PODCAST: The Ins-And-Outs of Podcasting with Yann Ilunga
How to create your own podcast from a scratch, save time and gain listeners? Yann takes it apart and meticulously examines.
Yann Ilunga is a podcasting strategist who helps entrepreneurs, marketers, and creatives leverage podcasting for more impact, leads, and sales. He’s also the host of several podcasts, including The 360 Entrepreneur podcast and the founder of the Podcast Success Academy. The membership site dedicated to teaching you both the technical and the business side of podcasting.
Magda: Hello Yann.
Yann: Hi Magda, how you doin’?
Magda: I’m really good, and you?
Yann: I can’t complain. I’m here talking to you, so I can’t really complain.
Magda: Thank you. That’s very nice and kind of you. So let’s start. You know, you’re talking about podcasts today, and as I can see, podcasting, for a long time, has been an undiscovered area for marketers. In the last year, the number of new podcasts has grown significantly, about 25%. What is the main cause of this?
Yann: Well, that’s a great question and one thing I just want to say on what you’ve said, Magda – I think what is so exciting for people like you and me who are in the podcasting world is that the “golden era” of podcasting has yet to arrive. So, it’s a really exciting time. And I think it’s because of 2 reasons that podcasting is growing.
One is technology. The fact that nowadays Internet Service Providers and phone operators are really providing cheap plans where you can have a smartphone for a good price. You can have unlimited Internet, high-speed Internet for a very good price. That allows us to do many new things that weren’t necessarily available 5 years ago or so. One is: access the Internet and listen to podcasts. So, the technology and the infrastructure is definitely a reason why there’s been this increase in the number of podcasters and podcasts.
The other one, I would say, is simply our awareness of podcasting. We may talk with somebody who’s into podcasts and we don’t know the first thing about podcasts, and then we are like, ‘oh, OK, this sounds interesting’ and as podcasting grows, there are more topics that are covered. So, if, let’s say 3, 4, 5 years ago certain topics weren’t discussed at all, nowadays we may find those not only in one show but in several shows. So, sure, the infrastructure and the technology has helped us but also our overall awareness of podcasting and what podcasts are has definitely also contributed to the development of podcasting and the growth of podcasts
Magda: OK, so, if we want to start running our own podcasts, what is the most important thing at the very beginning of podcasting?
Yann: Well, there are a few things that are key, but the first one is to really keep in mind that podcasting is a long-term game, and sometimes I really feel like there is somehow a disconnect between podcasting and other things.
I don’t know about you, Magda, but I remember when I started my very first blog years ago. ‘How do I make money from my blog?’ wasn’t the first thing I thought about. And somehow, there are people who enter podcasting and they simply think ‘OK , I’m just going to have this show. I’m going to have a lot of sponsors. I’m going to make a lot of money.’ And then they see that those results don’t happen quickly, and they don’t happen because they hear other people getting incredible results so they think ‘what if I just follow the same steps? I’m going to achieve those results as well.’ That’s not the case. So, when that happens, they’re like ‘oh, well, podcasting isn’t working, this and that… but podcasting isn’t working in those cases because they haven’t focused on the foundation, no. 1.
And no. 2, they don’t have the mindset of ‘this is a marathon, not a sprint’. And if you think about it, you thinking of starting a podcast today and expecting to get thousands and thousands of downloads is the same principle that if you were to start a Youtube channel today, publish a couple of videos and expect to get thousands of viewers. Or, you launch a blog today, publish 2 articles, and you think ‘ah, I’m going to get thousands and thousands of visitors in a couple of months’. That’s not how it works, especially if you’re starting out, especially if you don’t have any following yet. So, you’re really taking the first steps.
So, I would say: no. 1, think about the fact that it’s a long-term game. And no. 2: I would say, stop worrying about what other people do. Stop trying to emulate what other people do. Sure, take inspiration, that’s ok. But then add your own ingredients, your own secret sauce, and create a podcast that is unique and is really a representation of your voice, your brand, and what you’re trying to do.
