What We Learned Podcasting with Jackie D’Elia (Part 2)

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It’s the end of Season 1! In this 2-part episode, Jackie and I cover everything we’ve learned while starting a new podcast. In this part (part 2), we go over finding guests and sponsors, choosing the right tools, using iTunes, and more.

Show Notes



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And now, onto the final episode of season one, and part two of my interview with Jackie D’Elia, where we talk all about what we learned starting a podcast over the last four months.

So something else that you touched on was the budget for a transcript, for editing, and then getting sponsors. So I think that’s a really great thing to talk about. We’ve been recording for a little while now, so we might, I might make this a two-part episode,  because there’s a few things that you know, we still like to cover and I like to still keep them short. But this is the season finale, right. And most good season finales are an hour-long because they have a lot to cover.

Jackie D’Elia: That’s right. Just go for it.

Joe Casabona: Absolutely. So, one thing, one big thing that I’ve learned with this experience is just ask. You know, I made a list of guests I wanted. I asked all of them but only one or two said no. And that’s because they couldn’t like that their schedule didn’t allow for it or whatever. So I’ll probably follow up with them again for season two.

But the same thing kind of goes for sponsors. I got a lot more no’s for sponsors because I’m asking them for money. But I got a lot more yeses than I thought I would. So basically what I would do is I would talk to people, I would say, “Hey, I’m starting this podcast. This is the target. These are my hopeful goals. You know, can you sponsor an episode?” I started at $99 for Season Two. I’m going to raise it a little bit because now I have numbers and metrics and stuff like that, but most people at $99 were like, “Yeah, I’ll sponsor your show. I’ll support the cause”, right. That’s really what it was. I reached out to people I know and that’s what they say, right? When you’re looking for investments, the first people that you should go to our friends, family, and fools. I’m not saying any of my sponsors are fools. But they’re friends and family at least, or they’re people that I’ve met at other WordCamps or other events. So,  they’ve been my sponsors and have been incredibly generous. It meant a lot to me that they kind of trust in this.

One thing I’d like to do for Season Two is to get more metrics to see what the return on their investment was, to see and make sure that, you know, what they’re getting is worth it.

Jackie D’Elia: Yeah. I think that’s a really good point. There needs to be a win-win for both sides. And you’ve done a great job of getting sponsors way better than I’ve been able to do in the time that I’m working on it. So you’ve been a real inspiration to me to kind of come out of my shell a little bit and ask people to be sponsors and follow up with them. I’m more, I think reserved in that aspect. But hanging out with you has really helped me understand, you know, that if I want this to grow and I want to be able to provide a really good podcast for my listeners, those sponsors are going to help make that possible. I mean, I’m volunteering all of my time to put the podcast together to do all of the work for editing it and putting it out there. So, on the spot, this is a great opportunity though for sponsors to showcase products and things that you’re mentioning in the podcast or that you’re talking with guests about. And it’s a great way, to reinforce their brand and to drive traffic for them as well.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, definitely. And that’s so, well, thank you. I appreciate that. I’ve just, I don’t know what clicked in me when I just decided to start asking people. I think it was probably Brian Krogsgard, you know when I interviewed him, he basically kind of said the same thing like, you know, because what’s going to happen is you can put out a call for sponsorships. But unless you’re getting like tons and tons of downloads, people probably aren’t going to just volunteer their money.

But I reached out to a few people that I knew, who knew me, who knew my quality of work. And I said, “Hey, I’m starting this podcast. You know, I could really use some sponsorships to get it off the ground.  Would you be willing to sponsor one episode for $99 or four episodes for like $360, which is like a 20% discount or something like that?” And a few, like, you know, they said, “Yeah. I’d love to. I love supporting things like this.”  Hover, I kind of, the timing was right for them. And for me, kind of I reached out to them and they’re like, “Yeah. We want to get into the WordPress space. Why don’t we start with four episodes?” And then they decided to sign on for another two through the end of the year. And so we’re going to kind of renegotiate something in January and they’re doing some things on their end, too, right, because they want to have better metrics. So they’re going to set up some things. I’m going to work with them a little bit more and I’m learning a lot from them.

