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August 5, 2014

If Content is King, then Podcasting is Prince

A little better than two years ago, my business partner and I decided to create our own Internet radio show. Our reasoning was based on the fact that content is king for organic search engine ranking, so anything we could do to help bolster that objective was fine by us. Second, we needed to produce unique and timely information to post to our weekly blogs and we felt that podcasting would distinguish us from the competition. Third, doing a weekly Internet radio show would force us to stay up-to-date with our online marketing business.

In the beginning, we weren’t trying to make money from our shows, blogs or podcasts. We just wanted to produce high-quality, keyword-optimized content because we felt that doing so would help us generate optimal search engine position. Fast forward to today: We have a strong page one position above the fold on the top three search engines. We have a hit blog talk radio show and our weekly blog, which is connected to the show, receives more than six thousand page views a month.  Plus, we’ve been able to not only monetize the show, but also the blog and several websites as well. All in all, I’d say we exceeded our expectations.

Getting Started

If you were looking to replicate our success your starting point should be researching high traffic keywords and phrases on AdWords. Choosing a name for your show needs to be done with care. Ideally you want to be able to plug into hot button keyphrases that get thousands of searches per month. Next, you need to create your infrastructure. This includes a Landing Page for the show, a blog for the show, and setting up your top five social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube). For the radio portion we chose BlogTalkRadio.com since they provided everything we needed to create the show and podcast for around $40 per month.

Once you have your foundation set up, you need to start coming up with show/blog topics. Since we do a tag team approach, both my business partner Hector and I contribute to the show topics. Usually we try to program four weeks in advance. This doesn’t mean you have to create the material for the show, just the next four upcoming episode ideas. Understand it will take a little while for you to get proficient at producing the show. Practice most definitely makes perfect. In the space of a few weeks you will have the system down to a science. Since we air our show on Tuesday we usually strive to have the blog posted by Monday and then do the show prep a couple of hours before airtime. (We also committed to providing a weekly newsletter that we send out a weekly via e-mail blast to our registered database of listeners.)

Generating an Audience

Generating an audience is not as hard as some people would have you think. The important thing is to come up with a theme for your show that is broad enough that you won’t run out of steam within a few months. After that, the key to listenership is to give the masses what they want. Here are five key factors you need to grow your audience:

  1. Your show must be delivered consistently.
  2. The episodes must be informative and entertaining.
  3. The topics must be relevant to the show’s theme.
  4. Topics must be timely.
  5. The information imparted must be useful.

Shows and podcasts that deliver these five factors will not only help you build listenership, but it will also drive organic search position. Hector and I feel so strongly about this that we’ve embraced these five tenets as our core marketing principles. Most people fail not due to poor topic selection, but due to the fact that they produce content irregularly, or provide mediocre quality, or provide content that’s irrelevant, or isn’t considered interesting. Worse, they give up before they generate any ranking.

When we started our radio show/podcast efforts, we weren’t anywhere to be found organically in Google Search. But after three months, we started to show up on Page Four. By month five, we were showing up organically on Page One of Yahoo and Bing periodically, and Page Two of Google. By nine months we were consistently showing up organically on Page One of all three of these main search engines, although not at the top of the page. By the end of our first year, we’d reached the top of Page One organically on all three of the top search engines. Today we have multiple organic Page One positions and for the phrase “working the Web.”

What made this happen was following our formula of producing an engaging weekly Internet radio show and writing a high-quality blog each and every week. This meant we were creating a minimum of seven co-ordinated and keyword-optimized content pieces week in and week out. We also coupled this with a weekly newsletter. If you add up all the content created in a year, it was more than 800 pieces.

How to Build Your Audience

To gain a dedicated following, you must give the listeners a reason to want to come back for more. For “Working the Web to Win,” that means teamwork. Both Hector and I write, so we act as “blog buddies,” editing and proofing each other’s work. On top of that, we both do separate research for the show. Last but not least we strive to produce information that’s as entertaining as it is informative and we always have fun on the air.  While we aren’t exactly at Howard Stern’s level, we have consistently grown our audience month in and month out and don’t feel that producing the show is drudgery.

