In this episode, we are going to mix things up a bit as I talk to Alban Brooke, the Director of Marketing at Buzzsprout.
This podcast is hosted by Buzzsprout and this was a great opportunity to Alban about Buzzsprout and the world of podcast.
Here are just a few things we talk about:
- the story of Buzzsprout and the podcasting world
- the purpose of the WordPress plugin and why they have decided to build one
- advice on how to get started on your own podcast
- various ways on how to grow your audience
“…almost half of podcasts are churches or nonprofits. And the reason for that is these are groups that are already putting together content every week. A pastor is putting together all week, and he gives a 45-minute talk. That’s a tonne of effort put into a great piece of content. And so for them, it made sense. Even if you have a church of only 150 people, you want to be able to get that sermon online, hold onto it, keep a record, and people can relisten to it” – Alban Brooke
- Buzzsprout (click on this link to get $20 Amazon.com gift card if you sign up to a paid plan for 2 consecutive billing months)
- Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/buzzsprout
- Buzzsprout Review: https://www.igniterock.com/blog/buzzsprout-review/
Ahmed Khalifa: And here we go! That was loud, wasn’t it? Oh, I can’t help myself.
Welcome to the IgniteRock podcast. This is your host Ahmed Khalifa and this is episode 13. How exciting! I’m really happy that you guys are here. And today it’s going to be slightly different to how I normally do it. Because you see, normally I say we talk to awesome individuals who creating some awesome stuff using WordPress, but today it’s a little bit different but it’s gonna be really, really cool because I’m going to be talking to Alban Brooke, the Director of Marketing at Buzzsprout.
And if you’ve never heard of Buzzsprout, they are the podcast hosting platform and I am using them myself for this podcast so I knew I had to invite someone from Buzzsprout to have a shout about all things podcast. It’s gonna be a really, really cool episode.
Hope you gonna enjoy it. And if you want to show notes, they are available on IgniteRock.com/episode13. If you wait until the end of the show, there’s also a special offer for those who are looking to use Buzzsprout for their own podcast and project as well.Click Here to Show Transcript
So sit back, relax and enjoy the show as I talk to Alban Brooke.
And here we go everyone, we have Alban Brooke on the call, all the way from the Buzzsprout headquarter. I’m really, really happy that he managed to find the time to talk to us. Alban, thank you so, so much for your time. Really, really appreciate it. It’d be really good to start off, to tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from, and how did you get to where you are today?
Alban Brooke: All right. Well, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be on the show. A little bit about me. I work for Buzzsprout, I’m the head of our marketing here. Before this I was an attorney. We live in the United States. Still keep up to date with everything about being an attorney and do some legal work for us, but primarily I’m focused on marketing all of our digital products.
Ahmed Khalifa: Most people who are listening to this, I think they will not be very, very familiar with Buzzsprout, so could you briefly explain who is Buzzsprout and what do they do.
Alban Brooke: Sure. Buzzsprout is a podcast hosting platform, and what that means is we really help people get podcasts online. You record, you edit it and then we provide a place to host it so that you can get it into iTunes, to get it spread out to [inaudible 00:02:52] of the world. You can think of it as like Amazon S3, but for podcasts.
Ahmed Khalifa: How long has Buzzsprout been around for?
Alban Brooke: Buzzsprout’s been around since 2008. So, you know, the RSS spec, you know when people started podcasting, it’s about 2004. And we had a little product called Msites. Msites was kind of like a very, very old but not very good version of what Squarespace is now, it’s a website builder.
We had this and a lot of the people were churches or non-profits, and so they would reach out to us and say, “Hey, I really wanna record my sermons or some messages, I wanna get ’em online.” We started working that into Msites and eventually we came to the conclusion, this is really … There’s a lot of people who wanna start podcasts that aren’t necessarily Msites customers, so we created Buzzsprout as an entirely separate company.
Ahmed Khalifa: It sounds like the original reason for starting Buzzsprout, the founder thought there had been a demand from the church market. Is that correct?
Alban Brooke: Yeah, a lot of the original people who were reaching out to us were churches and non-profits. I think at that point we had two products that were … One was focused to non-profits, it was called Donor Tools, that we still have and we still work on. And then we also had a product called Insights, that we’re talking about. And most of those customers were non-profits and churches. I think those were our connexions originally.
Ahmed Khalifa: Okay. That’s interesting. I was just thinking, is there like a ratio of the type of podcaster who uses Buzzsprout? I’m going to guess the majority are in the churches and nonprofit sector, really.
