Live Coaching: Launching a Course & Growing a Podcast with Alastair McDermott

How I Built It
How I Built It
Live Coaching: Launching a Course & Growing a Podcast with Alastair McDermott
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Today’s Episode is a little bit different. See, my friend Alastair McDermott has a couple of problems he’d like to solve: launching and promoting an online course, and growing his podcast. I believe these 2 things go hand-in-hand. A podcast is a great way to establish trust and expertise, which in-turn helps you sell more courses. So instead of Alastair dropping knowledge on us (which he does anyway…) we flip the script in this live coaching call, and he asks me a bunch of questions! This is one of my favorite episodes of the year – and highly educational for both of us! 

Top Takeaways

  • Beta testing your course is a great, lower-risk way to get your information out there and get real feedback. 
  • A podcast is a fantastic way to grow your audience, estabilish trust and expertise, and sell your courses. 
  • One way to grow your own podcasting audience is to guest on other people’s podcasts!

Show Notes

Transcript

Joe Casabona: Real quick before we get started, I just want to make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter Build Something Weekly. Every week I send a free email to everyone’s inbox with insights on what’s going on in WordPress and podcasting, you get a rundown of all of the content I created, and you get a summary and top takeaways from this episode.

So if you check your inbox on Monday mornings, and you’re like, yes, this is an episode I definitely want to listen to right now, you can. If you’re like, oh, wait, a little bit later, you can do that too. You can sign up for Build Something Weekly over at buildsomething.email. That’s buildsomething.email for my free weekly newsletter.

Intro: All right, now let’s get into it. Hey, everybody, I am Joe Casabona. Welcome to Episode 231 of How I Built It. Today’s episode is brought to you by Nexcess, TermsHub, and TextExpander. And today’s episode is a little different. See, my friend Alastair McDermott is a marketer. He has a podcast called The Recognized Authority. His website is marketingforconsultants.com, and he helps consultants do more with their marketing to get more clients instead of doing a bunch of cold outreach. He wants to do more inbound marketing.

And for that, on top of his podcast, he wants to build an online course. And so instead of Alastair giving us advice, he pitched the idea of doing a live coaching call, which I absolutely loved. So we flip the script a little bit in this episode, and we do get a little background on Alastair. But then he starts asking me questions about what’s the best way to build and market your course. You won’t be surprised to hear that I think podcasts are a great way to establish yourself as an authority to get people to know, like, and trust you to then sign up for your course. But there are lots of other interesting nuggets in there as well. So let’s get into it.

All of the show notes are going to be at howibuilt.it/231. That’s all the links that we talked about ways to subscribe, ways to sign up for the newsletter, and even join the Creator Crew.

In the Build Something More, in the members-only version of this episode, we talk about sports, because I was watching the Yankee game right before we started recording in this episode. But we also talk about why we think the WordPress community is so cheap. If you want to sign up for the Creator Crew, you can go to howibuilt.it/231. All right, now let’s get into it.

This is my live coaching call with Alastair McDermott on how to test and promote your online course.

Joe Casabona: Hey everybody, and welcome, welcome, welcome to How I Built It, the podcast that offers actionable tech tips for small business owners. My name is Joe Casabona, I’m your host. And today we’re doing a little bit of a different episode. I’ve got my friend Alastair McDermott here. Alastair is a marketing consultant at Marketing for Consultants. He’s very straightforward with marketing, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

But instead of me interviewing Alastair about who he is and what he does, we’re going to be talking because Alastair wants to get into the online course space. I’ll be coaching him through a few things. And we thought that would be a fun conversation to record for all of you. So Alastair, how are you doing today?

Alastair McDermott: Joe, I’m doing great. It’s real pleasure to be here with you. Thank you so much for this opportunity to learn and to get some coaching from you.

Joe Casabona: My absolute pleasure. When we talked about this idea, really you pitch this idea to me, and I thought it was great, mutually beneficial, I suspect. But I think this will be really good content. I hope the listeners like it as well. I know that everybody listening will learn something because online courses as we record this episode are becoming increasingly popular. It’s maybe getting easier to record those courses and edit them maybe. But it’s really about the content. That’s what we’ll get into. But before we do that, why don’t we get a little bit of background on you. So tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Alastair McDermott: Okay. I am a full-on nerd. My first job out of college was programming machine code for IBM mainframes.

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Alastair McDermott: My second job was working in Sun Microsystems. I worked on the Solaris operating system. So that was kind of my background in programming.

Joe Casabona: I had no idea.

Alastair McDermott: I hide it well. I’m a recovering geek as I like to say. That was kind of my background. I wasn’t a very good employee. I really don’t make for a good employee, my personality style, and just, you know… So I quit my job in 2007 because that was a really good time to start a business because the economy was doing great. I mean, everything was rosy. So I quit my job 2007, started a business.

Initially, my only skill set that I had that wasn’t to do with low-level programming was search engine optimization, which at the time was kind of cool because SEO at the time was really tactical. We didn’t have stuff like Yoast SEO. There was a lot of SEO at the time, it just needed to be like hand-coded. There was a lot more SEO with the server and stuff like that. So that was kind of my background.

I didn’t really like selling SEO as a service. Kind of the premise of SEO is, look, we’ll do a lot of work for you, it’s going to cost a lot of time and money, and hopefully it’ll work. But you know what? It may not. And that’s kind of still the way SEO is today. I know there’s a bit more to it than that but that’s kind of what it felt like.

So I got then into building websites because so many people kept asking me for them. I’ve been building websites since 1997. My first website was on GeoCities. So GeoCities CollegePark/Quad/7257 was the URL.

Joe Casabona: Fantastic.

Alastair McDermott: That’s where I learned my website building. So I’ve been building websites – what? For 24, 25 years, nearly. I changed the business name to Website Doctor in 2008, and that was my business for a long time as a consulting style business more than an agency. I kind of prefer the expert consultant solo business rather than building a big agency with lots of stuff. That was just the way I kind of prefer to go about it.

I also have my flings, my startup attempts. One of those I’ll mention—there’s a couple—but one of those was actually a partnership with another guy called Alastair, believe it or not. It’s not a very common name, even here in Ireland. So that was kind of funny.

So myself and Alistair McBride, we set up a business, which was an eLearning business, teaching people how to build their own WordPress websites. This came about in early 2010 when we were sat across a breakfast table one morning after having a couple of beers a night before. I was just telling him, you know, it’s really easy for you to build yourself a WordPress website. And I started explaining to him and he’s like, “Hold on, hold on, I’ve got this new thing.” And he had like a flip camera, which was all the rage back then. It was killed off by iPhone and all these.

So he recorded me telling him how to build a website. I just explained it to him and drew a few things on a piece of paper. And he was like, “This is awesome.” So he took it, he built his own website. He came back to me, he said, “Look, we actually could do something with this. We could make a website that shows people how to do this.” And so we did. We built a website, we recorded, I think 140 videos, screen grabs. We had a pretty good site from a perspective of we had a lot of content.

