Yann Ilunga is a Swiss-Italian entrepreneur based in Helsinki. His passion is podcasting and as well as producing his own successful shows, he coaches those interested in starting and growing a podcast very often to support their business. He also has a successful Facebook community group with over 2,400 member from all over the world and has been featured in Inc.com, Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine.
You can join Yann’s Facebook community “Podcast Growth Mastermind” here:
02:14 – How and why did the business get started?
06:49 – Is podcasting an ideal business when split between locations?
09:57 – What is a mastermind group and how does it help your business?
14:04 – When setting up a business why is a podcast a good idea?
17:38 – How can podcasting be integrated into an established business?
24:50 – Things to think about when starting a podcast
28:03 – Does the business and podcast topic need to be exactly aligned?
31:10 – How to get listeners to your podcast show
38:54 – Is there a place to migrate from audio to video?
42:07 – Structuring a location independent business
46:17 – Learnings and success stories from working with clients
50:07 – Future plans and goals
Click to Read Full Transcript...
So if you’re curious about creating a podcast and also about how it could help boost and grow your business that you’ve got, then you need to listen to my next guest, his name is Yann Ilunga. Yann is an Italian Swiss entrepreneur, but today lives in Helsinki and he’s a podcaster consultant and he’s actually a podcaster himself. He’s got a number of successful podcasts and he’s a speaker and was dubbed by Forbes Magazine as a podcasting advocate. He runs a business called ‘360 Entrepreneur’ and the podcasts, The Success Academy Membership and he also has run the world’s number one podcasting digital conference called ‘The Podcast Success Summit’. He has been featured in a number of publications, including Forbes, Inc., Podcast Movement, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post. So we talked about how to get started in podcasting and why it might suitable for you if you have a business, how do you pick your topic, what kind of gear you need and some tips on how to get it out there, how to market it. So, anyway, if you’re interested in that topic, I’d recommend you have a listen, here’s Yann.
Alex: So hi Yann, welcome to the show.
Yann: Hi Alex, how’s it going?
Alex: Oh it’s a real pleasure to have you, where are you now, you’re in Helsinki?
Yann: Yes sir I am, Helsinki, Finland all the way up North. [Laugh]
Alex: Fantastic. Okay listen Yann, I know we had that wonderful introduction about you, but there’s another thing as well which struck me and that was that Forbes called you a podcasting advocate, which is quite some recognition of your expertise in this area. Now a lot of listeners to the show are you know, expats looking to start or grow a business. They love the idea of creating a business that enables them to be flexible, you know location independent et cetera and podcasting is such a huge enabler for that and you’re an amazing example of someone who has achieved this. So, I want to dive into that whole subject with you in just a second. But, just to get started, I’d just love to hear your story, so what do you do today, how did you get started and why?
How and why did the business get started?
Yann: Yes absolutely. People who know me they know I’m always fired up and I love chatting podcasting, so I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun. Now speaking about my story trying to give the reader digest version, what I do is I’m a podcasting consultant, and that means that I work with entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers who are interested in starting a podcast. So with some we work on the strategy, some need help with the technical side of things, but then I also work with people who are podcasters already. With them we focus more on the marketing side of things or people who are interested in being on the other side of the mic and being guests. So, that’s what I do in a nutshell.
Now, how did I end up here? Well, that’s pretty simple. I’m originally from the Italian speaking part of Switzerland and I think if somebody has a pretty good ear can tell that I have this funny macaroni accent and that’s because I’m from the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. So, not that far from where you are right now Alex.
Yann: I’ve been living here in Helsinki for almost seven years, I think in a month and a half it’s going to be 7 years and I was travelling around Europe after I did my undergraduate, for our American friends a Bachelor, at University. I spent a year and I travelled for a couple of months around Europe with a very good friend of mine. When we were in cities or countries that I liked, I would always look what their masters programs had to offer, or graduate programs.
I started communications so that’s what I was looking for and Helsinki was one of the options. The University of Helsinki where I ended up doing my masters, they had a program called, ‘Media and Global Communication’. I also met my then girlfriend, now fiancé. So it was really a win, win.
So I moved here, did the masters then I worked for a couple of years as a journalist for an English language newspaper. I also started to do things as a freelancer, so I started to build websites and those kinds of things. Then I stumbled across, I literally stumbled across this thing called podcasts, I was really fascinated by the idea and Alex I’m really a person who could have had headphones from the moment I wake up until the…I can go to sleep listening to music no problem.
Also because of that I was really drawn into the idea of podcasts and I asked myself, ‘hm, how could I start doing this for myself?’ Then I realised that I actually had already quite the network because I had worked for a couple of years the jazz festival in Switzerland. I was like quite already know at least some 20 people or so, who could be up for doing an interview and that’s one of my first show, ‘The Jazz Spotlight’ was born.
The problem with that though is, that as I was doing that, as I was still working, I was also learning more and more about entrepreneurship, digital marketing. I would listen to podcasts, read books and find so many interesting people. But, the problem was that I couldn’t interview them because I was hosting a music podcast and many of them had nothing to do with music.
