Will guest appearances on podcasts benefit your consulting business? Is it worth it to start your own podcast even if your audience is limited? Matt Inglot thinks it is! In this episode of DYF Podcast, Brennan talks to 2016 DYFConf speaker, Matt Inglot, about using podcasting to get consulting clients and expand your audience. When Matt started his podcast, Freelance Transformation, he didn’t expect it to have any effect on his web-development agency. More than 145 episodes later, he has found that the impacts have been manifold. Not only has his podcast become one of the most prominent in the freelancing community, but it also helped him develop his contacts and directly led to a $60,000 gig. Other benefits have been less obvious but just as empowering, and Matt has learned all of the right and wrong ways to podcast along the way.
For the past 12 years Matt has run his agency, Tilted Pixel, with great success. He says that as a micro-agency he has been able to create a stable business and the life he was looking for without the 80 hour work-week one might typically expect. His newer venture is Freelance Transformation, his podcast, which launched in April 2015. Matt says Freelance Transformation initially had nothing to do with his consulting business –if it had, he pointed out, he would have built the podcast around the interests of potential clients. Instead, Freelance Transformation sprang out of Matt’s desire to spread the knowledge he’d acquired through his years of experience. He was also keen to get in and start a new online business after consulting on so many through the years. To his surprise, even though they weren’t directly related, Matt’s podcast brought a boost in his agency’s sales –including a $60,000 deal that came as a result of one recording. Freelance Transformation’s success (it hit 100,000 downloads within the first year and has now nearly tripled that) has allowed Matt to grow his existing agency while also seeing where the new venture takes him –and the first place it took him was MicroConf.
Podcasting to Meet People
The first lesson Matt says he learned while building Freelance Transformation is that, “podcasting is a great networking hack.” As he began looking for guests, Matt attended Microconf and found that right from the beginning, being able to say “Hi I’m Matt, I’m the host of Freelance Transformation,” is more of a conversation starter than “Hi, I’m Matt, I do web-design.” That year, Matt took his portable mic around the conference, recording some of his earliest stuff (including an episode with Brennan) and growing his experience –learning among other things, that recording in a noisy Vegas hotel during a conference is not ideal. Matt says that from that conference alone, he was able to develop a reputation among freelancers and find guests for his first 20 or so episodes. If you are considering podcasting, Matt recommends making these in-person connections and using events to start meaningful dialogues with potential guests.
Matt found that having guest spots to offer on his podcast, opens doors to people who might have seemed off limits before. For Matt this included Brennan, Michael Port, Alan Weiss, Charlie Hoehn, and outside the consulting world, luxury concierge, Steve Sims. The podcast allowed him to have in-depth conversations with these giants and to stay in touch with them afterwards. As the rapport built, Matt’s guests started making suggestions and introductions of people who could either help Matt or be helped by him. Matt’s contact list snowballed, he says, and “next thing you know this inaccessible community is now accessible.”
Do You Need An Audience?
With these benefits alone, and even without an established audience, starting a podcast already has some advantages. Matt estimates that Freelance Transformation has added 10,000-15,000 new visitors to his site each month, but he has noticed that his increased business isn’t necessarily from people listening to his podcast. Rather, he believes most of these referrals to his site have come from the other professionals he has met through hosting the podcast. So do listeners even matter? Of course they do. For Matt, a key motivator was being able to pass on wisdom and help develop the next generation of freelancers. But another clear advantage to having a large audience is that the further your reach, the more pull you’ll have for getting the guests you want on your show.
Having a network, Brennan points out, also makes launching a new product easier. He says launching his newest product, RightMessage, was much simpler with an established audience and an unobtrusive way to get updates to his followers. His audience is often interested in seeing behind the scenes as his products develop so Brennan keeps them informed of every step along the way. Since Brennan is committed to providing useful examples of how to build and launch products, this audience relationship represents another win-win scenario that can come from podcasting.
So how do you build your listenership? If you’re like Matt, and you’re not a born social media self-promoter, he recommends the following 3 step approach when launching a new podcast:
- Reach out to everyone you know and ask them to check out your new podcast and leave a review. While you probably won’t get long-term listeners from this exercise, the initial flood of downloads tells iTunes to pay attention.
- Choose guests strategically. Matt looked for guests who were consulting-oriented, and who had a great audience that he could borrow. When the guest sends out his/her social media blast you could be getting an extra hundred or thousand new eyes looking your way.
- Use events to build relationships with potential guests in your field. Conferences are expensive, including tickets, travel, accommodations and time away from normal operations. Finding new listeners with fliers and quick blurbs costs a lot in effort with minimal results. Instead, your mission should be to invest in face to face personal interactions at common-goal events. This can lead to guests who care about the success of the program –it can be the difference between a guest tweeting that they were on and them actually promoting you. Some of Matt’s Microconf contacts were even willing to give him their email lists!
Podcasting is also a great way to position yourself in the freelance world. Brennan uses his guests’ networks to expand his own sphere of influence. He does some digging to learn who in his guest’s network he’d like to work with and seeks introductions via the mutual connection. For example, he might look at Matt’s previous Freelance Transformation guests, see who else has a podcast, select a couple, and if appropriate, he’ll message them saying, “Hey, I talked to our mutual friend, Matt Inglot, earlier this year. He suggested that I might be a good fit for your podcast.”
