Episode 380

How to Create a Private Podcast For Your Course or Membership Site with Craig Hewitt from Castos

We have today with us Craig Hewitt from Castos, one of the leading podcast hosting platforms for the world and for WordPress. He has answered a few rather unknown insights about the podcasting industry and how-tos in this episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett. Craig has a monetized podcasting platform and also trains people to effectively use podcasts as a marketing or awareness medium.

Castos is a member-only access podcast. He also uses LifterLMS, but in an interesting way. Whenever a student buys a course on his website, the individual is also automatically given access to a relevant playlist of exclusive podcasts so that they can learn more from the contents. 

What is the best use of a podcast? When should you start doing podcasts?

Craig responds that podcasts can hook your audience easily and the best thing is you get to create at least 4-5 contents out of a single podcast easily for marketing your brand. For a course creator, it is especially good because it helps you convince your learners by directly talking to them and opening up to them with free content. Once you start doing regular podcasts, it becomes a part of your process and after a hundred episodes, people who listen to you or know you from your podcasts will also start enrolling in your courses.

Because if you already have your personal blog or podcast, it really helps you individually to connect with an audience or even a recruiter who is trying to know more about you. It is creating free value to share to generate more trust and interest in your or your associated brands.

Prepare with at least six months of content before expecting any regular traction to generate in branding or leads. Consistently putting out content is very important and to do that you need to use some tools and a formula where you can repeat the good things about your brand in your content and create this content effortlessly.

What should be the ideal length of a podcast?

It can depend on the topic and the speaker. But 20-30 mins for a topic and 30-40min for an interview sounds fair enough. In an interview, it just takes some more time to introduce and know the person. Although, in the US, the ideal length of a podcast is considered to be 22 mins, as that is the average time for people to commute to their workplaces. However, you should not limit your podcast to that length as it would mean you are only targeting commuters. Your audience needs to remain broader. For frequency, a podcast each week is the sweet spot for learning entrepreneurs. More than once a week is too much weight, and once every two weeks is suitable for other industries, but not learning.

As a podcast creator, you should not just stick to only one format. Having multiple formats keeps your episodes interesting. For example, in one episode you can have multiple guests talk about a topic, the next can be a solo interview, and the next can be a one-on-one debate, or a mailbox readout, and so on. If you try to script it too much it will become too difficult to execute.

Having a community of learners alongside the course is very powerful because there they can share where they have started in a reality and then where they want to reach. It keeps the learners inspired and also allows you to see deeper and engage them to guide them toward success.

He shares some SEO tips for podcasts to stand out from the sea. You need to be as descriptive as possible with the right keywords, and not get carried away with making it descriptive and have a title that is too long, like 5 words or more. Also, if you stuff too many keywords meaninglessly then they might get removed or deprioritized in some platform algorithm.

How to get discovered by people?

The best place to start is by interviewing people and requesting them to share from their personal profiles/pages to give a shout-out to your episode if the guest is comfortable with it. So if you, the course creator, can create an episode weekly and get it shared, you are reaching a lot of people regularly and organically.

Seriously Simple Podcasting is a cool tool Craig uses to add a podcasting section to his WordPress site. Like offloading videos to Vimeo, this platform integrates with LifterLMS, hosts podcast files on its server, and delivers a fast streaming experience.

How to monetize from a podcast?

One way is to take the ads, which all of the content creators on podcasting try to avoid because it dilutes your brand, and also audiences just don’t react to ads anymore. But the best way to utilize it is by using it as a content marketing tool for your courses or your brand and adding a fairly easy paywall to the exclusive podcasts where you share the best tips and tricks with your audience.

At LifterLMS.com, you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build 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. I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Thank you for joining us!

Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett (Intro): You’ve come to the right place! If you are looking to create, launch and scale a high-value online training program. I’m your guy Chris Badgett, I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end! I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett: Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest, his name is Craig Hewitt and he’s from Castos-which is the leading podcast hosting platform for the world and for WordPress. Welcome back on the show Craig!

Craig Hewitt: Awesome! Thanks, Chris.

Chris Badgett: I’m really excited to get into what you do today. You know, podcasting and creating, you know, essentially audio content is near and dear to the course creator who are prolific content creators themselves. Let’s talk about podcasting specifically, like what’s the benefit of a podcast if you’re a course creator, coach or expert trying to build this whole online business thing.