That’s one of my second podcast, ‘The 360 Entrepreneur’ was born, so it was a podcast that was really about entrepreneurship, about business and then I realised that well, more and more people kept asking me podcasting related questions. From how did you get this guest to what microphone do you use and all those kind of things. I stopped and said to myself, ‘hmm, maybe I ought to take a closer look at what I’m doing’. Because I was working and helping people first as a freelancer, then I started to really do it full-time with digital marketing. Then I said to myself, ‘well I keep answering questions about podcasting, maybe I’ll go with the idea to really take a step back, look at everything I’m doing and see if it’s worth pivoting towards podcasting’. That’s what I did and then I decided to launch another podcast, ‘The Podcaster Lab’ which is all about podcasting.
Alex: Wow, so you’re three podcasts in [Laugh] –
Yann: Yes, I mean I have also, I collaborated with a community of Italian marketers, so it’s like four and then I was recently in Italy, met with some business partners and there was talks of another podcast in the books. So let’s see. [Laugh]
Alex: [Laugh} Well how did the move to Helsinki, or how does being in Helsinki and coming from Switzerland affect your business, the fact that you’re kind of split location wise? Has this been the ideal business to be doing that?
Is podcasting an ideal business when split between locations?
Yann: Yes, my business is a Finnish company, so I started the business a few years ago when I was already in Helsinki. So, when I moved here it wasn’t even something I thought of, being kind of doing something on my own. First, I focused on the studying and as I was studying I worked as a journalist, and then little-by-little I started to do some freelancing work and that’s what I kind of the taste if you want, of being your own boss. Because even though you may use some sites that kind of help bring freelancers and let’s say employers together, you’re still your own boss. So it didn’t fully kind of affect me much because it’s something that I somehow realised I really wanted to do, once I had been already living in Helsinki for a couple of years.
Alex: Now it can get a bit lonely can’t it, sometimes? Or, you know you feel the isolation sometimes, doing a business like this, how has that been for you?
Yann: Yes, absolutely. I think that’s one of the major “issues”. People sometimes don’t believe this because I’m really a people’s-person, but I’m quite the introvert guy, meaning I don’t have any problem in spending time on my own. But, it does get lonely and I think it’s important for people to find ways to really keep in touch with basically with the outside world. Especially if somebody is doing something online, perhaps they’re let’s say if somebody develops websites, they may be in the their home office from morning until evening, all the time by themselves. I think it’s important to find ways not to lose touch with the outside world. That can be something as simple as say, ‘well let’s say a couple of times a week, instead of working from home, I go and work at a coffee shop, or I get a co-working space’. Or, if it’s summertime I go and work at the park. If you feel that you also want to connect people with people online, you can think of doing masterminds. I am a member of mastermind, I’ve been member of four masterminds to date. We have calls at least once a month altogether and then often times with individual members we have calls say for example, let’s say somebody has something specific and they would like to bounce ideas off of the other members, we do that as well.
So, I’ve found different ways not to be completely isolated. Because I am in touch with people on a regular, because I mean I work with clients, do consulting. I do interviews as a host, not as much anymore, I used to do much more and as a guest like we’re doing now. So I am in touch with people at different degrees, but I think not everybody ends up doing this kind of job where you get to talk to people often times, the most interactions are perhaps by email or something like that.
Alex: I want to pick up this point about masterminds, because it’s a very interesting subject. What is a mastermind, so for those people listening who may not fully understand, what is a mastermind group? Give me your definition and how do you join one or how do you become part of one and how does it help your business?
What is a mastermind group and how does it help your business?
Yann: Yes, absolutely, it’s a great question. So, the idea of a mastermind is a group of people and I’ve been in, for example, the current one we are only three, I have been mastermind of five or even six people, if I’m not mistaken. The idea is to have a group of individuals who come together on a regular basis, we did it once a month, and this casts something. There are different variations, but the idea as a solopreneur especially is that you get to bounce ideas off other people who maybe at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Perhaps they are a couple of steps in front of you and often times they’re also in different spaces, with the people I’m masterminding right now, for example, one of us is really focusing on self-publishing and audio-book narration. Whereas the other one, is focusing more on audio engineering as well as live video.
So I think it’s quite interesting not to be too homogeneous because sometimes if there is something about live video, which I don’t consider myself an expert at, I can ask James. In terms of the format of the masterminding group, I know there are different formats, I know there are groups where each time the members come together, there is one person who is in the hot-seat so the call is kind of revolves around this specific person. With in different ways, so that we always decide on a specific topic that can be of use to everybody, so it can be I don’t know copyrighting, it can be sales, it can be automation, it can be productivity and then we make sure that all of us do have, basically, are in the spotlight during the call. We typically have calls that are about an hour and a half and we are three people.
Now in terms of how to find masterminds is relatively simple, I mean to find people who are interested in masterminds is relatively simple, find the right people that are completely different story. I’ve seen, for basically, in Facebook groups I’m part of, I’ve seen people simple ask, ‘Hey, is somebody interested in having a call, I would like to brainstorm and that’s how they are born.
For me I was thinking about people in my network and I’m actually the one, yes, I think I’m the one who kind of started all of the different masterminds. I was in two different masterminds at the same time, because one, we were three people out of Australia and two of us out of Europe. So, there wasn’t room for Americans because of the time-zone differences. Then, at the same time I was with another one, so, that one for me we had calls in the late morning early afternoon my time, and then in the evening I was one where we were a couple of Europeans and a few Americans.
