John Lee Dumas is a phenomenon in podcasting. Tune in as he shares the secrets of his show’s success.
Discussed in the podcast:
00:58 – Breaking the 2-million download mark
02:30 – Crucial tips for podcasting newbies
04:00 – Staying pumped after 300-plus episodes
06:10 – Happily taking the back seat
07:41 – Will the format eventually change?
10:52 – The road that John would want to pursue
14:08 – Know your customers, expand your membership
18:53 – Promoting through podcasts and social platforms
23:17 – One big mistake that John made
26:39 – Putting more thought into the content
28:52 – SEO podcast optimization
33:44 – One person had a huge impact
37:19 – Catching the slippery fish
40:15 – Do you have any copycats?
42:34 – The craziest question ever
44:35 – John’s Obama impostor theory
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Alright, James Schramko here with a special guest on the topic of podcasting and beyond that is a little bit more than just podcasting. I think there’s quite a few lessons with our next guest. Certainly about the term Americans are fond of called “hustling” which is always funny to Australians because that’s kind of what you do to someone if you steal their money. But in any case, I’ve got John Lee Dumas. Welcome to the show.
John: James, thanks for having me on. I’m excited to chat with you and your audience.
James: A lot of people have heard of you by now. But that wasn’t always the case because you’ve only recently hit stardom and you’ve had this prolific explosion into the iTunes world going from almost pretty much nothing to having lots and lots of downloads. You must be in the millions now.
John: I am. I just broke two million actually and the month of August will break 400,000 unique downloads.
James: Right. Off those downloads, how many people really listen to episodes?
John: I say between two and three people.
James: Right. So, just to put that in perspective for our listeners, I have about three podcasts, and I’m still somewhere around the 7 or 800,000 download mark in total. On an average month I’ll get somewhere around 50 to 60,000 listens. So you have a substantially massive download audience. What do you think caused that?
The Cause of Massive Download
John: I think one of the reasons is I do now have 300 and I think as of today, 8 podcasts so I mean, literally one person can go in and download 300 podcast if they want to. So, that can definitely be a reason for the inflation of my numbers.
But number two, my daily show. I do do it seven days a week. A lot of my listeners are very habitual, James. You know, they wake up, they pour a cup of coffee, they download Entrepreneur on Fire then they just get out to work and they listen to it on the way so it’s kind of become a habit of theirs and something they don’t really forget.
James: OK, a couple of points here. So, something I advise people who are new to podcasting. First thing is, if you have a big catalogue, then you will actually grow faster because people will get into one episode, they like it.
Then they go see what else you have and then they work their way through the series like what we do with TV shows, like we do with albums of artists that we like. We want to collect everything. So that’s one very important tip you’ve given away there. The second thing is, I want to talk about this metronomics sort of style that you have. You have consistency in spades. I think that might be a military background showing its hands?
John’s Military Experience
John: Absolutely! It definitely is the military. We were taught at a very early part of our military experience that we need to have systems in place and you need to really kind of keep that discipline moving forward because when you’re an officer, which I was in the army for eight years.
Four acts and four reserves and you’re training a platoon, they need to know what to expect day in and day out. It’s that consistency that really keeps the troop in line, so to speak.
James: OK, so, this is the interesting part. You may not be aware of this, but inside SuperFastBusiness, with our community there’s almost 800 members now, we have our own John Lee Dumas thread where we talk about you.
John: I did not know that. I’m not in privy to this.
James: If you look at your analytics, you’ll probably see a few visits here and there from SuperFastBusiness. Now I told people that I was going to be having a chat to you and in this market, in the Australian audience, we have a pretty good percentage of members.
Probably more than half the members but we have members from all around the world. The thing that comes up often is that every single show is exactly the same format. Is that true?
James: Identical. OK, so this could possibly be the big talking point. It’s something that you are able to wheel that out over and over and over and over again. I mean over 300 times. One of the questions is, how do you stay pumped or excited about continually doing the show when you have exactly the same thing every single time?
John: I mean, when I ring somebody up on Skype, and James Schramko answers, how can I not be excited?
The Cheesy Show Intro
James: That’s almost as cheesy as your show intro. When I heard your show intro, I thought it was a parody. It’s like World Wrestling Federation or a circus ring master. It’s so over the top that I thought it must be a joke but apparently it’s serious. Tell me what was the background to that intro and why do you think that’s so successful?
John: You know it’s just one of the things that my podcast is all about having fun and just kind of having conversations about people’s journeys and not just talk about business business business but talk about the failures, and the flops and the mistakes and then get up to those a-ha moments but then the flops again and keep kind of going back to that whole entire journey which has the ups and the downs.
So I kind of want to start off on that cheesy, kind of funny, kind of not so serious note, and I know you guys get a lot of the same stuff for ThinkActGet. You know you get a lot of feedback about. It just doesn’t fit your show and just really not the kind of vibe that people expect to come from and that’s exactly what I’m going for.
Taking The BackSeat
James: Yeah we do. And we do get that as a positive. Just in case the listeners are wondering. People say about me for example, that Ezra, my co-host brings out my funny or more human side because with my other business stuff, I can be quite to the point. I’m very direct in business. Now, so this is really one of the pivotal points. That’s the exact same recipe, over and over and over again as the creator.
