, and you may record something especially if it's a monologue type podcast, and say, “Okay, this doesn't really sound good enough for me to go out and deliver to the audience”, and it may not.
But in terms of practice, just getting some practice recording which I think would be advisable for anybody especially if you haven't recorded before, something like that is fine.
I think if you decide that you're going to be serious about it, you can get a Plantronics headset microphone on Amazon for 20 to 25 bucks. And I think if your content is good, and if you have really niched down, and you're really speaking to a particular audience and bringing value, you can get by with that.
Going out with a few episodes to get by your minimum viable podcast. I think when you get to a serious level, when you're really gonna start to market this thing, and promote it, I would think that you would want at a minimum you could get, say…well, there's a couple different kinds and we don't need to go into all the details of them. But you can get a decent mic for 50 to 75 bucks. The Blue Yeti is an example of that, and that will give you definitely good enough audio to get moving.
Now once you get really serious, I have a PR40 mic that cost 350 bucks, and I viewed that as I earned this. By doing four or five shows for four or five years, and some of those shows are making money, and so I could reinvest that money but I'm glad I didn't do that right from the start.
I see some people make this mistake where they want to get all the equipment and spend a lot of time on that. Don't spend time on that, bootstrap it like you were talking about.
Where you've got your recorder, and you're holding it up to a phone like there is actually something about that experience that makes you, I think, appreciate what you're doing even more, and it's that bootstrap quality at the beginning. And so don't get so caught up in spending all the money.
Get that minimum level, get some experience, make sure that it's something you really want to do because the other thing about podcasting is you may get behind the mic and record 5, 10 episodes, and realize, I don't feel comfortable doing this. I don't like it, I would rather blog, I would rather write, and there is nothing wrong with that at all.
To me the only thing that would be wrong is thinking about doing a podcast and letting that fear, that apprehension prevent you from getting behind the mic in the first place. But when you do, you may not feel comfortable doing it, and that's totally okay. So don't invest all the money before you find that out or overestimate what they need in the beginning.
Joanna: I totally agree with you and it's interesting that you mentioned practice, and you've also mentioned the fear.
You and I have met in person so I wasn't too afraid of this call but I still get a hot palpitation before I call someone for an interview. I spoke to Steven Pressfield this week, I worship the guy, and I'm so nervous, and I'm worried about the tech failing, I'm worried about clocking off but just generally being terrible. I still have fear even all these years later.
You've done so many, so what are the things that you have learned? What are the biggest lessons around interviews, and tackling that fear?
Jerod: Well, the fear still comes. I actually appreciate the fear because that lets me know that I'm getting outside of my comfort zone a little bit. And if I had a chance to interview Steven Pressfield, I would be terrified too, and that would be good because that's obviously would be a step up for me in terms of who I'm interviewing.
I always want to feel that fear, otherwise I'm probably getting too comfortable in just producing the same content over and over again.
I think the other thing that helps me deal with the fear is the knowledge that it's going to be okay. I've had everything possible go wrong. I was interviewing Sally Hogshead once for the Copyblogger podcast, and realized about 25 minutes into it that I hadn't been recording the entire thing.
I felt so bad, and I had to just stop in the middle and say, “Sally, I'm sorry, but I haven't even been recording this.” And she's a busy person, so I thought whether I just blew my chance to get this interview, and she ended up being really nice about it, and we recorded it later, so that would have been terrible.
And obviously, then I used that to learn and have a little checklist of things to make sure that I do before I record, and I was just doing an episode of the Assembly Call actually two nights ago which is my post-game show for IU basketball games. This is our sixth season, we've done 300 episodes of it. It's broadcast live like on the radio and at sports bars in Bloomington, so there's a real live element to it.
Right in the middle of the show, the cord from my microphone fell out. It fell out and I'm like, “Oh, man,” and so because I've had those things happen just didn't panic, put it back in and was able to deal with it somewhat calmly.
Because again, what's the worst thing that's gonna happen? I think sometimes we feel that fear and we think, “Oh, we must be doing something wrong because the fear is here,” but I think the fear is…that's the direction that we need to walk in, and then I think just doing it, and going through everything that can go good and bad.
