Ep 358: How to Build a Bestselling Brand in the Christian Market with Annie F. Downs

RV (00:02):
Well, if you have listened to this show for any amount of time, you know that I am a hardcore Bible thump in Jesus freak. It’s true. We are at Vaden villa and our church that we go to in Nashville is called Crosspoint Church. I’ve been on the board there for several years and one of our teaching pastors and leaders of the church has been a friend of mine who I have admired from afar for years. We’ve gotten to know each other a little bit. Her name is Annie F Downs. That is our guest today. You’re going to hear from her. So she is a New York Times bestselling author. She speaks all over the country. She does sermons, she does Christian conferences, a couple business gigs every year. She has an Damazing podcast like the Lineup of People on her podcast.
RV (00:45):
Her podcast is called. That Sounds Fun. And she also has a podcast network called the That Sounds Fun Network of which one of our other one of our clients, Matthew West, who’s like I’ve got major, major man crush on Matthew West . He’s a Christian musician. His show is on Annie’s network. And anyways, I get to listen to this woman preach a couple times a year, a couple times a quarter probably. And the more I’ve gotten to know her, the more I just love what she’s about. And I want to hear her story and I wanna learn a little bit about how the church market in the, you know, sort of the faith-based world works. And so I had to get Annie for you, Annie. We’re so glad to have you. Thanks for being here,
AFD (01:25):
Rory. That was the kindest introduction. You could just make me cry sitting right here. Thank you very much.
RV (01:30):
Well, you’re awesome buddy. And then you also do weddings cuz we saw you at Chris and our, our, some of our best, best friends, Chris and Lexi got married and then we’re like, what
Speaker 3 (01:39):
Annie’s doing this? How did, wait, you know, that, how did this, how
RV (01:43):
Did this happen? So,
AFD (01:44):
Hey, that’s so fun. It’s such a gift. I got started the ordination process through Crosspoint a couple of years ago because two of my friends got engaged on the same weekend and they both asked me to do their weddings. And I was like I can’t do weddings. Let me make a call . And so I called Pastor Kevin and, and I signed up for, it’s a class you take for a whole year at Crosspoint and then you write a paper and do an interview and all sorts of stuff. So it is it’s a real commitment, but it was totally worth it to get to stand up there with people in that moment is so special.
RV (02:13):
So tell me a little bit about all the things you’re going on. So like, when you think of like Annie f Downs, just give us a lay of the landscape and, and you know, I think I share with you a little bit like there’s a lot of people who listen to this show. We, we haven’t talked much about how the, the church market and the faith market and just in spirituality conference, you know, in general. Yeah. so tell us like what makes up the landscape of everything, the moving parts of the N E F Downs Empire?
AFD (02:41):
Yeah. I think that’ll help for people to kind of get a picture of what the businesses look like because we are not a ministry, we are a business. Got it. I get to do ministry work, I get to do work that is faith-based, but we want to run really successful businesses. Got it. And I think there’s a different responsibility and a different expectation when someone thinks you’re running a ministry than a business. Maybe it’s just in my own brain. Sure. And so I’m like, oh no, I wanna run a really good business. . Yeah. So in our offices, we have three companies that exist here. Down’s Books is my company. It’s named after my grandparents’ bookstore that they used to own when I was growing up. And so when I started writing books, I asked my dad Can I name my company after my your parents’ bookstore?
AFD (03:24):
And so it’s called Downs Books Incorporated. Inside of Downs Books is all the writing I do. Okay. All the speaking I do. And that, that sounds fun. Podcast and the, let’s read the Gospels podcast. So everything I make and everything my team makes is under the Downs Books co company. Got it. What is also in our office is my manager Kelly Haywood has K c h entertainment here too. So she has, I have five employees at Downs Books. She has four that help kind of run the high level things, right. Like they, when we launched the, let’s read the Gospels podcast, they’re the ones figuring out how do we do the website and how do we do the graphics and how do we, so they’re kind of the behind the scenes machine for a lot of what we do. They do what you hear music managers do or managers for people on tv. It’s, it’s the same relationship. It’s a management relationship.