There are so many podcasters today that go into podcasting thinking, ‘I’m going to be the next Johnny Dumas. I’m going to be the next Patt Flynn,’ and so forth. And they don’t have an impact. And if they were just being themselves, they could really do incredible things. So, keep in mind that it’s a long-term game. Don’t worry about the numbers, about ‘I’m going to get thousands of downloads first’. Focus on really understanding the game, in really feeling comfortable in the podcaster’s shoes, and be yourself.
Magda: So, you just mentioned what is very important in the beginning, but in the bigger picture, what’s absolutely crucial in producing an excellent podcast?
Yann: Well, it goes without saying that now, and we are generalizing a bit, but every podcast is different. Every niche is different. So, many podcasters (or new podcasters) think that hosting an interview-based show is the best format. And that isn’t necessarily true. There are several things that go into choosing the “right format”. So, one of the things you should ask yourself: ‘why do I want to start a podcast? What do I want to achieve through a podcast? Do I want to build authority? Do I want to network with people in my space? Do I want to talk to my ideal customers? Do I want to showcase our company / our product? Do I want to grow my email list?’
There are different goals. And sometimes, we tend to want to focus on everything. We say ‘yeah’. And I hear some of my clients saying this. They say ‘yeah, yeah. I want to build authority, but at the same time I also want to network, and of course, I also want to promote my business’.
And my advice is: at the beginning, focus on one thing. For the fact that really feeling good in front of a microphone takes time. And it doesn’t matter if you do interviews, if you host a solo show, if you broadcast live, if you pre-record, it takes time. It’s a learning curve. And certain people like me, come into, or came into podcasting, with a background already, with interviews. I did interviews before: audio / video. So, I wasn’t completely new to the fact that I would be doing interviews, being in front of a microphone. So, if it’s your first time, keep in mind that it’s gonna take you some time. And some time can even be 6 months, 7 months, 9 months to really feel comfortable in front of a microphone.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I would say that an excellent podcast is made of a couple of things. First of all, it’s a show that provides good content. And we can have an entire discussion about what good content is, but for me, personally, good content is content that helps your ideal listener take one step forward. Your content helps your listener take one step closer to achieving their goal. So, for me, that’s what I consider excellent content. Or, at least, what the content should do for a listener.
Now, from a host perspective. I would say that a good podcast is a podcast where you really have your audience in mind. So, not only do you create content for your audience, but you really acknowledge your audience on your show. You may talk to them directly, even if you have a protocol that shows ‘all the podcasts I host are pre-recorded’, but still, I do reach out to my audience. I do address them and say, for example, ‘ok, Magda and I have talked about this. In case you have questions, reach out to me on Twitter’. I think it’s important to try to turn your podcast, even if it’s just you and the microphone, into a 2-way route, where, sure, the listeners can only listen to you, but at the same time, you’re calling them and asking them to do something. So, I would say, keeping your audience in consideration is key. Not only in terms of creating valuable content but also to address them directly. So, I would say that an excellent podcast does those things.
And, last but not least, an excellent podcast really focuses on helping people, yes, but also on building a community. So, as a podcaster, one of your goals should also be to try and bring your listeners together and go from an audience to a community.
If you think about it, Magda, listening to a podcast is a very personal thing. I may have friends over, and I would say, ‘yeah, let’s listen to this CD’ but I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘hey guys, let’s listen to this podcast’. Usually, I listen to podcasts by myself. So, I’m here by myself. Sure, you could be listening to the same show but the listening experience, you do it by yourself. So, for us, as the hosts, we should try to build a common ground where our listeners can come together. So, they go from being simple listeners to becoming members of a community where they can engage, interact, communicate with us, our guests (if we interview people), as well as other people just like them, so other listeners.
Magda: OK, I must say that I agree with what you just said and it was very interesting. And talking about motivation, because people have thousands of reasons to start podcasting. They want to share and explore their passion, educate people about things they know, deliver interesting content, and a great side effect, or maybe the main aim for some people, is that it lets us earn money. What is the best way to attract clients and monetize our podcasts? Clients and audience also.
