Learn how to come alive as an expert, get leads, and unlock your voice with podcasting guru Jeff Large in this episode of LMScast. Today Chris Badgett of the LifterLMS team and Jeff Large get into how podcasting is a great form of media for you to consider using to generate leads and build trust with customers.
Jeff is a professional podcaster who also provides planning, production, promotion, and analytics services to other podcasters. He also has courses for students who are interested in entering the world of podcasting. You can find his personal podcast at JeffLarge.com.
Jeff’s services are called Come Alive Creative and Come Alive Academy. Chris and Jeff talk about the current state of the podcasting and online education world. Jeff shares his story of how he got his businesses to where they are today and what he has learned through the process.
A lot of business owners and entrepreneurs tend to put too much emphasis on planning for the future of their business. This can be good foresight, but often it ends up overwhelming entrepreneurs and causing over analysis paralysis, preventing you from making a decision. Jeff talks about this and how focusing on making the right decision in the moment will cause things to unfold positively in the future.
Chris and Jeff discuss how podcasting is a great form of media for developing your skills as a teacher and communicator. Even when you become extremely committed to a topic you can always learn more. Chris talks about how hosting LMScast has allowed him to continue to gain deeper insight into the online education space.
If you are considering starting a podcast, then this episode of LMScast is definitely one you should consider listening to a few times and taking notes, because Jeff provides some great insights into what you need to take into consideration when finding guests, assembling equipment, and connecting with your audience.
Also head to LifterLMS.com to find out more about how you can use LifterLMS to build your own online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!
Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I have a special guest, Jeff Large. He’s a podcaster whose podcast is named after his name. He also does planning, production, promotion, and analytics progress stuff around the podcasts that people have, or want to have. Then he also teaches people how to get into it.
I love podcasting. It’s been a great journey for me in terms of buildings relationships, learning, especially as a course creator; being able to create content, audio content, video content. It’s a great way to sharpen the skillset of producing content for the web. This episode’s going to be podcast-focused. Whether you want to do it to get leads or add value to your community, or just start building community for day one when you pick your passion that you really want to focus on.
But Jeff, Jeff’s services are called Come Alive Creative, and he has the ComeAliveCreative.com, Come Alive Academy if you just want to learn it and not have the service. How’d you come up with that name, Jeff? Come Alive?
Jeff Large: Branding is always a pain in the butt. I actually pulled the quote … I was reading the book Wild At Heart by John Eldredge, and he quoted … There’s a guy, Howard Thurman, he says … I pulled it up. I have it on my other monitor here. “Don’t ask what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” It pulled from there. It flowed with the creative aspect, and I ran with it.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. We’re going to park on that for a second, because I think that’s such a great point. I see this a lot in the online business space, specifically in course creation and memberships, where … And you can see this across life in a lot of areas, where people are doing things to, quote, “make money online,” or gain some kind of freedom from a lifestyle they don’t want to continue, or a job they hate, or whatever. Sometimes, they get into choosing a topic or doing things just to make the money, and I think there’s been social science studies done on this issue where, after $70,000 in U.S. dollars of income, happiness doesn’t really change once you have your basic needs met at that level.
Then after that, then maybe somebody’s being like, “Okay, maybe I had my ladder against the wrong wall. This doesn’t make me come alive. This doesn’t make me happy.” How do you flip the script? How do you encourage people to start with what makes them come alive, and not necessarily just chase internet riches?
Jeff Large: Okay, that’s a heavy question. I think it takes a certain amount … I mean, okay, I would want to give a more thorough answer, but I’m doing this on the spot. So, initially, I think it takes a certain amount of self-awareness; of what it is that actually makes you tick. I’ve seen some of those … I forget what they’re called; a [kaiji 00:03:20] or something? [Kiji 00:03:21] or … I forget what it is. It’s this Japanese philosophy where these four spheres come together.
Chris Badgett: I think it’s called ikigai.
Jeff Large: Ikigai? Yeah, okay, there you go. See, you got me covered right there. Whatever it is, it’s this weird blend of figuring out what it is you actually enjoy, what it is you’re good at, what the world needs, and what people are willing to pay you for. It’s this culmination of those four things. Now, out of the gate, I never would have figured that out. There’s no way I would have known in the beginning, so it was a matter of what needs can I see? What do I enjoy doing, and what am I good at, is sort of what I started with. From there, through refining it and through time … I mean, I’ve been doing this for … Not podcasting exclusively, but just running my business, since I resigned from teaching. I’ve been doing this for five years now, and it’s finally getting into a point where I’m actually feel like … I’m actually cruising with it. Does that answer?
Chris Badgett: That’s a great answer, and I’ve had a similar experience where it took me many years. I’ve been working in the online space for about eight years, and before that, I worked completely offline, actually, in the outdoor world, away from technology, in Alaska. But it took me a long time to figure out this online business thing. But through all that, I did stay in touch with what I care about. I’ve had blogs about issues I care about, like the outdoors, ecology, parenting, sustainability. These are things that I care about, and I’ve never been willing to give up what makes me come alive just for money.
But at the same time, in the industry or in the online world, if you look at the marketing that’s out there sometimes, it’s all about shortcuts and hacks, and getting this amount of money in this many days. When for me, in my experience, it was a long, multi-year process to even get stable. Can you relate?
Jeff Large: Yeah, absolutely. I take the unpopular opinion that I feel like most people should not start businesses. That they should not … I’m even questionable about the whole idea of side hustle. But you should not stop whatever you’re doing for your day job and try to start some magical business. The stuff that gets popularized so often in media is just not the norm. We’ve had many years, similar like you said, I’ve ran out of money completely twice on two different occasions through the history of this, and have always been able to come back, and I’ve always had a really strong core belief that this will work. It’s changed.
The business has changed over time. We went from generic graphic design and web dev, and then we moved more into … We niched down in eCommerce for a while, and we started to round back out to more kind of higher level builds, plus some digital marketing, and it was around that time that I was personally kind of unhappy with some of it. In terms of the skillset, it was outpacing what I could do as a developer. I was intentionally hiring smarter people than me, but what also happened was if those smarter people weren’t available when something exploded, I would potentially be screwed, and just didn’t like that element of risk for my own clients, and so finally got to a point where partway through last year, I just said, “Okay, we’re going to kill about three fourths of our business and do only podcasting.”