You’re excited because you feed off the energy of the star or the guests right? So one of the other things that was sort of put to me is they feel that you give too much power to the guest and that John Lee Dumas has taken a backseat to the show.
John: Yeah, purposely. Because I don’t really have a ton to give. You know, I really have my guest on for a reason because they’re successful, they’re inspiring entrepreneurs. Up until 2012 in September, so the latter half, the latter quarter of 2012, I really haven’t been an entrepreneur in any way, shape and form.
So I need to take a backseat when I do have guests on that have been there, done that. They do have experience. They do have lessons learned and mistakes to share and a-ha moments to divulge to us. I take that backseat happily and it’s really kind of enjoyable for me to hear the kind of goal that they are just very forthcoming with.
James: Yeah you seem to be able to get the strong stories out. Obviously you have so much structure there. Then there’s people like me who say “Hey John, do you want to get on to Skype and have a chat.” I have not prepared you with any questions. I have not sent you a schedule in advance. I barely turn up on exactly the right time.
Now we all have our own different styles. My goal when I’m interviewing you is to try and ask you stuff that no one else is asking and that’s why these questions might even sound a little bit difficult.
But here’s another big one for you. Do you think your format is likely to change? Do you think what got you to where you at now with the big downloads is going to have to change to get a stickiness with your audience because anecdotally, a lot of my community have listened to it. Gone through a few episodes and then unsubscribed because it’s too frequent or too same same.
John’s Business Model
John: Absolutely! I think that’s where my business model comes in and it’s so successful because every single day, I release a new podcast with an inspiring successful entrepreneur that really has a massive audience of their own. And then they’re sharing that interview with their audience. So seven days a week, James, a whole new set of eyes and a whole new set of people are being exposed to Entrepreneur on Fire for the very first time.
Some of those people are becoming subscribers, and some of those people are not. And that proportion that keeps the snowball effect rolling seven days a week. So people drop off, new people come in and fill their space. And this is perpetual movement and you know, my numbers speak for themselves.
I mean it was 200,000 three months ago; 300,000 last month and on August, we’ll break 400,000 unique downloads. So something’s working, something’s sticky enough and I don’t see myself changing my format anytime soon but I’m always open to the changing of the entrepreneurial world. Because if you don’t, if you’re not like willing to be flexible and be agile, then you’re in a lot of trouble.
James: Well I think this is good. A lot of the people by the way, when they post that question, they were saying, “John should not change the format because it’s working,” and you know, you could look at it different ways. In my case I have probably, a similar number of pieces of content to you from just SuperFastBusiness.
However, I have a much lower downloadship and I don’t have a lot of other people promoting my show and I’m kind of like Robinson Crusoe promoting my show. Maybe just the fanbase doing it and the occasional guest like yourself. Or if I do, like a little flatter image, you know something in the show and people will, you know if I say Dan Norris, and then I’ll go, “Hey Dan! You got a mention in the show.”
I do want to credit him though because he’s the first person who interviewed you way back in my community and that’s how I became aware of you and you asked me to be on Entrepreneur on Fire which was a tremendous experience as well. Especially to see your mechanized machine behind the scenes. I had a true appreciation to that.
The Difference Between John and James’ Shows
John: Well, thank you. I think that kind of shows the difference between our shows where you probably have a very consistent, very loyal, very sticky listener base which in a lot of ways is much more valuable. I mean, 60,000 people that are really loyal, really sticky, you know is probably worth two times that number of people that are kind of like just funneling in, funneling out.
James: I agree with you. I would have the smaller audience and the people who don’t leave. And just to give you some metrics, my business is now generating more than $2 million a year and 90% of the business is repeating referral customers.
John: Huge! Congratulations!
James: It’s a very small customer base. I only have about 22,000 people in my entire database. But those people buy every product that I have. And it’s just interesting. You know, I can learn a lot from what you’ve done because no one’s really done the same thing that you’ve done before.
There’s people out there with huge audiences who are only now tapping the monetary flywheel. You know I guess examples all of this is you and we’ll talk about your monetization model in a minute.
James: There’s Pat Flynn who I’ve never actually met and I asked him to speak to me on a podcast and he said he would but at some time in the future because he’s so booked out. Which is, I thought very funny for a passive income business model that you’re so busy you can’t get to a show in a couple of months.
Somewhat ironic but he’s just recently tapped his audience with a product and from his income report, I think he did, I think he made 50 grand or something, profit from it, something like that. So it’s interesting to watch these big, big numbers audiences now start to turn that into money and to see how it translates and I think there was a lot of buck back from his audience where you know, “Shouldn’t everything be for free?”
Are you finding that when you pitch products to your huge listenership, let’s take those numbers again, if you have 400,000 people listen to the show; one would think that you could put out an offer and turn a percentage of those to cash?
John: Yeah you definitely would think so and that’s definitely the road I want to pursue at some point. I mean monetization has always been the plan and the ideal for Entrepreneur on Fire. I started with my first monetization back in March 2013 so I did wait a solid four to five months before I really turned it on.