Alex: It just shows how global these things are, aren’t they? I mean with technology now you can create, tap into knowledge anywhere in the world with these.
Alex: That’s amazing great. I’m part of a mastermind and we do like the hot-seat approach versus your topic approach, which I think is a great idea as well, maybe we’ll look at that.
Yann: Yes, I mean we do have a hot-seat approach if somebody has something “important” coming up. Let’s say if somebody has a product launch coming up, the person asks, ‘hey guys, do you mind if we put more emphasis on my thing and then it was you can always learn from other people’s projects. So, it’s not as if the spotlight is on somebody else, it’s going to be a useless call for you. It was always something you can pick up and actually apply to whatever it is that you’re doing.
Alex: Great, right. So, Yann, let’s talk about podcasting. Now, maybe you know if someone is thinking of starting a business, I don’t know maybe as a coach, a consultant, mentor, or any other IT. Why should someone setting up a business like that consider starting a podcast, what could it bring to them?
When setting up a business why is a podcast a good idea?
Yann: Yes, that’s a fantastic question. As I said, my background is in communications, so that’s when I started them both bachelor and masters level or undergraduate and graduate. For me, when I think about the question ‘why podcasting?’ I always start by addressing it from a communications point of view. Meaning, you can be a very skilled writer, but it’s quite difficult to build a human connection with the reader. It’s easier to do that with your voice, like you and I are doing right now. Using audio allows you to use your voice and that also allows you to have certain traits about yourself and your personality. Come up, think of I said I have a funny macaroni accent for example. Had this been a written interview, the accent wouldn’t have come across. Or, the sense of humour, sure it can come across in textural content, but it’s harder than audio content.
So, that’s the first reason and when we do well, Alex Yann isn’t then video better? Because people not only get to hear me, but they also get to see me. While that is true, the question I would have for somebody that makes that argument is, when is the last time you watched a video while you were exercising, or you were walking the dog, or you were driving. That’s where content consumption and retention come into the picture. While it is very difficult, if not impossible to consume textural or video content while you’re exercising, or driving, or you are at the gym, you can virtually consume audio content 24/7. I mean if you think about it you can walking the dog, jogging, at the gym, you can be cooking, you can be taking a bath if you are careful! So, you can basically be in people’s ears regardless of what they are doing.
I once got an email from a listener of mine, now disclaimer. This is probably something exceptional, it’s the only email I’ve got like that in years. But, a listener of mine told me, I was about to go on a road trip and I was looking for something to listen and I came across your jazz spotlight podcast. I saw a couple of episodes that looked interesting, I started to download them and you basically were with me on my road trip of over 1,000 miles for 12 hours. So, that person basically listened to my content for 12 hours and that’s a higher retention compared to reading, especially if you think about screens, which aren’t ideal for the eyesight, or even watching videos.
So, those are a couple of reasons why I think podcasting is worth exploring and a couple of additional ones are that, the better of entry is much lower compared to something like a video for example. Sure, there is some work that goes behind it, but it’s not as kind of challenging as getting started with video if you will. The same can be said for costs, podcasting, getting started with podcasting and being a podcaster doesn’t require a big investment as for video, if one wants to produce high quality video.
Alex: So, we’ve got this concept then of really making a connection with the audience, regardless of what they’re doing.
Alex: Building on that then, how could it help my business, if I’ve got a business or I’m about to launch a business, how can a podcast actually you know be integrated into a business that you’ve got already?
How can podcasting be integrated into an established business?
Yann: Yes, so there we go always tap into the strategy behind the podcast territory. I think the first thing, or one of the first questions one should ask oneself is, ‘what do I want to get out of the podcast?’ I think the mistake many podcasters make and you and I alex were talking about this on a different call. Some people get into podcasting because they think it’s sexy, they hear success stories of people who have made million and they think, ‘well I’m just going to follow their footsteps and I’m going to get the same results’. That’s not the case.
I think that one should really think about how one wants to leverage the podcast as an asset for their business and I’ll make you a practical example, I can take myself as an example and then I can mention a client of mine.
With the 360 Entrepreneur Podcast that I mentioned early on, my second podcast. My goal for that show was very simple, leverage it as a networking tool. So, while I was focusing on getting somebody on the show, I was always thinking about the future and it doesn’t really come as a surprise the fact that for the first edition of my virtual summit, or digital conference podcast access summit. Out of the 80 speakers we had, I think 60% were people I had interviewed on my podcast.
So, I was really strategic, I was doing interviews because I knew that I wanted to connect with those people, and in fact as soon as I was done with an interview I would ask the person, ‘is it okay if I connect with you on Facebook and Linkedin?’ so that person would connect. So, I was using that podcast to really build a network of relevant contacts and in some cases, those contacts or them on the touch points ended up there. In some other cases they went further, so I interviewed them for my summit, which was a paid thing. Or, we did collaborative things, perhaps we did like a joint webinar, or something like that. So, it was really fun to basically look beyond the interview and I think it’s a mistake many podcasters make, not look at the interview as the beginning of a possible collaboration.
