Why Course Creators Should Start a Podcast

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One of the most important things a course creator needs to do to sell courses is establish trust. Indeed you’ve probably heard that a customer needs to know, like, and trust you. Well, there’s no better way to get someone to do all three of those than by starting a podcast. We’ll discuss that and other benefits to starting a podcast, whether you’ve already launched, or are planning to launch, a course. Plus in Build Something More, I tell you about how this podcast started, and why I pivoted.

Show Notes


Joe Casabona: Real quick before we get started, I want to tell you about the Build Something Weekly newsletter. It is weekly, it is free, and you will get tips, tricks, and tools delivered directly to your mailbox. I will recap the current week’s episode and all of the takeaways, I’ll give you a top story, content I wrote, and then some recommendations that I’ve been using that I think you should check out. So it is free, it is a weekly, it’s over at howibuilt.it/subscribe. Go ahead and sign up over at howibuilt.it/subscribe.

Intro: Hey everybody, and welcome to Episode 214 of How I Built It, the podcast that offers actionable tech tips for small business owners. My name is Joe Casabona, and it is a solo episode today. I’m going to be telling you why course creators should start a podcast. Now, there will be general points here, but I really want to get specific for people who maybe already have a course or for people who are thinking about launching a course, because this advice might even be better for you.

If you haven’t launched already, you can launch the podcast, amp up the course with your podcast and then open it up. But I obviously have a bunch of courses, and so this formula applies to me as well. So if you already have a course out there, then launch your podcast, you already have a bunch of content that you can pull from.

But before we get into all that I do want to thank our sponsors: TextExpander, Restrict Content Pro, and Mindsize. You will be hearing about them later on in the episode. I’m also going to list some resources which you can find over at howibuilt.it/214. Finally, if you want to discuss this episode, you might have heard this already in the pre-roll ad, but if you do want to discuss this episode, head over to community at buildsomething.club. It is open.

Again, there will be a link in the show notes. But if you become a member, you get bonus content like a video of me recording this episode as well as some bonus content at the end where I actually talking about how this podcast originally was going to just supplement my courses, and I wasn’t going to make it its own thing. So we’ll talk about that and Build Something More. If you want to get that and lots of other bonus stuff, head over to buildsomething.club.

So, let’s talk about why course creators should start a podcast. Now, I did cover, a little over a year ago, as I record this, in Episode 154, I talked about why anyone should start a podcast. This was even before the pandemic started, if you can believe there was a time before that. So really, before podcasting even exploded. I shouldn’t say before it exploded, but before it started to pick up steam. So I cover a bunch of stuff in Episode 154. Those things I cover are it’s easier than ever to do. It doesn’t cost thousands of dollars to do it. It’s the next great plane of content, and it’s a way to grow your business, which is essentially what we’re really going to dive into here.

Now, before that, I do want to talk about the… I think it’s The Infinite Dial in conjunction with Edison Research released some stats. I will link that in the show notes as well. For Creator Crew members, I’ll actually link to some data I extracted. But they show the growth of podcasting over time, starting all the way back in 2006. And it’s gone up consistently. So 41% of the total US population in 2021 listens to a podcast at least monthly. That’s up 4% from 2020. It’s up 9% from 2019. The number of people podcasting is reaching is growing as well. This is no doubt helped by Spotify and all of the money that they’re throwing into podcasting. So there’s a lot of interesting stats in the PDF in the slideshow, essentially that I’ll link in the show notes over at howibuilt.it/214.

These are US-based stats as well. I think it’s really interesting to see, especially a younger audience… I shouldn’t say younger. 12 to 14 is 50% of podcast listeners. But that’s growing even more. Weekly podcast listens again have gone up 11% since 2018. So we’re seeing a lot of growth here. But another interesting stat that I learned listening to Smart Passive Income podcast was there are, I think, less than 300,000 or maybe around 300,000 active podcasts since October. Just to compare that to YouTube, there’s 31 million. The last time I checked, 31 million YouTube channels. So there’s definitely, definitely a lot of room to grow here.

So if you are a course creator, this is going to be I think an important avenue for you to pursue. But why? What can course creators specifically gain from podcasting? The first thing that perhaps course creators should know, maybe you already know this, is potential students, potential buyers. And this is for anything really, but courses especially, potential students need to know, like, and trust you. And a podcast is one of the best ways to establish trust. Podcasting is an intimate setting to help establish trust. And just all three of those things: know, like, and trust.

People who listen to my podcast every week get a really good sense of my personality, and what I’m like, and my interests and disinterests. But they also learn what I know. And that helps when they are wondering, “Hey, should I buy this course from Joe?” or “should I become a member of his Creator Crew? Do I like the content he’s making enough to support it?” So a podcast is a way for you to establish that trust.

