We are extremely lucky to have two-time iTunes top 50 podcast host Jordan Harbinger on the show today. Jordan is a former Wall Street lawyer and an expert on social dynamics. His podcast, The Jordan Harbinger Show, receives a whopping five million downloads each month! He joins us today to share a wealth of knowledge about just what it takes to build a monster podcast like his.
One of Jordan’s central strategies is that he considers himself a fiduciary to his audience. He explains that many people think of their guests as the ones to be buttered up due to a desire to leverage their social standing. Jordan explains why this is wrong and hosts should instead consider themselves duty-bound to their listeners. Using this approach, hosts will be willing to do what it takes to ask their guests the tough questions their audience wants to hear and thus build a more interesting show.
Jordan also shares some of the other techniques he employs to keep his shows interesting and his audience coming back. He talks about how he uses his interests, track record, and the fact that he is roughly similar to most people as a benchmark. Jordan also shares what he learned from Robert Greene about extensive preparation, and dishes out a few hot takes on questions every would-be host needs to be asking themselves before thinking they will get rich or famous from their show. Make sure you catch Jordan on this one because he is on fire!
To learn more about how to build and monetize your personal brand, click here to request a free strategy call
Key Points From This Episode:
- Perspectives on building a reputation by advocating those around you.
- The idea that one negative piece of publicity can overrule many positive ones.
- A strategy for earning respect through viewing one’s role to their audience as ‘fiduciary’.
- Things a host will do differently once they adopt a fiduciary mentality.
- A guest also has a responsibility to their audience thus should be ready for tough questions.
- The role of Jordan’s track record and ‘normal-ness’ in why his audience keeps watching him.
- Why Jordan believes his own interest in his guests will make them appealing to his audience.
- Strategies for keeping content fresh such as getting out of one’s comfort zone.
- The value of being original over rehashing shock factor content in building an audience.
- An argument for embracing a copycat approach in the first years of mastering a craft.
- The value of hard work: Jordan prepares for interviews for up to 30 hours.
- A good interviewer adds value to their guest by making connections they haven’t seen yet.
- How interviewing Robert Greene taught Jordan that preparation will make his show better.
- Apps and audiobooks Jordan uses to speed up his preparation time.
- Why doing research oneself leads to understanding the true gems in a guest’s story.
- A breakdown of how making money through sponsored podcasts is not realistic for most.
- Ways to make money out of podcasting if your show has a niche audience.
- Two types of audience appeal (niched and general) and how they are incompatible.
- Why a podcast that markets a niched business will never become huge.
“If you only think about the listener and you forget the rest then you actually create a better show. Your audience trusts you more.” — @JordanHarbinger [0:07:50]“If you only think about the listener and you forget the rest then you actually create a better show. Your #audience trusts you more.” — @JordanHarbinger #personalbranding #influentialpersonalbrandpodcast Click To Tweet
“People always go, ‘How did you decide where to pivot and where to take your interviews?’ And the answer is my own curiosity – within limitations.” — @JordanHarbinger [0:11:54]“People always go, ‘How did you decide where to #pivot and where to take your interviews?’ And the answer is my own #curiosity – within limitations.” — @JordanHarbinger #brand #personalbranding #influentialpersonalbrandpodcast Click To Tweet
“There’s a reason journalists always want to be first. Nobody cares about the second and third version of the same thing.” — @JordanHarbinger [0:13:11]“There’s a reason #journalists always want to be first. Nobody cares about the second and third version of the same thing.” — @JordanHarbinger #personalbranding #influentialpersonalbrandingpodcast #brand Click To Tweet
“For me, podcasting is my business. I’m depending on scale but I have a quarter million downloads per episode. That didn’t happen overnight, it happened over 13 stinking years.” — @JordanHarbinger [0:29:43]“For me, #podcasting is my #business. I’m depending on #scale but I have a quarter million #downloads per episode. That didn’t happen overnight, it happened over 13 stinking years.” — @JordanHarbinger #personalbranding #brand… Click To Tweet
To learn more about how to build and monetize your personal brand, click here for our free video course
About Jordan Harbinger
Jordan is a Wall Street lawyer turned interview talk-show host, and a communications and social dynamics expert. He has hosted a Top 50 iTunes podcast for over 12 years and receives over five million downloads per month, making The Jordan Harbinger Show one of the most popular podcasts in the world. On the show, Jordan deconstructs the playbooks of the most successful people on earth and shares their strategies, perspectives, and practical insights with the rest of us.