It was a slow … I knew I was going to take a hit. It was kind of like starting at ground zero in a lot of ways, but since then, we’ve built up a pretty solid marketing campaign and some other things that now, kicking off this year, we got a decent stream that it’s … Right now, projection-wise, it’s moving in the right direction.
Chris Badgett: That’s really cool. That’s really cool. I know what you mean. Sometimes, you had to adjust. I mean, you still need to put food on the table, and you need to be creative, and sometimes you do have to do things just for money or …
Jeff Large: Yeah, it’s a balance for sure. You need to pay the bills, but at the same time, it’s hard. It’s stressful. There’s plenty of days where I joke with my wife about being a pizza delivery person or things like that. I’m not actually going to do it, but sort of to be tongue-in-cheek about it. It’s tough work, and it definitely takes a particular kind of personality to be able to weather all the joys and the stresses that come along with it.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. In my experience, I found a lot of resistance. Even things like when I was in Alaska, outdoor guy, not much technology at all, but I always loved video, and I was that guy my friends used to get annoyed on climbing trips, and we used to do those mountaineering stuff and all this. I’d always be lugging the camera, and making little mini-documentaries. The fact that we’re on video here today, this is just some extension of my obsession with video. Even when I first found building websites in WordPress, where it became easy for non-technical people like myself, people told me, “Chris, you shouldn’t get into software and all this internet stuff.”
But in my mind, this is why I love the name that you have there, Come Alive Creative. It kind of made me come alive, just as a guy who was creative and liked making content videos, and the fact that I could publish something and then anywhere in the world, somebody could look at it. Always loved that. And then you could connect with them. It literally made me come alive, and I just followed that thread to becoming a LifterLMS software CEO guy. But I do it because I love it, and I love the people I work with. I want to ask you, what is it about podcasting that makes you so passionate about the topic?
Jeff Large: Yeah. Okay. Actually, I’m going to back up a little and then round back to that question. It’ll come together. There’s a couple things, too, that I would absolutely agree with. So much of it, and maybe even back to your first question; so much of it depends on doing the right thing at the moment. I think looking ahead is important, and learning from what you can in the past is also good. But there’s a certain element that is just hard, even for me, to be patient enough to look at exactly what’s in front of me. But so much, if you just make the right decisions now, it will start to play out and unfold in the direction that it needs to go, instead of trying to guess and always, “What’s the next best opportunity?” And na na na. If you just look at what you have right now and go, “Okay, What is my most important task I need to be working with?” Get that thing done, and it continued to unfold. So that’s one big piece.
In terms of the love for podcasting, I wouldn’t even say it’s a love for podcasting. It’s just happened to take that form. Because, like you, there’s certain core aspects of who I am that I really appreciate things. I love learning and teaching, are huge. I think on the strength finder 2.0 test, my number one thing is learning. Through hosting podcasts and talking to diverse individuals, whether it’s my own industry or other ones, we’ve hosted a lot of different podcasts; some with eclectic taste, and some with just practical, technical business knowledge. I really, really love learning, and then being able to convey those things that I’m learning, and put into practice those things that I’m learning.
I think the second piece, it just kind of falls into the audio aspects. I think it really comes down to probably solving problems. Podcasting for me, from a digital marketing standpoint, makes more sense than other mediums most of the time. Not in all cases, but most of the time, if I’m going to go after that biggest domino, or like I was saying, if I’m going to go after the thing that’s going to give me the most impact, I would argue that podcasting, a lot of the time, is the best solution.
It’s this merger of both I’m really passionate about the learning and the teaching. I understand it. I have a background as a musician, so I understand audio really well. Oh, and then the last piece is the storytelling aspects of it. That’s the one that I almost forgot, where my actual formal education is all in literature. I have just a ton of experience teaching story and good writing and these types of things, and there’s so many of those elements that can play out in a podcast, in a hosting situation, whatever it is. It’s that kind of stuff that’s important to me.
Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about some of the benefits of podcasting, specifically for the course creator, the membership site owner. I’m going to share some, and then hand it over to you. One of the great things about podcasting is actually that you can get free consulting. I’m about to get a bunch of free consulting from Jeff, because I’m thinking of starting a new podcast for free on this call. But that’s more of a funny side benefit.
Jeff Large: It’s okay. I just had you online, and I got a bunch of free consulting on how to build a proper membership site, like courses and stuff.
Chris Badgett: Which is cool. And then it also … The other thing is, you develop relationships with people. We all overlap in some way. We’re both in the online space, and I have course creators, and you have … You’re on the podcast side. It’s just great to build relationships with people, and it’s really easy to do. Just takes an hour of time. I’ve pretty much got it completely automated, where I give … If I know somebody who wants to come on the show and I want to come on the show, I send them a canned email with a link. They schedule it, they show up, Zoom’s ready to record it. I do a little bit of light editing and we have a process behind it, but … So relationships is a benefit.
But also for the course creator, one of the fundamental building blocks is expertise. We are all, everybody here on this call or this podcast listening or watching, is an above average driver. What I mean by that is, we all know and are passionate about something, but we can always sharpen our saw. If you get really committed to a topic, you can never … I would argue you can never even get halfway to the ultimate destination if you really go deep. But if you are going to go deep on something, podcasting is a great way.
For me, I’m super passionate about online course creation and membership sites. Podcasting is a piece of that for lead generation and becoming an expert, but I get to talk to all these people that solve problems or look at opportunities that benefit course creators. So my expertise on solving problems for course creators and membership site people gets sharper and sharper and sharper every time I talk to experts who know more things about different topics than me. That’s another benefit. What have you got, Jeff?
Jeff Large: Benefits of podcasting specifically?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Jeff Large: Okay. I just pulled up in my other monitor here, a couple of my lead gen stuff, so it depends on what you want. I think specifically for the course creator, you need authority and trust, is really at its core. People trust you. It’s through integrity and over time, is … Think about a relationship. Think about any of your friendships that you have. For your listeners, who have been listening to you for a long while now, they know who you are, and they either like you or they don’t. It’s really hard to fake it. Like you talked about in the beginning, you get to these landing pages sometimes where it’s like, “Let me show you how to make this much money in this hack of a time.”