And that was purely on the sponsorship side and you know, that’s been a five figure plus number on a monthly basis ever since I did turned that on. So I could have started that sponsorship model a lot earlier but I really wanted to hold off until it got to numbers that really made it worth diluting your podcast with sponsorship.
So, for me that number was five figures a month so I hit that, brought in the sponsors back in March of 2013. And that was my really only major monetization model for a long time until actually July of this year.
I know you and I have talked briefly about this change because I sought your advice because you really are the King when it comes to masterminds and things along those lines. I launched Fire Nation Elite on July 1st which now has 90 members. Each of those paying $165 per month.
James: Nice! And you had a sift through and interviewed those people was application process right?
John’s Upcoming Product
John: I do have 15-minute chat with every single member that applies for Fire Nation before they come to the door and that was just much for me, James, as for the process because I really wanted to get to know my customers who are really looking to interact with my brand. Take things to the next level and it’s been a huge learning experience for me.
We’re actually shutting the door at Fire Nation at a hundred people because we really think that that’s the perfect manageable thing. We may replicate that with another mastermind and bring that up to a hundred and I probably won’t use the same 15-minute chat model.
Maybe I will at some levels but not probably to that degree but you know it was really huge for me to learn so much from my audience during those talks and I actually use those talks to set up my next leg of the business which is going to be digital products.
James: Right. Well, this is really interesting. You know I was just thinking, man we should just talk about this offline but we should talk about it online. You know if you’re happy to share it with us.
James: Because I’ve seen this happen before. I’ve got a lot of students… absolutely the first point that listeners should take from this and I think it’s probably going to be one of the most valuable podcast I’ve done for a while, is firstly, knowing your customers is paramount.
So we just mentioned, I have a fairly small database compared to a lot of other marketers but with reasonable revenue and a very good profit margin because I know my customers back to front, inside out.
I know their problems, fears, frustration. I know who they are, I know their names, I’ve met most of them face to face. So that’s one thing and that’s because I go to local meet ups all around the world, most capital cities and I like, I literally fly to places and meet people and that’s super, super important step to growing your business. Get out and meet people and I’ll be hoping that you’re going to come and meet us too in Sydney next year.
James: So, that’s the side of it. Next element is, my experience with people with cap memberships and it can be a little bit disappointing because you’re actually sometimes putting an artificial limit on the income that you can make which can have a negative motivating effect because you know that no matter what you do, you can’t make more income or get better return.
It’s almost like selling time for dollars where you can’t make more than that. If you sell one an hour for a thousand dollars, like you’re not going to make more than a thousand dollars and you have to work that hours, so sometimes we put a constraint to the wrong part of the membership so there might be another metric that could be the cap rather than a strict number of people.
To give you just by way of contrast, I have around a 20-minute to 25-minute interview with members who come in on a $1,500 per month on a program and I’ve actually decided not to cap the numbers.
I’ve actually decided to increase the numbers because what I found is that it actually helps the members because they got more resources. More access to a bigger customer base, more people that they can sell to, and it is actually a benefit to the membership to have more numbers than what I thought we might need but I comfortably ran it for three years at a very steady number of about 30 people. But I think it’s a 50 to 60 person membership is going to actually be more powerful.
John: That’s a really interesting feedback. And yeah, you’re right. This is something I had a conversation with you prior to me launching something.
I really look forward to continue talking to you because I do look at you as really the subject matter expert in this area because you’ve done it on both a micro and a macro level because I know you have another mastermind with seven or eight hundred people that’s also running very fluidly and to me, you know that’s kind of where I’m at.
I’m like you know, I really want to have this mastermind be incredibly valuable and it just seems with what we have going on in the Facebook group, it’s so active, it’s so engaging, there’s so much going on that kind of more than a hundred people seems like overwhelmed and so it’s like, “Should we just cap it at a hundred and then just recreate the exact same thing?” almost like a franchise model so we’re not really limiting numbers, we’re just limiting what could be an overwhelming situation.
But again, this is just us, you know, trying and failing and succeeding and then failing again because we’re just testing the waters. We don’t really know what works.
James: Well, I mean, this is fascinating. When I started my mastermind, and I hope the listener will forgive us for going slightly off the podcast topic but you know, this relates to monetizing a podcast. OK that was the call we’re talking about.
Actually, I partitioned off small groups of 10. I thought 10 was the number and I have four groups of 10 running concurrently that when I consolidated that into one group of 30, it was more powerful, it was simpler, it was more fun. It was more interesting. And that group that I have of almost 800 members, I think that will be a better community at 2,000 members the way that it works.
And probably it works because I don’t have a Facebook group. I don’t have a LinkedIn group. There’s only one place people go instead of fragmenting their attention. It’s just a very core… and importantly, it’s on an asset that I own and control. I’m very concerned about running something on Facebook just from a control issue.
Even though I get it that it’s super awesome but it is and it does get noisy and it’s hard to organize compared to forum platforms. But I’m a member of groups with 5,900 members on Facebook which is a fantastically powerful group. I’m a member of one with 1,214 members and I’m a member of one with 204 members and they’re all different groups but I use those for traffic. This is where you and I are slightly different.