Jordan Harbinger — https://www.jordanharbinger.com/
The Jordan Harbinger Show — https://www.jordanharbinger.com/podcast/
Free Brand Building Call — https://brandbuildersgroup.com/podcall/
Tony Robbins — https://www.tonyrobbins.com/
Chelsea Handler — https://www.chelseahandler.com/
Avicii — https://www.last.fm/music/Avicii
Avicii Documentary Trailer — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHwkOeMQQ0g
James Earl Jones — https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000469/
Conan O’Brien — https://teamcoco.com/
Howard Stern — https://www.howardstern.com/
Daniel Goleman — http://www.danielgoleman.info/
Robert Greene — https://powerseductionandwar.com/
The Laws of Human Nature — https://www.amazon.com/Laws-Human-Nature-Robert-Greene/dp/0525428143
48 Laws of Power — https://www.amazon.com/HighBridge-Division-of-Recorded-Books/dp/B00X0TKUS0/
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Hey Brand Builder, Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out this interview. As always, it’s our honor to provide it to you for free and wanted to let you know there’s no big sales pitch or anything coming at the end. However, if you are someone who is looking to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and get to know you a little bit and hear about some of your dreams and visions and share with you a little bit about what we’re up to see if we might be a fit.
So if you’re interested in a free strategy call with someone from our team, we would love to hear from you. You can do that at brandbuildersgroup.com/podcall We hope to talk to you soon, called into personal favor to bring you guys.
Jordan Harbinger. Jordan is really become one of the podcasts celebrities of the day. And it’s been so inspiring to me because he has hosted a top 50 iTunes podcast for over 12 years, and he didn’t just do it once. He did it twice, he had a show then he switched and started over. And now he’s the host of the Jordan harbinger show, which gets 5 million downloads a month.
So, you know, he’s been a talk show host, he’s a former wall street lawyer and he’s just really an expert on social dynamics and just kind of communication in general. And I just, I am just amazed at what this guy does and he’s been a friend and a supporter of me over the year. I’ve learned a ton just from watching him. And so I called in a favor to see if he would share some of the secrets to just some of the truth about what it takes to build a monster podcast.
RV: (01:50) So Jordan, thanks for being here. Hey, thanks for having me on, man. I appreciate it. And I gotta say, I love that shirt. I’m going to forget one of those. Yeah. Well we’ll, we’ll see. This is, this is a dad shirt. I know you have baby coming here soon, so it’s perfect. I’m about to become a dad. Let me know where to sign up.
I call this the dad pocket cause this is like the pocket you never use until you become a dad and then all of a sudden like you use this pocket all the time for just like bottles and wipes and all sorts of stuff that you get to look forward to the pacifier pocket. Yeah, I’m in. So well you to me are just like one of the models and the great success stories I think of the age that we live in.
And you know, seeing your rise in the podcast world, but especially what’s inspiring is seeing you rebuild. And that’s something that we know something about. We’re, we’re rebuilding Brand Builders Group is now, you know, really just hitting our first year and you know, so we’re in a reinvention stage ourself.
And one of the things that we learned is that building a reputation is more than building a business because you can rebuild quickly if you have reputation. And so I wanted to just hear, you know, since we study reputation, like what is your definition of reputation or when you think about reputation, like what are your philosophies about it? How do you build one
What have you done to create just the overall reputation that Jordan harbinger has?
So that’s a really good question because I never spent a ton of time consciously thinking about reputation. You know, I originally thought, well, I’m teaching people how to network. I should probably walk the walk because otherwise it’s disingenuous. And I also thought about, well it’s the internet and I’ve seen people who do shady things and word travels really fast. Or if you do something that’s not so good, but you’ve done a hundred things that are good, what do you get known for?
You know, you get known for the shady thing and especially if whatever it is that you’ve done that’s negative is in direct opposition to what you’ve been doing, that’s positive. It tends to massively override that stuff. We all know the story of like Tony Robbins bullied someone
It’s like the overriding thing that you think of when and it’s what everyone talks about. So instead of just thinking, avoid doing bad things and stick to doing good things to build reputation, what you really need to do is start thinking about how do I best advocate for people around me and for me as a podcast or as an interviewer, that means be an advocate for the audience of the show. So it becomes really easy to turn down dirty money, so to speak from, let’s say there’s an advertiser that wants to come on the Jordan harbinger show and they want to do like gambling ads, right?
