Daniel J Lewis is an award-winning podcaster. He helps others launch and improve their own podcast shows by sharing their passion. Daniel also designs websites and offers one-on-one consulting. He speaks frequently on technology, social media, and theology. He also hosts a network of podcast shows including how to use audacity, a clean comedy podcast called the Ramen noodle, and a podcast on the hit ABC show Once upon a Time.
Daniel has a passion for podcasting and his primary business is helping others make great podcast shows.
Daniels passion for podcasting began in 2005 after Apple announced that iTunes would support podcasting. A friend of his actually told Daniel that he should get into podcasting. So he began searching for podcasts.
The first 2 podcasts Daniel listened to were This Week in Tech podcast and the Jesus Geek podcast. He listened to this podcast on his laptop while driving his car because he didn’t have an iPod at the time.
At one point Daniel realized that he could do a podcast. He knew how to edit audio. He knew how to work with WordPress well enough to start a podcast website. It was just realizing that he had the ability to make all the working parts move together so that he could start his own podcast.
The idea for the clean comedy podcast came from his love of clean comedy and the fact that you can effectively create a quality podcast on a shoestring budget. He launched the clean comedy podcast in 2007.
How He Learned to Podcast
Daniel learned podcasting through trial and error. He’s never been one to read the manual. He knew how to build a website with WordPress.
He also knew that a podcast is just a blog post with an audio file attached that’s connected to an RSS feed. He started from there and the rest is history.
How to Start a Podcast Show
The technology of a podcast is easy to learn, even if you know nothing about technology. It will take some time to figure out the technology, but anyone can do it.
Here’s how to start your own podcast:
- Start by hosting your podcast website on Bluehost or Hostgator.
- Install WordPress and then install the PowerPress plugin.
- Host your media with either libsyn or blueberry. Libsyn is going to be a little bit less expensive. Blubrry is optimized for WordPress. Blubrry is for people who want something that is designed to work with WordPress. If you use the promo code noodle at libsyn or blubrry you will get your first month free.
Setting up your website and hosting your audio files with libsyn or blubrry gives you:
- A website home where everyone can find you
- A podcasting RSS feed
- Media hosting for your podcast
- Stats and analytics for your show
Then you just publish your podcast episodes like you would publish a blog post and attach your media files to them.
Next you get your RSS feed from PowerPress and submit that RSS feed to iTunes, and other podcast directories.
From that moment on every time you publish a podcast episode, which is just a blog post with a media file attached to it, that syndicates out to all the podcast directories that you signed up for.
How to Produce a Great Podcast
The 2 most important ways to stand out in the podcast marketplace are:
- Quality of content
- Quantity of content
Look at the podcasts that rise to the top in iTunes. Yes, there are podcasts that are professionally produced by people who’ve come over from radio and places like NPR. But you don’t have to have a team to produce a high quality podcast.
There are people like Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, Michael Hyatt, and Eric Fisher. You’ll see podcasters who are doing a solo podcasts.
- They record it themselves
- They edit it themselves
- They may present the content solo, they may present it as an interview
What they’re focused on is high quality of the content first, then high-quality presentation of that content, then high-quality production of that content.
It’s important that your audience be able to hear and understand the content that you release on the web.
Finally, they promote that high-quality content well.
Everything begins with quality content. Quality content is content that adds value to the life of the listener while also being easy to consume.
If listeners don’t hear quality content they won’t stick around.
Content is King in Podcasting
Think of your favorite TV shows. When your first hooked by a TV show, it’s usually because you’re hooked by the storyline. As you continue to watch the TV show, you become interested in the characters and the actors who play those characters.
There is a lot of low-quality content available on the iTunes platform. It doesn’t take much work to stand out from the crowd. As long as you take it seriously and focus on producing programs with quality content that can be understood by a listening audience you have a good chance of being successful on the iTunes platform.
One strategy that doesn’t seem to work is simply ad-libbing whatever is on your mind in front of the microphone. Some celebrities with massive followings have tried to do that and they haven’t been successful with their podcasts.
You need to focus on providing high-quality, helpful, and entertaining content.
The second way you can stand out is by the amount of content that you produce. That doesn’t mean you have to have a podcast episode released every day. But you should be producing content for your audience on a daily basis.
Here’s how that might look:
- You have a weekly podcast episode released.
- You have a weekly blog post released.
- You have a weekly YouTube video released. You might even put your weekly YouTube video release on a separate podcast feed.
- On other days you’re posting on your social media platforms.
- You’re posting to forums in your niche.
Again, what you want to do is promote your platform by creating content that makes people aware that it exists.
The weekly video can be short. What you’re doing is producing content consistently so that people can find you and be exposed to your entertaining and helpful message.
By putting your content out there you’re making sure that you stand out because your name will be associated with the subject matter that you’re creating and the thing you want to be known for.
You are finding an engaging with a community of people interested in your topic. You’re building an audience of people who know, like and trust you in your niche.
How Much Money Can You Make Podcasting?
