Ask sponsors to buy live reads. That’s the best way to monetize it. You could put ads on your site for 3 cents per month. But the best money will be the most worthwhile if you find brands looking for your targeted audience. They can’t get access to your listeners any other way, which means there’s value in there. You can sell that value, talk about the brand to your listeners, and your listeners get to learn about a brand from a trusted source. That’s huge. It’s nearly as amazing as the king of all monetization kings — word of mouth magic.
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a very successful podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jill Salzman & Brad Farris.
Jill Salzman and Brad Farris host the most entertaining business podcast in the world…because Forbes and Inc. Magazine said so. As Principal Advisor of Anchor Advisors, Brad Farris guides business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. Brad is a speaker and author. He’s passionate about business and helping business owners find better ways to do things, make more money and enjoy life more. His favorite pastime is shouting, and he does that an awful lot at Jill on the air. Jill can take it because she’s currently growing her third entrepreneurial venture, The Founding Moms, where she helps mom entrepreneurs build better businesses. She’s the author of The Best Business Book In The World* (*according to my mom) and Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs, and she gave her own TED talk on 11/11/11. She’s been dubbed a “mommy mogul” by CNNMoney, a “ Cool Mom Entrepreneur We Love” by MSN Live, and was recently named one of the Top 50 Women to Watch In Tech as well as a Top 100 Champion Small Business Influencer. She’s shared the speaker stage with Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, Daymond John, and Desmond Tutu, but there’s nothing that tops the shouting matches that Brad and Jill bring to the podcast airwaves.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?
Brad: I started life as an engineer but got frustrated when I designed exactly what the marketing folks told me to build and the product wasn’t a success. So I decided I needed to learn about marketing, and then to understand that I needed to learn about accounting and pretty soon I became the nerd that spoke business so they invited me to help them to evaluate acquisitions. We looked at a bunch of companies and bought a few until one came along that I was extremely excited about. It was a good deal, we bought it, and because I was so excited about it they gave me the General Manager role. It was the best job I ever had and launched my career working with small companies.
Jill: My background makes me sound just as wacky as I am on the podcast. My undergraduate degree is in neuroscience, my graduate degree is in the law. I went on to manage bands in my first business, sold baby jewelry in my second — and while running both of those businesses at the same time, I launched my third and current company, The Founding Moms. On paper, it appears to be a most ridiculous “career path.” But at every turn, I endeavored to do the thing no one had done before me, and it always involved my sales and marketing strengths. So when I managed bands, it was my job to create street teams and have folks on the ground to promote my clients. When I sold baby jewelry, I crafted local promoters to help sell my wares in stores. Now that I run the #1 platform for mom entrepreneurs to build better businesses, it’s the same thing — finding local folks to bring the community together — or, street teams. I’ve come full circle.
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
Let’s just say: it pays to crack jokes. We had a guest on who sold a food product and hired a company to send taste-testing booths to grocery stores in her area. She stopped by one of the stores to check in on her own product and saw that the sampler was making out with her boyfriend rather than paying attention to passers-by and handing out her food item. She was angry. So she’d called in to ask us whether she should ask the company for her money back, or have them send out new people to stores? Under her breath, Jill cracked a joke that she should do Valentine’s Day campaign and hire people to go into grocery stores and instead of just handing out the samples, have couples making out and talking about how the food item tastes so good it has them falling in love with each other all over again. The hilarious part? SHE DID IT. She got couples to make out, hand out her product (who knows how they did this at the same time?!) and increased her revenue that month by a lot. We’re very proud of ourselves. And we’re very sorry that we didn’t ask for a 10% cut of her profits.
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?
Jill: I launched my first business managing bands for a living. I called it Paperwork Media, and I sent bands on the road touring the country. Early on, a client asked me if I could arrange for him to play a show in Chicago with the Black Crowes. As a newbie entrepreneur who was happy to please, I said YES! I called the band’s agent, booked the gig, and signed a contract. The day after the deal was done, my client told me he’d changed his mind. So I let the agency know that a helicopter would no longer have to be rented to fly Chris and Rich Robinson out to Chicago. He said that would be fine, and did I have the cancellation fee handy? As a recent law school grad, I didn’t even *notice* the clause that said I would owe $5,000 to cancel a show. It hurt…and I’m grateful, because I haven’t done anything like it since.
Brad: When I first started my business my offering was to help people to improve their business performance before they put their business up for sale. Improved performance means a better price, and I’d get a share of that “better price.” So I worked with a few business owners on that basis, and we made some terrific gains. Got rid of underperformers, improved profits and cashflow, so I went to the owners and said, “OK, it’s time to sell!” They responded, “Why would I sell THIS business Brad, it’s running so great…”
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
At the time of this writing, we’ve released 352 episodes over the past 6+ years and continue to release them weekly because we are insane.
What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?
We tackle the most complex small business questions of our day, like “how do I make more money without driving myself nuts?” and “Why am I not a billionaire yet?” but we do it with panache and a lot of shouting. We want listeners to know that small business owners have the same worries everywhere. We want folks to admit more often that they don’t know what they’re doing, that they need help, and that we all have problems we need to solve. If we can get small business owners to become more comfortable with their own transparency and vulnerability, they’ll realize how interconnected that is to build a better business.
