The Blueprint to Completely Running & Automating Your Podcast On A Shoestring Budget

If you’ve got a podcast currently, you know it can be difficult to do all the bits and pieces which are tied to it. This includes a lot of technical tasks which can be extremely tedious while you’re running your core business. And if you don’t currently have a podcast, I’m guessing the technical side of it all is pretty daunting.

So not too long after I decided to launch my own podcast Marketing On The Move – it hit me that I needed to systemize the way that it was recorded, released and shared so all I needed to do was the interviewing and recruitment of guests (the real guts of the podcasting). I mean that’s what you should be doing all the time right? Working in your genius.

So today I’m going to explain to you how I’ve automated my podcast on a shoestring budget and how it’s allowed me to grow my audience and increase the reach of everything I release. It’s the blueprint I’ve been using up to now and has allowed me to continually build the website to what it is today.

The Stages of Automating Your Podcast

Prospecting Guests

Prospecting Guests For Your Podcast

It all begins with finding guests to interview on your podcast.

At this stage of the podcasting process you’re looking to reach out to your list of guests you have ready to go. Your dream team. The people you’d love an autograph and photo with if you met them in real life.

But it can be pretty tedious and time consuming going through them one by one, so here’s my process that I use when I want to plan out my guests.

Step 1: List Your Guests

I make the longest list possible of all the guests I want to interview in a Word document. I’m talking every single one I can think of. Whether they be complete rock-stars who the chances of booking are 1 in a 1,000…or they’re friends who you’d like to feature for an interview.

Step 2: Send Your Virtual Assistant (VA) Dream Team List

Send this list of guests you’ve put together to your virtual assistant telling them to match each guest up with their personal website & Twitter account id.

This will allow you to pin point what media they have online and where they can be reached to send them an invitation to join you on your podcast.

Step 3: Template and Plan Out Your First Point Of Contact

This is where you’re going to start writing the first point of contact between you and your guest. It’s vitally important to be personal on your podcast invitation otherwise you’ll come across as just ‘another guy’ looking to steal 30-60 minutes of your guest’s time.

It’s ridiculously easy to tell a copy and pasted template which hasn’t been customized at all. So the template which I use to reach out to my guests goes something along the lines of this:

Hey [name],

My name’s [Your Name] and I’m a massive fan of the work you do with [business name]. I’ve been following [business name] and would really like to interview you on my podcast [Podcast Name]. I interview entrepreneurs and marketers from around the world, guys like [Big name you’ve interviewed], founder of [Big name’s business] and [Another big name], founder of [Big name two’s business].

It’d be an absolute honor to have you on the podcast speaking to my audience about [Guest’s specialty/Niche expertise]. They’d be right within your target audience and get a massive kick out of your content you deliver.

Would love to have you on the podcast and look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

[Your Name]

Please note, you want to make sure that your guest is someone you know well in order for this message to be well received. There’ no use sending this talking about general or non-descriptive parts of their business as you won’t stand out from all the others looking to interview your guest.

Another ‘no no’ is to always talk about YOURSELF and YOUR podcast. People love being talked about and by focusing on you, it’ll alienate your guest who really couldn’t care less if they were on your podcast or not. Remember, you came to them. Not the other way around.

So at this stage, I use a template similar to this and change it around to suit the applicants that I want to reach out to.

Yes, this part is a little time consuming because you’re doing it yourself, HOWEVER I strongly suggest you spend time on this and don’t outsource any personalizations to be done with your virtual assistant. There’s a right way and wrong way to automate your podcast, don’t lose the identity of the podcast by palming off the very first impression you make with a guest to your VA.

Step 4: Send, Send Send!

Send Podcast Emails

After you’ve done all the personalizations to the list of guests you have ready to, you can either send them yourself to the website contact forms your VA found for you earlier, or alternatively you can save your customized messages into Word and have your VA submit them yourself.

Personally I like doing this myself because each website is a little different and sometimes I like to reach out to select guests via Twitter first to see if I can build some rapport, but that’s completely up to you.

Step 5: The Follow Up Message

Now after a couple of days from sending the invitations to your guests, you’ll begin to get responses on whether they’re available or not. Depending on how many you send out, they can start coming back to you as early as 12 hours, all the way to 4-5 days from your first message.

If They Say No: If the guest is not available to do an interview or has a schedule which is too full, I usually make a note in the original list so I know to re-message them in my next round of invitations with a follow-up message. That way (similar to a CRM) you can say “hey man, just following up to see if you’re schedule would allow you for a quick 30 minute podcast interview? We spoke earlier in the year and you mention you were pretty busy so thought i’d follow up to see if I could squeeze in!”. Something like that usually goes down pretty well with guests that shows you’re still following up and not being too pushy.

If They Say Yes: For me the reply rate is generally around 70-80% which will say they’re available and will book in an interview. A lot will need a couple of weeks before it’s available, however the average is around 1-2 weeks from invitation.

Here’s the reply/follow up I give my guests when they tell me they’re available to do an interview.

Hey [Name],

That’s awesome, looking forward to having you on the podcast talking [Their expertise] with me!