Or there’s a company that’s like, Hey, we sell these hair loss pills. We don’t have a clinical study, but we’re going to pay you 35 bucks CPM. You if you’re not, if you don’t have an overriding principle, you start going, Hmm, that’s, I could use that money.
And then, but on the other hand, it looks like this, but on the other hand, it’s only a short run. But on the other hand, you know, you start doing that. But if you just think, what would I do if I had a fiduciary duty to my listener or my customer as I would if I was a lawyer, I have a client attorney, client relationship, you can’t go, well, I really need the money, so I’m going to advise my client to do something against their interest.
Did you can’t do that? So I just start thinking, what if I had, what if the listener was my brother or something like that. What if I had a fiduciary duty, which is literally what fiduciary means, you know it comes from, it’s probably a Latin thing there. What would you, how would you behave? So then it becomes really easy to turn down stupid stuff that’s shortsighted because you go, Oh well I would ruin that relationship if I did that. And that’s the most important thing in the business. So I just want to do that. So I love that.
That’s a great, that’s such a powerful parallel. And con just you as the post, you literally view your role as a duty
To the audience, not to the people you’re interviewing to the audience listening. That’s a huge difference. Actually. It’s funny cause I, I tried to make it more general for our conversation here, but I see this mistake happening a lot among among influencers, but especially among podcast interviewers because they go, Ooh, I want to be famous. That’s their number one sort of priority. So they start interviewing like boring you tubers that nobody cares about. A singer that was popular in the 90s that they’re not even interested in. They have this really sort of aha gee, that’s cool conversation.
And then they pushed it out to their list and they’re like, look, here’s me standing next to some TV star from the 90s and it’s like, look, I’m famous to it. It’s totally self serving. Your audience eventually get sick of that. Or you have someone on who is a celebrity and you start soft balling them because you’re like, Ooh, if I do a good enough job, soft balling them, then we’ll, I’ll be friends with this person and then they’ll connect me to their friends.
Dot dot. Dot. I’ll become more well known in Hollywood. I don’t care about that stuff at all. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t care at all. I should take that back. I care this much, this tiny little piece. Sure. Everybody wants to be liked. Wouldn’t it be great if I became friends with Corey Booker or Howard shields or Elizabeth Warren or fair trade, whatever, or you know, you can put in any name of any celebrity or politician that you want. Wouldn’t it be great if they like me?
Yes. But what would be even better is if my audience still trusted me, so I have to again, take that fiduciary responsibility and if it’s a question of shoot, well, if I ask her about his DNA thing that she did that was really embarrassing, she’ll like me less, but the audience will respect it because they’re wondering the same thing.
The calculation is really easy when you say, I have a fiduciary duty to the listener because otherwise you go, Hmm, they won’t like me as much. Do I want to do this? Well, if you only think about the listener and you forget the rest, then you actually create a better show. Your audience trusts you more and you know what people respect you when you ask them questions that they know you want to hear and that you don’t soft ball.
Then like, yeah, cool. If you’re interviewing Quintin Tarantino, he’s going to have a temper tantrum if you ask him about gun violence. But if you have on somebody who wants to generate trust with your audience as well, which is kind of the point of doing an interview, if you’re selling a book or running for office, then you should be welcoming tough questions and you have to do it in a way that’s fair.
Of course you have to do in a way that’s well researched, but your responsibility is to the listener, not to yourself and becoming more well known online and not to the guest and trying to get them to like you. That’s short game. Let’s talk about that. So so in terms of being the host, right, cause that’s, I think one of the things, you know, one of the overriding questions is how do I get people to listen to my show? Yeah.
That starts with having a great show, which is a great host. And what do you think makes a great conversation? Okay. So we have the backdrop of fiduciary responsibility to your audience, but how do choose which questions to ask? How do you determine which guests come on when you’re just like in the heat of the moment doing the interview? Like is there anything in your brain internally, Jordan that that makes you go, Ooh, I want to, I want to know more about that or these are the questions I’m going to do or not do?
Like can you, can you just walk us through like your mindset on that? Sure. So when I’m, when I’m looking at guests booking, I don’t look at which guest has a higher public profile. I mean there’s some of that for sure. But usually it’s like what book did I read that I’m interested in? And I try to pick things that I’m interested in because I know I’ll do a good interview based on that.
