Siimon Sander on Using a Podcast to Build an Agency

Podcast-72-siimon-sander

Background

Today, on Hubstaff’s Agency Advantage Podcast, I’m talking with Siimon Sander, founder of Oscar Hamilton, a productized service agency that helps clients produce and edit their podcasts.

Siimon built this agency on the back of his popular podcast, Entrepreneur Decoded, and today we talk about how other agencies could benefit from the same process.

In our chat, Siimon shares how his podcast directly lead to more clients and why it’s possible to get big results without a large audience, and lays out the step-by-step process he follows to produce his podcast without taking much of his time.

Podcasts aren’t for everyone, but after seeing how powerful they can be, it blows my mind how few agencies have launched their own. Even if you don’t plan on ever getting behind the mic, tune into this episode with an open mind.

Want to read the interview? Click here to grab the transcript!

Key Takeaways

Building an agency with a podcast

Siimon focuses on making sure his advertising isn’t intrusive. In the beginning, he only linked to his company, Oscar Hamilton, in the show notes as the sponsor of the podcast.

People would listen to the podcast and check out the show notes, then email him about the company if they were thinking of starting a podcast, since he had already positioned himself as an expert thanks to his podcast.

Siimon also uses Twitter’s pin function to his advantage. He keeps a tweet pinned to the top of his Twitter page that just says, “Do you want to take your podcast to the next level?” Since that’s the first thing Twitter visitors see, they end up clicking through to his company and, again, contacting him about his services.

You don’t need a huge audience to get results

Siimon stresses the value of finding your niche. If you make a vaguely targeted podcast about agencies in general, you’re just another fish in a very crowded sea of bigger and more popular podcasts, and it’ll be difficult to get any traction.

If, however, you focus on a niche that no one’s really talking to, it’ll be easy to pick up an audience since no one else is taking up all the space. This is the strategy he used with Oscar Hamilton, since it’s a unique company without a lot of competition, marketed specifically to people producing podcasts and not just listeners.

The other thing Siimon emphasizes is to not stress about your listen count. Too many podcast creators think their audience needs to be huge to be successful, but the whole point of a podcast is to bring business to your agency.

It only takes a handful of clients referred through the podcast to give it a high ROI, and if you are really targeting a specific niche, more listeners will come seeking your services.

It’s about more than just sales

The other thing Siimon wants would-be podcasters to remember is that a podcast is great for more than just creating revenue. Yes, you might get into it thinking that you just want to turn listeners into clients, but podcasting offers a bunch of other benefits.

If you choose to do interviews, you’ll make connections with the leaders in your industry. It will help you build your professional network. Even if you don’t choose interviews, your podcast still positions you as a thought leader and helps create an image of expertise, which will get you more clients.

Transcript:

Andy Baldacci:[Caster 00:00:00]. All right.

 

Siimon Sander:Thank you, Andy.

 

Andy Baldacci:Thanks so much for coming on the show. What is Oscar Hamilton-

 

Siimon Sander:

 

 

[00:00:30]

OscarHamilton.com, we offer podcast production and editing services. I’m a podcaster myself for a year now and I put out 125 episodes by today. One of the things that really annoyed me was when I was listening to a good podcast, including Tim Ferris, James Altucher, [John Lee Dumas 00:00:29] was doing a great job but a lot of really good podcasts out there didn’t know how to produce good audio and it always pissed me off. Yeah.

 

Andy Baldacci:Are you there? Okay. What about it was pissing you off? Was it just, bad sound and you said, “All right, I need to do this myself-“

 

Siimon Sander:

[00:01:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:01:30]

No, exactly, when you were in gym running and you listened to a really interesting interview, I don’t know, listening to an interview with Ted Groban or whoever you know, and you heard that background noise and cracks and just those small things, maybe I’m a bit OCD about sound quality, but I always wanted to have the best audio quality as possible, and to know it’s possible. If the person has a regular microphone or using their earphones or using their laptop microphone, you can do wonders in audio editing software. My goal with Oscar Hamilton was to get those good podcasts content wise and make them amazing audio wise as well.

 

Andy Baldacci:Interesting, because I know that is one of the biggest complaints listeners have of any podcast, is bad quality audio-

 

Siimon Sander:It is.

 

Andy Baldacci:That is just a big turn off because people are investing their time to listen to this, they want to see that the host is investing their time to make it actually worth listening to-

 

[00:02:00]

Siimon Sander:

 

I came across this podcast just a few weeks ago and it had 93 five star reviews on iTunes, I think everyone in the audience is familiar with what that means. It means it’s a pretty popular podcast and when I listen to it …

 

Andy Baldacci:Right.

 

Siimon Sander:

 

[00:02:30]

Around two minutes into the interview, it just shut down for like 30 seconds and then it went on, and then another time it shut down for 30 seconds and then it went on. It seems like people have accepted that, that audio quality can be bad if content is good, but I personally don’t accept that.

 

Andy Baldacci:What came first, Oscar Hamilton or your own podcast-

 

Siimon Sander:My own podcast. I started it, let me think, I started recording last year in May. It’s been almost a year now.

 

Andy Baldacci:Okay. What actually led to you creating your own podcast-

 

[00:03:00]

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:03:30]

 

 

 

 

[00:04:00]

 

I was a big fan of John Lee Dumas. I liked Tim Ferris’ show, even though his audio wasn’t that good always, now he has really pumped it up a notch. I like James Altucher’s show, but there was always something missing. I always wanted to ask some other questions that they were asking, maybe it’s the Eastern European in me or the European in me, but I always wanted to ask a bit of different questions and I didn’t get the exact value I was looking for. I wondered what if I started a podcast? I had a background in blogging in social media, so I had no idea how to start a podcast, how to interview people. What I did was I reached out to, I think it was like 60 people, really well known entrepreneurs, really, really well known. Believe it or not, around five people said yes to me, a guy without no audience and nothing. I really believe anyone who’s listening who wants to start a podcast, just reach out to a lot of people and trust me, five to 10% will say yes, one is better than zero.

