In previous episodes, we’ve discussed the “why” of starting a podcast (or podcast network). In this one, we talk about the “how.”
As many of you know by now, it has been almost two weeks since we launched this on-demand audio network called Rainmaker.FM.
Thanks to you, things have gone pretty well in that time.
What you don’t yet know is the story behind that launch — the planning, production, and marketing of the ten distinct shows that are currently airing. Not to mention the next crop of shows already in development.
So, I asked Robert Bruce how he, along with a number of talented individuals within Copyblogger Media and without, pulled it all off. It’s time to go behind the scenes once again …
In this 44-minute episode Robert and I discuss:
- The “shortcut” to launching a successful podcast network
- The critical components of an audio-based network that works
- How a smaller company might approach creating content like this
- The business model(s) behind Rainmaker.FM
- Why we might accept outside sponsors sooner rather than later
- Why our grandparents were so much cooler than we are
- Whether or not it’s time to hit the road
- Why we developed the shows we have (and will have)
- Our (loosely held) plans for the future …
Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...
The Show Notes
How to Start a Podcast Network
Why Our Grandparents Were So Much Cooler Than We Are
Robert Bruce: I’m reading a glossary of hard-boiled slang. This is an age, Brian, when a telephone was called ‘a blower.’ A $100 bill was called ‘a century.’ Death was ‘the big one’ or ‘the big sleep.’ ‘Coffin’ is a Chicago overcoat, ‘gun’ is a heater, and ‘typewriter’ is a mill.
Brian Clark: This is why you make Ron Swanson look like a modernist.
Robert Bruce: It makes me realize how much style our grandparents had and how boring as hell our language is today.
Brian Clark: You think so?
Robert Bruce: Do you think about that? Have you thought about these things?
Brian Clark: Just a personal preference. You are into that retro stuff.
Robert Bruce: I don’t know if it’s retro. I think it should have lasted. I’m going to try to bring it all back.
Brian Clark: One man crusade.
Robert Bruce: Alright. We’re flipping things around a little bit today talking about the podcast network, specifically how to launch a podcast network.
Brian Clark: Yeah, a little behind the scenes episode that we do periodically after we do something and the dust settles, which I’m not sure the dust has actually settled. It’s even been 10 days.
Robert Bruce: It’s like a pigpen around here still. I’m not going to tell you that, even though I just did. We’ve talked a lot about why podcasting, why a podcast network. We’ve been talking about that for some time on this podcast and off. But we wanted to go, like you said, behind the scenes, talk specifically about what we did to make this happen and a little bit about what’s to come
Brian Clark: This episode, contrary to what people may think, I’m not giving the answers here. Robert, you are giving the answers here. I remember when we had the conversation, and I said let’s do it. Then you spent the rest of the day on the phone, calling people to see if they were interested, and they were. Then you spent the next three months on the phone, which you hate by the way.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, it continues. Yeah, that’s true. It’s a lot of coordination. It’s all about people. In this case, it’s all about our people.
Brian Clark: We’ve done some big projects in the past. I remember the whole MyCopyblogger initiative where we switched from newsletter to the content library. That was a pretty massive project, but I think I had my hands all in there in your business, so to speak. This time, I did my best to stand back. Trust, but verify.
Robert Bruce: That’s right.
Brian Clark: Watch. Advise. Tweak.
Robert Bruce: That’s right.
Brian Clark: But really, you get the props. Well, a lot of people get the props because it was a major team effort, but you were the — I would’ve called you the project manager, but I know you like to be called a producer, of course.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, it really is about, as you’ll soon hear in this episode, the coming together of all these different people, and it’s kind of staggering. The different kinds of skills, talents and everything that came together to make this happen. In our case, the way we did it, it was something that we, as a company, could do. But we’re also going to talk about how to do this on a medium to even a much smaller scale as well, and why it applies to those of you out there that are thinking you may want to do something like this.
Brian Clark: We’re going to say what we did, but then we’re also going to try to extrapolate that out into general principles. If you had to boil it down to one big secret shortcut to successfully launch a podcast network, what would that be?
The “Shortcut” to Launching a Successful Podcast Network
Robert Bruce: Here’s a short answer. You’ve got to faithfully serve your audience with a media-based approach to content for about nine plus years, and then you send them an email letting them know that you’ve started a podcast network.
Brian Clark: That’s so wrong. I mean, it’s right in the sense that we’re not trying to discourage anyone, but on the other hand, if you don’t have an existing audience, start today. If podcasting is the way you want do that, many, many people have built really amazing audiences just from one podcast and then added on from there.