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, I think that most folks from like a marketing and branding perspective like really focus on one channel, and for a lot of people that’s blogging for a lot of you that’s YouTube and for a lot of you that’s podcasting and I think that depending on the topic that you’re covering and your personality and style like you wanna pick the best one, that kind of fits the thing that you’re teaching, right? Or, or, the kind of brand you’re tryna build and where your audience would best kinda consume and process that information. Um, and we would just see overtime that like a lot of you say that “Oh podcasting wouldn’t work for that, try it, and then you’re hooked ‘cause it’s so easy and so effective,’’ and um, and I think that like that maybe the best part of podcasting is kinda like we are doing it here, we put a live on YouTube with (inaudible) live where you just publish it kinda statically later. You get the audio for the podcast, you write that up and show notes, you do a transcript, you create some social media assets and we’re gonna talk for an hour and you’re gonna have four, five or six pieces of content that you can use in your content marketing and brand building. And I think that like, that like, those are reasons that are great for everyone. I think for a course creator it’s good because people wanna buy your course because they wanna go from their reality today to their reality in the future. And you have to convince them of that. And to do that with text on a piece of-on a website or on a piece of paper or whatever, is really hard. But, if you are like this talking about your thing and sharing your knowledge and people get to know you and, and like.. trust you, overtime and they’re like free content than buying your paid course or membership or whatever is just gonna be that much easier of a transition for them. So I think that’s for me like, why podcasting and kinda content in general, but podcasting specifically is so valuable to the course creators is like because you’re selling the dream, right? Um, and how you can take someone from kinda where they are today to where they wanna be in the future, and if you’ve essentially shown them that, you know over hundreds of episodes then, like that the next step for them is so easy.

Chris Badgett: That’s a good point, cause I listen to your podcast with, uh, is it David?

Craig Hewitt: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: What’s the name of that podcast?

Craig Hewitt: Rogue Startups.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, Rouge Startups. So before I ever met you in-person through Zoom or whatever, I had heard you talking in my head about you know -business, entrepreneurship and its kind of one of the whole like building public thing, but like you had earned my trust and respect, as I was like “alright, this is a guy I wanna do business with.” So when we met, you know, I’m like “alright this is, this is Craig, this is the person I wanna be with-maybe talk about building-in public and how that has helped you or what that does for you.

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, yeah, I think, it just kinda takes it back to building public concept theories like even when you don’t have a product, when you just have an idea and kinda share what you’re doing and how you’re thinking about it, um, how you’re building your brand or your business as it comes and goes, because like it’s never finished, right? But a lot of people only start telling their story when they are at some kind of like a set of features complete and the idea of building in public is starting there so much earlier. Acknowledging that like ‘Hey, this is just starting, I don’t really know what I’m doing! And I’m just gonna talk about that whole process.’ So, that was very much my journey with Rogue Startups, it’s like I started it because I wanted to be an online business and I just wanted to talk to a bunch of people that were doing it and kinda just by osmosis-like pick up a bunch of information and connections and build those relationships. And it did that through those conversations, and like, Dave, my co-host now was a guest on one of the first episodes of the podcast and that’s just like one more thing that podcasting did for me, um, but then yeah! I go to conferences, we’re gonna end it great with, you know a partner in the industry and like I know most of them now because of my podcast and it just opens so many doors. I mean, we say that- like your podcasts,and your content in general, but like your podcasts because of social intimate medium, uh, is like your digital kind of business card, right? Like, if I want to go talk to somebody, if I have a hundred episodes out there about this thing that I wanna talk to them about, they can do their homework on me, and without having to rely on really anything else and so, its great like in business and I’d say like, it arguably even is better if you’re trying to get a job. You know, like, if we are hiring somebody and they have a prolific blog or YouTube channel or podcast like I’m gonna go check that out, cause that is like the realest version of them that there is I think.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, I mean it’s like giving away some value for free, like, if that’s the way to market these days, really, like not that you can’t do paid marketing but creating free value and I agree with what you said earlier about how podcast-I found..I know it depends on your personality type-is the most useful form of marketing for me. I started LMSCast, this podcast in 2014. I’d like to say I started around the same time as Tim Ferriss’s podcast, but ah, ah, you know the reason we did that was that we knew making a video out of it, would, kind of like have a blog post associated with it, and you know you’re leveraging partner marketing, cause we do a lot of interviews and um, try to help our customers beyond just the scope of our software through these interviews and everything, so it is very strategic from the beginning, this is somewhere around episode 380 and I can tell you eight years into it-it definitely pays off, but it’s a long game.