But, you know, I would ask if you, if somebody plugs up a product on your show, ask that product, be like, “Hey, I interviewed somebody. They mentioned your plugin. Would you be willing to sponsor this?”

Jackie D’Elia: Yeah. I also think having them sponsor multiple episodes or being like a sponsor for a season or a half of a season makes a lot more sense from a metric standpoint as well. It’s, you need to hear things more than once for it to really be effective and to sink in and become part of the brand identity that you’re trying to put out there. So having somebody just sponsor a one-off episode, now, maybe that might make sense if you’re talking about a specific product line or a specific group of products and their product is featured in that might make sense. But I think forging some longer-term relationships where you can get some sponsors that want to be part of the entire message that you’re helping to promote, I think that adds value for both sides. 

Joe Casabona: Yeah. That’s absolutely a great point. You know, I’ve heard that people need to hear anything from three or four to ten or twelve times before they take the beat. And having a multi-episode partnership with a sponsor means that their content is even more Evergreen, right? Because the big selling point for sponsoring a podcast is that the podcast will always be there unless the server goes away or unless you take it down, right? But for as long as the podcast lives, that sponsorship spot is there. So if somebody starts at the beginning, they’re going to hear about my first sponsors. So that’s a lot more value for them, right? It’s not just like a one-off ad. And then their logo and their link live on the website or in the show notes for again, as long as that sponsorship is available. So…

Jackie D’Elia: So they’re getting exposure in several different media formats. So they’re getting visual exposure on the website, home, the website page for that episode. They’re getting audio exposure in the podcast recording itself. And then if you’re doing any transcripts where you’ve got an…and I just started doing this on Rethink, can’t afford to do it for all the episodes yet. But, going forward I’m trying to apply all the sponsorship money to get those transcripts done. That’s really good for SEO for the podcast as well. But it’s also good SEO for those that are sponsoring if their products are mentioned in there, and that becomes part of the written transcript as well.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. And that’s a great point. So we’re talking about sponsorships, but we’re not just pocketing that money, right? We’re not just, you know, well, I mean, like we’re putting our own time into it. But…

Jackie D’Elia: Exactly. But it costs money to host it. It costs money to, you know, get it edited if you’re going to pay somebody to edit it if you don’t want to do that yourself. And it just costs time for your web hosting for hosting your…And then we didn’t even talk about some of the tools, you know like I’m using Libsyn write-ups. And I think it’s what it’s called for hosting the audio of the podcast because you probably don’t want to host that on your own WordPress website. Because you’re going to be, it’s going to really be taxing on your server. You’re going to get a lot of bandwidth usage out of that. So you want to move your audio files to someplace that can be served to all of the outlets that are going to be using it, right? So for your RSS feed. And so I tunes grabs the audio from Libsyn. And the RSS feed tells where it is and it pulls it down. So there’s a cost every month for hosting the media files alone. 

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, you know, that sponsorship money goes towards that. I chose Libsyn because you recommended it. And then I started to notice that basically every podcast I listened to uses Libsyn. They specialize in that and there’s a few reasons. There’s a few other reasons for it, right. Besides, you know, you don’t want the bandwidth hitting your server. They offer some metrics so we can get, we can easily see download counts, and we can see how well each guest does, how well each day does, how launch day compares to like the next day, and stuff like that. So that’s really cool.

But, this is very timely actually. SiteGround had an issue last night where all of my sites went down. So it was last night around 8:00 PM.,Eastern Standard time, all of my websites went down. If anybody wanted to listen to the podcast at that point, however, the episode is hosted with Libsyn. So, you know, if they’re subscribing via iTunes or pocket casts or Stitcher, something like that, whatever they’re subscribing to, the audio is coming from a different server. So, just you know, SiteGround went down last night and I should say that they’re our friend of the show and they quickly fixed the issue. My sites were down for more than like, I think 20 minutes. So, they handled it very quickly.

But the point is my website went down, my podcast did not because I was hosting it with Libsyn. So that’s about $4 a week. So that’s one cost. If you’re sending it out to edit, I use a guy on Fiverr and I add all the extras so that’s about $30 an episode. I’m not doing transcripts quite yet. I’m going to for Season Two.