So, that’s one thing. The other thing is one can leverage the podcast as the platform to build authority, to position oneself as an expert. In other words, you maybe be focusing on creating products or services or whatever you do and you don’t really, or aren’t always able to share your expertise what you know. With those who may not be your clients, so with those you may not be in your proximity and with a podcast you can become the go-to person because you are sharing relevant information, practical advice on a regular basis. So, a podcast can still very much valuable, even if it’s not an interview based podcast. The podcast lab for example is not an interview based podcast, I do have expert contributions but I don’t do interviews. My goal with that is to really position myself as a go-to person in the podcasting space, so that then I can connect the products and services I have, podcasting related products and services to the podcast episodes.
Alex: Now how about this, you’re a guest today on my podcast, how about the whole idea of not so much starting a podcast but going around and being a guest on people’s podcasts as a way to give yourself exposure?
Yann: Yes, that’s a good point and I said I was going to bring an example. I have a couple of clients who are exactly like that. So, a couple of them realise the power of podcasting but they aren’t really interested in learning about hosting and the technical side. What they do is they go around and be interviewed.
For example, one of them specifically had a book coming out and what she did we worked together and she basically went on a sort of virtual book tour. So, she did a series I think it was I don’t know a dozen interviews or something like that and she asks the hosts, she coordinated with them to have the interviews published the days before the book launch, or right at the book launch in a couple of cases following the book launch.
So, there is definitely if somebody is listening to you and I Alex and it’s like hmm this podcasting thing sounds interesting, keep in mind that yes, you can be on one side of the mic, on the other side or even on both and can benefit from this fantastic medium.
Alex: So, we’ve learned then that you know guests are more than just guests, they are potential partners. Content as well, I mean this is something that’s also fascinating, I know we had a conversation about that before. It’s not just the content that happens in 45 minutes, it can be used in many different ways?
Yann: Yes absolutely. Personally I think that so many podcasters who host interviewed based shows they are just focusing on the interview. As soon as it’s done they say, ‘thanks bye’ and chairs the next guests. Don’t they realise how much potential there may be had they spent 30 additional seconds to see if there are ways he or she and the guest can collaborate.
Also, not sitting on the content itself, meaning if somebody is interested in becoming a contributor, you mention Forbes that I had the pleasure to be featured on, Inc, Entrepreneur. Other magazines likes that I was featured on because of my content primarily. So they don’t really care so much about the person per se, they care about what the person does and what value he or she can provide. So if you have done some fantastic interviews for example, why not consider adding a little bit of work and turn those into articles and if you are not interested in having those articles published on popular publications, you can even simple start your own column on a platform like LinkedIn and or Medium.com, for example. So that if there is somebody who may not be that interested in learning via audio they can still get value and your message can still reach more people, because you leverage also the written medium. Sometimes you may have people in your network who have no idea what a podcast is, they may have no idea that you are a podcaster, so they start reading your column and at some point they are like, ‘okay, I ought to go and look at what is Alex’s podcast about’ and then they start to become listeners on what you do.
Alex: That’s amazing. I mean I’ve actually been approached actually quite recently by a magazine, an International magazine to write a column for them, to feature a column for them. So I’m looking to use some of the podcast content to do that so, what would have happened if I hadn’t had the podcast then, that’s what I’m saying. So, let’s go back to the beginning then, so how would you advise the rest of the audience to go about starting a podcast, what are the things you need to be thinking about as you start thinking about them?
Things to think about when starting a podcast
Yann: Yes, I think that’s the key question and I’ve already said or we touched upon what do you want to get out of the podcast, I think that’s the key thing. It’s really important because the more clarity you have on your podcasting goals the easier that it is or becomes to answer questions like which format should I have? Should I have an interview based show, should I be solo, should I have a little bit of both, should I do pre-recorded shows, should I do live shows and also wants everything to define the format. You say, ‘well I want to interview people’. If you want to talk about a specific topic and you have three options, how do you go about choosing guest one over guest two or guest three.
Or the answers to all those are connected to two things, one is your podcasting goals and the other one is your target audience. So, I think that it’s important to take a moment and these I know are unsexy things, I think people or when it comes to podcasting they want to know what is the best microphone and blah blah blah. But if you are serious about this and you want to do it long term then those are questions you have to ask yourself.
Then the next question obviously is about the equipment and you don’t have to spend a thousand dollars in order to have a professional sounding experience. If I think about my equipment that I have here in front of me, my microphone the Samsung 22U when I bought it was about 100 bucks. I have a Behringer XENYX 802 mixer which costs I think 70 bucks and then I have a pop filter and an arms standard the price of both combined is 20 dollars, 30 at the most and I have an audio interface that costs I think 30 dollars. So, we are talking about what 300 dollars, not even and the sound is fantastic.
So, it is pretty simple because there are so many options in terms of microphones. But for me it’s so that a person should remember that they can always change microphones, so they shouldn’t let the budget they have available be an excuse for not starting with a podcast. When I started podcasting I had a different microphone, so you can always upgrade.