Then secondarily I look for things that the audience will be interested in. The reason that that’s secondary is because I can’t really fake being interested in something. Also trying to predict what your audience is going to be interested in is kind of like a dice roll. And so if I’m thinking, Oh, I really want to have on this pop star because they’re really hot right now, my audience will love that.
They can definitely tell. I don’t care because I’m sort of, it’s hard. Again, it’s hard for me to fake enthusiasm and I think other people who do, they think they’re doing a great job, but the audience still can smell it. I mean humans are smart whether they’re listening or watching, and if I’m thinking about what I’m interested in, there’s always going to be some sort of decent overlap in what the audience is also interested in.
Right? Cause I’m, I’m more or less a geeky, normal guy and so if I interview somebody who got kidnapped by Al Qaeda in Syria, which is one of my recent episodes, there’s going to be like 70% of the audience that goes, all right, I’ll listen to this. Especially if they know that I only do really interesting stuff. Most of the time they’ll give it a shot. Even if they’re thinking photographer, that kid kidnapped by Al Qaeda, I’m not.
Why? What do I care that doesn’t affect my life? People will go, well Jordan only interviews people that are interesting. So I’ll get that person on my enthusiasm then becomes contagious. The audience really gets involved in the story and then they like it after all. So I routine what you want and what I routinely shoot for is I’ll have, like I routinely had somebody on Chelsea handler, she’s kind of a very controversial comedian. Some people hated her and I thought she had an interesting backstory.
I don’t really care for her necessarily her current political views or whatever. But I, I liked her backstory cause she grew up in this very unique way and made something of herself really early on. She’s very driven. So I’m looking for the audience saying things like, and this is kind of a little goal saying things like, I don’t like her but I’m going to listen to this.
And then after the show going, I still don’t really like her but great interview or I like her a lot more now than I did before because you want to make somebody appealing. And the way that you do that is by being interested. So you have to be interested in them first. You can’t predict where the audience is gonna go unless you’ve done some sort of crazy internet targeting, and again, you’re still going to be wrong.
You know, I just, people always go, how did you decide where to pivot and where to take your interviews? And the answer is my own curiosity within limitations. You know, if I could talk about North Korea all the time, I probably would do too many episodes on that and people would go, okay, this guy just talks about North Korea all the time. Who cares? So I have to have like some railings around the edges of the arena, if you will, some boundaries.
But I’m not always trying to push the envelope on those things. Or I should, I, sorry. I am always trying to push the envelope on those things and do shows that might be a little bit outside my comfort zone or the audience’s comfort zone. But I’m not going for shock value. I’m not going for the Supreme amount of celebrity in limelight.
Because when you do that, especially if you have a new show, you’re commoditizing yourself. Like if you go, all right, I want to interview entrepreneurs, and then you interview all of the same people that every other host has had. You’re not interested. You just feel like you need to check them off your list. Your audience is going to cue your, you just phoning it in and you’ve become a commodity. You’re another podcast or another influencer, another interviewer that’s doing the same thing as everybody else.
There’s no, there’s nothing about it that makes it more interesting, right? I’m not sure if you’re a comedian, you have your own brand of humor, but if you’re a journalist and you get, there’s a reason journalists always want to be first because as soon as somebody else gets a story, nobody really cares about the other.
The second and third version of the same thing. So you have to bring something unique to the table and usually that’s your personality, but when you’re first starting, I mean, I’ve been doing this for 12 years. For the first eight years, my personality was not that freaking interesting. All right. It’s still a work in progress. So like for the first few years when you’re learning to be a performer, if you’re, let’s say you’re a singer, you probably sound a lot like your voice teacher. You probably sound a lot like other people in the choir, you know, if you’re a guitarist, you asked that.
So like how’d you get past that time? So time, just time, time and practice, right? Like, look, I’m sure there’s somebody like Jim Morrison who’s played the guitar and then for the first few years they sound like everyone else and then really quickly they branch off and they’re doing their own thing or like a David Bowie type figure.
But if you can really dig to the bottom of everyone’s talent, like any musician, just to relate it to that, there’s definitely a five to 10 year period for most musicians where they sound exactly like everyone else who plays the guitar because they’re learning the chords, they’re learning all the different techniques. They’re learning the notes, learning the risks, they’re learning how to play standing up, sitting down. They are singing along to their favorite songs. They’re not writing that much new stuff, man. You know, like it was a Vici who’s an electronic music artist that has since passed away.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him. Super well known electronic artists, his, and in the documentary they talk with him and they say, I mean, he says something along the lines of, yeah, I just spent years remaking other people’s music. I made a new track every day and I just remade all the stuff that I could.