It was pretty good for 2010, 2011 when we launched, but it failed miserably for several reasons. One was we had no specific target market. We were trying to target everybody. The other was I think we were trying to price it too high. We were trying to price at around $80, $90 a month, and there was just no, no traction in the market at that price point. Actually, I found out later that some of the people who came along and we’re doing the same thing at the same time were really struggling to get paid at that price point as well. So that might be something we’ll revisit later, I think.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. What a really great story! First of all, I had no idea that you programmed machine code. That was my least favorite assembly language. It was my least favorite class in college. I guess once you go out on your own, there’s not a lot of opportunity for freelance machine code.

Alastair McDermott: No. I think I remember at the time… Ireland isn’t huge country. But I think I remember at the time there was eight companies in Ireland that you could potentially work at if you wanted to do that.

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Alastair McDermott: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: Just a quick aside before we get into the core stuff, my first real website was also on GeoCities. I called it the Bootleg Blogger because I just kind of copied a Blogger template and did all the HTML myself. Years later, after GeoCities shut down and all of these clones popped up, one of my students, when I was teaching at the University of Scranton, found it and was like, “I found your old blog.” And I was like, “No.” I’m like, “You can’t tell anybody about this.”

And then I sent them, the people who did, a cease and desist, because I was like, “Take this down,” and they’re like, “You’ve got to prove it’s yours.” And I was like, “Well, you’ll be hearing from my lawyer…” It wasn’t really my lawyer, but it was enough to get them to take it down. Because it was like teen angst and I was like, “I don’t want this online.” I’m so happy I’m not a teenager today.

Alastair McDermott: Oh, yeah. I’m with you there because I went back and sanitized everything that I could possibly sanitize. When I was about 24, 25, I realized, “Hey, this stuff is hanging around. It could hang around for a long time, actually.”

Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly. I tell my students, you know, anything you put online is more permanent than tattoos, sharpies, everything. It’ll always be there. So you tried an eLearning business? I feel like you and I both started the same kind of thing, where you’re like, “I’ll just make an online course and sell it. It’ll be great.” But similarly, my first course did not have a target audience. Mine was text-based and it was probably stuff that you could find for free online anywhere. And it was probably priced too high.

I’m thinking, you know, WP 101, My good friend Shawn Hesketh launched in 2008. But his, I think it’s like a $29 annual membership or you can buy a lifetime for $79 or something like that.

Alastair McDermott: I mean, the numbers you need to do at that price point is crazy.

Joe Casabona: Which he was able to do. And he very smartly licenses his courses out. That’s how he makes most of his money.

Alastair McDermott: He was a much smarter business person than I was back then. Because, yeah, that would have made sense. Given the amount of time investment that we put into actually grading the content, we definitely should have done something like that.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. So let’s talk now. We’re 11 years or so, 10 years later and you’re thinking about launching an online course again. I don’t want to ask you what the idea is or anything like that or share as much as you’d like, but let’s set the stage, and then maybe we can talk through some of the things you’re struggling with.

Alastair McDermott: Okay. Setting the stage, I have a podcast. The brand is called Marketing for Consultants. I’m pretty straightforward with how I label things. So it is what it says in the tin. Marketing in the world of consultants is interesting. And I came to this because it was a problem that I encountered myself in trying to market myself as a consultant, as an expert.

So what I realized after doing some research, I surveyed over a thousand consultants on various different topics related to this, I spoke to many of them on the phone or Zoom, so what I discovered was there’s three main channels for consultants to get business. One is referrals and networking. I’m kind of blending the two of those together, but they’re very similar. That is where 95% of business is done in the world of consulting. And I’ll tell you about why in a minute.

The second one is outbound. And that is cold calls, cold emails, outreach of various different types, LinkedIn messages, all of those kinds of things. And then the third one is a tiny percentage is inbound. And inbound is putting out content and having people coming to you then when they find your content. That’s kind of educational content, authority contents, that type of thing.

So the reason why referrals and networking are so big is because consulting projects are typically very expensive and very risky. And there needs to be a huge amount of trust in the consulting firm that you’re bringing in. Trust that they can do the job, trust that they are experienced, that they’re ethical. There’s just needs to be a huge amount of trust, because you’re doing something that’s usually transformative, highly risky.

So what that means is creating that trust it’s usually passed through a personal referral or meeting somebody through some sort of networking and developing relationships and building that trust. Outbound usually is just a numbers game, because you’re actually starting in negative trust with outbound because you’re interrupting somebody. So now you can get past that if you get them at the right time, but for the most part, it’s not the case.

And then the third one is inbound for me is the holy grail, because I’m never going to make a cold call. I’ve never have, I never will. It’s just not my style. I also see all of these horrible LinkedIn spammy messages, and every so often, every week or so I checked my spam email folder and I see all these failed, cold emails. Just not my thing.

So inbound, having people come to you after having gone through some of your content, having built up that trust with you, that for me is the holy grail of Marketing for Consultants. So this is where I want to go in terms of creating content. So that’s kind of the basis. Do you want to ask me any questions about that?

Joe Casabona: No, I think that makes a lot of sense. I mean, you’re absolutely right about everything you just said. So this course will essentially be for the consultants who want to do less cold calling? Is that kind of…?

Alastair McDermott: Yeah. Well, I would say that they don’t do cold calling.

Joe Casabona: Got you. Got you.

Alastair McDermott: Mostly the problem here is about referrals and networking. Firstly, it’s hard to do networking outside of your local area. You can do it online. But it can be just hard to do networking. Some people don’t want to do it. Some people are introverts and they would just rather create content.

Joe Casabona: Right.

Alastair McDermott: The other thing is the network. Usually, you start off with a network and you get referrals from that network, particularly when you go into business for yourself for the first time. But your network can eventually become tapped out. This happens sometimes. It depends on the type of business, how long your projects are, all of that kind of stuff. But eventually, you may find a situation where you don’t want to be depending on referrals from the network, because you don’t have as much control over me. You can’t decide when a referral is going to come in. You can’t make it so that it’s inappropriate project.

So what you really want to do is you want to have a lot of incoming inbound queries, and have those coming in all the time so that you can then pick and choose from the best of those. That’s the kind of the ideal scenario.

Joe Casabona: And that makes perfect sense. I mean, first of all, we’re coming out of a global pandemic that lasted over a year, and there haven’t been any in-person networking events. So how do you expand your network even in your local area if you’re not going and meeting people and shaking hands and things like that?

I felt that certainly because most of my sponsors have come from the WordPress space, people I met at WordCamps, we formed a lot of trust, they wanted to sponsor the show. But every time a sponsor came in that I didn’t directly reach out to, or even the ones I directly reached out to, and then like a couple of months later they decided they were ready to sponsor, it always felt like it was luck. Like, luckily they came at this time because my funnel was drying up or whatever.