 

Andy Baldacci:For sure. Obviously you want to ask your own questions, you want to take a different approach to the interviews, but was the goal bigger than that or was it just truly I want to ask my own questions-

 

Siimon Sander:

[00:04:30]

 

 

 

 

[00:05:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:05:30]

Yeah, that’s a good question, man. In the beginning it was mostly fun and just entertaining and educating myself. Around when I did like 40 episodes, I realized that I could monetize that, and one of the most popular ways to monetize is to simply get ads on your show. I don’t know if you run ads on your show Andy, but a lot of famous podcasters do FreshBooks, Audible, all the big ones. It gets pretty annoying for a listener. I wondered, what if I start something on my own, we have podcasters listening to my show, what if I start a podcast production and editing services and I don’t annoy my listeners every time. When I did that around 40 episodes, I didn’t even have an advertisement in my show, I would just put it in show notes in every of my blog posts. That performed really well. Now, I think a month ago, I started every interview that I do a quick sponsor to OscarHamilton.com, we do podcast production and editing services and it works really, really well. It is, yeah.

 

Andy Baldacci:It’s more of a subtle thing. It’s that, because I mean, I loved Tim Ferris’ podcast, but there were like four to five minutes in the beginning and the end of straight ads

 

Siimon Sander:Do you skip them always? Yeah-

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

[00:06:00]

And while like, yeah, I skip through it always and it’s long. It’s sort of hypocritical because on this show we do have a 30 second spot that talks about the sponsor Hubstaff but that’s the only time I mention it. I try to keep it quick and I try to keep it relevant-

 

Siimon Sander:But again-

 

Andy Baldacci:Reasonable but some of the shows, it’s minutes and minutes and minutes of the time-

 

Siimon Sander:That’s the beauty of it. I feel that people don’t get that annoyed with it if you advertise your own services, your own courses, your own consultations, your own stuff.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:06:30]

Mm-hmm (affirmative). You had this idea to create a podcast service, which really is a productized service business and that’s originally why I wanted to have you on the show, because you run a productized service agency. Before you had truly built this out, how were you editing, producing, putting all these podcasts-

 

Siimon Sander:

 

 

[00:07:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:07:30]

Yeah, I did it myself and I had no idea how well I was doing. I think people liked it. I did it on my own for around 35, 40 episodes and I was putting out an episode every single day inspired by John Lee Dumas, which wasn’t that smart of an idea. I don’t know if you want to hear about that. I edited my own podcasts for 35 episodes and then I realized it’s not worth my time, there are people who are way smarter than me, know this stuff better, and they can probably do it better than me and faster than me. I had a really good friend from Estonia, where I am from, who went to the same high school as I did, so I knew that he’s doing this kind of work right now. I said, “Yo, do you want to help me out?” He said, “Yeah, sure.” Ever since from 35 episodes he’s been doing my edits.

 

Andy Baldacci:Mm-hmm (affirmative). How much time was this taking in the beginning? I’ve thought about just going from once a week to twice a week and the thought scares me. I can’t even imagine doing it five days a week-

 

Siimon Sander:In the beginning it was seven days a week and now we’re doing three times a week. Are you still doing your own editing Andy?

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:08:00]

No. I don’t do the editing myself, I have an editor, but it’s like, even with that, just scheduling all the interviews and doing all of that seven days a week is a huge effort. In the beginning how much time were you spending on this?

 

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

[00:08:30]

I think it was probably one hour per episode, editing wise, and it took us, and our episodes were 25 minutes long, so an hour. Of course, scheduling interviews, research part, putting together the blog post, all of that stuff that goes with it, you know, Andy, it’s quite a bit of work. One of the reasons why I switched from seven days a week to three episodes a week was, first, my mental health. I started not enjoying it anymore. It was pretty funny, In the beginning when I started off, I would have recording days on Tuesdays and Thursdays and some days I would record from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., just eight to 10 interviews a day. I don’t know if you know what John Lee Dumas does, he does 14 interviews a day. Yeah, exactly, so he does everything-

 

[00:09:00]

Andy Baldacci:

 

He does this just on like Mondays, right?

 

Siimon Sander:Maybe every other week, something like that, 14 interviews a day. It’s funny if you listen to his podcast, some episodes he runs out of energy and then you know probably this episode was done like 7 p.m. on a Monday night, you know. Number 13, in the beginning it’s good. One of the reason I switched was I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore and I believe it’s all about happiness, so I switched around.

 

[00:09:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

Okay. Then when you start offering the service, you have one person who’s working on the editing, what was it like building out the team and building out the processes to allow you to offer this to more clients?

 

Siimon Sander:

 

[00:10:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:10:30]

I’ll be really clear, it’s still a pretty small business. We’re working with around 15 clients and we have five or I think it’s six audio editors, so the ratio is pretty big honestly. I kind of knew what I was looking for, so I simply went to Upwork.com, wrote the keyword audio editor and reached out to a bunch of people, asked for references, asked for what shows they’ve done before, and I was looking to pay around 30 to $50 an hour and that’s kind of the average ratio you pay for a podcast editor who is a good one. I wanted five to 10 years of experience because the podcasts have to be good which I edit, that was one of the things for sure. That was kind of how I started building the small team.

