10,000 monthly downloads
Launched in December 2013
1 episode a week
Hello! What’s your background, and what’s your podcast about?
I’m Tom Corson-Knowles, founder of TCK Publishing and The Publishing Profits Podcast show. When I tried to get a traditional publishing deal for my first book, I failed miserably. Years later, I decided I would just self publish my book on Amazon, and 10 months later I had my first $12,000+ month from Kindle eBook royalties alone.
I was so excited about my results that I started sharing what I had learned with other authors on social media, my blog, and YouTube. Eventually, I created an online video training course as well called The Complete Kindle Publishing Course which now has over 40,000 students.
What was the motivation behind starting the podcast?
I started the podcast because I wanted to learn even more about writing, publishing, and marketing books. I wanted to interview the top authors, writers, publishers, marketers, and industry experts to learn as much as I could—and the podcast gave me a great excuse to reach out to these industry leaders so I could interview them.
I knew other writers and authors would love the content from the interviews, but I never expected this side project would turn into a hit and become one of the top podcasts on iTunes for the publishing industry.
What went into launching the initial podcast?
I spent a few days researching tips on podcasting, talking to other podcasters, and trying to learn best practices to make the show successful. If I had to do it over again, I would have done more interviews before the show launched and I would be more consistent with the publishing schedule. We now publish one show each week religiously, but in the early days there were a few weeks where we didn’t post a new episode.
Our website is built with WordPress, so we use the Blubrry Powerpress plugin for the show. It’s awesome and simple. We also use Libsyn to host the audio files, which I definitely recommend (they have great podcast stats and analytics as well).
How have you attracted listeners and grown the podcast?
One of the things that’s helped dramatically improve the quality of the show and our listenership is having great show notes. We have a freelance writer who writes super detailed show notes for each episode (usually 2,000 words or more). We also have a full-time blog editor now who edits each of the episodes, designs great images for the blog posts, and schedules the episodes to release each Friday morning.
I tried using transcripts for the show notes, but I don’t think they worked very well. I’ve heard search engines don’t like transcripts because the writing quality is so poor, and I know our audience didn’t really appreciate them. Custom show notes seem to work a whole lot better for listeners and for search engines.
I didn’t even launch the show when we started. I just released episodes and did very little promotion. Looking back, it would have been way better to do a bigger launch with more episodes and more promotions. Our growth happened organically over time. I still promote some of our top episodes to our email list, but really the show grows organically through search, iTunes, and word of mouth.
How does your podcast generate revenue directly/indirectly?
I decided not to monetize the podcast with ads because I personally hate podcast ads. They’re a huge pain in the ass, and the rates advertisers pay for podcast ads are still pretty tiny unless you have a million downloads per month or more. I’d rather produce higher quality content without ads and then monetize it by building my email list and fan base.
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?
I think a lot of podcasters focus too much on short-term results instead of focusing on long-term success. I learned this lesson the hard way over a decade ago when advertising rates for Google AdSense dropped dramatically. If you’re reliant on advertisers and you don’t have your own business model, you could be out of business in the blink of an eye.
We monetize the show directly through calls-to-action at the end of each episode for our free training course, a free report, or a paid product we created.
If you want to be successful in podcasting, I think you have to focus on building your audience first. Don’t even think about ads and don’t spend much time optimizing your monetization strategies until you have a big fan base. If you have a big fan base, it’s easy to find a way to make money. If you have a small or nonexistent fan base, no monetization strategy in the world will make much of a difference.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When I first started the show, it was hosted at publishingprofitspodcast.com. The problem was our main site TCKPublishing.com was getting significantly better rankings in search engines, so I decided to switch the show over to become a part of the TCK Publishing website. It took a lot of time to make the transition, and during that month our downloads dropped 40% because of bugs with the RSS feed transition and other tech complications.
What’s your advice for podcasters who are just starting out?
If I had to do it again, I definitely wouldn’t start multiple websites in the same market. Build one great site with your podcast, blog, and everything else you do. You’ll get much more traction in search that way, and it’s a lot easier to manage one site instead of multiple sites.
I interviewed Daniel J. Lewis from The Audacity To Podcast and that helped a lot. He provided some great insights on podcasting, and his site is the best resource I’ve found on podcasting tips and troubleshooting issues that are bound to come up.
There’s also a podcast facebook group that’s great for connecting with other podcasters, asking questions when you need help, and learning best practices from other successful podcasters.
If you’re just starting out with a podcast show, my advice would be to create at least twice as much content as you originally planned. The more shows you produce, the more downloads you’ll get, the more feedback you’ll get, and the faster you’ll learn.
When you launch your show, launch with as many episodes as possible so you can maximize your downloads and get your show featured in the iTunes New & Noteworthy section for extra exposure.
Where can we go to learn more?