I don’t know anything about that person. He could be a total jerk, or a wonderful human being, and I do not know from the landing page. But from an ongoing podcast, where somebody makes an active decision to put you in their ears for however hour every week, they’re going to develop that relationship. And eventually, if you know what you’re talking about, if you’re associating with the right people, hopefully trust to a point that they’d want to work with you in some capacity. I think that at its core, might be one of the leading things.
Just to rattle off a handful, some of these you kind of said as well, one would be too that brand recognition or authority in an industry. Another one would be if you want to reach new prospects, grow an audience. Another could be increased sales, opt-ins, some sort of engagement. You might want to learn more about a topic or a specific target audience. You could also need to increase your social proof, customer loyalty, reduce churn. Reduce churn could actually probably be another big thing for membership sites, that type of deal.
Another one would be if you want people to actually care about what you’re marketing, not just see it and react, but be part of it, be part of the journey. And then the last is, so many people actually have really great stories to tell, and to teach, and it’s a medium that I think has some definite unfair advantages against other written form, and even video form. Those are several that I argue a lot of the time.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I’m going to throw a few more out there. One of them is, I think I heard this phrase from Clay Collins. He’s the guy behind Leadpages. He said podcasts were great because they’re in a category called portable content. It’s really just podcasts and audio books that people can take into the woods, like me when I go running in the morning. I have this portable content. I can’t take my website browsing experience or YouTube out there while I go running or while I’m driving, or doing the dishes.
I love doing dishes because … I’ll be like, “No, I’ll do the dishes,” because I’m going to listen to a podcast, because it’s portable. Portable content is very powerful. There’s a lot of things competing for attention for other parts of the day, but we actually have a large percentage of our day, if you’re talking about content, where only portable content can get in there. It’s just a really neat concept.
Jeff Large: To piggyback on that, this book in particular … Have you read Zero To One?
Chris Badgett: I’ve watched some of the talks of Peter Thiel and stuff, but I haven’t read that one yet.
Jeff Large: There’s one article that I wrote about a concept … kind of took a concept that he had and applied it back to marketing, where very similar to what you’re saying. There’s this idea that he has called scale of competition, and it’s most of the time … We used to have a client when I was doing web dev still who was a specialty European bakery, and she was very convinced that her only real competition was other specialty bakery shops, like people that focused on allergies or maybe had a special type of bakery, or whatever it was. But what he would argue in his book is that her competition was every single business that was selling food at breakfast time.
I would lean more towards that’s the reality of it. If you take that principle and apply it back to marketing as a whole, when you write something, it’s not just … If you’re writing blog articles on how to run a good course, you’re not just competing against other blog articles that write a good course. You’re competing with anything that demands visual attention. It could be other blogs. It could be social media. It might be YouTube. It could be a Netflix series. It could be a physical book. It could be spending time with your family. You have to make an active decision that I’m going to sit down and read this blog.
Whereas, like you said, audio can go across the board, where it’s the one medium you can do that is portable. You can do it while you’re driving, or the dishes, or working out, or whatever; and when you break it into that kind of category, the only real competition you have are other podcasts, audio books, and then music. And maybe occasionally, the person … I know I have several creative friends who just throw movies on for background noise. But it’s like, those three primary things, all of a sudden, your pool is a lot smaller of what you have to go up against, and I think the realities of success are much higher.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah, that’s super, super good. One of the things I just want to add to portable content, which I’ve been obsessing on lately with podcasts specifically, is taking that idea and then taking that into the online learning or the membership space. How a lot of things, like LifterLMS and a lot of online learning tools, they’re web-based, and as long as you have a cell signal on your phone, you can still continue the learning experience.
But why not design [inaudible 00:20:03] some kind of podcast to go along with it? And even better if that podcast can double as lead generation, if they haven’t joined your community or bought your course yet. But value add to people who are already inside. And now you’re using the apps so that people can download podcasts, and then go take … keep learning on the go. It’s just a really fascinating way to look at it, because everybody is time strapped or says they’re, quote, “crazy busy,” especially if they’re married with kids. Everything seems to accelerate in terms of busyness, so it’s just a unique opportunity.
Jeff Large: Yeah, I think it’s great. 100% agree.
Chris Badgett: The other thing I want to add, too, just in terms of marketing, when you have a podcast and you interview people, it’s easier to end up, I find, with other people’s audiences. Even if someone’s come on my show or not, they know that, especially if they listen to the podcast or at least check out one of them or saw one of the video versions somewhere that they’re like, “Oh, you know what? I think that guy could probably add value to my audience.” People are always looking for that.
If you prove yourself as a content creator, and come off good … I mean, people recognizing me. If I’m listening to a podcast, someone who doesn’t know me, and I’m like, “Oh, that would be a great guest for my show. I’d love to introduce them to the 25,000 people on my email list,” I would gladly do it. Because I know they’re going to … Even what we can talk about in an hour is super valuable.
Jeff Large: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Any other benefits, before we move on?
Jeff Large: I mean, there’s always plenty. There’s always plenty. I think what you’re saying right now is really good, both from whether you’re producing it yourself or you are guesting. Some people, it just does make more sense to get on a guesting schedule if you don’t have the bandwidth. It’s a really nice place to start to even get your feet wet, to see if it’s something that you’d enjoy.
I know there’s more. There’s tons, but it really just depends on the goal at the end of the day. A lot of the time, you can go into these things and have a guess of what you need, but I would really … I would go at it reverse. I would look at, what is it that your business needs right now, or what do you as a entrepreneur need right now? And does a podcast, or can a podcast fulfill some of those needs, or help you accomplish some of those needs? Would probably be the most relevant way to go about it.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Let’s look at some of the hurdles and the road blocks. As a course creator membership site person, I feel for our community. And I’m in the fight, too, because you have to be an expert. You have to be instructional design-
Jeff Large: You don’t have to.
Chris Badgett: [crosstalk 00:23:00]
Jeff Large: You should be, but you don’t have to.