Another way to improve your content is to reach out to leaders in the industry and ask them for tips. Better yet, ask them to appear on your show as guests and interview them. Nothing can beef up the quality of a show (or a blog) like input from various industry leaders. We regularly contact leaders in the industries related to the topics we’re writing and speaking about.   Make sure you encourage your guests to share their content both on the air and on your blog. Also allow your guests to rebroadcast the podcast in which they are featured on their websites, social nets and newsletters.   You’d be surprised at how this can increase your listenership.

Another marketing tool we’ve used with success was creating a video cast of the show that would air on YouTube a couple days later. You can create one using Google Hangouts, or use a screen capture program of your choice to record your episodes. When we do this, we use two computers, one for the radio show and one for the Hangout. Again, this will become another useful item in your weekly content arsenal.

However, quality and regularity aren’t enough to build a substantial following. To do that you need to push out invitations to your social followers daily. Feel free to announce and promote the show the day before it airs.  We also push out announcements on the social nets a couple of times the day of the show (every Tuesday), and again, a couple of times after the show has aired.

Make sure you’re committed to engaging in weekly marketing. If you stop doing this, your audience will start to slide. Even if you have a bad week, do not give up. When we started, we had less than 200 followers after four months of hard work. However, by month six we had 2,000! You need to be committed to this project for a full year to see if you can make a go of it. Don’t forget to add a call-to-action on your blog and the show. Ask readers and listeners to comment and share your material. You never know who will see it.

How to Monetize Your Efforts

Once you reach an audience in the thousands there are a number of ways to cash in. You can easily add third party advertising network ads to your blog. BlogTalkRadio also has an ad stream and revenue sharing mechanism you can use. However, this is predicated on having a big enough following necessary to generate at least 1,000 page views a month. For example, our radio show has received as many as 30,000 downloads in one week and our blog receives around 1,500 page views a week. We now have a large enough aggregate following across our seven Twitter accounts (over 50,000 followers) and another 10,000 if you include LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube. Granted, we started with zero just like everybody else. It just goes to show that sticking with it can really make a big difference after a year.

Of course, the best way to make money from your efforts is to monetize your show assets yourself. Eliminate the middleman and sell your ad space directly. We sell banner space on all our sites and we provide sponsor mentions during the show. Furthermore, we support our sponsors with promo posts across our social networks as well as providing them with testimonials. As a rule, you’ll make more money by going directly to the sponsors than by going thru third party ad networks. We’ve found that bundling banner ads with sponsor mentions and social media blasts are much easier to sell than just banner ads by themselves. Never underestimate the power of bringing more value to the table. The more ways you can devise to promote sponsors, the more likely they’ll spend money with you. Having lots of page views (i.e., 1,500 a week) and followers (10,000+) is much more valuable than providing nebulous numbers or empty promises. Sponsors are looking for value and ROI, even if they say they’re only looking to brand themselves.

Double the Fun

Once you’ve been in the content creating business for a while, you will also start to build a library of high quality material.  Having a database of well-written blogs, articles, podcasts and webcasts will give you enough fodder to create several books. Online e-books can be created for very little money and self-publishing today is easier than ever. Both Amazon and Barnes and Nobles can be your partners for eBook publishing. You can expect to net between 25 and 50 percent on a soft back books.

When you’ve gained a substantial following (say 50,000 fans) and you have amassed a large library of quality material, you can also repackage this content into a sellable digital library or database. This can be then sold by subscription, or by creating individual SKUs that are topic specific. They can be sold directly on your blog site, website, in the Apple store, in Google Play and even on Amazon.com.  These all-digital products can be on sold on CD, DVD or on memory cards.

This content can also provide you with another means to make money: You can give all or part of it away as a means of attracting new clients. You can create a white paper as a complimentary inducement on your website, where visitors can get your free content if they provide you with their contact information. These leads can in turn be used as follow-up marketing tools for your company.

The bottom line is that if you are looking to make a king’s ransom, one of the best places to start just might be the Prince of Podcasting.


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Carl Weiss has been working the web to win since 1995 and has helped hundreds of companies increase their online results. He is president of W Squared Media and co-host of the weekly radio show Working the Web to Win which airs Tuesdays at 4pm Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.com. Click here to get his latest book "Working The Web to Win: When it comes to online marketing, you can't win, if you don't know how to play the game!".

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