Like you can’t run a business just on luck. So I think your timing is really good here. I think your topic is really good here. So it sounds like your concept is good and it sounds like you know who your course is for as well. Which is another thing I think a lot of people kind of misjudged, right? My course is well for anybody who wants to learn how to launch a podcast or anybody who wants to learn Beaver Builder. People want to feel like you’re talking to them when you’re solving their problem.

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Alastair McDermott: You might even argue that my target is still a little bit too broad when I say just consultants. Maybe I should be narrowing it down more and saying, for example, management consultants specifically. And there is a kind of a thing where the word consultant is a euphemism for management consultants in the space. So, no, I’m okay with just calling it consultants for the moment.

I have been calling them specialized consultants because I don’t think that you can be an expert when you’re not specialized. I’m sure that people are going to argue with that a little bit. But I think it’s very hard to be a generalist expert because expertise is generally deep. So that’s my position on it.

I started a podcast called Marketing for Consultants, which is available for everybody at marketingforconsultants.com. I started that podcast maybe two or three months ago. I have 15 episodes published. I have another 16 or 17 already recorded. At the moment, I’m dropping them one a week. I’m actually considering because I have a good team, I have an assistant and I also have an editor, I’m actually thinking about moving to two a week. I’m not 100% sure yet. I might do that at the end of the summer.

Joe Casabona: Nice.

Alastair McDermott: So I want to grow the listenership and grow my audience through that. So I’m trying to make all of this fit. And this is where I think you’re the perfect guy to talk to because you’re the podcast guy and you’re the online course guy and maybe you can help me figure out how to kind of mash all of this together to make it effective.

I mean, one thing that I want to do, and maybe you can talk to me about this, is I want to try and use my audience to get them to tell me what I should put in the course. Because that I think is really crucial, because that’s something I didn’t do previously. I know a lot of people are starting out this way. They’re getting the market to tell them what should be the product rather than the other way around. That’s kind of laying it all out in the table. What do you want to talk about? Or where you want to go with this?

Joe Casabona: I mean, first of all, thank you. I think the first thing that you touched on about needing trust for consulting, also applies to online courses. So this was I think the wildest thing that I realized is that I had an easier time when I first started, I had an easier time selling somebody on like a $5,000 website than like a $50 course because I could talk to somebody and be like, “Hey, this is why you need this website. I understand you. I understand your pro… The last developer ran away on you. First of all, you’re going to have the keys to your kingdom. So even if I do, which I won’t I’m not going to leave behind dry.” Stuff like that. With a course, it’s just like, “Buying my course.” There’s no trust there.

A podcast is bar none one of the best ways to establish trust when you are creating an online course. If you’re a speaker, or author, or consultant, it’s a good way to show people you know what you’re talking about and that you’re willing to show up on a regular basis. Seth Godin said podcasting is, is the generous act of showing up. And if you show people that you can do that, then they’re more likely to buy your course because they know it’s not going to just be abandonware where you buy… I bought the course and then the instructor disappeared on me. He took my money, showed me a few videos, and then left.

Alastair McDermott: Yeah, yeah, the old school internet marketing guru scam.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, right exactly. I think Adam Carolla now, you know, I mean, he’s probably got money, but he has like a 10-year-old course on how to podcast and people pay all this money for it, and he’s nowhere to be found. So I think you’re right in saying that the podcast should help you.

And then your next point about getting feedback from your students about what they want to learn. I think Jennifer Bourn outlines this. First of all, I’ll link your podcasts in the show notes. I’ll link Jennifer Bourn’s episode in the show notes as well, which you can find over at howibuilt.it.

The best way to do this is I think to run beta tests. So you develop a version one of the course where you think this is the stuff that I think is important. Get the version one out there and make it, I don’t know, some short amount of time, 30, 60 minutes, I don’t know how much time you’re planning on it. So I just anchored you to some number that maybe isn’t reasonable.

You ‘now, put out the initial content that you think covers everything that should be covered, and then offer the course to maybe a couple of friends and family for free. But I found that if you offer people to the course for free, they’re never going to take it. Offer it to your audience at 60% off or something like that, where they still have skin in the game, they get to take the course early. And then the benefit for them is, well, you’ll also get the updates. So you’ll get the full course when it rolls out.

And then be active with those people. It’s a smaller audience, so you can not necessarily like meet with them on Zoom weekly, but have a place where you can all talk, either a forum for the course, or slack, or whatever. Whatever works best for your audience. So some people will say Discord, some people will say Slack. Circle is where I’ve been hanging out lately. If Facebook is where your audience is, then be on Facebook. So give them the opportunity to offer you feedback and be like, “Listen, what did I cover that you really were hoping I’d cover?” The beta test at a deep discount is a really good way to get user feedback.

Alastair McDermott: Okay, let me dig into this then a little bit. That initial beta version, the beta test version, I mean, I can go… like the software development process go alpha, beta, etc. So that initial test version, how much effort am I putting into that? What’s important there and how long is it? Is this like 116-minute workshop video where I just do it like a webinar and say, okay, that’s the basic framework? Or do I do it as 23-minute videos? How would you approach that?

Joe Casabona: That’s a really good question. Actually, you mentioning the webinar was something I had in the back of my mind. I think a webinar would be a good first step as a test concept, where you make the slides or whatever, however you run your webinars, you work on the content, but you don’t need to worry about all of the polish of the final course. Right?

Alastair McDermott: Right?

Joe Casabona: And then you test that content. And you know what? If the polish is good, then you just chopped that video up. Pat Flynn has done that before, where he has a webinar, and it was good, and he just chopped it up and made it lessons in one of his courses. But I think testing that concept, right, so the general framework, right… generally what I tell people—I stole this from somebody so I can’t really take credit for it—is the free content should be the what and the paid content should be the how.

Derral Eves who wrote The YouTube Formula said you should just give everything away for free on like a six-month delay. If you teach something in your course today, in six months, give it away for free. And then other people have just said like, “Yeah, all content is basically the same. It’s just the way you mix it.” So if you release podcast episodes or YouTube videos, you can use that same exact content in your paid course. But maybe in your paid course you’ve ordered it and structured it in a way that you wouldn’t on your podcast or your online course.

Actually, your podcast, you have a podcast, you have listeners, that’s a good place to test that content as well. Like, what did you think? What questions do you have? Make the call to action, hey, write to me and let me know what you thought about this or what other questions I can ask and answer?

Alastair McDermott: That also brings me to a totally different topic, which is how can I grow the audience for the podcast. Let’s bookmark that to come back to later. Okay?

Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah, for sure.

Alastair McDermott: Okay.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, growing your podcast audience is a common question I get. So yeah, we can answer that in a bit.