Once you know what your goals are you have an idea of what you are going to need, you’re going to need a microphone and we could be here talking about microphones the entire time, but if you want Alex, I can send you the links for a couple of episodes I did that were all about equipment because there I talk further about microphones if you want to?
Alex: I think the listeners would appreciate that a lot, then we put it in the notes.
Yann: Yes perfect.
Alex: Let’s go back to the topic then, so, and again it’s all about you know you’ve got the reason for why you’re doing the podcast clear. But then you’re trying to match it with your business. Let’s say you are, I don’t know you’re a trainer, you train people how to do presentation skills and something like that, or, communication skills and you decide you want to do a podcast to help grow your business. How important is the topic of the podcast in relation to the business, should it be exactly aligned or related?
Does the business and podcast topic need to be exactly aligned?
Yann: Yes I think it depends because for example, if you say, ‘well I want my podcast to be a relationship building asset’, then it’s okay, even if there is some “distance” between the topic and the angle of your podcast and your business in more practical terms. Let’s say you are I don’t know a Facebook advertising agency, or solopreneur. So one would think, ‘well I should do a podcast about Facebook advertising because it’s what I do for a living’. Well not really, if you want to connect with people you may be better off having a show that has a wider scope, perhaps it’s social media, perhaps it’s paid advertising. Sure, sometimes you’re going to cover Facebook advertising, but that may not be the only thing you want to cover. On the other hand if you really want to leverage your podcast to build authority and really position yourself and connect the products or services you offer to the content, then it makes more sense to have the content of the show be as close as possible to what you do.
I mean if you have an episode that is all about Facebook advertising, it’s much easier to plug in your course on Facebook ads. Where as if you’re having a conversation with a guest and you guys are talking about I don’t know, mentoring for example, that maybe harder, there may be a bigger disconnect between the call to action and whatever it is that you offer and what the conversation has been all about.
So I think choosing the topic, or more than the topic, it’s not all about the topic but also the angle really depends on how one wants to go about it. I mentioned relationship building, I mentioned building authorities, there may be other ideas one may have. So I think it really depends on what one to do and as I said, in some cases you can even have a hybrid approach so you can say for example, ‘sure I want to build relationships, so I want to interview people, but I also want to do solo episodes’. In that case, you can go for it as well, perhaps you have two episodes a week and one is always about interviews, one is always you solo. Or you say every second week you have an interview, so then every other week you have a solo episode. There is no written rule, that’s also what is so cool about this that you can experiment, I’ve experimented with so many different approaches which you know gives me then a better insight and better scope kind of understanding podcasting. I’m not going to say at 360 Degrees because that would be a bit presumptuous thing to say, but a pretty good scope for sure.
Alex: So what about marketing and you touched on this a little bit already, but you’ve got your podcast, you’ve got your business now. But you want people to listen to you, you want people to engage with the content, how do you do that? Because, it’s not you know is it just you build it and they come, I don’t think so you have to get it out there don’t you?
How to get listeners to your podcast show
Yann: Yes, it would be awesome if that were the case, but it isn’t and actually one thing I want to add that I think is important to give people a reality check, going back to your previous question Alex, before I talk about marketing.
People have to remember that the bar is raising, so even though it is easier to get started with podcasting compared to video let’s say, it’s also true that there is more and more professionals that have entered or are entering the podcasting space. I’m thinking of media corporations, I’m thinking of journalists, I’m thinking of celebrities. Which means that even if you are an independent podcaster and I am, I am I record here in my home office, I’ve done things by myself so I don’t record in any fancy Hollywood studio or whatever.
It’s important for you that you really value the content but also the overall listening experience you and if you have guests, you and the guests create and audio quality definitely fits, or becomes part of the conversation.
So, even though I said that one shouldn’t let the gear hold them back from getting started with podcasting, it’s also true that if I think actually I’ll one additional thing, when I started my first podcast four years ago, in the new multi-section of podcasts out of ten podcasts there was maybe only one that was by a professional, a media company like the New York Times or something like that.
Nowadays it’s almost the opposite, out of ten podcasts in that section of items or podcast, it was maybe two that are by independent podcasters like you and I, and the rest are by professionals, which is quite telling, so it’s important to think about that.
Now in terms of the marketing, personally I think that it’s about a couple of things. The first is about understanding who your target listener is and go where they are. The second thing is also to realise that depending on who that target listener is, depending on your topic, you have to keep in mind that you may want to target people who, not only aren’t listening to your podcast, but who don’t even know what podcasting is about. So there you have to have an educational component as well, when you’re marketing your podcast.
In my case for example, when I promote the Jazz Spotlight, which is tailored to independent musicians and people in the music business, I can’t expect most people to know what a podcast is. On the other hand, if I promote The Podcaster Lab, which is all about podcasters and is tailored to people who are either interested in podcasting or are podcasters already. Teaching people how to, explain what a podcast, how to find and subscribe to one for example, isn’t something as relevant.
