Buzzcast

PRL - Bill Zimmerman "Happy Valley Hustle"

March 05, 2019
Buzzcast
PRL - Bill Zimmerman "Happy Valley Hustle"
Chapters
Buzzcast
PRL - Bill Zimmerman "Happy Valley Hustle"
Mar 05, 2019
Buzzsprout
Podcasting in Real Life
Show Notes Transcript

On today's episode of Podcasting in Real Life, I get to sit down with Bill Zimmerman, host of "Happy Valley Hustle."

Want to be featured on a future episode of Podcasting in Real Life?
Click here to submit your application.

Check out Bill's podcast at billzhustle.com/podcast and subscribe anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Buzzcast is sponsored by Buzzsprout, the best place to start and grow your podcast.

Looking to start your podcast or upgrade your podcast host? Sign up for free at Buzzsprout.com

Bill:
0:00
I created a branded belt and I call it the hustle champ championship belt. It has my podcast logo right in the middle and I created this belt that I have every guest pose with. Every time I pull it out of my my backpack, the people just light up. They get a big smile on their face.
Travis:
0:32
Welcome to podcasting in real life, the Buzzcast show where we dive into the real life stories, podcasts, yours in the middle of their podcasting journey. I am your host, Travis Albritton, head of content at Buzzsprout. Now you won't hear anyone famous, all of these podcast episode interviews. Instead you'll hear it everyday podcast owners just like you, share personal stories about how podcasting has impacted them and the things that they've learned along the way. And in today's conversation, I get to sit down with the host of Happy Valley Hustle, Bill Zimmerman. And what's really cool about bill's podcast is it is made specifically for people in his geographic area. So when he created his podcast, it was the central Pennsylvania Happy Valley podcast. And so what that's allowed him to do is really be able to connect and network with other influential people in the area and highlight stories that he thinks other people need to hear about.
Travis:
1:29
And we also dive into the importance of having fun with your podcast. You know, he made a championship wrestling belt that he gives to all of his guests to wear and to do a photo op with after the duty, the interview. And so we just dive into why it's really important to do just fun and quirky, stuff like that to keep things fresh and two for podcasting to not just turn into a second job. Now Bill teaches at Penn state and for him, his podcast was a way to stay up to date on the latest marketing practices and serve as an example for our students.
Bill:
2:03
Um, so after college I worked in a newspaper for, for 10 years, a small daily newspaper in Indiana, Pennsylvania. And then after that got hired by Penn state to work in their public relations office. Um, and I did that for five years before a Ralph five years before becoming a full time faculty member. So when I was working at Penn state, I really quickly realized how much I loved working on a college campus. Uh, the energy of a campus is fantastic and it's just a really great work environment. So I, while I was working, I started working towards a master's degree in higher education. I wanted this degree to kind of ensure that, that, that I would continue to work on a college campus in some capacity. Um, I was happy working in the public relations job, but this degree created some possibility maybe I could get into lobbying for the university or fundraising or academic advising.
Bill:
2:53
And then I also had the opportunity to teach as an adjunct instructor to teach it basic journalism class. They have more sections than they can fill with full time faculty. So they were looking for people with journalism experience to come in and fill, fill those spots. And I taught that class in realized I really love teaching. And it, it started to feel kind of like a calling. And I was in a very flexible master's program that I kind of tailored to college teaching and kind of made it my mission. Um, after I got my degree to get a full time job where had Eddie University teaching as a, as an instructor, a instructor or lecturer. And that eventually worked out for me. Um, but my last few years of professional experience were spent working in Penn State's social media office. So the main, main social media accounts, we were running those.
Bill:
3:41
Um, and that was a job that, uh, you know, I, I'm teaching social media classes right now and I'd much rather teach social media than do it on a day to day basis. I found it a very difficult trying job. Um, I enjoyed the creativity, um, and, and being in such an emerging field, but boy was, it was really draining. So that's, so I like teaching it right now more, but, but with that, uh, that teaching experience, you know, being somebody who worked in a professional capacity for, for 15 years and some communications job, there was this fear that, you know, I would grow increasingly out of touch with what was happening in the professional world because I was just teaching and I just, I didn't want that to be the case. And it's really not an option when you're teaching digital teaching, social media things.
Bill:
4:28
So I'm always thinking about how to, how to stay active, how to walk the walk, how does that exist? An example of lifelong learning for my students. Um, I just just earned a, some different certifications from hubspot academy and, and Google analytics. They'll trying to tell these students, hey, these free certifications are out there. You need to get them. Um, Hey, I'm getting them so I can keep my skills sharp and learn new skills. Um, so really the podcast was trying to set a good example for my students. Um, and, and also to branch out a personally because I as a journalist always loved interviewing people. Um, I'm pretty awkward in big group settings. I don't really love these kinds of, the big kind of networking, mingling type of things. Um, but I, I feel like I could sit down and have a cup of coffee or have lunch with pretty much anybody.
