Lisa Laporte is the CEO of TWiT.tv and after a few weeks of talking about how to podcast and what it can do for your content, I thought she’d be the perfect person, to come on and talk about starting a network, as well as where podcasting is going. We talk about a lot of stuff – where podcasting was and the future, but we also have a great chat about tech and more. Lots of great advice here, so sit back and enjoy!
- Lisa Laporte | LinkedIn
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Intro: Lisa Laporte is the CEO of TWiT.tv. After a couple of weeks of talking about how to podcast and what it can do for you and your content, and memberships through podcasting, I thought Lisa would be the perfect person to come on and talk about starting a podcast network back when those were not a thing, as well as where podcasting is going in the future. We talk about a lot of stuff in this episode, where podcasting was and the future. But we also have a great chat about general tech and more. I love talking tech, so I appreciate that Lisa and I got to talk a little bit about iOS versus Android, and stuff like that. There is a lot of great advice here, so sit back and enjoy.
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And now back to the show.
Joe: Hey everybody, and welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, how did you build that today? I am extremely happy to have Lisa Laporte. She is the CEO of TWiT.tv with us today. Lisa, how are you?
Lisa: I’m fantastic. How are you doing today?
Joe: I am doing great. Thank you so much for joining us today. We met at Podcast Movement 2019?
Lisa: Yeah. Can you believe that was just last year? It’s kind of hard to believe with everything going on in 2020.
Joe: I know. I was going to say 2018, but I explicitly remember meeting in Orlando.
Joe: Yeah. It’s crazy how much has happened since then. Fun story for the listeners. We successfully avoided a fire alarm evacuation because we were getting coffee. I don’t know if you remember that.
Lisa: That’s right. I remember that. It was very exciting to meet you in line at coffee. I think doing that again this year would be a little bit more of a challenge. We’ll have face masks and probably won’t recognize anyone.
Joe: I know. I know. They pushed it back to October. Is that right?
Lisa: I believe they did. But given the current state of where everything is at, I have a feeling it’s going to be a virtual conference versus an in-person conference. I really don’t anticipate having an in-person conference until at least next year. That would be my estimate.
Joe: Yeah, I agree. Especially since just before we started recording this episode, I got an alert that Texas is halting their reopening plans because of the rise in new cases.
Lisa: Yeah, I did see that this morning. Texas has halted it. In California, it’s not mandatory to wear face masks when you go out in public and that’s where I’m based. However, I live in a small town, but I’m not seeing face masks on one side of our town. I went for a walk last night and literally saw about 300 people in about two face masks. And it just was daunting to me to see this many people. And we’re talking about at, literally, games in basketball courts, and at the park playing. So I have a feeling we might be shut down again.
Joe: Wow. I’m in Pennsylvania and we required masks since I think April. Since there was maybe a little bit of evidence that maybe they worked. And I am happy to say that we’re one of the few states that I’ve seen a consistent downward trend.
Lisa: I really wish our state would do it. We’ve been very diligent. We actually started social distancing a few weeks before it was required. I was wearing a mask right away. I was reading enough around the world we were the only nation not really embracing wearing a mask or a couple of nations out of the entire world. So I started wearing a mask early on before it became a requirement or a guarantee that it’s…not a guarantee, but it’ll help stop the spread. So congratulations. It’s good to hear that you’re doing it right.
Joe: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I promise listeners we’re going to talk about podcasting and content. But this…
Lisa: Oh, yeah, yeah. This is happening.
Joe: This is happening. I luckily found a very comfortable mask, shout out to Jeff Sheldon of Ugmonk.
Lisa: Oh, nice.
Joe: He’s local to where I live, and he just makes the most comfortable shirts. He worked with the manufacturer to convert those into mass super comfortable. So I have no problem wearing a mask. It makes me look cool.
Lisa: I have different types. I mean, look, we even have our TWiT.tv masks.
Joe: Nice. Very nice.
Lisa: But I’ve also really fun mass like with big lips and I ordered one that has a smiley face when you pop it out the teeth show. So I’m trying to find some creative ideas so that people will find some humor in wearing a mask. I really don’t understand why people are making the masks such a big deal in this nation. I feel everyone should just wear one when you go outside. It’s going to protect everyone around you. So please, everybody wear a mask if you’re listening to this podcast.
Joe: Yes, for sure. I 100% agree with that. Awesome. Well, we are safely remote doing this interview so no masks so we can understand each other while we’re inside our houses. I’m excited to talk to you about podcasting because TWiT.tv is a long-standing Podcast Network. You guys have been around for a while?
