Nine months ago, I did something crazy. I launched Ask Pat.
Ask Pat is a 5-day per week podcast that features a voicemail question from an audience member along with my answer. The reason I say ‘crazy’ is because when I started this, I was already producing The Smart Passive Income Podcast each week, as well as a bi-weekly podcast for FoodTruckr.com called FoodTruckr School.
I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able keep up or that something else would give, but nine months and 200 episodes later, I can say without a doubt that starting Ask Pat was one of the best decisions I made for my business in 2014.
In just 9 months, the show has been downloaded 2.44 million times. With an average length of 10 minutes per episode, that’s about 46.8 continuous years of listening time.
I realize that’s a completely useless statistic, but hey – it sounds cool!
My point is, creating the show in this format enabled me to produce a lot more new content that people are interested in, content that is based directly on the questions coming in from the community.
Unlike The SPI Podcast, however, I’m not getting a huge rush of new listeners as a result of the show. Instead, existing members of the community who already know about me and the brand are tuning in and adding it to their playlist.
It’s another touch-point, another method of building a relationship and authority, and another opportunity for a call to action.
Since creating Ask Pat, hundreds of people, both online and offline, have told me they prefer listening to Ask Pat instead of my longer, weekly SPI Podcast.
When I ask why, the reasons usually boil down to two points:
As convenient as audio is for allowing us to digest content while on the go, a lot of people don’t have time to listen to 45 minutes or more of audio. Some people have told me, for example, that it takes them 2 or 3 days to complete an episode of The SPI Podcast because they only listen to podcasts in their car, and their total commute is only 15 minutes long each day. Others have told me that they only like to listen to whole episodes at a time, and wait for episodes of SPI that sometimes fall under 30 minutes in length, because that’s all they have.
Since AskPat runs only 8 to 12 minutes in length, it’s much easier to fit into a person’s life. Many people listen to the show at the same time every day, which I think is super cool. I’m a part of someone’s daily life – how awesome is that! And I just sit here in my home office and press the record button.
It boggles my mind sometimes.
As a result of all this, I’m able to cater to those who cannot or will not listen to my other podcast – giving most people who do listen to audio no time-based excuse not to listen.
One of the things I love most about Ask Pat is that it’s super fun to produce! I love hearing the questions that come directly from the community, and the community loves hearing them too. One of the most frequent comments I get from listeners of the show is this:
“I love hearing from other listeners! I feel like it’s me sometimes”
This is a perfect example of what happens when you feature members of your own audience in your brand. Whether in a blog post or a podcast episode, as an interview or simply a question, when you highlight members of your own community – even if it’s just one person – many other people can relate because they are a part of the same community.
It’s more engaging, it’s more relatable, and it’s more fun for everyone involved!
Beyond that, I also make it fun by giving away an Ask Pat t-shirt to everyone who has their question featured on the show. It’s a little bit of incentive to get people to ask a question, but it’s also incentive to listen to the show as well. Over 1000 questions have been submitted, and people often check to see if their episode is up next. There’s a little bit of anticipation involved, and whenever you can get your audience to look forward to something, that’s a huge plus.
Here’s a collage of some of the pictures submitted from listeners who have had their question featured on the show!
Due to the demand, these shirts are actually available for sale here.
Now, you might be thinking, “Pat, a t-shirt per episode? 5-days a week?! That’s got to cost you a bit of money.”
Yes, you’re right, I definitely pay to have those t-shirts produced, however the cost is made up in each episode from the sponsors I’ve been able to get on board…
To help pay for the production of the show, the t-shirts, and add more to my overall revenue steams, I decided to include sponsors within each episode.
Starting with sponsors on Day 1, even for a show that has obvious overlap with my audience on the blog and existing podcast, proved to be quite difficult. Companies that I reached out to were interested, but they wanted real numbers from a few weeks worth of episodes before committing to any sponsorship.
It wasn’t until Episode 36 of the show (about 5 weeks in) that I had my first paid advertising spot. Before that, however, I included airtime at the front and back of each episode to mention a special resource or link, to get my audience used to hearing some sort of resource or mention of another company during those times of the show. When sponsors finally came on board, it wasn’t a huge change from the regular show format.