Bill:
5:16
Um, and, and I missed that in, in my job. So I thought a podcast would be a great way to do that. In my digital PR class, we have an assignment called the digital enterprise project, which, which is about getting students to create some sort of accounts, a blog, a photography, Instagram, something that's bigger than themselves, bigger than trying to reach family and friends. Um, it's about finding a specific audience and creating content for them. And it's something that I'm constantly encouraging the students to, Hey, push your comfort level with this bok, with, with your following being pretty small. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And I thought, boy, it'd be great if I had a project personally that could talk about and say, Hey, I'm doing the same thing and that, because that podcast that, um, so it's really, it's been one of the best decisions I've made personally and professionally.
Bill:
6:04
So personally just meeting, getting to meet great people and also getting to take, uh, people I know and give them a little bit of a platform, you know, like, hey, this person's cool. I think they're fantastic. I want more people to know them. And professionally it's just, it's given me things to talk about in class. I think it's given me more credibility as an instructor. Um, and it's become, and I've developed a little bit of reputation as kind of the podcast guy in my college, so I'll be asked to come speak to classes and talk about my experience. Um, so it's just been, uh, on so many levels. It's been a really great experience for me. So that's, that's kind of where it, where it emerged. Um, and really, you know, identifying, I found myself really having these kinds of Nice conversations with people. Uh, having a, having dinner with a friend or, or, or having a drink and, and coming back from it feeling smarter.
Bill:
6:53
And I thought, boy, how great. If I could kind of capture some of these too and share them with the public, you know, to kind of encourage this, uh, this, this connection. Um, so realize, yeah, there's, there's a lot of angles that I'm coming from there, but that's really what kind of the, the basis for this was, you know, um, I liked interviewing people and in this was also, I wanted to continue to grow and have a lot to talk about in my classes. So that's cool that you started getting requested to go to not only your own class, but other classes to talk about your podcasting. Like tell me about the first time someone asks you, Hey, can you come to share about your podcast with my class? Like how did that feel and what was that like? Yeah, it was really validating and you know, and, and I kind of a few years ago kind of made a pledge to myself that I would never say no to a speaking opportunity.
Bill:
7:41
It just really felt like for personal and professional growth that that was something I wanted to always make time for. Um, so I felt flattered when when somebody would invite me to a to come talk to their class and it was pretty easy for me to, to come there and kind of talk about the experience and I try to be pretty open, uh, telling them how much I spent on equipment, how much I've spent on on ads and how so far I've made none of that money back. And you're trying to say, hey, this is, this is what it's been like. And, and another thing I like to talk about is this kind of a broadening your idea of success. And when I started this for, for some weird reason, I had it in my head that I could potentially sell ads for this show.
Bill:
8:19
And, uh, I, you know, or realize how bold that was. Now in hindsight and looking back though, yes, I have not made any money, but it is most definitely been a success. I feel like I've improved as a communicator. I've met more people, I've been able to give a platform for friends and people I think are doing really cool things and you know, and, and who knows? And I, and I think, and it's also been good for a personal branding standpoint. So yeah. So it was really an honor to come talk to these classes and talk to students. And it's always a little surprising to me about the today's college student in their connection to podcasts. And, and I think, you know, I don't know why, I just assumed that that young, younger people were totally all in on podcasts and it's really about half the class, you know, is willing to share that they, that they listen and, but those that are into it are passionate about it.
Bill:
9:06
They have their favorites, they connect with the host, you know, that sort of thing. So it's, so that's been interesting for me. There's still a lot, a lot of growth here. And Penn state actually has a podcasting class, so, so, so the, the colleague teaching that Katie O'toole, she worked in public broadcasting for a long time. So she brings that, that, uh, insight to it and always gives the students a really a pretty rigorous project to produce during the course of that semester. So it's really cool for me to come in there and see what they're doing and also to, to kind of see the energy of the students who may even been just introduced a podcast for the first time and how energized they get by, by the process.
Travis:
9:46
That is really cool. That is really cool. So when you were kind of charting the course for what would become happy valley hustle, how did you decide like what kinds of conversations you want to have, what kinds of people you wanted to interview? Because, because when you first start a podcast, really the sky's the limit. You can do whatever you want. So how did you kind of land on your particular niche or focus?
Bill:
10:09
Yeah. If I would've, you know, just had my, if I would been able to pick any topic and instantly had an audience and be able to get people, I would have done something like professional wrestling is a guilty pleasure of mine and there's a ton of podcasts like that, but I would've done maybe did something, there was something, maybe an eighties, 90s, 80s, 90s nostalgia, you know, in these are topics that are, are well worn on social media or on a, in podcasting right now. Um, so, you know, there would have been very tough for me to make any sort of an impact. So I think I just, if I thought about, you know, getting attention early, uh, it, it, it kind of just, you know, uh, became glaring that it needed to be hyperlocal, um, that Ditto, you know, that nobody was doing this sort of podcast on a local level at the moment.
