Buzzcast

How to Grow a Podcast to 6 Million Downloads + An Update from Lake Stevens, Washington

January 29, 2021 Episode 44
Buzzcast
How to Grow a Podcast to 6 Million Downloads + An Update from Lake Stevens, Washington
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we check in with our Lake Stevens field correspondent, discuss the differences between Clubhouse and Podcasting, and hear from Josh Kaplan on how he grew Morning Brew's podcast "Business Casual" to more than 6 million downloads within 18 months of launching.

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Kevin:

If you're an avid podcast listener, and you listen to everything, you know, 1.5 to 1.7 X, getting into clubhouse feels like the slowest thing ever.

Travis:

With silent skipping turned on and voice boo. Yeah,

Alban:

you actually listen

Kevin:

at 1.5 1.5 is the minimum, I listened that really I usually listen like 1.75

Travis:

I'm a 1.3 smartspeed guy.

Alban:

I'm up locked in one to one ratio.

Kevin:

Oh my gosh, I can't do that. How do you like what you're looking at me like I'm crazy person, you can totally do it.

Travis:

So we have an update on a story that we broke here on the podcast. At the end of last year, we were investigating some mysterious play data that was popping up across the Buzzsprout podcast ecosystem. But our man on the ground, Rabbi Matt Shea Weiss. He did some digging for us in the Alban.

Alban:

Yeah, we got a nice email into support case read it.

Travis:

Yeah, go ahead and read the email that that Matt sent us.

Alban:

Sure. Dear press brah. I live in New York City. But I'm in Seattle visiting my parents. I was just driving back from an Airbnb near somewhere. And I'm nearly screenshoot Hall. Why? Because I saw a light side for Lake Stevens, Washington. I just listened to your podcast in December about the mysterious high volume of downloads from that town. I was going to continue to my destination, but I had a few minutes to spare. So I said to myself, I have to visit this town. I've been tried to leave the data center and gave up after a little while. I just love it. Somebody sent us an email because they are hunting around Lake Stevens, we actually have people on the ground now searching to try to figure out if we can, you know, uncover the true origins of this mystery?

Travis:

Yes, I'm not saying it's at the same level of Sasquatch. But there are now Lake Stevens data center hunters

Alban:

we have Lake Stevens troopers,

Travis:

yes, on the ground, searching for the elusive data center that's delivering all of these IP addresses to your devices around around the world. So what what's what's mats podcasts, let's make sure we give them a good shout out. Thank you so much for doing that work. And for sending us an email that totally made our week.

Alban:

He has a podcast called the stoic Jew, which is kind of looking at stoicism from a Jewish perspective. I've definitely got a law school roommate who I know who'd be into this. So check it out. If that sounds interesting to you. And thanks again for reaching out. This is a Yeah, these are definitely the kind of things that just give me like, I don't know, they just cracked me up. Because like that we're sitting here having a goofy conversation about something that pops up in our stats, and then hearing how it actually the real world. There's people like taking detours from their family vacations. They're like no, we got to stop at this town. Try to find the data center. Yeah, I just loved getting this email.

Travis:

Yeah, we have the best listeners in all the podcasting. Buzzcast audience you guys are the best. I think

Kevin:

we have a new Lake Stevens,

Travis:

a new mean, a new mystery data center hidden under a lake. I'm just looking at the Buzzcast

Kevin:

stats, but Lake Stevens over our last five episodes has now dropped considerably. I think when we did the original episode on Lake Stevens we were like it's number like five episodes. It was like number two or three now it's dropped to 123456 now it's down to six. There's a new number one that I've never seen before. Centennial Colorado.

Travis:

Yes.

Alban:

All right. And now we need someone at Centennial Colorado

Travis:

that sounds like a secret Air Force at this

Alban:

actually we haven't got a pretty much this has been confirmed. That Kevin's idea of just the IP addresses haven't been like re allocated their locations haven't been and you can see that by the fact that like Stephens dropped so dramatically is that those are getting actually correctly allocated but now we've we still need to do some more research

Travis:

either that or the the mystery is determine the Terminator bots were like we've been discovered shifts locations abort abort, DEFCON five, and they moved to a secret mountain hideout in Centennial Colorado in a nuclear bunker so that

Alban:

they can tell which of us is really into like Disney star warships. Segment

Travis:

they so thank you so much, Robin that that was awesome. And another update. We want to circle back to last episode. Alban was just getting prepared and ready to do his first clubhouse. Virtual events talk. So Alvin let us know how that went. Like how did how did your clubhouse thing go?

Alban:

Man? I mean, I think it went pretty well. We did. I actually raised back Travis, and I had been Filming for a video that's going to come out probably in like a week or two. And I raced home with like, five seconds to spare hopped on clubhouse on a from black pod collective was very kind and invited me on. And pretty much for an hour and a half, we just did q&a. And it was q&a with I think the room almost always had over 100 people in it. And we were just bringing people up on stage, they'd say something about Buzzsprout everyone seemed very, um, definitely laid a lot of groundwork for it, because everybody knew what Buzzsprout was. They they're used Buzzsprout, or they were interested in it. And so there's lots of questions about podcasting marketing strategies, lots of ideas. And this is this cracked me up. Lots of people had ideas for things that they were like, Hey, can we build this and the first and I was like, after that was like, Hey, I can't tell you if we're building anything. That's like one of our policies that we don't tell you over build something, building something because things change. And you don't want to make promises that you can't keep. And then people started there were definitely two that were like people said, Hey, if you could build this, it'd be really helpful. And it's definitely there were things that we are working on right now. And so I had like, a bit of I wanted like Kevin to be there. So you just like, promote him. And it'd be like an Elan musk moment. You know, like, people tweet Ilan, they're like, hey, would be cool if like, my car could do this. And he's like, okay, I'll put it out in the next update. But you know, that they're just hunting for the person who asks for the thing that they're about to release. And I was like, man, I want to do that so bad. Just like pop Kevin in. He's like, fine. next release? I'll put that in. Well, yeah, a few of those are coming out a couple of the things that kind of surprised me. I mean, we did it for an hour and a half. And we it definitely could have gone a lot longer. Because there were so many people with good questions, who kept trickling in? How many people kind of like followed through clubhouse over to Twitter. So I got a bunch of new Twitter followers from it. Which is not like, I don't know if there's any real value in building a Twitter following for me. But it was surprising to me how I saw so many people move from one platform to the other. And so there's obviously some kind of like synergistic relationship between the two that people are using them together. And when I was trying to think about it afterwards, Kevin, and I debriefed about this, it doesn't feel like it's a great marketing channel, in the sense that, you know, we're going to get tons of Buzzsprout customers from clubhouse. But it did feel like a really nice, it kind of is similar to what would happen at a conference itself, where you're just kind of walking around meeting with people talking, making connections, and there's a bit of a networking component. So there are quite a few podcasters, who I knew, or people that work in the podcast industry who kept popping into the room. And so I do think you have the ability to kind of do some networking, especially if you were in a pretty focused niche. You could, you know, connect with people in that niche pretty easily if they're on clubhouse. And it may be pretty difficult to do that if they're on another social media platform. I don't know if that'll go away, though, as clubhouse gets, you know, quite a bit bigger.