We did it a different way. Not all our existing audience is audio people. It’s not like the entire Copyblogger audience is tuning in, but enough of them are to provide a catalyst that got us noticed a little bit in iTunes. I’ll let you talk about that, Robert, which helps us reach a new audience.
Despite the fact that it seem like we had this complete unfair advantage, which we never really apologized to, because we worked our butts off for almost a decade just on this. Never mind the six years before that. Start building your audience today. It’s our hope that this show will give you some insight how you can get rolling by leveraging multiple shows as opposed to just one, if that’s what you’re thinking about.
Let’s talk about how you put this together from our perspective, internally. Our company has its own unique characters, many of which are now hosting shows, and Demian. What the hell?
Robert Bruce: I don’t know.
Brian Clark: Demian’s show is a home run.
Robert Bruce: I got to say, though, did I not call it?
Brian Clark: We used to not let him out in public. Now we’re letting him broadcast, and he’s killing it.
Robert Bruce: He is wildly public.
Brian Clark: I know.
Robert Bruce: Did I not call it, though? Did I not call it?
Brian Clark: You did call it. It helps that it’s four times a week.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, right.
Brian Clark: Frequency, there’s a lesson right there. John Lee Dumas was the man there. He just went out every single day and built this huge audience with frequency. Because showing up in iTunes, the more you hit publish, the more often you’re getting downloads., you’re getting exposure, and it really amplifies itself. That’s one tip right there.
The Critical Components of an Audio-Based Network That Works
Robert Bruce: I’ve broken this down into five basic things that you want to think about, look at. Most of them are going to be, if not all, relevant no matter what size project you’re thinking about in terms of the context of this podcast network. But it’s production, talent, technology, design, and promotion.
On the production side, that’s everything that it sounds like. It’s getting the shows produced, edited, transcripts, working with hosts, talking about their shows, getting the sound equipment together. This was kind of a monster job. First time, in some cases, I’m thinking maybe even in most cases, people working in audio, at least at this level, getting them set up to where they’ve got a basic, little, simple studio and a good microphone and good decent microphone technique.
This is going to be interesting, though, because I’m actually blown away with the quality of the sound that’s coming out. We’ve had some glitches. We’ve had some things that we’re trying to iron out, and we will. But the thing here is that I think about, in six months, when these people become more seasoned, and it becomes a part of their daily practice or weekly practice, it’s worth going through these bumps here. You’re going to see not only that, but like a comfortability behind the microphone that just takes a lot of time to get to.
Brian Clark: It’s interesting to me, we have a lot of people in the company that we thought were naturals to be hosts. They did, and they stepped up. But were you a little surprised by how nervous and — what’s the word I’m looking for here — because people like Sonia, I didn’t think twice about that. She’s going to show up, and she’s going to knock it out of the park. But she was a little nervous about it.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, I haven’t talked to her about that, but I think that was a bit across the board. Frankly for myself, too, I knew that these people were going to deliver, and we’ll get into talent in a moment. I knew it. But I was surprised at the level at which they deliver — not because of anything about them or past performance — but just simply because this is a brand new thing. It’s in the DNA of what we do as a company all day, every day, but it’s still different. Yeah, I was surprised at the level of how well things turned out overall because it’s a hard game. You turn on that microphone, you hit the record button, and most people, if not all people in the beginning, you freeze up. You sound like an idiot. The hardest thing is just to be yourself for some reason, but it just takes time.
Brian Clark: Well, what’s interesting to me because I don’t even listen to these current shows because I hate listening to myself, but I need to start because you get better that way. The interesting thing to me was that you said, “You ought to go back and listen to us in 2010 because we were terrible.” I’m like, “Really? We were that bad?” You just said, “Trust me,” or “Go listen.” I said, “No, I’ll trust you.” I think that would just ruin me. But it’s everyone. You get better at it. The more encouraging thing recently was we just hired a new production assistant, Caroline, and she listened to the show for the first time. She’s like, “Wow, that’s not bad.” I’m like, “What were you expecting? Oh my God.”
Robert Bruce: It’s the idea that, too, this is media now. This is audio. This is radio. We’re not at the level of the major global players yet, but this is the future of it all. If you’re going to play, you’ve got to play. Is there a lot of room to improve and grow and make things? Absolutely. There always is. But, if this is the future of audio, which we think it is, then you want to go big at all times. One last note on the production side of things, we’ve also done something that we’ve rarely done and I don’t think we’ve done, at least on a regular basis, we’ve outsourced the audio editing – so we’re not doing that in-house. It’s a decision we made early on to free up more time on the creative and creating media side.