Chris Badgett: That’s true. Instructional designer, community builder, technologist, and entrepreneur. These are all very different skill sets, and it’s very difficult for a single person to master at least a basic competency across all these five things which need to be firing in order for the project to work. Podcasting, it has a lot of moving parts, or it can. What causes people to fail with podcasting?
Jeff Large: People don’t know what they’re getting into, like anything. It’s not just exclusive to podcasting. Think of the thing, the task that you want to do, whether it’s you’re going to start working out. It’s the beginning of the year, we’re kind of hitting that threshold. What is it, March? Where a bunch of people have probably already dropped off that have workout routines. Or you want to figure out … I’ve been trying to figure out how to slackline for, like, a year now, and I still don’t have it down. I just haven’t put the dedication to it.
So it’s not unique to podcasting, per se. I think it’s the nature of what a commoditized culture has done. It’s created this lie that things that aren’t easy are easy. I look at my friends who are lawyers. I got a couple really good friends of mine. Our daughter’s godfather is a lawyer. I go to him for everything. Stuff like LegalZoom and that type of deal has made it, “Oh, this is painless.” It’s not painless. It’s important legal stuff that you need set up properly for your business, and I’ve heard him get his frustrations where I think even I was doing some very generic research, and he’s like, “Oh, are you an expert lawyer now?” And I’m like, “Okay, I’m sorry.” That kind of thing.
So with podcasting, it seems really easy. You can go to these … Let’s just record some audio, and then you can go and get it edited by somebody or you can edit it yourself, and then you push it to the web, and everyone’ll love you. Well, no, that’s not the case. There are things that exist. For example, there’s Anchor FM is this app, and you can record your podcast from your phone. I think it lets you automatically integrate music from iTunes, like select stuff from iTunes. I have several friends that use it. It’s a very, very super dead simple entry-level way to get into it.
But there’s trade-offs. Because it’s free, you’re subject to having explicit amounts of advertising from Anchor itself on the cast. You’re limited in what you can do. The sound quality’s trash, because you’re recording on the go, on your phone. So if you just need to get your thoughts out there, hey, maybe that’s a good solution. But if you’re looking to actually product something of substance, of quality, like these things that most of us strive to for a Serial grade podcast or Hardcore History, or any of these … The ones that we put up there on the pedestals. It takes a lot of planning. It takes a lot of work. You need to understand everything from how do I research content that people want to know about? How am I a good host? How do I tell a good story, or write a good narrative? What equipment do I need? How do I use said equipment once I buy it? After that, how am I recording? How do I balance the microphone level? How do I get my music proper? How do I craft a story?
Listen to NPR. They have teams of people that are just deciding where to place the … Not kidding. There’s other books. There’s one called Out On a Wire that I’ve been reading, and they talk about how they spent hours just figuring out to get the talking right. You don’t … Like we’re doing right now, we’re just cutting an interview. You said you do a little bit of light editing, push it. If this is going to be a full production type thing, you might take an entire chunk of something that we said, rearrange it somewhere else, and it’s like putting together a storyboard.
Then even beyond that, okay, how are you going to market it? How are you going to get it to the people? One of the questions that I’ve been pondering a lot lately is so many people will just record something, launch it, and then go, “How do I get people there?” Well, you missed a crucial step in the beginning by not planning. And then just understanding each social media has its own personality. You have to do specific things in order to grow a list and actually engage with it. How do you know if people are even going to your blog post that you’re writing? All those things.
And then finally at the end, how do you measure it? How are you actually seeing if you’re doing what you need to do, if you’re hitting your goals, if people are listening? It’s very, very easy on the surface level to go, “Oh, I’m going to start a podcast,” when in reality, like anything else, there is a ton of stuff below the surface that you really have to dig into if you want to be good, if you want to be an expert at it.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. It reminds me of blogging. Anybody can start a blog. I’ve always been interested in how podcast has a higher barrier to entry than blogging. It’s just easier to start a blog than it is to start a podcast, in my experience. But once you get to the hurdles of it all, for me personally, I find it easier to do an hour long podcast than a thousand word blog post article.
Jeff Large: Yeah. I mean, it depends on what the topic is, I think.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Jeff Large: And it depends on who you are; if you’re a writer or not, clearly, like all those different mediums. Because somebody might think the same thing about video. A lot of it, it’s dependent, but it makes sense.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, you pick your … find what you’re good at. For some people, it is talking and conversation. For me, I think I had to develop that more for the podcasting medium. You hear a lot of podcasters say this: “I don’t go back and listen to my early episodes.” I don’t go back and listen to my early episodes because I’m like, “What was I doing? I could have changed this, this. This sounds horrible.” Whatever. But that’s part of the journey.
Jeff Large: Well, you do that with everything. We did this with code, as a developer. You look at what you built … You read your code from a year ago and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, what was I thinking?” So it’s like, if you’re actually growing and striving, that’s a natural … I get so nervous. Even right now, I’m forcing myself to be uncomfortable and put a lot more thoughts and opinions and reflections out there. I started playing around with Periscope, and I’ve been doing little video, hey, this is what I’ve considered today, or the lesson I took today. Put it out on Twitter. I know for a fact I’m going to look back a year from now, two years from now, and go, “What the frig was I thinking? That was so stupid.” But you got to roll with it, because you’re always growing. Hopefully you’re always growing.
Chris Badgett: To your earlier point about how podcasting is so powerful as a tool, I think there is a level, just like video, where you have to get comfortable living out in the open. This whole issue of privacy is a big issue on the internet or whatever, but if you’re going to be a podcaster or a video blogger, or a blogger, and you’re talking about personal things, I think for some people, it’s harder to get over that living in public. Because the best podcasts, in my experience, that I listen to, it’s people who did do the come alive route. They’re being authentic, they’re being themselves, they’re being it raw, they’re telling it like it is. And they’re just being them. They’re on a stage, but they’re not acting.
Jeff Large: That’s a good way to put it. I was going to say … I had one question, and then a followup how do you handle this … Now, on one hand, keep in mind I still believe that basically no one knows who I am. It’s a very, very small audience that would ever recognize my name. So it’s not like I’m some sort of celebrity by any means. However, how do you handle that aspect of public life in your family? Because I’ve debated … I’m starting to do a little more with video, and I’m not 100% sure if I’m ever going to feature my kids or my wife, or that type of thing, or if it’ll always just be me.