Bill:
10:57
And I thought this, this may be my best way to kind of, uh, to create a niche in podcasting. And so, so just to concentrate on people doing cool things locally. In my job at Penn state, uh, working in the, in the office of strategic communications was also a great opportunity to meet a lot of people university wide. So my network here is, is been, I've had a chance to build a pretty nice network, so finding guests has been the least of my issues. Uh, I have a growing list in a Google doc that to just keeps up that I have a lot of people that I can draw off of. And, and so far everyone has been willing to talk. So, so that part has been easy and, and so just, um, so it was important for me to kind of figure out early on with the show was going to be, and, and getting that down on paper, I created just a, a one sheet or a half sheet in Adobe InDesign document that just says who I am and what the show's about, about one paragraph on each of those items, just to share with those first guests, you know, since I didn't have prior episodes to share with them.
Bill:
12:03
And I found that was very important, you know, in, and I teach that a lot in my social media classes, the importance of strategy and I'm realizing just how important that was with a podcast to just be able to have the few lines that adequately explain what your podcast is about. And when I've shared that with people that it's connected with them pretty quickly, you know, they get it, uh, uh, talking to cool people in my neck of the woods. And, and really that kind of sums it up.
Travis:
12:31
So there's a couple things you hit on there that I think is really, really key or are not necessarily intuitive but actually really important. One is the idea of trying to find blue ocean and blue ocean is a, is a marketing concept where they basically say you shouldn't go where all the chummy waters are cause that's where all the sharks are swimming. You want to go somewhere where there isn't a lot of blood in the, in the waters where you can kind of stand out and be the only one, uh, to in, in order to kind of get some additional recognition where you're not having to compete for attention. Um, and so that's pretty crafty. You that you, that you did that with your podcasts trying to figure out, okay these are all the things that I could make a podcast about, but I think this one gives me the best chance at ultimately, you know, reaching whatever kind of goal I have for the podcast.
Travis:
13:18
Um, cause there is some strategic, very involved in trying to, to, to make it go. Um, and so I think that was really clever that you did that and really important that you did that. And then also I wanted to ask you about the fact that you did decide to do a hyperlocal podcast. Cause most people think I'm gonna start a podcast so I can talk to people in Thailand. Like that's, that's the reason I'm starting a podcast. Um, but you kind of went the opposite direction, which is I'm going to make the perfect podcast for business minded people in central Pennsylvania. And like that was kind of your, your laser focus. So tell me a little bit about, uh, that beginning process of, okay, I'm going to make a hyperlocal Pennsylvania podcast, uh, around something that I'm knowledgeable about and something that I can easily find guests for. Like, what were some of the things that you did early on to try and spread the word and let people know about it and try and get your name out there. They're like, hey, this is something that if you're in this particular region and interested in these topics, you should check it out. Like what were some things that you did?
Bill:
14:22
Sure. And I want to add also, you know, it first, that idea may seem kind of restrictive when it came to guests. Um, but it was surprising, you know, when I, when I started looking to the university as well, uh, Penn state alums are everywhere, you know, and, and if, if you have never been to Penn state university, it's a giant sprawling campus in the middle of rural Pennsylvania in the central part of the state. So a lot of those people who have gone on to do some pretty impressive things. Uh, one of the, one of my guests, a, he's a rapper, mega ran, he's a Penn State Grad, has not been to state college since he graduated. Uh, but I, but I did an interview with him and in his career and how he's used social media to build a big audience for his style of a, what he calls nerd rap or that's the genre.
Bill:
15:05
He didn't, he didn't coin that. But so when I started looking, you know, there's, I've been pleasantly surprised about how some of these guests to have wide appeal. I just interviewed a grant, a local graphic designer who created gritty, the Philadelphia flyers, mascots. So that was, um, it's been awesome. I've been trying to strategically sprinkle in some of those interviews that could go far and wide, you know, that would have appeal beyond a central Pennsylvania. But in trying to build, uh, uh, just some attention, I used my, my personal social media accounts and also I was lucky enough to get some, some media coverage pretty early on. And I think that was validating as well because that it showed me that this was something new and interesting to people. So a student blog at Penn state called onward state gave, gave me, uh, uh, interviewed me for a feature story that was really Nice State College magazine, featured the, the podcast is, I'm kind of something to or things things were loving this month.