Lisa: Yeah, we were established in 2005, and I came along in 2008. So Leo Laporte founded it, and I came along in 2008 when he was trying to figure out what he was going to do with his accounting. His CPA said, “If you don’t get your accounting in order, you’re going to be in trouble.” I had my own consulting business at the time. I was doing CFO work, accounting work. I had three bookkeepers on my staff.
I actually started working at TWiT.tv as a consultant to help set up their business back. But my background has been in accounting and CFO, and I’ve always had a hand in running companies. I’ve always worked with startups. So I was doing that as a consultant for about seven or eight years after I had left a company that I had grown up at. And did decide to get my chop sweat touching other businesses and helping other people grow and do things like that. And I just fell in love with new media.
So in 2008, I joined. It was audio only, and there weren’t that many podcast networks out there. There were shows, of course. There was CNET, and Revision 3. I don’t know if people remember some of those. But those were, I would say, would be competitors to us. So it was very interesting. When I started the landscape was audio only and there weren’t that many podcast networks out there. I mean, there were a few but nothing like there is today. So it’s really blown up since then to today.
Joe: That’s really interesting, right? Because I think that people tend to forget that podcasting has been around for nearly 20 years. I mean, the term was coined right around the time the iPod came out. That’s why it was called a podcast. I think that’s right. At least that’s like the lore that’s been taught, but perhaps you know something I don’t.
Lisa: I agree with you. What’s ironic—and we kind of make fun of it now because it was like we did our best—Leo really wanted to call us a Netcast. We wanted to be above a podcast because we wanted to be something that was better than a podcast and just a little bit more closer to TV, a little smarter, things along those lines. So we had Netcast, you love from people you trust for a very long time.
Finally, it was a year ago, I finally went to Leo and said, “Look, podcasts are hot.” So we changed our logo to podcasts you love from people you trust. It’s just really nice now to be able to talk to people to understand what a podcast is. Because when I go back to 2008, nobody understood what TWiT was, and I’m trying to run business, and I had some people laugh at me, like, “What’s TWiT,” and I’m like, “Oh, it means this week in tech.”
If you were a geek, you knew who we were, or if you worked in technology, you knew exactly who we were. But a lot of people in the business world didn’t. So I started calling our network TWiT.tv just to let people know, hey, we are really a network. We’re not just joking around. But it’s a catchy name from the standpoint that people don’t forget it. They might chuckle about it, but in the long run, it’s definitely memorable.
Joe: Yeah, for sure. That’s really interesting. Because I’ve heard similar things. Netcast or Webcasts was another term that people try to make work. Now podcast has basically outlived the hardware that it was named after.
Lisa: That’s true.
Joe: Not that iPods are not around but they’re not as [inaudible 00:10:34] as they were.
Lisa: I still have one though. It’s really great because it holds a lot of music and you can take it when you travel and stuff. Well, I mean, I’m like, “What are you going to do with this old tech?” But it’s still kind of functional for some stuff. I bounced between that and bringing my phone with me. So just depends.
Joe: I loved the iPod Nano because it was like I would go to the gym and just clip it somewhere on me.
Lisa: Oh, yeah. I had one of those too. They were those little tiny ones.
Joe: The tiny ones.
Lisa: Oh, yeah, they were so great. They didn’t stick around too long though. They’re here for a couple of years I think and then they disappeared.
Joe: I guess people liked the screen. I just loaded a single playlist to my gym playlist on it and it worked. Well, now I’ve got the Apple Watch.
Lisa: I’ve been really struggling. I had an apple watch when they first came out. I just think they’re ugly and I don’t like them, and I’m a girl. To me I feel like I have enough tech on my person. I have a phone. I don’t know if I want to be that accessible. So I wore it for about a year. I didn’t really like how it looked and then I realized I’d never had a break from work, so I kind of abandoned it. But I don’t know, with everything going on now I might start wearing one again.
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And now back to the show.
Joe: I aggressively manage the things that make it to my wrist. Like very little makes it there. I like having the info. I’ve got a big wrist so the version five is great, the Series 5 with always-on screen and things like that.
Lisa: Are you finding the battery life is a lot better with this current version? At least Leo was saying it was. I was going to wait and see what they come out with in fall and maybe try it again.
Joe: So the Series 5 was an insta buy for me because I had the series three and then they redesigned it and it looked nicer. But I just bought the three. Then when they went to the always-on screen, I was like, “This actually makes it like a real watch.” The battery life was terrible when it came out. I would have to basically charge it in the middle of the day, especially if I went to the gym.
