In this episode, you’re going to hear how podcast marketing was a game-changer for Alex Sanfilippo’s business. And if you’ve ever considered whether you should also start a podcast, he’s going to show you the business ideas and action steps you can take today to get moving!
If it’s because you don’t see yourself as an expert in your niche, today’s guest, Alex Sanfilippo is here to share why that’s okay AND why you should dive into podcast marketing anyway!
BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU’LL LEARN:
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Courtney Elmer 0:00
Welcome back, you're listening to another episode of the System's Made Simple™ Podcast. This is episode 138.
Courtney Elmer 3:27
I'm joined here on the show today by my good friend, Alex Sanfilippo. He's the founder of a community called podpros.com. And the creator of a very popular service among podcasters called pod match, which is kind of like Tinder for podcasters. It's a platform that connects quality podcast guests with quality podcast hosts. I have really been looking forward to our conversation about how to start a podcast for quite some time.
We've had the privilege of being able to connect a few times over the past couple of months, done some collaborative things together. And I wanted to bring you on today because you have had such a unique and interesting podcasting journey. And I'd love to dig into how to start a podcast with you to kick us off. Why podcasting? How long have you been podcasting? And really, why did you even choose to start a podcast as a way to reach more of your ideal audience?
Alex Sanfilippo 8:01
Courtney Elmer, thank you so much for having me, I referenced this before we got started, I listened to every podcast I'm gonna be a guest on. But it's very rare that I find one that I'm like, I'm going to binge, this whole podcast, and I decided that yours will be one of those. And I also want to reference one more thing real quick, and I'll get started. I'll keep this really brief. But you are not the only person to teach people how to start a podcast, It's not a surprise anyone, you can go to Google and find somebody.
I have to say the way that you do a podcast from a business perspective is top tier, I have not heard anything as good as your show. And I've been podcasting for a long time. And I listened to the first episode, I listened to your show, I was like, I gotta change something. Courtney Elmer does this. It's a great show with great content, but also the way you podcast is second to none. So thank you again for having me Courtney Elmer. It's an honor to be here to talk about how to start a podcast.
Courtney Elmer 8:46
Oh, I'm excited that you were here. it's really great when someone listens to your show and gives you that kind of feedback. So that means the world to me, thank you for that.
Alex Sanfilippo 9:01
When I decided to first start a podcast didn't sound anything like yours Courtney Elmer. As a matter of fact, when I got started, I was blogging. I came from that world and realize that there was an opportunity to start a podcast that went along with being a blogger. I decided to start a podcast solo. And in my lightning-fast mind, I was like, well, where's there no echo. I was like a car which I was way off, but I was like a car is a good spot to start one. And I don't have any fancy tools, but I have this little iPhone. So I'll record on my iPhone sitting my car. Really bad quality, no direction no, no focus. This was back in 2015, and I stopped the podcast as soon as I start a podcast, I think I made it maybe 10 episodes and was like, This is ridiculous. I'm never doing this again.
Anyway, fast forward a little bit, I decided to try to start a podcast again. And I took it more seriously. So this time, I actually did my best to find some content around it, and launched a show that actually did really well. I really, I launched it, for lack of a better term, Courtney Elmer was because I wanted free coaching, I started a podcast because I was in a nine to five job. And I wanted to become an entrepreneur, but I knew nothing about how to transition from being a corporate guy to a in my own startup guy. that was kind of my introduction and why I decided to start a podcast, Courtney Elmer.
Courtney Elmer 10:49
So in 2015, did you feel that that played a role at all in why you stopped? Was it because okay, I don't really know what I'm doing. I don't really think people get this media. I'm going to stick with what I know. What do you think was the thing that kept you from continuing at that point? Because I'm sure you can say now looking back, gosh, if when I did start a podcast, I stuck with it since 2015, where could it be today? Or do you have any of those thoughts and what was maybe the thing that kept you from going?