It will help you become an authority, a subject matter expert because that title goes to the people who show up. So if you’re showing up every week or every two weeks on your podcast, giving away what you know, and showing how much you know, people are going to trust what you have to say on the matter. I think that… I don’t think. I know this. Seth Godin in 2018 wrote Podcasting is the New Blogging, and he ended that post by saying “podcasting is the generous act of showing up.”

If you show people that you are willing to put time into this free content that helps them, then they will trust you and they’ll believe that you’re here for the love of the game. You’re not just trying to make money. If we look at course creators who just create a course, set a price of like 700 bucks and just leave it be, the people who think that creating a course is just passive income, there’s no trust there. And if you podcast and you put out regular episodes helping people, they’ll know that you believe that the course is not just passive income, it’s a way to teach people your craft.

So I think that’s maybe the most important reason, is that it’ll get people to know, like, and trust you. It’ll get people to look at you as an industry expert. Case in point, I offer a Done For You Podcasting service over at Podcast Liftoff, and I’ve been on a little bit of a podcasting tour lately, going on other people’s podcasts, writing blog posts to get my name out there. And then I’ve also been doing episodes like this over the last year about the benefits and the virtues of podcasting. And I’m starting to see a good amount of organic traffic come into my Done For You Podcasting service because people now understand I know the process. I’m sharing my process with you so you can do it yourself if you want, or I can do it for you. So I think that’s really, really important.

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And now let’s get back to it.

Joe Casabona: Another important point I think is that your call to action is extremely clear. If you have a course that you want people to join, then that’s what you want to ask people to do on your podcast. So you can say, you know, “Sign up for the newsletter to get even more value.” That gets people onto your mailing list, so then you can directly market to them while also providing value. I’ll evaluate… evaluate? I’ll elaborate on that in a minute.

But you can also offer a discount for the course there. You can say right on the episode… Maybe your call to action is “if you liked this and you want to learn more about how to become a bicycle repair coach, then head over to bicyclerepaircoach.com to sign up for my course.” But the beauty of people listening to your podcast and then signing up for your mailing list is now they’re really buying into what you’re saying and they’re inviting you into their mailbox once a week, twice a week, whatever your cadence is.

I have no doubt that there are a good amount of people who listen to my podcast regularly who are skipping this episode because they aren’t course creators. Similar with your audience. If they’re not interested in some topic you’re talking about that week, they’ll skip that episode. With your mailing list, they’re at least going to see your name every week. Don Miller, who wrote “Building a StoryBrand” also wrote I think “Marketing Made Simple” is the name of the book. I’ll link it in the show notes. But he says that exact thing. Even if people aren’t opening your emails every week, they’re seeing your name every week. And maybe that’s the same if they subscribe to your podcast, right? They’re seeing your name every week.

But it’s good to be in a place where you can provide even more value. And then when you’re ready for that sale, when you’re ready to sell the course you can give them exclusive access first, you can have them beta test the course, you can give them an exclusive discount for signing up. So I think that your call to action could be “if you like this, go buy my course right now.” But I think a better one would be “sign up for my mailing list to learn even more and to get an exclusive discount for the course either now or when it launches.”

Something else that you can do with your podcast as a course creator is you can test course concepts. Maybe you’re building the course out right now or maybe you’re not sure how a particular module is performing. Make a podcast episode about it. You have the outline, maybe you even have the script, you can get it transcribed, you can get the video transcribed at otter.ai for pennies. It doesn’t have to be a perfect transcript because you’re just looking for the talking points. And then go through that topic, talk about it on the show, ask for feedback, ask for questions and gauge the response. Then you can adjust your course accordingly.

So a podcast kind of allows you to test your content to make the best course possible to constantly evolve. Because I think one thing that a lot of course creators have trouble with or struggle with is getting feedback from their current students. Either people buy the course aspirationally and don’t take the course. And that’s a whole other thing. Or they just whip through the videos and they’re done and they’re gone. But if you’re offering this content on your podcast, and you’re saying, “Hey, what did you think? What can be improved? What questions do you have that I can answer?” now you’re getting real-time feedback that you can integrate into your module to make it even better, to make it into your course, to make even better.

And then, of course, you can warm up an audience. If you podcast about your course, it will attract the exact people that you’re looking for. So, again, if I have a podcast called Bicycle Mastery, these are people who want to master bicycles, riding them, building them, opening a shop, whatever. And then your topics are like “how to fix your bicycle tire” could be one episode. “What exactly does adjusting the resistance do, and when do you do it” could be another one. And then you build that content library. And now again, people are warming up to you.