Lisa: That’s exactly why I walked away from it because it would die for a clock on my wrist.
Joe: Right. But now I’ve had it on since six and it’s 1:15 here and it’s at 80%. So I’ve been pretty inactive today. I’m going to play the drums later to close the activity ring. But I think the battery life has been a lot better. So we’ll see what they come out with in the fall though, because I’m sure they’ll have better hardware especially since they just introduced sleep tracking in watchOS 7.
Lisa: Oh, yeah. I was very excited with this WWDC. We covered it, and I’m just like, “Oh, we’re going to get widgets finally.” So I’m looking forward to that.
Joe: I had missed widgets.
Lisa: It’s like, how long does Google handle that?” I mean, Android. But yeah, I’m excited.
Joe: I was an Android army until about five years ago or something like that.
Lisa: Oh, wow. So why did you switch?
Joe: Yeah. Well, I switched because there were two big reasons. This is like my claim to fame with this. Phil Schiller tweeted my blog posts about how I switched. He didn’t even reach me. He just said, “Joe switched.”
Joe: I know. I killed in affiliate revenue that day.
Lisa: That’s awesome. Congratulations. So why did you switch?
Joe: I switched because I was using the iPad as my tablet. Because, I mean, what else right? Then I was basically, Apple ecosystem for everything else. And I tried to find hacky ways to send texts from my Android phone using PushBullet or that other one, but what it really came down to for me was camera and battery life were the two most important things, and iPhone was better at both of those things.
Lisa: Yeah, I agree with you on that. I still like the camera. I wasn’t an Apple person at all. Okay, your audience is really going to give me a hard time for this. But I’m business. So I had a Blackberry Storm and people were like, “Oh my gosh, why would you have a Blackberry Storm?” And I went, “Well, the battery life lasted 10 hours. I needed it for phone and for work.” And that was really the extent of it. When we were building the TWiT Brick House, which was our second location—we’re now in our third—I was walking down to take a look at it and I had dropped my Storm, and for the first time ever, it landed on its face and shattered.
Leo’s like, “You need to go to an iPhone.” So I did, but it was tiny, the battery life…Do you remember mophie cases? The Battery life was not very good. Now I love my iPhone, but it took me a while to transfer over. But I was made fun of for a long time. But it was functional. To me, I’m business so I’m looking for tools that make my life easier versus I want to play with things. But I’m really excited about the widgets now that they’re going to be offering that.
Joe: Yeah, likewise. Similarly, I’ve just found that the app ecosystem in Apple is…maybe it’s improved on Android since I left but I found a higher quality of app I feel, probably because there’s a higher barrier of entry. You got to pay 99 bucks just to develop an apple app. And you don’t have to do that with Android.
Lisa: So that’s correct. But Android I feel like they lay the groundwork for what Apple ends up picking from to decide to make it better with more privacy attached to it. So I like the privacy features that Apple offers too versus Android.
Joe: Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. No shame on the BlackBerry Storm. That was the full-screen one? Did it have the face that pushed in like the haptic touch?
Lisa: It had a little bit of a push in. I’m telling you I received so much crap for that.
Joe: I had that too.
Lisa: Oh, see, you had one too. But seriously, the eight-hour battery life was it for me, because I was a consultant at the time so I was constantly traveling to different locations and going to client’s businesses, etc. So I really needed something else. I didn’t really have the opportunity to stop and charge somewhere. Because when I switched to an iPhone, it was like four hours tops and barely using it. The battery like back then was nothing. Use it for email and phone calls and in three or four hours it was dead. Do you remember how tiny they were too?
Joe: Yeah, yeah, right. That’s like my mom just got rid of her iPhone SE.
Lisa: Oh, wow.
Joe: When the new one came out, I’m like, “You need to replace your phone. Get this one. It’ll be good.”
Lisa: I buy my parents tech too. I kind of stopped letting them make decisions on that. Because they would call me to be their help desk. So you got to pick up the right gear for them.
Joe: Well, I really enjoyed this part of the conversation for those listening, that was like a preview of what they talked about over on TWiT.tv. So if you’re interested in more of that talk.
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And now back to the show.
Joe: Let’s circle back now to podcasting.
Joe: Because 2005, again, people didn’t know what podcasting was. I feel like Lore and Serial kind of brought it into the public consciousness. I’ve been listening to Stuff You Should Know since like 2009, I think. But most people didn’t know what it was. You mentioned it a little bit, but what did podcasting look like in 2005, 2008 as far as topics and stuff go?