Alex Sanfilippo 12:00
having no education was a big piece of it Courtney Elmer. But also, it was a lack of tools, a lack of search ability, like I've wanted to be consistent with it with blogging, I blogged every week for, I don't even know how many years it was, it felt like forever that I was doing that. And I eventually sold that blog that I was that I had started. And I'm thankful for that. But when I went to start a podcast, there's so much friction involved in it. And at that point, at least, I couldn't find the tools that would make how to start a podcast easier. But also I didn't have a sense of direction or real purpose with it. It was something I'm like, I'm going to try this, I'm going to start a podcast. And really, that's maybe not the best reason to start a podcast, right, you should really sit back and have more of a plan or strategy, especially if you're saying I'm going to start a podcast and keep it long term. But there was all sorts of things that kind of, like hit as okay, maybe this isn't, isn't the best thing for me to be doing.
The other main one Courtney Elmer, is lack of searchability at that point. Back then none of the search engines were finding podcast episodes, and to find one through Apple podcasts. Spotify didn't even have a way to find podcasts back then. So it was basically Apple and Google podcast, and they had a different name for it back then. But you'd have to search through those. But it had to be exact, like you couldn't say, I'm looking for a podcast about leadership, And that's not what the show was about. But you wouldn't able to find it like that you had to type in Alex Sanfilippo. And no one can spell Sanfilippo.
So the big problem after I start a podcast was no one was actually listening to show and when I dove in the analytics, I found that really discouraging that there was like four or five people listening every week. And now I look back. I'm like, what, if I was helping somebody, I probably should have stuck with it. But back then Courtney Elmer, I was like, What the heck, like 1000s of people read every blog post I share. And even though I linked to the podcast episode, people aren't listening to it. But even the listenership tools weren't that friendly back then. So I shared a lot there, there was a lot against me, I'm not trying to make excuses. What it often comes down to is the fact that I did not truly commit to sticking with the start a podcast process.
Courtney Elmer 13:48
Well, what you said there was really important because that piece applies now as much as ever the commitment piece. I tell people this all the time, if you're going to start a podcast prepare to stick with the podcast. I saw statistic couple of months ago that most episodes, like most podcasts now in Episode Six, because the host quits. That's heartbreaking to me to start a podcast and end 6 episodes in.
So what I'm glad to hear with your experience was that you didn't let that initial experience stop you. You came back to it, you came back to it with a strategy, you came back to start a podcast again with a clear plan. And it has evolved into something I'm sure beyond your wildest imagination since with what you have created not only with your podcast for your business, and how that serve your business, but what you've created for podcasters everywhere. So I'd love to hear a little bit about that from you. At what point in your podcasting journey Did you realize, gosh, there's a lot of people out there who I could help to start a podcast.
Alex Sanfilippo 15:55
First off Courtney Elmer, I'm going to share like what I learned when I start a podcast that used to be called creating a brand. And since then, is now refocused to being for podcast guests, and hosts on my way oversimplify this, because what I learned during that time about being an entrepreneur from these people was, you find an area of passion, and then you get into that community. And then you find a problem that community has, and then you offer a solution. And that to me is entrepreneurship like in its simplest form.
And obviously, there's a lot of systems to be connected, Systems made simple, you got to make them pretty simple to make that really work Courtney Elmer. But I realized that what, okay, I want to be an entrepreneur, I've learned this about entrepreneurship, I want it to be in the podcasting space, which I didn't actually expect, like, I did not start off with that I was going to start a podcast and use this as the vehicle to learn. But I was like, this is the only vehicle I can learn in. But I can also jump into this space. And I realized there was somebody with an abundance mindset. And that's where I wanted to be, for lack of better term, I could like feel that passion, that purpose driving me that way. So I found my lane, and I really jumped into it. And that's what led me being like a podcaster into a podcasting industry person.