Bill:
16:02
I think I was featured on that. And another publication, town and gown did a feature story on local podcasters as well. I was one of several people in included there. Um, so that, that press coverage, what was helpful in, in getting some attention. So you know, it was a it word of mouth as well. And that's one of the great things about a local podcast is, you know, if you, if you want to be a part of your community, you want to be civically involved, it can be, it can becomes this tall four for advancing your community. And I, and that was something I didn't anticipate as well, uh, become, it's become a platform to, to highlight various resources that are available for, uh, for entrepreneurs. It's become a tool for connecting like minded people. You know, where somebody will listen to a podcast and say, oh, that person or I really like their vibe, I'm gonna follow up with them and sit down for a cup of coffee though those things have happened. So it can, becomes this a community builder as well. So that, that's been a pleasant surprise.
Travis:
16:58
That is really cool that it's kind of had those secondary effects that you never really expected. Because when you first start a podcast, you kind of have like an idea of, oh, this might happen or am I go this way? And then the thing that you, you fail to recognize or underestimate is that podcasting is one aspect of it, but you become so much more well networks when you start podcasting because it's not just the people that you interact with or interview for your podcast, but then people that hear about you through your podcast or somebody tells them about your podcast and then they kind of have familiarity with your name. And then if you couple that with being really local, it's, it's again, it's that water cooler effect of everybody's kind of, you know, uh, talking about it or has the potential to talk about it. Um, and so I think that's really, really unique. And I think, I guess the, the main nuggets to pull out of this would, you don't have to have a podcast with mass appeal to have a, a big impact on the people that you're trying to serve.
Bill:
17:57
Yeah, that's a great point because yeah, I will, my ego will sometimes take a hit when maybe a pod when I want to see bigger growth or bigger listens on an episode and then then you know, um, then you have somebody tell you about how they love the show, you know, in, in sometimes you just, you realize that it's, it's kind of a, I don't know, wrong or arrogant or whatever to put so much attention in, in building your numbers. And if, if one, if one person is really connecting with it and learning and growing and enjoying it, then, then that's awesome. So that's kind of helped help put it in perspective. You know, hearing these little anecdotes, you know, people's, you know, how somebody got connected with another person through the show or just how somebody enjoys listening to it when they're taking a long car ride.
Travis:
18:39
Yeah. Tell me a little bit about that because that is a constant struggle that is universal in podcasting, which is, aw man, I wish more people were listening to my podcast, but I don't want to just do it because of the numbers. I want to do it for the impact, but I still want them, my numbers to be bigger. So like how does that, how does that conversation play out? You're in your head and then how do you, how do you ensure that you, you maintain your focus on, I'm just trying to serve my audience the best that I can and let the numbers kind of let the chips fall where they may. How do you make sure that that conversation happens?
Bill:
19:11
Yeah, this is something I'm still working on a lot. There's a lot of, uh, you know, uh, just unconsciously checking, calling up braze Buzzsprout and seeing what the, what the stats are right now and checking iTunes to see if I've got any more ratings or reviews and, and it's tough. Yeah. Because I am still, there is some ego involved in and you want to, you want to be, you want some proof that this is an all for nothing and that it, it is actually getting out there and being heard. Um, so yeah, I think it's, uh, you know, for me, like I said earlier about kind of broadening this idea of, of what success could be and in early on, yeah, it was just, I was very focused on the numbers and thinking about how can I monetize this and realizing that that is really not the best approach.
Bill:
19:56
And just kind of keeping in mind just how much more can kind of grow from this. Uh, in one of the most recent talks I gave to a Penn state class I talked about in the podcast is a vehicle for personal branding. You know, and I think that's where a lot of the, we're probably is the most value that most people could draw from podcasting is that expanding your network, um, establishing yourself as a thought leader or in my case, just kind of establishing yourself as a, as a connector, you know, as somebody who can pull people with different skill sets together. So it's really been, I just trying to think about all the bra, the big picture of what this podcast would be, helps me give a little less focused on the numbers. And I can't remember where I read it, but, uh, it was maybe an a textbook would said, you know, that time that you're spent, uh, you know, over the, over the statistics, maybe spend that coming up with new, can't spend that energy thinking of new content ideas or thinking of new guests. So I'm trying to get, get that in my head.
Travis:
20:58
Well, and the ironic thing is that if you, if your main focus is on increasing your numbers, you will inevitably make decisions that sabotage your audience or sabotage your podcast, right? Because if you're, if you're trying to, to appeal to as many people as possible, then you just become, you become vanilla ice cream, you become passible fine, but not extraordinary. You never get to rocky road status if we're going to continue the metaphor
Bill:
21:27
dear. You're right. Yeah. It's part of what it seems, what people are connecting with this show is that is local that they can hear the, their neighbor on, on a podcast, a anywhere else and yeah. And if I, if I lose sight of that, yeah. I may lose a little bit. What makes this podcast special and most of the listeners eyes,
Travis:
21:46
so I'm curious, have there been any people in the community that are on your guest list that you're like, I mean, it'd be really cool if they decided to come on the podcast, but I'm just not really sure that they'd be into it or that I could get access to them or you know, that they seem so busy or so important or so whatever, you know, the, the idea of getting an hour of the time or a half hour of their time seems impossible. And, and then it happened, you reached out to them on a, on a, you know, a Lark and they said, Oh yeah, I would love to do a podcast. Like if you had any cool stories like that.