In total, through all of 2014 (since ad spots are already filled and paid for through the rest of the year), Ask Pat has generated a total of $46,170,80 – an average of $230.85 per episode (or per day).
But really, how much time and effort is required to produce a show like this? Sure money is coming in, but how much time does it actually take me to produce?
To produce an entire month’s worth of episodes of Ask Pat, it only requires 5 hours of my time.
Yes, only 5 hours for an entire month’s worth of episodes.
When you breakdown the hourly rate based on the revenue, it comes out to $923.42 per hour. What’s cool is that this is at no cost to you – the listener – who listens for free.
All I have to do is listen to a question, record a quick intro with a sponsor followed by my answer to that question, and then I drop that single recording into Dropbox. I do this in batches, either weekly or monthly, to take care of a bunch of episodes in one full swoop.
And that’s it.
Everything else is taken care of by a couple of my team members.
Jessica, my awesome Executive Assistant (who you may remember from Session 115 of the SPI Podcast about email management), listens to all of the questions that come in through SpeakPipe and puts them into a shared Google Spreadsheet. She numbers, summarizes and categorizes the questions that comes in.
Mindy, who I would consider my producer for this project, takes my answer from Dropbox, slices it and inserts the .mp3 question from SpeakPipe, and then tags and publishes the podcast on SoundCloud for me.
We’ve created a truly streamlined process, which wasn’t the case when we first started out. When we started, we all consciously were trying to find the best way to quickly produce a quality show, and I couldn’t be happier with how well it’s going now. It took about a month and a half to get into a good production groove, and it requires a lot of communication on both ends to make it happen.
It’s been such a great experience working with my team on Ask Pat, that I’m currently working to getting assistance with my other podcasts as well.
It might come to a surprise to you, but I’ve recorded, edited, tagged and published every single episode of The SPI Podcast on my own. That’s 132 episodes to date.
All of the graphics that you see on the podcast page were also done by me too.
I love doing all of it, but after seeing first hand with Ask Pat what it’s been like to outsource the production of the show and how much more free time I could potentially have, I now realize that even though I love editing my other podcasts and creating graphics with Photoshop, I shouldn’t actually be doing that work myself.
To celebrate the 200th episode of the podcast, I’d love to share it here in this post along with my top 10 favorite episodes of all-time! You’ll also notice The Smart Podcast Player, another cool profitable byproduct (my first successful software!) of creating the Ask Pat podcast.
Episode 200 – What Should I Consider When Hiring a UX Designer?
This is an awesome episode, not just because it’s episode #200, but also because it’s the first podcast ever, in all of my podcasts, that includes a recording on-site with another person. I quickly interview Dustin, my own UX designer, about what he does. Check it out!
#5 – Episode 025 – What are “Profitable Keywords”? How Do You Find Them, and What Do You Use Them For?
Understanding the keywords in and around your niche is important. Understanding the profitable keywords in and around your niche – even better? Here’s why and how.
#4 – Episode 135 – What Would Your First 90 Days Look Like If You Had to Start Again from Scratch?
One of the most common questions I get is what would I do if I had to start again from scratch. This one takes that even further, and asks what would my first 90 days look like. One of my favorite questions of all time.
#3 – Episode 005 – How Do You Become a Better Leader, and What Tools Do You Use to Delegate Tasks to Your Team?
Building a team is one thing, but being a great leader and working with them in an efficient manner is another. In this episode, I talk about qualities of a great leader, and the tools I use to help with productivity within the team so we can get things done!
#2 – Episode 191 – When Am I Going to Buy that Audi R8?
A few years ago, I published a blog post about what it would really take to buy my dream car, and that big goals like this are not too out of reach when it you break it down by day. I re-read that post in this episode, and offer some practical and inspirational advice to help you achieve your “Audi R8”.
#1 – Episode 001 – How Do I Craft the Perfect About Page?
This was my very first episode of Ask Pat, and definitely a fan favorite! With over 200,000 downloads, it’s extremely useful for anyone who wants to know what should really go on your about page.
Thanks for following my journey here with Ask Pat, and an extra special thanks goes out to all of you who have listened to the show! If you have a favorite episode, let me know in the comment section below!
Cheers, and all the best!