RV (04:16):
AFD (04:16):
And then across the hall, is that, that sounds fun. Network, a podcast network for our friends listening who don’t know, it really works just like a TV network where all the shows have something in common, but they’re different. And what a network a allows is community and income because we also have a sales team that helps get advertising. So we have 17 shows on the network, although that sounds fun. Network. And we have five employees over there as well. And so we’re helping these 17 shows to help them book guests. Sometimes we help them meet each other so they can be on each other’s shows. We help them find ad partners that are really good fits for their content and their audience. And so that’s what we, we get to do. I’m, I’m a co co-owner and a founder of the Network. Okay. Both of my shows are on the network, but I’m not in the, like, daily running of that company.
RV (05:08):
Got it. Got it. Yeah, that’s really interesting. I didn’t even know that you had that. So Yes. So,
AFD (05:15):
And then I also teach at Crosspoints. I’m also on the T team. That’s
RV (05:18):
And you do weddings. Yeah.
AFD (05:19):
And I do weddings.
RV (05:20):
Right, right. Occasionally. Occasionally. That’s the other part. For close, for close friends. That’s right. And then, so, so let’s talk. So let’s go to Downs Books. Okay. And let’s talk, let’s talk in there. Cause that sounds like that’s sort of the core of like where you’re spending’s righting your, your time. Yes. how did you start, like, and, and how did you make your first dollars? Right? Like Yeah. Go all the way back to the beginning and like mm-hmm. , you go, oh, I want to be an author, a speaker. Like, okay. Before you’re standing on stage in front of thousands of people. How did you pay the bills in the beginning?
AFD (05:52):
Yeah. You know what you’re gonna love Roy, I think I may have told you this in our real life before, but I, when my fourth book released, I also applied to teach at the parent teacher store in Green Hills because I didn’t have enough money to pay my assistant. Wow. So, so it has been, I mean, it is not one of those like, and your listeners and friends probably know, like, it’s not one of those, like when you get your book deal, there you go. It’s like, no, the, if your book deal is, if your book’s coming out in a year and you get a $10,000 book deal, I’m just making an easy number. I mean, you’re, after you pay your agent, which you should have an agent and you should pay your agent once they get their percent. And once you pay taxes, you’ve made $5,000 in a year. . I mean, it doesn’t, it doesn’t go very far. It’s used pretty quickly. So for me, this started, I started writing in 2006. Okay. I moved to Nashville in 2008 to really pursue it as a career. I thought, if I’m gonna give this a shot, this is my chance. And I had a book written, I had an agent that I signed with in 2009. And by the end of 2010, Rory, we had gotten 47 rejections on that book. Mm-Hmm.
RV (06:59):
. Wow. And so
AFD (07:01):
Then I was like, that
RV (07:01):
Was your first book. That was your first book.
AFD (07:02):
Yes. Yes. Okay. And I thought, this isn’t working. And you know, you, you don’t pay your agent. You the, you know, the agent takes a percent. And so at this point I’m saying to my agent, you’re not making any money and I’m not getting the right books. So what are we doing? So, so we made, I made no money through this until a couple of years later. I mean, I was writing I was writing like for like one of those Groupon kind of websites. Okay. I was writing ads for them. So I was making like a, a small income off of that.
RV (07:37):
But not like your con not your content. You were just doing copywriting for
AFD (07:41):
Something? No, no, no. I did copywriting for probably three years behind the scenes while in front of the scenes. I’m trying to author and travel and speak. Yeah. My book does get picked up by a publisher in 2011. After I self-publish it, I self-publish it. Cause I was like, at this point I’ve written the book. I have an audience of a couple of thousand people who have been with me in this journey. I just want a book that my grandkids can have on their bookshelf that my, that their grandmother wrote one time. Right?
RV (08:09):
AFD (08:10):
When we put it on Amazon in the first quarter, I put it up in quarter four because I wanted to hit holidays. Okay. And it was for teen girls. And we sold about 2,500 in that quarter.
RV (08:21):
AFD (08:22):
And when that happened, a publisher said, I’m sorry, we said no to that. We didn’t know you would sell the books. Right. And you sell the books. And so they came back, Zondervan signed me for a book deal in the winter of 11. And the book came out in August of 2012. And my first book deal, my advance was $7,000.
RV (08:45):
AFD (08:47):
So I
RV (08:48):
Filling in to go.