Alastair McDermott: But apart from everybody listening to this coming over, check it out, of course.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly. I mean, going on other people’s podcasts is a really great way to grow your podcast, right? Because then you can just be like, “Oh, yeah, find me on my podcast. You already listened to a podcast, just search for mine in whatever app you’re in right now.”

For kind of testing your content, I think that that’s a pretty good three-pronged approach. Talk about it on your podcast or your YouTube channel, wherever you’re putting out free content. Talk about some of that stuff, see how it does, see what questions you get. Have a webinar where in the webinar you run the whole webinar, maybe at the end you say, “Look, this is going to be an online course soon. Here’s your exclusive discount code.” Maybe you can pre-sell it there. “Sign up.” And then you can see how many people…

I’ve pre-sold courses before where three people bought them, and I just refund that money, and I’m like, “Well, I’m really glad I put zero effort into this course besides the landing page.” That’s another idea. Do the webinar to kind of put together the initial content and hold some of it back, release, chop up that webinar, or re-record it for the course, and then add a couple of extra modules to it, and then that can be your beta test.

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And now let’s get back to it.

Alastair McDermott: Okay, is there anything else then on this kind of beta test process that you’d recommend to do? I’m going to talk about it on the podcast, I’m going to do the webinar to test and do pre-sales. And I’ll tell them it’s pre-sales.

Joe Casabona: Yeah.

Alastair McDermott: Okay, anything else?

Joe Casabona: I think definitely frequent communication. There are a couple of approaches to this, if you use an LMS like Lifter or LearnDash, I use LearnDash, then you can set up an automation that when a learner, when a student finishes a particular module or lesson, automatically email them. I’ll usually do that in my courses after what I think the hardest lesson was, and be like, “Hey, look, there was a lot here, how you doing? Email me. This is my email.”

For you, when you’re testing, or I know Jennifer Bourn did this, you can drip out your content week by week, or every few days. Then it gives your students time to consume that content, think about it. You can reach out to them after it drops, and you can get feedback. This also gives you a little extra time to, you know, if you want to make the content just a couple of weeks ahead of time and see how things are going. But kind of dripping it out will probably keep them a little bit more engaged than dropping it all at once. That said, all of my courses are evergreen and they all get dropped at once.

Alastair McDermott: I think it’s going to be evergreen content anyway, which will make sense. Yeah.

Joe Casabona: Right. Again, with LearnDash or probably Lifter as well, you can still set it to be timed, where the content drips out based on their registration date. So the student registers, they get the first lesson on day one plus seven days, they get the second lesson.

Alastair McDermott: I had this discussion a million times back in 2010. But I’ll be honest, I’ve forgotten it all. What is the big advantage of going drip versus just releasing all at once?

Joe Casabona: That’s a really good question. I think it depends on your course. For my courses, I tout that they’re self-paced, that there’s a lot covered. You probably don’t care about certain things right now, but you will later, and so you can kind of take it. Chris Badgett calls this just-in-time learning, where especially if you’re a member, you just search the courses to find the one lesson that you need today. That’s a lot more common now than it was even just five years ago.

The benefit of dripping it out is if you do have like a bigger… let’s say you’re helping people change their whole process or change their whole approach to their business, right? Digital Mavericks, Troy Dean’s group is an example of this. They’ve got a 12-week program that offers live coaching calls…

Alastair McDermott: Yes, it’s guided.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly.

Alastair McDermott: You want to keep everybody on the same page there.

Joe Casabona: Right. Keep everybody on the same page. And it’s like, “Look, I can show you lesson two. Lesson two is not going to matter if you don’t absolutely do lesson one the right way.” Whereas again, with my course Podcast Liftoff, it’s like if you already have a hosting company for your audio, you don’t really need to watch the video on how to use Castos or whatever. Right?

Alastair McDermott: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: Or like if you’re not ready to make money yet and you just want to skip to the… or if you have a bunch of content and you just want to skip to the How To Make Money part, you can do that. I think that’s kind of the distinction and the big benefit is if you’re offering a real hands-on course with a cohort of people, it should be dripped out.

There’s probably a live aspect to that too where you meet every week at the same time, and you can either roll a video that you pre-recorded and then come in at the end and answer any questions and things like that. Which by the way is another way to get… you know, that’s maybe more work than one would think with an online course. And I would say that that’s a common misconception that online courses or passive income. I don’t think you have that misconception.

Alastair McDermott: Not anymore.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, right. Yeah, exactly.

Alastair McDermott: 28-year-old me, yes.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. “Oh, I’ll just put this course out there and…” I mean, even like three years ago me. I launched a few courses on LinkedIn Learning and then questions started coming in and I’m like, “I don’t really need to answer these.” And then I thought, “I should probably answer these because nobody else is going to. And I want people to know, this course is active. So they take it because my royalties rely on that or whatever.”

Anyway, my ultimate point here is when you’re beta testing another way to for sure get feedback is to have that live component, where I think… I want to say this, and again, I’ll link her episodes in the show notes. But I think the first few runs of Jennifer Bourn’s Profitable Project Plan were a live session that she just recorded and released as lessons. So kind of two birds with one stone there. And then she got that feedback and was able to adjust and then added some pre-recorded aspects later.

Alastair McDermott: Awesome. Cool. I’m taking lots of notes here.

Joe Casabona: This conversation is also being recorded.

Alastair McDermott: It certainly is. Okay, very cool. Where I want to go next then is, what is the optimal format for the final version, let’s call it.? When I’ve got it polished, I’m happy that people like the content and stuff. At that point then, how long should it be? Should it be two hours of content? Three hours? 10 hours? Should my videos be one minute long, three minutes, 20 minutes, an hour? What are your thoughts on that?

Joe Casabona: That’s a really, really good question. The frustrating answer is it depends. Your content should be as long as you need to cover what you want to cover. But a lot of content overwhelms people. Pat Flynn has told this story on his podcasts and the founder of WishList Member whose name escapes me right now talks about how, you know, they’ve seen communities where people try to put out a new course every month or a new thing, an hour-long thing every week.

And they had drop off from their members, they had churn, because their members were saying, “I’m just never going to catch up to all of this. It doesn’t make any sense for me to pay for this because I’m never going to consume all of it.” So the shorter courses, even if you release a bunch of mini-courses… Lema just wrote about this on his blog recently. If you have like four mini-courses that come bundled, this allows your users to again consume the thing they want to consume.

As far as optimal length of video, at LinkedIn Learning, I learned that you really want to try to stay within five minutes, plus or minus one. I shouldn’t say plus. I shouldn’t say minus. It could be like three minutes or two minutes, but five minutes, five to six minutes will say. People’s attention spans are short and you want each video to essentially be a consumable topic on its own.

If you watch LinkedIn Learning videos, lynda.com for those who are… they’re the same thing. If you watch them, you might notice that we don’t even have transitions between videos. I don’t start video five with “All right, well, in the last video you learned this, now you’re going to learn this.” I just dive right into what you’re going to learn in this video because maybe they didn’t watch video four it. Maybe they didn’t need to.