Lisa: I stepped into TWiT.tv in 2008, so my background is not in media. I’m all business. When I started helping out, TWiT as a consultant, I was like, “What’s a podcast?” I had to even learn what things were at that particular time, because I didn’t really know. And I just started to look around and there was like…and I’m thinking of the tech podcasting sphere because that’s what we’re involved in. So there was like CNET, Revision TWiT.tv, and a few things how stuff works. I mean, there are quite a few names out there.
But the reality is it was audio-only. It wasn’t that popular, that big. We were one of the first podcast networks to actually start adding video. We were like, “Hey, let’s start adding video.” We thought it would be a good idea for people to have a visual because Leo would turn on a little webcam when he would do his podcast and people are like, “Oh my gosh, we love seeing you. We love that additional element.” So we were one of the first networks to start converting all of our podcasts to be audio and video.
And just so everybody understands, don’t do that unless you have a lot of money because it’s super, super, super expensive to add video. It’s less expensive now. But when you’re looking at our network, we do 20 shows, we have a studio and you know we have all these cameras everywhere. So adding video to a podcast network actually makes it a lot more expensive. But it also adds an element to bring your audience closer to you because they get to see you and not just hear you.
So we started adding video. And gosh, I agree with you, I believe it was when Serial and everything came out podcasting started to explode and then everybody started to jump into podcasting. You now see giant networks in podcasting. You have the Spotify guys that have popped up, Stitcher, SoundCloud. I mean, there are so many ways now to consume podcasting that it’s nothing compared to where it was in 2008.
It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens because right now we’re in the middle of a pandemic and other things are going on, and people are trying to figure out what to do in it. But I really think podcasting has opened the doors for a lot of people just to get their voice out there if they want to do something for fun, but it also allows companies to provide content to people who are interested in what they’re up to as well.
When it started, and I’ll be honest with you, having to do the business part of things, nobody knew what a podcast was. I even stepped into our sales nine years ago, because I didn’t like how our advertising sales were being done. We only had an outside agency doing our sales. And as far as I was concerned, they weren’t paying attention to our audience.
So if anyone is out there that is doing a podcast, and they want to be ad-supported, that’s what we are. We’re an ad-supported network, I highly recommend that you always just super serve your audience, and you just don’t sign advertising contracts because there’s money attached to it. We’re really careful in that we only want to sign people that our audience can benefit from. So that’s other things that people have to decide when they’re starting a podcast. Is it a hobby? Or do you want to make it a career? There’s lots of ways you can do it. We chose to be ad-supported early on because what we wanted to do is we wanted to be free for anyone and everyone who could download us. We felt that was the best way to do it.
So if you had an internet connection, we went so far as when we started to add video, we had a low def, a high def, and a standard def on video. So people that had bandwidth caps elsewhere that really wanted to see us could download us in the low def video range, which would be like in Australia and things like that, where there were bandwidth caps everywhere.
So, I mean, it’s really evolved since 2005. I look at the landscape today, and I’m like, “It’s only been 15 years?” And I really think it’s going to keep evolving faster and faster and faster. I think the tech has evolved. Everything’s evolved. Anyone can do a podcast. You just get a microphone, you could do it on YouTube. There are so many free tools out there that it’s so much easier today than when it was back in 2008.
Joe: Yeah, for sure. You’re right. It’s grown significantly, but it’s still…There’s like 31 million YouTube channels and there’s less than a million active podcasts. That’s stuff I’ve memorized because it’s in all of my marketing copy. Here’s another canary in the coal mine, I think, is that I finally launched my podcast course, which version one was just the website. Now it’s like all the podcasting. But also Pat Flynn is really pushing his and Seth Godin just launched one. And I’m like, all of these big name people are trying to teach people how to podcast now. So, to be clear, I met Pat and Seth are the big name people and I’m just me.
Lisa: Oh, yeah. You know, I think everyone should pay attention to people that they really like to hear from. I mean, I think that’s what podcasting is all about. You’re listening to people that you trust, that they’re experts in something, they have something to bring to the table that you’re really going to be passionate about. And I believe you can get tools from lots of people. So yeah, people that have mastered podcasting. Even my business partner and my husband Leo Laporte, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to learn a tool from somebody else.