Kevin:

Yeah, I like that about that. For sure. It's the struggle that I'm having is trying to figure out how, you know, how, how is what's the big picture here, like what's the best use for clubhouse. I found myself in the last week hopping into a couple rooms, but quickly getting bored because unlike at a conference, where you're walking around, and there's a bunch of different vendors or speakers on the on the show floor, and you can walk up and you kind of see how long the line is. And you know, this is a 10 minute wait to talk to this person or whatever. In clubhouse, you really have to, you know, stand on the sidelines and listen to a whole bunch of other people's questions and conversations before you can start talking about what you want to talk about. And sometimes that's great. Sometimes you happen to be on the sidelines, and there's something very interesting being discussed. And then sometimes there's something that you're not interested in. And you just have to sit there and wait and you have no idea like how many different tangents the the conversation is going to go on before you get to come in and take it in the direction that you want to go. Another problem I was trying to figure out, like how do I work around this was somebody would ask a question or discussion would go a certain direction. And they'd asked for opinions from people in the audience, like does anybody have any thoughts on this or so I go ahead and raise my hand. I'd get accepted up on the stage. There's five people ahead of me. By the time those five people have their say and talk about other things, the conversation is completely moved on from that point. And so then I'm just like, remove myself from the stage like I don't want to, like backtrack the conversation. 20 minutes, right? And so I'm not saying that too. Say this isn't a good platform. I'm just saying it's very early and we're all still kind of figuring out how do these rooms work and and what's the best way to participate? And what's the best way to keep a conversation moving forward instead of like a two steps forward one steps back back type thing, but it kind of felt like, at least in my experience in this last week of I was sitting in on rooms and trying to contribute where I can

Travis:

I have still not downloaded clubhouse.

Alban:

I like they were like, kind of looking at Travis going, Oh, what do you think? Yeah. Have you do you don't have an invite?

Travis:

It's not that I don't have an invite or couldn't get one. It's simply just kind of waiting it out to see if this is something worth investing time into.

Alban:

I'm gonna go register Travis Albritton.

Travis:

Right. You can

Alban:

you can sell it to you and it gets big.

Kevin:

I will tell you this, that at least if you're an East coaster, like the three of us are probably not good if you have young children, because most of the rooms and stuff start popping up at least the ones that I'm subscribed to, like around 910 o'clock at night, which is when parents with young kids are like toast for the day. Sure. And so that's happened more than once when I've seen a room pop open. And I'm like, Oh, that looks interesting. But I'm like the first time I sat down all evening, I'm not ready to go. In, even if I did jump in, I'm like, I'm so exhausted. I can't I'm not you're not gonna get your best thoughts out of me at that point?

Alban:

Well, there are some I mean, as creators, I think there's cool ways to network, there are some cool conversations that may not happen other places. It's got a similar podcast II vibe that people don't feel like everything has to be perfect. They kind of just talk and riff on ideas, they can run a bit long, and you do have to be available as it's happening. So that is some of the downsides.

Kevin:

The interactivity part is a huge benefit that you get in clubhouse that you're not going to get in podcast, or as easily and I should say yet, like we haven't cracked that nut yet in the podcasting world. But the drawback, at least when you're comparing it to podcasts, is that I can listen when I want, how I want where I want at the speed that I want. Like, if you're an avid podcast listener, and you listen to everything, you know, 1.5 to 1.7 X, getting into clubhouse feels like the slowest thing ever.

Travis:

With silent skipping turned on and voice boo.

Alban:

Yeah. Do you actually listen at 1.5 1.5 is

Kevin:

the minimum I listened that really I usually listen like 1.75.

Travis:

I'm a 1.3 smartspeed guy,

Alban:

I'm up locked in one to one ratio, I will let overcast do the smart speeds and take out the you know the silences the middle of words,

Kevin:

do smart speed. 1.5 minimum usually 1.75. If it's a regular, like if the speakers just like a normal talking person, then it's like 1.75. If they're fast talkers, they get 1.5. How do you like what you're looking at me like I'm crazy person. You can totally do it. You just have it's training. It's just like speed reading. It's like learning how to read fast, you can learn to listen fast. And you'll get more content. I

Alban:

agree with you on the it's like speed reading. But the research shows that speed readers don't retain the information. Well,

Kevin:

let me say it this way, speed reading might be a bad example. It's not really speed reading. It's like Look, when you know, the more that you read, the faster you read. And it's not literally speed reading. It's just you can read faster than people who don't read as much. And I think the same thing is true for podcast content. Well, I always get in my car. And I'm like, how far do I have to drive? I gotta drive 10 minutes. So I can I can listen to a 20 minute 30 minute podcast episode. So that I mean that's just it's just the constraints that I have. Like I want to finish an episode. I gotta listen fast. Here we go.

Travis:

This is this is like the by like the podcast listening version of biohacking. It's like how do I optimize my body for peak performance podcast listening? Remove silences voice

Alban:

1.7 FM Ferriss unlike to x.

Kevin:

I don't listen Tim Ferriss much at all. I just cherry pick episodes. With Tim Ferriss, who's a hard one to listen to fast. The ATP guys are hard to listen to fast. Any roundtable discussions are hard to listen to fast because people speak at different speeds. And so like ATP, you have three people and they talk like, Who is it? Sarah QC, I think is a slow talker. And then Marco and no, Casey list is a slow talker and Marco and Sarah kusa both talk fast. And so that gets challenging because your brain is like locked into one person talking for two or three minutes and then you know, a fast talker comes in and you're like, Oh, no, I get it. I get confused with that one. Sometimes I got to slow them down.