Here’s my scheduling link: [ScheduleOnce Link]

Feel free to book in any time you like which is available on the calendar.
Also if you could drop your Skype ID (where we’ll do the interview) in the comments too that would be great.

Looking forward to speaking with you soon.

Cheers,

[Your Name]

One thing to note in this stage is the Scheduling Link which I refer to. I highly recommend picking up ScheduleOnce from $5/mo and using it when inviting guests to jump onto your podcast. It saves a hell of a lot of time with the time difference (especially for me being in Melbourne, Australia when most of my guests are in the US) and is just one extra headache which you don’t need to worry about.

So essentially this is the process I follow to on-board guests to my podcast with. Obviously there’s exceptions if I’m speaking to someone on Facebook or in person and I invite them through that, but most of the time this is the process I go through to schedule and book in interviews with my audience.

How often do I do this?

I usually go through this entire process once every 2 months or so. I always want to have a pipeline of interviews I have booked into my calendar (which reminds me, when you use a scheduling service it automatically links it all to your Google & Phone calendar which is super epic!). However you can do this more/less often depending on how much of a focus you want to have on the podcast you’re running.

Syndicating The Interview

Having a podcast these days just isn’t enough to get ears to it.

You have to really be proactive in sharing and using your systems to get it out in front of your target market. So I wanted to expand on the process I use after I finish an interview so it gets the MAXIMUM exposure possible.

The Follow Up Email

At the end of every podcast interview I ask for the guest’s email or Facebook so I can notify them when it goes live and they can share it with their own audience IF THEY LIKE. Note that this isn’t forced down their throat. Most guests love having the free publicity but there’s also a few who prefer not to share the podcasts because it may not be within their own content marketing strategy (which is completely cool).

But failing to follow up when your podcast episode goes live is just leaving listeners on the table who could potentially be subscribers…or better yet, buyers!

So here’s the email that I send out to my guests after we finish a podcast the day before it’s due to go live.

Hey [Guest’s name],

I hope you’ve been well, [can talk about a topic/event which they may have done in the mean time to hold rapport].

I just wanted to flick through the link to the podcast we did a week or so ago, and let you know it’s not live on iTunes!

[Insert Link]

It came out really epic and I know my audience is going to love the golden nuggets that we discussed on [insert topic].

You’re more than welcome to share the podcast if you like too, and will make sure to let you know how my audience reacts to what we spoke about too.

If you’ve got any questions, be sure to let me know.

Cheers,

[Your Name]

Short, direct and delivers a clear message that their interview is going to go live.

Social Syndication

This is probably one of the most effective ways to get your content out completely hands off. There’s so many social media platforms around that it can be difficult to keep up with which platform you should promote your content on.

Here’s the list of social media platforms I use to share content (and am continually building on). I know there’s a lot of different software which can automate this, but this is the process which works for me when doing social syndication.

Medium

See my Medium Profile here

I have my assistant almost ‘Copy & Paste’ the content from the blog post which gets posted to my website about the podcast which was just published onto Medium. I use the same formatting and deliver the transcription & tweetables etc. all in one nice Medium Post.

You can see my Medium account and examples right here.

YouTube

See my YouTube channel here

Very recently I decided to step up my YouTube efforts and have started turning all my podcasts into videos with custom thumbnails for each of my podcast interviews. With the massive search volume that YouTube has, it’s very important to make sure you appear for keywords in the topics you talk about, guest’s names you interview and any other associated conversations.

Currently my videos are quite basic but my virtual assistant goes into Windows Movie Maker and overlays the audio from the interview with my podcast cover. Followed by creating a custom thumbnail in Photoshop, applying it to the video and publishing it after the interview is published on my website.

Fairly simple and straightforward process.

Twitter

See my Twitter profile here

Twitter’s another great conversational platform which allows me to post a link to my blog post where the podcast is held, and tag the guest (from the list we talked about earlier in the post) so they can see it’s be published live. Don’t forget to use the appropriate hashtags when you post the link to Twitter.

Hashtags are great to build your own followers and attract new listeners. I neglected this for a while and it made a big difference to my listeners when I start giving it some attention.

Facebook

See my Facebook profile here

While Facebook’s organic reach is super low, I have a paid and free strategy when using Facebook to promote my podcast.

Paid:

I’ve designed in Photoshop a picture which tells people a new podcast episode has launched with my artist’s face highlighted (see the photo below) which I advertise to my retargeting list of visitors who have visited my /podcast/ pages in the past 180 days. This builds rapport with existing listeners and really builds up engagement. I usually bid for clicks or impressions when running these ads.

Free:

Essentially this just involves posting a link to my blog post to my Facebook page (not personal profile). This allows my current followers to see a new post has gone live and they can go and check out who I’ve interviewed. This is done using my VA who has limited access to my page to post the appropriate content.

LinkedIn

See my LinkedIn profile here

LinkedIn is a great source of information with their article platform called ‘LinkedIn Pulse’. Because I’ve got a considerable number of connections, LinkedIn added a fair few viewers to each of my interviews when I first began using the platform. It’s also got a different target market of users (more business savvy) than your Twitter or Facebook which from what I have seen has increased engagement and views to my post.