Yann: That’s a tough question, for the fact that every podcast is different. Every business is different, meaning you and I could host 2 separate podcasts that talk about the same topic, but because of how your business is structured and my business is structured, we may use different strategies to acquire our customers, to turn listeners into customers. Well, the first step when it comes to monetizing a podcast, and this is something… One that that many (especially new) podcasters get wrong, is podcast monetization. For many podcasters, podcast monetization equals sponsorship. And that’s not the entire picture. Sponsorships are only a fraction of what podcast monetization is. And the first step to podcast monetization is actually to understand how podcast monetization works. And there is – to simplify things a bit, there are 2 types of podcast monetization: direct and indirect podcast monetization. Would you like me to explain both quickly?
Magda: Uh, yeah, sure
Yann: Alright, so direct podcast monetization is something where somebody is listening to your show, they hear something that is interesting, and they take action. The window of time between them listening to your original call to action and them making the transaction, it’s a small window of time.
For the indirect podcast monetization, the window of time is longer.
Let me give you a couple of examples. If you have a sponsor on this podcast and I listen to the episode and I hear the specific sponsor, and I like what you offer and I take you up on that, so I sign up, whatever, and there is a transaction so I pay for the thing. That’s a direct monetization that happened because I need it pretty much right away.
On the other hand, if I’m listening to your podcast and you’re talking about an event that you’re organizing 3 months from now, I’m like ‘ah, ok, this sounds interesting. This sounds very interesting. I didn’t know about this event. It’s definitely something I should look into it.’ So I start thinking about it and thinking about it, and then in a few weeks, I purchase the ticket for the event. Sure, the actual money comes from the event because I bought a ticket for your event, but it’s your podcast that we have to thank for making me aware of the event. Do you see what I mean?
Magda: Yeah, I get it.
Yann: OK, so in this case, the window of time could be bigger. So these are just 2 examples, and it’s very important because oftentimes, people think that with podcasting, podcast monetization is something that happens right away, but sometimes you have certain episodes where from episode 2, you make money 6 months after you originally publish the episode. So, when it comes to attracting your ideal customer using podcasts, monetizing, the first thing to do is think about what your business looks like and what you already provide in terms of products and services. For example, if you’re a coach and you’re looking to acquire customers, you could use your podcast as a platform to turn strangers, not only into listeners but into people who you get to talk to. So, for example, you could say, ‘for the next month, if you use this coupon code, you can get a free coaching call’. And what’s gonna happen is that certain people are going to show up, claim their free coaching call, say thank you and then they’re going to move on. But some other people are going to stick around and they’re going to become coaching clients.
So, sure, you make money from coaching but once again, podcasting is what you have at the entry level of your funnel. A funnel definitely plays an important role in monetizing your podcasts. So, there isn’t any perfect strategy for the fact that as I said, every business is different, every podcast is different. But my advice is, when it comes to monetization, don’t focus so much on sponsorships and downloads. Those are things you can’t really control.
Focus on what you can control. If you are already selling something, try to think about how you can leverage your podcast to get people into the doors of your online course, or how you can offer a discount for your coaching sessions. If you have a software, consider offering a special deal for your listeners, and these kinds of things. Those are things you can control, but you can’t really control how many people listen to your podcasts. In order for you to be able to get sponsors, you need to have certain download numbers and you can control those. On the other hand, you can control the discounts you make available, the offers, and these kinds of things, so you can really test different things out.
Magda: OK, I got it. I think it sounds like a golden rule, I mean, focusing on things we can control instead of worrying about all those things and a sponsorship is a thing that will come with time, right?
Yann: Yeah, and one thing about sponsorships is that, sure, there is an industry standard, but you can even come up with your own sponsorship package. Maybe there are some companies that you kind of collaborate with, or you would like to collaborate with and you can reach out to them and you may find an agreement that is special so it doesn’t focus on the number of downloads only because maybe you say ‘sure, maybe we have this small audience because we’ve just started out but we have 10,000 Twitter fans, we have this many people on our e-mail list, so if you agree to be a sponsor, not only do we mention you on the podcast but you would also get exposure to people on our e-mail list, Twitter, and so forth. So, if you think about your overall digital real estate, you may find out that yeah, you’ve been focusing so hard on increasing your download numbers, but maybe you already have other things like your e-mail list that you could leverage and that could be appealing for sponsors.