Chris Badgett: Well, I’ve had a blog that included some family stuff in it. I also have a private blog that only my family sees, and super close friends. But for me, the line gets a little fuzzy between work and life, because I love what I do so much and I’m so passionate about it, and my family and how we approach learning as a family, it’s all part of the story. But I do, especially with young kids, respect … We’re not anti-technology or anything like that, or anti-screens, but we do limit the amount of exposure and everything, so that it’s a healthy balance of all the other things that we do as humans.
But I would say that I do … I’ve made that choice for me that I’m okay with it, but I think it’s a choice that I leave up to each individual in the family, and I think the kids … While they do show up from time to time in some things, I’m really saving that choice for them to make when they feel comfortable with … and when it’s appropriate. Like, is the parent … like, to allow them to choose their publicity level. Because I have friends that aren’t even on Facebook, and they refuse. They’re completely … You cannot find them on the internet.
Jeff Large: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: But that’s their choice, so I think a lot of it is personal choice.
Jeff Large: Yeah. Okay. No, I’m just curious, because it’s something I’m toying with at the moment. My whole family is amazing, and like you said, there’s the high level of integration with me working from home. My son’s kind of dual enrolled. He goes to school two days a week, but he’s homeschooled part of the time. My daughter, she’s just getting homeschooled by my wife and I. My wife also works from home, and so it’s like we have high contact. Even today, I got … Sitting here, because I got to do a video on it, but I got this awesome box from Zoom with a bunch of new equipment in it, and my daughter’s like, “Oh, exciting,” and she wants to help open it with me. It’s stuff like that, so I’m kind of playing with that idea.
One other thing, to your point. I’m curious on if you had any thoughts with … You said you sort of respected the come alive way, and the authenticity of it. There’s a weird balance with, “I want to be transparent, and I want to be authentic,” and I think that’s more for the benefit of other people that are considering going down this type of road, and just being real about the fact that it’s difficult and it takes a lot of time, and it takes a lot of effort, and it can be very stressful.
But on the other hand, I think as business owners, and especially service providers, that we need to have a high level of confidence and expectation. I’m wondering if those two things, if the authenticity ever degrades the confidence level. Does that make sense?
Chris Badgett: I don’t think so. It does make sense. I don’t think so, and one of the main reasons I do podcasting besides my own selfish desire to get free consulting and meet cool people and stuff like that, is it has become, accidentally almost, the number one source of lead generation for our software, LifterLMS. And I’m not a famous person, but I have gone to WordPress events where people knew who I was. I have no idea who they are. They follow the podcast, they recognize me in public. But it’s not like I go to the airport and that happens, something like that. But because-
Jeff Large: Oh, Chris!
Chris Badgett: I have heard our customer say … You mentioned at the very beginning, podcast helps build trust. But it’s a classic sales statement that people buy things from people that they know, like, and trust. In addition to trusting, there’s liking and knowing. Knowing is being in the earbuds for years before maybe even they contact you or buy your product, or join your email list or something. Liking, I think, comes from authenticity. Because if you’re being yourself, you’re either going to repel or attract people. And maybe there’ll be some people that are kind of ambivalent to your personality, but I’ve gotten the statement that people … They bought our stuff because they trusted me, they liked the thing, they actually appreciated how our podcast wasn’t … It was just real. Went straight to the conversation, and we just talk. They just like it. It feels authentic. Sometimes we go on side tangents and talk about different things, but people-
Jeff Large: Like family.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. From my experience, people like that. Because they want to do business with people that they know, like, and trust. The longer I’m in business, the more I realize how true that really simple statement is.
Jeff Large: No, that’s good to know. You got more years than me, so I’m going to stick the course, then. Stay with it. Keep putting myself out there, whatever.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. It’s good, it’s good. I’ll say, it takes some time. I think as a podcaster or a blogger or any kind of business owner or course creator, there’s definitely an inflection point where it seems like you’re talking into the void. People often say it’s just like your mom listening to the show, or who took your course, or on your email list. And things are small until they’re not, but you have to start. That’s the key. It’s a journey, and it’s not like the overnight success thing or whatever.
Jeff Large: I think that’s huge. I don’t agree with most of what Gary Vaynerchuk stands for, but there’s a few comments that he’s made just in terms of appreciating every interaction, every interview. Even if it only has 10 views or something, you don’t know who those 10 views are. Just giving everybody the chance, where I think sometimes I feel tempted, even as I have, say, a submission come through on the website or whatever, where maybe the person didn’t leave me much information, so it makes me feel like, okay, this person doesn’t know what they’re talking about or something.
But just getting over that, not being arrogant about it or anything, and genuinely giving them a call and seeing if we can help. I’ve just been blown away so many times by what would perceive to be a small, small endeavor. Small phone call, small interview, small guest opportunity, whatever it is. But you just don’t know. It’s all of those things, you don’t know who you’re helping and how much you’re helping them. You don’t know what that can play out, and what connection that can make.
Just even how you and I met each other was originally, I had a friend reccomend me to Joe Casabona, and then him and I have started talking. We’ve started meeting on a semi, couple every week we touch base with each other. He recommended you, and it’s playing into this now. You were on my show, now I’m on yours. You just don’t know. So when you’re open to these networking opportunities, and just ways to give back, I think the fruits are clearly there.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, yeah. That’s the relationship piece, and that’s how it grows.
Jeff Large: For sure.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, I’m just thinking back about how I got to know Joe, and I can think about four people that I connected to before I met Joe. On the internet, and then later, I’ve met him in person. And that’s the How I Built a Podcast, which is a great show.
Jeff Large: Yeah, yup, very much.
Chris Badgett: Come Alive Creative, your business, for people who want to get into podcasting, we’re talking about the five hats of course creators. The technology piece, the entrepreneur piece, even the instructional design piece, the creating digital content. Podcasting can help across a lot of that. What does your service offer?