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, for sure.

Chris Badgett: For sure. Any advice for people sticking to it? Maybe I’m just an obsessive entrepreneur so I just never give up, but I know, I know a lot of people started podcasting in fizzles, why does that happen? Or, what do you advise for stickiness?

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, I mean, I think that, like, as you’re thinking about starting a podcast like if you don’t believe that you can do the next six months of content (pause) as you’re starting, then like, you’re not ready to start because its gonna take that long to get into any kind of like symbols of attraction, right? It’s, you know, feedback or business or leads or branding or whatever. So, like, if you’re not thinking six-plus months into this before you see anything, then you’re just not ready for it. But I think that they have a term in the industry and it’s called “Podfate,” right? And it is because I think it’s because of several reasons. One, people don’t know their ideal audience, and like their kind of ideals or persona well enough to know what they should talk about and I think that’s probably like the beginning problem. And then more like practically, a lot of you make it really difficult. And so it doesn’t have to be, so like you and I are talking today on Zoom, um, we both have, you know, not super fancy mics but like proper mics. You might edit this a little bit or you might edit it a lot, and that’s it, right? It doesn’t have to be impure to be really good content like that’s great, but it’s not required. Like I think the incremental gains of having a show that good or less, especially depending on your niche, right? So, like just getting out there is by far the most important, getting out there and doing it consistently over time is like the next most important and then having like really good quality sound is like the third or fourth down the list-but just having like good content that’s put out consistently so the audience knows what to expect from you is like, we try to follow the 80-20 rule a lot, and it’s like, the 90-10 rule or whatever, it’s like the 94-6 rule like it’s just consistently putting out content is so important, and a big part of it is like having a system and using tools and having a process that is repeatable for the long term.

Chris Badgett: Let’s give people some ideas of, like, different angles for shows. I’ll list off some and see if you can get to it, but there are interview shows, there are solo shows, there’s kinda ‘panel of experts talking’ shows, there’s what I call like a artsy show where maybe it’s like a mix of music and sound and story and all of that stuff. But what other kinda types of shows are there?

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, there’s like an AMA or like a mailbag kind of episode, um, and I think that something interesting to point out is any podcast can have each of these types of episodes within it, right? Your podcast does not need to be married to “this is only ever gonna be a solo show” or an interview show or a panel show. But I think some of the most successful podcasts I listen to have lots of different kinds of formats, um, and that’s cool for you as a creator ‘cause it keeps it kind of interesting and spicy, like “Hey, this is gonna be a panel show and I’m gonna have three different people and we’re gonna talk about talk about this one topic, and then the next one is a solo and then the next one is an interview. Um, so like, I wouldn’t-as a creator-I wouldn’t say like you’re fixed on one thing, for sure. Um, yeah like the mailbag one is a good one. I really like, like highly-scripted kinda solo shows, um, I’ll say they are ultra-difficult, and, so if you’re (crosstalk) Ohhh, what’s an example? Well, I’ll give an example is like, we do one internally, right? We have an internal private podcast for our company and it’s just me talking. Um, and it’s just hard because you and I are talking right now like there’s energy and there’s like this social dynamic that’s going on- but me just looking on the computer screen and talking for ten minutes is just like really really hard.

Chris Badgett: (Crosstalk) You know what though, with this audience, with course creators, you’re kinda used to that, so, they might be better at this so go ahead.