I use Facebook and LinkedIn to bring customers in to my private memberships. And when it comes to monetizing the podcast, I’ve always thought of the podcast as always been a traffic rather than a product but you’ve shown me, like some people who sell some podcast transcriptions, you can make money as the podcast as an actual product using the traditional radio model of advertising.
But I’ve always felt that I’m better to set up products and services than advertise them myself. So even in this particular podcast, I’ve already mentioned SuperFastBusiness and I should mention SilverCircle so it’s kind of like I’m doing a… it’s almost the perfect blended radio insert within the content that is almost like a product placement but it’s my own products with a higher percentage margin than selling advertising space to someone else who’s going to then make more money than what they pay me.
John: And that is exactly the limitation that sponsorships have that you mentioned, that you know the kind of the model that I’m moving towards with the masterminds have that I really like to kind of break out of because you’re right, there is a limit on that sponsorship revenue. I mean for August of 2013, we made $17,500 just in sponsorship revenue alone for Entrepreneur on Fire which is a great number.
But that was the cap James! I sold 100% and we can’t go any higher unless we continue to jack the prices up. Like you said, there’s people in my sponsors who are making more money than I’m making because that’s why they’re having these sponsorships because they know the lifetime value of their clients.
So my listeners are being dragged away from my brands to go to Audible or to go to 99designs or go to Squarespace or wherever they’re going, it’s away from me. And, let’s be honest, I mean these sponsors that I have are great for entrepreneurs. They offer great value. There’s a $99 powerpack if you go to 99designs.com/fire but the reality is, it dilutes to podcast. It really does. It takes away from the main content that I’m trying to bring.
So what’s that weighing factor? For me, I really believe that your model is the best where it’s all about building the audience and getting into your funnel and then having that funnel take over and with Entrepreneur on Fire, I’ve been able to build a massive audience but you know, now, I really need to start working on that funnel.
James: Yeah I think that’s interesting where you build a big flywheel spinning fast is when you start putting monetization pressure on it to see how much it slows down.
Again, for comparisons of a very, very tiny subscription base, maybe I’m a 10th or whatever, or 15th, I could make about the same money as your advertising with just affiliate income from having guests who are really good at what they do and linking to their product as an affiliate and some of them are recurring products.
So a year today I’ve probably made a little more than affiliate income just from having the occasional guests. Like one example, my audience won’t be a stranger to is Clay Collins.
I think I’ve had him on four or five times and I’ve just been sure to get him on every couple of months because a) he’s an awesome guy, b) his products are absolutely phenomenal and I use them in my own business, and c) he’s always got new innovations and interesting information that’s useful for my audience even if they never buy anything.
So, it’s a perfect fit without diluting the quality and going back to one of my mentors, it was really about lack of compromise and for me I think having other people’s ads on my site would be a compromise.
So I think in the ideal world, you’ll have your JLD products and services. That’s short for John Lee Dumas in case our listener hasn’t connected it. That’s your codename in our forum. Then you would be able to top and tail your own show with your own products.
James: At my event, I have even wore a T-shirt from my web development company and for my SEO company, I’ve actually sponsored my own event which was kind of funny.
John: I mean goodness. If I could just wake up tomorrow and have these sweeter products just ready to go, I would shut everything else down and…
James: You can do it. You could do it…
John: I know!
James: If you blocked one day a week, you can tell back on frequency. This is what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about is there too much content?
Are you creating more traffic at the expense of going for the next level of the funnel or you know… this is the meaty stuff. This is what I wanted to talk about so let’s forward JLD question back at you, from the time you set up this podcast to now, what’s a mistake that you made that you think you do differently if you could to do it again?
What’s a mistake that you made that you think you do differently if you could to do it again?
John: So from when I set the podcast up to now, one mistake that I made that I would absolutely do differently is I would have launched much earlier. I mean I held off two, two and a half months from my actual launch because I was scared that when the podcast is going to launch, it was going to be a crap and I was going to be a failure and until I did launch, It could never be labeled a failure because I hadn’t quite yet launched it.
But when it did, and it was successful, sort of picking up steam, I realized that those were just two incredibly wasted months and I think that that’s really valuable for the listeners that are you know just kind of holding back something or just waiting until they get a little bit better or just waiting for something.
I don’t even know what I was waiting for to be honest with you because I had all the interviews completed, I was just really scared to fail, that was my biggest mistake that I made. And another thing that you know, moving forward after I already launched the podcast, you know one thing that I really did well was I really did leverage the audience of my guest on that daily basis.
You know, really reaching out to James and to Seth Godin and to Tim Ferris you know after their podcast went live, I just left them a note and said, “Hey! These are the links and I’d love if you shared it.” Make it really easy for them to do.
But you know one thing that I really would kind of want to go back and just really kind of I guess maybe more focused on if I was to really be moving forward from the day 1, was September 22nd and moving forward is you know say, “Hey listen. Let’s just carve out some JLD time” where I’m not just trying to perfect the actual podcast itself but I’m looking more forward in the future and I’m carving out like seven, eight hours a week to just work on products.