It's like an athlete, you get more reps, you start to feel better, you start to feel more confident, you can adjust to whatever presents itself. And so I think podcasting is like anything else. There's nothing that can replace just getting out and doing it, and you're probably going to stink at first, that's okay.
I have never talked to a podcaster who hasn't been mortified listening to their early episodes, and it's probably the same thing with a blogger or writer when you read your earliest drafts, your earliest stories but that's okay.
We all have to start somewhere, and so just to embrace that and embrace that experience, and that's what will really help overcome the fear is just stacking up episode after episode.
Joanna: The same applies to you writing books, of course.
Jerod: Oh yeah, I'm sure.
Joanna: So actually, the other thing I wanted to ask you about, one of the things I try and do is do my interviews earlier in the day for me which is normally afternoon because the American morning, my afternoon. Because if I get too tired, I can't bring energy into my voice, so is that something that you have to do? It's like you have to bring it.
It's a performance, and you have to smile because people can hear it in your voice. Have you learned how to do that better?
Jerod: Absolutely, there are definite techniques to being behind the mic that you will learn, and one of the hardest things, I don't know if you experience this but I hate listening to myself. I can't stand it like listening back to old podcasts, just listening to my own voice, there's something very difficult about it, and I found that a lot of people feel this way. And I have, finally now, after however many episodes it's been, gotten more comfortable doing that. And it really helps, you know, to kind of identify like…did you hear how I just said, you know right there?
Joanna: Oh, I do it too.
Jerod: This is something that I've really been working on, and I find that if I don't listen to my own shows on a somewhat regular basis, I fall back into that old habit, that verbal crutch I just did it again right there. So that really helps, and I think what you say about it being a performance, absolutely.
What's interesting about that is, for me I try and actually schedule my interviews in the afternoon because I tend to have a more natural, just be louder and more active as it is. And so I actually like doing that in the afternoon because I know that no matter what, I'll get like that. If it's an interview, and so I would rather save my focus time to work in the morning.
So you figure out how you are naturally and what works best for you but, yes, always be mindful of that reality and this is why listening back helps too. All people have is your voice.
There have been several studies that have shown that the audience can actually hear subtle changes in your voice to tell if you're scared, to tell if you're afraid, to tell if you're excited, to tell if you're enthusiastic, you really can't hide as much in your voice as you think maybe you can.
And so the more that again you can practice and be natural, and schedule your interviews like you do to fit the right time of day for you is extremely important because when it's just your voice, there's nowhere to hide when that voice is inside the audience members head, and they will follow your lead.
If you seem bored by an interview, they will be bored by the interview almost certainly no matter how exciting your audience member is, they will follow your cue, so it's always important to be mindful of that.
Joanna: A good question then from the other perspective because you and I are pro-podcasters, so when someone else invites us on the show, we know how to do the back and fourth, and of course the Skype makes it easier because we can see body language too which really helps. Sometimes when people do audio only, it's really hard.
But I've had people on who literally cannot do an interview well, so and I'm sure you've had that too.
For the listeners who are authors who may want to be on podcasts, what are your tips for being on a podcast, for being the interviewee, how can you make it easier for the podcaster who's interviewing you?
Jerod: Well, that's a great question. I think to a certain extent the podcaster needs to help bring that out. And as you interview people you will get better at this.
And if you're doing a podcast or a couple of things actually that I would say to help the person that you're interviewing, number one, and you did this is sending along some questions or letting the person know what to expect.
Because I think just being able to prepare, being able to think through what your answers might be, that will help you so that you don't get that deer in the headlights look when you get a question, and now it throws you off, you be prepared for that, be a little bit more relaxed.
The other thing when you're conducting interviews, it can be helpful if you have never interacted with this person before to try and schedule a little “green room time” before you're going to record, five or ten minutes, and let them know, “Hey, let's hop on maybe five or ten minutes early. We can go over the questions,” however you want to frame it. You can get a sense for how that person answers.