Jeff Large: We try to create a turnkey solution for people that want to start a podcast. We don’t necessarily have to do everything, but we literally can do everything. Most of the time, when people hear podcast production, they’re going to think of probably one of two things. One would be what we said; what would … our academy is. Where basically, it’s a source of somebody, they’re giving you some consultation. This could be in person. It could be in a group, just one on one. Or, it’s courses that they’ve created, tutorials on how to do this. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes it’s paid for.
The next tier up would be, say, what probably the largest pool is in terms of what I would consider even remotely our competition. If you have your audio and you need your … Say you record your interviews and you just don’t have the expertise to know how to edit it well, you don’t have the time and you want to get it edited and maybe some show notes made, and even the post done for you. There’s a lot of companies and individuals that will focus in that area, where they just edit podcasts. That, even, there’s a fair amount of commodity to that, where prices start relatively low and then they can go up to several hundred dollars a month.
With us, we kind of take it to that next level where podcasting’s sort of the tip of the sphere, but it really has a lot more to do with content strategy and consultation in that sense of the clients that, say, would come to us, need to do specific things. I’m thinking of the people that I have now. One wants to create more opportunities for himself to be able to speak in a collegiate type setting. Another one wants to build more authority and connections in his own personal community. Another one is looking to … Two of them, actually, are looking more for authority type stuff, in terms of building just some clout in their own industry and leading the way in their own industry, and they see podcasting being able to do that.
So, we can literally go … We have a four part process. I sort of alluded to it earlier, that we basically can handle all of your planning. We know who you’re targeting audience is, what your goals are, all of the legwork up front. Next would be the actual production. It’s recording and editing those down. We can host it. We have either myself or people on my team that would act as host for you, like on your behalf. Or you can do it yourself and we just coach you on how to get better and product the episodes.
The final two phases are promotion, like we talked about, of where to go with it. And then the last one is measuring that progress to make sure that we are actually tangible getting to the goals, and that way we can verify that this is a worthy investment for you.
Chris Badgett: And you have … I love to stack, by the way. In the expert industry, it’s all about the stack. You have a done for you slash done with you service, or you have the do it yourself option through the Come Alive Academy. What do people learn in the academy?
Jeff Large: You can learn every … Now, this is the part where I can be transparent about. I’m not … The videos and the content there is good, but I’ve organized it in a wrong way. Basically, it’s everything from start to finish. It’s all of those pieces that I’ve said. It’s organized a little bit different, but it’s basically you’re going to learn from the academy the very basics of planning. You’re going to learn a variety of equipment and how it’s used. You’re going to learn how to edit, and then you’re going to learn on the pieces of the puzzle, of how to get it synced into your website, which hosts to use, media hosts specifically. Not website hosts, per se. How to generate an RSS feed, how to submit that RSS feed to things like iTunes and Stitcher and all your Google Play, a lot of those major aggregates.
That’s sort of the core. But beyond that, I’m constantly making new classes, and I’m going to be reorganizing it in a way that’s a little more fit and in depth. I would say right now, it’s a lot of … It’s a big scope with not a ton of depths. My editing course goes in kind of deep. I talk about Audacity and a lot of the capabilities of Audacity, and then otherwise it’s a pretty solid general overview. If you have no idea, it would be a really great place for you to go. But my courses that are being created now, and that are getting expanded on, those will be for more of that mid-level or high-level person, or higher level person that wants to dig in deeper.
I created one on basically our entire workflow on base camp, of how we have a really set, solid process, like you said, that it’s systematized. I’m going to be doing breakout courses on specific pieces of equipment and how to really understand. Not just, hey, here’s a digital recorder. Hit play. Everything that it does, and all the capabilities. So if you have a specific need, then you’ll know exactly, “Oh, I got to take this course.” It’s not there yet, but that’s the direction that we’re moving.
Chris Badgett: So if you’re a do it yourself-er, check out ComeAliveAcademy.com. I do want to get back-
Jeff Large: The plug.
Chris Badgett: I do want to get back to the other part of your stack, the services. Some people have more money than time. What really jumped out at me was what you said about … I didn’t even realize there was a service out there where you could have a podcast and not even host it yourself to achieve some kind of business goal. I think that’s really interesting for some people.
But even just the next level down, where all I need to worry about is showing up to host or whatever, that’s fascinating to somebody who’s, like we said, you can’t wear all the hats. Or it’s very difficult to wear all the hats. So if you are going to build a team around your project and find services out there on the internet, like Come Alive Creative, to fulfill … make podcasting at a professional level approachable and with the right things in place, without all the do it yourself learning curve, that’s a pretty sweet opportunity.
Jeff Large: I would think so. I’ve kind of planted my flag in that realm. It’s one of those things, like you said, you get a level of expertise. You continue to sharpen your blade. Now that the only thing that I’m doing is podcasting, I have a million questions, just personally, for myself and needs that I have for my clients. For a long time, I have my current setup the way that it is. But I’m recommended different pieces of equipment that has forced me to really, really get to know everything that’s available, and build relationships directly with these companies.
Or even simple stuff like what is the best video platform for connecting with remote guests? I’ve used at least 10 different ones, and I can tell you the nuances of each one. And it’s like all of that stuff, I think even from a … Practically speaking. Not even a sales point, but just the amount of time that you save by having a team like ours come in, or even one of our … like I said, a competitor. Somebody that is really niche, like legitimately niche in an area. That’s why it’s such a big advantage. If you need a podcast, you can learn all of it. Absolutely. Be my guest. But understand, we’ve been doing it for at least … I think I’ve been podcasting for maybe six years, specifically, and I have about 15 years worth of audio experience behind my belt. So it’s like, okay, you can do that. But it’s going to take time. And it’s that kind of thing that you have to weigh out if you want to be the technical expert or if you just want to be the host, like you said.
Chris Badgett: Here comes the free consulting part, which the listener can benefit from as well. What is the best video conferencing podcasting, or what are some of the nuances between them? We’re on Zoom right now.
Jeff Large: The trick question.
Chris Badgett: That’s what I use. Yeah.
Jeff Large: The real answer is, I haven’t found one yet, and it sucks.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Jeff Large: I am a big proponent for hardware over software, so a lot of the time … If you want a simple solution … I’m just going to spitball real quick. Simple solutions are your … Tell me yours, because I can see that you’re using the Audio-Technica mic. Are you USB plugged in?