I consume a lot of podcasts for my own professional development and moving forward. I don’t listen to any one thing for my main source for how to get somewhere. So I love all the different podcasts that have cropped up, I have things for pleasure, things for business tools, things to learn something new, and just to stay informed with what’s going on in the world today. Because sometimes I don’t want to turn on the TV and watch the news. It’s like, “Oh.” I’d rather hear it from somebody else that brings a different perspective, maybe a little fresh perspective to the table. So yeah, I think the variety out there has really exploded.
I still feel like it’s the Wild West. I don’t think podcasting has any particular formats. I mean, I’ve discovered this in just trying to sell our network where people are like, “How do you do things and how are you doing your ad sales?” That’s still pretty much however anyone wants to do it. So I know that people like the IAB are stepping in and trying to get things more streamlined, like Nielsen ratings did with TV and things like that. But yeah, it’s still pretty interesting in the wild west.
It’s funny because you’re like, “Yeah, podcasts are still lower than YouTube.” But I’m like, well, kind of YouTube’s both. I mean, we’re on YouTube, too. It’s what we post. But we’re also a launch partner with Spotify. So we’re pretty much anywhere and everywhere. You can download us from Pocketcasts, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube. If there’s a place that you guys listen to your podcasts, and we’re not on it, just email me at Lisa@twit.tv and we’ll make sure we get our feeds on their platform. So I agree with you. It’s insane where podcasting has gone. It’s really just exploded.
When we’re at the Podcast Movement, there was a stat that said there are 2,000 podcasts being developed and launched every week. So 2,000 brand new podcasts are being launched every week. Here’s the kicker, though. Only about 2% make it to 10 episodes. That was the other fact that they had brought to the table when we were there. I thought that was very interesting. But I agree with that. Because I think some people think, “Oh, I’m going to do a podcast, and I’m going to become a star, and I’m going to be huge. And I’m going to do three episodes, and there I go.”
Then when you really get into podcasting, folks, just so you all know, it’s a grind. I mean, it’s not like a bad grind, but make sure it’s something you really love to do. Because you’re going to have to do it a lot. And really just develop an audience. I think that’s the most important thing. Having been the CEO at TWiT.tv now for 12 years, I get asked a lot from people that want to launch a podcast, like, “What do I do?” And I go, “Number one, be passionate about what you want to talk about it, and be an expert in what you’re bringing, and grow your audience.” Because I’ve had people reach out and go, “Hey, I want to get ads. I want to do this.”
It’s like, don’t start your podcast to make money. Start your podcasts because you have a passion, you have something you want to say, you’re an expert, you really have something to give out to the world. Grow an audience. Then after you grow an audience, if you decide to make it a business or you want to earn money on it, then you can consider adding something to that to continue moving forward.
Joe: Again, I agree wholeheartedly. I think that this is the exact thing that I like to tell people as well. It’s a grind. It’s tough. Pod fade is a real thing. So be ready to put in the work. That said, as we kind of move into businesses and people figuring out if they should podcast, how should businesses be adopting their content in 2020? Do you think podcasting is something every business should do to help them reach new audiences?
Lisa: That’s an excellent question. We talk with a lot of companies that have been launching their own podcasts because I oversee our advertising sales at TWiT.tv. We have had companies like Red Hat reached out. They did a whole podcast series. Microsoft has reached out. They also did a podcast series, which is like how to use their products.
So I think, first of all, businesses should really take a look at why they want to do a podcast. Do they feel they need to do a podcast? Are they trying to grab more customers or are they trying to educate their customers on their new things that are coming out? So that’s what Microsoft was doing. They were educating people on how to use like Azura Labs. Like, “If you want to use tools, here’s the new tool we have and this is why we’re using it”
Red Hat was interesting. They did a podcast series on the birth of tech and big names in tech and what people did. It wasn’t related to their business. They just wanted to do it to give back to their community and let them know that, hey, Red Hat does more than just…Well, they do a lot. But they do more than just their business. So it was really interesting. Their series was all about founders and tech and more tech was going. It wasn’t related to what Red Hat was, but people did like that, like, “Oh, Red Hut did this amazing podcast. We should really look at their services when we need to consider something.
I’ve had a lot of businesses reach out, like, “Hey, why we want to do a podcast.” I’m like, “On what?” They’re like, “We don’t know, but we know they’re hot.” I’ve gotten a few of those calls. We’re a journalistic entity. We’re not a podcast house where you can come and we open our studios and you can rent our studios or we make podcasts for companies. We don’t do sponsored content.
So we do get those questions though. I think every business before they should just run off and launch a podcast should look at the reason why they’re doing a podcast. Do you want this to inform your existing clients? Do you want it to be just a hobbyist for right now. Because like if you take a look, Cloudflare just launched Cloudflare TV, and they’re letting all of their employees do something on Cloudflare TV. It’s kind of like they just slapped it together and they’re doing stuff out there.