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, yeah, so, like I, those are really cool, because what you can do is, you can really succinctly relay a message and that then like, in an interview you’re trying to pull this kinda message out of a guest and you know, those kinda things like, if it’s just you, you have full control over not just the schedule because like you know-“ freaking guy rescheduling on me now even though we have an episode for next week!”-but if it’s just you, you’re in full control there. But also like, you just literally, you script it out, um, I’d get a teleprompter, they are amazingly helpful, you can just like put your iPad kind of up there and the teleprompter lays right over the top of your camera and it’s a great way to look at the camera and talk at the same time. Course creators probably have all this figured out because they do a lot of solo-creation stuff. Um, different formats, um, you touched on like the artsy one, in the industry we call it a “narrative podcast,” um and they are fantastic, right? Like you know, the media and (inaudible), all kinda popularize this and they are, they are great, but they are a lot, a lot, a lot of work. Um, but if you want to invest in creating a really great podcast, that is the 100% way to go. (Inaudible) and you’re telling the story, and you’re giving, kind of mini-interviews or sound bytes from a bunch of different people, and they’re great, they’re really impactful if you do it right, they often have a lot of sound design in them and a lot of transitions between pieces and then they are called narrative because then you’re narrating-Oh! This is interesting, I talked to Chris the other day and he said this, and then it cuts to Chris talking about that thing, and then I went and I talked to Bob and he said this. Um, so like a lot of true crime shows you know, pick up this, this format.

Chris Badgett: Very cool. Before we go into the tech a little more, what’s the ideal length? This is a question course creators get, like how long should my course be? How long should the lessons be? I personally like longer-form podcasts, by long, I mean if it were from 30 minutes to 4 hours but, what do you ah, how do you help people figure out this length question?

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, so I think that um, the cheating answer is as long as it should be, as long as it needs to be, right? That’s what my counting says. But I think that’s the right answer. If you wanna put a number on it, like a solo or a co-hosted show should be 20 to 30 minutes and an interview should be 30 to 40 minutes. And um, those are really broad numbers um, I think an hour is just a long time to talk and like I think you’d have, kind of, um, like reduced return on that conversation after that long. But, an interview is longer because it just takes a while to get to know the guest, get their background, stuff like that, whereas, if it’s just you or its you and the same co-host or panel every time, you don’t need to get to know the person and you can just dive into the amid of the matter.

Chris Badgett: One more thing I just wanna add to that is like the, you know that podcasting is like portable content, you know, in which there’s not as much competition, there’s music and audiobooks, it’s not like the screen where there’s like tons of competition. So what’s your target markets, you know, where do they have these gaps of time, or, do they work out on an audience, or they’re gonna have like a 45 minute workout or a 30 commute or how long does it take to do the dishes-this is when I listen to the podcasts.

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, yeah, yeah that’s spot on I mean like the single number you will hear in the podcasting industry is 22 minutes and that’s the ideal length for one episode, because that’s the average commute in the US. Um, but yeah, maybe that’s a little narrow-sighted because that’s saying your audience only are people that commute to desk jobs, which, especially now is not the majority of the people in the world, so.

Chris Badgett: Let’s start at the end of the tech conversation a little bit, then we’ll circle back to the fundamentals, but you mentioned briefly-private podcasting and Castos recently built LifterLMS integration and this is one of things that makes Castos unique in the space. Tell us about private podcasting and what you’ve done with LifterLMS.

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, yeah, so, just really basically private podcasting-think of it like a membership site, or a membership tool in audio format, so as opposed to this podcast which is on Spotify and Apple Podcast, a private podcast is meant to be restricted only to certain individuals. Um, they are invited by name and email address, um and what we build with LifterLMS here is the idea, to say “okay I have my course and WordPress and I’m using LifterLMS”-when a student joins this course or that course, I want them to be automatically added to Castos as private subscribers to my private podcast, um, so they can get this exclusive content and that can take like several different formats right? Like, one of the most common, or few of the most common things that we have are like repurposing video content as audio, right? Cause that’s super easy just from a technical perspective-is you know if you have a video editor, you say “hey please, just, you know export this as audio-only and publish this as an audio podcast,”-that works really well if the thing, you’re teaching is highly visual, right? If you’re just sitting and you’re talking anyhow, then it should be a podcast. If you’re teaching someone how to play piano or something like that, that’s like harder right? But um, if the medium that you’re teaching in the subject that you’re teaching on isn’t necessarily highly visual, then it’s a great candidate for just repurposing that video content, as audio. The other really popular one is a lot of courses have this kinda ongoing accountability and community aspect to it these days, um, and, personally, just generally I think it’s a really good practice right? And like having a sense of humanity with your course is great for, again, those folks that come and to you and say “Hey I’m in this reality today and I don’t wanna be in that reality, you know, down the road.” The community and accountability and you as a course creator, um, helping them along the way, in addition to the course content is really powerful and a lot of times, those are Zoom calls right? Or those are interactions in some kinda forum, and we are seeing people record the Zoom calls, do kinda AMAs from a Facebook group of questions and things like that and repurpose that as a private podcast only for those students. So those students are then getting the video content in the course platform, um, and then they’re getting the private podcast which is like you know, additional weekly Zoom meetings or AMAs or whatever, um, that are kind of a value-add right- to your students on top of, like, pretty much what anyone else is doing cause this is a pretty new thing.

