Podcasting doesn’t just end with recording and posting content. Being a podcaster and a content creator often includes crafting the brand, managing social media, and maximizing your podcast SEO. During this, it’s important to ask yourself, “Is podcasting part of my brand, or is my brand podcasting?” Do you use your podcast as another medium to spread information about a topic, or do you aim your other platforms towards your podcast?
Amy Whitney, of Real English Conversations, does the former with her show REAL ENGLISH CONVERSATIONS.
“Our website, Real English Conversations, is an ESL website. We focus on helping intermediate to advance-level learners to improve their speaking and listening fluency. And really, it’s a website where I help people learn how to learn languages more efficiently as well, and it’s based on my own experiences that I went through trying to learn Spanish and failing miserably for fourteen years before I figured out how to do that.”
Her podcast acts not only as a vehicle to inform but as a tool to direct people to her site. In fact, as she built her business up, she included the podcast and accompanying podcast SEO in her model as a marketing tool to bring listeners back to her site where a larger portion of her content lived.
“I’ve always had a dream of moving abroad, so I’ve always been thinking about digital marketing, ways to create this portable income. And a few years before I started my website I was involved in another online business, and I learned about SEO. And I realized that that was really an effective way to get your website found on Google. It really was something I knew about from the beginning, and I knew the podcasting was going to be a channel that would help me to attract traffic to my business.”
While the podcast itself was a large part of her brand and was an effective educational tool, she did not rest the burden of monetization entirely on it. This allowed her more flexibility in creating her content, knowing that she also had a website full of content that could bear the brunt of monetization while her podcast SEO did the work of directing them to her sellable content.
“Monetization is actually a pretty interesting topic, and I think that in general most people initially think, “Hey, I can make a podcast, and if it’s really popular maybe I can make some money on ads or something like that,” and fund their podcast or earn some extra cash. But in my case, I didn’t really look at it in that way. I knew it was going to be part of my business model overall, and really, the podcast and the lessons that we’re producing to put out on the podcast is really the face of the product. And the real stuff and what we sell is back on the website.”
And what inspired Amy’s plan, to create a podcast and site big enough to monetize? A desire to help people become more fluent in English.
“When I started out my podcast, it was really like, “Okay, what helped me to learn Spanish?” because as I said, I was stuck at the beginner level, fourteen years, failing pretty bad. And I was like, “I’m going to move abroad one day, I’m going to need to speak the language, let’s get down to what the issue is.” And I realized that with the conversations that I was studying from a Spanish podcast – it was from Notes In Spanish which was based in Spain – with their lessons, I was able to analyze a little bit of how people were speaking and the words they were using. And I realized that this website was doing through their podcast-it was the same style that they were using to promote their lessons, and back on the website, there were some transcriptions, some exercises, things like that they could sell. So in my case, I thought, “Okay, well, I can’t really teach Spanish, because I’m not good at it, but I am a native speaker of English and I think I can leverage that to make some money.” And of course, I needed to have a website, a place where I could sell those transcriptions or whatever I was going to sell, and to host my podcast.”
While Amy’s plan to build everything from the ground up seems a little daunting, she found a lot of online resources that helped her create everything she needed. From payment portals to keep up the site monetization, to e-courses and online scheduling tools, she found walkthroughs and tutorials for practically everything she wanted. And if something came up that she didn’t quite know? She had the resources to find and hire a programmer to ensure the functionality of her site.
“So this was the start of the business idea, and early on I knew that this was going to be everything, but it was the place that we were starting. I was working pretty hard operating a small delivery service back in Colona(?). We did not have a ton of cash, I didn’t have enough money to pay a guy three-thousand dollars to build a website for me. And I started out with one of those Wix websites, or GoDaddy – you know, the two-dollar-a-month ones – and probably after playing around with it, investing too much time in it. But I realized, “You know what? This is not going to give me what I want, I’m going to have to compromise on the design, I’m not going to be able to integrate with the tools that I want, the payment gateways, those sort of things.”