 

Andy Baldacci:Okay. Did you run into any hiccups along the way? I know there’s a difference between outsourcing some of this work yourself and then doing it for other people and kind of scaling up a bit. Did you run into any obstacles along the way-

 

Siimon Sander:

[00:11:00]

The [inaudible 00:10:53] of time is a big one. I don’t know how you do it Andy, but how long is your buffer usually for your show?

 

Andy Baldacci:That’s something that I work on a lot. Right now, I basically spent last week doing a ton of interviews. Right now I have probably six weeks of interviews in the books, but then sometimes I’ll have like a week. It’s really hard to be consistent with that, that’s-

 

[00:11:30]

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

[00:12:00]

 

We have one of the clients who put out three episodes a week, excuse me, three episodes a week exactly, and he sent me an interview just the night before, he wanted to get it published. There’s always this big question of the turn out time. People want to get everything done really, really fast and our turn around time is usually 72 hours. Sometimes the clients want to get done faster, 24 hours, 12 hours, and we’ve missed a few deadlines because of it. Some of our clients want things done faster and if it’s Friday night and you’re just late with your interviews, it’s really hard to help you with that.

 

Andy Baldacci:How do you handle that when a client has relatively unreasonable requests?

 

Siimon Sander:

 

[00:12:30]

I’ll try my best, honestly. I’ll really try my best, I’ll reach out to every single person, every single audio editor, but we have to understand they have lives, they have families, they have work they have to do anyway besides that since they’re freelancers and not in-house editors. Usually it works out nine out of 10 times, but that 10th time it doesn’t work out so the episode goes out five or six hours later than it’s scheduled, but it always goes out on the same day as it’s supposed to be.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:13:00]

I see. Okay. You’ve still, you’re not missing the day entirely and the clients are still happy, but they might just be a little bit later than expected. This whole thing is interesting to me. I want to talk a bit more about actually the building up of the business side of it, about the agency, about Oscar Hamilton. How far in did you say it was when you first launched this business? How many episodes-

 

Siimon Sander:I think 35, 40 episodes, yeah.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:13:30]

Okay. At that point, when you have this, and I know you said you didn’t have any ads or anything like that, and even now it’s just something in the show notes and you give a little mention at the beginning. How are clients finding you? Are they just emailing you? Are they listening to the show? How does that all work?

 

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

[00:14:00]

In the beginning, as I mentioned, there was a small link in the show notes, as in the sponsor of the show is Oscar Hamilton and there was no mention of Oscar Hamilton on our actual show so it’s just in the show notes. People would come to our site, listen to an interview, and then go back to the show notes, kind of like a weird funnel and just send me an email, “Hey, I saw the company in the show notes. I’m thinking about starting a podcast. Can you help me out?” That’s the first one.

 

 The second one is Twitter. A lot of people hate Twitter because it’s cluttered, and there is clutter, but a lot of clients come from there.

 

Andy Baldacci:How so? If they’re coming from Twitter, are you tweeting about the episodes? Are you tweeting about the services? What is it that brings them back?

 

[00:14:30]

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:15:00]

 

Twitter is weird, man. There’s this really fun thing you can do, you can write a Tweet and you can pin it. Whenever someone clicks on your profile, that one tweet will show always the top of your page. If you head over to Oscar Hamilton Twitter account, you’ll see our tweet at the top of our page which says, “Hey, do you want to take your podcast to the next level?” It’s really funny, we get a lot of click throughs from Twitter. I honestly don’t know how and why, but people, I guess it’s catchy, “Do you want to take your podcast to the next level,” so people just click it and go from there. I can’t explain why that happens, but it does.

 

Andy Baldacci:Interesting. Okay, you have people from the show notes, you have people hearing the sponsorship mentioned at the beginning, you have them coming from Twitter. How long does it start to take before the clients start coming in when you first launched the agency?

 

[00:15:30]

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:16:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:16:30]

 

Okay, my first strategy that I used was quite odd. My initial goal, because there’s this guy called Craig Hewitt and he runs a really similar business, he runs Podcast Motor. They do a really, really good job. They have around 30, 40 clients, so they’re a bit bigger than we are. They started off by offering free services. I thought, if it works for them, I’ll give it a shot. I reached out to every single person I interviewed previously, so we had what, 40 people by that time, and said, “Hey, do you want to start a podcast or do you know anyone who wants to start a podcast? I started this pretty cool company, we help with production and editing. Are you interested in working with me?” I got like five, six, out of forty people, five or six people said, “Yes, sure. Tell me more about it,” so I Skyped with all of them. I started offering free work to two people and every time you listen to their shows, they have, sometimes they mention our company in their intro and outro as well as show notes. That’s how we got started. We had two people and they just mentioned us, which is kind of a weird strategy. I don’t know if I like it as in doing free work, but it definitely works.

 

[00:17:00]

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:17:30]

 

Okay. That’s one of the things, yeah, because I spoke with Craig before and I know he reached out to relatively prominent podcasters and basically just asked, “All right, how are you guys doing this? Are you doing this in-house? Let me take over, just give a mention to Podcast Motor and it’ll be free,” and that got him some traction early on. The first thing I think is that that helps you make your processes and systems a bit more robust with lower pressure. You don’t have a bunch of paying clients coming in that have higher expectations or they’re trying to ask a lot for you. You have just a small group who are getting this for free, so you’re able to kind of test things out a little bit and get things in order. Once you have those in, are you confident or do you know if you actually got the leads from that work or is it just it’s hard to track?