So I have my VA login and publish (natively) my interview with all the bells and whistles to LinkedIn Pulse (It’s in the news-feed of your profile page).

Google Plus

See my Google+ profile here

For Google Plus, I generally just link to my interview using my website. I haven’t seen a massive increase with my Google Plus efforts. However having said that, being owned by Google it may somehow impact my website’s SEO so I’m still actively using the platform to link my content to.

SoundCloud

See my SoundCloud profile here

While a lot of podcasters stick to Free media players, I’m currently using SoundCloud (paid) and Smart Podcast Player (Paid) throughout the website. I continue to use SoundCloud as it’s very easy for someone to subscribe to your SoundCloud account and see the new interview appear in their dashboard as a pose to going back to your website.

So at the top of each of my podcast posts I embed a SoundCloud player where visitors can listen to the interview and then subscribe if they’d like to hear more.

Backlinking

Another strategy I use for each of my podcasts is have my SEO team build some back links. Now I won’t go too deep into the strategy but using predominantly my guest’s website, about 50% of the time we exchange links so we both benefit each other SEO wise. You can do this a few different ways, but I only suggest this to guest where I have built rapport in the past otherwise it may come off a bit spammy.

Email List Blast

One of the last steps I take is to shot my list an email with an overview of the last 2-3 podcasts which have come out. Depending on your list, you should have a handle on how often they like to be emailed. For me that’s about once or twice a week so I send over a summary with a breakdown of what we spoke about and the topics which may be of specific interest to them.

This is great content to be sending your list so they continually get value from what you’re delivering to their inbox.

What’s the Time & Cost of All This?

So the whole point of this blog post is to make sure your podcast is as leveraged as possible with the minimum cost to you. That’s the goal right?

So let me break down each step in the process on a time and cost scale.

What You Need:

  • Virtual Assistant (Any assistant should be able to do this from $5/hour ) – $5.00 USD/hour
  • Recording Software – iFree Skype Recorder (Windows Only) – Free
  • Editing Software – Audacity – Free
  • Podcast Host – BuzzSprout – From $12.00 USD
  • Dedicated Transcribers – oDesk – $0.50-$1/minute
  • SoundCloud Paid – $16.00 AUD

Time & Cost Breakdown Of Virtual Assistant’s Tasks

  1. Add Intro & Outro Using Audacity: 15 minutes
  2. Basic Podcast Sound Editing: 15 minutes
  3. Send Podcast For Transcription: 10 minutes
  4. Receive Podcast From Transcriber And Write & Schedule Blog Post (Using My Format): 45 Minutes
  5. Schedule Podcast In BuzzSprout: 10 minutes
  6. Syndicate via Medium: 15 minutes
  7. Syndicate via YouTube: 30 minutes
  8. Syndicate via Google Plus: 2 minutes
  9. Syndicate via LinkedIn: 30 minutes
  10. Add to SoundCloud: 15 minutes
  11. Syndicate to Twitter: 3 minutes
  12. Syndicate to Facebook: 3 minutes
  13. Other Email Management & General Tasks: 15 minutes

Total: 208 minutes ~  $17.34 (@ $5usd/hr)

Time & Cost Breakdown Of Stephen’s Tasks

  1. Run Facebook Paid Campaign: 5 minutes ($5)
  2. Send Emails & Communicate With Guest Before & After: 20 minutes
  3. Email List: 15 minutes
  4. Other General Tasks: 15 minutes

Total: 1 Hour Of Your Time Per Podcast Episode

Time & Cost Breakdown Of Transcriber’s Tasks

  1. Transcribe Interview After Received From Assistant: 30 minute podcast episode

Total: $15.00 USD

So with a broad outline and some rounding, you’re looking at spending approximately:

$30.00 USD / Month – Podcast Software & Hosting Costs
$18.00 USD / Episode – Virtual Assistant’s Costs
$15.00 USD / Episode – Transcriber’s Costs
1 Hour Of Your Time / Episode – General Tasks

Conclusion

So there you have it, a complete breakdown on how to completely automate and grow your podcast from step one to step done on a shoestring budget of about $35 per episode.

Now to some people that still might be a lot of money in the scheme of things (I mean $35 per episode adds up), but this is the value of consistent content marketing. By building and growing your content consistently you’ll be offered opportunities and build momentum which you would never have been able to do before. Additionally, podcasting isn’t a short term game.

If you’re wondering what the ‘earnings per subscriber’ are on your podcast then you’re not going to get very far.

But for those of you who realize the power of marketing using podcasts, but also realize that you shouldn’t be spending your time on the technicalities of the podcast, you’ll see the value in the game plan outlined above.

There’s a lot more you can do with your podcast to grow it too like:

  • Turn your transcriptions into lead magnets to build your list
  • JV with other podcasts
  • Use call to actions to text a number to optin to your list for a gift
  • Create areas on your show notes which people have to ‘share to unlock’ to build social signals to your site
  • The list goes on….

So if you’ve got any questions, be sure to drop them in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your podcast too so feel free to drop me a link in the Facebook comments below with it for me to have a listen to!

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