There are some people that you can schedule a 30-minute interview, and only ask three questions, and they just take it, and they go. And a lot of times it's good stuff, and you just want to stand back and get out of the way.
Other times you'll ask a question, and you might just get a one word response or you get one sentence, and you're waiting for a story, and then it abruptly stops, and it almost takes you by surprise. And so having an understanding or being somewhat prepared for how that person is can really help you know how to manage the interview because if it's going to be someone who stops very abruptly, you may need to add more color, more context to the interview, and to how you're asking questions. And it can really catch you off guard if it's your first time talking with someone, and that just happens in the interview, and you're caught.
I think I've done that before, and I'm like I'm not ready to ask the next question yet, and so you're kinda going on. And so on the point of the person being interviewed, if the podcaster who's interviewing has sent you a long questions take five, ten minutes, and just, you know, look at them and see these are all questions that I can answer pretty well, I've talked about this stuff before, but maybe there's not.
Maybe there are a couple questions that dive a little bit deeper and so you want to actually write out a quick answer just so you've gone through the thought process before you're live there on the interview. That can really help.
And some of the other things, frankly, are if you're being interviewed, to really think about the audience, respect the audience, respect the show, so try and be in a quiet environment because these are things if you don't do podcast right, I think about these things all the time because I'm always hosting shows.
But if you don't, you may not think about being in a quiet room, trying to be in a room that isn't really, really echoey, having some water right there in case you need to cough, knowing where the mute button is on Skype so you can hit it if you're gonna cough or sneeze, something like that. So those little things can really, really help, and that really goes on both sides.
Joanna: I'm actually on that because I want to add, I think one of the other things as the interviewee is to spend a couple of minutes actually looking at the person who's gonna interview you, actually look at their website, and see what they're about. Because then you can respect their audience more, like are their audience small business people or are they fictional authors, or who are they, so I think that's really important too.
But I want to come back to the technical side of podcasting. So discoverability with podcasts, right, because we have a big problem with discoverability with books, we have it with blogging although with blogging we've got like SEO. With podcasts, we don't have SEO right now because search engine optimization for people listening, because it's voice.
How can you be discovered as a podcaster? How do you get your stuff out there?
Jerod: I wouldn't totally discount search engine optimization because you do have an episode page, and so if you have topics that will be searched, and people search everything so presumably you will, you want to use your show notes page to focus the text content that is on there around the specific key words of that episode.
For instance, this episode right here you would want to have maybe somewhere in the title, “Tips on podcasting” or “Tips on podcasting for writers” or something like that in the headline because that's what people might search about to find the show, and if they find the show, then you've got a relatively detailed explanation of what we talk about, people might listen.
And if you really want to go into it, and you're focusing on SEO, adding transcripts to your podcast can really help. Now, those can be a little bit expensive and more time-consuming, so that's a decision that you have to make but there are some ways to leverage search engine optimization for podcasts.
The other thing to think about is iTunes discoverability or just podcast directory discoverability. And so it's really important to think both in what you name your show, and the metadata both of your show, and of the episodes to be strategic about that.
Who are you really targeting? So to give you an example, I mentioned the show the Assembly Call that I do, this is a show for fans of the Indiana University basketball team. Well, the name the Assembly Call is a clever play on the arena that Indiana plays in but no one is really, I mean, now that we've grown six years in some people are searching for the Assembly Call because they knew who we were. But in the beginning, no one knew who we were.
We wanted to attract people searching for Indiana Basketball podcasts, and so for the name in iTunes and in the metadata, in the feed for the name of the show, it was the Assembly Call-dash-Indiana University Basketball Podcast and Postgame Show.
Because that's what people were going to be searching on. Same thing in the description is you want to use those keywords in the description, and so just thinking through those things, there are some small simple things that you can set up that will help the show be discovered more.
When you do that, you really put yourself in a position that when people are searching, you pop up, and then you want to have some nice looking show art so that it attracts the eye. And then when people listen obviously then you've got to have a good product for people to listen to but that will help you at least get yourself in front of the type of people that you want to be attracted to your show.