As of 2015, 25% of the US population was listening to podcasts on a weekly basis.
Each niche and industry is going to have its own limits and targets. For example, serial had 5,000,000 downloads the first month. That podcast appeales to a very wide audience because of the content that was being produced and the quality of that content.
Serial produces general entertainment content at a very high level.
Another example is Pat Flynn’s smart passive income podcast which got to the top of its category when the podcast was being downloaded around 15,000 times per episode. An audience of 15,000 people is a larger audience for a podcast. You can certainly monetize that audience enough to make a living on that podcast.
Becoming number 1 in your category is all about producing high quality content on a regular basis.
Standard advertising rates in the podcasting industry are around $25 CPM, which means you get $25 per advertisement in each episode for every 1,000 downloads your show gets.
How to Do SEO for a Podcast
Search engine optimization is simply helping people find your content when they use a search engine to find information.
Search engine optimization matters for Google because Google indexes your podcast webpage. Search engine optimization also matters for social networks because the titles of your podcast episodes are what get shared on your social network sites.
There are 2 titles that are important when it comes to search engine optimization for podcasts. The first title that matters is the title of the podcast itself. The second title that matters is the title of each individual podcast episode.
Those title tags are indexed by search engines and on social media platforms.
You also want to pay attention to your author tags for your podcast and your author tags for each individual episode.
The host(s) are the authors for the podcast itself. For each individual episode you can include your guest as an author for that episode. You can also include a descriptive title for your guest which will help with search engine optimization.
You want to avoid stuffing keywords into your podcast title. What you should do is figure out the keywords that are important in your podcast topic and then do episodes about the topics. That allows you to put the keywords in your episode titles.
For Daniel’s two popular podcasts, he has included the top level keyword phrases in the title of his podcast.
His clean comedy podcast is titled the Ramen Noodle-Clean Comedy Podcast. Likewise his once upon a Time podcast is titled Once-Once upon a Time Podcast.
One mistake that many podcaster’s make with the author tag is that they simply treat the author tags like a subtitle. What you want to do instead is start with the author’s name.
For example, this is how Daniel would configure his podcast author tag: “Daniel J Lewis, expert on how to podcast.”
Configuring your author tag like this allows you to include a keyword phrase in the tag naturally. It doesn’t look like keyword stuffing because it’s not.
The ID3 tags that you include with the MP3 file don’t matter for search engine optimization. They only matter when it comes to compatibility for different MP3 players and your computer. Those tags help the different machines figure out if they can play certain podcast episodes.
The only tags that matter when it comes to search engine optimization are the tags that end up on your podcast website, that are read by search engines looking for information about what’s on the web.
You manipulate the title tags and author tags of your podcast on whatever website you’re using to create your RSS feed.
This is done very simply when you use the power press plug-in and WordPress to create your podcast website.
Power press 6.0 has a new feature that allows you to overwrite the title of your podcast episode that appears on iTunes, so that you can have a different episode title on your website.
This is helpful when you’re posting podcast episodes on your blog. It allows you to identify podcast episodes specifically.
If you’re not using PowerPress, look at the tool you’re using to create your RSS feed. The title you give your podcast episode on your RSS feed is most likely the title of the podcast episode on iTunes.
If you’re using power press you can overwrite your author tags to include more authors than the author of the blog post.
If you’re using libsyn you’ll need to include a special piece of code so that you can add more tags. Daniel goes over this in detail in his podcasting course.
- The title of the podcast itself
- The title of individual episodes of the podcast
- The author tags an individual podcast episodes
ITunes doesn’t pay attention to:
- Episode descriptions
- Keywords or tags
Episode descriptions can help your audience figure out if this is an episode they want to listen to, but they make no difference on iTunes itself.
Podcast Cover Art
Another thing that can help your podcast stand out is your podcast cover art. This doesn’t affect search engine optimization on iTunes, but it can certainly help people decide to give your podcast a try.
What you’re trying to do when people find you is to get the click. If your podcast art stands out from the crowd people might be more likely to click on your podcast and give it a try.
The thumbnail for your podcast artwork is larger than the title of your podcast in most searches. Often the title of your podcast gets truncated in iTunes search. So it’s important to pay attention to your podcast artwork.
Consider investing money in the cover art design for your podcast. Daniel designs cover art for podcasts. You can also find a great designer on Upwork.
Split Testing and Podcast
Split testing different elements of a podcast is challenging. If Daniel is testing a call to action, the only metric he can measure is how many people actually take action after downloading the podcast.
People won’t have heard the call to action before listening to the podcast.
Another element you might test is the title of podcast episodes. The challenge here is that you always receive the majority of your downloads within the first couple days of the podcast release. Changing your podcast title after the first week of its release isn’t going to give you much useful data.
It’s easier to split test elements that you share on social media. You can test which title works best when you share stuff on social media. You can also split test which graphic works best when you share stuff on social media.