Alban:

Yeah, this is kind of an interesting thing to hear, because I've always been of the opinion. You know, it's better to read half as many books but read them more slowly and really digest them and I probably We think the same on pretty much everything. Definitely podcasts. And so I've never been a speed listener on podcasts or audiobooks or anything. And now hearing both of you are cranking it to x speed, or Travis at 1.3 plus speed boost. I don't think I could. I mean, I think it could do it. I just think that I wouldn't get as much out of it. I

Kevin:

wouldn't remember it. I'm looking through my overcast right now. And I will tell you, I've got the Kimbo, which is Seth Godin, his podcast, that one is set to 1.2. That looks like my slowest. And I'll tell you I know why that is. It's not because he's a fast talker. It's because his concepts are deep and complicated. So as he's saying it, I have to absorb it and digest it and process it along with him. And I can't do that at 1.5. But if it's just conversation, like people listen to this podcast, I guess you could probably consume this at forex.

Alban:

Yeah, that's actually what I want. I want to know what do people listen to this podcast at? They're like, man, it is so rambley. Who knows what's going on forex is a minimum? Yeah,

Travis:

I guess it depends on how good of a job I did editing that particular episode. I will say this to kind of like wrap up this conversation because there's a couple other things we want to talk about. It does depend on the content. So like, at one point, I got sucked into the the Wolverine podcasts stitcher premium was doing, which is phenomenal. It's a great audio fiction podcast. And that was one x 100% with no speed boost, no nothing because it was like an audio masterpiece. And so I wanted to like experience it the way that the the audio producers and put it together. But if it's two people talking about like business growth ideas, then yeah, just give me the high level information, the three takeaways from the one and a half hour discussion. And I'm good to go. So it does depend on the content. But in general, I definitely speed it up.

Alban:

Does ever weird you out, Kevin, if you like, have you ever talked to somebody that you listened to their podcast or somehow listened to another app that didn't speed it up? Like, I feel like it'd be totally weirded out if I was listening to a 1.3. And you have this idea of them just being a super fast, very concise speaker. And then in real life, they'd be like, Well, here's what I think. Oh, my gosh, I can't get you at 1.3 in real life.

Kevin:

Yes, that has happened. I've listened to people on podcasts. And I've been intimidated to go on their show. And then when I actually landed the interview, it was at a much more reasonable pace. I don't know that I ever connect the dots. But I remember thinking like, Oh my gosh, this person is such a fast talker and fast thinker. And how am I going to hang with them? And then we actually did it and it was totally comfortable and fun. So I'm probably it's nothing to do with it.

Alban:

Have you ever listened to this podcast on 4x?

Kevin:

I listened to me. No, I don't think forex is an option for my app.

Travis:

But that would be craziness. That I'm not it would just be boo boo boo. That'd be it. That'd be no. no discernible words. It'd be like listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks that sort of be like, you guys are the Chipmunks. Or you get to be Alvin.

Alban:

I get why Alvin for sure.

Travis:

That's true. And to be fair, whenever we run transcripts through otter most of the time it transcribes Your name is Alvin. Not Alvin.

Alban:

I mean pretty much all restaurants. That's it. They give me to all my to go orders. I picked up food last night, the guy was like Alvin, you know it. Yeah. But he saw the hesitation. He's like, Oh, that's not you know it. It's probably me. And he's like, Oh, yeah, try and steal someone's name is Alvin. I'm sure that you didn't get like if they spelled it wrong. That's not. It's probably still me. Anyway. So got my Kravis

Travis:

Alvin, last year end of 2020, you're able to land interview with Josh Kaplan, which I thought went really well tell us a little bit about what you talked about with Josh. And then we'll roll the actual interview. So people listening to this episode can really capture all the things that you discussed.

Alban:

I think Josh, I interacted a handful of times on Twitter, he was the product manager of audio for morning brew. And for anybody who doesn't know morning brew is like one of his super large email newsletter comes out every morning. And just kind of gives you the high points of the news in a way that's trying to make you smarter and five minutes a day. And they've got a really good way of writing. I don't like the way their emails are written. It's very engaging and concise. And you do feel kind of empowered, like, Oh, I understand a little bit more about what's going on in the story. But anyway, they started podcasting. And that was what Josh was running. They were doing a pot he was producing a podcast called business casual, and it grew really fast. I saw write an article about it. And so I just reached out was like, Hey, we're, you know, he just did this interview with Jordan Harbinger where I asked him about his podcast, and people seem to like it. Would you be interested in doing one as well? So we recorded it since then, he has left morning brew. Then we will find out where he is headed next. Later,

Travis:

well, he launched it. He launched His own products on

Alban:

Twitter he did. We actually shared it in our newsletter, I think it's called like podcasting OS, which is just a way. It's just like everything he learned about podcasting while launching the podcast at morning brew. all that to say, it was a pretty interesting interview about how like a pretty large company views podcasting, the differences between email and podcasting, their growth strategies, different things they tested. And I just kind of like these conversations, because they feel kind of like podcasting masterclasses or something for people that are, you know, a step above us as far as their experience with running these really large shows that have mass appeal. And being able to just kind of pick their brain and how they experimented and how they built the podcast is really useful. And one of the things that I love the most is, it's so valuable for me to hear people who are at like another level, you know, the most podcasters, expressing when they don't understand something completely. It's very helpful to hear somebody like Jordan Harbinger say, I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing with this, but I'm trying it. And it's very easy to see large shows and go, Oh, 100%. they've figured this out, they've done all this testing, they know for sure. And they're killing it. And sometimes it's really useful to hear them say, Oh, I have the same doubts you do. I'm just going through the experimentation in kind of a systematic way. And here's what I've learned. It's so nice to hear that and it's very affirming. If you like these conversations, I'd love to get some feedback on them. And which podcasters would you want me to interview and kind of pick their brain about how they think about podcasting? You know, I probably can't get Sarah Canuck or Joe Rogan on the line, but maybe the next tier down. But you know, just be interesting to see, like, who would you want to learn from? So yeah, you know, reach out to support if you have any ideas or to me on Twitter.