Joanna: And I noticed a big bump in traffic and a big bump in just happiness of listeners when I moved to a weekly show rather than a sporadic twice a month, and also I changed my show art to have my face, my smiling face on.
Do you find that having at the same time every week is super important if you want your show to gain traffic attraction?
Jerod: Absolutely, I think that goes to the next level. And on our podcast The Showrunner and in our course, we really stress to people, “Don't think of your podcast as a podcast.”
Podcasts are On Demand MP3 files that people can listen to. You're producing a show, and what happens with the show? The term Showrunner comes from television, how does TV work? There's a set time when people are gonna be able to watch your show, and they can come, and they can watch it. Now they can record it, and they can watch it On Demand if they want to, but there is a next level of seriousness that your audience will take your show, and that you will take it, if you have a set time.
The Assembly Call is an example. Our live broadcast goes live as soon as the game ends. There is not a game that we are not there. I have a guest host if I can't be there or if for some reason we can't do a show which hasn't happened in three years, we will email our people, and let them know ahead of time.
Because the last thing we want, and that you want as a showrunner is someone going to look for your show and they don't find it there. Because if that happens once, there's a small little erosion of trust that happens. A small little bit of disappointment that you've now brought your audience, and you don't want to do that.
You want to delight your audience. So if it happens over and over again, now people start to lose that trust a little bit. And the power of a podcast, the power of a show is not in someone just listening once to you, it's in someone listening over time, and building an actual relationship with you.
And just like in real life, a relationship is built over time with trust when people have an expectation, and you meet or exceed the expectation. And when that happens over and over and over again, a real trust, a real relationship develops, and you want to develop that with your audience.
Can you see some success from my podcast being sporadic? Yes. So if that's all you can do, that's fine. Still do it. That's not a reason to not do a podcast. But if you want to be serious about it, and really maximize the potential of the medium that I think treating it like a show, and showing up at the same time every week is absolutely a great thing to do, and a necessary thing to do to get the most out of it.
Joanna: Fantastic. One of the things that happened when I did go to a weekly show and got more traffic and more listeners, was that my sponsorship money went up and also Patreon. I started Patreon. And one of the things about podcasting nowadays is all about monetization. So of course I, way back in 2009, it was more about marketing. Monetization wasn't even discussed around audio in that way.
Should people obsess about monetization if they are a new pocaster? And when should they think about it? And what other different streams are there?
Jerod: I wouldn't obsess about it in the beginning but you definitely need to think about it. We say on the Showrunner that there are four elements of a remarkable show.
You've got to be authentic, you've got to be useful, you've got to be sustainable, and you've got to be profitable.
The thing is if you're not profitable, if you never think about how this podcast is helping you generate revenue, then eventually you won't be able to keep doing it because you won't be able to justify the investment of the time, unless your time just isn't that valuable, but I haven't run into anybody for whom that is true.
Now that doesn't mean that you need to be obsessing about sponsorships or that's the only way or you have to be able to draw a direct line from that podcast episode to X revenue because there are really three different elements of monetization.
You've got direct, you've got indirect, and you've got intrinsic monetization.
Direct monetization from a podcast is like you talked about the sponsorships. Someone pays you X amount to be on the Midroll of this episode, you read the ad, and they're paying you money. That's probably the most common, the most obvious way.
But I think the best way to monetize a podcast is to think about the indirect monetization that comes from it, and that's really using the podcast as part of your content marketing arsenal.
So having a show, and maybe you don't have sponsors but you have an online course. And so you think about where your show fits into the funnel for your online course, and it is attraction, this is how I build the relationship, now let me get people onto my e-mail list or into my free membership community. Then I can use my auto-responder or whatever my other sequences or my other formula is for than getting people to pay for my course, something like that.
I think, especially if you can do a combination of those, and sometimes you can, now you're really going to get a lot out of your podcast.