Jackie D’Elia: And that is a pretty big expense. I mean, I’m using rev.com for mine and I’ve had great success with that. It’s awesome. The document that I get back makes it really easy for me to create a PDF and it also makes it really easy for me to add it to the episode page. I did some CSS styling for it so I have a nice layout that I’m happy with that looks good on mobile, looks good on, you know, the desktop. And it’s pretty easy. I, to basically take that, put it into my atom editor and just format it in HTML. And then cut and paste it and put it back into the WordPress episode page. So that has made things really easy for me to get all of that in there. So I’m happy with that very much. So, but it is, you know, if you’re doing, it’s about a dollar a minute, so if you’re doing a 45-minute episode, you need to budget $45 just for the transcription service. 

Joe Casabona: Yeah. That’s exactly right. So I mean, like, you know, I keep mine to 30 minutes about. But,  that’s $30 for the transcript, $30 for the editing, $4 for hosting the audio. I pay X amount of,  you know, I’m not going to break down the cost of my hosting, but, there are costs associated with that. So we’re maybe looking at 70 or $80 per episode if you’re doing the whole thing, right. If you’re editing it yourself, it could be even more expensive, right? If my hourly rate is a hundred dollars, let’s say if I’m doing freelance work and it takes me an hour to edit the podcast, that’s an hour that I didn’t spend billing some client, right. Or it’s free time, right. And for me, my free time is quickly dwindling because I have a full-time job, I have this podcast, and in March, I’m going to have a baby to take care of. So…  

Jackie D’Elia: You’ve got a full schedule ahead of you. So yes, it takes a lot of time and editing. It takes quite a bit of time. Now, granted the first time you do it, if you’re starting a podcast, you’re going to be overwhelmed with, “Oh my gosh! This is taking so long to do. I’ve got to learn the tools.” I have to, you know, put it all together. It does get easier and faster once you get a process down and you’re like, “Okay, this is how I’m gonna do my…I basically have a format template that I’m using for the episode pages that I follow with each one. So I’ve tried to systematize it as best as I could to make it as efficient as possible so it does get easier over time. But it still takes a significant amount of time to do it. And that’s just the actual step, the scheduling part, the networking to meet people, to talk to get them to come on your show. All of that is a lot of additional time as well, that you may not realize that you’re going to be spending.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. And I just want to echo that like a hundred percent, right. Because, you know, the networking, the scheduling, the editing. So a point with the editing is hopefully this podcast is hopefully this episode helps future podcasters determine what tools they’re going to use. And I would say, evaluate and pick a tool at the beginning, and stick with it, right.

So I started on GarageBand. I might be switching to Audacity, which means that the learning curve that I had in the beginning with GarageBand is going to come back in Season Two because I’m going to have a learning curve for Audacity, right. Which kind of undo some of the things that I’ve learned this season, right? Hopefully, in the long run, it’ll make things better for me. But in the short term, I’m now probably going to spend an hour and a half or two hours editing the first episode of Season One because I don’t know Audacity, right?

So I would say, if you can, you know, don’t stagnate. Don’t like, sit, rest on your laurels. In James Law’s episode, I messed that colloquialism up too. Don’t rest on your laurels. If there’s a good tool out there, then give it a go. But don’t switch tools every couple of weeks because that’s just going to compound the amount of time that you’re spending.

Jackie D’Elia: I agree. I first started on SoundCloud for hosting and then I switched to Libsyn a couple of episodes. So, because I was still doing research, so one of the mistakes, I guess I made early on was, is I was in a hurry to get things going and didn’t have enough time set aside to do the research on how to, you know, do what I wanted, where I wanted to host it, how I wanted to set it up.

And even, so if you’re just starting off, you’re going to be overwhelmed just trying to figure out what plugin to use in your WordPress site to do this, what theme you’re going to use. If you are like, I use Genesis starter theme for this. But there was quite a bit of time that went into just designing and putting the website together. And then of course I use the Blubrry PowerPress plugin which you need to allow yourself some time to figure the whole thing out with because it seems complicated when you first look at it. It does take some time. So there’s some videos, I think on YouTube, in other places that kind of give you an overview of how to go about setting that up and how to go about getting it submitted to iTunes and all of them, I guess, the mechanics of getting that all done. But it is a significant amount of time. So allow yourself, if you’re planning on launching a podcast on March 1st, you should be in January, really putting all these things together. Cause if you think if you’re going to be able to throw it together in a week or two, I would say no. Unless you’re going to be doing it full-time. 