Well, I don’t want to speculate, but I think they’re partially doing it to give their employees something to do because right now everybody’s work from home, stay in place, and everyone’s really getting itchy. And I think it’s a really great way for them to go, “Hey, you guys want to talk a little bit about what you’re doing?” Maybe it’ll help bring a community together and things like that.
I also have other networks that are opening up like game night because they’re a tech network and like, “Hey, we cater to people who work from home and not seeing people.” So they’re opening up game night for IT professionals and geeks to see people that are used to being out in the real world. So I think businesses could very much strategically do podcasting as ways to enhance their business, grab new customers, teach people about their products and services that they have, or just to, like, do something fun to get your name out there. And maybe people remember you for a branding play.
But if you’re going to do a podcast, just make sure you have a plan, you’ve talked about it, and you really aren’t just reaching out to people saying, “Hey, let’s just do a podcast.” But really putting some thought behind it. I think that businesses could really leverage these, like I said, for growth or brand play or just really to go…the customer service is tired of explaining something. So you could easily do podcasts just as little help, tips, and tricks. I think it’s going to continue to keep growing in the future.
Joe: Yeah, that’s great. If you’re a business owner listening and you’re wondering if you should start a podcast, Lisa just gave a lot of really good ideas for content. Just make sure again, and like you said, Lisa, that works for you and your business and you’re doing it for the right reasons because people will be able to tell pretty quickly if you’re not into it and just doing it for money.
Lisa: So I always recommend to people, like, prep when you’re going to do a podcast. If you’re going to be an expert, just make sure you know what you want to talk about and have a little bit of a format. But always be flexible and be willing to change and to be able to pivot within something. But don’t just turn on the mic and go, “Hey, I’m here and I don’t know why I’m here.” So have somewhat of a plan.
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Now back to the show.
Joe: As we approach the end of this interview, we covered a lot of ground from like masks, to tech, to podcasting now, but I want to get a little bit speculative here and ask where do you think podcasting is moving in the next 10 years? There’s been a lot of news, right? The Joe Rogan Spotify news, obviously, Luminary launched last year to like it’s going about as well as Quibi is going, I would say.
Lisa: That’s kind of a challenging time. I think a lot of people have launched things last year and then we are in a pandemic, folks. It’s interesting. I read the Joe Rogan news and a lot of people that have been in podcasting for as long as we have, we’re upset. “Oh, you’re selling out. This is going to hurt podcasting later.” My attitude is good for you, Joe. I think you’re a big name. I remember when Howard Stern went to Sirius, and he went behind a paywall too, I feel like this is a similar play. I think Spotify is going to try to…as we know they’re buying everything. They’re really coming out of the woodwork. They really want to take on the giant out there which is iHeartMedia, I feel on podcasts, radio, and everything.
But I feel that people are going to try things in the next 10 years. I think you’re going to see paywalls go up. Spotify is going to definitely put Joe behind a paywall at some point, once they get big enough to allow that to happen. Luminary is switching to subscription services. I get it. They’re trying to pivot to survive. We thought about adding a subscription service to ours, maybe we stopped doing ads, and we just go behind a paywall. And the more we talked about it, we just didn’t feel that that’s what we wanted to do. We want our content to be free to anyone and everyone who can download us, or watch us or catch a stream somewhere. So going behind a paywall will prohibit people from doing that. So we don’t really like that model. I think you’ll see more things like that crop up.
I’m not really sure I think subscription models are going to work in podcasting. Because if you think about it, people are so used to them being free. And I’m not saying that can’t change over the next 10 years. I think people are going to sample. Going behind paywalls as networks, I think people are going to…
I also feel like we might have a play. This is kind of one of the ideas I think might happen is that as people are gobbling up all these independent podcasts, I have a feeling that it’s going to end up being like a bunch of giant networks. Like you’re going to have ABC, NBC, it’s going to be Spotify and iHeart and that everyone’s going to be attached to something large. And then I think it’s going to break out and fragment later.
I have a feeling that’s going to happen because you saw that in radio, and you saw that in TV saw these little independent networks, and they all joined big networks. But then things start breaking out. Now you have Disney Plus, you have HBO, you have Showtime, you have a zillion different ways to consume content on TV. Whereas I think podcasting might try to do that, where all these big players may try to pull everyone in, and then I have a feeling we’re going to fragment back out again. Because I don’t think that’s going to work. Because, look, we’re Americans, we like to do our own thing. We want to have control over our own destinies. I know that’s part of the reality of at least the nation I live in. So I have a feeling that people are going to try stuff and they’re going to break things and it’s going to continue to pivot move.