You can talk about, “Hey, I’m working on a course right now on this very subject. It’s going to go deep, we’re going to have video. I will disassemble a bike for you on camera. If you’re interested sign up for my newsletter to be one of the first people to get notified when it launches and to get a discount code.” Your podcast is a great funnel for that, because people are learning about what you do, you are becoming an expert to them.

And then you can offer more content, in-depth content during your course. I know what you’re probably thinking. I don’t want to give away everything. I don’t want to give away the farm. And that’s a valid concern. I think a lot of people are worried about that. We’ll touch on that in a little bit. But I think as far as why you should start a podcast as a course creator, number one is, it’s one of the best ways to establish trust.

Number two, people will get to know, like, and trust you faster because podcasting is an intimate setting. People are inviting you into their headphones. And because of that, they feel like they know you better. It will help establish you as an authority in your subject matter. Your call to action is insanely clear. If you’re listening to this episode in the public feed, I have a couple of calls to action. The beginning one is the one I want you to do. But then there are a couple of sponsor spots as well. Those are all call to actions.

But if you’re using your podcast as just a lead generator for potential students, don’t have ads. Make it part of the marketing budget for your course. The call to action is clear. And you can have it in the beginning. I like to have a little call to action in the beginning, like “Real quick before we get started, I want to tell you about this course I’m launching blah, blah, blah.” You can have in the middle if you want, but you should really use the main part of your episode to teach people.

And then you can again mention it at the end. Repetition is so key in podcasting because people are probably doing other things while they’re listening. Maybe you’re driving in your car, maybe you’re cleaning your house. I listen while I’m mowing the lawn because I have really good headphones. Noise-cancelling headphones allow me to do that. So, a clear call to action. You can test concepts through your podcast, and you can warm up your audience. Those reasons are all great reasons why course creators specifically should start a podcast.

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And now let’s get back to it.

Joe Casabona: I just addressed this a little while ago. I know what you’re thinking. A lot of course creators worry about giving away everything for free. If I’m basically teaching my course on my podcast, why would people pay to go to my course? Here’s the thing about your online course. The information is only part of the course experience. So if people are signing up for the information, great. But some people can get that on YouTube. I’m sure if you look around on YouTube enough, you’ll find all of the tutorials you need to launch your own podcast for free.

I Know podcast hosts who have free courses on how to launch your podcast. So should I be worried about that if they’re competing with my course? No, because the information is only part of the course experience. It’s also about the way the course is organized. If you’re creating a pedagogical experience for your students, you are structuring it—”it” being your course—you are structuring the course in the way you think will best help them learn.

So, instead of how do I set up my podcast website before you even know what a podcast feed is, I make sure you know what a podcast feed is and why it’s so important before we talk about your website. Before I tell you what microphone to buy, I tell you everything you should understand when it comes to creating a podcast. And then once you launch, which is where a lot of these podcast host courses end, once you launch, I teach you how to create consistent content and how to monetize your podcast because that’s what makes your podcast sustainable. I want to teach you that because I don’t not care. I want you to have a successful podcast. I don’t want you to just launch it.

So information is only part of it. It’s about the way the course is organized. It’s about the actionable advice. At the end of almost every single one of my course videos, I say, “Now you do this. Now that you know how to do X, I want you to do X for yourself.”

And then it’s also about the community. YouTube comments are hardly a community. So you want to have a good community of learners. Again, in my recent courses, I always say what do you think? Go post over in the Student Center what you learned, what you plan to learn, what your podcast is going to be about, what kind of website you’re building with Beaver Builder.” Whatever the course is that they’re taking, I’m telling them, the students, to go to the community and share and ask questions. And that’s going to build a community over time.

And then you also get direct access to the instructor. I try to answer my YouTube comments because I want those comments to be a filter or a funnel to my courses. But they don’t get the same kind of support that my students get. Somebody asked me a question about one thing, I answered it, and they’re like, “Okay, but what about this?” I’m sorry, I cannot be your personal website launch coach right now via YouTube comments. But you know what? If one of my students is taking one of my courses, and they’re having trouble launching, I’ll absolutely help them. That’s part of the access. That’s part of what you get when you purchase a course. You get office hours or live streams, or my email adjusts to say, “Hey, I’m taking your course, I’m really confused about this.” As a course creator, those are the value adds that you can also offer. So don’t worry about giving away the farm. Don’t worry about giving away all of the content for free.