Travis:

And with that, let's roll into Alvin's interview with Josh Kaplan.

Alban:

Everybody today, on the podcast, I have Josh Kaplan. Josh is the product manager of audio, morning brew. And he's the producer of their show business casual, it's been just over a year since morning brew, launched their first podcast business casual. And since then they've done over 100 episodes, with people like Eric Schmidt, Mark Cuban Andrew Yang, if you scroll through the list, you'll recognize a ton of those names. And so I invited Josh onto the podcast just to pick his brain and learn what they've learned over the last year, I want to hear about how they sell ads, how they've grown the podcast, and, you know, just pick his brain about how to run a successful podcast, especially when you're doing so much other content. So Josh, thank you so much for joining me. Happy to be here.

Josh:

Thanks for having me.

Alban:

And for people who don't know, could you just describe a bit of what morning brew does and how you launched?

Josh:

Yeah, we'd love to morning brew is a business media company for the next generation of professionals. We started about five or so years ago, as a company with one daily email newsletter that caught you up on yesterday's business news, Alex and Austin, who founded the company, were looking at the wall street journal in the New York Times. And actually I was there at the University of Michigan with them as well, when they were looking at this. And we were all preparing for finance, interviews, consulting interviews, and you get into an interview and they say, How do you stay up to date with the world and we would all lie and say that we read the New York Times cover to cover the Wall Street Journal cover together, Bloomberg. And so instead, Alex started writing this PDF and turned into a newsletter. That was one narrative, open the email, get to the bottom of the email, then you're good to go, no click out, it's no ask for additional time, written in the way that your friend would explain to the business news. And that really took off that really found the audience that found the intention, it was valuable. And we've focused on that exclusively for a very long time and silvius until we started to expand our coverage area, and the number of mediums that we were existing, and because we wanted to become a media company of the future. And so when we got into a couple newsletters in and we said, well, how are we going to go from text based journalism into other formats? So Kinzie, who's the host of business capital and I, we came together and we said, How do we go to the next level, and we looked at podcasts, and people are really excited about it. We loved it. People had been asking for podcasts. And we said, Alright, let's do something that doesn't copy, keeping you up to date in the business world. Let's go a level deeper in the headline level. So we started to look at the medium as a way to tell stories that weren't optimal for text. And then we just continued on, we knew that this was going to be the entry point for the company into audio and video and we were going to keep learning and testing new things on different platforms. And it's been an incredible year since then, that we can actually look back and say, Wow, we've learned a lot. We tried a lot and now each additional product There we go and release, we can start at a much higher place. So it's been a really fun time getting that far. We love business casual. And there's so much more in sort. But I love talking about anything when it comes to growth, revenue, the content itself. And yeah, let's see where this thing goes.

Alban:

Awesome. I love that you stepped up from having this incredible newsletter, which a lot of people I know at our company actually read every day read it, cover to cover, and it says read the whole thing. I read marketing Bru, just to keep up on today what's happening in the marketing world. And I love the moved from newsletters to podcasts. Because there is a natural, they have some similarities, which I think are really important. Especially with like a shifting media landscape. There was a time when everybody thought BuzzFeed was the media company of the future, because they knew how to use Facebook to grow. And you can now see some just, I mean, kind of embarrassing stats for BuzzFeed when they can share a post sometimes with millions and millions of followers on Facebook. And it only gets a couple 100 interactions. Because that audience is controlled by Facebook. Still Facebook doesn't think it's a good post, they're not going to share it with everybody. The difference with email newsletters, and podcasting is there is no intermediary, you are going to put something out into the world, people download it right to their podcast apps, or they read it right inside their email. So is that an intentional decision that you made when deciding to get into podcasting?

Josh:

Yes, it was intentional, you made all the right points about why it's such a great medium and why it's similar to email newsletters, we liked being able to go direct to the listener or the reader, which is what we get. We like having the subscription button. as a as a company, we really like fitting into habits, knowing our audience. So it's not a quantity play. It's not how can we go viral tomorrow, it's how can more people find our content, be entertained, and learn from it, and then incorporate it in their morning routine, or in their running routine with the podcast or the commuting routine with the podcast. But we don't want to become this endless scroll company where we're just creating so much content that you don't know what to do with and we want to be part of it. You want to bring people along for the adventure. And that's why we also do a lot of this stuff in public where we tell people, what do you want, here's what we think we explain the whole process of it. So there's a lot about the media company that we've created, that we can look back on and say whether it was intentional or not, we learned a lot from our predecessors, we looked at the bus feeds, you see the vices of the world, we love axios. We love this game, we've learned so much from these other big players that have shown us what to do most of the time, and sometimes what not to do. But as far as emails and newsletters go, we've always been really excited about both of those. And that's why we've been starting with those two, first and foremost,

Alban:

the way we decide to do all of our podcast content, whether it be guides, podcast episodes or videos on our YouTube channel, we pretty consistently are just asking people what they need help learning. And the two areas that keep coming up are how do I grow a podcast? And how do I monetize a podcast once I've actually grown up some of a listener base. And I know morning brew has done a really good job growing the podcast business casual. And so I just like to hear after a year, how far have you been able to grow the podcast?

Josh:

Oh, you're getting right to it, you know all the dirty data and everything that's so sacred about it. I wish I had more data, right, that's a whole nother conversation about how hard it is to tell how performance is going in podcasting and how even a year of me paying attention. It still baffles me most of the time. But what we do know is that every week we get around 150,000 listeners on the entire catalogue of the show. And another interesting thing to talk about is the back catalogue and how that's becoming more relevant and more important to the overall health of the show. But we released two episodes, one on Tuesday, one on Thursday. And each of those by the end of the seven day trail, it gets to about 25,000. So we're getting numbers. And some weeks are better than others. It's it's not linear, where it might be in other mediums. Sometimes you are better timed with the guests and the theme and what's going on in the world. And sometimes you're not but because of the library, it goes like that. And so on a weekly basis 150 K and then we've actually just crossed 6 million total over the lifetime of the show. So that's been a fun nother million to tally on and get to talk about. That's those are the those are the high level metrics. There's a lot of other numbers that I like to think about and understand whether they're valuable or not. But I think that answers the main question about how big we've grown from day one. And I'll answer your next question before you ask it. The number one growth lever is having a newsletter with 1,000,002 million plus as easy as that As hacking the world, and if you've got one of those, you should start a podcast.