In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?
Frankly, it’s the shouting. Even more so, it’s the yin and yang that we present surrounding small business issues like marketing, sales, and accountability. Brad believes in data; he’s a numbers guy who wants folks to focus on finances, understanding their numbers, and how to be strategic in the way that they grow their companies. Jill’s a gut-getter; she trusts her gut and doesn’t let the numbers getting in the way of her going with the flow, which drives Brad crazy. We represent both sides of a typical entrepreneur’s thinking. Listeners tell us that after they listen to a couple of episodes, they’ll go back and consume the entire catalog — even though we often remind them that they’ll have to turn down the volume on a regular basis.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every work-day, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?
Systematizing your recording and releasing process is the way to go. We record our podcast once a month, and on that day, we record 4–5 episodes. Our producer, Saul The Great, edits them in one batch for release. We have a graphics VA that creates everything in one go, and we schedule it all for a weekly release. But we only see each other’s faces once a month, which is honestly plenty more than anyone needs to see Brad or Jill.
What resources do you get your inspiration for materials from?
Brad: I listen to a lot of other business podcasts and do a lot of reading on LI, Reddit, and Twitter to see what kinds of questions folks are asking. I’ve also got my day-to-day client interactions which give me ideas. I’m mostly looking for things I’m hearing from more than one place, questions that come up over and over.
Jill: Comedians. I love listening to how they banter, what timing techniques they use, and always try to improve comebacks, throwbacks, kickbacks and backbacks (the last term is mine and it’s trademarked so don’t even) so that Brad and I don’t leave much space and it’s more interesting to listen to. I leave the data up to him.
Ok fantastic. Let’s now shift to the main questions of our discussion. Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?
We think a LOT of podcasts do it right. We’re big fans of 2Bobs with co-hosts David Baker and Blair Enns, the New York Times’ The Daily podcast, Reply All, The Doctor’s Farmacy, Pants on Fire, Tara McMullin’s WhatWorks, The Allusionist, Good One, Joel Pilger’s RevThink, and the best of the best, Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History. The substance is key — you can run a podcast any which way, but without quality material of value, no one’s gonna give a crap about your podcast.
What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?
- Substance — an interesting and unique material that people aren’t talking about elsewhere
- Editing — without it, you get a lot of boring moments that don’t kill the vibe in real life but make for really bad radio on the air
- Scheduling — batching all of the work so that you’re not tirelessly producing and burn yourself out
- Promoting Plan — similar to scheduling, figuring out how, where, and when you’re gonna promote your podcast
- Listener Love — Making sure you’re catering to your listeners. Talk to them directly. Send them love. They feed your podcast and you’ll be nothing without them.
Can you share some insight from your experience about the best ways to: 1) book great guests; 2) increase listeners; 3) produce it in a professional way; 4) encourage engagement; and 5) the best way to monetize it? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
- This is impossible. You can book geniuses and find out later that they freeze on the air. You can book very mediocre sounding folks who ending asking the best questions by accident. It’s a lot of trial and error. We tend to look for the most vulnerable folks who know that there is always a problem going on in a company, not the folks who thing everything is awesome. We leave that to the Legos.
- There are millions of ways to increase listenership. Social media. Newsletters. Blogs. Appearances on other people’s podcasts and blogs. Mentioning your podcast link at the bottom of every email you send. Requesting to author articles for major outlets and link to your blog. Telling people you meet at the checkout line of any store about it. We could go on…
- Hire an engineer. They pay attention to sound more than anyone else you know. And if podcasts are all about sound, why not have the best of the best focus on that so you can focus on quality content?
- You have to become really comfortable with repeating yourself ad nauseam. Every episode you need to ask folks to subscribe or review or participate. EVERY EPISODE. People are busy, they’re fickle, and they’re not as interested in your product as you are. So you have to remind them like your mom had to remind you to wash your hands.
- Ask sponsors to buy live reads. That’s the best way to monetize it. You could put ads on your site for 3 cents per month. But the best money will be the most worthwhile if you find brands looking for your targeted audience. They can’t get access to your listeners any other way, which means there’s value in there. You can sell that value, talk about the brand to your listeners, and your listeners get to learn about a brand from a trusted source. That’s huge. It’s nearly as amazing as the king of all monetization kings — word of mouth magic.
For someone looking to start their own podcast, which equipment would you recommend that they start with?
Brad: For newbies, I think I’d use a tool like SquadCast.fm to do the recording, and I usually recommend the Pat Flynn equipment list: The Audio Technical ATR 2100 Mic which just plugs into your computer via USB.
Ok. We are almost done. :-) Because of your position and work, you are people of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Our campaign has been solid for years now, and it would be one loud chant: RAISE YOUR PRICES. Not enough business owners do this on a regular basis, and it spans from the practical, tactical side of things — that it can increase your income — all the way to becoming a reflection of who you are as a business owner and how much you value your own self-worth. It’s superficial and it’s deep. It’s very much worth shouting about.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing your time and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.
You as well! Thanks for listening.