PC 74 | How to Grow and Monetize Your Podcast with Tom Woods

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Profitcast FeedburnerHappy December! Yes, in real time we are entering the month of December in 2015, so for those of you reading or listening to this 2,000 years in the future… here are a couple fun facts:

  • December 4 is International Free Hugs Day! Extroverts, go find an Introvert and make them uncomfortable. (December 4 is also National Cookie Day.)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens comes out this month… 10 years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and 32 years after the last quality Star Wars film was released.
  • The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 age range. (For you 4015 A.D. folks, hopefully you don’t know and don’t care what Twitter is.)
  • In the past 9 years, 7 people have died and 98 people have been injured on Black Friday from a shopping-related incident.

Now that you know all these wonderful facts, let’s introduce you to Brian’s chat buddy on this week’s Profitcast! Tom Woods, of the appropriately titled The Tom Woods Show, is an Ivy League educated political analyst, author and podcaster. In Tom’s situation, the podcast was not his original brainchild as we are most often accustomed to hearing about on Profitcast. The podcast came after Tom worked his butt off to build up his reputation as a leader in free-market thought and libertarian philosophy, politics and economics. The podcast came after he’d authored 11 books. But it did come, and for the last two plus years he’s put out 5 shows a week, every week, interviewing a vast array of political faces and analysts.

Because Tom’s story is different, having backed into podcasting after he’d written several books and made a name for himself, the experiences he’s had are very unique, at least in terms of the folks we’ve interviewed on Profitcast. Although it isn’t exclusively the case, I feel like usually we see this play out the other way around, at least, as I say, when it comes to Profitcast. We’ve studied the approach of a podcaster who built their audience base up from nothing or began by being a No Name in their niche, but we don’t often get to hear about how podcasts contribute to an existing image.

Being a free-market and libertarian podcaster, Tom is already pretty niched. But the spectrum of information and insight he can provide to his audience is still fairly broad. He experiences the ups and downs of discovering which topics resonate with his audience, which strike a nerve or which illicit interaction. He’s not afraid to try something new, but also not afraid to admit that the content of a certain episode may not be a direction his listeners are willing to follow him in.

There’s always a line, isn’t there? Between what we want to podcast about, what we’re passionate about, and what our listeners want. Brian and Tom have a great discussion about the various approaches we can take in addressing these concerns and even how to juggle what the results of our approach mean.

Personally, I love it when someone of Tom’s caliber and success can come on a show like Profitcast and talk about the importance of respect. Respecting a guest, respecting the audience, and respecting content are all pretty blurred lines, but they’re not as relative as we make them seem. The level of respect for a guest does not need to be dependent on content, or vice versa. Just because you’re speaking with someone very important to an industry, for example, doesn’t guarantee the content is going to be something your audience wants.

On the flight to San Jose, CA for Heroes & Villains, Brian and I had a really good discussion about our reputations as podcasters. Or, at least, the reputation we want to build. Rather than focusing on casting yourself in this perfect image that can attract the people that will help you move forward, whether that is an affiliate or an interviewee, we thought about it more as the persona we reflect on the air and off the air to the people we interact with. This is everyone from the affiliates and interviewees to the listeners themselves.

The conversation Brian and I had was more of a general discussion and agreement over the fact that it takes effort and commitment to be kind and genuine. It’s hard to take the high road when so many people are not. But what I really enjoyed about Tom’s perspective is to see that with his level of success, it is not only possible, but also, remarkably, part of the reputation he’s made for himself. It doesn’t have to do so much with modifying our level of tolerance for another person, whether we agree or disagree with another person should not affect our ability to respect them, but more so the willingness to enter into a discussion with the mindset of having a conversation or healthy debate about ideas rather than a contention about right and wrong.

The debaters I respect the most are the ones who can listen to their opponent and respond to specific points with a thoughtful response that isn’t attacking the other person, while still countering logic with a challenge. We don’t convince people of a certain truth by tearing down their self-esteem, but by revealing holes in their logic and providing an alternative way of thinking that replaces those holes with something we consider true.

In the course of establishing a community, this seems to be one of easiest ways to alienate, isolate, or build up a group of people. Either you can attract all of the people who want to be angry debaters and alienate anyone with a differing opinion, isolate yourself through an unwillingness to have open discussions, or build people up by molding a safe environment for listeners to be heard and contribute. At the end of the day, I want a reputation for being that podcaster who provides her listeners with a place they can come to, in safety, and expression opinions and viewpoints.

This is just a small piece of what Brian and Tom talk about this week. I kind of took this idea and ran with it because it was encouraging for me to hear such a sound philosophy on debate from a political podcaster. I know political podcasting is different from, say, Talk Radio, which I’m more accustomed to (the likes of Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck, who, in my opinion, are more conversational than most talk radio hosts), but politics seem to bring out the worst sides of people. It’s what they say about family gatherings over the holidays, right? Avoid religion and politics. But it shouldn’t have to be that way! There are very few venues in which a person can actually feel comfortable expressing political viewpoints without the fear of being attacked, or with some degree of comfort in knowing their question will be answered considerately.

From what I’ve listened to of The Tom Woods show, I think this podcast is a perfect example of how that atmosphere of safety can be built up and perpetuated. It’s not about controlling content… but about controlling oneself. Being the respect you want to see from others.

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