Magda: OK, I get it. I think these are great tips for smaller podcasters in regards to using all social media channels. I think it’s brilliant.
Yann: Yeah, podcasters of all sizes, really, even big ones. The more you can put on your plate, the more appealing your offer is going to be, no doubt about it.
Magda: Yeah, so, you know, that’s great. I think this will be one of the best quotes from our interview, but we haven’t finished yet, so we’ll see.
Yann: I’ll try to say a couple of other good things for the quotes.
Magda: OK, I’m all for it. I can’t wait to hear them. Yeah, OK, so you organize and attend great events for podcasters. Can you tell me what the biggest advantages of virtual conferences are, and what they give to the audience?
Yann: Yeah, sure, I think we’re very lucky to be in this day and age. You and I are an example now, here. We are in different countries but we’re able to communicate as if we’re sitting in the same room which is great. Virtual summits are fantastic. So, I’ve attended virtual summits as an attendee many times. I’ve been invited to speak at some. I’ve also organized, and I’m going to organize again, my own virtual summit called Podcast Success Summit.
And as an attendee, the great thing about the virtual summit is that you get to learn from some of the best in your industry, some of the best speakers, sometimes even the best speakers in the world without having to worry about flight tickets, food, accommodation… I mean, you can literally be sitting on your couch and enjoy the sessions – in most cases they’re video sessions – and the way most virtual summits are organized is that sessions are available for free for a limited window of time. So, even the cost is very low, because you may get to watch the sessions for free. Or even if you pay, and usually one pays and gets lifetime access, then you know you can really consume the content in any way you wish, so even a couple of weeks after the event is over.
So, if you have never attended a virtual summit, I would definitely encourage you to try to do a Google search to see if there is one is happening in your nation. Definitely check it out, because really they are fantastic, and as I said, the only thing you have to do is focus on your screen because you don’t have to travel anywhere and you can attend a virtual summit regardless of where you are, which is fantastic.
Magda: Yeah, I agree. I attended a couple of events where you were speaking, actually. So, yeah, they were great and I agree, when it comes to the costs and the availability of the content – months, after that – yeah, these are some big pros. I know you’re a very busy entrepreneur and you have many plans, I bet, for the year. Can you share some upcoming projects that you have for now?
Yann: Absolutely, yeah. I definitely always have something cooking. The thing I’m most excited about for the year, but really for upcoming years, because it’s a project that I think is going to have a big impact for years to come, is my new membership site about podcasting, called Podcast Success Academy. I know you’re going to have a link in the show notes, so everybody who’s listening to this, they can use your link and they’re going to be able to get free access for an entire month for just $7. So, even if you are listening to this interview 3 months from its original publishing date, if you’re interested in podcasting or perhaps you already have a podcast, then you can check out the Podcast Success Academy membership site and you’ll find the link in the show notes.
So, I would say, Magda, that the Podcast Success Academy is the project that I’m really, really, really excited about. Not only because it has been a lot of work, but also because I’ve gotten some very good feedback from it and I know it’s something that is really going to help pretty much anybody who’s interested in podcasting.
Magda: I’m sure that it would be something awesome. I haven’t seen it yet but knowing you, I know that it’ll be just great and definitely, yeah, I will add all those links in the show notes to make sure that everybody can benefit from it. So, yeah, that’s great. OK, so, I think that’s all for now. Of course, not for all time, but just for today, so I want to thank you very much for your time and everything that you said because it was very important for people who want to start running a podcast and yeah, very interesting, too. So, thank you very much for your time and for all the things that you said.
Yann: Thank you, Magda. This has been a very fun interview. Thank you so much for having me.
Magda: Thank you. Bye bye.