Alban:

So you've heard if you want to grow your podcast, just go ahead and grow an email newsletter to 2 million subscribers. And then you're golden. We often tell people how difficult it is to get a podcast to go viral for a lot of reasons. And I do like that you're using the email newsletter kind of saying like, it's very difficult to build a podcast on its own. And if you do have other ways to reach people, or ways to people are already paying attention to you that those should be the primary way that you grow your podcast. Do you have any, any learnings, anything that you've kind of discovered along the way of how to take a as somebody who's reading the podcast and get them over? Excuse me, reading your newsletter and get them over to the podcast?

Josh:

Yes, and I'll preface it with another learning is that the email newsletter has been phenomenal for launching the newsletter and sorry, I just made the same mistake, launching the podcast and gaining brand awareness that business casual exists, what it is who Kinsey is that it's attached to morning brew, but it actually doesn't convert direct downloads that well, because when you open an email on the phone in the morning, you don't all of a sudden have 30 unstructured minutes to just listen to the interview. That's not how people operate. So what we found is that we started to advertise through the newsletter as time has gone on, about the awareness of it. Who's coming on this week? What are the topics? What are the testimonials, and that started to pay off better? But as far as growth right, getting back to growing the podcast beyond it outside newsletters, can I tap into that? Because I have a lot to say that? Yeah, absolutely. So there's no silver bullet right? When it comes to growing these things. It is going to it depends on the format of your show. But for an interview based show, where we're keeping up with what's relevant in the business world. There's a lot of different aspects of growth. The one that I'll cross off the list is the podcast apps. I don't think there's a lot of discoverability happening on Apple and on Spotify right now, we have about 80% of our listenership on Apple about 10% on Spotify 10% goes to the rest of the handful of apps. And I think there's some really exciting stuff happening on the technology front. But really, I don't think many people are discovering the show via the apps. At a large scale. I think that most of the discoverability is happening on social is happening through other marketing collaborations that allows people to drive back to our show and then say, Oh, right, that does sound like a compelling episode to listen to, I am going to carve out time for my x activity tomorrow, or when I'm working the day after. So a lot of the marketing a lot of a lot. A lot of the growth that we've been trying to encourage is building on different platforms, using the YouTube search algorithm, working with guests to share throughout their companies and throughout their followings on social breaking it up into little video clips for Twitter and Instagram and building up their Kinzie going on other shows has been phenomenal. Kinsey having now I think close to 18,000. Twitter followers, as we record, this is an incredible asset because people like following people as the intimate medium, it all makes sense that people want to know the person who's coming up with this thing. So we all of a sudden have to make this relatively complex. But then then we can simplify the whole thing. But on a week to week basis, we're constantly tapping on all those different things, trying to distribute and show why the show is great. And it's not just saying go listen to the full episode, go subscribe. It's achieving the brand mission of business casual across all these other places. So then when we get a new episode, we have a much bigger Launchpad to tell people about. So that's been what has actually been fueling more of our growth. And it's not like there's hey, here's the one thing you got to do all this stuff, I think. And so we've been hard at work. And I think that's what's allowed us to grow over the past year to where we are today.

Alban:

Okay, so I, I have probably about 50 follow up questions to this. But let me jump into one that kind of shocked me. You said that you didn't think that the discoverability on the apps was super important. Which definitely surprised me because I know you are business casual was a Apple new and noteworthy show for quite a while. And at least looking across all of all the podcasts on Buzzsprout. It sounds like you are very, very Apple heavy. I think our numbers say 47% of all listeners happen on Apple podcasts. If you're saying it's closer to 80.

Josh:

Do you think that chances are your numbers? I don't know what's going on? I don't know why ours are so different. I wish I knew

Alban:

could Apple promoted you for a new and noteworthy and got you a nice Apple bump in the beginning.

Josh:

I think that certainly held on by the way. And for me that's that was now this time last year that we were new and noteworthy. We launched in September, we got new and noteworthy We did see a really dramatic bump. But I think, I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. But I would be surprised if that's really been such a big indicator of why even today, the distribution is like that. I think it might have to do a little bit more with our audience if I had to guess, and just who they are and how it's been. But I don't know, I wish I knew. But new note, new and noteworthy is an incredible growth letter. The thing is, you can only do it once. And so after that, you got to say, well, thank you for that. But what's next? And for me, it's always been focused on what can we build as sustainable operations that allow us to constantly grow rather than hoping that we'll get an apple or Spotify promotion in some shape or form? Right. And they're great to work with, I actually love the people on both of those teams. But it's a very crowded competition to try and get those promotions. And maybe you get one once every now and then. And sometimes you get lucky or it makes sense. But I think as far as really building a sustainable strategy, you got to go back to what can you be repeatable? What can be repeatable? And what can you get compound interest out of by building up those other platforms?

Alban:

Yeah, I, I love that. You're saying what kind of strategies can you use to get that compound interest so that things are growing faster and faster over time? But because I know that everyone watching this video, listen to this podcast is going to ask, how did you get into Apple new noteworthy? Hi,

Josh:

again, the secret is we are growing this podcast off of a very large brands of morning brew, and being able to say, Hey, we're gonna put apple at the top of the newsletter that goes out to however many we had, at the time, caught their eye, everything I think is a trade that nothing's for free, I think you always got to say what's in it for them. And to say, morning brew is launching a new podcast, go listen on Apple, it says, oh, wow, we're gonna send a good amount of audience their way maybe. And then I think that catches their attention. And we use that for guests, we use that for a lot of things, because a lot of it is leveraging the assets we have as a company. And being a part of this morning brew ecosystem is really, really good for business casual. So I think that is why I'm sorry that anybody listening or watching to this that might not be able to repeat the same steps. But but the whole Apple team is very receptive. And I think if you say, this is how I'm promoting Apple, and this is why I'm bringing good content to your platform, they will hear you and they will work with you as best as they can. I won't speak for them, but I think they will. Yeah, absolutely. I