AFD (08:49):
Yeah. I seriously thought, here we go.
RV (08:52):
So like that was at least, I can’t believe it, over the course of three or four years. Years, that’s like 65 cents an hour. I mean, some somewhere. It was wild. Somewhere in there.
AFD (08:59):
Yeah. Yes, yes. So what ends up happening though is, and I don’t know this behind the scenes, what I know is I’ve gotten a book deal offer and then I get a phone call from the publisher that says, Hey, would you like to travel and speak on a Teen girl tour? And it’s every other weekend for the school year. And I thought, well, yeah, the here’s I, I thought I wasn’t gonna get to do this anymore. And suddenly I see this job for the next year. And what had happened, Rory, is the publisher had made a deal with a record label here in town that had point of grace on it, the word word record label. And it was a conference called Girls of Grace that was for teen girls. Huh. And the sponsorship deal included a speaking spot. So Zondervan was a sponsor of the tour. Ah. The sponsorship included a bunk on a bus and a 20 minute slot. And I was the only new author that lived in Nashville. Wow. And so I was the only one who could bus out . And so , that’s how I got it. It was not by Skill, it was purely zip code
RV (10:00):
. Well, we’ll take it. We’ll take it.
AFD (10:03):
That’s right. I’ll take it. Cause built So was your cause built the whole thing.
RV (10:06):
So that wasn’t until 2013 then?
AFD (10:08):
Yes, 2012 and 2013. The book came out in ap August of 12. And the tour started then. And so what I would do in every city, Rory, is I, we would get there on a Friday. I would have most of Friday free, cuz the conference was on Saturday. So we bused out at midnight on Thursday would go to Columbus, Ohio. Yep. Friday I rent a car or get in an Uber and I drive to every bookstore that will look me in the face and I say, Hey, I’m Annie F Downs, do you have my new book? And if they did, I would sign ’em. And if they didn’t, I would ask them to carry it. So I’d go to three or four bookstores in every city on our first day in the city. The second day when we had our event. When I’m speaking, what’s also happening is all these youth group leaders are there. And so I’m, I have a, this is very in line with what you teach us to do. I have a thing on the screen that I say, Hey, if you want a 30 day devotional for free, here’s all you gotta do. Hit the do this QR code or whatever. And so what ends
RV (11:02):
Up happen, it wasn’t QR codes back then, I don’t think, think QR codes didn’t become popular until Covid. That’s what’re right. Covid left behind in its wake was QR codes for the work. Exactly.
AFD (11:10):
Right. I think it was probably just an a web address. Yeah. I think they just could take a picture of that, of a place on my website. And so what that, what that tour ended up doing is giving me a bunch of emails of teen girls and their leaders Wow. And a bunch of youth pastors who said, can I want her to come back and speak to our youth group or to our college ministry or to our women. So I had it for, and I ended up being on that tour for two years. Wow. So I was in front of thousands and thousands of leaders who then bring in speakers to their own
RV (11:40):
Church. Got it. Okay. And so, and so at that point you’re collecting email addresses, which good on you. Like that’s a game changer to ca to capture all that. But it’s not like millions of email addresses. It’s like no, no, no. A few thousand. You do that for a couple years, you got five or 10,000 emails maybe.
AFD (11:57):
Exactly. I pro I think we ended each year, I think we ended each year with five more. So I think the first year was about 5,000. Second year was about 10.
RV (12:04):
Okay. But now these people have seen you speak and so now they start calling you to come speak at their church. Yes.
AFD (12:11):
Yes. Interesting. So then they say, Hey, we saw you at Girls of Grace in Min Minneapolis. Our church is 30 minutes from there and we have a youth conference that has a thousand students. Will you come speak
RV (12:22):
Uhhuh ? And how much money are you getting? By the way, were you paid on the tour?
AFD (12:26):
Yes, I was paid. I feel like it was a couple of hundred dollars. It wasn’t very much and it was one bunk. So I also was my own merch person. Right. Which is very normal. This was, I was treated Yeah. Very well on this tour. That is, I mean, you know, there’s those big music tours like Winter Jam where you don’t get paid. You’re just glad to be there and you, what you get paid is how much merch you move. Right. Right. And so I, I had one bunk, so I set up my own merch table. I would train merch volunteers. I was counting in merch, I was counting out merch and and I got paid a couple hundred dollars.