Chris Badgett: I’m USB plugged in, and using Zoom, recording to the cloud, not locally.
Jeff Large: Okay, okay. All right. That is a very dangerous setup for me. That makes me incredibly nervous, where I’m sitting in front of an actual hardware Shure SM58. I got a-
Chris Badgett: I’m jealous of your sound, by the way. I can tell from the very beginning. I’m like, oh my gosh, his sound’s going to be so much better than my sound.
Jeff Large: Do you-
Chris Badgett: Sometimes I interview somebody and they have earbuds in, so I win. But you’re definitely … Please continue.
Jeff Large: Will it make your audiences sick if I flip my camera real quick?
Chris Badgett: No, go ahead.
Jeff Large: Okay, all right, here we go. I’m going to take this over here. We’ll walk you through. I got the Shure SM58. That’s running down into my Mackie 1202 mixer board. Everything, when I’m recording, has been recorded on a Roland R-05. However, this has limitations, and I can shoot real quick. It only has the 3.5 millimeter line in, which is fine for studio, but sucks if you ever want to actually have an XLR input, which is the fatter cable with the three prongs or whatever. You’re coming in this line right here via nix minus, and so it’s basically, without going into super detail, you’re getting all of the sound except for yourself, hence your level’s podded down all the way. And that’s getting pushed back out on this aux.
This would be the channel if I was doing my own recording. I got my studio monitors. These are okay. They’re not the best level, by any means. They’re Mackie. They’re good, don’t get me wrong, but the more important thing are headphones. But then where some of the magic happens is the stack I have underneath, where I recently picked up the DVX. Basically, this creates a pre-amp. Dynamic microphones, like what I have, naturally are a little quieter, and so this’ll boost the sound out of the gate. The one below that is a gate limiter that I’ve used for a long time, and so essentially, that’s cutting out any background noise in pre-production, before you ever hit post-production. So it just eliminates any of the noise that you would get in the background, like fans or dogs barking or things like that, if it’s not of a certain decibel level.
From there, it’s just a power strip, and then that amp is for if I’m running live sound with my actual speakers, if I’m doing an event or something. And then even finally, I’m starting to play more with … I’ve got connected with this company, Cloud Microphones. They make a $2,000 ribbon microphone, but this acts very similar to the pre-amp that I showed, and it’s a lot more portable, so it’ll give you a boost and gain, plus it has the same circuitry as their ribbon microphones, for only $150 a box, in order to just pop up your sound and make it sound a lot more clear.
Long story short, huge advocate for hardware. One of the big reasons why was just reaffirmed for me. I’ve recorded hundreds of episodes on my digital recorder. Never lost one, ever. I recorded … tested out Zencastr just last week, or two weeks ago. Of my first three tries, I lost an interview completely. Zencastr records the source audio from each side, so you’re getting that individual channel you can work with, and it makes it way easier for editing. But the fact that it died, and if … Fortunately, I was backing it up with this, because I didn’t trust it, and it came through. My recorder came through for me.
But I mean, you got Zencastr, in theory is awesome. But I don’t trust it as a standalone, because say I lost … I recently … Episodes I’ve been really proud of lately, we had Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers on. If I would have lost that interview, I would have cried in a corner, for sure. So Zencastr in theory’s not bad. I’ve used Skype. Skype is not dependable, but it has a very signature sound, where when it does screw up, it will just draw out the person’s voice. So I’ve used Skype enough that I know how to edit it and make it really clean.
We’re using Zoom. I really want to believe in Zoom. Zoom is probably the thing that I want to be my favorite, but it’s probably running at about 90-ish percent. I still will occasionally get the weird garbles. I’ve used Appear.in. Appear.in is really awesome for meetings, but I wouldn’t feel like it’s foolproof for recording on. If you’re just connecting with somebody and you need something dead simple, you literally just give them a URL and they go there and it works, as long as they’re using Chrome or something.
That’s really cool for meetings, but not for interviews. I’m trying to think of other ones. There’s other ones that I’ve used, too, but if I had to pick one, I want to believe in Zencastr more, and so I might give them the benefit of the doubt and try them some more. And then I still like Zoom a lot. Those are usually … Zoom is probably my go-to right now for recording episodes, and then I’m hoping that Zencastr continues to improve. Because in theory, it’s really solid. It should be really solid, at least.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, thank you for the tour. I definitely, within the next year, I want to take this step up into better hardware, so thanks for showing me what you got going [crosstalk 00:52:18]
Jeff Large: Yeah, and I mean, even like I said; the big box that I just showed you is new stuff that I’m going to be adding into the rig. There’s always stuff. There’s easy ways. There’s easy and … You don’t need everything I have in order to do it. But with me doing it full time, it doesn’t make sense not to have a decent setup.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. And to that point, for the course creator out there, you’re not just making podcasts. You’re also making course content and lesson videos, so this stuff is important. Quality is important [crosstalk 00:52:47]
Jeff Large: Oh, for sure. Even … I won’t bust it out right now, but I’ve picked up an okay camera. It’s not the highest end camera. I got a Canon T6I for the videos that I’m doing, but you can easily … I’m a big, big fan of just recycling, period. So whether it’s content or stuff, a lot of these recorders, you can have them as additions to your cameras, if you have a DSLR camera or something, if you buy the right one. And so you’re getting it as a dual purpose. You can use it for podcasting, and then you can also use it for really killer audio on your videos. There’s easy ways to save money if you do a little bit of research up front.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, what are some top tips you have around podcast promotion?
Jeff Large: The first one, and this is-
Chris Badgett: You mentioned, by the way, that different social channels behave differently, and I haven’t really thought about that. I mean, I repurpose content or recycle content, but … I don’t know, you mentioned that earlier, so I wanted to get into that a little bit, too.
Jeff Large: Okay. The first thing, and this is top of mind for me. I mentioned it already, is that you have to plan. If you really want something to land well, you have to plan. I’m a huge advocate, or I’m a huge fan, of Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media. He’s the chief marketing officer and co-founder of their agency out of Chicago. He’s one of probably two or three people that I read all of his stuff, because I just think it’s that good. I’m really hard to please. It’s difficult for me to take the time to read just blogs and things, but his is one of them.