Alban:

mean, you do want, if you're hoping for somebody to promote your show, you definitely want to show them a little bit of what's in it for them, that you see them as, you know, important player in the field. Maybe if you are a podcast, that's Apple centric, maybe you're looking at using the new Apple podcasts embed player on your website, which is actually sending all your traffic to them. And that also is just going to increase the number of downloads that Apple seeing so that it will get surfaced a little bit more likely they'll see, hey, subscriber numbers are really shooting up for this podcast, maybe we should take a look. One of the strategies I saw you actually wrote a really great blog post on medium when you hit your first million downloads. So this was January of this year. One of the things you talked about was creating the right calls to action in your content. And I think this is specifically in your newsletter. Can you talk to us a little bit about your calls to action for people to listen to the podcasts you use the phrase? things need to be short, negative, and elusive. What do you mean by that? And give us a little bit of idea of what how you think about this

Josh:

short 90 of an elusive actually is something is for the newsletter opens, which is something that if you're doing email marketing, for your show, or for whatever you're doing, we have found and we've a be tested and the editorial team and the growth team that has been focused on the newsletter has absolutely perfected this and Maureen Brousseau, Jenny Neal, they have really broken this down to a science where if you're short, negative, and elusive in the subject line of an email, you're going to get opened. But what I think we've learned from the podcast side of things is that that's not exactly true. And it's something we've learned more recently, we used to be cute in the title, and try and be elusive and try and bring people in when they see the title of the podcast. And they say, oh, that might be interesting. But then we start to switch off and on as far as house how specific Can you be what what is the future of the cannabis industry. And when we're more obvious business casual succeeds, that might not be true for every podcast that might not be true for every audience in particular, but for the business casual business listener, we have found that they want to know what they're getting themselves into. And I think once you get into the audio, then you have to storytelling away, that is still elusive. That keeps people going that people want to stay For the entire length of the episode, and that's, I think, where you can get a little bit more acute and a little bit more creative. But I think in the show notes, and in the episode title, the shorter, the more obvious, the more information you convey, the better off,

Alban:

you'll end up being. Interesting. So that aligns pretty much with what Apple also recommends, we actually just got an email. Pretty recently, when they're talking about, they just released the home pod Mini. And they said, you know, it's gonna be a lot more likely for people to listen to podcasts on these devices. And the way one of the things they recommend is have short, concise titles that really let people know what the podcast is about. And it sounds like that's aligning with what you've learned.

Josh:

I think so. Yeah, it's already hard to make these decisions for such a significant amount of time. And if we're asking for 35 minutes out of someone's day, that's a lot. It's a big commitment. So it's not as easy as Oh, maybe I'll see what's behind this email. It's, do I want to buckle up for this. And I think that means you have to show a bit more. So I agree with Apple, we've seen what we've tried to test testing isn't as easy on the podcast front. So it's not as scientific as the subject line testing us on email. But I would totally agree with what you're saying.

Alban:

One of the things that you're really good at morning brew is repurposing content. I feel like everything that you share in the newsletter also is on social media for the podcast, you have really great transcripts on the website. And you do a really good job of getting all that content out on what other whatever channel people are on. And I guess I just want to ask like, how do you repurpose content in a way that just doesn't make you go insane?

Josh:

When you say go insane, you're saying from the operations of it are from the audience making them insane?

Alban:

No, I'm definitely asking from the content creators side. So for everybody's putting out a podcast, and feels this need to repurpose across a bunch of channels, is there a way to systematize that so that they don't feel overwhelmed,

Josh:

that they have to promote and all these different areas? What I believe in podcasting is just for long form content is that you get your whole full length episode. And there's a story that comes before the episode, why did you choose to do it? There's a story that comes after the episode. What do people think? What did you learn after putting it out what kind of responses but as far as the full episodes go, that's your anchor asset. That's your full length thing. And then what you have to figure out to do, how to do is how to atomize it and how to take little pieces of it, whether it's quote cards, video clips, trivia questions, who knows, you got to find out what works for your show and what works for your audience. But you got to get as much value out of the episode as possible. And then you got to redistribute it so that other people can enjoy and say, Oh, that's a good point. That's an interesting thesis from that guest. That's an interesting to sit statistic, I think I'll give this whole show a shot, or the other way around, where it says, I listened to the episode. And now I have something to share. Most people don't actually share the full episode. Because even when you send it to a friend, it's a hard expectation, hey, humor me and give me 45 minutes of your time. But if you can say, Hey, I'm already on my Instagram app, I'm already on Twitter. Let me just flip this thing over to my friend, then you make it much easier to let people show that they're a fan of the show. So that's more conceptual. But as far as the operations go, you have your anchor assets, which is something that like Kinsey as the idea generator in Maryland, as the idea generator really focused on making the best possible full length episode. And then what we've done as a team, and we'll divvy up the responsibilities, I do the transcripts. Somebody else does this, somebody else does that some are freelancers. And we say, Hey, can you help us break this up into clips? Yeah, I mean, from there, you just do it. It's not easy. It takes time. There's no secret sauce to coming up with the right captions to finding the right clips to do that. I don't know the secret to that maybe someone has a better way. Some people have tried to automate it. I've seen these software's that pick out based on the word analysis, what might be the most provocative part of the podcast? I don't think we're ready to outsource that technology. Maybe one day, I would love to get that off of my hands. But we know best we were there for the interview. We were we've seen the whole editing process, we know what is the most compelling snippet, the shorter the better. By the way, we found that if you try and cut a minute and a half for Twitter, that's not good. You need like 20 seconds. If you're on YouTube, you can then allow yourself to go more like four to six minutes. But it's been a whole education on these platforms and why I think I'm still podcasting. All of a sudden, I have to give myself this whole operational and strategic education as to what's going to work best outside of the actual podcasting apps. And I think that's a really necessary component to growing these shows. We cannot just live and die by the RSS feed.

Alban:

I think that's incredible. And I know that on our side, we see a lot of this repurposing as a way To get in front of new listeners, because all the other platforms, all the platforms, social media platforms, in particular, are built to get distribution. And but it's mostly like one time, you might get lucky something goes viral. And you're kind of just buying a bunch of lottery tickets every time you share something on, you know, one of these sites, and you're hoping this gets a ton of traction, and then a bunch of people go, Wow, that's actually a really interesting point from Ray Dalio and I now want to listen to this whole interview. Oh, this podcast actually is a great interview. I'm going to go listen to it right away.

