12 Lessons From 12 Months of Podcasting

Michael Leonard

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When I first became an entrepreneur in 2017, podcasts became my new best friend.

I quickly found that working at home was lonely, and I needed something to help me avoid binge-watching Netflix.

Podcasts became my drug.

At the time, I became obsessed with two podcasts more than any others: “The Passionate Few” and “Impact Theory.”

I loved both shows because they brought on world-class guests that helped listeners achieve more success in business and life.

Which at the time was what I was searching for as I was a wildly unsuccessful entrepreneur. Back then, I was barely making $2,000 month as a blogger and was going through some of the darkest times of my life.

I had already quit my six-figure job and couldn’t seem to make money online if my life depended on it. But podcasts helped me through that dark time in so many ways.

Guests taught me about things like meditation, morning routines, the subconscious mind, business advice, and so many other powerful topics that have helped changed my life.

But finally, after being a consumer of the drug for years, I realized it was time for me to become the dealer. I knew my stories and experiences could also help others, and I wanted to be the one asking the questions and sharing the knowledge.

So I hired a podcast coach (Omar from “The Passionate Few”) and launched my dream show, “Inspire Your Success,” in January 2019.

Year One Recap

The first year was a part success and part failure.

Launching the show itself was a huge win.

I was so proud that I finally took action and put myself out there, even if it wasn’t perfect and didn’t receive millions of downloads.

Here were a few wins from the first year podcasting:

  • Grew my network of writers & bloggers
  • Interviewed several multimillionaire entrepreneurs
  • Landed new writing clients that resulted in $30K new revenue
  • Met the hosts of my two favorite podcasts mentioned above and spent a half-day at the “Impact Theory” house in Beverly Hills (#goals)

Since I hired Omar from “The Passionate Few,” he invited me to his interview at Tom Bilyeu’s Beverly Hills studio/mansion in the hills to watch the interview live. This experience alone was one of the coolest moments in my entrepreneurial journey.

In my first year, I released 42 episodes, with about 28 of them being guest interviews and 14 solo episodes.

In the first year, I received a little over 3,000 downloads, which I considered a “failure” as I want these messages to reach way more people. But I also made a ton of mistakes, which I want to share with you in this post.

Here are the 12 biggest lessons from my first 12 months of podcasting.

1. Have a Clear Niche

When I first launched my podcast, I had no clear niche. I wanted to inspire everyone to live up to their full potential and create a better future for themselves.

With a podcast name like “Inspire Your Success,” I had left the door pretty wide open in terms of content.

My show and message were extremely vague, which made it hard for me to nail down what I was trying to communicate with my listeners. I naturally attracted digital entrepreneurs (bloggers, writers, etc.) as that was my background, and I wanted to show others how to build an online business.

Not having a niche made it hard to do solo episodes. I had so much I wanted to share, but the episodes ended up being all over the place.

For 2020, I pivoted my entire brand. New intro, outro, topics, and even cover art.

Now, the show is 100% focused on freelancing and making money as a writer. By niching down, I can speak directly to my people, tap into their pain points, and create content that helps them speed up success.

2. Know Your Avatar

If you don’t know your niche, finding your avatar is very challenging.

As I mentioned in the first lesson, I was trying to inspire everyone who tuned into the show.

Now, I speak to one person on each episode — the younger version of me who was trying to figure out freelancing and writing.

Podcasting is just like any other medium (blogging, YouTube, etc.) — you need to speak to ONE person.

You can’t speak to everyone. People need to feel a connection with you.

Before you record a minute of your show, make sure you know your niche, your message, and who you can help serve. Forging this bond will make it so much easier to serve your people and become an expert in your space.

3. Pick Your Format

There are three basic formats for most business podcasts:

  • Solo: Think of this as a fireside chat where the podcaster is speaking directly to the listener.
  • Guest(s): Think of this format like a talk show between the podcast host and the guest (or guests).
  • Hybrid: The final option is to have a combination of both. This is great if you have expertise in a field and also have a strong network of people to bring in and educate your audience.

There’s no right format here; it’s whatever works best for you and can communicate your message to the audience.

Some people might cringe thinking of just talking into a microphone while others don’t want to interview guests.

If you’re trying to establish yourself as a leader in your space, I think solo episodes are one of the best ways to do that. If you’re trying to grow your network, a guest series can work well.

Ultimately, I think a hybrid model is the best. This way, you can show off your skills on solo episodes and interview experts as well to grow your network.

4. Keep It Simple and Quit Trying to Be Perfect

One of the reasons that I love podcasting is that it doesn’t require much to get started.

So please, I beg you, keep it simple!

I can almost guarantee there would be even more great content out there if the perfectionists would get it over with and just hit publish. I meet so many podcasters in Facebook groups and at business events who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on soundproofing, building or renting studios, and professional editing.

In reality, all you need is a $70 microphone and Garageband or Audacity and Zoom to create epic content. While the other things can help, they’re not necessary. The only thing that I would say is “required” is a professional microphone.

If you’re doing solo episodes, record them on Garageband or Audacity. If you have guests on your show, use Zoom to record your audio and video.

5. Have a Clear Monetization Strategy

Podcasts are a vehicle to help you make money and grow your business, but podcasts themselves don’t make a ton of money.

Here are some of the most common ways to make money from podcasting:

  • Events
  • Consulting
  • Masterminds
  • Online courses
  • Ads/commercials
  • Brand partnerships
  • Online or in-person coaching

But one reason I love podcasting is that you never know who is listening.