Bill:
22:17
Well, W first people I haven't interviewed yet that I've been thinking about it at Penn state, you don't get a bigger level of celebrity than coaching one of the major sports at Penn State University, whether it's football, basketball, wrestling, um, so those are some of the guys I've been kind of looking at. And, um, I think eventually I'd like to try to secure an interview with one of them. But my cut, my kind of fear is that if we're going to come on this podcast and try to talk sports, I'm just not gonna be able to hang with these guys. My level of, I'm very casual fan. I could just knock, it, could not have an in depth discussion about the xs no's, but we'll just love to more talk about their kind of philosophy, how they mold young, young players into, uh, into good people, you know, their, their own journey of success.
Bill:
23:01
That's what I would really like to talk about. Um, especially with like to talk to, you know, a Penn state wrestling program is very highly regarded. Chels Sanderson Prob, you know, Cael Sanderson and one of the most highly regarded collegiate wrestlers ever and a very successful coach. And I know nothing about collegiate wrestling, but I, but I know that it's a sport with it takes tremendous discipline and I would really like to talk to him, you know, and, and get his kind of thoughts on discipline in life in general. And, and you know, striving for success but also not being too hard on yourself. So I'm looking in into that space. But with the interview I just did with Brian Allen, the graphic designer who are the illustrator who designed gritty for the Philadelphia now that was a really fun one. I heard him give a talk locally and briefly spoke with them afterwards when I emailed him.
Bill:
23:53
You know, I had a good feeling about it, but he was, he was somebody I really wanted to get because it just, it checks off all the boxes. A local freelancer who has made an impact on a national or even a world stage, you know, gritty has become a part of pop culture. So he was somebody I really wanted to get and and the, and getting him and having a great talk with him was a real feather in my cap. It's really cool when you get to use podcasting as a way to network and connect with people that you otherwise would have no business talking to. Yeah, exactly. Definitely one of my favorite part now. Now you do a couple of really cool things with your podcast that I want to talk about that are out of the ordinary, but I think it could be really cool and something that other podcasters can incorporate.
Bill:
24:42
I need you to tell me the story about the belt. Okay. All right, so, well I won't spill the beans. So described the belts and the role that it plays in your podcast then how you use it. Yes, I, I've, I've mentioned, I've been pretty much a lifelong fan of professional wrestling. It's, it's, it is mindless entertainment that I just find awesome. And one of the things in, in wrestling and mixed martial arts and boxing, the, the, the fighters, they compete for a championship belt that, that's the mark of excellence. And I created a branded belt and I call it the hustle champ championship belt. It has my podcast logo right in the middle. It's a, it's pewter on a leather strap and I got it from this company called trophy partners. So shout out to them. They're really easy to work with. And I created this belt that I have every guest posed with and it's, and every time I pulled it out of my backpack, the people just light up.
Bill:
25:40
They get a big smile on their face and you can tell the folks who have actually seen a boxing match or a wrestling match. They know what, what the belt is, they know how to, how to hold it. And other people are just kind of dumbfounded. But, but everybody kind of has this fun response to it. And it created just a, for me, it creates kind of a unique social media image to have, you know, something that hopefully get somebody just to spend an extra second on that image when they're scrolling through their feed because what, what, what does that person holding what's happening there? So I've used it as a way to kind of prop up my guests, identify them as champions of hustle. It just gives me, we always do it after the interview, so I've already kind of built a rapport with them. We've had a good time and it's just kind of one final laugh and you know, before we leave. But it's been just a, a fun little piece of branding for the podcast. It really looks unique. It stands out in a, in an image. So I'm, so I was glad I did that. I imagine it would be a lot of fun like walking around even just around the apartment at, around the house, like, you know, carry and the belt or how to, yeah, I'm the champ. Yeah.
Travis:
26:45
Yeah. I may have done that once or twice in the mirror. Yeah. Well it's so important to do things that are fun with your podcast that it's not so serious all the time and always think about strategy and planning the next guest and prepare for the interview. Like it needs to be fun. It needs to be something you enjoy doing and those little things that they just make it fun. It is to make it, you know, like I, I remember a while back from my personal podcast, I'm like, I'm just gonna make a bunch of stickers, like podcast degrees that I can give away as like a marketing tool. It's like, Hey, well, you might not remember the name of the podcast, but if he give you this sticker, they're going to put on your laptop or put on your notebook, you'd be like, Oh yeah.