Alastair McDermott: Okay.

Joe Casabona: Again, I’m like anchoring you to five minutes here. This is what LinkedIn Learning tries to go for. But I would say definitely not more than 10 minutes in a video, because that’s when you probably will start to lose attention or…

Alastair McDermott: So a rule of thumb then for me would be somewhere between two and six minutes. No recap or intro, try and keep it encapsulated in one point. I’m guessing I could go longer only if it’s actually live, where you’ve got some interaction stuff.

Joe Casabona: Oh yeah, for sure. If it’s live, then make live as long as you need to cover everything. But if you’re going to chop these videos up or offer in a course, where students take it video by video, I would say, yeah, two to six minutes, two to seven minutes. You can recap at the end, and just say, “Okay, this is what we covered in this video.” But you don’t want the order of the videos to be dependent on each other. Because what if the six months down the line, you realize, hey, I need to add a video in between videos four and five. Now my intro is not going to make any sense. That’s the thing that you… I’ve learned this from experience. That’s the thing you want to try to avoid.

Alastair McDermott: That makes sense.

Joe Casabona: And the length is kind of like… I don’t know about you, but when I sit down in front of the TV at night, I think I can watch a movie for two hours, but two-hour commitment at seven o’clock, it’ll be nine o’clock. I’m tired, my kids just went to bed, whatever. Or I can watch Scrubs or Friends. And that’s a 20-minute commitment. And then I end up watching two hours’ worth of a TV show. But it’s not the fact that I committed that time. It’s the fact that I didn’t have to and I could have stopped after the first episode if I didn’t feel like it. Well, I know you could pause a movie, but you know…

Alastair McDermott: It’s not the same. Yeah, I agree.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Yeah.

Alastair McDermott: And the new Rick and Morty season is coming out.

Joe Casabona: Perfect.

Alastair McDermott: Okay, all right. So that’s one part. That’s like a single video. Are we calling those modules? Are we calling those lessons? What are we calling that?

Joe Casabona: Generally, I will say a lesson is a collection of videos. And each of those videos is referred to as a module. In LearnDash, it’s course, lessons, topics. So the nomenclature is kind of inconsistent, but I’ve heard module most consistently for single video.

Alastair McDermott: Yeah, that makes sense. I’m actually using LearnDash.

Joe Casabona: So course, lessons, topics. LearnDash lets you rename them whatever you want.

Alastair McDermott: Cool. Okay. I might actually rename that module because that makes sense to me. We’re going up one level here. So let’s say I’ve got a topic, I want to teach people something substantial and I have a number of videos. Let’s say I’ve got eight videos on one topic and then I’ve got four on another and six on another. So I’ve got three separate. Is that three courses or is that one course with three different lessons?

Joe Casabona: That’s a really good question as well. And I think it depends. If they can stand on their own, generally that could be three courses. For example, Podcast Liftoff could be four discrete sections or four discrete courses. Launch your podcast, create your podcast website, create consistent content with your podcast, monetize your podcast. They’re all rolled into one big course. And I recently released a lite version of the course that is only Launch Your Podcast.

But yeah, technically each major section of that course could be its own. So I would say look at it. And it depends on how you want to sell it too. If you just want people to buy the whole course, all of the content, then it should be one course. If you want the opportunity to maybe get certain people in at a lower price point and then upsell them with a bundle, then it might be prudent to have three different courses.

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Alastair McDermott: What else do I need to know about setting up an online course that I haven’t asked you about?

Joe Casabona: There are a few mistakes that I made when I first rolled out my online courses. The first is I had no mechanism for community. And I’m not saying you got to start a Circle community. I’m not saying you need to create a Facebook group and be in there all the time. But there should be some place where students can talk to you and more importantly talk to each other.

Because especially if you do the cohort thing at first, this will give them the opportunity to exchange notes. I added this way too late. Like my Gutenberg course came out, a bunch of people bought it, and then I added this later. Same thing with the Beaver Builder course. When the Beaver Builder guys promoted my Beaver Builder course, a bunch of people all registered at the same time and didn’t have those clear call to action to go to the student center and show us what you’re working on.

I’ve since added that. But now I have 300 or so students who will never see that because they took what they wanted from the course and they’re completely disengaged now. So you adding that mechanism for engagement early on I think it will help you and not at all hurt you. So there’s that.

And then something I learned kind of recently is about pricing. You and I have talked about this before offline. Offering three different prices and doing the price anchoring thing and anchoring people to the middle price is, is a tactic is oldest time. I never applied it to my courses. I was like, “Well, this course is 199 get it all or not.” But I’m testing this with Podcasts Liftoff. Now there’s a lite version of the course for 79, there’s the full version of the course for 199, and then there’s the pro version of the course for 999 where you get the course and two hours worth of coaching with me or whatever.

Alastair McDermott: Cool. Yeah.

Joe Casabona: I think pricing like that is important, because even if people are anchored to the middle price but they’re not ready, they can get the light price, and then at the end of the course be like, “Did you like this? Here’s a 50% off coupon for the full version of the course since you’ve already kind of paid for half of it.”

Alastair McDermott: I’m a big fan of that model. The first time I came across it for a product I think was Nathan Berry’s book Authority. Also, Blair Enns does that for his book Pricing Creativity, which is a book about pricing. And the cheapest you can buy it for is $100. I love that. Actually I’ve bought it and it’s worth it. So just if anybody out there. I’m with you on the pricing. Have three options, different package levels.

Okay. So is there anything else or should we move on to the podcast? Is there anything else I need to know about setting this up?

Joe Casabona: I think the last thing I would say is iterate early-

Alastair McDermott: Sorry, I just remembered another question.

Joe Casabona: Yeah.

Alastair McDermott: The other question I was going to ask is, what about supporting materials workbooks, other bits and pieces? How much of that should you do? Because I mean, I can imagine it’s quite a lot of work to go and create that kind of that extra content. So I’m just wondering is it worthwhile?

Joe Casabona: Honestly, I don’t know. I think people probably have their own note-taking mechanisms if they want. But I do offer a workbook with Podcast Liftoff just because it gives you the course creator a clear end-of-module call to action. “All right, we just talked about how to come up with the artwork for your podcast. Now go to the artwork page in the workbook and start sketching out some ideas.” And then in the next lesson we do Canva. And it’s like, “Take that sketch and convert it using Canva or whatever.”

So, you know, having the additional materials… I also think people see that as a value add. Whether or not they’re going to use it… Okay, well, now this is something I’ve downloaded and if I need to reference it later, great. Checklists. If you have checklists in there, checklists are like… people love checklists.

Alastair McDermott: Awesome. Sorry, I interrupted you. I think you’re going to say iterate early… and?