RV (13:01):
I mean this is sounds more like a musician start. Like
AFD (13:04):
It totally is. And in fact, so much of what you see shaped in my career is because who we can watch here in town do this is musicians. And so my friends that are musicians, I was watching them and going, wait, you don’t do your own books at the end of an event? Who does that? Wait, you aren’t making this decision? Who does that? And so I really am, I do look as an artist, if you like, looked down from the sky at me and a country artist, we look very similar and how our businesses run versus if you look down me on mine and another author who has as many books out as me, doesn’t have the kind of team I have, doesn’t have the kind of processes I have cuz I look like a musician.
RV (13:46):
Interesting. So then, so, so then these youth leaders start calling and that’s, are you getting a thousand bucks to speak?
AFD (13:52):
No, I’m getting 500 bucks to speak and travel for two people.
RV (13:56):
Wow, okay. Yeah. So not a lot of money still going on.
AFD (14:01):
Right. So we are, that’s why, I mean it took, I put three teen books out 20 12, 20 13, 20 14. And then in 2015, my first adult non-fiction came out. That was a memoir called Let’s All Be Brave. And when that book came out is when I did not have the money to pay my assistant who, because I, I’m a big believer in like get some help before you can actually afford the help. Yeah. Like you be the hustler to make the money so that you can have help because mm-hmm. , the more you can get off your plate, what you’re not best at, the more you actually impact. Amen. Because I’m, I’m able to do more things. So at this point really Rory, like when I sit with my business coach and we just did this last month where he went through every single thing I do and everything, my C o o, Ashley Warren, who, you know everything both of us do. And I literally have nothing left on my plate that anybody else can do.
RV (14:51):
AFD (14:51):
and so and so I, that is the goal, right? We wanna keep me there where I am doing this with you while they’re setting up for our lunch, while they are doing all the things that other people actually do better than me. They’re doing. And they’re, they’re getting our podcast ready to go out next week. They’re doing all the things. I’m doing the part that only I can do by talking with you.
RV (15:10):
Yep. And so then so then that book came out. So that was your fourth book. So now you’re starting to get some, some advances that are at least like, you know, more reasonable advance to kind of like build your career. Yes, yes. You have some royalties coming in
AFD (15:24):
Probably. That’s right. So the good news of taking small advances is you do usually get money on the backside. So I have 11 books out and I make money on the backside of nine of ’em. And so I’m getting mailbox money every quarter. We try to treat book money, like foundation money that we don’t touch unless we have to. So we just deposit that. What we’re actually trying to run our budget off of is speaking money and podcasting money. But the podcast didn’t start till 2014 and it didn’t start making money until 2017 probably.
RV (15:55):
Ah-Huh. . And so you start out speaking in these youth groups. So this is, this might be a conference at a church, but it’s really like the youth group putting on a youth conference. Yep. Then you release the adult book and then where and how and when do you start speaking to adults
AFD (16:14):
That, that was a muddy season, as you can imagine, because I’m still getting these calls for teen girl conferences or for college conferences even. I am, at this point I’m 34 and I am way out of actually living life as a teenager or living with teenagers. And I’m mostly talking to 20 year olds cuz I’m at Crosspoint, I’m volunteering in the college ministry. So my time is spent with people in their mid twenties. So that transition was really hard. I, we had to work really closely with my booking agent and kind of be like, Hey, we, we can’t keep taking these, we have to start setting me up. So the transition looked like if a big church called and said, Hey, we’ve got $2,000. We’d love for Annie to come speak to our college women’s group and there’s 500 girls that’ll come great. Annie would be happy to do that. Could you do a luncheon the next day for the women? Yeah. And invite any women and it won’t cost you any extra, but Annie would love to talk for 20 minutes to women in your church or could she get a meeting with your women’s minister to talk about what y’all are doing for women’s ministry? So the the transition was, if you’re gonna pay me for what I’m known for, will you let me do for free what I’m trying to do?
RV (17:32):
Mm-Hmm. . Yeah. That’s so good.