Travis:
27:19
Like that guy told me about that podcast. Like, I'll go check it out. Um, and it was just fun. Like I had no, there was no immediate Roi on that decision, you know, to print 200 stickers. Um, but it's been, it's been fun, like being able to give people something or do something unique to, to make the experience of being on your podcast better. And then kind of the interaction and the thoughts that they have towards your personal brands to be more of like a personable instead of standoffish or, Oh, you know, Bill, he's so, he's so professional. He's a professional podcaster interviewing those, this high and mighty happy valley people. But then they see the wrestling belt and they're like, oh, he's just like me. He's, he's just a guy like me that loves, loves hobbies and loves doing stuff that he thinks is funny.
Bill:
28:02
Yeah, yeah. You know? Yeah. Try to, you know, get people, get my guests to not take themselves too seriously. I like to talk a lot to high achieving people and say, hey, how do you, how do you stay hungry in life? How do you keep striving? How do you keep improving? But at the same time, how do you take it easy on yourself and not drive yourself into the ground and beat yourself up when things don't go your way? So I think, yeah, I think the belts kind of a part of this, of just, uh, being, uh, striking a little lighter tone, not taking yourself too seriously and yet, and just enjoying the journey.
Travis:
28:31
Yeah. And if you want to check out a picture of one of these belts, uh, you know, with all of all of these guests, I always leave a link to their website. And so, uh, you can just click that link and go and check out some of those pictures. They are pretty funny. You see some people like try and wear it like an actual belt. Others sling it over their shoulder, like they just knocked out rocky. It's pretty great.
Bill:
28:49
That's pretty great. And uh, Brian Allen, the illustrator who did gritty actually designed some tee shirts for hall Kogan and a beach shop that he has in Florida. So, so Brian got it quickly and actually strikes kind of a a wrestler ask kind of, you know, in your face show, throw in the belt up in the air kind of posts. So he was the one who got most animated. So that was awesome.
Travis:
29:08
Nice. Very nice. The other thing that I wanted to talk to you about, which I'd actually never seen before is, so a lot of people when they have guests on and they talk about their books and they talk about the resources or whatever, you either like puts an Amazon affiliate link or like a link to their website in the show notes or something like that. But you kind of took it to the next level. And instead of having people go through to the show notes for every particular episode, you set up an Amazon shop where you list all the resources from all your yes. So people can kind of not just look at the episode. Maybe they just listened to, but everything else as well. What I guess prompted you to, to set up that Amazon shop and then has it helped you with communicating to your listeners? Hey, if you want to go deeper with anything that was touched on or learn more about this person or pick up their book, just go to this single place and you can find everything.
Bill:
30:00
Yeah. You know, that was something that I came across the idea of having an Amazon affiliate store and thought, oh, this could be another way to make some money and I haven't made a cent off of it. But then as I started thinking about it, you know what? This is it. This is a nice resource for the listeners to to easily have one place to go to, to check out a book or music from a guest. And it's also a bit of a, of an incentive for a future guest when I can say, Hey, if you've got a new book, I'll be sure to put it on the Amazon affiliate store. So that's been the biggest value there. I'm, I'm getting the sense to force something like that to be monetarily worth it. You got to be driving a lot of traffic and my podcast just isn't doing that doing that yet. But, but it's, yeah, it's been really nice to kind of look back there and say, wow, you know, there's, I've, I've talked to a lot of people already who have done, made their contributions in and put a lot of knowledge out into the world and it's nice to have a one stop shop for that.
Travis:
30:50
Well, and it just becomes one more touch point with your audience. You know, like some, some of the investments in the quote unquote in infrastructure that you create around your podcast, whether it's investing in a website or doing an as an Amazon affiliate store or you know, how you format your show notes. It's all about the whole experience. When someone interacts with your podcast, you want them to walk away feeling like you made their life better or you know, you contributed in some way. And so if it, if it feels like you just kind of throwing stuff out there and hoping people stick around because I don't know if they like you versus okay, I can really tell that, you know, Bill put in the time to really make it easy for me to learn more about his guests and to, to learn more about other episodes. Like it just, it makes a much deeper impression on your audience and makes them feel more indebted to you and more loyal to you just because they feel like, okay, this person is really investing in putting out a resource that's going to benefit me. And even if you know, on your end as a podcast or like you said, you haven't made any money off of it yet, it's still, it still does contribute in a meaningful way to your podcast. Yeah.