Joe Casabona: Often.

Alastair McDermott: Often.

Joe Casabona: One of the beauties of having an online course is that you don’t have to wait till the end of the semester to figure out kind of what went wrong, or what you can improve on and re-issue a lesson. I learned in the classroom there were some things that worked and things that didn’t work. Unfortunately, I can’t go back to those students and be like, “Hey, I really taught this poorly to you, or whatever. I could have taught it better. Maybe I didn’t teach it poorly but I could have taught it better.” With the online course you can. So take lessons and…

Again, whatever you can do to get that feedback, increase that engagement. If there is a live component, talk to them. And then you can kind of iterate and be like, “I have iterated on this for you.” I’m not saying do this, like every week, because you’ll never do anything else. But every six months maybe go back and be like, “What worked?” Or if we’re talking iterating early, and often, especially in the beginning, this is really what we’re talking about, before the course is finalized. You could every few weeks be like, “Is this lesson working? What can I do to make it better? What can I do to take this from beta to golden master, or whatever? I guess that’s what Apple calls it. The final, final release.

Then once you release, again, every six months, maybe every three months, depending on the cadence you want, reevaluate. What’s working, what’s not working? Can I add something to make this better? Every time you add, you can raise your prices. And that’s a marketing opportunity to be like, “Hey, I’m about to add a bunch of content to this course. Buy it now at this price before it goes up and you’ll get it all.”

Alastair McDermott: Right. I do have a couple more questions here for you. So I have an awesome assistant. What can I delegate to her? Or what can I outsource to a third party? What parts should I? What parts would be…? The thing is, I know I have the skills to do pretty much all of it myself if I wanted to do it. One of the curses of having been a techie and getting into everything and wasting all my time. Actually, I should have delegated and outsourced long, long time ago.

Joe Casabona: Long time ago.

Alastair McDermott: That’s a regret. Anyway. So take note, you youngsters listening to this. So what can I delegate, automate, outsource?

Joe Casabona: That’s a really good question. The community and engagement management. You should absolutely pop in every once in a while for sure. But if it’s active or you have your assistant who can answer a lot questions for you, your assistant can make it look even more active and more vibrant. So even if you only check it once a day, or once every two days, your assistant can be in there. My assistant goes into my community every day and posts and comments and likes the new posts. Right now it just kind of looks like it’s me and her talking, but I’m working on improving that. Your assistant… did you say she?

Alastair McDermott: Yeah. Ika was the name.

Joe Casabona: So she could do that. Adding the course to your LMS is something that she can do. Really anything that doesn’t require you talking. Right?

Alastair McDermott: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: Right now I fully have the ability to edit my own videos. And it wasn’t until I realized by working at LinkedIn Learning I don’t need to edit my own videos. That’s like my least favorite part of it. I don’t have the muscle memory or the macros. I do it every few months, and it would just be better if I could just dump a bunch of content into a dropbox folder and send it to an editor. So that’s what I do now. And I’m doing that for my YouTube videos, too. So now I’m able to record two or three YouTube videos instead of doing one and then editing it and then wondering what I’m going to do next week. So the editing process for sure. If you’re going to add closed captioning, of course, you can have somebody else do that.

But essentially, anything that doesn’t require your face or voice. Graphics, certainly. I use Design Pickle, they’re redoing all of my products tiles, and graphics, and slides.

Alastair McDermott: Cool.

Joe Casabona: And then all you have to worry about is making the content and showing up for your students.

Alastair McDermott: Awesome. Is there anything that I should not do that you see people doing? They’re always adding this one thing to the course that’s a total waste of time. Is there anything like that?

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Something that I do or did a lot was think, “Oh, I should add this,” and then just add it. And then it gets no engagement and nobody cares. I’m doing things that no one’s asking for. Right?

Alastair McDermott: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: I’m answering the question that no one’s asking. So I think getting validation first before you put a ton of work into it is something that can save you a lot of time and money. So again, the webinar for the proof of concept. Again, this course, I thought it was going to be so great, how to build a business website with WordPress. “Are you a business owner, WordPress, whatever? For 100 bucks, I’ll show you with this amazing theme how to do it.” No one cared. “I’ll just find the free YouTube video that shows me.”

Alastair McDermott: There should be like 10 million people. I’ve had this conversation again 10 years ago. There should be 10 million people online who want that, you know.

Joe Casabona: Right. Yeah, exactly. But I didn’t market it the right way because I was still a very field of dreams marketing kind of guy. Like, “I built this course, now people will take this course.” But also it’s the way that you package it. The other thing I would say besides validate your ideas, either through webinars, or podcast or blog content first is… you know all about positioning, I don’t really need to tell you this.

But if you say, “Take this course and you will be able to do thing,” that’s akin to saying, if you do this work, you will have more work. Like I’m giving you more work to do. If you say, “Hey, you have x and that’s your problem. This course is the solution to x. Are you spinning your wheels launching a podcast? Is launching a podcast taking you months when you thought it would take you an afternoon? That is a problem. Podcast Liftoff solves that problem.” So that you only will need a day to launch your podcast instead of trying to figure out everything and put it all together.

And for you, I mean, I think that value prop is pretty clear. When was the last time you went to a networking event? Are your referrals drying up? When was the last time you got a referral? Are you freaking out because you don’t have anything in the pipeline right now? Inbound marketing will put some of this on autopilot for you.

Alastair McDermott: Love it. I can’t wait for your editor so I got to get the recording straight away, Joe.

Joe Casabona: I’ll send you the Zoom call right after.

Alastair McDermott: Super, thank you. Okay, let’s shift gears then to the podcast itself. Is that okay?

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that sounds good. Yeah. So where it’s at right now? It’s only just launched. There’s 17 episodes published. But that’s because I did the initial… So there was an initial trailer, and then I dropped eight episodes at first launch. What does that leave me? Nine. So it’s been eight since. It’s been out there for eight weeks.

The podcast host is telling me that I’ve got 73 subscribers, which I think is totally wrong because Overcast is telling me that that they’ve given me over 70 subscribers at this point. It’s got 2,000 monthly downloads.

Joe Casabona: Nice.

Alastair McDermott: I don’t know. Is that good for eight weeks? I’ve got nothing to compare against here. But mind you I have paid for ads in Overcast. So just put that [inaudible 01:06:23]

Joe Casabona: I’m getting ready to pull that trigger. It’s kind of funny. Overcast it’s kind of like playing the stocks because the prices change based on demand. So I’m like, “Will it go down?”

Alastair McDermott: So all you people out there, don’t use overcast ads, they’re terrible.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, definitely. Go somewhere else.

Alastair McDermott: Go somewhere else.

Joe Casabona: Use Podnews, have your tiny logo added next to a bunch of other tiny logos in the newsletter.