“What I’ve seen that works best is to give people a reason to do things, whether it be a call to action in your podcast, whether it be rating and reviewing you in iTunes, or maybe sharing a link out on twitter.” – Daniel J Lewis
If you just say something like, “There’s a new episode available,” that doesn’t give any information. People who come across that announcement won’t know anything about the episode. Likewise they won’t know anything about why they should download the episode that you’re promoting.
If instead you say something like, “Check out my new episode on growing your podcast audience,” or if you post something on social media that says “5 ways to grow your podcast audience,” those are more descriptive calls to action that will entice someone who wants to learn about growing their podcast audience.
Another thing that you want to be aware of is doing your split tests on social media at different times of the day because people interact with social media at different times of day.
How Daniel Manages Running Several Podcasts
Daniel creates the majority of the content for his podcast himself. He’s hired someone to take detailed show notes to help with search engine optimization.
Daniel also has a personal virtual assistant that occasionally helps with the podcast, although that’s not his primary responsibility.
For Daniel’s once upon a Time podcast, he emails celebrities to appear on the podcast. Celebrities have agreed to be on the podcast.
Having celebrities on your podcast can really help grow your audience, and also interviewing celebrities is really fun.
How to Find New Podcasts to Listen To
The primary way Daniel finds new podcast to listen to is if there mentioned on other podcasts. He will also listen to a new podcast if he meets the host at an event.
A lot of other podcast listeners do the same thing. Think about it. If you’re a podcaster, your audience is people who listen to podcasts. If you want to get the attention of people who listen to podcasts, the best way is to get your podcast mentioned on other podcasts.
Word-of-mouth has always been and continues to be the most powerful marketing method. It’s how podcast listeners find new podcasts. It’s also how people who’ve never listened to a podcast before decide to start listening to podcasts. Someone they trust recommends they try it.
Make it as easy as possible for people to subscribe and download episodes of your podcast.
That’s the biggest problem that podcast authors have. If you want to get new audience members the best thing you can do is make accessing your podcast as easy as possible. You might even want to create a video that shows people how to subscribe, listen to your episode on your website, and/or download your podcast episode.
Castbox is another great podcasting player that makes it easy to discover great new podcasts you might like.
How People Listen To Podcasts
The biggest player in the podcast spaces Apple. The majority of people are listening to podcasts through iTunes on their computer or through an iOS compatible device like an iPhone, iPad, or iPod.
It’s important that your podcast be easily accessible through iTunes and on your website. That’s the way the vast majority of people access your podcast.
You might also want to consider creating a resources page where you provide links to all the resources that people frequently ask you for.
This allows you to collect all those links in one spot. If you create a resources page people will use it. And if you use affiliate links on your resources page you will make more money.
On your resources page you should make a point to recommend the things that you use in your daily life.
If you make a point to recommend the things you use on your resources page it provides a level of transparency people are really looking for. It allows your audience to put themselves in your shoes and see that they can do this to.
How Do You Make Money from a Podcast?
There are 2 ways to make money with podcasts. You can either make money by promoting other people’s products on your podcast, or you can promote your own products on your podcast.
You can make a lot more money promoting your own products rather than promoting other affiliate products. Think about it. If you’re promoting other people’s products, so are a lot of other podcasts in your market. Competition cuts down on your potential income.
When you promote your own products you can make a lot more money because 100% of the profit for the product comes to you and you have complete control over the product you’re promoting and the relationship that develops with the customer.
When you promote your own products on your podcast you want to make sure that you promote products that don’t cost you a lot of time.
Courses are the best thing to promote. They are something you create one time that you can sell over and over again.
Daniel has a podcast client who promotes a $7,000 course his client created for his podcast. In order to make the same amount of money from run-of-the-mill affiliate ads on that same podcast, his clients podcast would have to average 15,000 downloads a week for several weeks.
Another possible way to make income from your podcast is to have products made such as T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats that represent your podcast.
You can also make money for your podcast through donations, either directly on your site through PayPal, or through a platform monetization site like patreon.
Another way you can make money is to use Amazon’s affiliate program and recommend products on Amazon that you provide a link to. That Amazon link goes through your affiliate account and any time someone buys something through that link you get paid.
How to Get Advertisers and Sponsors for Your Podcast
You want to get people to the content they’re downloading your episode for as quickly as possible. Daniel has had the best luck putting the commercials thanking his sponsors in the middle of the episode.
If you thank your sponsors at the beginning of your episode people can just fast-forward through that.
Daniel always looks for a clever way to segue into his sponsors. He looks for funny ways to reference his sponsors. Occasionally he’ll use a pun. Being funny engages the audience and encourages them to listen to the ad.
The one thing you want to make sure you do is give your listeners value before you ask them to visit your sponsor.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
- Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing: Pros, Cons, and Tips for Success - August 15, 2020
- List of 100+ Author Tools: The Best Tools for Writing, Publishing, and Marketing Your Book - January 28, 2020
- 2019 Readers Choice Award Winners - September 12, 2019