 

Siimon Sander:

[00:18:00]

I wasn’t tracking at the time at all. I simply asked them to put a link to Oscar Hamilton without any tracking, and honestly I have no idea. Right now, I’m working with a few people who I am about to offer free services and definitely we’re going to track it way smarter than we did.

 

Andy Baldacci:I’m curious because do you have a target customer? What types of clients do you have? Why do they have podcasts and why do they come to you?

 

[00:18:30]

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

[00:19:00]

 

Usually it’s self-funded businesses, self-funded podcasts. Why do they come to me? That’s a good question. I think that somehow the message resonates with them, somehow they come to the website, they see it’s professional, they send me an email, I usually try my best to answer in three hours, they like that right away. I’ll send them over some demos we’ve done and they like that. I’ll make it about them, not about me. I’ll tell them how I can help them, how I can make their podcast better, I can help them reach more audience, I can help them make more money by using our services. I think that’s kind of the approach I’m taking.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:19:30]

I think it’s funny because I think that startups are starting to come around to the idea of just how valuable podcasting can be for their business to help them develop authority, to help them reach their target audience, but not as many service businesses, not as many agencies have done this. To me it’s crazy because I think it’s almost more valuable for those businesses. If you’re going to speak to the agencies side of things, obviously I know they’re not a lot of your clients, but that’s what you are. What should an agency think about if they’re considering starting a podcast? Who is a podcast good for?

 

Siimon Sander:You’re thinking about agency starting a podcast and getting more clients?

 

Andy Baldacci:Yeah.

 

[00:20:00]

Siimon Sander:

 

Do you want me to go through the process I would go when starting a podcast or what’s kind of the specifics you’re looking for?

 

Andy Baldacci:Yeah. What we’ll do is, maybe first start out, pretend you’re an agency owner, what factors would you consider to decide if a podcast is a good fit or not and then maybe we can walk through the process is like.

 

Siimon Sander:

[00:20:30]

 

 

 

 

[00:21:00]

I think the first step is, do you enjoy listening to podcasts and do you enjoy talking. I think that’s the first one. I was really afraid honestly, English isn’t my first language and that was kind of the biggest scare for me starting off and will I be able to have engaging interviews with my guests, that was the first worry for me. I think a lot of people don’t have that worry, but I think some people might have the worry am I good enough, will I be able to put out good content, and if I was able to do that, I’m sure anyone in our audience will be able to do the same thing. First thing is to think about do you actually enjoy listening to podcasts and are you ready to put yourself out there.

 

 

 

 

[00:21:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:22:00]

Number two, defining your niche and finding a target audience. Since you’re probably serving your client base, I would go after the same people, in a way, just providing more value to them. If I had to start again, I would even get more niche specific. I think a lot of people got inspired by John Lee Dumas and Andrew Warner from Mixergy who do those really vague interviews, ask about their past and future and goal setting and habits and morning routines and everything, but if I had to start again, I would get really niche specific, like you do, Andy. You’ll never be able to reach millions of people who are listening, but the amount of people who are listening will come back to you every single week, they are engaged, they will buy your stuff, they will buy your services. I would get really niche specific and choose your target audience really carefully. The smaller, the better.

 

 

 

 

[00:22:30]

Third one, tie it up in the same way as I did with your services. Have a link in your blog posts whenever you publish an episode. I guess I missed a point before that, you have to decide whether you’re going to do interviews or talk on your own. That’s kind of obvious, whatever you enjoy more, pick one of those. Once you do that, have a simple link in your blog posts whenever you publish an episode and advertise your services the same way Hubstaff does and you do, Andy, just beginning of episode and the end of the episode. With those three steps, you’ll be pretty good to go.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:23:00]

Yeah. It’s something where, I mean, you laid out the exact questions I would’ve given to anyone who’s curious about this to ask themselves. I also think it’s something where there’s so many different angles to podcasting to why it’s valuable that a lot of businesses need to think about. So many just assume that for it to be worth anything at all, they need to have an audience of 10s of 1,000s of people listening to every single episode. That’s just not the case

 

Siimon Sander:

 

[00:23:30]

I’m going to interrupt for a second. I was listening to Keynote with Cliff from Podcast Answer Man and I think everybody in your audience, Andy, who has done podcasting know him. He’s one of the Tony Robbins of podcasting. He’s done it for maybe a decade or so. He said if only one person listens to his podcast, he would still make a living, because one of his first listeners was Michael Hyatt who hired him right away and he made a living with just one listener. No, you don’t need 10,000 people listening to your podcast. When you’re starting a podcast for your agency, you don’t need that, 100 people, 1,000 people, one is better than zero once again.

 

[00:24:00]

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

 

[00:24:30]

 

Yeah. It’s funny because for software businesses, a lot of times you’re not charging that much money. You do need to have a bit of a numbers game to make it work, but for agencies, if the standard project for an agency is 5, $10,000 or more, then you really do not need to get many leads, referrals, whatever, for it to show a pretty huge ROI. Not only that, if you do have an interview based show, while you’re doing these interviews, you’re building great connections in your industry. Even if you’re not getting clients directly from it, you’re becoming more of an authority, you’re getting to know people who can help you who you can help, and you can just build strong relationships in your industries in value-

 

Siimon Sander:

 

 

[00:25:00]

You mentioned an important point. When you do an interview based show, you’ll meet some amazing people, it’s insane the people I met the last year, 125 brilliant entrepreneurs who I otherwise probably wouldn’t have met. If you’re thinking about doing an interview based show, you’re going to probably make way more money than you are today, number one. Two, you’re going to have a great time if you like speaking. Third, you’re going to meet some amazing people and you’re going to learn a bunch. I think every single person who is listening right now should really consider starting a podcast.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:25:30]