Alastair McDermott: Right. No, no. No, I can’t say that. Actually, I love Overcast as a player as well. I’ve been using it for years. It’s just such a great experience. That’s why it was my first port of call. The other thing about Overcast is I don’t actually want to pay to get rid of the ads because I find interesting podcasts with the ad sometimes. That’s me as a user saying that not as a podcaster. So definitely, I think the discoverability is something that…

Joe Casabona: I pay for Overcast and still have the ads enabled. Because I’m like, I mean, first of all, if I’m going to advertise, I want to see how it works. But also I’ve added like four new podcasts in the last week, because I’m like, “This one seems interesting.” So, yeah, for sure. It works.

Alastair McDermott: Some of what I’m doing then is—and I’ll tell you the full story—I’m also advertising on Podcast Addict because that was recommended to me by somebody else. So Podcast Addict and Overcast are my two sources. I’ve put about $600 us into ads. About $350 in overcast and $250 on Podcast Addict.

Joe Casabona: Wow. That’s really not bad at all. Because I’m looking at like technology for Overcast and it’s like 750 bucks as I’m looking at it.

Alastair McDermott: Oh, yeah. I tell you what I did that might be useful for you and for anybody listening. I waited till the education category was good and I got education. I also experimented with the fiction category, because that was always quite cheap. So fiction returned subscribers at about $10 per subscriber, education return subscribers at about $6 per subscriber. So that was pretty good.

Joe Casabona: Oh, wow. Yeah, that is really good.

Alastair McDermott: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: All right.

Alastair McDermott: So you know some of what I’m doing to try and grow it. Can you talk to me about what else can I do to try and get it out there particularly in front of my specific audience of consultants?

Joe Casabona: This is definitely something that your assistant can do as well. Especially if she’s more independent of an assistant, have her look through podcasts, like look alike podcasts to your own right. Maybe something she can do is go to the Overcast categories and see who’s advertising in the categories where you identify your podcast as. Collect the contact information and reach out to those people.

I can’t stress this enough. Going on other people’s podcasts is a great way for you to grow your own podcast for the reasons I said before. They’re already on the playground. Just ask them to pick up this other ball. You’re done playing with this, move over here. Which is why the Overcast ads are so effective as well. You’re putting a podcast right in front of somebody in their podcast player. Yeah. All right, I’ll check it out. Why not? Literally cost me nothing. So I think that is a really important thing.

This is a bit of a volume game because it’s outbound stuff. I would say I need to talk to Brittney Lynn about this. She was the PR person I spoke to, that I consulted with. Pitching yourself on the podcast is super important. I don’t know if you’re getting them yet. You will.

Alastair McDermott: Yeah, I’ve got some. I’m already-

Joe Casabona: “Hi name, let me tell you how great this person is. Do you want them on your podcast?” And I’m like, “You didn’t tell me what value they’re going to… I don’t care that he graduated first in his class at Harvard. Maybe he should hire somebody who knows that I want value from my audience.” I don’t want to just hear how great you are. End of rant there. I’m triggered. Hot button topic for me.

So when you pitch, “Hey, listened to your podcast, big fan of it. Especially this episode.” When somebody mentions a specific episode that immediately brings their trust factor from negative at least back to zero. Because then at least they took the time to read the transcript and find something instead of just seeing, oh, here’s a technology podcast, I’m just going to reach out to them. And talk about the value you’re going to bring. So that’s a little bit about pitching. But going on other people’s podcasts is a great way to grow your podcast.

Alastair McDermott: I have seen some people talking about having your assistant outreach for you. That that’s better than reaching yourself. I can imagine why it’s better in terms of time. But I’m just thinking of me getting that pitch. I think it would be better coming directly from the person. So just wondering, do you have thoughts on that?

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Truth be told, I have this crazy Airtable automation that allows me to kind of send a bunch of pitches all at once. And the important aspect of this is that there’s a personal message field. So that it’s still personalized. I include all the same informat… Like my bio doesn’t change from pitch to pitch, mostly. Maybe the topics. And actually, I have a column for each topic to like talk about this, talk about this. And then here’s the personal note. I put the personal note at the front. And that’s all sent through my email address. So even if it’s your assistant pulling the levers, or writing the emails through your inbox… I don’t know how much access you’ve given your assistant, but…

Alastair McDermott: I probably need to give her more to be honest.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, I’m thinking the same thing. I should probably give my assistant access to my email. The personal pitch resonates more with me. Because most of the pitches I get from people who basically they make a commission essentially based on the amount of interviews published. I’m not saying that doesn’t work. I have a really good relationship with a couple who when they recommend somebody to me, I don’t even have to worry about it. But it took time to get there. So I don’t know if I answered your question. But all of my pitches come at least from my email address.

Alastair McDermott: I think that’s going to be the way that I’m going to go. Okay, getting on other people’s podcasts. We already talked about paid ads and stuff like that. What else is out there? I’ll tell you one thing I tried that I stopped doing. We create graphics for the guest to promote. We do a quote image, or we do a square inch image and a rectangle image. We used to take an audio clip and do an audiogram. And I just felt that it wasn’t worth the time that we took to do it. It just didn’t seem to get much traction on Instagram and on Facebook and LinkedIn and stuff. So I don’t know. Are people ignoring just growing by audiograms?

Joe Casabona: I haven’t seen a lot either. What I have been experimenting with is just doing the audiogram through Overcast because Overcast has that clips feature and it’s like… you know, maybe it’s easier. It’s easier for me to share other people’s podcast that way. I’m not listening to my own podcast in Overcast because I’ve already listened to it. Descript has a pretty templated way of doing it where you can highlight the text in the transcript. But I don’t know. The jury’s out. I read some stats that they’re really good but those stats came from an audiogram app.

Alastair McDermott: This is what I’m finding as well.

Joe Casabona: But sharing the episode is important, right?

Alastair McDermott: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: And not just like, “Listen to this episode.” If even if it’s just a graphic with stylized text for the quote, maybe that works and that’s maybe faster production. Maybe-

Alastair McDermott: Maybe we should do some more quote graphics actually and see if that will take hold.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, right. Or if you’re doing Instagram, maybe you don’t even have to do an audiogram. Maybe you post on your story or on reels and say, “Hey, new episode of the podcast is out. Here are the things that we talked about, here are my favorite takeaways. Listen at podcast.com/latest or whatever.” Then you’re still doing that maybe more engaging video content, but you’re not spending a bunch of time going, “Okay, the clip starts at 39 and I want to get it to 67 or whatever.” Oh, now I got to… The transcript isn’t exactly right. And what’s the good graphic here? Because that feels like too much work.

And if you were getting way more engagement, maybe it wouldn’t, but turning the camera on like on your phone and just be like, “Hey, this is the stuff we talked about today. And I thought it was really good. And I’m so excited for these parts. Here’s what you’ll get from it. Go listen over here.” Gosh, maybe I should experiment with that, too.