Josh:

Yeah, that's, that's the name of the game right now.

Alban:

Now, one other things you've written about is you wrote this great blog post on podcast transcriptions. And one of the things you wrote I've got here is, the real value of transcript is for hearing impaired users and non English first, but it also helps with SEO. We really believe in transcripts quite a bit at Buzzsprout. So I'd like to hear how do you think about the value of transcripts? And what process Do you go through to create those transcripts?

Josh:

Totally. I don't know which one's more important. It's hard to say, really, I want to be inclusive, we should be thinking excelled accessibility. First, I think that's really important for all media. So I want to say that's just like, that shouldn't even be a question everybody should be enjoying what we put out, regardless of wherever you are, however you are. So I think, whatever, just do it, I found somebody on Upwork. Again, this is something that people are trying to automate with software. And I think that day will come because that's the future. But right now, if we use the computer on transcripts, there's always some sort of mistake, and it doesn't flow well as written copy. Because there's all these filler words, there's all these little things. If somebody knows a better software that they really think works, let me know, I would love to try it. But we found somebody on Upwork, her name is Dana, she's up in Queens, when COVID receives, we're gonna all go get drinks or something like that. But she is just always on the ready to transcribe your episodes, and she likes the content. She gets paid, it's great. And so then I take that transcript, I put it on the website. And so then I can just tell that my SEO score by having all these big names, all these big business, e buzzwords are starting to collect a lot of weight over time, because the audio we know is searchable. Now, I've seen a bunch of articles about how Google will index based on podcasting. But I think that, given how easy it is to add this to your operations, I think it's something that's really good from the very first point I made, but also to the SEO play. I'm not an SEO wizard, but I can just tell from my Google Analytics, where the traffic is coming from, and just as the months go by, and my search volume that brings people into the website continues to go up.

Alban:

I love you talking about making sure it's accessibility first, because that really should be table stakes. Like we should just assume that we are making this content for everybody. And, you know, there's there's accessibility for people who are hearing impaired and are just hard of hearing. But there's also like, let's just get it out there so people can share it. And then people can go and read it. Sometimes people can't listen to something, but they could read, and they would enjoy just to read the podcast right then. And it's like we already talked about if someone's not a native speaker of English, translating, that is so much easier when there's a well written transcript, which well written sometimes does not mean verbatim. It can actually mean editing out segments, probably some of the segments that I might have just put into this answer. Okay, so one last promotion strategy I've seen you use is a you have a group called the podcast promo exchange, where if you have excess inventory for your ads, you'll do a promotion for another podcast in exchange for that podcast doing a promotion for you. So can you tell us a little bit about what's happening there? Yes, and

Josh:

I've got bad news for you. It doesn't work. I've debunked myself. So this group is fantastic. And there's a slack group, you know, a bunch of people from legitimate companies are in there. Everyone's being super helpful to each other and welcoming and solve each other's problems and connects to all sorts of resources, which is just really cool for me to be a part of them pretty early in my career. So to get to be exposed to professionals that easily is something special and unexpected. And for a while, we would say hey, if you have excess inventory, if you have a certain ad space that's dedicated to swapping, let me know and we'll swap shows because what we saw in the newsletter world is that cross promoting with other newsletters was fantastic. If you like email newsletters, you're more susceptible and more likely to like more email newsletter. We thought that would drag over the audio. And that if you're listening to a podcast, you would give another podcast a shot. There's a couple problems with that is that you by creating your own ad unit, and you don't really know how someone's going to deliver your show. And so sometimes we would do a cross promotion. And they'd say, Oh, I heard you on x show no way. I can't believe they did that for you. I'm like, that wasn't great. That was marketing. But what we learned was that someone hits someone Miss, and it was really hard to attribute. There are a couple tools. And I'm sure I actually think you probably can speak to this better about the attribution side of audio to audio. But we were trying that and nothing was showing a dramatic uptick. So for the six months of the year, we did a couple million of cross promos. And then for the third quarter, we backed off, and I haven't really seen any sort of dramatic shift. And so I again, it's one of these data problems that I wish I could say, I know everything I know that they 100% work, which ones do which ones do. But I think that the reality is that if you don't hear and if you don't see anything, it's not there. And I've seen and I've heard much better signals from other marketing, things that we've tried to do, like the ones that I was speaking to earlier. So I've actually backed off of the cross promotions, I think that the better way is to do a real integration, and to have the host of another show on your show. And then to have our hosts have Kinzie go on to another show where they can really do it justice. And it's a real thought through partnership that you then put over social, you then put over your email you put over your podcast, and you really say I believe in this integration, I think my audience would like you, I think your audience would like me, we were shelling out a lot of cross promos to shows that if you asked me today, did you think that I was like, I don't really think they would like it. And so I think it was a lot of learning. It was a good to make those connections as well. We made some friends through the process. But it's not a strategy that I personally am continuing to pursue.

Alban:

Okay, interesting. I've so the one of the other videos we recently just did was with Jordan Harbinger. And for his podcast, he said this was the main way he was growing. He grown the Jordan Harbinger show so it'd be interesting to kind of compare and contrast. You know how he's doing the cross promo, and then how you'd done it, maybe see if he kind of, you know, pull out what the differences might have been there. I totally feel your pain, though, on the being able to attribute things, we've been completely spoiled by the attribution that we can do for Facebook ads for Google. There's all this ad tech and there a lot of it is incredibly creepy, in how good it is attracting. And I think as marketers, we maybe have gotten a little too addicted to it. Because as soon as you get into a world of podcasting where we don't have at all, which I think is actually times a very good thing. It is hard to figure out like are it did this purchase of a bunch of ads actually lead to something for me. It can be difficult to tell. So I know you have spoken, you know the team at Chartwell, and there's a really great guys. And I think that's probably the best software. Is there other software that you've used for attribution and tracking?