And then when I was finished, I’d remade everything. Then I started making new stuff and I thought, that’s a really interesting creative process. And I bet you it’s not that far away from a kid who picks up a guitar at age 12, starts playing stairway to heaven and then graduates to whatever sort of new rock he’s playing. And then one day goes, what if there was a song like this and then starts playing? It’s like, I should write this down. But that’s like five to 10 years into the game.
They don’t pick up a guitar and go, let me write a new song right now. They’re trying to figure out how to hold their hand this way and hold their other hand this way and not mess it all up. Well on one thing that even comes out of that, that that may be like obvious to you, but I actually think is not that obvious to people, is that you as the host are a performer. Like you are a part.
You’re not just, you’re not just ahead regurgitating questions like your personalities and active part of of it. And that’s what people are, even though it’s like you have guests every week, they, their listeners really become bonded to you more than anybody. They do. Yeah. Your Larry King told me, Hey man, don’t talk too much during your show because you’re there every week. So I went through this curve that was good and bad advice, right?
Because of course, back in his day, he might’ve been one of the three interview shows that was on the radio. So of course, you know, let the guest have their moment in the sun and I still do that, you know, I still want them to do that. I think a lot of hosts, most hosts in fact talk too much, but you have to play a part in it because again, if you’re not preparing a lot and you don’t have a unique perspective, there is no reason for anyone to listen to you because you’re a commodity.
You’ve commoditized yourself. So me not being hilarious and funny or anything like that, me having a normal sort of no BS personality, I’ll crack a joke here and there, but I have to outwork everyone. That’s how I became a lawyer. I’m not talented or as any kind of genius.
I had to outwork everyone and that’s what I do on the show. I’ll prepare 10 or 20 hours for an interview, sometimes 30 if it’s a really big guest that has a lot of material in a long career. Wow. In 10 to 38 hours doing the prep and people can’t even believe that, but it’s like, what other competitive advantage do I have? I don’t have a James Earl Jones voice. I’m not Conan O’Brien. Funny. I don’t have Howard Stern’s pull when it comes to guests and a huge audience and a staff of 20 people in the back room typing funny jokes to say to me that pop up on a monitor. Right. I don’t have that.
What I have is the, the work ethic that says, you know a Jordan, you got Daniel Goldman, you know the founder or the creator, the idea of emotional intelligence. He’s got three books, read those three books, read those three books and then when he shows up, I want him to say, wow, you know this stuff better than I do cause it’s been awhile and that’s exactly what happened.
You know, he goes, can we took a break? And he goes, I think you know my work better than I do. Cause it’s been so long now. Granted it’s been a decade of change since he wrote that. So you don’t expect him to remember it, but that’s what you want. You don’t want them going, well that’s really how this works. That’s not really how that works. Thanks for reading the Wikipedia and or the back of the book and then showing up. You want to show up with so many notes that are so well organized that you barely have to look at them and you want to tell them something.
Let me put it this way. I have a little checkbox in the back of my brain where I light up when the guest says, I’ve never thought about this that way, but now that you mention it, that’s a good point. I’m going to use that or some variation of that. I want to have this content down in my head so well that I’m plugging in something to something else that they have that they didn’t even see that connection. Or I use a metaphor that they’d never thought of
And I love this cause that’s just like what you’re talking about, you know, to use the take the stairs metaphor. You know, that was my first book, which has been out a while now, but it’s like the real story of the work you’re doing behind the scenes that nobody sees. They just assume, Oh well I got on a podcast network or I had a bazillion Twitter followers or whatever. And it’s just like that right there is, is the difference. And nobody wants to hear it. But that is so I think that’s so powerful.
Hey, you know it’s funny you said nobody wants to hear it. It’s so true. There was a eight year period. I’m a slow learner. There was an eight year period where, or seven I think where I didn’t read the book or do that amount of prep. And I remember my wife, she, my girlfriend at the time, she goes yeah, I mean are you prepared? Are you ready?
And I’m like, man, I’m fine. And then I had Robert Green who wrote the S the laws of human nature or 48 laws of power, like really, really prolific, amazing author wrote mastery. Just a really genius level creator. There aren’t that many authors like him now who write 800 page books and you know, you could read it, it could have been twice as long. And I had him coming on for the seventh anniversary episode of the show and I thought, okay, I better not screw this one up.