Courtney Elmer 17:53
That's so interesting. And I mean, what you said is so true. And we hear this in all marketing one-on-one, right, like, find a problem solve the problem. And I think sometimes we resist that, because we feel that success has to be hard. we have to earn the money we're making, we have to put in the work, there has to be blood, sweat, and tears involved. And like you said, there are systems there, you have to connect all of that, it sometimes takes time to get going to hone your messaging, hone your marketing, hone your niche, all of those things. So what was the thing that people were saying that they were struggling with the most when they start a podcast?
Alex Sanfilippo 19:05
I didn't find it right away Courtney Elmer. As a matter of fact, you had an episode on May 24th 2022, where you talked about seven to seven tricks for to stop over-committing. And I way over-committed. So I was talking to people that were not in the niche that I wanted to be in. And so I was over-committing saying yes to everything, when really I needed to be like, I need to have some guardrails around who I said yes to. I really needed that episode, by the way, Courtney Elmer. So I encourage anyone to go back and listen if you haven't, because I think even now, that still served and helped me a lot. So I encourage them to I can hear that.
But for me, it was learning to really focus in on the right person. Because there's always the outliers that have this really crazy idea. And if you chase that you're not really going to be serving people. So what I found is I wanted to find the simplest problem to solve. I'll leave the complex difficult problems to somebody else. I didn't want that one but one was the simple one. And I'll never forget it was that Courtney Elmer.
I was speaking in Orlando, Florida at a podcasting conference. And when I got off stage, I made a commitment that anyone who would talk to me and people are nice, whether you're good or bad speaker, they're going to say thank you for being here. So I asked every single person who had talked me that was a podcaster. I asked, Hey, what do you most struggle with in podcasting right now and when you start podcast. I'm having trouble finding the right guests for my show. And I was keeping track of these people. I was writing them down their name, their contact information and taking off what they were struggling with. And 100 people told me the exact same thing, it was having trouble find that ideal guest.And so that was the simple problem I set out to solve Courtney Elmer was the , what, if I can help podcasters overcome this fear of who's my next guests going to be?
Courtney Elmer 21:28
imagining some of our listeners right now nodding their heads, because we've got so many business owners who listen to this podcast and a variety of industries, right service providers, coaches, course creators, small business owners retail, brick and mortar. And what's interesting is that, , there's one thing that we all experience in our business at some time or another is the challenge of getting leads the challenge of how do we reach more people with all these amazing things that we have to sell? How do we get more eyeballs on what we do? And I'm curious to know, what are some of those things that might be coming after the but that you've seen in your experience? Because you've worked with many business owners, many podcasters? What are the things you think are keeping them from start a podcast?
Alex Sanfilippo 23:16
I think that the biggest thing that I hear is, oh, I don't know how to start a podcast. There's so much tech involved and all that stuff. And I'll admit there is but Courtney Elmer, you probably have a one page guide on everything you need to do to actually like actually launch a podcast not to have like great content or anything like that. But it's probably on one page at this point, because the Tech has been so streamlined now.
Now, when you and I started, go back two years, it was completely different Courtney Elmer. There was like 1000 steps you had to go through. But now you can basically press 10 buttons, and you can technically have a podcast won't be a good one. But you could have a podcast, And so I always that's the first thing I hear people saying and I don't know what you hear. Because again, you've got people that the podcasts won't be their primary focus. Is that the same thing you hear as well, like, I'm curious to hear from like a business perspective, what you run int.
Courtney Elmer 24:00
I think that is a fear, especially if you're not a quote-unquote, tech-savvy person. And I always tell people, Look, if you can send a text message on your iPhone, or post something to Instagram, like, you can start a podcast, , because like you said, it's changed a lot. It's become a lot more intuitive and user-friendly. One of the things that I hear a lot I'm curious know if you hear this too, Alex is, I'm not good enough to start a podcast. I don't consider myself enough of an expert to start a podcast, which is interesting to me.