But I’ve got Kelton Reid and Clare Garrett on the production side, who developed this entire workflow that every single episode for three, four episodes a day now, Monday through Thursday, which will rapidly become more, everything goes through this workflow. Every episode has about 15, 20 tasks attached to it that need to get done. Some smaller, some larger, and it’s working perfectly.
Brian Clark: You know what just occurred to me, that might make a great infographic.
Robert Bruce: That’s actually a really good idea. Alright, Kelton, if you’re listening – wait a minute – he doesn’t have any time.
Brian Clark: Yeah, but I mean, that would be incredibly useful for people.
Robert Bruce: That’s a really good idea.
Brian Clark: One of our designers can probably visualize that better than I could. I was just thinking as you’re describing it, I wish I could see that, because when we talk about it, most of the time you say, “Don’t worry about it,” and I try not to because it’s working. I’d only worry if it doesn’t work. That kind of workflow, that kind of process makes anything doable. It’s just a matter of sitting down. I remember you and Kelton sat down early on, before we did anything and said, “What’s the process?” It took a while. It evolved. It’s tweaked and all that, once you get into the trenches. But you started with a plan that made it manageable.
Robert Bruce: Kelton’s a pro. I mean, he’s been handling all of our multimedia stuff for Authority and company-wide for a while. A look at any one of his spreadsheets will make you want to run crying to your bed.
Brian Clark: I don’t do spreadsheets.
Robert Bruce: Me neither. Anyway, big props to Kelton and Clare on the production side. Yeah, that’s a really good idea. By the way, for those listening, that’s a lesson. An infographic out of a workflow that we created for the podcast network — repurposing content, useful interesting stuff. Almost anything you can do, you can make something else out of it.
Brian Clark: Yeah, “Everything’s content” is our motto.
Robert Bruce: We’ll go through these other ones. Talent, I mainly put this under the category of the hosts themselves We’re in a situation, again, we go back to that unfair advantage where we look around our own company. We see all of this incredible talent that is available to us, and there’s more out there. There’s more coming. Not everyone’s in that situation. We’ll talk about that a little bit later.
Brian Clark: Well, I don’t know. I just think we think differently about people. I mean, who would look at Sean Jackson and say, “We got to give that guy a show.” But we know Sean is a character, and he knows his stuff. Sean’s show is not out yet.
Robert Bruce: He’s insanely talented.
Brian Clark: He’s our CFO.
I’m going to disagree. I think with a shift in mindset, you could find people in any company. I think most companies are just like, “I’m not putting Jane from accounting on the mic,” because they don’t trust her. That’s the issue. It’s not that there isn’t talent that can be developed, it’s just mindset.
How a Smaller Company Might Approach Creating Content Like This
Robert Bruce: Here’s the way to think about it because we’re still in the idea that, especially you and me, our generation, we remember the old days of radio. We remember the professionals of broadcast terrestrial radio, and we can’t get that out of our head. But Jane from accounting is a professional in her area, obviously, and she can talk about all kinds of things that are useful, related to whatever your business is. But here’s the thing. In new media, people don’t want the golden-throated radio professional anymore.
Brian Clark: Oh yeah, what about you?
Robert Bruce: People want to hear Jane.
Brian Clark: Says the guy with the golden voice, right. Yeah, thanks.
Robert Bruce: They would rather hear authenticity from her or him, talking about what it is they do, and hearing the secrets and tactics and strategies within the job they have.
Brian Clark: This is this whole concept of ‘employee-generated content,’ which you hate that term. We hate most of the terms that we operate under in this industry, so why not this one? Tell me what your beef is with it briefly.
Robert Bruce: Well, we talked about this a couple of episodes ago. I get where it’s coming from. I don’t think it was meant to be offensive, but this is just completely offensive to me, ‘employee-generated content.’ No, what we have here in our case is a number of extremely talented human beings thoughtfully creating media for their audience. This is not employee generated like they’re some kind of computer, right? It comes from user generated content. I get it. It’s a nice acronym, and it’s a nice connection. But no, these are real people, with real jobs, doing real work, that have interesting and useful things to share, and they’re taking the time.