AFD (17:36):
And so it was muddy though. It was not fun that we had to say nos. We didn’t wanna say we had to do things cheaper than I wanted to do, but I, and I also ended up changing publishers because it was really hard to not be considered the the new girl who wrote for teenagers when I was trying to be a peer with my friends who wrote for adults.
RV (17:56):
Right. Yep. And then so then you start speaking at women’s groups and then from there it’s just like you’re speaking and the spinoff starts to come and then you speak at That’s right. So, so what’s do you the like is there’s, they’re speaking at women’s groups and then they’re speaking at like is a women’s group, like a Christian, like a conference, is that primarily then
AFD (18:20):
Probably a conference? Yeah, that’s right. And a lot of churches do their own like women’s retreats and women’s conferences that are for whatever they are. You know, it could be a hundred women in a room or it could be 10,000 women that go to some of these. And the ones that, you know, one of the things that happens a lot is they will end up reading your book or, or going through a Bible study I’ve written and, and, but they don’t have the money to fly me or to bring my assistant or whatever. And so the opportunity is to go like, man, who in your community could do this? There’s people right there. Right. But the transition started happening where people would bring me in Saturday and say, will you stay and speak on Mother’s Day to our Sunday morning? And so then I started being able to, to get invitations that were not just female audiences but we’re men and women together. And that’s when I started doing more Sunday mornings.
RV (19:16):
Do people get paid to speak at a church on a Sunday?
AFD (19:19):
Sometimes, yeah. I mean if, if you are traveling and you’re leaving your normal life, yes. I think it’s, it’s considered an event. So a most ti Sundays, if I’m speaking somewhere else, there is some honorarium attached to it. For me with Crosspoint, that is not, that is not true. Only because that’s my, that is how I serve my local church and I only teach four or five times a year. And so it’s, it’s the way I get to give back to the church that gives me so much. And so there are exceptions to the rule, whereas with a conference, there is no exception for me. Like, if, if you can’t, if you can’t bring me in and and pay me to do my job, then I’m not the right fit for you. That means that God has somebody else for y’all. That’s a little bit different on Sunday mornings to me. I don’t do merch tables on Sunday mornings. There’s just some changes that are not rules that anybody else has to follow, but are rules that are for me that I’ve created that are like, nah, we’re not gonna sell books on a Sunday morning. I just don’t like the way that feels, so I don’t do that.
RV (20:21):
Got it. But so they might, and then, I mean I’m sure it varies, but like when you get, when you get into the Christian market, ultimately you have local churches doing program for their membership. Yes. And they might be bringing somebody in and they’re paying that speaker to come in or maybe doing like a rev share, like a ticket sale kind of a thing. Yes. Or you have conferences where it’s like a regional kind of lots of churches sort of promoting, there’s a promoter, either a church is hosting it and then you have speaking on Sundays and all of those can be paid things in the church world.
AFD (20:58):
Yes, that’s right. And the conferences, that’s, that’s exactly right. Those are the three options. You’re gonna do something local, you’re gonna do something community sized or you’re gonna do Sunday mornings.
RV (21:06):
Mm-Hmm. . Got it. Okay. and then yeah, I mean the, the, the clearly speaking on like doing a sermon on a Sunday is a different set set up like merch wise and all that kind of stuff. But yeah,
AFD (21:20):
For some people it’s okay if it’s not for everybody. Yeah. I, it just, it is for me. Yeah.
RV (21:25):
Lots of, I mean lots of authors, lots of Christian authors, that’s what they kind of do. I feel like they do like a, a big church tour of the whole country and that’s, that’s part of how they sell their, they how
AFD (21:34):
They sell. Especially in July and August or June and July when pastors want some time off. I mean that’s why you see so many authors and pastors sharing their stages with other people is they want, they need some weeks off and understandably Uhhuh . And so that’s, that’s why you see a lot of authors teaching, particularly in the summers.