Because I was getting emails from day two, from day three James, from my audience telling me what they needed, what they wanted, what they were struggling with and I would point them in different directions but why wasn’t I actually creating a sweeter product on my own? Here I sit, 11 months later with still nothing to really call my own besides the mastermind and then the podcast and there’s nobody to blame but myself for that.
James: Well that’s exactly what we’re talking about before and what Pat’s just done. I think earlier I’ve got a great metaphor for this it’s like when you travel, some people spend so much time thinking about what they’re going to pack and they get the bag out. They pack so much stuff and they microanalyze every single component and it just delays their whole departure thing.
All their productivity shrivels away. Whereas the experienced traveler will like pick up the backpack that’s sort of near the door that’s got two pairs of undies, three T-shirts and the minimum right? And, they’re out the door. They’re gone. They’re on the trip and they can buy a T-shirt at the shop if they run out of clothes. Like just get out in the traffic and get going instead of mucking around trying to prep and over-prep.
Probably you were scared of putting something out into the world that people might reject because you’d be outcast from society, stoned to death and die.
John: That’s exactly what I thought. I thought that it was going to be all over.
James: That’s our human instinct, it’s very normal.
How James Was Able To Life His Opt-In Conversions
James: And I’m glad you covered that. So, here’s the thing and I think I did this a little bit last year. I was grinding out a lot of content and luckily I already had a base of products and services and affiliations to send people to but I do spend more time now on making sure that I’ve got the goal or the point. What is the point of all this noise, this huff and stuff, this business, this regular content? Is it actually doing something?
So, I’ll share some stats with the actual SuperFastBusiness site. I’ve been able to lift my opt-in conversions. I’ve been able to quadruple it in this year compared to last year, I had some help with some conversions experts on that as well.
I’ve also been able to put out a little less content lately but get more comments, to get more downloads of each episode and to have a little bit more thought as to the storyline or what it is that that piece of content is actually doing which I, granted is hard for you with the same cookie-cut template, that’s why I was really curious if you got sick of it or if you feel you need to change it up or if you just simply add a different show to the mix.
John: Exactly. I mean, there’s just so many different ways to go but what that all comes down to and points back to is creating more content. And I just couldn’t agree with you more about having to really now take a step back and analyze what is this whole audience for? What are these 400,000 downloads? What do they mean to me, to the brand, to the business, to the bottom line, to the monetization? That’s the important thing.
That’s the important number. The important number is not 400,000 downloads, the more important numbers are how many dollars am I able to translate that into to sustain the business and that’s why I needed to step back and say, “Hey, OK, where are my products that fit perfectly with the Entrepreneur on Fire brand that are just going to naturally drive people to the site, to the products page and then to the conversion?”
James: That’s it. You can’t go and buy groceries with your podcast downloads.
John: No, you can’t.
James: It’s like go to checkout with your food, ah yes, but I get 400,000 so it’s money in the bank.
John: I’m being featured on iTunes, help me!
More Questions For John
James: Now, I’ve got a couple of other questions and I’ll release you. Probably, you’ve got a little bit of friction going on now. So, interesting, you’ve got the big title tag thing. It looks a little keyword spammy to me but do you think it’s important to get that poll position in iTunes? Do you think that it could be moderated like how passionate are you about the SEO podcast optimization these days?
John: Incredibly passionate about it. I rank very high, very high, almost number one position for almost every key term that I want to all because of the title, all because of the description. I know how to go into Libsyn and to actually title that out.
So when people are using that search bar, the 45 million people that are going to iTunes on a monthly basis and they’re typing in something. They’re typing in “content marketing,” they’re typing in “startup business,” they’re typing in the word “entrepreneur” and the first thing that comes up is a free podcast that’s called Entrepreneur on Fire.
That fact that my SEO ranking is so incredible and so high within the iTunes rankings is something that I think is critical and I think it pushes my downloads. I mean, you know, while you were kind of going on your little spiel, I just logged into the Australian iTunes, I was curious as I’m talking to you and the Australian audience and Entrepreneur on Fire’s the number one ranked business podcast in Australia.
I don’t know why, I know it’s not from the SuperFastBusiness community, but it’s from some people who are deciding, “Hey, I’m going to check this podcast out.” You know, Pat Flynn is six, Dan Miller’s eight, there’s just a lot of really great podcasts that are in this mix, and I think that that search bar has a lot to do with people going, not even knowing what they want, typing in something, and then stumbling.
James: Right. So in my Australian podcast tunes, Freedom Ocean I’ve got as number one. And Entrepreneur on Fire is number two.
John: (Gasp) Number two?
James: Well, at least I’m beating you there. We’re going to take a screenshot just in case.
John: You’ll have to, because I’m taking a screenshot right now, I’m going to have Dan Norris post it in your forum.
James: Right, so the thing is, it’s a Libsyn function. Is that where you’re doing this?
John: Yes, all via Libsyn and there’s some pretty underground places you have to put it, and it’s interesting about where it is, but you know, fortunately this is what I do, and I spend an incredible amount of time kind of just under the hood, so to speak, of my media host as well as iTunes.