Bill:
31:53
Yeah. And I kind of have kind of a recurring, some recurring themes in the interviews and sometimes where I try to take some of the conversations is the importance of reading and the importance of, you know, the old school keeping a notepad or a little journal with you. And writing things down and you, and that being a great creative tool. So, so having the Amazon affiliate store kind of stick is, goes along with that theme. You know, that, that a lot of these guests are talking about the importance of, you know, they're voracious readers and they're always trying to improve. And now if you want to follow that, that same philosophy, you can go to the Amazon affiliate store and find multiple books in, uh, you know, immediately start deal broadening your scope of understanding
Travis:
32:33
for anyone listening is not familiar. So Amazon will let you become an affiliate for them relatively easily, um, where you essentially get your own links to products that you can share in your podcast episode notes or your show notes or whatever. And then when people click on it, uh, Amazon will, will track their purchases for 24 hours in any purchase they make on Amazon. Within that 24 hour period, you get a commission on and it's definitely a feast or famine. So like I, I have an Amazon affiliate program set up and it took me a while to like make anything. I think one time I had like 50 clicks on, on a book that was mentioned and one person bought it and I made 37 sets. Yeah. Not, not even enough to warrant the direct deposit, but then, you know, and, and so because a lot of my guests, like they're, they're authors and things like that and so they don't, they don't have these mega online courses where I'm making 50% commission on $1,000 product.
Travis:
33:28
Um, but then, but what's really cool is like, let's say that somebody clicks on that link to go check out that book and they're like, oh yeah, I have something in my, in my cart that I've been meaning to order. Let me go ahead and order that now while I'm here. You get a commission on that too. And so like recently I got a deposit for $84 from Amazon. I'm like, I don't, wow. There's, there's no way that I said anything on my podcast is worth $84. But maybe, maybe they were like looking for a new computer and you know, they just happened to buy one after they clicked my link. So it's, it's something that's relatively easy to set up and it's, it's more than zero. It's, you have a greater than zero chance of making something. Um, so again, it's just about kind of putting those pieces into place, having a well rounded brand, um, presence on the Internet and kind of making sure that you have your bases covered to maximize your opportunities. And so that, and that's something I think you've done really well.
Bill:
34:22
Well, thank you. Yeah, it was, it was, I can't stress enough how easy it was to set up. And then it's, it's a link that's in every, in the show notes for every episode.
Travis:
34:29
Tell me a little bit about your current goals for your podcast, because you mentioned when you first started that you had grand ambitions of like listenership exploding, selling sponsor shifts. You know, maybe Penn State football starts selling tickets through your podcasts or something like that. Um, but then then reality set in and you realized, okay, maybe this isn't the gold rush financially that I thought it might be. Um, and so I imagine there's been some adjustment and kind of why you continue to do the podcast. So maybe share some of your current goals for what you're hoping you're podcast becomes. Sure.
Bill:
35:06
Well, one, just, just keep continuing it and I think that's, you know, as sometimes life gets in the way and sometimes it's, it's, you know, the last thing you want to do is try to set this interview up and edit it. You know, it's just, just to keep it going and, you know, to keep things in perspective, you know, that, uh, in, in just focusing on that one person who said they really like it and they look forward to each episode and they hope I continue. You know, I think that that's a big motivator. Uh, but also, you know, I have some kind of personal branding it ambitions, I guess. I, you know, I've gotten to speak at conferences and in the Higher Ed, you know, communication's realm. Um, but so I'd like to, I'd like to use the podcast is maybe a way to get more speaking opportunities, whether that's on, on podcasting or branding or, or social media.
Bill:
35:53
So I think that's where I'm kind of seeing this, that this is something that, that could, I could use to maybe get a consulting, some consulting gigs in this space to get some speaking opportunities. So that's where I'm really kind of seeing this, that yeah, it's probably not going to be monetarily valuable, but at the same time it's going to, it's going to be good for my personal brand. Um, and, and also, you know, there's just a, there's just so many people out there. I want to talk to so many people that want to highlight their story. Um, and you know, just my own kind of personal vision for what I think this, this community can be. You know, it's, it's different, you know, this, um, I really love living in State College, Pennsylvania, but at the same time, Penn state is really the only player in town as far as employment goes.
Bill:
36:38
Great place to be if you're a college student. Great place to be if you're raising a family. But if you're in that kind of young professionals, single space, it can be a town that maybe feels a little limiting. So I think personally, you know, I, I see a lot of the signs that this town is going in an awesome direction and I see this podcast is kind of playing a role in that and, and livening this and in trying to further in live in this place, make more connections in with the, those who are creative professionals. Um, so I see it as kind of this vehicle for continuing to help develop this place as an attractive community for, or maybe a demographic that hasn't always found that the most easiest place to live. I had to sprinkle in a kind of a
Travis:
37:19
larger, uh, you know, more, more respectful thing than just personal ambition there. That's very true. It's true. It's very altruistic of you. So, so, uh, one thing that you said that spurred a thought, which was seeing your podcast, not necessarily as an end in and of itself, but as a springboard for other opportunities. And I think that that's very true. Like if you, if your only focus is monetizing the podcast itself, you'll more than likely be disappointed with the amount of time it takes for it to generate a meaningful amount of income. But if you see it as a tool that you can use to get yourself into some other opportunities, you'll be much more successful. You know, like for instance, one, one advice I give to business owners all the time is use your podcast as a way to, as as a, as a first touch, first conversation with people you want to do business with, right?