Alban Brooke: Yeah. Podcasts as a whole, I think this is not widely known, but I would say almost half of podcasts are churches or nonprofits.
Ahmed Khalifa: Wow.
Alban Brooke: And the reason for that is these are groups that are already putting together content every week. A pastor is putting together all week, and he gives a 45 minute talk. That’s a tonne of effort put into a great piece of content. And so for them, it made sense. Even if you have a church of only 150 people, you want to be able to get that sermon online, hold onto it, keep a record, and people can relisten to it.
So it’s a very easy jump for churches since they’re doing all the hard work.
Ahmed Khalifa: Yeah.
Alban Brooke: And then they do a teeny bit of extra work to get it online. For most podcasters, a lot of people say hey I’d love to start a podcast. And then when they start getting into it and they see the commitment it takes … I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well. You start putting in the hard hours of putting together a great piece of content and recording and getting good guests and editing and doing all of the production.
When you do all of that work, a lot of people drop off. So I think that’s why podcasting as a whole and with our customer base, it kind of ends up being about 50/50.
Ahmed Khalifa: Wow. I actually never knew that at all. Approximately 50% is such a high number because I think most people, when they think of podcasts and their sector they have their own industry regions.
Alban Brooke: Mm-hmm.
Ahmed Khalifa: And for me, I’m looking at the likes of John Lee Dumas on ‘EOFire’ or Pat Flynn ‘Small Passive Income’. These are big big names in the podcast industry, but off the top of my head I would never be able to tell you a church or nonprofit who are the big names. But I guess the whole point is, podcasts is for everyone. You don’t have to be a big figure really to have your own podcast.
Alban Brooke: Yeah and I would make the distinction that I don’t think that churches or nonprofits are even a third of the podcast listens. I’d imagine it’s even less. You’ve got some really big church podcasts, I think of things like John Piper. Somebody who has a very large church and a large following.
But that’s drastically outweighed by the Serials and the John Lee Dumases and the Pat Flynns of the world. Those are the really large podcasts that have lots of listeners. And then you’ve got tonnes of small small podcasts. And those are mostly where most of the churches end up. So those are relatively hundreds of listens per episode, not millions of listens per episode.
Ahmed Khalifa: Yeah. And just out of curiosity, how many podcasts does Buzzsprout post?
Alban Brooke: I’m not exactly sure what number we’re at now. I think we’ve had about 50,000 people start a podcast with us. And a lot of people never follow through, and then some just stay on free plans forever. I’m not exactly sure what the number is. But definitely grown quite a bit. Got a lot of cool podcasts.
Ahmed Khalifa: Yeah. It’s a very competitive market, to be a podcast host. There’s so many names out there that have been around longer. Other ones quite newer. How do you differentiate yourself from the other podcasts hosts out there?
Alban Brooke: Sure. Some of the other big names like PodBean or Soundcloud or Listen. Some of them have been around for a while, or have maybe a larger name. But I think the origin story for us kind of has shaped how we’re different. So[inaudible 00:08:54] first one to really get out a great, or suspect they did a great job of helping get their podcasts sent early early on in 2004.
Buzzsprout, our target audience was a volunteer who was maybe uploading sermons at her church. So while some of our competitors were more focused for a technical audience, we initially focused on more normal people who wanted to be able to upload something and didn’t have the time [inaudible 00:09:31] [inaudible 00:09:34] every single piece.So it’s shaped a lot of what we’ve done.
So it’s shaped a lot of what we’ve done.
We do things like we automatically convert file types. We optimise the bit rate so it’s easy to download the file for [inaudible 00:09:47] anywhere, no matter what their internet speed. We’ll automatically tag all of your episodes with ID3 tags so we can remove that aspect out of people’s workflow. Everything we’re doing is trying to simplify the process of podcasting. And at times, there’s people who say oh no, I want to upload an episode in this incredibly high bit rate.
And the answer for that is there are, if you have a very technical requirement, there are some of our competitors that I would actually recommend them to. But we believe for 95% of podcasters, Buzzsprout is a significantly easier workflow.
Ahmed Khalifa: Definitely. The other thing that kind of attracted me to Buzzsprout is the fact that you can try it out for free. Two hours every month over the after a certain period of time, it’d get deleted. But the fact that you can experiment with it for two hours and have fun with it is definitely an appealing thing about Buzzsprout. I really like that feature as well.