And because I’ve now been featured on the iTunes podcast homepage twice, for one week in July and now for two weeks here in August, I’ve actually built up a relationship with a couple of people in iTunes because of that.
And you know, we started querying them, and they’re like, “Yeah to be honest, X, Y and Z is really where we pull the iTunes SEO from,” and I’ve been able to take that information and put it into my podcast and rank because of it.
The Pat Flynn Effect
James: Yeah, well you were definitely number one in the States, so it’s working. Now I use Blubrry podcasting thing, and I think it pulls stuff just from the WordPress. So, you know, I’ve wondered how you did it. It’s about the only one in the top 10 that’s doing it. Except maybe Pat Flynn, looks like he’s doing it as well.
John: And actually Pat Flynn is doing it because I sent him a screen grab or a screen video, a screenshot video, that I created showing him how I did it, and then he did it, identical with his keywords that he wanted, and then the following week, guess what? My value ad got me on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast.
And very interestingly enough, that was last week, Episode 77, and that was a huge, huge boost to Entrepreneur on Fire. I’m actually doing a post, James, called “The Pat Flynn Effect,” of what happens when you’re on the Pat Flynn show.
I’m publishing numbers, website visits, podcast increases, all the whole shebang. It’s really going to be a fascinating article, but number two, this Friday, today, Pat Flynn interviewed your friend, Clay Collins, and he’s doing the exact same thing that you’re talking about. And they actually are having now a webinar this coming Thursday about it, so it’s very fascinating.
James: Yeah, well Pat Flynn, I think, featured LeadPlayer at some point, then I picked up on it, and it quickly started selling a lot of it. And I’m not surprised. I think Pat Flynn will do very well with the Clay Collins interview. It’s a smart thing to do. But that’s been my business model and I think it’s worth paying attention to.
But I know that Pat’s always been into the affiliate stuff, but now he’s getting into his own products, so I’m really keen to talk to him about that. You look at other shows like the Dave Ramsey show, there’s no keywords at all, it’s just Dave Ramsey.
John: And I think, you know, he’s been at number one for like five years, and I just was able to pry him out of there this past week, and I’m kind of waiting for a phone call, actually, from his office.
James: Well, congratulations. Now you did raise something interesting like the Pat Flynn Effect. Of all of the people who you’ve interviewed – you’ve had over 300 now, and you’ve got some big names there, like Seth Godin and Timothy Ferriss – who was able to drive you a lot of traffic? Who do you think really came to the party to reciprocate and to lift up the numbers?
John: Well, I will tell you one thing, and this is very honest, this has nothing to do with the fact that we’re friends and I’m on your podcast, but you were a pretty early interviewee of mine, and you were one of the first people that were really like, “OK John, I’m posting a blog, and then I’m going to do this tweet cycle, and then I’m going to…” and you really were just, like, so on it, that I almost like took things that you had done and crafted it into future emails that I sent out to other guests, saying, “Hey, this is what past guests have done, X, Y and Z, you know, I’m making it incredibly easy for you to do the same, by basically pre-populating it for you.”
And so I made people, that aren’t just industrious and don’t take advantage of things as much as you do, a lot easier to make it happen for them. Instead of them just going through the show notes, clicking tweet, and then forgetting about it, they were actually taking a little more action.
From very early on, I saw the kind of systems that you had in place to really maximize your experience. And there’s definitely been a couple of other people who have just really taken it to the next level.
And I will say one thing, like I just had somebody on my podcast and I was also on his podcast, we did a back-to-back. And he’s a friend of both of ours, James Reynolds, and he does the show Traffic Jam. And he and I really just decided, hey, there’s no reason, we both run podcasts, let’s interview each other, let’s get that synergy going, and then, you know, when we launch, we’ll really work off of that.
So that’s just a great example of when you really want it, you can work with the guest that you have to make the most of it. Because it’s a great opportunity for my guests. I mean, they’re being exposed, especially now, to a massive audience. I mean, when you were on, James, the audience was a decent size, but it was nothing like it is now. We’re getting like 12, 14, 16,000 downloads immediately upon release now, on that day.
And that’s, you know, in a 145 countries around the world. And I get emails back from my guests almost instantaneously, like “John, I’m getting flooded, like tweeted, and Linkedin, and people are opting into my site.” You know, not quite the Pat Flynn Effect, that I call it, I’m not there yet, I believe, but that’s the direction I’m looking to take Entrepreneur on Fire.
James: That is phenomenal. Yeah, I mean those numbers are just incredible, because I get sort of on average 2,000 downloads per podcast episode and each of the videos that I usually put out usually only get five or six hundred people listen to it or watch it within a day or so, but those people must be very, very sticky.
I’m looking at my stats over the SuperFastBusiness, I got 55 visits from Entrepreneur on Fire, which is… it’s not that many, but probably having your name out there and associated with other people, like you mentioned it before in the same sentence of Seth Godin and Timothy Ferriss, which I thought was kind of a hoot.