Travis:
38:14
So it's, hey, you know, I see you're in my industry. It'd be cool to chat with you and maybe you've got a, you know, a SAS product that you think they could use. And so you have an interview, you have a great podcast conversation, and then afterwards you're like, hey, you know, I noticed that you, you're using this tool and I think I could help you improve your business in some way. Like, if you're interested in, let me know. You know, I'd love to help help you with your business. Like podcasting, it becomes so many things beyond just, you know, trying to sell ads. There are so many opportunities out there that podcasting gives you a platform to be able to kind of throw your weight around a little bit and gives you more of a leg up versus someone that's just kind of cold calling people.
Travis:
38:54
Yeah. Just wrote a book called profitable podcasting. And I apologize, I forgot the author's name, but he describes it as a Trojan horse in and just, just what you said there, that it's, it's this entryway into to talking to a potential future client, interview them for the show, and then you say, yeah, and then later on you yeah. You check in and say, Hey, I notice this. I think I can help you with this, whatever. Yup. Yup. No, I think we read the same book. I'm pretty sure I read that book not too long ago. Um, and then the other thing that I love is that, you know, like you said, like your podcast is not just about you. Like you really want this to be something that contributes positively to the community. And I think that that's a great motivation for everyone as podcasters, right?
Travis:
39:36
Whenever we can be selfless with our art, selfless with what we create, ultimately it's going to be, it's so much more fulfilling when you're able to serve other people instead of being self serving a hundred percent of the time. Right? There needs to be some personal ambition. There needs to be some personal motivation of like why I want to continue to doing this and how it fulfills me. But if you can really dial in a focus that is helping other people, then that's something that will transcend any kind of download numbers that you could ever attain, right when you, but you can translate, you know, number of downloads into real an impact on people. That's a really cool place to be as a podcaster. Cause then you're not so concerned with how many listens I got or whether my podcast is ranked in iTunes. Right. Those things become secondary to the, the impact that I'm having on the people that I care about in my community and kind of in my digital tribe so to speak.
Travis:
40:34
Yeah. And if you're doing an interview based podcast, really knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and, and more often than not probably taking yourself out of the equation less and less than, and I'm trying to do better at that. You know, I realize my own limitations that I'm, I am not particularly smart or funny, but that may be my, my, I think my strength lies and pulling interesting stories and insights out of people. So I try to focus on that and that and doing less of even saying, well, you know, I had this experience and then going well long windedly into, into that. Um, so I've think I've been doing a better job as this goes along of talking less and less during that interview. And then I sprinkle a few solo casts in there for something. I really just want to personally reflect on, and those have been fun for me.
Travis:
41:18
Uh, but for the most part my shows interview based and I tried to just get the person going and get out of the way. We'll bill. It's been great having you on. I really appreciate your candidness and just being willing to share your personal journey, the highs and the lows and things that you've learned and, and how podcasting has impacted you personally. I think anyone that's listening would, would relate to a lot of the stuff that we talked about. Um, now I want to end on a, uh, on kind of a fun note. So, uh, you can take this question however you want, but if you had a time machine, the venerated time machine that could go back in time to the day before you started your podcast and you could give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Bill:
41:58
Wow. I think really it would be just kind of keeping myself in check and keeping my ambitions and check and say, hey, you know, not even having that thought that that was going to make any sort of money on this, but realizing that this was good, um, but really telling myself that this was going to be a valuable experience when it came to up to personal connections and trying to make the community better. That that's really where it, it seems to have the most value for me and realizing, yeah, you're not, you're not gonna make any money from this, but people are going to be interested enough. They're going to want to talk to you about the experience. Uh, so I think that's, uh, you know, in, in always always remembering that this is a marathon and not a sprint. You know, I think if I could just continue to drive that thought into my head, I would, that would, that would be the point.
Travis:
42:40
Yeah. If you live in that Happy Valley region of Pennsylvania, whether you're a Penn state alum or a current resident, make sure to check out happy valley hustle. At Bill Z, hustle.com/podcast and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.
Speaker 3:
42:59
Yeah.
Travis:
43:00
Do you wish that you could be featured on a future episode of podcasting in real life here on buzz cast? Well, you can. All you have to do is click on the link in the show notes, the submit your application, and if today's episode inspired you or resonated with you or made you laugh, we would love to hear from you. Just leave a review on apple podcasts to let us know what you thought and I look forward to hearing what you have to say. Well, that is it for today. Thanks for listening. And as always, keep podcasting.