He said, why did it take so long to schedule this? And I remember going, well, I thought it would be a waste of time for you. I wanted to do it really well. And he said, well, I’ve done a lot of media. This was really well prepared. You did a good job. And I was so lit up and stoked. I said, okay, what’s the difference between the way I did this one and the way I did the other ones? And the answer was, I read the book recently and I thought, okay, well I can’t just read the book for every interview. My wife goes, why not? And I go, well, it’s too much work.
And she goes, yeah, but you want the show to be really good. That’s like your number one priority. Why don’t you just figure out how to read the book? And I went, Oh yeah, I guess I should probably do that. So then I started figuring out ways to read faster, you know, get the Kindle and the highlighter. And then it was like audio books and then it was like the audio player. Get a customized one, it goes really fast and pause is real, you know, that kind of thing. So I have this whole system where I can read really, really fast and it’s not speed reading. It’s like audio listening. I just you, you have to work up to it and there’s all
Or whatever. Yeah.
Yeah. But like silences are removed by this other app that’s not the audible app cause the audible app can’t do that. And like it’s really, it’s like 1.9 X and not two cause two’s too fast. But 1.75 is too slow. There’s a whole thing that I got right that I do and it depends on the narrator and all this stuff. So I take the notes though on another device so I don’t have to pause. There’s all kinds of stuff that I’m doing so that I can do that work. But there’s just no shortcut for doing the work.
And I see other hosts and they’re like, Oh I don’t even read the book. I have my assistant read it and then they send me talking points and I’m like, they’re missing the good stuff because the good stuff is not summarized. Rorys book take the stairs, the good stuff is this little between the lines sometimes literally details that other people ignore.
So one case in point, I read a book a long time ago, I can’t remember the author and she was like an infectious disease specialist and she was African American literally, you know, and she had been adopted from Africa but I didn’t know that. I just knew she was a specialist in this field of medicine.
I read the book and I’ve read, I’ve read the dedication and it says like to mom and dad, my life would’ve been the same. I’m like okay, nothing special there. And then the back, the epilogue, not even like the thing at the end that’s not even written by the author was like her bio and it was like her extended bio, sorry. It’s like she was born in Africa and then her family to give her up and then she worked at, she was at this icon convent. Then a white family came and brought her to Canada.
And so she grew up with this really unique, multi-racial kind of background and is now an infectious disease doctor in Africa. And she’s like, but for this amazing opportunity, I wouldn’t have had the chance to like leave this place, go there, get a medical education, now I’m giving back. That’s the whole story. Not Ebola or whatever.
That’s a, that is a prop. The real story is her life leaving this, this place, going to the Western world, realizing how much she had and then giving back. That’s the story. But you don’t get that when you read frickin Blinkist and you get a five bullet point summary or you have your VA read it for 20 bucks and then send you a one sheet. You don’t get the story, you get the data. Let me ask you a practical question. So, so I, I love this. I love the work.
I’m sure what people are going, it’s like, well if I spend all my time preparing for the interview, how do I make any money? Right? Like that’s a lot of time to prepare. If I do an interview every week or two a month or something. So, and I think that’s kind of a question Mark for people is how do you make like how do you actually make money?
Like yeah, so podcasting is not a good way to make money and when people try to like, I’m going to throw that out there, you know a lot of people will sell you the idea that all you have to do is start a podcast and watch the dollars roll in. And that was never the case. It’s not like, Oh you can’t do it now. It was never the case. And you can do that in addition to other personal branding things that you’re doing.
Like I know you talk about like books, you talk about other methods of influence. Doing a podcast is a really tough way to make money. Let’s, can we talk like real numbers here? I’ll just do something that the average podcast has 149 downloads per episode. That’s a fat act from libs in which as a hosting company, you don’t have to write that number down because if you have 149 downloads, no advertiser will touch you. Let’s say that you are so good that you get 50 times 50 times.
That’s a huge multiple. You get 50 times the average audience. Now you’ve got 74 50 that’s probably backwards. Very one, you get 74 50 per episode. Okay, well you’re paid and CPM, which is dollars per thousand downloads. So let’s say you have two ads in a show and you’re getting a really good CPM of 25 bucks for each of those ads.