So I think it’s important to think about who you want to target, where they are spending time, is it online or offline? If it’s online, where? Is it a Facebook group, is it specific Facebook groups, is it on Instagram, is it publications that you are reading, are those people reading them as well? If that’s the case, then you want to get in front of them, and it’s not about screaming, ‘hey listen to my podcast, listen to my podcast’. It’s about becoming part of the conversation that is already ongoing, or become the spark that starts the conversation. Sometimes it’s one air, or is someone instant, sometimes it’s the other one and it’s sometimes it’s kind of both. So when a place like Twitter for example, which is really dynamic, with some people you are joining the conversation, while with other people you may be the one that starts the conversation.
When it comes to marketing a podcast show, we can talk about all the fancy tools and those kinds of things. But I think at the end of the day, many people forget that it’s really about the basics and so many times people send me random emails, tweets, messages asking me to listen to their podcasts and then the first thing I do is like I look at what the podcast is all about and I’m like, ‘man, I’m not even your ideal listener’. If you have a podcast that is tailored to working Moms for example, sorry but I’m not a Mom so you know I’m not really your ideal listener, so you maybe better off spending that time or investing that time targeting working Moms and not do it like I am.
Alex: I mean in today’s age of personal branding and helping your business to stand out by putting yourself in the front of your business, then surely you know having a podcasting channel is one of the ultimate ways of doing that. Because this often now with the differentiator between, certainly in a lot of service based businesses, being ahead of your competition is whether you are willing to put yourself at the front of your business.
Yann: Yes, that’s a very good point Alex that you make and actually, sorry, I would add to what your said that it’s putting yourself in front but it’s also putting yourself out there. Because now you can’t hide between text on your website or something like that, you’re really out there. Even though your podcast maybe pre-recorded so you’re not doing it live, you’re still out there. So, if you think your voice doesn’t sound good, well you know that’s the voice you have. If you have a funny accent like I have, well that’s what you have.
But, I think for me personally, one inspirational thing I would add is all the things that I could have used as excuses for not getting started with podcasting or all the “flaws” let’s say are actually turned out to be things that really draw people. For example, of all the guests I’ve interviewed, if I think about my podcasts and virtual summit combined, I’ve interviewed well over 200 people. I’ve interviewed premier award winning artists, top selling authors, top entrepreneurs. I’ve interviewed people who would have had every right if you want to tell me, ‘well your accent is bothering, your English isn’t perfect blah blah blah’. But, I’ve yet to meet somebody who really criticises me for that, we actually laugh because I’m the first that makes a joke about it as I said early on, I’ve this funny macaroni accent. So, I think that even if a person says to themselves, ‘well I’ve never been in front of microphone, or I’ve never done this, I’ve done that’, just remember that somebody starts from somewhere.
I would actually say if you are interested in podcasting but you think aren’t good enough, I would you encourage you to pick your favourite podcast or podcasts, especially if you have a couple of podcasts, that have been, or podcasters that have podcasting for a couple of years. Go and listen to their episode one, if you don’t have any, feel free to go to the jassspotlight.com/episodeone, I’ll double check Alex I’ll send you the link to that as well. Because it’s the very first podcast recording I’ve ever done, so if now I sound comfortable in front of a mic and this and that, go and listen to that and you’ll hear [laugh] a big difference.
Alex: Yes, we’re all going to be a bit embarrassed with our first episodes it’s normal, so brilliant. You covered this before and I just want to come back to it again, because I had quite a few listeners that approached me and said to me, ‘Alex you know when are you going to start doing the video versions of your podcasts?’ So, does it make sense to migrate from audio to video, and what are the pros and cons about that, is there a place for it?
Is there a place to migrate from audio to video?
Yann: Yes, that’s a good question. Well, I think it depends, for example it’s just a subjective thing. I’m a person by the way who uses YouTube a lot, I listen to a lot of playlists on YouTube or things like, so I said listen. So technically it’s a video, but I’m doing other things so I don’t really watch it. For me I personally don’t think, I don’t always see the value in doing what I would refer to as basic interview, more like conversation as you and I are having as doing it in video form. I feel that the only thing that that would add to the experience of somebody who tunes in is that they get to see us, but that’s it.
I feel that if it was an interview or a podcast, even if it’s a solo show where there is some visual elements, perhaps there is a whiteboard or something like that. Or, we are in a very beautiful I don’t know we have background or we are recording at a rooftop bar with a fantastic view, then that’s a different thing.
But for me personally, I’ve done some videos for YouTube but they haven’t been kind of the video version of the podcast, they’ve been more tutorials. I don’t know for me I’ve found that when people say, ‘well should I just record a video and then strip the audio?’ for me I’m like well, if that’s something you want to do but when it goes to content consumption and retention, audience retention, audio is the more powerful than video. Meaning people listen to audio for longer periods of time and more frequently because as I said, one can consume audio pretty much 24/7.
So, I think it really depends from the person to person obviously, using video gives you the advantage that you can leverage the second most powerful search engine in the world, which is YouTube and that is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. But, for me personally, if one wants to use YouTube, I would rather create YouTube specific videos, because that’s also a thing that when you’re and I’ve done videos, so for my digital conference I do video interviews. When I do video, I feel that it’s a different ballgame, so for example, the way I look, has a certain impact, the way I dress the posture I have, all those kinds of things.
So, for me I would personally, if somebody is listening to you and I Alex and wants to use a video, I would be very deliberate about the video content and I wouldn’t just say, ‘well create video and just strip the audio and you have a video show and a podcast’.