Joe Casabona: Yeah. So I also use Blubrry. Over the break I’m going to try very hard to launch the podcatcher plugin that I’ve been working on because there are a few things that Blubrry doesn’t do, that I would like the podcast to do especially when like relating episodes to sponsors. I think it will make my life a lot easier.

However, definitely read the documentation if you’re going to use Blubrry. Or I think there’s another one called like EasyWP podcasts or something like that. I’ll link that one in the show notes. I’m sure I messed up that name, but, with either of those plugins, the nice thing about them is that once you configure it and make sure you configure it right, they’ll submit it to iTunes for you, which is one less step that you have to take. And then, I built…Well, okay, so actually let me walk that back. I’m pretty sure it does. It does, right.

Jackie D’Elia: Ah, no. I still think you need to go to iTunes and set up your account and then link it. If I recall, I’d have to go back and look at exactly what I did in the beginning, but I think you have to go to like, to a developer, apple pod place to go to set it up in there. Yes, Podcasts connect. That’s what it is. You have to go there and configure it and set it up and get your feed set up properly.

Another thing I do want to mention that I read about that is an issue. If you’re considering like, I am now switching to SSL for the site, right? For Rethink.fm. If you use Let’s Encrypt, there is an issue where it’s going to mess up your feed with iTunes. So apparently iTunes does not like the Let’s Encrypt feed. So you’re going to need it and as far as I can tell, it has not been resolved yet. So you’re going to need to get a different SSL certificate for your site if you want to switch it and then still submit to iTunes.

Joe Casabona: Ah, that’s super interesting. So I’ll say that if you could send me that link for the show notes, I’d appreciate it. But, I’m using Let’s Encrypt for my domain and I haven’t seen an issue.

Jackie D’Elia: That’s good to know. Because the research that I did that I saw out there was saying that there were some people that were having problems when they switched with Let’s Encrypt, that it was rejecting the feed. So if that has been corrected, that’d be a great thing to know, because I would rather use the Let’s Encrypt certificate for Rethink, for sure.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s a good point. So, we’re getting a little bit technical here. So let’s take a step back and kind of distill this for the listeners out there who might not be web developers.

Let’s Encrypt is a service that allows you to kind of secure your website, right? Basically, it makes sure that all of the data you’re sending to and from your website is not in plain text, it’s encrypted, which means that, you know, so hacker or Hijacker or whoever can’t just steal your information for your podcast or your RSS feed. You don’t necessarily need SSL or Let’s Encrypt because the information is public anyway. But if you’re logging into WordPress and you’re sending a username and password to some server somewhere that’s where you need to use it, Let’s Encrypt, right? So that’s a whole other episode. Check out like I think maybe the first or second episode of Season Two, I’ll talk to Dre Armeda from Sucuri. We talked all about that sort of stuff. 

But just to walk it back a bit for the listeners, So we are both using WordPress,  we’re both using a plugin in WordPress to put together the RSS feed that we then need to give to iTunes, right. So that’s the process. We’re both using the Blubrry plugin, I’ll link it in the show notes. We’re both using WordPress and some themes that we found. And then the Blubrry plugin basically asks us all the questions that iTunes would ask us and gives us a feed to submit to iTunes. Which you can do from podcast connect.com. And again, I’ll link that in the show notes too. So that’s generally the process to get it submitted to iTunes.

I would say the most important thing that you can do to publicize your podcast is submit it to iTunes.  Even though like some of their tools stink, it’s still probably the number one way people use to listen to and subscribe to and discover podcasts. So get that out there to iTunes.

The other thing I would say is to ask your listeners to rate your podcast. Rate and review.  Please rate and review this podcast because the higher the rating, the more reviews it has, the more likely it’s going to kind of make its way up the ranks. As far as,  you know, being on the homepage or being like top of the list for whatever category you say your podcast is, so that’s going to get listeners for you. So that’s just kind of distilling that process. Did I miss anything in that?

