I'd like to share with you a look behind-the-scenes of the business of Radical Personal Finance. I want you to know why I host a daily (or at least almost-daily) podcast and why I've stuck with that, even with many people suggesting less frequency.
To be clear: I don't think you should copy what I'm doing. But perhaps if you understand why I'm doing what I'm doing you may be able to apply it to your own endeavors.
I'm creating this show for a few reasons:
- Some listeners are concerned about my pace and my ability to sustain it.
- It will be helpful for you no matter what business you're in as you can understand my thinking process as I create a new business.
- It will be especially helpful for you if you're a podcaster. I think a lot of the advice that's being given in the podcast world is bad...people say "do this" without illustrating the principles behind it. I will share with you what I'm doing and also why I'm doing it.
This show is going to sound very me-focused. It's intended to be helpful for you but I'm sharing all of my personal, selfish motivations to demonstrate my way of thinking.
- Fundamentally, I host my show daily because I believe the format is best for my audience. That's it. I want to be a source of daily encouragement, inspiration, and education in your life. I remember how important having a source of daily encouragement was to me in the past when I was working my way out of debt in college.
- I'm scratching my own itch. I'm creating the show I wish were there for me when I was 15 years old. I have nothing else to go on. I want one show that has unique content that makes me think. I don't want to wander around downloading from 11 different podcast feeds to scratch my itch. It's more convenient to have one but for that one to have varied content.
- I needed and still need to build the skills of a broadcaster. By doing a daily show instead of a weekly show, I have 400% more experience than I would have otherwise. That experience compounds over time. I believe it's wise to learn and then really learn by doing. I have a tremendous competitive advantage because of how hard I work at it and I have learned and improved tremendously. I have the long-term view: I'm focused on 2015 but I'm even more heavily focused on 2017. Or 2018 when the potential audience size increases massively. I need to be ready for that.
- I'm doing what I believe I'm best at. I don't feel that I'm the most creative writer. But I'm a good speaker. So, I'm focusing on my strengths. Producing lots of verbal content actually comes more easily to me than to many people.
- I have years of pent-up frustration to express.
- I have years of financial ideas that have never been publicized.
- I'm a verbal learner so the best way for me to learn is to teach.
- There is more competition in the podcast space than ever. I want to push my competitors aside in terms of audience focus. I want people to find my show, fall in love with it, and stop searching for new content. Their other feeds will run out of content. Mine won't.
- I'm modeling the success of radio and TV. Most well-known radio programs are 5 days per week. Why? Because of the normal flow and routine of our work week. Many people listen to things while they work and the 5-day work-week is common. People are used to the regular flow of content streaming in on their radio, their TV, etc. Now, there's a transition to on-demand. When you find something you like...you zero in and consume the archives.
- But, I pay careful attention to the differences between podcasting and radio. Radio is not cumulative. Radio is a "dip your toe in the water" kind of format. You'll notice that radio is always either current events or Q&A. That's great for tuning in and tuning out. Podcasts are different. I'm focusing on taking the good from radio and adjusting it for a podcast-listening audience. Some listeners listen every day almost as soon as the show comes out. Many listeners go back and listen to the archives. I try very hard not to repeat topics. There is some overlap but I'm focused on consistently fresh, new ideas.
- Format is not the answer to a problem. Content is. You should fit your format to your content and goal. There are many popular weekly programs. But I don't really enjoy many of them because I'm not interested in the content. I simply believe that the format that I've chosen is the best way for me to help my listening audience.
- I essentially have four different shows and I can't choose between them:
- A short-format Q&A show.
- An interview show.
- A technical financial planning show.
- A unique personal finance show.
- Different types of shows appeal to different audience members. My technical shows are the least popular. But some listeners only listen to them. By having a varied format I can appeal to a broader audience. My vision is to keep the content so varied that you're always interested in what tomorrow's show topic will be!
- I'm focusing on the strengths that I have: I didn't have an audience when I started. I didn't have a platform. I didn't have experience as a broadcaster. I didn't have any other content to promote. So, I can whine about it or I can focus on what I do have. What I do have is a tremendously broad interest in various topics and a tremendous depth in financial planning topics. So, I'm focused on highlighting my strengths and playing to them rather than worrying about my weaknesses.