It’s also true, just to build on that, is that while there are so many podcasts out there, and that’s the first thing I always hear is, “There’s so many podcasts out there, how can I compete with that?” The answer is like you said before, don’t try to compete with everything out there. If you’re just going to create a podcast for startups in general, yeah, you’re probably not going to get heard when there’s a ton of great ones out there. Pick your niche and speak directly to the clients that you serve, because there’s a very good chance there’s not a real good medium for them to go to to get this material. If you can serve a small audience very well-

 

Siimon Sander:

[00:26:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:26:30]

Same thing with blogging, everybody has been talking online that blogging is dead. There was a really popular article on Medium.com that got like 2,000 up-votes and this guy was writing the blog and he said that nobody should start a blog, which is just complete bullshit, let’s be honest. There was another dude, I can’t remember who was it, but I think it was a pretty big podcaster who said that don’t let your sons become podcasters or something, something like that, I’m rephrasing. James Altucher kind of dissed him online and said, “No, every single person should start a podcast. If I can do it, you can do it as well.”

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

 

[00:27:00]

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s right. If you can put in the effort to put out a good quality product but also do it to people who are narrowly focused who aren’t being spoken too much to begin with, if you can create something that does speak to them, you’re going to stand out. Like I said before, you don’t need to speak to millions to make this work. Say that we’ve convinced a few people, they want to start a podcast, what does the process actually look like for getting started?

 

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

[00:27:30]

Okay. You’ve decided you want to start a podcast, you want to have some fun. First you want to decide on, okay, it’s going to be a bit techy, but I’ll go through it fast. First you’ll want to decide on your media hosting and I would go with Libsyn.com, that’s one of the biggest ones and all the big podcasters use it. I made a huge mistake in the beginning, I started off with this really small company because I liked their web design, it sounds crazy, but I really liked it, so I thought I’d give it a shot and it took them a week usually to answer my questions.

 

Andy Baldacci:Wow.

 

Siimon Sander:It was just a headache so I had to move. I’m not going to mention their name because they’re still in business, but I moved from their company to Libsyn and I really like it. I don’t know, it’s like $50 a month, if you put out more episodes, it’s going to be more expensive, so first decide on media hosting. Go with Libsyn if possible.

 

[00:28:00]Number two, get yourself a decent microphone. There’s a lot of talk about you can start a podcast with just laptop and your earphones, of course you can but if you have $100 to invest, just get yourself a decent microphone. Go to Amazon.com, don’t stress too much about it. Pick something which has good ratings like a USB microphone, I don’t know, Blue Yeti or something. It’s going to greatly improve your audio quality. It’s going to be easier for you later to edit it as well, number two.

 

[00:28:30]

 

 

 

[00:29:00]

Third, really decide on your target audience, get really specific. John Lee Dumas has a really good blog post on finding your avatar, be as specific as possible, you can even make a storyline. My ideal client or my ideal listener is a 33 year old woman who drives to work every morning at eight o’clock, has two kids, you know how it goes. Be really specific, write down in a story way, every time you start recording you have that one person in your mind. That’s number three.

 

 Four. I guess now that you have target audience, stuff like that down, it’s time to create a website. Since you already probably have an agency and your listeners already have an agency, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have just another page on your agency, a website, just podcasts-

 

Andy Baldacci:Keep it simple.

 

[00:29:30]

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

[00:30:00]

 

Keep it simple, don’t stress about it. One of the things someone told me in the beginning of my podcast career was don’t overthink stuff. Life is already pretty complicated, just decide right away, you can always change it later. Come up with a cool name, something you like. Come up with an avatar, not avatar, I mean the photo for the iTunes, so every podcast needs to have a photo. Have a designer do it, pay 30, $40, and come up with a description for your show. Now you’re going to have all the techy stuff done and now your goal is to decide whether you’re going to do interview based show or whether you’re going to talk on your own with your co-host or just on your own. Once you do that, let’s say you pick the interview based shows, go to one of the podcasts you really like and simply copy the names that you like and try to find their emails online. Nine out of 10 you will find their emails and reach out to them, say who you are-

 

Andy Baldacci:The names of their guests.

 

[00:30:30]

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:31:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:31:30]

 

Exactly, yeah, that’s what I meant. Reach out to them and be really straightforward. I see emails all the time, outreach emails like, I don’t know, two pages long, just keep it like eight sentences, eight to 10 sentences max, “My name is this and that. I run this podcast or I’m thinking about running this podcast. Would you like to be on my show?” If you’re starting out, you probably don’t want to mention your download numbers since they’re zero. I don’t know, it might be a bit sneaky, but I wouldn’t. If possible if you’ve done interviews before, just link them there as well and say get back to me. I promise you, with this simple email, you’ll probably get at least a success rate of 10%, even with really big guests. Then just reach out to people, reach out to 50 people in a few hours and get them scheduled. We use a tool such as ScheduleOnce.com or there are a bunch of tools, just Google like, “Scheduling easier,” or whatever. Get them scheduled. What do you use for scheduling, Andy?

 

Andy Baldacci:I use Calendly.

 

Siimon Sander:Right, oh, yeah, that’s the best one, sure. Get them scheduled and do your first interview. It’s probably going to suck bad.

 

Andy Baldacci:Yeah, I don’t want to listen to my first interview.