To be honest with you, Joe, I feel like podcasting was moving slow when I first entered this space. Like it took a while to get going, it took a while to get going, and then Serial hit and it just blew up. So I have a feeling we’re going to see the growth moving at exponential growth over the next four to five years. Especially now, think about it. We’re in a pandemic. Hollywood shut down. You can’t be in the scriptwriting room, etc. So what are they going to start doing? They’re pivoting to podcasting.
I work with, you know, I shouldn’t say work. I have a lot of friends in other networks and we talk all the time. They’re getting all the screenwriters because Hollywood shut down. So I have a feeling you’re going to see more creative podcasts coming out along those lines. I still think you’re going to see Series that wants to sell to TV, like to Netflix. People are doing those things too.
But I just really think people are going to test, try. I think we’re going to pull together and have some huge networks and then we’re going to fragment back out. And there will always be those small ones. But I’m excited because I really feel like it’s changed. I can now call somebody and go, “Hey, so I have a podcast network,” and they go, “I know who you are.” Instead of “what’s a podcast?” Because, Joe, I’d say the first eight or nine years at TWiT, I had to explain to everyone I talked to you what a podcast was. And I just feel like now that it’s a household name. Right?
Joe: Yeah. Actually, my parents know what that one is.
Lisa: I’m curious. Where do you think it’s going to go? Do you some of what I say is in line to what you’re thinking? I’m just curious.
Joe: Yeah. I think you’re absolutely right. I think that going to the subscription-only model, I agree with you, it’s not going to work right. I think we are seeing this right now with news websites that are trying to paywall their content. And understandably they need to make money, but if you’re reporting the news, if you’re really serving the public and you want people to access the news, you can’t really paywall it.
I think that subscription models could work as an add on sort of thing. Like I think Relay FM is wading their way through that and figuring out like, “All of our content will be free, and if you’re a member, you get like the pre and post-show, or whatever and added bonuses.” But keeping the core content free, I think is tantamount to making podcasts work.
I like that Spotify is so in the game because it means more people will listen. Because the problem with podcasting is, “Oh, yeah, check out my podcast.” “Oh, how do I do that?” “Well, do you have an iPhone? There’s the purple icon.” “Oh, yeah, I put that in some folder somewhere.” “If you’re Android, finally there is a Google podcast app.” Otherwise, you tell them like download Pocketcasts. So getting it front and center for more people I think is ultimately a good thing.
We’ll see if they really do start to like gobble up and paywall especially previously free content. I loved Crime Town. I’m like, “I’m not going to listen to this if it’s only going to be on Spotify.” So I think I waited like six months and they put it out in the normal feed, but I was like, pretty bummed about that, because I think it went against what podcasting can do. It’s like saying you can’t access certain parts of the internet because I bought it up, which is a whole other thing.
Lisa: That was our biggest problem is that someone goes, “Hey, could you do an exclusive on Tunein or Spotify? Would you do exclusive content?” I’m like, “We’re everywhere. We are literally everywhere you can consume a podcast.” I kind of worry about that. But you know what, Joe? I feel like people forget. I think in about two or three years, people may forget, like if they never knew what a podcast was, and they just started out. They’re going to be like, “Oh, that’s normally. You can go behind a paywall.”
So it’s just as…not dinosaurs, but as folks who have been here since the beginning that are going to be a little like, “Oh, they’re doing that. That’s not really true to podcasting.” But I’ve always been somebody who’s evolved. I’ve evolved in all my careers. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I like to grow things. I like to move. So I don’t have a problem with people trying things. And I think people that have been around in the podcasting community from the start are really, really…my attitude of, well, if that’s what they’re going to try, let’s see how it goes. So I like to sit back and watch.
I know Mike really well in Relay FM. I used to work with him once in a while and we have several of our hosts on their network too. And we’ve talked about that too. Maybe we add a little something extra TWiT.tv. Like hey, a subscription club, you’ll get a little extra content, you get a shirt, you get a mug. We might do something like that for fun as well. But I really just can’t put us behind a paywall or do that.
I mean, to be honest, I might consider it if advertising completely died, because we’d still want to do this. So we might maybe go to a donation model or some kind of club thing that’s fun. Something along those lines, but I don’t want to do that until we’ve exhausted everything with advertising. But something I do want to tell your audience, if you do decide to do a podcast and you decide to add advertising later, just don’t overwhelm your audience with a zillion ads. Always pay attention to your audience. It’s like, “I have a tech network.”