- I'm focused on my core fans and completely focused on serving them with massive value. You always have to look at who is giving you comments and feedback. I read online feedback often about my show: Joshua's show has too many episodes. I factor it in. But just because someone in an online forum doesn't like the format...they're not paying me any money. Just expressing their opinion doesn't mean I should change because of it. I pay attention to the names of the people that send me money. I listen carefully to them. And many of them listen to every show and many of them like the daily format. In fact, many of them only send me money because of how consistently I deliver content.
- I'm focusing on bringing in new audiences. Diverse topics are good for daily listening--that's the most important thing. But they're also good for helping new listeners find me. People search google. People search itunes. Shows get linked. The more content I create on specific topics, the more findable and useful I am. Interviews are also helpful. Every time I do an interview, I have the potential to reach a new audience and attract some additional listeners. I get bored by a lot of interview-only shows. But, I think some interviews are valuable to my audience. If I did a once-a week show, I wouldn't have any interviews. Two per week feels like a good fit to me.
- I'm focusing on financial productivity of the show.
- Patreon probably shouldn't work based on the percentage of many audiences who support various creators. If you run the numbers of some of the largest Patreon campaigns, the "conversion ratio" is tiny. It averages about .03% of a listening audience who is actually supporting a creator. The percentage of the audience who is sending money to me volunatarily for my show is about 5%. I'm convinced that's because of the much closer bond I have with a daily show.
- Advertising that is based on a Cost Per Thousand (CPM) model is also based on the number of shows I produce. If I use John Lee Dumas's numbers of $43 per thousand listners per show and I calculate based on 3,000 listeners, my income potential is dramatically different based on the frequency of my show. Four shows per month, 3,000 listeners, $43 per thousand listeners and two advertisers per show comes out to to $1,032 of monthly income. 4 x 3 x $43 x 2 = $1,032/mo. But, 20 shows per month is very different: 20 x 3 x $43 x 2 = $5,160/mo. That's compelling.
- Affiliate commissions: if I'm here every day reminding you about something that I'm selling, there's a much bigger reach than if I'm talking to you once per week.
- If I'm selling my own products, it's exactly the same.
- I'm creating the job I want to have and testing it on my own time before I go and try to find it. If the podcast fails, I might go and try to compete in the financial talk radio space. I think that would be fun to do. But that format would probably be daily. I wanted to see what it would be like to follow that schedule.
I'm not committed forever to this format. I'm still experimenting. But for now, the benefits are so great in comparison to the drawbacks that I'm continuing forward.
The competitive landscape is changing. I may change in the future.
But for now, my barometer for success is the heartfelt emails I receive from committed listeners who really value my content. I'm having a connection and an impact on the community. I believe what I'm doing is working and I won't change it until I find something I believe will serve more effectively.
At this stage, I'm creating a body of content and building an audience. I might shift my focus in the future. But not yet. I understand where I am in the phase of my business and this is one piece of my plan.
Take these things and apply them to your business and life endeavors.
- What are you trying to do?
- What skills do you have?
- What is your unique selling proposition?
- How can you stand out from the competition?
- Who are your customers?
- How can you serve them?
- How can you learn from others and study them but not necessarily copy them? Model, don't copy.
- How can you focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses?
- How can you choose yourself and choose your career?
Focus on what you can do, not on what I can do. There are many, many other things that I would love to do more than I'm doing now. I don't have the capacity yet to do them. But I can focus on what I can do. And that's working.
My format is not my pledge or my brand. My content is. If I don't have something worth saying and if I'm not prepared to deliver a show, I'm not going to waste your time.
My commitment is to the audience. To bring you an idea worth hearing that is well prepared and well presented and that is useful to you. That's my brand. Not doing a show every day.
I also don't care if a show is 3 hours long or 3 minutes long. It should be exactly as long as it needs to be to convey the point and to be effective. Sometimes that's short. Sometimes it's long. Sometimes it's being split into two or three parts.
But format does not equal content.