That’s a pretty darn good CPM. So now you’re really getting 50 CPM again cause you’ve got two ads in your show. Congratulations. Let’s assume you sold those ads yourself cause otherwise you got to give your ad sales agent a cut, which could be up to 50% but let’s assume you use them yourself. You get 100% of that. Okay, great. So now you’re getting 50 times 7,450 so you’re really, let’s round up to 8,000 cause you’re so good. I’m going to be generous and that’s how many downloads an episode you’re getting. So you’re getting 8,000 so you’re getting eight times $50 per episode.
You’re getting 400 bucks per episode. That’s when you have 50 times plus maybe more like 55 times the average audience and you sold two ads yourself, add a generous CPM, you’re getting 400 bucks. That’s the high end of what you are going to get after doing a show for several years, most people will get less than half of that. What is that going to pay for if you don’t live in sub Saharan Africa and not a whole lot, right? You are not
In a week. If at one a week at that level you’re talking about 1600 bucks a month, so you’re talking, you’re like, you’re not even at, it’s like 20 grand a year.
Yeah, you’re paying your mortgage if you’re lucky and you don’t live in a big city and you don’t live on the coast. If you’re lucky, and that’s after year, you’re going to have to build up to that. You’re not going to launch with 74 50 you’re going to get that after maybe a couple of years or something like that.
Now if you now on the flip side, like, like all media companies, it’s very scalable. So for you, if you get to, you know, if you’re getting 5 million downloads a month that you’re talking about a million downloads an episode it depends cause that’s historical. That’s right. That’s historical. But maybe a hundred, a couple hundred thousand downloads an episode, right?
So, so if you’re to, again, to put numbers to it, if you are in the top 1% of all active podcasts in any, anywhere in podcast land, you have 35,000 per episode. That’s the top 1%. So think about that. Let’s say you got $35,000 per episode. Let’s say you still got two ads. You still sold them yourself.
You get to keep 100%, it’s 35 times 50 that’s 1750 per episode. And you do that times four, 7,000 bucks a month, that’s real money. But that’s after you get in the top 1% of all podcasts. You can’t really, you probably aren’t going to get rich on that either. Okay. So this takes me to my original question.
Clearly advertising is not the fast path to cashier. So how do you make money doing this?
So you end up with this interesting dichotomy, right? If you, or a sort of conundrum. Maybe if you don’t want add money, then you have to talk to a very specific audience. So let’s say you’re the guy, my friend Clint, he teaches dance studio owners, how to cleanse salt, salt, salt, salt to Saltzman. What is his last name? He’s from Australia.
Australia. Yeah. Yeah. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Like, and it’s funny because even as you say it, I’m like, I know one guy that teaches dance studios, owners like how to get clients and it’s Clint and he’s from Australia, right?
Yeah. And he’s like a super lovely guy. Okay. So he’s the right man for the job. So if you are that guy and you’re talking to dance studio owners, then cool, good. It looks like I’m out of focus here. Let me fix that. If possible. How do we fix that? So breaking bad is really weird. I’m just going to go ahead and ignore that and see if it fixes itself. So you’re, let’s say you’re that guy.
Now, your entire audience, maybe you’ve only got like 800 people listening to each episode of your show, but all 800 are dance studio owners somewhere in let’s say North America. Well, wherever globally that are on your email list, they’re interested in generating clients. Those people might pay $5,000 or $1,000 or $500 for your product. That’s a system of let’s say, generating leads for dance studios online. You know, you’ve got a customer base, so that’s a really good way to start making money. But you have to have a unique niche if you’re just, you know, this is driving me freaking Oh you got it.
I think that was a little schmutz over the lens and I just wiped it. So if, if you are in, if you’re, if that’s your audience, then great, right? You’ve got to be the leader. But if you’re like, Oh, this guy Pat Flynn, who is a really good friend of mine, you probably know him too. If I’m like, Oh, this guy Pat Flynn teaches people how to make money online doing X, Y, Z, you’re not going to want to join that niche because it’s you and eight bajillion other people. And Pat’s going to like dominate that and you’re going to have a hard time collaborating with other people because you’re stepping on their toes and you have no experience. So you’ve got to find a unique niche. Talk to them in a way where they’d know, like, and trust you. And then you’ve got to have products and services to help them.
But then podcasting’s not your business. It’s lead gen for your book. For me, podcasting is my business. I’m depending on scale, but I have a quarter million downloads per episode. That didn’t happen overnight. It happened and over 13 stinking years.