RV (21:53):
Tell me about, so let’s talk about the podcast. So I’m b I’m Curious cuz that’s part of like, you have the, that sounds Fun network and then you also have your two, your two podcasts. Yep. So when do you start making money from that and how, how do you make money from the podcast and like, tell us about that a little
AFD (22:09):
Bit. Yeah, so it’s, it’s ad revenue, right? So it’s, it is the same as a TV show. It’s commercials and, and there are multiple ways to do it. There is what’s called a di, which is just a drop in where, where it’s not the voice of the host where it literally is a commercial. So you hear that a lot on some of the shows on other networks. I think Gimlet does it. It’s, it’s not good or bad, it just is. And where they’ll have a read that goes before you start listening to the show you’re listening to. So for me, what we do, we all add host Red Ads for my show and for the That Sounds Fun Network. We do host red ads. Those are the most genuine we believe for what we are making and, and they pay the most. And so for my show I started having advertising partners want to work with us about 2017.
AFD (22:58):
So my producer at the time, Chad Sna from Sound On Sound Off Music or Sound on Sound Off Productions, he had a friend who had done ad sales for a long time. So I hired him for a while, then I joined a network. It was not a great fit, but that’s was the next move is I joined a network. When I left that network is when my manager and I kind of went like, Hey, we can build a better thing than what I’m experiencing Hmm. As a podcaster. And so we got a sales team. So they work with ad partners, they work with like advertising companies that are kind of over multiple different companies that want to advertise. And so they, it literally is a, Hey Annie, I mean it happened this morning. Hey Annie, there’s a brand that wants to be on the podcast. Can they go ahead and send you an example of of their product and you can see if you like it and see if it’s something that you’d like to talk about. And that’s how we do.
RV (23:50):
So how, how does that, like how big of a pod, like how big does a podcast have to be before it can start advertising?
AFD (23:57):
That’s a great question. So it, depending on what kind of money you wanna make, you can start advertising with someone like Anchor that’s run through Spotify. You can do ads for Anchor starting immediately now. You’ll get paid if you have five listeners, you’ll get five pennies or something. You know, like, but there, there is a availability for anyone who starts a podcast to start making advertising money right away when you really make money that can pay for your production and actually help run, run your ministry, your company, your brand. We see that about 10,000 listeners in the first 10 weeks is when advertising partners are really interested in working with you in the
RV (24:38):
First, that’s the, that’s 10 weeks like each,
AFD (24:39):
That’s the number they look at episode. Yep. So you look at an episode that releases on January 1st, you’re gonna what the advertiser partner doesn’t they like the first week that matters to them, but what they actually look at is what’s the arc of the whole show? So how at the end, so when we look at stats every week, you, you know me Rory, I look at stats constantly. It’s like I
RV (24:58):
Love it. I did not know that about you.
AFD (24:59):
Oh you did? Oh listen,
RV (25:00):
I didn’t know that that
AFD (25:01):
Is about you. That is science. Like that will tell, we can say I think everybody loved that episode. Well no they didn’t, nobody listened. So we gotta look at the science. So I love the stats. So every Monday in our staff meeting we look at how did our shows do it one week just cuz we’re interested. But what we really go back and look at is the show that released 10 weeks ago, how many people have listened? And usually we have about double from one week to 10 weeks. So what, what what happens in one week happens again in week two through 10 of listenership. And so that’s what advertising partners look at. So when we’re looking at shows to add to the network that really want, that are hoping it’ll be a financial benefit to that show where the host is like, Hey, I need to make money off of this if I’m gonna put time in. Then we say man, well as soon as you get to 10 thousands when you’ll really start seeing ad partners be interested
RV (25:50):
And how much do they pay? Like how much does it cost? Let’s just use 10,000. Like let’s say it’s, yeah, let’s say you’re at 10,000, which means if I calculate you’re saying you release an episode, you get 5,000 downloads this week and then another 5,000 downloads over the next nine’s weeks’. That’s right On that on that episode. Yep. How do you price it and what do they like, what do they pay kind of thing?
AFD (26:11):
Well this is outta my expertise level because I don’t know any of that. What I know is we do CPM cost per million and, and I know that it actually varies based on the partner. So someone like a Thistle Farms who we really believe in and love and want to talk about, they may not have the same cost or same ability to pay for a show that, that a huge brand like Better Help does. And so we can work with Thistle Farms and say, Hey Annie loves y’all, so here are the, the five ad slots. This one is the one we will get to you at a price that works for your company, but we can’t give you this one because this one is double that cost or whatever. Right. And so, and each show is different. And so it really varies. Our sales team, we have two full-time sales team members here and that’s what they do constantly. And the other thing Roy, is they’re not just doing, do you wanna buy this show? They’re saying, do you wanna buy a year worth? And so that’s the bigger number that they’re looking at is can we find ad partners that believe in us? Like we believe in them enough to go, Hey, for a year let’s make a contract. Mm-Hmm. , that’s what we try to do with most of our shows.