Frequent wide-spread appearances on podcasts can build your credibility as an expert within your field. Brennan highlights wearables developer and former DYF Academy student, Justin Bergen, as the master here. While developing products, Justin hosted industry leaders on his podcast, giving them a spotlight and simultaneously shoring up a his new relationship with the guest. By asking the guests “do you know of anyone else in the industry who would be a good guest for my podcast?” he also expanded his contacts. Since the wearables niche is fairly small, he was able to make key introductions and establish himself as an expert in the wearables niche.
This brings Matt to the point that Podcasting is also a comparatively simple way to publish within your field. “Rather than researching, writing, editing, rewriting, publishing and distributing a guest post or a whole book,” he says, “you can cut to the chase with twelve bullet points and a good microphone.” Matt points out that even after writing, editing and revising a book or even a much shorter guest post, you still have to find a way to publish/distribute it, but appearing on podcasts, is a lower-key ways of establishing your authority. After guesting on other podcasts enough times, you will start to notice that you have built your own audience.
Telling Your Story
A simple, subtle benefit to being a frequent podcast guest, is discovering the best way to articulate your message. Telling your story becomes easier each time you tell it: you’ll find your glossary becomes refined, your clarity improves, and your confidence builds. Matt mentions Jeremy Weiss from Mixergy who says of his podcast that even if no one were listening, the exercise would still be worth doing, and he would continue to run it. Of course this ties in to what we’ve said before since having your own podcast is a great gateway to appearing on other people’s. If you have your own podcast, other hosts know that you know what you’re doing, have the right equipment, and will deliver the audio they’re looking for.
Your Guests are Your Research and Case Studies
One easily overlooked benefit to hosting a podcast is the research value of discussing best practices with others in your field. Freelance Start, Matt’s course on freelancing was born out of the 145+ episodes of the podcast. These serve as ”almost scientific data set” that he can referenced and have more information than if he were only citing his own experiences. One example of a discovery Matt made through his conversations, is that when he talked to people who were struggling to find clients, there was a correlation with how much time they spent on marketing. That is, Matt now has the numbers showing that the more effort one spends on marketing, the more clients their business will likely have.
Similarly, Brennan’s aim in starting his new RightMessage podcast was to talk with people who have DIYed or used other non RightMessage tools to achieve personalized marketing. Hearing why they got into it and what they did wrong, Brennan expects to gain market research.
Is podcasting right for you?
Before starting out with your new podcast, Matt wants you to ask yourself what you hope to achieve. Having a podcast won’t get you new clients overnight and Matt warns that there are easier ways to create content if that is your only goal. So he urges you to have a strategy and a reason to do it. Things he suggests you think about when considering starting a podcast:
- Are there specific people you want to connect with?
- Are you focused on relationship building, and if so, with whom?
- Are you articulating ideas/thoughts clearly? (If yes, this helps you get on other people’s podcasts and to be great at it).
What are some of the cons to consider? It is time consuming. Matt says when he started Freelancer Transformation, each episode took 10 hours to make from researching guests to editing and publishing. Now he has standard processes, he hires a company to produce the show, and he has a nice network through which he can easily find guests. None of that was established in the beginning so starting out, you need to recognize that it will take time. Another con is that it is not the greatest way to generate fast traffic to your site. If you are looking to generate a lot of traffic to your site quickly, you should focus on guesting (writing guest posts and appearing on other peoples’ podcast) to build that audience faster. Having your own podcast connects you with the specific people you want to connect with fast, but doesn’t help you reach the masses as much as one might think.
If you’ve read all of this and are ready to get your podcast underway, Matt has a few suggestions for you to check out. He recommends Pat Flynn’s free podcasting guide, and Jon Lee Dumas’ Podcaster’s Paradise. Philip Morgan has a free article on all of the podcasting equipment he uses. Matt says to stay on the beaten path when starting your podcast and not to get too fancy or overthink things. For a microphone he suggests: ATR 2100 or the Yeti –they’re professional sounding, under $100 and you don’t have to dwell on the question longer than necessary. Matt says that if he were starting over, he would choose a simpler format since currently his shows involve pre intro, intro music, an introduction, the interview, outro, and outro music. If he were to redesign the whole thing, he says he would do everything live. He’d bring the guest on, introduce them, play the intro music and get down to it. By doing everything live, he would have saved hours of editing. Though it is tempting to want to innovate, he says to get the basics down and don’t overcomplicate things. Listeners are there for the expert content and don’t care about a spiffy sounding intro by a third party. One area where Matt says he made the right call was by not posting video as part of his podcast. He refrained from this primarily because video complicated things, but it is a waste of resources for ROI. If you are considering hosting video also, bear in mind that Matt says it won’t do great on youtube by itself. Clips, however, can be used on social media and to spark interest in your regular programing.
In the end, hosting a podcast will not bring a flood of sales and traffic to your site. However, it can be a great gateway to the people in your field who seem off limits. It can help you refine your message and reinforce your authority. It can even give you the data you need in order to improve your products and services. Take it from expert, Matt, podcasting is an exercise worth engaging in, as long as you pay attention to the “whys” and set yourself up for success.
For further reading, check out the links below: