1,500 monthly downloads
Launched in July 2017
1 episode a week
What’s your background, and what’s your podcast about?
My name is Mikhail Alfon and I’m the co-founder and president of Blue Light Media, the marketing agency of Orange County, California. I’m also the host of The Podcast, a weekly interview series that features anyone with a compelling story or message they want to share. I’m a perpetually curious person so I love getting to know people over the show and what they believe in, what they stand for, or what they’ve been through. I believe everyone has a story to share.
I started the show in summer of 2017 and currently have over 75 episodes with at least 60 guests. We’ve talked to single moms who have went from the welfare line to the amazing careers, c-level executives, wellness professionals, models, musicians, personal friends – all sharing their experiences. My goal was to deliver content to my listeners that they could actually relate to and learn from. As founder of a marketing agency – it’s really easy to go the ‘entrepreneur hack’ route. Admittedly, I fell into that trap, but I’ve finally become more comfortable in my own skin and am happy to talk to people that I’m interested in no matter what they do in life.
I’m so fortunate that every month the show is getting thousands of listens per month which is incredible. The response has been great, but most of all I’m having fun creating the content and it seems to be impacting some listeners in a positive way.
What was the motivation behind starting the podcast?
The original idea for the podcast was “A Day in the Life” which would explore what a day in the life of different people would be. I’ve spoken with HIV and cancer survivors, and I wanted to dig deep into the homeless community, too. I’ve spoken to people with different religious practices than myself in the goal to gain an understanding for people that we might not talk to everyday.
For a while, I used it as a networking tool – talking to people that my agency might be able to work with, or interviewing people that might attract people that my agency could work with. After a while, I hated that content and more so, I hated using something that I enjoyed doing as a ‘tactic’ to grow business. In my opinion, once you content becomes a tactic it loses its authenticity and the thing that made it special in the first place.
Today, like I said earlier, I just talk to people I think would be interesting to me. I find it to be a great way to document and tell our stories and I think that that’s just what it should be. It might be better for search results to do a ‘how to’ or ‘5 ways’ type of podcast but honestly, I do enough selling and marketing for my agency that I’d prefer just keeping this as honest as possible moving forward and see what organically comes out of a conversation rather than try to fabricate a tagline.
What went into launching the initial podcast?
When I started the podcast, I originally considered doing it on Anchor but I didn’t like that they branded all the content so I did it on my own.
It’s honestly relatively easy. I would check out that article as it goes into all the detail needed, but you can start a podcast with as little as $100 if you needed to, plus another $15 per month for Gotomeeting or Zoom if you wanted to do interviews.
How have you attracted listeners and grown the podcast?
Attracting listeners to a podcast isn’t easy – especially when you consider that podcasts don’t typically go viral.
I’m very active on social media, so I’ve promoted the podcast on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat (when it was relevant). I’ve also included it in a weekly email newsletter I send with curated content. So that’s what I do on a regular basis.
When you’re doing an interview series though, you get some additional traction from your guests so that really helps in terms of growth. Don’t bank on this though, I’ve noticed that many people you may consider ‘influencers’ with large followings are pretty stingy when it comes to sharing the show.
Admittedly, I don’t do everything I know I should be doing to grow my podcast since I’m focusing on growing my actual business and my client’s content.
With that said, you get a huge bump when you submit your RSS feed to multiple channels. So, SoundCloud, Google Play, Stitcher – to name a few. Even though Apple Podcasts holds the most listens by a pretty wide margin, it’s important to get on those other popular hosting sites as well.
The thing I’ve only done a few times was create videos for the podcast using small bits of valuable information. Whenever I do that I see a spike in downloads – so you take like 2-3 minutes that were really juicy, put it on a video and promote it with the links on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. This is a great way to get people interested and gives parts of your content a chance to go viral.
You should check out Headliner App, that simplifies the process a lot.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue with having a podcast?
Right now, I don’t treat my podcast as a business – I have my agency to take care of my business itch. However, the podcast has lead to some pretty large clients and referrals. Ironically enough, it happened when I wasn’t trying to use the podcast as a networking tool.
Most of the content I produce, whether it be the podcast or what I put out on Instagram does two things for me: it keeps me sharp on different media channels because I manage a majority of it on my own and it also gives me some credibility when talking to potential clients. If I’m pitching the importance of media creation and distribution, shouldn’t I do it on my own?
No matter what you do though, be sure that your hearts in it. If you’re not feeling your guests, don’t put the content out. It seems harsh, but if it’s true that you are who you surround yourself with, then use some caution when promoting other people’s ideas like I am. The more real you are with yourself, the better your results will be regardless of what your goals actually are.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome when it comes to running the podcast? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
The biggest mistake I made when launching my podcast might not be that big at all – but it was starting it on SoundCloud and getting so deep that I can’t migrate it into Libsyn or a better hosting platform. The reason I like Libsyn is because it distributes the podcast for you, and offers all your metrics in one place where SoundCloud is relatively limited when it comes to that.
The other thing is to make sure to save your episodes the second you’re done recording. It’s small, but honestly there’s nothing worse than having a great episode and accidentally losing it.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The number one thing I find to be the most helpful is committing to a process when you record. For me, it’s:
- Research your guest and have a preliminary call with them to come up with ideas for topics.
- Prep your guest with questions and topics that you’ve decided on.
- On the day of recording, test your mics and do a playback before recording the podcast.
- Save immediately upon completion.
- Edit as quickly as possible if needed so key points are still fresh in your mind.
This simple process has helped me make sure that I get the best content possible.
Also, if you’re doing an interview type of podcast, or even a show with a co-host, do it in person as much as possible. The energy and dynamic of the conversation is so much better when you do it in person as opposed to a Skype call or over the phone.
What’s your advice for podcasters who are just starting out?
My advice for new podcasters is get the idea of monetizing immediately out of your head. If you focus on making money, it’ll hurt your content, I promise you. Have fun with it, talk about things that are important to you, not what you think would be important to an audience.
The other piece of advice I have is what I mentioned earlier – if you really don’t agree with someone’s ideas you don’t have to promote it for them. On a cosmic level, it’s important to accept and respect their ideas but you do not have to promote them if you don’t believe in it.
Where can we go to learn more?