Alastair McDermott: Let me know what you think. The problem for me is when I consider all of this, is this is already fairly time-consuming. And the more little bits I keep bolting onto each episode, the more time-consuming it becomes.

Joe Casabona: So here’s what I do. Here’s what I’ve started doing. Because for a long time, I would just record the interview and we’d be done and I bounce. And then a few weeks later, once I’ve locked in the sponsors for like the next set of episodes or something, now it’s time for me to record the bumpers. And I’m like, “What the hell did we talk about?”

So now what I’ve been doing, at the very least I will write the script for the bumper right after we record. Even if I don’t have the sponsors locked in. If I do I record the intro right after we’re done. Because then it’s fresh, I know what I’m excited about. I don’t have to look at my horrible notes that I stopped taking halfway through the episode because I was so into the conversation. I think probably, and I’m just thinking out loud here, but it’s something I’m definitely going to try, is recording that promo video right after. I’m in the mindset, right?

Alastair McDermott: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: So I could say, “Hey, today’s episode with Alastair McDermott, we talk all about all sorts of stuff, course, creation, blah, blah, blah.” Just record that right now. Save it, maybe tag it, put it in a folder somewhere. And then on launch day, now you can have your assistant schedule your social media, whatever, and have it go out then. But you’re in the mindset batch all of the content right there, then it doesn’t feel like so much context switching either.

Alastair McDermott: I like that. Doing it in the moment. It just means it’s all fresh. Yeah, yeah. I’m going to try that as well.

Joe Casabona: Cool. We’ll come back and we’ll exchange notes.

Alastair McDermott: Yeah, cool. All right, I know we got to wrap it up. Is there any other pearls of wisdom you want to drop on me?

Joe Casabona: I would say, with your podcast, experiment with a few different formats. For a long time, I just did interview, same five questions, blah, blah, blah. That worked for me for a while and then I saw a little bit of a drop off. And this was my problem, too. I didn’t think my podcast would go anywhere. And then it did relatively quickly, to the point where people are like, “How did you do that?” I’m like, “I have no idea.” Now with the benefit of time I have an idea.

Alastair McDermott: What was it? Was it just sticking with it or what was that?

Joe Casabona: Being consistent was definitely part of it. I had a few really good guests on in the beginning. When I started in… actually, as this episode comes out, the show will be about will be five years old. The five-year anniversary.

Alastair McDermott: Wow.

Joe Casabona: I asked really good questions. I think I was doing it at a time where most people were not good at asking questions or interviewing. And then I will say that another show from NPR launched a few months after my podcast with a similar name. I think that did help me. But the important thing that I took away was people weren’t listening to the first five seconds of going this is not Guy Raz and then leaving. People were staying with me. My downloads were consistent and consistently growing week to week.

So showing up is super important. Consistently launching on the same day, people make this a part of their routine. If there’s a podcast I listened to that is delayed… Upgrade is a perfect example on WWDC day, or when they have a gag order for a product they’re about to review, they release on Tuesday instead of Monday. And I’m like, “Where’s my Monday afternoon podcast now? Or my Tuesday morning podcast?” Right?

Alastair McDermott: You know all I can say to that.

Joe Casabona: What’s that?

Alastair McDermott: You know all I can say to that.

Joe Casabona: What’s that?

Alastair McDermott: Go check out Marketing for Consultants which drops on Mondays.

Joe Casabona: Boom. Mondays. Perfect. Mine does too. So get the one-two punch.

Alastair McDermott: There you go.

Joe Casabona: But then aside from that, experiment, see what works, what doesn’t. And finally have a really clear call to action. Which again, marketing guy, you probably know. I didn’t. I was just like, “Buh, enjoy, get out there and build something.” I never consistently said like, “Join my mailing list” or “review the podcast on Apple podcasts.”

So have a clear call to action for that. I would throw like five and then be like, pick your favorite. Now it’s “if you want more content, join the membership.” That’s the call to action. Because it’s $5 a month. It’s not like I’m asking for like 100 bucks a month. So it’s easy enough for people to be like, “All right, I’ll pay for a month to see what bonus content I get.” And then that gets them on the mailing list anyway.

Alastair McDermott: Cool. One last question then. I’m comfortably releasing one episode a week at the moment. I’m way ahead. I think I have maybe 14 or 16 episodes pre-recorded in the bag.

Joe Casabona: Nice.

Alastair McDermott: Should I consider switching two episodes a week? Is there any big advantage in that?

Joe Casabona: I mean, your weekly downloads will look better.

Alastair McDermott: I don’t really care about the stats looking better if it’s not a real benefit.

Joe Casabona: It could make the show more bingeable. But I would say if you’re going to start doing two a week, you should probably stick to doing two a week. That’s my hesitation. I consulted with somebody recently who had a concept where he was going to do a big episode on Mondays and then Tuesday through Friday have like short five-minute episodes. And I’m like, “If you can batch that and do like the full month ahead of time, you got to do that.” Because if you say I’m going to do this every day, and then you don’t…

Right now podcasting is not at the mercy of algorithms because it really is like a… Apple podcast doesn’t have an algorithm. They’re just picking shows that they like that they show you. YouTube, you’re at the mercy of the algorithm. If you are weekly on Tuesdays and you drop on a Wednesday, you’re all screwed up. Like your engagement goes down for that video. So it’s not that dire for podcasts, but you want to send the right message to your listeners.

You can expect to this like clockwork every Monday and Thursday, or you can expect this clockwork at 9 am eastern every day. That is my hesitation with tempora… I would say if you want to do bonus episodes… like I do bonus episodes on Thursdays.

Alastair McDermott: I’ve done one so far, which was a transparency report. It was a solo episode, about six or seven minutes. I just shared all the numbers.

Joe Casabona: Nice.

Alastair McDermott: Okay, cool. Joe, that was my last question. I don’t want to take up any more of your time. I really do appreciate it.

Joe Casabona: Thanks again so much to Alastair for joining us today and I hope that he got a lot of value out of that call. I know that it was very illuminating for me. Because it’s often, you know, when you’ve been making courses for a long time or even making a podcast for a long time, it’s sometimes hard to remember the struggles that you go through in the beginning. And so connecting and working with people in all stages of whatever you do helps give you perspective and empathy. So I think that was… I really enjoyed that call.

And of course, we’re about to get into the Build Something More conversation. So if you are not signed up for Build Something More, again, you can sign up over at howibuilt.it, where all of the show notes are. howibuilt.it/231, I should say. All of the show notes for this episode, a way to sign up for the mailing list or the membership, it’s all there.

Thanks again, so much to our sponsors: TextExpander, TermsHub, and Nexcess. Check them out because they help support the show. And if you liked this episode, share it with a friend. Again, you can just send them to the link howibuilt.it/231. They don’t need to install an app or anything. They can listen right on that page, click around on the show notes, and then subscribe in whatever app they like. Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.

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