Josh:

Yeah, we use pawn sites as well and chargeable moreso on the marketing side of things, pod sites more on the advertising side of things. I don't know if that's just by happenstance, or if they're building their products to better target on one side or the other. But yeah, the the guys are chargeable and pod sites and the whole team guys and girls over there, everything. They're they're doing the podcast Lord's work over there. I think it's a whole, we could do a whole nother episode about whether we want the data or not. I think somebody got mad at me on Twitter, because they were like, this whole thing with RSS is going down the dark side. I'm like, have you heard of Google and Facebook? Like, we're nowhere close? They're like, you still should be diligent. I'm like, Yeah, I agreed. But like, we got to do business, like we got to figure out how to be efficient. So I think that what we're all doing is like complaining, and they're actually building a product that will solve it. And someone has to have vision and says, Okay, how are we actually going to build some sort of ecosystem that respects the user, but also tells you when what when your work is actually productive? Because like the reality in which I'm just going to respect everyone's privacy, and then, you know, never make any real attribution or understand what's productive and what's not like, maybe I think I'm ethical enough to slow myself down, but somebody else is not going to slow themselves down, and they're going to take laps around me. So I don't know. It's something that I think is very interesting at large about which tools we use. And I think somebody has to come in and say, This is what the ecosystem should look like, where it's open, distributed, fair, good for everybody. Which is really hard. But I think that we're still looking for more leadership and less complaining, when we come down to the attribution conversation,

Alban:

there's a solid chance that the person complaining had a at Buzzsprout email address because we've definitely been on the we've definitely been on the, you know, watch out for a lot of the mistakes of the internet have been connected to some of these creepy ad tech. And so I really like what Charles was doing. They seem like they're trying to do everything in the right way. And hopefully, we'll continue to find a way to let people measure the success of their campaigns without actually invading people's privacy.

Josh:

I've got one more point on the ethical ethics of it, is that we all think we want all this fancy data. But I think what we've what I've found out, and I love talking to these listeners and saw my friends now, and some were already my friends, but I, me and my team, we make these calls, we email and we we ask How'd you find out about the show? What do you like? What do you not like? After 20 calls every three months, you start to hear the same thing. So while we want this data, everything, if you just dedicate some time to getting to know your audience, you're going to hear trends. Yeah. If you go towards 100, true fans, and you listen to the audience, and you say, Oh, that's how you discovered us. Oh, that's what really pissed you off, then you can optimize the product very authentically and very real. Because if you ask good questions, how are you doing? What did you think? That basic stuff, there's no rocket science here. But I found that you start to hear the same thing over and over again. And then that leads to a signal and then I can optimize from there. So some of our best pivots, instead of optimizing a little thing here and there and trying to tweak something digitally. We've made massive enhancements to the show, because we just gotten on the phone and said, What do you think? So I don't know, I think that there's a lot of other ways to go about the end goal of data that can be solved with many different ways of just there's a lot of better ways that are not nearly as intrusive, and get you to potentially better and bigger discoveries.

Alban:

Yeah, I love that. I think it's very easy to look at numbers as the source of truth, and then often miss the stories and the people behind those numbers. People will tell you with a lot more nuance, you look at just Google Analytics, you can see which site somebody came from. But they may tell you, Oh, I'd actually been thinking about you for months, I'd heard you on this podcast, and I watched four YouTube videos. Then I saw a retargeting ad. And then I finally was on this website, and I clicked the link, you're gonna get a lot more data, and a little bit more understanding of somebody's purchasing decision, if you talk to them versus just seeing the one data point of them coming to make the purchase. So I know we've used over an hour of your time, do you have time for some rapid fire questions? Before we go?

Josh:

Surely, let's do it.

Alban:

All right. So what advice would you give to new podcasters just starting out,

Josh:

get to know your audience and give them value whether it's entertainment, education, both give them something, solve a pain point, and then keep on going. And then just obsess over your audience and worry about everything else. Second, they will help you grow they will help you monetize, know the audience, make them the happiest people they've ever been.

Alban:

Is it too late to start a podcast? Hell, no.

Josh:

That's it. That's the answer. It's not too late. Make content everyone should be expressing themselves. tell your story to tell whatever story you think you need, it goes out, but also put it in other places don't live and die by the RSS feed. YouTube is your friend. Audio grams are okay, if you can get video if you can get animation somehow find a freelancer online, get creative, iterate on top of it, make your content, put it in both places, see what goes well. And then keep going. You might start with a podcast and then end up with a video you might start with a video and end up with a podcast. As long as you're expressing and storytelling and using Buzzsprout then you're good to go.

Alban:

Should businesses be creating their own podcasts?

Josh:

Yes. I again, it's people should be expressing themselves but businesses should be owning their own media properties. I think I'm saying this as a media company that wants your advertising dollars. Own your own media channels. They this this is the future this is the future of real estate it's better than having a quarter property in New York City. It's all about having your own audience and distribution and catalog of content so you can distribute without constantly paying somebody else to do it for you. So I think the sooner these companies and most companies b2b b2c, bring in media as a cornerstone the same way you have marketing the same way you have revenue and this and product and engineering. I think everyone for internal communications for thought leadership and and being a champion of your employees for customer acquisition for customer retention. Own your media. Everyone should be making content. This is the future. That's my biggest thesis right now that I'm super excited about, but 100% start a podcast.

Alban:

Well, thank you so much. We really appreciate you coming on to the podcast slash YouTube video thing that we're doing. And just sharing all these insights you've learned, because there's not a ton of podcasts that are doing as well as you have been doing. If people want to learn more about morning brew, or the podcast business casual, or just learn more from you, in particular, where would you direct people to go?

Josh:

They've probably heard enough of me. But if you want more of my random thoughts go, I think I've been putting out more of my stuff through Twitter, I should write another medium blog posts of some sort. But follow me on Twitter. I'm Jay Kaplan one, check out business casual and podcasting follow Kinsey grant at Kinsey grant on Twitter as well. The show itself explores a different relevant business trend each week. And I think that we're doing an awesome job bringing on really smart people to answer our questions to explore that part of the business world. So give that a shot. Give me a follow, reach out, say hi. And yeah, thank you so much for having me on. This is really fun. It's nice to step out from behind the scenes and to be the one on it. It's super weird, but I appreciate it. And thank you so much.

Alban:

Well, thanks again. Hopefully, in the future, maybe hit another 10 million downloads. We'd get you back on to share even more things that you've learned. Sounds great. We'll see you there.

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