AskPat 107 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 107 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. Now before I get to today's question from JR, actually really excited to mention this brand new company and actually new sponsor to the show: Swiftly.com.
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JR: Hi Pat, my name’s JR. I have a podcast on scholarships and financial aid for parents and their college bound teens at CollegeMoneyMan.com. Now, I've been doing a podcast for the last couple years and I have some low subscribers but I'm really trying to increase my listener base. So, I'm trying to figure out what were the three top things that you did to help increase your listener base when you first started, to help accelerate your growth. I publicize every podcast several times through the week, through Twitter and Facebook and Google Plus, I have done guest postings and I've tried to interview people that I felt would also link to my content on their own sites. What did you do to help accelerate your growth? Thanks.
Pat Flynn: JR, thank you so much for the question, and I want to be fully upfront with you. When I started my podcast I already had a large audience on my blog so that is one thing that helped me. I’m not going to count that to the three things because I know for many people out there when they start a podcast they don't necessarily have a large audience like I did and that definitely helped launch the podcast and got some exposure for it and got people talking about it of course. And a lot of people don't start with that so I'm going to go back even before that when I first started my main business at GreenExamAcademy.com. There's a lot of things I did there that helped me go from nothing to something that will help anybody no matter what platform they're on. And these are the three things I want to talk about.
So the first thing, and this is a thing I think we all know about but we may not consciously pay attention to it as much as we should and that is producing content that is actually useful. And I'm not saying, JR, that you don't create useful content. There is, of course anything we talk about we want to think of as useful but I'm talking about things that are . . . we’re talking about major pains in peoples’ lives that absolutely need a solution and we're providing those solutions. Other people might call this “epic content,” stuff that just blows people away with the value that you’re providing but just how incredibly helpful it is. And when I first started my business at InTheLeed.com which then later changed to GreenExamAcademy.com, all of the content was just that. It was stuff that people weren't talking about anywhere else that they absolutely needed help with and I knew what my audience needed help with because I was actually my own target audience. I was creating a website to help people pass this exam in the architecture industry, an exam that I took myself for that and was studying for myself so I knew exactly what everyone was going through and understood exactly what was going through the minds of my target customer and my target audience because I was going through those same things.
So I just provided them with everything that I wish I had in a way that just blew myself away and I wanted to blow other peoples’ minds with it too. So, the other part about that, along the same lines is it was absolutely free. And because of that, it was shared, it just made a huge impact on people, people remembered who I was and what the site was about and they just spread it like wild fire and even companies that were related to the industry, not just people, but companies were linking to the pages of resources as well so you want to try and do what you can to become the ultimate resource and talk about topics that are maybe not, I mean maybe they're talked about elsewhere but, just in a way where it's obvious that you know what you're talking about and there's no other place to get information like it. So that's the first thing. I created epic content that wasn't talked about anywhere else, that was completely helpful and was absolutely free.
Secondly, and this is a really interesting thing that I think, you know, a lot of people do but they don't realize they're doing it sometimes. I became a forum authority leader. Now what does that mean? When I started this business I was actually very active in a forum related to this industry, this architecture industry and a lot of people had questions about this exam that I created a site about and so I went into these forums and I would reply to every single question about this exam and I wouldn't even pitch anything. I wouldn't even mention my website, it just became something I became known for. I became known as this expert in the LEED industry as somebody who's very active in these forums, you know.
If you're the first to reply to any question about this particular topic in a forum, you start to become an expert in it. I mean, and not just in your eyes, because you're the one that's going to be answering the questions as the authority leader but in the eyes of everybody else watching and you know, there might be threads in forums and a string of comments that are only ten posts for example, but you might not have the idea of how many people are reading that and those things are SEO optimized as well sometimes so people will publicly look for those same questions and see your answer there. Well, they’re going to be interested in you because you'll be the authority leader and that's what I became over time and maybe it took about four or five months of just constantly answering questions but everybody was like, “Oh, if you have a question about LEED, ask Pat.” It seems funny but sorry, confusing with the name of the show, but that's what they would say and I would just have, underneath my messages in the little signature area was just a little link to my website, nothing, no hard selling or anything and that's how I became known.
That's where I got a lot of my traffic from was becoming this authority leader on this platform where it was obvious that I was somebody who knew what they were talking about related to this industry.