Alex: Very good advice, very helpful. So taking a step back and more about your overall business, I mean could you perhaps gives us some insights into how you structured your overall business to make it into this really sort of location independent business with global reach. Because it’s something which I think a lot of people aspire to and it’s not just about podcasters, it’s more than that. But perhaps just give us sort of two or three insights into how you run a business like that.
Structuring a location independent business
Yann: Yes, and is it okay if while I do that I also give some general advice for people?
Yann: Who may be a different, okay. So for me, first of all as I am a solopreneur, so I work by myself, I do have some people that I let’s say collaborate with, meaning for example, a company that does accounting for me and those kinds of things. But, mainly it’s just me and I think when it’s somebody in that position is very keen to be organised and to be very specific about things.
For example, in my case most of the clients I have, my consulting clients are based in North America, which means that I hardly have consulting calls in the morning or early afternoon my time, which is great. So, that means on a logistical or organisational point of view, means that I know that I typically have time in the mornings and early afternoon to take care of other things. Things like recording podcasts, or brainstorm new products or services, or do clients work, so, clients that I do work for, so we don’t have a call. So, I think doing something like that is basically understanding who you want to work with, or who you currently work with and how where they are can help you start your days. In some cases that may not be the case, maybe you work with people all over the world and you can’t really identify a schedule like the one I have where it’s pretty clear. That’s the first thing.
The second thing I would say is key to have and there’s plenty of tools nowadays, but I think it’s key to have a tool that is basically your online headquarters and I typically refer to your own website as online headquarters, but in this case I’m referring to project management tools. I’m thinking of Trello which is something I use or tools like Airtable or Asana because when you’re by yourself, your taking care of so many different things, or are involved in quite many different projects. So you can’t expect to be remembering every single detail of every single project, that’s why tools like Trello or Airtable or Asana come in handy and I love the fact that they also come in with apps which means that you can also add things, edit things, remove things. Even if you are on the go, and that applies also to your clients as well. With many clients I work with we use Trello, so we have a basically a joint they are called boards but it’s basically a joint portal and we get to interact there.
So in terms of the structuring, I think that it’s also something that it’s important for people to keep in mind that it may take some time before you find what is the right structure or the structure that feels good to you.
I didn’t start out with everything so well defined, also because there are certain things that I added on later, so then those kind of forced me to rethink about the way I carry out my work. So, for example, I started doing client work with the podcast marketing side of things over the last what six or seven months. So that’s something that then forced me to reorganise a bit my work schedule because now that’s something those are work or tasks that have specific deadlines, so they don’t only depend on me but they also depend on the other person, the customer. When do they want this specific thing to be done by.
Alex: Very good advice and I’ll put some of those tools in the show notes afterwards so people can access them, they are very interesting and I’ll take a look at them myself. So just moving on then and you mentioned a couple of your clients before, but I’m just wondering if there are any other client success stories that you’d like to talk about or any learnings that you’ve got from working with your clients and helping them with their podcasts that you think stand out?
Learnings and success stories from working with clients
Yann: Yes absolutely. So well in terms of client success stories I’m always happy when I get emails or message by clients who have really achieved goals they set-up and sometimes we set them up together and sometimes after working with me they’ve set them up. I’ve had a couple of clients who’s podcasts have passed one I think passed the 2 million dollar mark, which is pretty nice and it’s actually a podcast that’s really impactful because it covers anxiety, so it’s I call it a serious podcast compared to mine. So that’s nice and that has been like –
Alex: That’s amazing.
Yann: – very gratifying thing also for me on a personal level and then some of my clients or one client that I mentioned early on that went on the virtual book tour. She had been a podcast guest before working with me, but then when we worked together we kind of sharpened her skills and she said at the interview she did for Entrepreneur On Fire, which is a very popular business podcast, was probably the best she had ever done. So that was also nice of course for me but also for her, because she got some good sales from that.
Yes for me, it’s always so I would say to kind of summarise, I would say that for me the best success stories are always when somebody is able to do something they never thought they were able to do. It doesn’t matter whether that’s starting a podcast or stepping on stage in front of hundreds of thousands of people as a speaker and they got that or that basically getting to that point started with them starting a podcast.
In my case I work mainly around podcasting so podcasting or the word podcast is always there somewhere for me. Those are the I would say the most gratifying feelings on a personal level when I hear or see this kind of things about my customers. You asked me also another question, what was it again? [Laugh]
Alex: Well it was related, it was either any additional learnings you wanted to pass on?
Yann: Oh yes, okay yes, right learning about working with customers. Yes so, a couple of things. First of all, you have to have patience, that’s a… I love my clients but you really have to have patience. You also have to be diligent, but also understanding. Because you know if unexpected things may happen, let’s say if somebody gets sick, if someone wakes up and
decides hey today I want to get sick and I’m, especially if it’s a serious illness or something like that. So I think that it’s important for you to be diligent, to be on time and everything but also to be understanding if there is something that you know that changes the plans.