Chris Badgett: This is great and this goes back to that portable content idea, you know a lot of course users add a laptop or desktop by really opening up the mobile device for an audio podcasting format, I mean I know personally when I’m in giant courses or membership sites, I’m itching to get away from the computer and just take it with me shopping or on the run or whatever I’m doing, so this is, this is a great innovation here. What’s the user experience for the learner in terms of their phone? Do they have a, how do they get the app, the podcast on the phone? (crosstalk) the private podcast.

Craig Hewitt: Yep, so when you’re added to a private podcast, you get an email from Castos on the course creator’s behalf, say “Hey Chris, we invite you to the super secret private podcast,” and then you as the, you know, the course creator in your Castos account get to say “ I wanna invite them via a private or a RSS feed that’s individualized to them.” And that’s cool because then like you can take and put that in Overcast or Pocket Cast or the Apple Podcast mobile app on their phone and you can listen to it right next to LMSCast or Tim Ferriss or whatever.
[both laughing]
Craig Hewitt: Um, or if you think your audience might not necessarily really be like podcast listeners already, or you just want them to have like more of a, more of an exclusive experience, we have our own mobile app that’s available on IOS, Android-the Castos mobile app and so that email invite can say- ‘Here’s your private RSS feed or, and/or, download the Castos mobile app, you put your email address in and get a one time password, you logged in and then you see all of the private podcast content that you’re enrolled to see. And so, that works like just like a regular old podcasting app, but only for private podcast content.

Chris Badgett: That’s beautiful! Thank you for building the LifterLMS integration, it’s so cool, I can’t wait to see what people do with it. So, go to castos.com! Let’s start at the beginning a little bit for people, ah, you’ve got a WordPress site you know, you got LifterLMS on as an example for your LMS, how do we kinda get the podcast or WordPress kinda-focused people? I know we can put it-the podcast-directly on Castos but we can also put it on our WordPress websites if you have a plug-in. Can you explain, like the getting started-technical stack and steps?

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, for sure, for sure. So, you have a WordPress site, you have Lifter for your course, the plug-in that we kinda own and operate is called Seriously Simple Podcasting and ah, it’s a mouthful. Search for a podcast, you should find it – Seriously Simple Podcasting (crosstalk).

Chris Badgett: It’s got a whale on it, it’s like a whale. (crosstalk)

Craig Hewitt: It’s nice because it creates a podcast custom-post site, so it’s kind of like a podcast section in your WordPress sites, so it can be separate from your blog content, it’s really nice, you can publish it as a blog post if you want to. But, um, yeah, so you’d kind of create the show, like the podcast in WordPress, connect to your Castos account cause that’s where you want your files to be hosted, because, the last thing you’d want is a bunch of files that are enormous to be hosted on your WordPress site, ‘cause it slows it down, and then steam or your download experience for you listeners is bad so (crosstalk).

Chris Badgett: I just wanna add that course creator are used to that with videos so, they are often off-loading that with like Vimeo Pro or Wistia or something like that, same thing but for audio.

Craig Hewitt: Exactly the same idea, yeah, just resources -you want those kinds of references somewhere else so that your WordPress can do the thing it’s good at and those media hosts can do what they’re good at. Um, so connect Castos to your WordPress site just with an API key that you get with your Castos dashboard and then every time you upload a file and publish an episode, the files are hosted on Castos and the episodes are copied over to Castos but kinda the source of your podcast uh is in WordPress right where you publish your course content or your blog post and all the other stuff that your brand has. Um, but then Castos, because you kinda copy all the content over, then you say “Hey, I want this podcast to be private” as you are setting all these up say “ I want this podcast to be private” Um and once you have done that, then back in WordPress you say “Okay, I have you know my course set up and there are kind of these levels of kinda students that have these kinds of privileges and rights. I want people that can sign up at this level to be correlated with this private podcast in Castos”. So we kinda have this matching to say someone who joins at this level is eligible to sign up for this private podcast and once it’s all done and saved, then anyone who joins at that level, automatically gets sent over to Castos and gets that email invite from us and get access to the private podcast.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome! So, when we are publishing a podcast episode, do we stay in WordPress the whole time, or is there a step where we go outside to Castos to add the actual audio file?