I talked to Stefanie Flaxman yesterday. She’s the host of Editor-in-Chief. She was laughing because we had a conversation sometime last year. I said, “Hey, Stefanie. I really like you to write more for the blog, for Copyblogger.com.” She said, “Well, I really don’t want to, but of course I will, because I’d rather focus on these other areas of the job.” We kind of came to an understanding that worked. She told me yesterday, she says, “Wow, I just realized you got me to write again without me even knowing it, and I’m loving it,” because she’s writing scripts for her show.
I think about Demian. Demian now is doing 500 to 1000 word essays, audio essays four days a week. That’s not employee-generated content. That’s an extremely talented individual with years of experience creating media that people can use.
Brian Clark: All right. Duly noted.
Robert Bruce: Shall I leave it at that, geez? Technology.
Brian Clark: Technology, that’s the easy part.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, this is the easy one. There’s a couple of facets to this, but the short answer is we’re using the Rainmaker Platform to deliver this entire podcast network that you see. Media files that are larger than what we usually deal with, the servers are running effortlessly. The ability to create a new show in — I think it takes me five minutes if we wanted to spin up a new show — about five minutes outside of show art. The ability to schedule things out — all of the things in the podcasting area that the Rainmaker Platform does. Create the iTunes settings within the platform itself. It’s all in there.
But the cool thing here, Brian, that we’ve been finding out is that because we’re eating our own dog food, because we’re using the Rainmaker Platform to create this podcast network, which is a big part of the future of media for our company, we’re seeing what needs to be tweaked. We’re seeing some things that need to be fixed. We’re seeing some things that need to be added.
Brian Clark: Yeah. I started using the platform over at Further, and that’s allowed me to see things that I would like changed. But we’re going hardcore with Rainmaker.FM. You would think we’re pushing the platform to its limit. We’re finding that it’s doing just fine, but we do find things as users instead of the people marketing the thing. We’re going, “Wait, wouldn’t it be cool if it did this, or this is not quite right.” It’s been pretty interesting.
Robert Bruce: Obviously, that makes the platform better and better and better for our customers as well, which is the most important thing.
Next is design. We’ve talked about Rafal Tomal and Lauren Mancke before. Lauren headed up all of the show art for each of the shows. Big job kind of all at once. She, in my opinion, delivered spectacularly. Rafal, of course, on the site design at Rainmaker.FM, always amazing and always seems to get where we want to go without us spelling it out. Props to the two of them for really delivering, in a lot of ways, the personality, the feel and the usability of the site.
Brian Clark: It’s basically the Genesis Child theme, which is what runs on Rainmaker and of course that is the foundation of our whole StudioPress line of designs as well. There are a ton of qualified designers out there. We just happen to have two wonderful people who work for us in-house. If they try to leave, I’m going to throw a fit.
The interesting thing as we get a little deeper here is that it’s not just podcast network functionality that you’ll see on Rainmaker.FM, in fact, you’ll see us use the platform to the full degree once you get into the business models that we’ve got cooked up so far, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.
Then, promotion, that’s how do you get the word out? How do you make a dent in iTunes enough to where iTunes starts working for you?
Robert Bruce: The short answer is how we answered your first question to me, which is you’ve got to serve an audience. Build an audience over a period of time, and then let them know about it. But again, what if you don’t have an audience? What if you have a smaller audience, and you’re thinking about launching something like this? Well, we go back in the archives. There are all kinds of promotional strategies that we’ve talked about in the past — starting from zero — but basically reprinting what you did in 2006, Brian, with Copyblogger.
The Business Model(s) behind Rainmaker.FM
Brian Clark: There’s another aspect of this that’s kind of unique to podcasting, which is why I called the podcast interview an act of curation, that also taps into the audiences of others. How many stories have we read where a podcast starts from nothing, like Jon Nastor, and John Lee Dumas?
It’s an interview format, great positioning, unique, great host, great conversation. Through that process of tapping into outside experts, those people tend to also promote the episode. Showing up, doing the work, and then being smart about politely asking, “Hey, the episode is up. I’d love it if you shared it with your social network. Thank you so much.”
It’s simple. Most people will do it because they’re also promoting themselves as an authority in whatever the field may be. There is benefit there. A form of influence or marketing is simply also how you develop your initial content strategy.
Robert Bruce: One thing on this building an audience for nine plus years, our joke at the beginning there, it’s not a joke. We understand that, that is what we’ve done, and it took us this long, like Brian said. We don’t apologize for that because it’s been a long road of a lot of hard work. Really, if you want to break down to one year or even six months, or three years, whatever it is, it really does come back to that — to do the work and to show up over time to build the audience. There are things you can do, there are tactics and strategies you can do to accelerate that, but really, that is the answer. We always come back to it, and we won’t apologize for that because it is hard work, and it really is just, that’s the answer.