Okay. So like to get that level of advertising and then put four ads in each show, cause my show’s over an hour long and that’s, you can get away with that. And I do three a week now it’s a BI. Now it’s more than a full time job. It’s more than just me working here and the scale works. But generally it’s not going to happen. But here’s the, here’s the problem, here’s the conundrum. You can’t go, Oh well I’m going to talk to the specific dance studio owners or like landscapers for people that live near a forest like Rory, right in the background there, your jungle.
Like if you want to talk to that audience, you’re not going to get a broad audience. That’s really huge because there’s one in a hundred or one in a thousand people care about that niche. One in a thousand people own a dance studio and want to get new clients or karate dojo and want to get new clients. That is not everyone.
So you can either appeal to a specific nation, create products and services for that niche or you can try to appeal to everyone. And do something that’s more general and is going to scale, but you’re never going to be in a situation where you appeal to gym owners in North America and everyone else. You’re not going to be able to do both. Well, so you have to choose because if you choose to scale, you got a long road ahead of you. If you choose products and services in a specific niche, you might get there faster, but you will never get to the point at which you are scaling. [inaudible]
But that’s not your business. That’s a, it’s just a, it’s just a marketing medium, podcast marketing medium for the business, which is how that’s historically how we’ve, we have, we have used it.
Correct. Yeah, that makes sense. And so people need to be aware of that. Like people don’t really seem to get that. They’re like, I want to make it huge. Why? Well, I want to get leads from my coaching business. Okay. Then those are two di almost diametrically opposing forces, right? Like, yes, you want to be recognizable all over the place. But also I want to appeal to pet store owners.
And the East coast like, whoa, whoa, who are you talking to? Because if you start talking to quote unquote everyone or like one of your episodes is generally interesting and then one of your other episodes each week is only in that niche, you’re just going to piss off everyone, right? Like the people who want to hear about comedy are going to get annoyed with the people who want to hear about how to make a pet profitable dance studio. So you have to choose. You cannot try to be both. And everybody that I know who starts to show that they’re consistently trying to do this and they’re failing.
Well Jordan, thank you for the honesty and the transparency of just what this takes. I could talk to you forever, like there is so much here. Obviously people can, can find you on the show. Where Dell is there. Where do you want people to go to connect with you if they want to learn more and they want to hear about all your,
Your wild and interesting guests that you have. Share Jordan harbinger.com. It’s the Jordan harbinger show. You can find it anywhere that you listen to podcasts. And of course I teach people networking. It’s not a business. It’s a free thing that I do cause I, most of my business that I get is corporate. I’m, I teach security personnel and special forces and stuff. I teach them like relationship development and nonverbal communication skills and spy stuff generally so that I give away some of that to [email protected] and you can see the course at the top there.
It’s all, everything I do is free for the end user. It’s, it’s, it’s an ad model, but I don’t put in too many ads cause I don’t have to anymore. But I look anybody who’s interested in topics that are going to affect your life in some way. I do worksheets for every episode because I want people to apply something from every show. So it’s not just like fluff, it’s like take this, plug it into your brain and use it. So hopefully people are interested in that. And I think your audience seems pretty smart, so I’m excited to hear from them. Yeah.
Well, buddy, thank you so much. Thank you for being a fiduciary for your audience. I think that’s, that’s going to be like the big thing that resonates with me was just at the end of the day, it’s like there’s not a ton of money here for a long time, and there’s a lot of wrong ways to do it, and there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of ways to get absorbed into the crowd and into the noise, but if you do what is interesting and you do what serves your audience, it sounds like that’s, that’s your, your special formula. So I love it.
Thank you very much, man. I really appreciate the opportunity.
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Connect With Rory
Rory Vaden is the New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs. His insights have been featured in the Wall St. Journal, Forbes, CNN, Entrepreneur, Inc, and several other major media outlets. As a world-renowned speaker, his TEDx talk has been viewed over 2 million times. He is the Co-Founder of Brand Builders Group and the host of the Influential Personal Brand podcast. Visit RoryVaden.com for more.
Connect with AJ
AJ is a million-dollar consultant and international speaker. Over the last decade, she has built and managed multiple 7 figure businesses and is currently the CEO of Brand Builders Group where she uses her expertise and unique talents to both streamline back end operations as well as creatively engineer the company’s front-facing personal brands.