The other thing is that the content, the information is always changing and evolving. The way I launched my course two years ago is different from the way I launched my course today. Maybe I add more modules as I learned stuff. So there are two rules of thumb. One I learned about recently on Smart Passive income with Derral Eves. He wrote the book “The YouTube Formula”, which I think is really good. But he said, “Have everything on a six-month delay when you’re giving it away for free.” So if I learned some new podcasting technique maybe for digital ad insertion, I add the module to my course immediately, and then in six months, I add a stripped down version of that to YouTube. So it’s almost like exclusive access for people who have paid the course. They get to jump on the free content.

And then the thing that I usually talk about is teach the what but not the how. So you’re telling people what they need to do, but you’re not telling them exactly how to do it. A good example is my content upgrade, which is the Podcast Launch Blueprint. I used to call it the Podcast Framework or the Podcast Workbook. Blueprint just sounds better. Everything you need to do to start a podcast. It’s a bunch of checklists and some prompts versus here’s how to configure your podcast feed a step by step.

The first one is free content. I’m telling you everything that you’re going to need to do to launch a podcast. Fine. You can have that for free. But “how to do all of those things? Where do I start? What do I do?” that’s part of the course. So don’t worry about giving everything away for free. Make sure that you have a good consistent stream of content. And you do. If you’ve already created your course, just take snippets out of the modules. Not just. But take snippets out of the modules, repurpose it for the podcast.

Or if you offer a service on top of that course, which is what a lot of course creators do, is they teach the concept, and then at the end of the course, you’re like, “Does that sound like something you really want to spend your time on? If you don’t, now, you know, everything that needs to be done, let me just do it for you.” You can talk about that too, and how you’re growing and evolving the course. You can offer behind the scenes information, how you shot the course. People are going to love that.

So there’s no shortage of content between what you’re teaching in the course and what you’re offering on your podcast, what you’re doing around the course, and the behind-the-scenes stuff. Again, I wouldn’t worry about giving away everything for free. The content is only part of it. The organization, the action items, the community, and the direct access to you are big value adds for your students and your students only.

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Joe Casabona: So ultimately, why would you do this? I talked about why you should start a podcast. But what’s the cause and effect? You start a podcast, what does that mean for you? Ultimately, it’ll help you sell more courses. That’s the name of the game for you. You want to start a podcast to sell more courses. And you’ll do that because people will know what you’re talking about. Again, people will know, like, and trust you. They’ll understand that you’re an authority in this field. They will want to learn from you in a structured way.

Again, especially if you don’t just like launch your Podcast where each episode is in order, if you talk about… I would say talk about the sexiest topic first. Like pick a few topics that you know are going to get the most eyeballs before niching down, the shareable things, talk about those first. And then a month or two months in, be like, “Hey, let me go back to the beginning and tell you a little bit more about… whatever you’re teaching.” They’ll want to learn in a more structured way where you take them from zero to win, as Troy Dean says. Then they’ll buy your course. So they’ll know what you’re talking about, they’ll want to learn from you in a more structured way, you got them on your mailing list, you have that clear call to action, and they will buy your course.

And then as an added bonus, you can even have a private version of the podcast for your students where you release the… if your course doesn’t rely heavily on screencasts, you can release that as a podcast for them as well. You can give your students the behind-the-scenes stuff, at least first. And you can include bonus content. You can include bloopers, you can include all sorts of stuff in a private version of the podcast. So on top of being a lead generator, a funnel to get more people into your course, your podcast can be a value add for people who buy your course. I think that’s everything.

We covered why in general podcasting is a good thing. It’s easier than ever, it’s cheaper than ever. It’s a way to grow your business, why as a course creator you should start letting people know, like, and trust you, you’ll become an authority, you can test concepts and warm up your audience. You don’t need to worry about giving away all your content for free. And ultimately, this should lead to more course sales.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode. I really appreciate it. If you want to get on my mailing list, you can head over to buildsomething.email, where you’ll get summaries of these episodes as well as my general thoughts on things that are going on in the world, recommendations in the tech world at least, recommendations for books and tools and apps and things like that. And it’s free and it’s weekly, and it’s over a buildsomething.email.

If you want to get that link and all of the show notes, you can head over to howibuilt.it/214. There’ll be lots of stuff over there, including a link to the Build Something email list and Creator Crew, way to rate and review on Apple podcasts, all that fun stuff.

Thanks so much to our sponsors: TextExpander, Restrict Content Pro, and Mindsize. If you are listening to Build Something More, stay tuned because I’m going to tell you about how this podcast started and why I thought it was going to be a lead generator for my courses. If you’re not part of the Creator Crew, head over to buildsomething.club. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for sticking with me for the last half hour or so. I really appreciate it. And until next time, get out there and build something.


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