 

Siimon Sander:

 

[00:32:00]

Right. I don’t want to listen to my first 25, 50 either, but you’re going to improve from there. Most importantly try to have fun, do some research about the guest, and keep it engaging, keep it full of value. At the same time, listen to other podcasts, see what they’re doing, really try to analyze them. Listen to Andy, see what he’s doing. Put out your first episode, promote it on social media, send the episode’s link back at the person, ask them to promote it, be blunt, ask them to promote it. I promise you nine out of 10 people again will promote it. Go from there, yeah.

 

[00:32:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:33:00]

 

I think you laid it all out there, because it can seem pretty intimidating to get started but ultimately, there’s nothing too crazy about it. There’s nothing that overwhelming when you break into the pieces, but one thing I do want to say is that just getting the interview done is only half the battle. Then you still need to publish, you need to get it edited, you need to get the show notes up, you need to do a lot to actually push it out there to people. Right away, on our end at least, when we first started, we were referred to an audio editor which made things easier because I have no idea how to do any of that. I can splice things together now but that’s about it. I was doing the show notes myself, I was basically almost making a transcript and then I was putting the show notes and it was taking hours and hours and hours for every episode.

 

Siimon Sander:Right.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:33:30]

You’ve obviously developed a process that simplifies things and obviously if people don’t want to do it at all, they can use your service, they can use one of the other services, but if people are looking to get started on doing it their own, what is it like? What are the steps after recording the episode?

 

Siimon Sander:Are you’re thinking about producing your show on your own?

 

Andy Baldacci:Yeah, say someone says, “I want to at least know what this is like, what I’m getting into before I consider outsourcing it.”

 

Siimon Sander:

 

 

[00:34:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:34:30]

Okay. I think that’s a really good approach. Whenever I outsource anything, I always want to perform the task on my own so I know how long it takes, how hard it is, and if I can do it myself faster and better than other people. If the answer is no, I usually will outsource. If you want to doit on your own simply, if you’re using a mac, get yourself Logic Pro X, I don’t know how much it costs, maybe a few 100 bucks. There’s probably some free softwares out there as well, Audacity maybe, that’s a pretty big one. Simply watch a few YouTube tutorials and keep it natural as possible. That’s one of the big things. I should say that you can slice things up, that’s pretty much all you have to do when you’re getting started is slicing and fading. When there’s an um, you probably want to get rid of that, slice it up and fade so it doesn’t make the click sound that you hear in a lot of podcasts. Watch a few YouTube tutorials, get yourself free software in the beginning, if you have a lot of money, get yourself a premium one, it doesn’t really matter.

 

 

[00:35:00]

Try editing one episode on your own and see if you will like it. Once of the criteria I had for myself in the beginning, it sounds pretty weird, but it has to be good enough for me to show it to my mom. If you go through that lens, it has to be pretty good, because I really love and respect my mom. I had to make it really, really good and if you’re not happy with it, get yourself someone who will do it for you, get yourself a company whether it’s our company or outsource it to someone else.

 

[00:35:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

Past the editing, once that is done, because I agree that’s one of the big hurdles, but for the show notes, what is your typical, how do you think about them? Do you like doing really detailed show notes that are like 1,000+ word blog posts? Do you want to keep them simpler? What do you think should be the ideal show notes?

 

Siimon Sander:

[00:36:00]

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:36:30]

For me, show notes are kind of for me, not for other people. It sounds selfish but when I relisten to an episode, I always make notes for myself, what could I do better, what questions I should’ve asked at that point, where did I stutter, where did I mess up, relistening to episodes for me isn’t about show notes or writing that blog post, it’s about analyzing what could I do better and what could I improve. Back to your question, I don’t write a blog post, I simply write down seven, eight most important points that I mentioned, the other person mentioned in the show and if you head over to entrepreneurdecoded.com you’ll see it’s really simple. It simply says my guest today, the name, the bio, and then seven to eight most important points, links, and resources mentioned and finally sponsor Oscar Hamilton. It takes me 25 minutes to relisten to the episode and at the same time put that together. It kind of goes two-in-one, relistening, analyzing, and writing that part.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:37:00]

Mm-hmm (affirmative). This is something where it’s easy to spend a lot of time on in the beginning, we did. I had seen the shorter podcast show notes and for whatever reason I just didn’t like them. I like to actively read, I wasn’t a huge consumer of podcasts before, I listen to a lot more now, but I wanted to have really detailed show notes. These things were taking longer for me to write than it was for me to do everything else with the podcast.

 

Siimon Sander:Yeah.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:37:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:38:00]

We’ve somewhat, we still have detailed show notes. We’ve had to improve and change our processes to allow us to do it in an efficient way, but it goes back to the outsource or do it yourself mindset, is that figure out where your time is best spent. I know a lot of podcasters with much bigger audiences than mine who say when they looked at their analytics, almost nobody was really spending any time on the show notes pages, even visiting it. You can spend a ton of time optimizing it but ultimately people are just wanting to listen to the show. It’s also an important thing to do, but at the same time too, if you’re an agency owner, you probably don’t have a lot of time to be doing this yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

[00:38:30]

What Hubstaff, what we did, is we luckily have a big enough team where we were able to outsource internally, we were able to have other people on our team handle different parts of the process and we outsource the audio editing. That worked for us. Honestly, it probably would’ve made sense to outsource, we just were a little bit anal about how much control we wanted over the process. If that’s the case, then hey, do it yourselves, but if you just want it to get done, definitely look into some of the options like Oscar Hamilton to get it edited. This isn’t the best place for you to be spending your time as an agency owner. There is a much higher ROI you’ll get on tasks other than editing the audio together.