Brian Clark: But totally doable at the same time. I mean, learning a language is a hard work. Learning rock climbing is hard work. Starting a successful podcast is hard work. All of it is within your ability to do, though. You just have to put your mind to it. There’s certainly a lot of guidance. This isn’t 1998 when we were just making it up as we went along. It’s almost like there’s too much information, but you can find some technique or approach that gels with you, as opposed to having to follow us, or Joe Blow, or whomever has the approach that worked for them. There’s a lot of different ways to do it.
That takes us right into the business model. We are content marketers. This network is built on the Rainmaker Platform. Sales of the Rainmaker Platform, or actually pre-trials, because we’re only 10 days into this, have increased by a substantial percentage. When it comes down to it, the network could be killing it, and if our business objective wasn’t being met, then what’s the point? Well, interestingly enough, even if that wasn’t working out, there’s just so much more here, and we’re really finding ourselves in a position where we’re looking into doing things we’ve never done before, like accepting sponsorships.
Why We Might Accept Outside Sponsors Sooner Rather Than Later
Brian Clark: In the first week we got hit by three major companies trying to sponsor the network. Not us reaching out. Not us saying we want sponsors. They just came to us. Two of them we had to say no to. Third, we may say yes to. That’s a fascinating thing because they’re like, “Do you have a rate card?” I’m like, “A rate card? Yeah. Let me cook something out.” You know what I’m saying? I had to do some research because that’s not what we do. We sell eight figures worth of our own stuff a year, but we don’t sell advertising. Yet let’s talk numbers.
We did 100,000 downloads in four days, and that’s only going to grow. It’s a possibility. It’s interesting because, on one hand, you could get an outside sponsor, and that covers all our internal production cost, which we were just going to write off as an expense. It’s a marketing expense for us. Content production and distribution is how we advertise, if you want to put it that way, but it’s way more effective than that. The cost of doing this is really, really not an issue at all in our budget. It’s kind of amazing that you can create this kind of reach and impact, and get inquiries from people who want to pay you money just to mention their name, but that’s what’s happening.
Anyway, we’re going to keep apprised to the whole sponsorship thing because it’s new ground for us. I’m sure a lot of you out there are interested in it. If you look around, podcast sponsorships are hot because they work. It is direct response advertising if it’s done right. People in our industry, people outside of our industry are showing up and trying to land on every show they can because it’s working. That’s kind of amazing, although that’s another reason why we’re effectively our own sponsor. It’s working for us, selling more of our own stuff. The question is, do we have room to bring other people in. I think we’re going to be very, very selective about it. If it’s the right fit then, why not?
Robert Bruce: Definitely. That’s probably an episode in and of itself in the future. But it was a flattering surprise to us, not ultimately a surprise to get those inquiries, but we had talked that we’re just not even going to think about sponsorship for a good while, if not ever.
Brian Clark: Well, yeah, but we talked about if we expanded beyond digital marketing to just marketing and sales, which the Rainmaker brand could do, at that point, you’d be silly not to. I just didn’t expect people to come to us week one. We don’t even have a month under our belt. Anyway, more on that in future shows.
Robert Bruce: One quick backtrack in the advertising and sponsorship of our own products. You’ll notice real quick on Rainmaker.FM, there’s a couple of things going on. Right now, we’re talking about the Authority Rainmaker event and you’ll see that in the little drop down bar at the top of the site. As you scroll down, you’ll see a couple of places on show pages and episode pages. You’ll see a banner right above the footer at the bottom. The idea there I think is obvious, that this is what the network, in this case, Authority Rainmaker is what is bringing the Rainmaker.FM network to you at the moment.
Brian Clark: Ticket prices go up on March 31st. Keep that in mind. We’d love to see you in Denver. You don’t want to miss Jerod’s podcasting presentation, which I worked on it with him. Completely changed his topic, realizing that podcasting needs a real big drill down.
Robert Bruce: Anyway, AuthorityRainmaker.com. On Rainmaker.FM, all these places that you see, where that’s being sponsored right now, those can be changed at any moment. It can be worked differently depending on our goals, our needs.
Brian Clark: We can do that without a designer, right?
Robert Bruce: That’s right.
Brian Clark: That’s awesome.
Robert Bruce: There may be one place that we still need to get, but anyway, that is the idea. Anyway, a note on that. The other thing that we’ve got coming up is paid courses. Jerod is going to kick this off. Do we want to say the name of his coming show?