RV (27:18):
Mm-Hmm. . Yeah. So yeah, that’s fascinating. So, and then if you get to 20,000 downloads or so, it’s not like a total monthly downloads, it’s a per episode is what you’re really
AFD (27:29):
Watching. It’s per episode. Yeah. Because for example, let’s use Thistle Farms again because we love them. Everyone go shop at Thistle Farms. But if Thistle Farms, you know, if they they don’t actually care how we did this month, they care how we did on the show that they’re on. Right. And so they wanna look at the 10 weeks. It’s cool, you’ll see people do all time. We hit 2 million, we hit 3 million downloads. That’s awesome. We do it for the network, we celebrate with everyone and we celebrate on our show. But what advertising partners really care about. And so therefore what podcasters should really care about is how did each episode do after 10 weeks?
RV (28:01):
And and if you, let’s just say you have a show that does about 10,000 downloads per episode.
AFD (28:08):
RV (28:09):
In a year, like at a high level, how much revenue do you think one show like that? You know, oh boy,
AFD (28:15):
Give or I, I don’t wanna mess this up. I mean I bet if you’re doing weekly shows, I mean this is going to be a guess Rory for real. If you’re doing weekly shows at a 10,000 downloads and you do, let’s say you do 45 shows in a year cuz you take a couple off or whatever, I mean I bet you’re gonna make maybe a thousand bucks a show. I bet you’re making 800 to a thousand bucks a show. So, you know, four $40,000 maybe.
RV (28:42):
AFD (28:43):
Interesting. I could be really off about, I think that’s about what, but you know, also the cost to make a show is about $500 per episode. Yes. If you’re hiring outside. And so that’s, that is a thing. People don’t factor. They wanna start a podcast and they want to make advertising money. Well, y you’re gonna be outta pocket for a little bit if you c if you don’t have the skills to make it sound good. Mm-Hmm. because you’ve gotta hire people to, to do that for
RV (29:08):
You. Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting cuz we had, we had a podcast that had millions of downloads that we sold as part of when we sold our last company. But we’ve never run ads on our, the only ads we run on our show are for our services. Yeah. And so that’s, and that’s, you know, because we’re offering people free calls to learn about what we do. And that’s usually when you’re starting out, that’s gonna pay a lot, a lot more money Yes. Than you’ll make from advertisers until you get really, really big.
AFD (29:35):
Absolutely. And we still, I mean still on my show and on shows on the network, we use the opportunity when we have empty ad spots to talk about the products we make. That is a hundred. And one of the things on our network that we really believe in is the community part. And so one at a quarter you’re advertising for another podcast and it’s on the network mm-hmm. . And so we have, we make space for that too. So the podcaster, so Matthew West does not pay for me to talk about his podcast this quarter. That is part of the deal being on the network is we get to tell our audience about other shows on the network.
RV (30:07):
Yeah, that’s really cool. I noticed that like Caleb is doing this now where they’ve got, they’ve got Caleb podcasts and you know, people are really doing this Interesting to see how it all happens. Well, yeah. So as we’re wrapping up, like, so tell us a little bit about what you’re working on. So I, I know Carlos Whitaker used to be really he used to be around Crosspoint a lot. I never really got to know him, but I know you, you obviously have your, your podcast. That sounds fun. You’ve got the books, but you and Carlos are teaming up on something exciting in 2023, right? Yeah.
AFD (30:40):
In June we’re going on tour together. It’s called the Here for You Tour. We just kind of wanted, he and I are good friends. We have a lot of the same audience, but also a lot of people who don’t know each other. And, and we thought, man, what we wanna do is let’s just go talk, let’s go meet up where our friends are already at and gathering. And so we’ve got about 12 cities we’re going to in June where we’re gonna get to show up and talk about Jesus and talk about what’s going on in culture and feature some local businesses. Like it’s kind of just gonna be a really fun hang night that we get to do. It’s really exciting. And the other thing we’re working on that I’m really proud of is the let’s read the Gospel’s podcast. And Roy, the idea really was like, what if there’s so many people who want to read the Bible in a year, but but don’t finish.