And the other thing I’ve noticed about Buzzsprout is that they have their own kind of metrics. So instead of looking at the number of subscribers, I believe Buzzsprout doesn’t think that is the best metric to track. You have your own metric.
Alban Brooke: Mm-hmm.
Ahmed Khalifa: It’s called “Listeners”. Could you explain why using the number of subscribers is not a good metric to track? What is the “Listeners” metric that you have?
Alban Brooke: Yeah. So there’s a couple of issues with subscriber metric was developed in conjunction with RSS feeds. And if you remember, before RSS feeds are really used for podcasts, they mainly were for back when the internet was so slow that you didn’t want to go to all the blogs that you liked. You wanted whenever they published new content, which was relatively rare.
So for them, they wanted to be able to see how many people are connecting directly to us to download this content or receive this content.
Then it became for podcasts. There’s a couple of issues with that. Now there’s people that will subscribe to your podcast from 3 different devices. I’ve got an iPad, a computer, and a phone, all of which might be connected to your feed. Well from a subscriber look standpoint, that’s three subscribers. From a listener standpoint, I look at that and would say that’s one person.
So you get a couple of issues. We tried to develop our own metric. We try to do a few smart things. We try to see how many people are going to listen to the episode. At least our goal is to give you a number of how many people in the next 90 days are going to listen to this episode?
Ahmed Khalifa: Right.
Alban Brooke: While a subscriber is going to really be like the day you release it, we’re trying to look at a little bit more of long tail. And we’re also trying to say if I see it all coming from one IP address, I’m going to identify that as being a single individual. And if I see them download the episode 10 times in a row, that’s a single download.
Ahmed Khalifa: Yeah.
Alban Brooke: We try to do a couple of things that are a little bit smarter to give you a more accurate idea of how many human beings are on the other end listening to your podcast.
Ahmed Khalifa: That’s okay. That makes a lot of sense. I never thought about how the number of subscribers could be slightly flawed. And you’re right, if you have several different devices and you listen to all of them, it could count as three different subscribers. It’s interesting that Buzzsprout has their own metric, and I know it’s a secret algorithm so I’m not going to push you into that.
Alban Brooke: Haha.
Ahmed Khalif: aBut really really interesting that the “Listeners” metrics … It’s certainly very very unique. The fact that it’s a number of plays that Buzzsprout expects your next episode to get within the first 90 days. That’s really really interesting. So thank you for sharing that as well.
Of course, this being all about WordPress, and audience like WordPress, and I talk a lot about WordPress. One thing about Buzzsprout is that you have your own podcast plugin as well. So could you explain what does the podcast do and also what was the decision that made you decide that you want to have your own WordPress plugin as well?
Alban Brooke: Yeah. As you know, if you’ve got a podcast you likely already have a website. And if you don’t, a lot of people are looking to start a website.
And I really encourage people to do them in conjunction because podcasts are a great way to convert followers into sales or into people that maybe will listen to the episode and you can monetize it by selling ads or something. While it’s great for that part, it’s really hard to get people to find your podcast.
So I really like having a website because you can do things like search engine optimisation and provide a landing page that will become a stream of new customers to your podcast. So that’s one reason why I love having a website.
And WordPress is just a great setup. And I know you already know this, but it’s a great setup because it provides an incredible amount of flexibility and it’s still not as technical as building something from the ground up.
It’s really easy to get started. There might be a couple other ways that might be a little easier to get started if you wanted with like maybe Wix or maybe SquareSpace. But you don’t get the same level of flexibility that you do with a WordPress site.
We have lots of customers that build great, beautiful WordPress sites, so we want to provide a plugin for them. What the plugin does is it allows you to search, find an episode that you uploaded, and then embed that episode on your page. And the reason we do that is most people are going to have a blog and they’ll embed a player on their page and say here’s the episode.
And then for search engine purposes, we’ll put in show notes or a description. Maybe some links to things that were discussed. Or maybe the person you were interviewing so that you can attract new people to your podcast.
So I guess that’s maybe a little bit longer of an answer you wanted. But that’s why we decided to go down the WordPress route.
Ahmed Khalifa: Yeah. It makes sense. And of course, I can agree with you that WordPress gives you a massive amount of flexibility to do a lot of things with your website. So having the plugin makes sense, and even for my own site I use the plugin as well.
But sometimes you can use a embed code directly on your WordPress site anyway, and that works for me as well. But of course, if you have that plugin to make it easier for you, that’s also another option for you as well. It’s really really cool that you guys have WordPress plugin to make it all easier for us. Very very cool.