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, no it’s all in WordPress. Just that one initial setup, you have to, you know, connect Castos to your WordPress site, make it private in Castos, but then everything happens in your WordPress site. Publish the content, upload the file, all that kinda stuff happens in WordPress.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.

Craig Hewitt: And you can do this across as many different podcasts as you want. So you have a bunch of different courses and you want a different podcast for each one, or maybe you want a public podcast, again for like marketing and branding and then you want a private one that’s just for students, you can do all of that, you know, both from a single WordPress site and a single Castos account.

Chris Badgett: That’s very cool! Let’s talk about syndication. So like, we’ve got the podcast set up and I am talking about the public podcast now, and we want it to go everywhere. Like, I still find places where like “Oh, I didn’t realize I could have my podcast on Amazon.com”. I found that one like 6 months ago and I submitted the feed and they were like instantly approved and now you are on Amazon.com and why didn’t I know about that like 3 years ago. Like how do we syndicate it? Like we know about iTunes and maybe Spotify, like how do we, what are the best places and how do we be everywhere?

Craig Hewitt: You’re old school man! Cause it’s not called iTunes anymore. It’s Apple Podcast. I still refer to it as iTunes just cause yeah, when you and I started podcasting, it was called iTunes. But, I mean yeah we have a blog list on our site that lists like 20-something directories your podcasts should be on and maybe we can write that on the show notes but yeah, I mean the big ones are Apple Podcast, iTunes, Spotify and these are in terms of market share maybe and Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, Amazon Music, I Heart Radio, Player.fm. Um, and then what ends up happening is a lot of these other kinds of platforms end up pulling from Apple Podcast because it still is kind of “The” source of truth um even though depending on your genre and geographic location, Spotify may well be where more of your listeners come from then anywhere else. Especially outside the US, especially with the younger generation, Spotify has taken a lot of market share.

Chris Badgett: And that’s pretty much, I mean this is all free to get your podcast to all these places and all you have to do is like, they just want the feed, which is like a little URL that’s like your website.com/feed or whatever and you just kind of just submit it and it’s there. That’s all there is to it, right?

Craig Hewitt: Yep. Yeah and if you are using WordPress which everyone that listens to this is, there’s Seriously Simple Podcasting plug-in like, one of the main thing it does is, it builds and manages that feed so we give you that link, you copy it and submit it to all those places, and that’s just something you do once right? And once that kind of link is established between your website which is where that feed is located and these directories, then every time you publish a new episode, its added to that feed and those directories say “Oh, Chris just published episode 385, I better show that so folks can see it and people who are subscribed, can download the episode automatically to their phone”.

Chris Badgett: Do you have any just general, podcast SEO tips for being found or, I know it’s kind of a Wild West out there but, even artwork tips to like stand out but just that whole thing of like, “How do I stand out in a sea of podcasts?”