AFD (31:28):
Yeah. And so can we give some steps that would Enbridge people to a year? So we are gonna read Matthew, mark, Luke, John every month. And so people can start with on January one, February one, March one. And, and so the only commitment you’re making is a monthly commitment. We’re just gonna do it 12 times. So you can do it with us all 12 times or you can do it with us once, or you can do it with us in April. Or if you’ve never listened to Matthew, mark, Luke and Johnny, you don’t even know what they’re about. I’m gonna read the whole thing to you. And so, and
RV (31:56):
You’re reading it, you’re, it’s in your voice.
AFD (31:58):
It’s me. Yeah. We’re reading it 12 times man. It is an interesting year because we are really having to, it takes about 15 hours to read and so, and we have to do, so that’s two or three hours a week. So it’s really changing our rhythms next year. Cause I’m not doing any besides you, you’re my last outside conversation besides my shows until 2024. Nice. Wow. Because we just, my voice, we have to, if I’m gonna tour and travel and do a pot, do that sounds fun twice a week and read the gospels every month, that’s about all my voice can do. Yeah. So it’s changed my availability in a really interesting way. I’ll be very interested to see what happens. What happens when we focus like this next year.
RV (32:44):
Well, one thing that’ll be awesome. So, so we read the, we read the whole Bible this last year, which was the first time we ever made it through. Yeah. We’re in a, we’re in a family bible study. It’s the coolest thing is every Sunday from like three to seven, we found a Bible study. And the thing that that was a game changer was all the families pooled to buy babysitters. And so the kids go off with the babysitters and so then the family can actually like eat and do bible study. And it was, we read the whole Bible and the the thing, which was amazing, super power, powerful experience to read all the way through. But the thing that I’m most craving is you have to go so fast that we didn’t get to spend enough time in the gospels. And I’m like, man, I’m really, I’m really craving more time there in Matthew, mark, Luke and John. So that’s a really cool idea. That’s very, very, very, very powerful. Well Annie, where should people go? I got one last question for you, but before that, where do you want people to go if they wanna like learn more about you and connect up and see what you’re, what you’re up to?
AFD (33:42):
I, you know me Roy, I’m like embarrassingly easy to find. I’m just Annie F Downs everywhere. F is in fancy. So Annie f Downs will get you everything you need. Annie f Downs slash Gospels will get you access to all the resources we have to go along with the podcast. And then the here for You tour is here for you tour.com. So that’s where I’ll be all this year, all those places.
RV (34:02):
I love it. So my last question is just Annie, like thinking back, you know, let’s say somebody’s listening right now who, you know, maybe they are an aspiring author or maybe they’re an aspiring speaker, or maybe they’re in that like transition mode between like, I’m serving one audience, I’m doing one thing in my life, but I really want to be doing something else. Like, you know, those can be long dark seasons and, and Yeah. You know, those can be trying times. Like what would you, what would you say to that person if they’re listening right now?
AFD (34:30):
Yeah. You know, the thing I I, the only thing I would’ve regretted so far is if I would’ve quit. I have made mistakes along the way for sure. I don’t regret my mistakes. We had a, we’ve had some big ones that I’ve done and we have done some massive cleanup around it. I I don’t regret mistakes. I would’ve regretted quitting. And so that’s what I would say is don’t give up and get some people around you to help you because what they can help you do is not even decide whether to quit or not, but help you decide how do you pivot this thing so that it actually works for you. And so that it actually meets the needs that you believe the world has, that you are uniquely gifted to meet. And so ask, ask some, ask for some help and do not give up.
RV (35:13):
I love it. I love it. Well, we’ll link up to annie f downs.com. You can check out the tour, the shows. Thank you so much for such a transparent, open sharing, Annie, of just how all of this works and, and just hearing your story. It’s, it’s super encouraging and you know, we’re praying for you, my friend, and, and we wish you the best.
AFD (35:31):
I love you guys. I’m really glad to be friends with you and your wife, so I’m thankful for y’all and for the work you do, it matters to me.