“So I came to the decision that I had to learn how to build a website. And I didn’t care if it took me six months to learn how to do it. I realized it was something I wanted to do – or needed to do – in order to move forward. I was very happy that it didn’t take six months. It took a three-hour Youtube tutorial on how to build a WordPress website.
“Wordpress is a very powerful tool. It can help you set up payment gateways, the email list-building tools that you need, event calendars, the membership walls where you see to pay to access content, e-courses, all of the stuff. It was super easy to setup. So now that I learned how to set up the WordPress website, that has allowed me to do basically everything that I need to do on my own. And occasionally I hire a programmer to help me with something really specific or fix something dysfunctional, but normally that’s not necessary, in my case I have a lot going on with my website, I need some support.”
At the heart of her success, she says that the ultimate tool for growing her audience and monetization chances was SEO.
“With SEO, this is something that I’m really happy that I learned because it helps me to understand how Youtube videos get found, for example, through the searches, and it helps me understand how to build a good post so that when I’m publishing a new podcast, random people on the internet who aren’t even looking for a podcast, sometimes they’re finding my podcast through searches. And it also helped me to understand how the podcasting search engines worked, and how I can position my podcast to be found.”
So SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization,” and that basically means that when somebody types something into the search box, something comes up that they want to see. It did take me some time to learn SEO, and the basic practices of doing it, and what was important, but I really just picked things up from this SEO guy and expert. His name is Brian Dean, and he had a website called backlinko.com, and through picking up little tips here and there over the years, it’s really helped me to build my knowledge and to integrate this knowledge into every page of my website, every Youtube video, every podcast episode.
I would say that one of the biggest complaints that I get in that Podbean Facebook page that I’m a part of is that people don’t know how to promote . . . so what I want the people to do – who are listening – to start thinking like this: just like Google, people are typing in what they hope to find using a few keywords when using their favorite podcasting app. So podcasting apps, fortunately, have a very simplistic algorithm, compared to Google (and this is something you guys can figure out), so they might consider the popularity of the episode, for example, but keywords are predominantly what brings up the episodes.
So where I learned how to do this, and the basics around this, is a Youtube tutorial by Pat Flynn. This guy is going to walk you through everything. Some of the things you might know, some things you might learn, but he’ll explain everything from a big overview, and I think it’s really useful for even experienced podcasters to go through this. But one of the things he talks about specifically is the ID3 tags or the metadata that you can embed in your podcast when you’re saving your file. So you can put keywords in the title, the author, podcast name, episode description, for example. Who knows what iTunes uses, actually, or what the people are picking up, but as long as you have the data there it can’t hurt.
Her best suggestion? Reverse-engineer what people will be looking for, and utilize those podcast SEO keywords for your episode descriptions.
Everybody can go into Spotify or iTunes, or anywhere, and type in words that they think that people may type in to find their podcast, and if you type in your competitor, for example, if you know who they are, check out their podcast. Look at what words are in their title. Look at which words are in their description. And take out anything, any phrases that are relevant to your podcast, and try to figure out how you can get those into your titles, your descriptions, and all of these areas into that metadata as well. And diversify! In every episode, you have a new opportunity to use some new keywords, so don’t just use the same ones over and over and be lazy. You can go back and edit the titles in old episodes that you have, that can also bring some fresh traffic in from random searches. And it’s really, really helpful.
To learn more about Amy Whitney’s journey with monetization and how to make SEO work for your podcast, check out the rest of her interview with us on Podcasting Smarter!
To learn more about Amy and the resources spoken about in the episode, you can find her on Twitter and her personal site!
Pat Flynn tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIJpOcFf5h4&list=PLzJ1r4EGn-eksdBA9rzmviJlzpaOF3TBp
This episode (from 7 years ago) talks about ID3 tagging: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-pc8aX_ie8
Real English Conversations YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/realenglishconversations