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, I mean, I think like that, the first thing that comes to mind is, it applies to both naming conventions and images like is not a lot of real estate right? Like on your phone even those big old phones like, don’t have that much space where they show the title of the episode or the name of the podcast and so like, when it comes to the cover image, when it comes to naming your podcast, be unique but be descriptive is what we like to say. So like, don’t be kind of cute and whimsical that when someone sees it, they are not gonna know what you are talking about but also don’t make it like 6 words longs to where, you would never see the most kind of descriptive word for you to say “Oo, that might be for me”. And the same is true for the images like, the image is really small right? So the font needs to be big and bold and it should be a pretty simple image. Um, maybe with like some kind of background or a headshot, something like that but you, make it like recognisable but interesting and make it easy to spell right, because it is a podcast and we are like saying it on the air and so if it’s some kind of word that’s not a real word or it could have like 2 ways of spelling it, like don’t use that. Those are like naming and kind of branding things and then like, when it comes to SEOs yeah, I mean Apple Podcast or Spotify are search engines just like google but not nearly as smart so um a couple of years ago, maybe a year and a half ago, there was a pretty big crackdown on keyword stuffing on Apple Podcast cause a lot of people would say um, they would have a descriptive title in the beginning and then have a bunch of keywords at the end of the title or of like the author field or the description and Apple Podcast came in and said “Hey, this is like silly like, why are people doing this?” and they removed a bunch of podcasts that did that and kind of penalized people. Um, so I would say like, Be intentional about the keywords you use and use them appropriately. Don’t be afraid of using those keywords but don’t stuff a bunch of words that don’t mean anything just to have a like, not-so-sophisticated search engine rank your podcast. I think the larger question you may be getting at is “How do you get discovered?” And I think that’s where an interview show like this is really great because like, you will send me an email in a couple of days or week that say like “Hey, our episode is live. Can you please share it out here’s links to those resources?” and I will and I will post it on Twitter or Linkedin or whatever and it automatically introduces this podcast to my audience, however big that is. Um, and this is a real benefit of an interview show over a solo or co-host show. Every episode is a chance to share kind your brand, and your message with a slightly different kind of circle around your kind of core topic and audience.

That’s just an easy way to build growth and, I think but that relies on you being intentional about sending that email and saying, “Hey, the podcast is live, having a little media kick-off like a couple of little tweets, a quote, a quote card or an audiogram, a link to the episode on your website and all the other stuff” so that it’s easy for me to then just click on Twitter and send something out. I don’t have to listen to the episode or come up with the quote. I will just find the link and all those other stuff. I will say those are the easiest, kind of systemic ways to do it that you create a process around this. You or someone on your team can help with that and kind of like put it on autopilot and let it run and then, 385 episodes later, you have like some real reach but um, there is not like a silver bullet with it. It’s just putting in good work.

Chris Badgett: One quick question. Do you have like a recommendation on the frequency of episodes? Like, I kinda feel like weekly is like kinda the sweet spot. What do you think?

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, I would agree. I mean, I think you are, (inaudible) specifically for course creators like weekly is probably the right answer. If you’re in more of a B2B space, I think you can get away with it less often but you know, your audience – as a course creator – want to learn this thing and want to like kind of progress their life in this direction that you are talking about so like they want from you as much as you can give. Also, one than once a week is just a lot of work but if you can pull it off, you’d be better off, you know, your brand would be better off if you could do more.

Chris Badgett: I mean, maybe. I know people who use LifterLMS to teach like stock trading and stuff like that. Maybe have a daily show that’s like 5 minutes where you talk about the market, more of like an audio newsletter kind of thing (inaudible) so there is no right answer. I wanted to ask you as a software company, I notice you use LifterLMS for your academy. Tell us about that decision and how courses fit into your world of helping people with your software.
Craig Hewitt: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s like the analogy I have been using. I guess it’s that, podcasting is kinda tough right? There are a lot of moving parts and it takes a lot to do an episode every week and to get over that initial hump was like, “Alright, I am gonna start a podcast and I need gear and I need to figure out what the heck an RSS feed and all this kinda stuff is.” Um, so we just had a bunch of folks come to us and say, “Hey, I read your blog but I like, I want more. Can you tell me more about this?” So, instead of getting on the phone all the time and having like, only being able to help people one on one. On this basis, we just said, “ Hey, let’s just open up this course.” It’s entirely free. There is a lot of courses that are like 500 or 5000 dollars that teach the same level of stuff that we teach for free because our hope is, folks come in there, discover podcasting, learn how to do it the right way, or it does at least and you know, use our tool or not but like, our (inaudible) to create podcaster. Castos Academy is entirely free. There is a couple of courses in there. One on gear, one on content creation, one on podcasting 101. We are adding stuff all the time in there and the hope is like kinda like “The go-to” resource in the industry for folks that just want to get good, unbiased information about like how to do things. There is a little bit in there about how to use Castos but 95 percent of it is just like podcasting in general and you can kind of like apply it like kinda however you podcast.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, thanks for slowing down to create that resource. Often when you create an academy or courses, you actually have to slow down but then you created this valuable asset that can just deliver over and over again. And if you are listening and you are feeling a little overwhelmed, Craig and I are podcasting pros and I’m trying to ask him all the questions. Like the key ones, you are gonna come across sooner or later so feel free to re-listen to this episode and also go check out the Castos Academy. Before we sign off, tell us about the future Craig. I see you as a futurous entrepreneur like you’re on this private podcasting which is um, you are like innovating in this space. Where do you see the future of podcasts? Even though they have been around for a little bit, they are still kinda new. I mean, you can’t, I don’t know, I have an old car so maybe I don’t know but you can’t like turn on the radio in the car and get a podcast. I mean you kinda can through your phone but where are we going? Where are podcasts going?