 

Siimon Sander:

[00:39:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:39:30]

Yeah, 100%. What other thing is that, I guess what makes us different in a way, is that since I’ve been a podcaster for a year now, if you outsource it to someone, they will just do your show notes, your production, your stuff like that, but you will actually listen to the stuff and make sure that your show is as good as it possibly can be. We’ll give you advice, we’ll say, “You need to change that.” We don’t just do producing an editing, we’ll help you [inaudible 00:39:25] your audience and make you a better podcaster. It’s not just about editing and producing, it’s kind of like a full service in a way.

 

Andy Baldacci:That’s interesting. You give a bit of like almost mentorship, you offer feedback on how they can improve above and beyond just the basics.

 

Siimon Sander:I guess just adding value in a way. We don’t mention that when someone-

 

Andy Baldacci:Right, because I was going to say, I wouldn’t have known that.

 

Siimon Sander:

 

 

[00:40:00]

Yeah. We don’t mention that on our website, but whenever someone wants to start a podcast or is already running a podcast and if there’s clearly something they’re doing wrong, and I wish there was someone telling me in the beginning when I was starting off that I was doing something wrong, if I had a company like that, that would’ve been pretty cool or even a mentor. It would’ve been pretty cool. How about you, Andy? When you started off, were there a lot of big mistakes you wish you didn’t make?

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:40:30]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:41:00]

That’s what I was about to ask you. For me, it was more on … One, I probably overprepared for every episode, I probably had too many notes coming into it so I wasn’t as natural. A lot of times I was nervous, I wasn’t comfortable behind the microphone, I wasn’t comfortable putting myself out there, so I wanted to have back up options for anything they could possibly say. I wanted to know everything that was going to happen and prepare for it, so I probably would’ve told myself relax a little bit, it’ll be okay. The other thing was just, on a similar note, was just overpreparation on the backend, just putting way too much time and effort into the show notes when 20% of the time would’ve got me a result that was almost as good as what we ended up putting out. It really would’ve just been take a step back, relax, and don’t overcomplicate it.

 

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

[00:41:30]

I agree completely. I guess for me, the biggest lesson that I learned over the last year after doing 125 interviews is just be curious. It’s really easy to start thinking in your head, “What should I ask next? Where should I take this interview? I want to get through those questions otherwise this won’t be a good interview,” or saying something and then starting analyzing, but stop that. I know it’s easier said than done, but just be curious, have a goal for your interview, and this will be way better than written out questions and being really, really anal about it.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

[00:42:00]

Right. For this show, I still send all of my guests a general outline but I also tell them, “Hey, this is going to be a casual chat. We’re going to go in different directions than what we lay out. This just gives us a framework to think about,” but the less that I stick to that exactly, typically the better the interviews will go. I agree entirely, if you’re a curious person naturally, you won’t have a hard time filling up an interview with valuable information as long as you just let your curiosity show, ask questions when you have questions and push back when you don’t necessarily agree.

 

Siimon Sander:

 

[00:42:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:43:00]

One of the favorite quotes I have, don’t judge, or what’s it called, I’m rephrasing I think. Don’t compare someone’s middle to your beginning. It’s really easy to see what other people are doing and that was one of the things I did when I was starting off. I was looking at Andrew Warner, one of the most brilliant interviewers out there and I was like, “Man, he’s so good! He’s so freaking good! He knows what to ask, he studies the research. If I could only be like him,” but it took him what, 1,500 episodes to get there, you know? Once again like we talked before, Andy, that your first, I don’t know, 30, 40 episodes will be pretty crappy and we just get better every single time.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:43:30]

Mm-hmm (affirmative). The one last point I’ll make, because I think we’ve belabored this a little bit but I hope people do appreciate the insights you’ve shared. The one last thing is that you want to make sure that you can be consistent with this. It’s going to stress you out to know, “I’ve got to put this podcast out on this date. I’ve got so much else to do, I’m not going to have time for this. I don’t want to … ” In my mind, I see the podcast publication date as a promise I make to the audience, that will I put the podcast out on this day. Sometimes I’ll be hours late, but I always make sure I get that day out. Just be aware that you are making that promise before you get into it. On the other side of it, simplify as much as you can so that you don’t go crazy trying to live up to that process. Whether that means outsourcing or whether that means keeping it simple internally, just keep it simple so you can remain consistent.

 

[00:44:00]

Siimon Sander:

 

Yeah, that is so important. Figure out in the beginning when you’re launching the podcast, when are you going to release it and make this a promise to your spouse or to your mother, you know, don’t miss that. If you want to build an audience, if you want to make more money, treat it as a really important thing, don’t ever miss it. Yes, there will be times in your life when you might publish the episode a few hours later, maybe even a day later, but try not to miss it.

 

 

[00:44:30]

 

 

 

 

[00:45:00]

One of the things that really helps me, as we talked before, Andy, having a buffer. Before you start your podcast, try having at least four weeks buffer. If you’re going to have a daily podcast, have 30 episodes done before. If you’re going to have a weekly podcast, have four episodes done before. Always try to hold yourself accountable to that, because for example, I had a two week buffer. I always try to hold a four weeks buffer, but I had a two week buffer just a few months ago and I got sick and I lost my voice completely and I couldn’t do any interviews for like 10 days. Without having that buffer, I probably would’ve disappointed my audience big time.

 

Andy Baldacci:It’s almost insurance for what you don’t know can come. To transition a little bit, how do you see podcasting fitting into the way you’re planning to grow Oscar Hamilton going forward? Is this still going to be the primary channel of growth for you?