Brian Clark: Well, it’s interesting because with the existing membership capabilities and then the new learning management system that will be out in a matter of weeks, Rainmaker is also an amazing online course and membership site platform. Of course, you also can use a member area for lead generation like we do with the free New Rainmaker course — all of that. But that’s another big aspect of why, even from practical standpoint, why we launched this site on the platform because audio listeners are natural prospects for audio and video training. They learn that way. It’s still portable. It’s still on demand. It’s still all of that good stuff from the free end.
Jerod is actually going to be in the next round of shows that we released shortly. Robert, you know details on that probably by heart, but that’s called The Showrunner, which is a nice nod actually to television. Why do we always mix our metaphors with our names?
Robert Bruce: I don’t know, that one was yours, I think.
Brian Clark: Yeah, I loved that.
Robert Bruce: That’s one of the better names on the network. There’s no doubt.
Brian Clark: Yeah, then a lot of people are already saying, “I don’t know how to do this podcasting thing. Thanks … ” – for example — “ … this episode, but I need to know things so much more in depth than this.” Yeah, we got you. We’re going to work on that kind of training. That’s the obvious starting place, but really, we can do just about any topic in more detail.
Why We Developed the Shows We Have (and Will Have)
Robert Bruce: Think about each of the shows, and we did plan this, not perfectly, some kind of perfect master plan, but it was always in our thoughts. Any one of these shows can also become a paid course. Think about Rough Draft with Demian. You can take that in a nice short, crisp writing course. Stefanie Flaxman with Editor-in-Chief. There’s an editing course waiting to be had there. Sonia Simone, Confessions of Pink-Haired Marketer. The things she’s talking about, it’s a no brainer. Plus she’s so good at it anyway. Anyone of these things, the MarTech stuff that Chris Garrett and Tony Clark are talking about, not that we are going to do a course for each one of these shows, but you can see where all of this leads directly into a business model.
Brian Clark: Just like with the podcasting course, it’s going to come from customer feedback. We’re going to see where people are getting stuck on the free materials, and then that’s an indication to dive down deep and do something more thorough, more in-depth, and higher value.
Robert Bruce: In a show like Pamela Wilson’s Hit Publish, that is such a produced show as it is, like we talked about last time with the early episodes of New Rainmaker. That is a free course waiting to happen, leading into some kind of a paid course.
Brian Clark: Yeah. We’ve been doing that since 2010, when we first launched our membership site software Premise, which evolved heavily into becoming what’s in Rainmaker. We demonstrated that by doing a free course. It built an email list, and it’s still active to this day. Remember, what was the name of that? Is that some sort of an authority?
Robert Bruce: Digital corporation.
Brian Clark: Yeah, that was cool. I’ve noticed that other people are catching on to this. I think Derek Halpern was doing free online courses as a way to build a list. “Hey, yeah, exactly.” Because that’s more likely to work because it’s higher value, and it’s access and registration — all these things we’ve talked about, how we increased our opt in rate by 400 percent, it’s because of a different experience, but also higher value content.
Out of the podcast, for people who aren’t with us right now listening, we can put together all these different free courses. We can tie it into a free member area like we already do with the New Rainmaker course. It becomes lead generation or audience building really for that particular show, or for the Master Feed digest, whatever the case may be.
What’s Coming For Rainmaker.FM
Robert Bruce: Let’s spend just a couple of minutes on what’s coming for Rainmaker.FM.
Brian Clark: Well, you tell me because I keep asking you what the schedule is. I’m over here debating. I have two other podcasts I want to start.
Robert Bruce: Well, get in line, buddy.
Brian Clark: I know. I know. I’m no longer important in this company.
Robert Bruce: Well you got a real zinger coming up.
Brian Clark: Maybe, I think so. I think so. Here’s an interesting thing, so Further is the curated email newsletter that I launched, that’s now got thousands of people on the list, but I’ve always been wanting to launch a podcast. Instead of just launching a podcast, I built a specific list of people who are interested in that subject matter. So guess what, when I do launch the podcast, I’ve got at least a Minimum Viable Audience to get that rolling. There’s a strategy for you out there. Figure out a way to build an email list before you launch the podcast. Then launch the podcast by email, send them to iTunes, and you’ll get that nice spike.