Because you know, I don’t see myself as being in the same bucket as them in some ways, even though I was right next to Timothy Ferriss when he smashed a car in a driver training that we did. Just ran it into a tree, it wasn’t anything serious, he’s fine.
But now, tell me, the slippery fish, the ones that are very, very hard to nail down for an interview, what kind of super techniques do you have for making that happen?
John: You know, I wish I had some super techniques because I’ll tell you what’s really been happening to me, and this is just complete transparency the last three months. I mean, I may have reached out to like four or five people to be on my website.
Like literally, in that much time. When I first launched, everybody was saying, “John, you’re never going to find enough people to be interviewed for a daily podcast.” And I half believed them. But now it’s like literally every single day I’m getting contacted by 10, 20, 30 people just laying out their life story and being very honest, like “This is why I’m successful, this is my a-ha moment, this is my failure, this is what I want to share.”
And I’m going through these, and I mean as of right now, I’m booked out through November. Like if I was to send you my ScheduleOnce link, which books the Monday interviews, the next one that would come up would be November 4th. I mean that’s literally… I have eight interviews every Monday from here until then because that’s been happening now, I’ve kind of hit that critical mass point, James, and it’s kind of like reversed now.
Instead of me reaching out to people, it’s really becoming the other way around. And plus, you know, when I interview someone like yourself or, you know, I interviewed a guy named Lil Silva about two or three months ago, and you know, since then, this guy has just been uber-connected and he like set me up with 14 or 15 interviews of people that were really incredible, like he was just connected in the industry and he would set up email intros and we would just make it happen.
It’s kind of one of those things that when you hit that critical mass you can just keep rolling forward. But I will go back to the earlier days for listeners that are thinking about starting, and it was all about social proof. You know, the very first thing that I did was go to a conference, shook Pat Flynn’s hand, shook Derek Halpern’s hand, shook Cliff Ravenscraft’s hand, and said “Guys, this is what I’m doing, will you be my first guests?”
And all they said was “Yes.” We didn’t set a date, we didn’t do anything. But then I went back and used their names as social proof, saying, “Hey, Pat Flynn and Derek Halpern and Cliff Ravenscraft said they would be on my podcast. You should too.” And then people were just starting to sign up through that. So that’s a really easy way to get that ball rolling, is by using social proof of other big names in the industry.
James: That’s it. Mixergy does that well as well.
John: Very well.
James: Locking in a win is the technique that I also use to sort of climb up the stepladder as well. You know, when you’ve done something successful, screenshot it, document it. No one else is out there curating your stuff.
Maybe your mum, in a scrapbook, but other than that, you’ve got to open up an Evernote, and keep a little scorecard of things that you’ve done that are cool or the highest level you’ve reached, because that can then get you access to everyone else at that particular level.
So here’s one final question, because I’ve really been stretching you a bit. Are you finding you have copycats, yet?
John: Absolutely. You know, it was very interesting, I just got interviewed on a podcast.. what was it called? Entrepreneur Showdown, I think, was the name of the podcast. And they kind of actually make it their job to try to rile their guest up, and try to kind of ask them hardball questions and curve balls and really kind of take a different approach.
So during that, they literally rattled off like, what they termed, not me, seven or eight complete copycats of Entrepreneur on Fire. And me, I was, like that, I can’t remember what the phrase is right now, but basically copying is the best form of flattery or whatever that phrase is. “Mimicry is the best form of flattery.”
And to me, that’s truly what it comes down to is that I’m honored that people would think that my show, that my format is good enough to actually try to have a similar format to that. Because I did come out with a one-of-a-kind show. It was the only show that was seven days a week, that was interviewing inspiring, successful entrepreneurs. There was not one out there, which is exactly why I created it, because I wanted it.
I was that person that needed a seven-day-a-week show. Because unlike some people that don’t drive to work every single day, that don’t go to the gym, they may not need that much contact, and they’re not my avatar.
But my avatars were out there, in droves, and that’s who I made the podcast for and that’s a system that other people are following now, and I wish them the best of luck. I mean, it’s a great, entrepreneurial world out there, and we’re all just trying to inspire others.
James: Yeah, well that’s what we were talking about, ultimately, in our forum. Some of the people who comment may not be your target audience, and obviously you’ve got a massive, resonant, target audience with the number of activity you’ve got. I was also on that Entrepreneur Showdown show.
I think Joe and Dan have come up with a cool format there. And I think you’re either in one camp, you’re either copying, or being copied. And it blows me away how many times I’ll find a version of my site out there. But then I’m also, I take the same approach as you, like thank goodness I’m not out there looking for someone’s site that I could just rip. Because then it’s all over, really.
John: Yeah, yeah, then you’re back to square one.
The Craziest Questions on Podcast
James: So of all the podcasts you’ve done, and all the questions you’ve asked and all the questions you’ve been asked, what’s the gnarliest, most crazy question that you hoped you’d never been asked, or you would never want to answer or that you asked that you thought twice about after you’d asked it?
John: Goodness, you know, with me, as far as asking questions I’m such a format guy, almost like a robot. I mean I barely say anything out of tune, let alone out of key, I mean I could basically just press the Play button on a recording and just walk away from the mic and go to the beach while my interviewees just kind of respond haphazardly to this recording.