I did a real on this recently, about how a lot of people come to me and say they want to start a podcast because they want to be seen as an expert. But the thing that's keeping them from getting started is that they don't feel like they're enough of an expert yet. And I was like well, you've got yourself really in a little catch 22 conundrum there, don't you? , let's let's unpack that one. if you start a podcast it will absolutely add to your credibility. But what if you don't see yourself as an expert, and what has to shift there in order to get you to and open yourself to the possibility that this could be a viable means for you for your marketing. Do you hear that too?
Alex Sanfilippo 25:06
Yes, I'm so glad you brought this up Courtney Elmer. I mentioned the whole tech, the tech wall that's in front of us, I found that people use as an excuse for the real problem, which is I don't feel like I'm good enough to start a podcast, or I don't feel adequate enough to start a podcast. Or maybe I don't have enough expertise or experience to start a podcast. And people say, Oh, it's the tech. And the thing is even someone who hears it says, Well, no, it really is a tech for me really sit down and think about it. Is it really? Or have you overcome more difficult things?
Probably at some point, to me learning tick tock is more difficult than podcasting at this point. And in Courtney Elmer, you've done better on that than I have. But I think that we I think we have to really sit down and, and reflect and say, Okay, why am I really not willing to start a podcast? And yes, Courtney Elmer, what I find is that people are selling themselves very short. And that the advice I always give people on this, if you're saying, Well, I want people to see me as the expert, but I'm not really that yet. No one has ever been ready to do something when they did it right like that. If it's worth, like, if you really want to step out as the expert, you have to be the person that's paving the way. And I always tell people takes courage. And the meaning of courage to me is being afraid than doing what you have to do anyway.
And so for me Courtney Elmer, the first podcast episode I released, I'm going to go back to something I didn't share earlier. But that first podcast I did, I mentioned, there was like four people listening, I never once shared that I started that podcast, I could never bring myself even text a friend about it. I was so nervous, that I wasn't good enough to be doing what I was doing. And that's the real reason I let it died. All the other things were pieces of it right. But then the day excuses of the real problem of I didn't have a strategy because I didn't feel like I should have a strategy. And so fast forward back to what we're talking about. Now, you've got to be willing to say, what, I'm going to step out and have faith that this is going to serve somebody. And you can always tell people, I haven't arrived at the destination yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday.
And I think that we can help someone up one more step, grab their hand and pull them above that rock they're struggling to get over, then you owe it to the people that are in your influence to help them do that by sitting behind a wall of saying, Oh, I can't figure out the tech, or maybe I'm not good enough yet. That doesn't help or serve anybody. And so I don't like preaching here a little bit, Courtney Elmer. But I think this is the biggest thing that we've got to be willing to say, what, I'm not going to let that hold me back. I'm going to develop a strategy and system for this. And I'm going to start a podcast.
Courtney Elmer 27:24
Preach it, Alex, I love it. And it's so so true. And I appreciate your vulnerable share there as well, with like the real reason, , that kept you from continuing at that time. And if you're sitting here right now and you're like, Okay, I feel so seen at the moment like this is it , I've had the thought to start a podcast. Hey, Courtney Elmer, Alex, I hear you, I hear you. If that's you really consider that and do some deep work reflecting on that.
I want you to think about how in your business, you are holding your business back. I mean, podcasting aside, how you're holding your business back, by keeping your light down, by sitting there behind your fear and your excuses. And by not allowing yourself to be the person who turns around and reaches that handout to the people who are out there struggling right now who need you. And I say this was so much love, because I kept myself in that place for the first three and a half, four years of my business. And I use every excuse in the book.
At some point, we are the only ones who are holding our own selves back. And when we do that, we rob others of the opportunity to learn from us, with what we can teach with what we are equipped to teach. It's not about what you don't know. It's about what you do know that you're choosing not to share. And I think this is so important for us to remember and then it's relevant for us as podcast hosts as relevant as business owners. And hopefully this is landing with you listening right now, if this is something you feel like you've been struggling with, in your own business, because Alex and I could sit here and talk all day about how great a podcast is, but until you really examine that part of yourself that might be resisting. You're not gonna take the action that's needed.