Also, the further thing I would add related to that is, you also shouldn’t be afraid to communicate with your customers. So if something goes wrong, let’s say, and to me it’s happened especially with the info products, perhaps there is a problem with a video, or if there is a problem with the site. I think it’s always key to communicate with people, because at the end of the day we are people. So, if you communicate you actually share, you show kind of your vulnerable side but that takes you closer to the other human you are communicating with, because they are going to say, ‘hey, no problem I just wanted to let you know’ and to me it’s happened several times that you know to some degree or another.
You and I were even talking about this before we started, sometimes with technologies like that there are issues for no particular reason and sometimes it’s enough to simply restart a computer or something like that.
Alex: Great, no very, very good bits of advice there, appreciate that. So let’s look at the future then for you, what’s in store for you, what are you planning, what are your goals?
Future plans and goals
Yann: Yes so, in terms very near future I’m actually about to head over to Philadelphia to present at Podcast Movement. So, I always, I love what I do, I love working online but of course it’s always nice when you get to meet people in person. I was a few months ago I presented a peer podcast in Australia. I always like, when I get the chance, to meet fans, listeners, clients, colleagues or even interviewers or interviewees in person. Sometimes it’s quite interesting feeling when you’re have known somebody for two, three, four years and then you finally get to meet in person. It’s going to happen with Crystal and James, the two members of the mastermind I mentioned early on, we are going to meet in New York for the first time and I’ve known the two of them I think for four years or something, so that’s quite interesting.
Then in terms of plans for the future, there is my membership site, The Podcast Success Academy which has undergone restyling, so that’s going to be exciting because there is going to be some new things with that. It’s basically a sort of I don’t know if I would Netflix for podcasters, I’m not sure if that makes it really clear for people. But basically once the restyling is done, it’s going to be a resource for people where they can really pick a different layer of podcasting that they’re interested in and would like to know more about and focus on that. It’s a series of video courses, there is some live trainings and things like that, so that’s for the near future.
In terms of longer term plans, well one, that has been in the works that for quite some actually is to write a book also related to podcasting and do more speaking. I would say those are the main two things, because yes speaking because of my geographical position, Helsinki, most of the speaking I do is outside of Helsinki, so it always means also moving quite a lot, relatively far, I mean I mentioned Australia. I mentioned Philadelphia, New York and things like that. So, I definitely want to do more and more speaking and you know impact more people because at the end of the day, with the work I do, with the content I create, my goal is to always impact people, in my case with podcasting. So that then they can leverage this great medium to share their message with the world and impact then more people themselves.
Alex: I always thought I’d never write a book, but I must admit now that in a way the book is almost writing itself. There’s a lot of content, a lot of ideas, lot of inspiration coming from the interviews that I do and I think you know that could be in the book in the future.
Alex: It’s another, I think it’s also one of the other benefits, the side benefits of doing it.
Yann: True. For me it’s actually the opposite, because, well I’m not sure if I should be the one to say this, but I’ve always been relatively good at writing. Meaning even when I did my Bachelor, which was in Italian, I asked if I could write my thesis in English. My Masters was in English, I worked as a journalist writing in English. So the writing part isn’t really a problem for me, it’s more about really finding the time to actually go from A to Z. Because for me it’s like going from A to B to C, it’s never been a problem, with this book. But, then it was more things that pop up and that kind of is put aside and it’s a pity, because I really see the potential in something like that. But hey, hopefully, by you know actually I’m not going to say any date, but hopefully very soon there’s actually going to be a book and I can add the tag ‘author’ to my bio.
Alex: Wonderful, wonderful. Well listen Yann, we are going to wrap up now. I really appreciate having you on, but before we go I just wanted to ask you, what’s the best way for people to find you online, to experience some of what you offer today, what would be the place that you’d like them to go and visit?
Where to visit and get in touch
Yann: Yes absolutely, thanks for asking. Well, my own website is www.yannilunga.com, I know you can have a link in the show notes and I’m all over social media. But, I would say the best way, especially after the conversation we’ve been having here is to go to yannilunga.com/community so that’s y-a-n-n-i-l-u-n-g-a.com/community and that will take you to the podcast growth mastermind, which is a free Facebook group you can join. It’s all about podcasting and we have I think at the time of this recording, over 2,400 people from all over the world at different stages of their podcasting journey. We have podcast fans, we have new podcasters, people who have been podcasting for a year, people who have been podcasting for several years. Members of the podcasting industry, so people or companies that develop apps and other things like that. So, if you’re interested in podcasting at any level, whether it’s being a host, being a guest, whatever, yannilunga.com/community is the way to go and that’s also the perfect way to get in touch with me. Because I’m there pretty much everyday and I know Alex, you are there as well!
Alex: I’m there was well indeed [laugh]. Hopefully we’ll see some of you on the inside in there.
Yann: Awesome and if you do please make sure to tag myself and tag Alex so that we know that you are there in the group and you came after listening to this great interview. Alex, I want to say thank you by the way again for having me, this has been a lot of fun.
Alex: It’s been an absolute pleasure Yann and I want to thank you for everything that you’ve done today. I want to thank you for all the people that you help as well, you know all the great work you do for them recognise that. You know let’s do this again in the future sometime, really appreciate having you.
Yann: Oh absolutely, I would love it. Grazie signore.
Alex: Grazie, thank you and bye bye.