In terms of podcasting industry, kind of trendy right now.
Alban Brooke: Mm-hmm.
Ahmed Khalifa: A lot of people are thinking of starting their own podcast. What advice do you have for anyone who just wants to start their own podcast?
Alban Brooke: This is a question I kind of was playing around with last night. One of the things I think about a lot is that people see the trend. And they go oh man, I could do that. I’m gonna start a podcast. And then they start thinking about well what would I start a podcast about.
I think my advice is don’t become over infatuated with the medium. The way to get your message isn’t the exciting thing. Podcasts are not the most exciting thing. The most exciting thing is the content you’re providing. And what podcasting allows you to do is get this content out to a really really focused audience.
Your podcast for example would be really tough to have a radio show broadcasting to a metropolitan area about building WordPress sites and interesting things happening in WordPress. That’d be a tough thing to sell to radio. But it’s something in a podcast can be incredibly successful.
So I’d say the first thing you want to do is identify something you’re passionate about, that you really want to be talking about. And that has some concrete goals.
So we’ve given a talk at podcasting event a couple of years and our advice is, early on after you’ve picked out a topic, come up with some goals. What’s going to be success for your podcast?
I think people can get disheartened when they look at numbers like maybe Pat Flynn and how much he can make off of his podcast and oh man, I’m never going to get there. I’m only at 25 listens. Well, if you’re a church for example, and you’ve got 100 members, 25 listens is an incredible number. That’s 25 people that you’re friends with that missed the service that got to listen. That’s a great win.
We’ve met people that use Buzzsprout and have a real estate business. And they’re only focused on real estate in a certain area and connecting with people. And for them, 200 listens is an incredible win because those are all high-value clients and people they’re able to turn ultimately into leads and then into clients.
I think early on, once you’ve identified what you want to talk about, then identify what’s going to be the measure of success for you. And then there’s tonnes of amazing resources. We provide a lot on our website, but everywhere on the web there’s tonnes of things about how to start podcasts, how to market it, how to remain disciplined and focused and continue to work on your podcast.
Ahmed Khalifa: It makes a lot of sense that basically, you should kind of niche yourself to a specific area. And it makes a lot of sense, when there’s so much content out there, it’s quite saturated.Basically if you hyper focus
Basically if you hyper focus to a specific topic and of course you’re passionate about it, it really makes sense that to focus on that area instead of just go for a scattergun approach and just aim for anything. It really does make sense about just focus in an area, be passionate about it, and go for it. You never know what you’re going to get.
And don’t aim for a high number, I agree with you. You don’t have to aim for a thousand or millions of listeners, even a few dozen could make a big impact for you and for them ultimately.
Alban Brooke: There’s a lot of podcasts out there that are two or three people kind of just talking about current events and the things they like. Which, for a couple of podcasters, that works. But overall that’s a saturated market. And it’s hard to attract new listeners unless they love your personality.
Ahmed Khalifa: Yeah.
Alban Brooke: But I’m telling you there’s a podcast out there that’s on taxidermy. And there’s podcasts on hunting. And there’s podcasts on everything. If you have something … I mean, we have a really successful podcast that all they talk about are the old Dreamcast video game system.
And they’re doing really well with it. Podcast what it does provide you with is like you said, you can find a niche, you can find something that you love, and then you can really work on that message.
Ahmed Khalifa: And it makes sense as well because even if you have that niche, you find your audience, of course if you kind of want to move up to the next level and you want to start growing your audience. It’s the natural thing to do. What advice would you have for those who want to grow their audience?
Alban Brooke: Sure. So this is definitely the biggest question we get beyond how do I start a podcast. The next question is how to grow it. And I think it’s probably the greatest pain point for a lot of podcasters.
The first thing I think is, if you have a really good niche and you may be the only one there, try to connect with communities that are also into those things. So I would recommend looking on Quora and see if there’s people who are asking questions that your podcast answers.Is there a community of people on Reddit that are really into the same thing. So try to connect with those communities. If you’re really passionate about it, I bet you have a lot of connexions in that community and you can reach out to them.
Is there a community of people on Reddit that are really into the same thing. So try to connect with those communities. If you’re really passionate about it, I bet you have a lot of connexions in that community and you can reach out to them.