Then thirdly, and I think this was the most important and especially for this industry which is very technical, was I was personable. I became a person to people who were visiting my website, or saw me on the forums. I was somebody who everybody knew by name, you know. A lot of people around this time, especially, were trying to do what they could to look like a big brand. To look like a business. They had fancy letterhead, fancy corporate looking logos and me, I just had like a hand scribbled thing and a sort of, not very good looking website but, my personality was in it and I connected really deeply with those who were on the site. About this technical exam, like you wouldn't think that people would start to befriend somebody who owns one of these types of sites about an exam but I mean I can't tell you the countless number of emails that I got from people saying, “Hey Pat! Thank you so much Pat! Thank you for this. Bless you Pat!” Things like that for helping people pass this exam and it was interesting because the United States Green Building Council—this was several months after I came out with my own study guide for this exam—they came out with their own exam well, or exam prep material as well, and they're the company that administers this exam.
So I actually freaked out at first. I was like, “Why would people buy from me? Pat Flynn, just a random guy who took this test, as opposed to the company who actually writes the questions.” Well, what I found out was, more people started to lean my way. I actually sold more when their guide came out. For one, their guide was much more expensive, but secondly, who would you rather get test information from? Pat Flynn, somebody who had taken that exam before and put their heart and soul into this blog to help other people and talks about every experience and every pain that we've all been through together? Or the United States Green Building Council, owned by who knows who, right? Like nobody knows their name, it's just a company. So people were leaning my way and they really appreciated the fact that they could learn from somebody who had already taken the exam. That they could call by name, that they could email if they had any questions, and who would respond. So I think that was another important thing.
So those are three things that helped me build my audience when I first got started. Now in terms of my podcast, even though I had an audience already, my podcast did grow quite a bit. It did work for a lot of the same reasons actually. You know, even though I started sort of with an audience already, the growth was just beyond belief and a lot of it was because, like I said before, I was producing content that wasn't being produced anywhere else. I actually, I literally took training to become better at speaking and communicating. So I was really focused on delivering great, quality content behind the microphone, but also in a way that was easy to listen to and just flowed nicely, and I think I became somebody who people could just get to know as well. That's where those intros come from. The intros to each of my podcast on the Smart Passive Income podcast have a different random fact about me and people appreciate that. I go to conferences now and people are like, “Dude Pat, I was in the marching band too!” Or, “Dude Pat, I'm also afraid of spiders, it's so funny we have that same thing!” Or, “Dude Pat, my son watches Nickelodeon all the time also!” You know, just little random facts that might not seem like they have anything to do with business, actually have everything to do with it because you're building a relationship with your audience.
So I think, JR, you know, if you're just starting out, one of the best things you could do and focus on is building those relationships with your audience and I think that because you might just be starting out, that is actually your advantage, is that you have the ability to reach out and make these deep connections that bigger brands, bigger podcasters, won't be able to do. I can't possibly make a real connection with anybody anymore through a one on one conversation like I used to. I used to, for everybody who emailed me, I would be able to respond to myself. I can't do that anymore. I would take the time to comment on other peoples’ blogs, and reach out to as many people as I could on my blog to see what I could do better, but I can't do that anymore. But, you can show these people who come to your site, or who listen to your podcast that you're somebody different. That you care and you'll take time to listen to them and that's how you build those super fans who are going to eventually just listen. Not only subscribe and listen to every show and leave ratings and reviews and stuff like that, but they're going to share your show with everybody they know.
So those are some things, and the last tip in terms of podcasting is make sure you have your SEO down for your show: your iTunes, host name, yes, your host name in addition to the title and also description can be used very effectively for SEO. So if you go into iTunes and look up blogging for example, Smart Passive Income is the first one. So, check out how I do it at Smart Passive Income. You don't want to keyword stuff but you want to make things look natural because, of course, human beings are reading these things. But there are algorithms in play as well and you want to make sure that you take advantage of that at the same time. So JR, I hope that answers your question. I gave you a few more things than just three, which is what you asked for, but I want to give as much value as I can to you and everybody else out there listening. So JR, thank you so much, an AskPat t-shirt is going to be headed your way.
For those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com. You could ask right there from that website and finally I want to also thank our awesome sponsors for today, this is Swiftly.com once again, a new service coming from the guys at 99designs. Get your small designs done fast for just $19, a completely flat fee for super fast turn around time and they say in less than an hour, however their average turn around time is currently under 35 minutes. They pair you up with a professional designer who gets your job done in a quick manner and if you're not happy with it, you get your money back. So, how awesome is that? Business cards, vectorization, maybe you have like a PSD file or a photo shop file that you need vectorized, banner ads, photo retouching, logo changes, Facebook covers, twitter backgrounds, all that good stuff. Swiftly.com. Check them out, that'll let them know that you came from this show.
Thank you so much, and as always I'm going to end with a quote. Today's quote is from Seth Godin and his book Tribes. He says, “Everyone is not just a market, everyone is now also a leader. Without leaders, there are no followers. You're a leader. We need you.” Cheers, take care, and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat.
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