Q&A With Dave Jackson Of The School Of Podcasting
May 3, 2016
Dave Jackson has been helping people harness technology for over 20 years. He is a Professional Podcast Mentor and founder of the School of Podcasting. He is a featured speaker, author, and podcast ambassador. Dave will be speaking at the 2016 Podcast Movement conference in Chicago.
1. Tell us about how you got involved with podcasting.
I had been doing an email newsletter for musicians about how to grow your audience, and I was always looking at marketing tools. A friend of mine came back from a convention and said the next big thing was going to be podcasting. This was March 2005, I did a quick Google search, and there may have been a page and a half of results. I remember thinking that I had broken the Internet. There just wasn't much about it.
Once I put together a feed, uploaded an mp3 file, and then saw it automatically come down in my "podcatcher," I was hooked. I knew it was going to be huge. Later, when I got my first voicemail from Germany, there was no turning back.
2. How has podcasting evolved in the years that you've been doing it?
In 2005, I used a program called Juice to manage my podcasts; there was no iTunes yet. It would download my mp3 files. I would fire up my software that came with my iRiver mp3 player and drag and drop the files to my player. I'd take it with me and listen in the car. I was traveling a lot, and I would often run out of podcasts.
Flash forward 11 years and now there are no more cables. There are numerous apps on your smartphone that go out and update and get more shows. I have my phone set up to download on wi-fi only (to save my data package), and there is wi-fi everywhere I go. Consequently, I'm never out of podcasts.
It's also got a lot harder to make a horrible sounding show. In 2005, many of us were using those stick microphones. They sounded terrible, but it worked. Now you can spend $80 on equipment and have a phenomenal sounding show. I don't think you can get away with the audio quality from the stick mic, but you don't need to spend thousands on equipment.
The other thing that has changed is the number of podcasts being created. I did a show called Today in Podcasting with Rob Walch, Paul Colligan, and Gary Leland and you could talk about the few podcasts that got launched each week. Back then, it made the news if a company started a podcast. Now you have a thousand new podcasts a week going into iTunes.
3. You have been training podcasters for years with your School of Podcasting. What are the biggest challenges for people who are just starting to podcast?
There are a few things: The tech can be intimidating; but it doesn't have to be. If you've ever adjusted the radio volume in the car when the phone rings, then you can mix audio. If you've ever uploaded a picture to FaceBook, then you can upload an mp3 file to your media host. If you've ever written something in Microsoft Word, you can make a web post. There are so many tools that you could use, but in so many cases you don't need them. Just because some podcaster is using a $1200 studio setup, that doesn't mean you need one too. The content is the key. I've never stayed subscribed to shows because of the warmth of the audio. New podcasters can get caught up in thinking they always need more gear.
Another hurdle is that podcasting is a slow burn. When you start, you have no listeners. So you need to pick a subject that you are passionate about and would talk about even if nobody was listening. In the beginning, you will have a handful of downloads per episode. This is why many podcasters quit before episode seven.
"Podcast envy" can also be a hurdle. Some podcasters get into podcasting to have fun with friends, family, and other like-minded people. They have a good time and enjoy it. Then they hear about other people making money with their podcast. By comparing your podcast to theirs, you now feel like you're doing something wrong. It tarnishes your perspective on your show. Imagine that you buy a kite, and you're flying it and loving it. Then someone comes up and asks, "So how much money are you making with your kite?" You wouldn't quit.
In the end, we are all impatient. We live in a microwave society where we binge watch and get everything we want when we want it. When we start a podcast, we want 10,000 downloads per episode immediately, and that is just not going to happen overnight.
4. In 2014, you were the Director of Podcasting for the New Media Expo. What did you learn about podcasters and podcasting in this role?
It's a great community. There is no competition in podcasting. There may be similar shows, but since we are not broadcasting at the same time, it removes the competitive aspect. You can listen to me on Monday, a similar show on Tuesday, another show on Wednesday, etc. With this in mind, we all help each other. Some of my best friends are my "competitors."
I think we all have a helping heart. We know the joy we get from podcasting, and so we have no problem answering the same questions from new podcasters because we want them to enjoy podcasting, bring in their audience, and help podcasting grow in general.
5. You're the author of More Money Podcast: Turn Your Passion into Profits. What's the biggest challenge for podcasters looking to monetize their work?
Here again, we lack patience. You make money from the relationship you build with your audience. That relationship takes time. Gary Vaynerchuk says it takes years to build a business, and yet we have podcasters wanting to quit their day job after six months.
The other thing is radio bases their advertising on thousands of listeners. With podcasters, the issue is we are doing "narrowcasting" instead of broadcasting, which results in a smaller audience size, but a stronger audience connection. So trying to apply the radio monetization models to podcasting won't work for 92% of podcasters. We need to be creative, and realize the power of that niche, and don't under-value it. That audience loyalty is why we are starting to see more impressive numbers with services like Patreon. You have a passionate audience that wants to take care of their host - because of that stronger connection.
6. Make a prediction: What will the state of podcasting be in five years?
Based on the Edison Research, in five years, 45% of people will have listened to a podcast. I think Bluetooth connections will be even more evident as your phone travels from home (where it connects to your speakers or television) to your car (where most of us will still be using our phone to tie into the dashboard). We will all know someone with the new connected dashboard with the podcasts app right in front. Having a podcast will be like having a logo. Every company will have one as traditional advertising feels the pinch of the fast forward button.