But the other show that I’m thinking is kind of like my defining, I always say ‘further’ is my overarching word that drives me, but this other word — which actually it’s always other people in the company that pick up on these things I say, and they’re like, “We should do something with that.” Like Gardner took No Sidebar and ran with it. Anyway, I’m thinking of making it a short daily show because I’ve got to do something to catch Demian. It’s just not right.
Robert Bruce: No, it’s not. Obviously, more shows are coming in different formats, which is also going to apply probably to yours, Brian, which I think is important to think about. You could do just an entire network of interview shows, certainly. But we want to experiment with different formats. We want to have a wide range of things for people to listen to. Right now, we have eight shows in production that are on the way. There are a couple that will come out before, but all of these will be out by the first week in May.
There’s another show that is pending, or in talks with somebody outside of the company to start. Overall, you and I had a conversation about how big should this thing get. I think it’s a fun thing to talk about. It’s not necessarily the most important thing by any means, but I think that brings us to 19 shows by the beginning of May, if all of these work out and if we can do it, which should happen.
Brian Clark: We kind of consistently have eight shows in the top 20 in our category in iTunes. So if you had 20 shows, it’s not going to happen. There are some people who are rock solid.
Robert Bruce: Right. Things will even out.
Brian Clark: Right there along with them, as opposed to thinking we’re going to knock anyone off like Michael Hyatt or Pat Flynn. Besides, those are our friends anyway. It’s not really that kind of competitive situation, but it is very powerful when your shows occupy that kind of real estate. But not every show is going to make it long term. But that is a conversation for the future since you got to let people, like you said, six months minimum to let people find their legs and really start rolling. It’s amazing how much better you get by being consistent, week in, week out, day in, day out, if that’s what you’re going after, and you’ll get better. You just do.
Robert Bruce: More courses coming, obviously. We talked about that briefly.
Brian Clark: We don’t know what those are yet, but we’ll figure it out from you guys. Leave comments if there’s a particular topic that you want to drill down on. That’s always helpful.
Whether or Not It’s Time to Hit the Road
Robert Bruce: One thing that I’m really excited about is what you and I are calling the Rainmaker Roadshow. We have this idea to go to smaller venues — and probably larger cities to start just because it makes more sense audience wise — but to record live shows in these kind of smaller venues.
Brian Clark: This is another one of our ideas that we’ve been talking about forever in various context and never do, but it is cool. It’s cool to put on a larger event like Authority Rainmaker, but it’s really cool that you show up in a city, contact people you know there, get 100 people to meet up, hang out, have some refreshments, and then we got to figure out how to set up mics and all that kind of stuff. I’m sure you and Jessica could fix that up.
Robert Bruce: Jessica’s got all that handled, yeah. If you think about the nature of a podcast audience, this audience that you’re building in this format, you’re already seeing it on a bigger scale like with Dan Harmon. It’s now on Netflix. Dan Harmon’s documentary of the tour of his podcast.
Brian Clark: Doesn’t Wait Wait … Don’t tell me! — you know that show on NPR. They go around different places. They have a live audience. I love that they have that audience. That’s so cool. That’s one thing you don’t get when it’s just me, and you talking to each other.
Robert Bruce: It’s one of the most rabid fan bases of all shows on NPR. But this is just cool. Obviously, you run into things like budget again, but there are all kinds of ways around this. Number one, you’re creating a piece of content.
Brian Clark: That’s another place where you could bring in sponsors. Obviously, the platform is going to be a sponsor. Again, it’s a marketing cost for us, a content marketing cost, but bring in Shure microphones, which we all use and love.
Our (Loosely Held) Plans for the Future …
Robert Bruce: We’re going to start working on the Rainmaker Roadshow, so keep an eye out for that. Of course, in terms of what’s coming in the next months and years, we’re listening to what you want, what the Rainmaker.FM audience wants.
Brian Clark: Always, always. That’s why we never have any truly definitive plans that are more than a month out.
Robert Bruce: Right, right.
Brian Clark: Because it changes, and it should. It’s adaptive. Robert, thanks for the insight. I’m still not sure how you pulled it off.
Robert Bruce: My secret weapon is that EGC, Brian, that employee-generated content.
Brian Clark: I think it was a combination of coffee in the morning and bourbon in the evening from what I understand, but that’s another show. On the Roadshow, people will get to meet Robert.
Robert Bruce: No, they won’t. I’ll be recording from the hotel room.
Brian Clark: Oh, no.
Robert Bruce: You can be live down in the bar.
Brian Clark: That defeats the whole purpose.