 

[00:45:30]

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:46:00]

 

Right, right. I don’t know. I like the Gary V approach, you can’t predict the future but you will adjust. I’ll see where the future goes, I don’t know what platforms will arrive, but definitely my podcast will promote Oscar Hamilton for some time now. Since it’s a really niche specific service, even if we promote the crap out of it, I don’t know if it can ever have more than like 100 clients at a time. I don’t know if it’s even humanly possible. On the other hand, if you start like a social media thing or whatever, like a larger software company, you can have thousands of clients but since we’re doing really niche specific work, I don’t know if we can ever have more than 100, 200 clients. Eventually, hopefully, everybody in the industry has heard about us. I’ll be doing interviews, I’ll advertise my podcast, I’ll be on other shows, we’ll probably get some lead from there. Definitely podcasting, it will be number one for the source for new clients.

 

[00:46:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

Before we wrap up, I like to ask all my guests just a few rapid fire questions. I’ll go through them quickly but your responses don’t have to be quick. The first one is just, what do you currently spend too much time doing?

 

Siimon Sander:

 

[00:47:00]

Thinking, man, I think thinking. I’m one of those people who likes to overanalyze. Before I said that you shouldn’t overanalyze and just do it, but it’s so hard. I really try to cut down everything that is not important so I overanalyze what should I could down or what work should I do or what should I write my next blog post about or who should I interview next. I’m always in my head and I’ve tried meditation, I’ve tried mindfulness, yoga, stuff like that. It has helped me a bit, but I think being in my head, that’s a big thing, and hopefully this year I’ll get better with that.

 

Andy Baldacci:I can completely relate on that point. The next question though is what do you not spend enough time doing?

 

[00:47:30]

Siimon Sander:

 

 

 

[00:48:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:48:30]

 

Friends and loved ones. I think that’s something that I wish I could do better and I know it’s a mindful approach. You have to set time for people who love … Excuse me. When I started my own podcast, I was working like crazy. I said one day I would have like three interviews in one day and when you’re just starting off, everything was kind of new to you. Starting Oscar Hamilton and starting my own podcast, a lot of friends faded away, I just didn’t have time. Now, I’ve been really trying to schedule time in at least three times a week to just spend time with my family, spend time with my loved ones. One of the things that is not talked about enough in entrepreneurship is that you need to spend time with your loved ones, work isn’t everything. A lot of entrepreneurs preach that, work is everything, work 16 hours a day, be happy, I love the grind, but at the end of the day, I promise you, you’ll be more productive, you’ll probably be more happier if you spend an hour a day with your spouse or with your kids, you know?

 

Andy Baldacci:Yeah. We’re not all Gary V.

 

Siimon Sander:Yeah, we’re all not Gary V.

 

Andy Baldacci:What are you hoping to accomplish in the next quarter with Oscar Hamilton?

 

[00:49:00]

Siimon Sander:

 

It’d be nice to hit 50 clients. Double, triple our revenue, that would be nice, and I think that’s what we’re planning to achieve how it’s going now.

 

Andy Baldacci:What do you see as being the biggest obstacle in your way of getting there?

 

Siimon Sander:I don’t know if you heard about this thing called shiny object syndrome, Andy? You’ve probably heard about it, right?

 

Andy Baldacci:Yes.

 

Siimon Sander:

[00:49:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:50:00]

It comes up on the show probably all the freaking time and it comes down to focus again. One of the things that I have struggled for years is I come up with a cool new idea and I want to jump in right away. I think a lot of entrepreneurs tend to feel that way. When there’s a new exciting idea, you kind of let loose of the current focus and put way too much time on the stuff that don’t matter. Over the past few months I’ve really tried to cut down everything that is not important. Actually, that’s why I’m focusing all of my energy to growing the podcast and focusing on the production and anything company Oscar Hamilton, anything else I try not to make important. The biggest obstacle is trying to focus on only those two things.

 

Andy Baldacci:Awesome. Siimon, you shared a ton with us today. I’m going to make sure as much of that as I can linked up in the shoe notes for everyone to check out, but if listeners do want to hear more from you, learn more about what you have to offer about your podcast, where are the best places for them to go?

 

[00:50:30]

Siimon Sander:

 

Since everybody in the audience is listening to this podcast, I assume that your audience likes podcasts. Head over to my podcast, entrepreneurdecoded.com, and you’ll find some pretty cool interviews. I’ve enjoyed them, I hope you will enjoy them. If you have any questions about taking your podcast to the next level or if I can help you anyhow, just shoot me a quick email, you can find a contact form on my website entrepreneurdecoded.com.

 

[00:51:00]

Andy Baldacci:

 

Awesome. Again, I’ll add that to the show notes. Siimon, thank you so much for chatting today, it was a ton of fun and I’m sure the listeners will get a lot out of that one and I hope they do consider the power of podcasting. Thank you very much for coming on today.

 

Want to learn more?

Head over to Siimon’s podcast, entrepreneurdecoded.com, and you’ll find some pretty cool interviews.  If you have any questions about taking your podcast to the next level, you can contact Siimon through his website, entrepreneurdecoded.com.

Resources mentioned:

The 8-Step Process We Used to Start a Successful Podcast

The Tim Ferriss Podcast

Entrepreneur on Fire

Mixergy

Libsyn

Calendly

Audacity

Thanks for listening!

  • Great read! I have been thinking about starting a podcast to help Shopify merchants with their eCommerce shops, in hopes to help grow my Digital Growth Agency, Mirgo Digital.

    • Dann Albright

      You should definitely give it a shot! It might take a while to get it up and running, but it’s definitely worth it.