And then from an intrinsic standpoint, I do think there has to be something about the experience of hosting the show that you get value from. And so even if you're not making money from it especially in the beginning, maybe it's the research value of preparing for the podcast that you get something out of, maybe it's the connections, the networking connections.
You have a podcast where you just got to talk to Steven Pressfield for 30, 45 minutes. That doesn't mean that you're best friends but it does mean that if you have a question for him or something to send him an e-mail, it's now not just a random e-mail. If you see him at a conference you can go talk to him, you build your network this way.
And so there's that intrinsic value of, “I've put in this half hour to do this podcast but I actually got something out of it even if I never make a dime off of it. I got something out of it.” And that's where choosing your topic and choosing your format, so that your preparation for the show gives you something above and beyond just the time that you put into it, that's really important.
So those are the three different levels. Intrinsic isn't necessarily monetization but it's something important to think about because there are benefits beyond the money but you do at some point have to think about the money most likely or you won't keep going. If you don't keep going, now you don't have a sustainable show for your audience. And if you don't do that, they're not getting the usefulness out of it and they're not responding to your authenticity, so they all build on each other.
Joanna: I totally agree, and I like to talk about monetization but equally I think it was four or five years before I made any direct money with the show, and I love doing this for the connection.
As an introvert, I don't get to see people or talk to people much. It's like my social life.
Jerod: The other thing that's interesting too is, I think it's been very hard for smaller shows to monetize their show directly. Like advertising opportunities for podcasts have been there for the bigger shows but it's been a little bit harder for smaller shows.
Midroll was the big one that offered monetization opportunities with companies like Mail Chimp, and some of those that you often hear on podcasts. But you have to have 10,000, 20,000 downloads an episode just to get in there so it's been very hard.
You've had to go out, and “pound the pavement,” find your advertisers yourself, and we've done that on the Assembly Call. You know, we have seek geeky advertises just on Twitter. I reached out to a guy who has a T-shirt shop that I thought would be a nice fit, and after some e-mails we came to an agreement on a sponsorship package.
So I would say, you know, number one, opportunities for companies like Midroll that will help medium size and smaller podcasters, will start to see those more, and more as the audiences grow, and the ability to track downloads, and audience size as that grows.
But also, so many more small businesses now are aware of podcasts, and aware of the potential benefits that if you see a product that you use, and you think, “You know, my audience could really use that,” reach out to that person because they may just be dying for a chance to advertise on podcasts but not be big enough to get into a place like Midroll, not know where to go to get podcasters, and you can strike up a really good one-on-one relationship with them, and have a good sponsorship that works for you and your audience.
Those opportunities are growing now, and again, that is one of the reasons that makes now a good time to launch a podcast even if it feels like the opportunity is not quite there, well there are more opportunities now for monetization for new people than there were six, seven years ago when we started, so that's a nice benefit.
Joanna: Absolutely, and I want to fast-forward now because I was listening to you with Brian Clark on the Digital Entrepreneur, which is a podcast I recommend to everybody, your Indiana one not too much though everyone listening will like, but I know that Digital Entrepreneur…
Jerod: That is a very niche market but it shows you niche markets can work, you know.
Joanna: It really is. So I was listening to the Digital Entrepreneur, and you were talking about virtual reality which listeners will know I get a little obsessed about. I know it's a great show and I recommended everywhere. So I'm excited about it because I think, like you and I could be doing this conversation in a VR environment, and actually have people there.
Do you see podcasting, and video, and events like digital commerce going into VR, and when?
Jerod: Absolutely, “when” is a great question. I don't know but I would say it'll probably happen sooner than we think because it seems like all of that stuff is happening sooner than we think, and so yes, I definitely think so.
If you saw the demo that Mark Zuckerberg did, they did their demo where he was up giving a presentation, and basically got into this virtual environment with people who weren't there, and it was like being in the same room, and so you and I talked about right now, we're looking at each other via Skype, how much that helps.
Imagine if we were virtually in the same room, now we could even see each other, body language a little bit more, and it would be even better, and then I think yes the opportunity for people to actually watch that, and it be like when we were at Digital Commerce summit, and everybody's out there in the audience.