Jackie D’Elia: No. But it is a challenge getting folks to review, to submit a review and a rating. I’ve asked several times and I’ve had just a couple of people do it. And I know you’re in the same situation as well. It’s, so it doesn’t take very long. I mean, I’ve done it for your podcast because I enjoy listening to it and I’ve done it for other podcasts that I have. It takes just like less than a minute to do it. So if you’re enjoying the podcast, whichever one you’re listening to, it doesn’t matter. Go and leave a review if you feel so inclined. I think that that’s a really good thing to do because it does help other people discover your podcast. And if you find something that’s adding value and that’s a great way for you to share that.

Joe Casabona: Definitely, definitely. So, we’re bagging up against time. We’re probably over time. This might be a two-episode part. But,  I have basically, I have a conflict coming up very soon.  

So, let’s wrap up. We’ve talked about all sorts of stuff. We’ve talked about getting guests, getting sponsors, the episode schedule post-production, transcripts, and things like that. We’ve talked about submitting to iTunes. So again, this wasn’t, you know, a traditional format for my podcast, but I do want to end with the last question I always ask, Jackie, which is, do you have any trade secrets for us?

Jackie D’Elia: Trade secrets? Yes. My mind has never stopped learning. You know, embrace being a lifelong learner. For me, that’s, as I’ve gotten older in life, it’s made it much easier. You know, I dedicate time every week for learning, you know, for things that I’m passionate about. Or things that I can leverage in my work to better serve my clients.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself is understanding how you learn best. What method, what way do you, is it easier for you to learn? As I’ve gotten older now, video learning is very, very prominent. Now there are loads of outlets to get video learning and I learn best with video. That’s like the way that I learned. If you ask me to read things, I’m going to be much more challenged to learn in that environment. So I’ve learned that that’s how I do it. So I watch a lot of Lynda courses, I’m on Treehouse, and I watch, you know, courses, any kind of audio-video courses for me.  But figure out what works for you. If it’s reading, if it’s audio, if it’s hands-on workshops, whatever it is, you know, make that part of your weekly routine and really leverage that. 

Joe Casabona: Nice. I love that. Because I mean, you know, every time you do something new, you’re learning, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. Do it once, do it right, right” Is something that one of my old bosses, when I was a kid, you know, he kind of told me that, do it once, do it right.

We have the luxury on the internet of getting reduced sometimes. But, you know, it’s, we talked a lot about the time commitment and how it takes a lot of time. And I feel like maybe like right at that part, we got a little, I don’t want to say down on podcasting, but we talked about kind of the drawbacks of podcasting. And it’s a time commitment, but this is the most fun I’ve had in a while. You know, it’s not making me a ton of money, but it’s a lot of fun. I get to talk to my friends. I get to talk to people I normally, otherwise wouldn’t talk to. And I get to kind of flex a different muscle. You know, I’m a programmer. I spend most of my days programming. So, you know, diving into GarageBand or Audacity is something new and something different. And it’s a lot of fun for me. I’ve had a lot of fun learning. So that’s just a great tip, a great secret.

Jackie D’Elia: It is. It’s a great experience. It’s another learning experience and it’s something you can share with somebody else. You may end up having a client at some point, that’s doing a podcast that needs help with some things, and it’ll open up another whole avenue for you to be able to offer a service to somebody.

So my main point is to figure out what way you learn best, and then just go for it.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. Well, Jackie, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.

Jackie D’Elia: You’re welcome, Joe. I really enjoyed being here.

Joe Casabona: As always. I always enjoy talking to you.

Thanks to everybody out there who is, who listened. So this is the end of Season One. We are…I’m done. I’ve got 16 or so episodes under my belt. Now, I’m going to take the holidays off and come back with a vengeance in 2017.

I want to thank everybody who has supported the show, all of the guests, all of the sponsors, and especially the listeners. This is, I’ve seen a lot more growth than I thought it would, and I could not be happier about it. So I really appreciate it. 

And until next season, get out there and build something.

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