That may be personal. That may be going to conferences. It may be social media. All those are great avenues. I’ve met people who, their entire podcast growth strategy was kind of being audacious and asking for podcast guests. So they would just ask the biggest guest they would ever think of, and if they said yes they would get this great guest. They’d do a great interview. They’d do a lot of work editing it. And then they’d say here’s the link to the episode, thank you so much, I’d love it if you’d share with your audience.
So this was a guy who did reviews with bands. So bands were constantly tweeting out links to his podcast. That was his entire growth strategy. First, social media I really like. If you can be consistent with social media and blog posts. So got a WordPress site always post a blog post that you’ve tried to SEO for the relevant keywords.
You can invite companies to sponsor you. So try to work with a company to maybe do a giveaway on your podcast. And you can talk about their products or do a review. Often works really well.
You can do video versions of your podcast. You can record yourself actually recording it with a video recording and start a little YouTube channel.There’s lots of ideas. We definitely try to address this quite a bit on our blog so if people are
There’s lots of ideas. We definitely try to address this quite a bit on our blog so if people are interested on Buzzsprout.com/blog we try to get a lot into marketing your podcast ideas.
Ahmed Khalifa: It’s kind of … This applies to any kind of content, isn’t it? If you want to promote, you should kind of reach out. Look at communities and Quora. Use social media, use SEO. Kind of similar to any kind of content and not just podcasts. It makes a lot of sense, what you said. It’s really really useful to know as well as just to hear from yourself. So sounds really cool.
Alban Brooke: Thanks.
Ahmed Khalifa: Just the last couple of questions. What is Buzzsprout’s plan for the future?
Alban Brooke: The plan for the future is we’re definitely dedicated to podcasting and we love it. We’re growing faster than we ever have before. We’ve recently launched some things like we did a complete site redesign last year. We added some really cool import features so you could bring in your entire previous feed. We did that probably December.
Weeks ago we added the ability to share video grammes to Facebook so you can actually get a really cool visual component to share on Facebook to bring people in. We call that the visual sound bite.
Focusing more on ways to share podcasts and to grow audiences and to overall stay ahead of the curve as far as where podcasting is going so we can help you reach new audiences as more and more people become aware of podcasts.
Ahmed Khalifa: I definitely want to highlight the visual sound bite. It’s a very very cool feature. Anyone who wants to see it in action just head over to our Facebook page at facebook.com/igniterock. I’ll [inaudible 00:26:35] that visual sound bites and really give you a snippet of the podcast episode in a Facebook post. It’s a really really cool feature which I use quite often as well. So it’s really really cool.
It’s really been really good chatting to you Alban, and I really appreciate you giving us your time and insight of how to grow and the future and all these things. Really really appreciate your time and if anyone wants to connect with yourself or with Buzzsprout, what’s the best thing to do?
Alban Brooke: Sure. We’re on Twitter at Buzzsprout. I see all that so we can always reply. And if you have any questions or if you have any questions about podcasting in general, feel free to reach out support at buzzsprout.com. And ask for me, and I’m sure the support people will route it right over. We’re more than happy, even if you’re not with Buzzsprout, if you run into a technical issue we’re always happy to see if there’s anything we can do to help.
Ahmed Khalifa: Really really cool. Alban, thank you very much again and I’m looking forward to working more with Buzzsprout. Thank you.
Alban Brooke: Thank you Ahmed. I appreciate it.
Ahmed Khalifa: Thank you Alban once again for coming onto the show. I really really appreciate it, and I really enjoyed talking to you. As you can tell, I’m an affiliate of Buzzsprout. It’s obvious that I’m going to be talking praise of them. But at the same time, it’s not a lie when I talk well of them. I have been using them since the very first time I started podcasting here and since then I’ve not really had any problems at all. I’ve really enjoyed using it. I’ve had such fun podcasting. I really enjoy using the product, really cool product. The couple of times I wanted support, their support is really really awesome as well. I really really recommend Buzzsprout.
If you do want to use Buzzsprout, make sure that you visit igniterock.com/buzzsprout. And if you upgrade to a paid plan after clicking on the link, you’ll upgrade to a paid plan for 2 months and you can get a $20 Amazon.com gift card from Buzzsprout. Igniterock.com/buzzsprout. Upgrade to a paid plan for two consecutive billing cycles, and you’ll get a $20 Amazon.com gift card.
The show notes are available on igniterock.com/episode13. And I would also really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes if you’ve enjoyed the show as well. It’d make me so happy and it’d really help me to reach out to as many people as I can.
Thank you for listening. In the meantime, let’s rock with WordPress.