So I mean I’ve never actually been on that side of it, and for me, I‘d probably just have to go to that Entrepreneur Showdown, because I literally get interviewed an average of six to seven times per week.
Which is probably one area… you know, if I sat down and talked, that I could carve out some more “me” time, some more JLD time, to create stuff, than giving an entire Thursday, on top of the fact that I’m already giving an entire Monday for my interviews, because there’s just so many podcasts coming out there, and I’m the number one guest on all of these podcasts, it seems, because they’re pointing to me as an inspiration.
But because of that, James, they’re just tossing me up softballs. I mean I could pretty much just hit the recording on those as well, because I’m just telling my life story, because that’s all they’re asking.
James: Well I hope this interview’s been different to all the others.
John: Oh, Bigtime! This one and The Entrepreneur Showdown and that’s when they were like basically that was probably the answer to your question is when they’re like “So X, Y and Z, they’re copying your show, does that piss you off?” and then I was like “No.”
And they kept digging and digging and hey, that’s their prerogative and I decided to stay on the right side of the fence on my opinion and they didn’t really get a rise out of me but, you know, that’s probably the gnarliest interview that I’ve had because for the most part, people are just softballing me.
James: Right. Now, I think that it is interesting there’s of “me, too.” So the first thing that we do in our helpdesk when someone wants to interview me is I’ve instructed my team to go and have a look at the site, make sure they have at least a small body of work and that it’s going to be worth the return on investment for us.
If they’re not ready yet, we just tell them what criteria would be helpful because if you look at someone like Seth Godin, I think he’s been sick of being milked for what he brings to the party. This was where I think it’s interesting.
When you do eventually have a format change, it might be where I mean you are more powerful and more credentialled now than when you started the show and I think you could bring more to the table and you could get even more powerful guests. Be good if you could have the President of The United States or something interesting like that on there.
John: I’m trying to get some SEO juice on him. I use President Obama all the time in my impostor theory. I always talk about him, I say “President Obama has the imposter syndrome. He wakes up every morning and looks in the mirror and says, ‘What in the world am I doing? Why am I the president of The United States?’”
James: Right, well that’s cool. Well I know someone who runs some ads for him. I’m sure you can get to the people you need to when you get to that next stage, whatever that is. And I know that it’s going to be super successful. I love seeing people like you successful.
I don’t care if some people think that it’s metronomical or whatever because they’re probably not the target audience and I think what you have done is build a huge catchment and now with some refinements, you have so much to gain. Small hinges swing big doors, so little tiny tweaks to a massive volume makes a massive outcome and I learned this from running a car dealership that was doing tens of millions of dollars a year.
Just doing a simple thing like replacing batteries in remote controls when someone services their car, if you do 25 of those a day, after a year, it makes a big difference to the bottom line even if they were just 10 dollars each.
So, John, thank you so much for putting the time aside and I specially want to thank you for busting into like a Fort Knox schedule to just me on, you know I only sent you an email saying “I’d love to talk to you about where you’re up to and what you’re doing now” so I really appreciate that.
John: Yeah, but you’re James Schramko.
James: Oh stop it. I know it’s my show but seriously, you still have to surrender the time to talk to our listeners and I hope that listeners can ask a few comments right near this podcast to get to know you more. They should definitely head over to Entrepreneur on Fire and have a listen to what we’re talking about. Tell me what you think of the intro. I wonder what other people think. Australians are a little bit less “hypey”.
James: No, no they’re not snarky I think we’re just more conservative.
John: I thought you said snarky.
James: No, no less hypey. Less hypey.
John: Yeah, I totally get it and I think that’s a great thing to kind of leave this interview with too James, because I really just do want to hammer this point home for your listeners.
James: Oh, this is good. John’s wrapping up my show. I like it.
John’s Final Thought
John: Yeah, I want to wrap the show up with this final thought because I think it really is important. So, Entrepreneur on Fire, James, and myself launched September 22nd with literally zero online presence. No audience, no online presence, all my prior careers had nothing to do with the online world. I had not even a Twitter account, so absolutely it’s been a very interesting journey.
There’s been the ups, there’s been the downs but it has brought me to where I am now, just a mere 11 months later, the number one ranked business podcast in all of iTunes in the USA and James is claiming number two in Australia, but I’m seeing number one right now. And the reason why I’m saying this is because it can be done.
If you really just get out there and dominate that niche. I decided to dominate the seven-day-a week podcast niche and you know some people hate it, some people love it. Enough people love it where I’m able to dominate it. And if you can just find your niche, your area and dominate that, then you can be where you want to be in less than a year. It doesn’t take long if you’re willing to dominate.
James: That is a fantastic ending to what has been a sensational discussion. John, congratulations on being the number one ranked podcast in the US which is pretty much the world from a podcasting perspective, the home of Apple. You are an absolute legend and I hope we get you back on the show and I hope to see you in Sydney next year.
John: Yes, that would be awesome! Thank you James, appreciate it.
John has a podcasting training program called Podcasters Paradise
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