I mean, for instance, a shoe company reached out, women’s shoes, and they’re like, “Hey, we want to advertise your network? We have a lot of money to spend.” And I went, “Women’s shoes? I’m 95% male. No, no, no, go somewhere else.” And they were really upset that I turned him down. But I went, “It’s not going to work for you, and my audience isn’t going to want to hear about women’s high heels.” So that’s just something to recommend to people.
Another thing you could do too is, you know, we sell on a CPM basis or CPA basis. There’s a lot of different things you can do in your advertising, sales. And if you’re new and you’ve started out and you’ve built a pretty decent audience, you could just do a flat rate, maybe partner with somebody you really like, and you really love their services and products and it works for your fans. You can always just do something like that, and have it. “Start somewhere” is my motto. But that’s just my biggest thing. It’s like do something you love, you’re passionate about, you’re an expert in and just don’t overwhelm your audience with a zillion ads because they won’t like it.
And there’s a lot of ways to do stuff like that now, too, with Di. And I’m not a fan of Di. But we’re looking at that as well. We like our host read ads because we want to make sure we really deliver a good introduction to our audience. I think it’s just important to pick out what you want to do if that’s something you want to consider.
Joe: Yeah, that’s great. I always ask for a trade secret and I think you just gave us one.
Lisa: I gave you my trade secret.
Joe: Because it’s so important. I’ve turned away advertisers too, because I want to do right by my audience. They trust me to recommend things that they will like. I always say, “I need to try your product before I advertise you on my show, at least.” I at least need to try it.
Lisa: Here’s another tip for that trade secret. We actually vet anybody that comes in the door that wants to advertise with us. So I have a continuity team and I’ll send over and say, “Hey, I want a one sheet.” We call it a one sheet. So what we do is we pull up on the one sheet it will include the company, the founders, rounds of funding, what their services are, but the most important thing is trusted reviews from places we trust to consider. So I need to have five or six reviews. And I will take a look at the reviews, look at the products, look at the services. If they’re not high integrity, we walk away.
My biggest trade secret—and this is actually not a trade secret—but the best secret I can give you is always, always, always operate with integrity. Integrity has to be the foundation, anything you do in the business world. So that has always been my motto. Because people are like, “What’s your secret?” and I go, “Have integrity.” Because if you don’t have integrity, you don’t have anything. I’ve learned to lead with that. Do what you say you’re going to do and always operate with the highest integrity you can. So there’s my trade secret and my tip to being a good corporate citizen in the world.
Joe: Awesome. I love that. We are out of time here. So I want to thank you for your time, Lisa. Where can people find you?
Lisa: Oh, people can find me at Lisa@twit.tv. You can email me if you want to find me there. Otherwise, I have a lot of blogs. I do Lisalaporte.ceo is my business blog. But check me out. You can find me on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve avoided Twitter. I’m not a real big fan of Twitter these days. It’s kind of a cesspool. You can find me on LinkedIn as well. Reach out, follow me. I’m happy to connect with anyone if they’re looking honestly for anything about tech. If you’re interested in advertising with us, you can reach out to me too.
Or if you’re just like, “Hey, you know I’m curious as to what you guys do,” I’m open. I give back to the community often. I mentor some women in business. I’m always available because my attitude is, you know, this is the best way we’re going to succeed as a world. So reach out anytime. I’m happy to help anyone out with questions or ideas.
Joe: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I will include all of that and everything we talked about in the show notes over at Howibuilt.it. Lisa, thanks so much for joining me today.
Lisa: Oh, thank you, Joe, for having me. It was fantastic. Have a great day.
Outro: Thanks so much to Lisa for joining us this week, for taking the time to talk all about tech and her history and starting a podcast network, and lots of great advice as to why you should start a podcast. Don’t just do it for money. That is something that lots of people keep saying. I can’t agree more with that statement.
Thanks to our sponsors. We had a full deck this week with Yes Plz Coffee, iThemes Security Pro, TextExpander, and ExpressVPN. Definitely say hi to those folks and thank them for supporting the show. For links to them and everything that we talked about to learn more about Lisa, and all of the great resources, head over to Howibuilt.it/182.
If you want to get fantastic tips sent right to your inbox, why don’t you go ahead and join the Build Something email newsletter? That’s over at howibuilt.it/subscribe. Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.