But for that to be done virtually, I think we will see that as the future of online education. I think we will see virtual performances like that. I absolutely do, and I don't know when, I don't know how expensive it will be, and I'm sure it'll be difficult in the beginning but I think it almost seems that's the inevitable future.
Joanna: And do you think also, I'm looking at the Amazon ECO, I'm not allowed to say her name because some people listen on the device now and said you mustn't say a name because you activate it.
Do you think that is going to make podcasting even bigger? Do you think that speech recognition is gonna aid discoverability?
Jerod: I think so, I definitely think so especially those in-home devices. I'm weird about those I haven't gotten one yet. My parents got one of those before me. There's something to me weird about knowing that that thing is always listening because it has, once I recognize that it's always listening because it has to hear what I say.
Joanna: You get over it.
Jerod: Maybe I will, I probably do need to get over it but yes I think so because that is delivering answers via audio, and so I think it's just training us to be used to having that disembodied audio there around us all the time, and not just music but actually voices speaking to us.
When we can just say, “Hey, play the next episode of the Digital Entrepreneur,” and it knows that, and it can play it, if I can do that while I'm washing the dishes that will help out a ton.
The other thing that really helps with podcasting is the automobile. That's the next frontier; how do we get in the majority of cars? The ability to punch up a podcast episode as quickly as punching up the AM radio station? And I think that will start to happen as we get more interactive consoles and cars, and you know AM, FM radio is just right there with iHeart Radio, and all the different ways that you listen to podcasts.
And then, you know, as we have more driverless cars as well which is definitely the future, the ability to sit there and do work or just listen to a podcast while you go, all of those things are gonna help. I think podcast adoption get up. For I know last year was in the mid 30s for people who'd listened to a podcast in the previous month, I haven't seen the new numbers but I have to assume that it's just gonna keep growing, and that, that will continue in future.
Joanna: It does make me think it's because the in-home devices the MyMail, Amazon and Google are the main ones, and the Amazon ECO AI thing is now at CES, it's gonna be in all these devices. But of course podcasting is bigger on iTunes, and Stitcher, for example, but to get into those devices, you can be on Spotify.
Do you recommend all podcasts try and get their content on to Spotify because that will go through those other devices?
Jerod: I think that's a good recommendation. I'm actually glad you mentioned that because when they first announced podcast, they were very selective in who they were adding. I haven't gotten my shows into Spotify yet but I need to go back, and look at that.
I do think getting it as many places you can is going to be helpful. I just got a notification that one of my shows is gonna be in iHeart Radio now, which is nice. You make your show available just by having an RSS feed that is easy, and getting it into iTunes because a lot of these other ones will scrape from iTunes and so that's certainly the most important one, and then Stitcher.
But getting it into as many different directories as you can is good, and that just requires going, and I would look on both on iPhone and on android, find out where people are looking Google Play is another great place that people wanna be, and just make sure that your shows can be found there. And if they're not going to submit it because it typically only takes a couple of minutes to submit, and then you're in, and you're sure are not going to see your downloads go down, and you almost always see a nice little bump from those people who are there listening in using those platforms.
Joanna: Well, we could talk all day about this but we are out of time. So where can people find you, and everything you do online?
Jerod: Well, if anybody wants to connect with me on Twitter, my Twitter handle is @JerodMorris, J-E-R-O-D Morris. Any questions you have about podcasting, I love to answer.
And then we also at the Showrunner, if you go to showrunner.FM/report, and enter your email address, we have a free report, the Beginners Guide to launching a remarkable podcast which walks you through, how to choose a topic, how to figure out your audience, and one, we talk about monetization stuff. So it's a lot of the stuff that's in our course condensed, and gives you the general overview but for someone who's just starting out, it's a great guide for here are the things I need to be thinking about to make sure I put a good foot forward when I get started. So again that's showrunner.FM/report. We'd love to have people get on there, and check that out.
Joanna: Fantastic, thanks so much for your time. Jerod, that was great.
Jerod: Thank you, Joanna.