For example, when I launched, I was the number one contributor to Fearless Motivation. They heard one of my podcasts, loved my voice, knew my writing style, and asked me to do voiceover work for their YouTube channel (at the time, they had 1M subscribers).

So I wrote and recorded the content while they took care of the excellent visuals. Now, that video has nearly 2,000,000 views!

Remember, you never know who’s listening, so give it your best and miracles could happen.

6. Create a Schedule to Stay Consistent

One of the biggest mistakes I made in my first year was not sticking to a regular content schedule.

Not having a schedule made it hard to gain momentum and build my audience.

To avoid making this mistake, make sure you choose a format and number of episodes than you do each week. Since I’ve started this I’ve already seen more downloads and spikes on days when new episodes are released.

Now Mondays and Wednesdays each have their unique theme and topic. On “Mondays with Michael,” I talk about freelancing and entrepreneurship. On “Writing Wednesdays,” I talk all about freelance writing strategies to start and grow an online business.

I highly suggest this strategy as it makes it a lot easier to create content if you have a specific theme for each day.

If you can do two episodes per week, that’s ideal. If not, one per week is still solid. Also, make sure they come out at the same time so you program your listener to tune in as if it’s a weekly TV show.

7. Hire a VA

Unless you’re savvy with audio editing, don’t waste your time doing this stuff.

For $15-$20 per episode, you can easily outsource all of the editing and uploading to your host. While I’ve done domestic editing as well, I usually use a VA from onlinejobs.ph to outsource internationally.

They do a great job and can usually create audiograms, edit videos, and sync everything together quickly.

This way, you can spend your time staying in your zone of genius, promoting the show, and appearing on other people’s podcasts.

8. Repurpose Everything

Another big mistake I made at the beginning of my show was not repurposing all of my podcast interviews. Once I hired a VA to help grow my brand in September 2019, I started doing this, and it has helped grow the show a ton.

Repurposing content is the same content model that Gary Vee always talks about, and I highly suggest you do the same to make the most of your efforts.

For each podcast interview, the team creates a:

  • YouTube video
  • Blog post (with transcripts)
  • Visuals for Instagram stories
  • One to three audiograms (or video if in person) for Facebook and Instagram

Use every part of the buffalo so you can make the most of your time spent recording!

9. Launch With 8+ Episodes

If you’re like most people, you love binge-watching as Netflix has programmed us to keep going.

The same goes for podcasting. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to launch with one or two episodes.

What if people tune in and don’t like those episodes? In all reality, they might not ever come back for anything ever again. But if you have eight or more, they might find one that fits and become a regular listener.

And the opposite is true as well. If someone loves your content, you want to have a small library of episodes so people can binge listen!

While this part requires some patience, it’s worth it to have nearly ten episodes in the can before the launch date.

10. Batch Everything

I’m a massive fan of batching everything in my life as it requires less context switching and, thus, more productivity.

As you launch your show, make sure to batch everything that you do, including:

  • Writing show notes
  • Recording episodes
  • Podcast guest outreach
  • Scheduling social media
  • Recording intros/outros
  • Creating emails for your list

Batch, batch, batch!

11. Get on Other Shows

Unless you have a big following on another platform or a big email list, growing a brand new show requires playing the long game. But one way to speed up success is to use other people’s audiences to help grow your show.

Remember, a lot of shows need guests for each episode, so get out there and pitch yourself!

When you do guest interviews on other people’s shows, you can tap into their audience. Usually, the guest will also allow you to promote your stuff at the end as well.

If they’re a good fit for your show, you can also invite them on as a guest.

12. Have Fun

The final lesson is to have fun.

The last thing podcasting should feel like is work!

Seriously, podcasting is one of the best tools out there to grow your business, but it’s only useful if you enjoy it. Listeners can feel your energy if you’re not into the episode.

Only record when you’re rested, energized, and focused on serving!

Final Thoughts

In the first 15 days of January, I’ve already had more downloads than any one single month in 2019.

Hiring two virtual assistants, niching down, staying consistent, and getting on other shows have all helped start year two.

So if you’re thinking about starting, I highly suggest going after in 2020. Don’t forget, podcasting is on the rise.

According to this study:

  • Only 51% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast
  • 2020 podcast revenue is forecasted to grow from $514M to $659M
  • Podcast listeners are 37% more like to have $100,000 annual income

Don’t sleep on this opportunity. Podcasts changed my life, and I’m grateful when people DM me to tell me that I’m doing the same for them with my show.

So each time you hit record, give it your all. As I mentioned, you never know who is listening and what type of opportunities can come from it.

Remember, to set yourself up for long-term success, make sure to:

  • Have fun
  • Hire a VA
  • Keep it simple
  • Batch everything
  • Know your avatar
  • Have a clear niche
  • Get on other shows
  • Pick the right format
  • Repurpose everything
  • Launch with 8+ episodes
  • Have a consistent schedule
  • Pick a monetization strategy

If you serve your people and share your knowledge, more opportunities will arise than you can imagine.

Stay consistent, you got this!

Photo by Goodluz on Deposit Photos

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My name is Michael Leonard and I am the creator of Inspire Your Success. I'm on a mission to help readers build online writing businesses and quit their jobs to live a life of freedom!

Scottsdale, AZ
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