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, I mean, I think that there is kind of 2 buckets to look at. One is like you are talking about, “How do we get podcasts in front of more people?” And I think that’s just come a long way. Covid accelerated that for a lot of people in a lot of ways. Arguably, maybe that’s stepping back now as many people are back in the office and they are consuming differently than they were before. So, I think that yeah, You see them in airplanes now, you will see them in cars. You know, things like Alexa has podcasts now, you’re talking about Amazon Music so I think like that’s part of it. Um, I think for us specifically, the big problem with podcasting is, it’s always been, it’s really hard to make any money at it because up until kind of the advent of private podcasting, the only way to make money was through advertising.

Chris Badgett: Which most people skip right?

Craig Hewitt: Right. It’s garbage. It’s garbage for everybody. It’s hard for you as a creator because you have to put your sales hat on and say, “ I am gonna go sell my brand and exposure to me and my kind of belief to this other brand that may or may not really be tightly aligned with who I am or what I do and the kind of message I want to relay to my audience. And then you have to do that right, and dilute your brand a little bit by having an advertisement for mattresses or whatever. And I think you know, the better way to do it, I don’t think, we very firmly believe that the better way to make money from podcasts is either, through something like, selling a course and then having a podcast that’s attached to that right? And that’s like our podcast or this podcast is not to make money but to promote your brand. So that’s like a more indirect way to make money as a podcast, to use it as a content marketing vehicle to kind of promote your band. The other one is just like directly through selling access to your content right? If your content is that damn good, then there are a lot of people that will pay 5 or 10 dollars a month for access to your podcast and we unlock that through private podcasting to where you can say, if you don’t have a course let’s say, one should have a course cause it’s the best way to like monetize your ideas but say you wanna just have private content up there and you want to make from it, you can say, “Hey cool, 5 bucks a month or 10 bucks a month or 20 dollars one time to get access to this private podcast and then I will share all of the super secret stuff that like I don’t share on my public podcast or my blog or my newsletter.” Um, and in the creator economy which I know we both you know, kinda live and breathe, like this is the future because people know that ads are garbage and they don’t want to do all that damage to their brand and with their audience. They want to say, “Hey, my stuff is awesome and if you want a little more of it you know, it’s 5 bucks a month.” And there is an enormous economic opportunity with a huge variety of types of people from different backgrounds talking about things that really democratize how people can make a living.

Chris Badgett: So Castos has the um, the eCommerce piece to sell the private podcasts which I think, I think that’s great cause some people aren’t ready to start a course or membership site. I mean, a lot of people build an audience first, maybe you dip your toes in the water of monetization by having a private podcast instead of trying to string something together through Patreon or some other outside system. Just do it all in Castos. I love that idea, like a way for somebody to like build an audience, validate a market and start giving those early customers. It’s a beautiful thing.

Craig Hewitt: Yeah, absolutely. We are seeing a lot of really interesting stuff on both sides frankly, like on the just private you know, paid access to my content, but also my membership site or my course and I want to add a private podcast built into that. Just deliver that extra value to the students.

Chris Badgett: Absolutely. Well that’s Craig Hewitt. He is from castos.com. Go check that out. Also, check out the Castos Academy so that you can get zen with all the pieces of podcasting and maybe it’s challenging or has a lot of parts but it’s not too crazy once you get it all figured out. Once you set it up and published a couple, then it is just a rhythm. It’s a part of your creative life. Any final words for the people?

Craig Hewitt: No man. Thank you so much and this has been a lot of fun and hopefully, this was helpful to everyone listening.

Chris Badgett: Alright. Well, thanks so much, Craig.

Craig Hewitt: Thanks, Chris.

Chris Badgett (Ending): And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMS Cast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode and I got a gift for you over at LifterLMS.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action and I will see you, in the next episode.

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