Alex Sanfilippo 31:05
Can I add something to this real quick Courtney Elmer, This is really actionable for everybody here. You recently had John Lee Dumas on the podcast, which I can't anything John Lee Dumas produces is great. So and I cannot I haven't been cued up. I haven't listened yet, but I encourage him to go back and check that out, even though I haven't heard it yet. He was one of the first people I heard when I wanted to start a podcast, and something that he said really helped me. And he said, figure out who you're going to serve with your podcast, create an actual avatar, and to make what we're talking about here really practical. So for me, who does Alex serve? Who can I show up to really help write that down in the form of like a why, like, why would I start a podcast And then take it one level deeper and say, What would an ideal listener look like?
And give this person a name, And that's something that I did. So I created Adam and Adam, like he was around my age, he was wanting to leave his nine to five job. He had to listen to podcasts while he was working out. He was in a serious relationship. What right like he was very similar to me at that point in my life. But I would always remember that, , what, if I don't release this episode, Adams gonna listen to music in the gym, and he's not going to get closer to fulfilling his dream.
And I think that when we can do that, that really helps a lot. And I'll tell you what, Courtney Elmer the first time, I realized I was on the right track when my podcast wasn't when it hit 100,000 10,000 downloads, like it wasn't any of those things. It was when I got a message that said I've been in a job where I think that my boss has been borderline abusive for years. And she said, I finally quit today to pursue what I knew I really wanted to do. When I got that message, I told myself, there is no way I can ever stop podcasting ever, because it takes one of those to realize I made a real difference in somebody's life. And so to piggyback on what you said, it's so important that you gain that bigger perspective and break it down to make it individual. And when you do that, I find it to be so much more powerful Courtney Elmer.
Courtney Elmer 33:22
I'm so glad you went there, because that was the exact question I wanted to ask you next, , because in your experience, I know you've heard this from people too, that I'm not enough. And I don't know, I'm not enough of an expert now. Okay. And we get that on a meta-level, But then how do we actually break it down and make it tangible so that someone listening to this can walk away from this episode? With an actual action step to start a podcast?
Alex Sanfilippo 35:18
Yeah, Courtney Elmer, I have one more thought here. That's that I think a lot of people get wrong from the start. if you're going to start a podcast, that doesn't mean you have to start a YouTube channel, it doesn't mean you have to create a blog, you don't have to have a tick-tock, you don't have to start doing reels. You don't have to have all the things. And I talked to so many people. I'm like, Hey, how's your podcast launch going? Oh, good. I'm trying to figure out the logo I'm gonna use on my social media accounts. I'm like, Stop, add that later. use your own personal one or your company one, right, whatever you already have. And say, by the way, the company now does a podcast as well. I always tell people that keep the main thing, And that's the last piece of feedback Courtney Elmer.
Courtney Elmer 37:06
I know you didn't listen to the JLD episode yet. But in that episode, I asked him, I said, John, would you go back in the beginning and do anything differently if you could do anything differently? And he said, Yeah, I would do more of what I set out to do in the first place. So to your point, keep the main thing, the main thing and focus there, and that I think is what kills us as entrepreneurs. It's not the over-committing.
It's not the time, the lack of boundaries, all of those things that we say are the reason why we're not successful yet. It's because we allow distractions, we allow our attention to be divided. Alex, thank you so much for being here today to share your wisdom with us your experience and your journey on how to start a podcast.
Alex Sanfilippo 38:46
Courtney Elmer thank you so so much.
Courtney Elmer 38:49
Okay, so I really hope you loved listening to this interview. As much as I loved hosting it. Alex is a wealth of knowledge, isn't he? I'll see you back here next week. And until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®.
Alex Sanfilippo is the host of the top-rated podcast called Podcasting Made Simple. He is also the founder of PodPros.com, a software company focused specifically on the podcasting industry. Alex and his team have created popular services like PodMatch, a service that matches podcast guests and hosts together for interviews, and PodcastSOP, a project management tool that helps podcasters keep up with their episode releases.