I interviewed him a few episodes back, but we share a similar belief that you need to know. There’s just simple things you can do by looking at … defining who is your target audience, knowing who they are, knowing where they are, and knowing what topics interest them. There’s simple things that you can add into your workflow, like say brose Quora or browse Clarity, or these different sites where people are asking questions.
Look at … Another huge tip that I learned from Joanna, the Copy Hackers episode that I mentioned, is if you have a specific topic you’re getting into, dig into Amazon reviews. You said you’ve done stuff with gardening. Look at gardening books that are relevant to your thing that you’re trying to do. Dig into the reviews. See what their pain points are. Look at the actual verbiage that they’re using, and then pull that out and apply it to your own homepage. People will identify with these things.
And so, it’s just too often where, “I got a great idea. I’m going to write a blog post and post it.” Or, “I’m going to record an episode and post it.” And then after the fact, we go, “How do we promote it?” Well, you missed a critical step that could have saved you so much time up front. Planning, for me, is huge. Because you can determine right out of the gate whether it’s even worth doing or not, with proper planning.
So that’s probably the first and easiest missed one. And then from there, again, a lot of it hinges on who your audience is and where they are, but I mean, you can do anything from … If we look at it from a recycling standpoint, you have even … I could probably guess your workflow. You have us on video, so you’re getting this video thing that you’re able to push out to different … whether you’re using Vimeo or YouTube or Wistia or whatever it is. So you got the video element.
Stripping the audio out. Audio goes out on the podcast, so there’s this audio media file. From there, you’re probably making a podcast post to go along with it, which all of a sudden, now you have basically the equivalent of a podcast … Or, I mean, not a podcast. A blog post with the audio player embedded into it. Then from there, there’s probably good quotes that you and I had that we could strip out and use for different aspects of social media. You’re able to easily create some sort of newsletter, if you got a newsletter that you’ve been going, to either recap the post or just specifically for this post.
And then, you’re able to do stuff too where you can take, say seasons, and you can do … Or seasons, or if you had specific episodes that line up with each other well, you can create roundup posts for them that feature everybody, and then you’re going to get a bunch of shares from those people again. You can create lead gen stuff that’s relevant to the thing that we’re talking about. You could create course studies, or eBooks, or what opt-in things. Whatever it might be, there’s a ton of different ways to repurpose it and to get word out there about it. So those are probably the two biggest things; planning, and then being very strategic in recycling the content.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. And I’m not doing all that. I’m doing maybe 60% of that, so thanks for [crosstalk 00:57:30]
Jeff Large: Yeah, but still. That’s probably 40% more of what most people are doing, so …
Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s super cool. And then what was the last piece you mentioned? Progress, or analytics?
Jeff Large: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: I’m actually … This may come off as odd, but I have never really dug into our podcast analytics. I’m so focused on the website, eCommerce, and how our users are doing, and stuff like that. I just haven’t taken the time, as funny as it sounds, three years in, to really dig into podcasting analytics. What am I missing?
Jeff Large: Well, okay, I got another post that I’m going to quickly reference, and then address that thing. There’s a lot of different ways to determine the ROI, or the return of investment. For me, it’s important that … I have a personal goal that whatever I get paid by a client, that I need to at least double the value for them, whether it’s in the time that I’m saving them, but more likely the revenue or the leads that I’m able to generate for them. So I need a way that that can be trackable, and so … It’s a little bit of a different context. I care about numbers more, because that will validate whether we should continue a project or cut it, that type of thing.
But for … Depending, again, on what you’re doing with your podcast and who it’s for, you can look at things like listener numbers and downloads, is just the standard thing. Trying to think of what else might be relevant. You can be looking at … There’s a couple different things you can do, but the downloads, specifically episode to episode.
Because say, for example, we had a prior client who we used the podcast in a few different ways. One, from a progress standpoint, was we could see which episode topics were most popular. For this client in particular, we had huge popularity around Facebook ads and advertising, and also copywriting. That informed their decisions of the written content they were producing, that our audience clearly likes these few things. Let’s hone in on these few things, and then we can see the topics that we did that had the least traction, that got the lowest amount of listenership. We knew, okay, for the most part, we can make an educated guess to avoid these kind of topics.
In terms of things like your reviews, if you’re tracking things like what are people saying, it’s a really easy avenue for you to improve, to grow, to capitalize on what you’re good at. To gather social proof for your network and what you’re trying to do. It might help you with … By collecting those things and seeing what they’re saying, it might help you with getting speaking deals, if you’re hoping to do more public speaking. A lot of different avenues there.
And then other things that people often take for granted are what I mentioned. In terms of the social pushes, the email pushes, the site stuff, where a lot of marketers will argue that podcasting is very difficult to track success. And in some ways, yes, I would agree. But in other ways, you can make relatively informed decisions by looking at the episodes or the things that you’re doing, the platforms that you’re doing, that directly relate to those specific episodes you’re promoting, and tracking things like engagement.
What is the analytics of your website? Are people directly hitting that URL, or URLs that you referenced in that episode are specific URLs or slugs, or patterns of their behavior of how they’re traveling through your website relative to this? What your open rates look like on your emails, what do the click through rates to those specific episodes look like? And you can start to tell which avenues are working, and which ones aren’t, and then you can sort of pull the 80-20 principle and then begin to really hone down on those things that are generating the most results, and maybe ease up on the things that aren’t, or just abandon the things that aren’t.
Chris Badgett: That’s beautiful. Yeah, that’s really good stuff. I’m going to re-listen to that, and take notes, and put some things into action. Well, Jeff Large, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you so much for coming on the show. He’s at ComeAliveCreative.com, and ComeAliveAcademy.com. Is there any final words you have for the people?
Jeff Large: No. Well, yes, I lied. You guys are great. Guys and gals, I appreciate you having me on, and just the opportunity to talk about, like we said, something that makes me come alive. So thank you, everyone. This was fun.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. Thank you so much for coming on the show, and we’ll have to do this again sometime.
Jeff Large: Perfect, sounds great.