Robert Bruce: It kind of does. Thanks to everybody involved in this entire project. There’s a lot of people and really, that’s what it boils down to is these people in this company and the audience, as always, that listens. You quoted something from Henry Rollins the other day on Twitter that I thought was perfect. Now, I want to try to bring it up so that I don’t butcher it.
Brian Clark: That was from an interview he just did at South By in Austin. And it was such a perfect quote. He told me to email him if I came up with any points that I wanted him to focus on and I’m like, “Here, I’m just going to repeat your words back to you. You say this again.”
Robert Bruce: That’s right. He said, “The only reason I get to do anything is because I have an audience, and I need them more than they need me.”
Brian Clark: It’s just so how much I feel as well. I know that I worked hard to build an audience, that we’re continuing to work hard to build an audience, but it doesn’t matter. We still owe it to them, as opposed to them owing us anything. Thank you, Robert, for your hard work. Thank you to everyone in the company. But thanks to all of you out there for putting up with us and tuning in, and hopefully you’re learning something. We’re going to keep trying hard. Stick with us.
Robert Bruce: If you want to get what you’ve got coming to you with the show, the easiest way to do that is to go to NewRainmaker.FM. That will take you to this show’s page. Or if you want to check everything else on the network, go to Rainmaker.FM. You can subscribe by iTunes. You can get it by RSS, and you can sign up to the 10-part course, that we talked about a little earlier, that will likely change the way you think about online marketing.
Brian Clark: If I can ask for one favor, if you dig the show and you’re enjoying it, please go over to iTunes, give us a rating or write a review if you have some time. Just something short expressing your thoughts. We look at those. Sometimes we’re getting useful feedback that we can incorporate in the show. Other times, it just makes our day to see that you guys actually like what we’re doing. If you can, no pressure.
Hashim Warren says
Brian, could a podcast network work as a hyper local play?
Daniel Z. Chohfi says
Amazing, so nice to hear this…
Thanks, I’m getting back with my podcast now.
Coach Sahil says
Hey Brian, do you do all your transcriptions in house? If so would you know any affordable services out there? Ones that actually know what they’re doing (native English speakers) but don’t cost an arm and a leg?
Brian Clark says
Transcription done well isn’t cheap. First you get down the raw conversation, and then someone in house cleans it up and “optimizes” it from there to readable format. That’s why a lot of podcasts don’t provide transcripts, but we feel it’s worth it — especially if you end up repurposing the content into articles, Slideshares, etc.
Jerod Morris says
I will say that the first episode of The Showrunner would have been MUCH more difficult without the aid of transcripts to quickly find the elements I was looking for to tell that story. And I have been surprised by how many people have told me they read the transcripts. Definitely worth it.
JD Ebberly says
I just wanted to say that I read all the transcripts several times. I appreciate all of the hard work and costs expended to produce all of the transcripts. Thank you all very much!
Awesome show, fellas. Any chance that infographic on production is coming out soon? Shoot, I’ll even take one of those spreadsheets!:-). Thanks for continually pulling back the curtain!
Robert Bruce says
Thank you Nate.
That infographic is being worked up as we speak, but I’ll stop short of giving a timeframe for publication.
Watch Copyblogger 😉
Steve Krinks says
I was wondering the same thing, went digging and found it here: https://www.copyblogger.com/how-a-podcast-is-born/
Great work Kelton!
Mt Shasta Design says
Have been following Rainmaker FM and the new Rainmaker Platform – it’s fantastic all the way around !!
A big concern is that the price of the Rainmaker Platform is beyond many of your old customers who could afford Studio Press Themes, one by one.
We are in that category – We want to use Rainmaker Platform for our clients, but we live in rural America and people here just don’t have the income to pay your yearly/monthly Rainmaker Platform fees.
What to do? Are you just going to forget about those customers? Or can something be offered that is more affordable?
Thanks so much.
Brian Clark says
Hey there. I’m sorry that the pricing is presenting a problem. One big aspect of creating something better than the lower-cost solutions is that it costs us more too! And yet, when you look at all the Rainmaker Platform does compared to creating it out of all the separate parts out there, it’s much less expensive.
Again, I’m sympathetic. But I see the price going up before it goes down. Just the way the economics work.
You wrote: “In previous episodes, we’ve discussed the “why” of starting a podcast (or podcast network)”
…WHICH episodes, exactly? I would like to listen to those episodes! I found this page by googling “start podcast network”. Would love to hear your previous episodes about this. Can you link to those episodes please?
Is there an info graphic for the 15 – 20 steps for getting a podcast up?