Grow With Blubrry
Insights that you get from icons in the industry that have been around since the beginning are priceless. And my interview with Todd Cochrane, the CEO of Blubrry Podcasting (a podcast media company that represents 105,000 Audio and Video podcasters) will not disappoint. I love hearing about the growth and changes in the podcasting industry, but Todd also shares tips for growing your own podcast by analyzing the data, and what you should focus on as a new podcaster.
How Todd Got Into Podcasting
Todd had been running a bulletin board and was doing communications before the modern internet came around and he decided to be a blogger.
He feels he was just in the right place at the right time because after having heard of podcasting, he decided to give it a try since he likes to talk. In his own words, Todd was a pretty poor blogger but he turned out to be a decent podcaster.
His show, which he recorded using a $14.95 Lab Tech microphone from Walmart, was one of the first 30 podcasts to have ever been launched in the early days of podcasting.
Learning By Doing and Todd’s First Advertising Deal
Back when Todd started in podcasting, there were no hosting companies, so podcasters had to manually create their show RSS feed themselves. You had to be a little bit of a tech nerd to make it work, and that’s probably why there were many tech shows in the early days of podcasting.
However, within a year, tools started to be created and things got easier. His podcasting journey took Todd to strike his first advertising deal with the web hosting company GoDaddy. Todd feels that he probably charged 10 times less than what he should have charged at the time.
He’s glad that the industry is at a point where podcasters kind of have things figured out and are trying to grow their shows.
Today, Same as Yesterday?
When asked about whether today it’s easier compared to what it used to be, Todd shares some insight:
“Back in the days there were no iPhones, no social media and tools of that nature. Podcasters had their side and had to build their brand any way they could.
Despite that, not much has changed when it comes to finding and building an audience: it’s about word-of-mouth, that 6 degrees of Separation effect of people telling other people.”
Fighting the Power(ful)
In the early days of podcasting, one of the key things independent podcasters focused on was trying to bypass the mainstream media control exercised by “the man”.
Microsoft and other major companies were seen as the gatekeepers of media and the internet – and Todd feels that independent podcasters have been successful at bypassing them.
The Birth of Blubrry
Blubrry – without an ‘e’ because that domain was incredibly expensive – was born in June of 2005, when Todd had done his first month deal with GoDaddy.
They were considering a one-year deal, where Todd feels he underbid himself. Through those negotiations and conversations, however, he got connected with Chris Radlinger who asked whether Todd knew other podcasters who would have liked to advertise on podcasts.
By that time, Todd had already formed a tech network so he reached out to shows that were part of it and said ‘GoDaddy wants to advertise. I’m planning something but for it to work I’m going to need a lawyer, a MBA, a programmer and a graphics guy – and we’re going to have a free conference call in 10 days.
The rest is history, as they say, but it’s crazy to think that one of the most popular podcast media hosts was formed through a phone conversation between people who had never even seen each other. All started with Todd’s original tech show.
Blubrry’s Key Contribution to IAB
IAB, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, is a membership trade organization whose members contribute to setting guidelines for the advertising space.
Blubrry has played a key role in shaping some of the conversations and other things that have become industry standards. The connection dates back to 2006 when Blubrry’s founding CIO Angelo compiled an in-depth document that looked at different aspects related to stats and measurements.
That report ended up becoming one of the foundation pieces that contributed to the creation of the IAB Tech Lab Measurement data piece.
What Blubrry Brings to the Table
In its early days, Blubrry primarily focused on the advertising side of things but it’s now a full-service podcast hosting company that provides all kinds of tools for hosting, distributing, growing and monetizing a show, as well as measurements and other audience analytics.
While, to some, the name Blurry may not ring a bell, they might still know it through the popular WordPress plugin PowerPress – which is used by about 85,000 podcasters worldwide.
One of the features Blubrry users can benefit from are private podcasts.
Todd shared that about 80% of private podcasts are used for internal communications in the corporate space.
Users get an app and can get access to the content through their normal company credentials (this step is actually something that helps with keeping track of how much content is consumed and by who).
Private podcasts are being used for HR, for executive announcements, for training, sales, and team collaboration in the corporate world…but have also been used in the medical space. As a result of being unable to go to symposiums because of the pandemic, a UK-based company turned to private podcasts to educate doctors and nurses.
Blubrry’s Retention Graph
Over the last couple of years, Blubrry has undergone a rebuilding with the goal of really helping podcasters grow their show.
One way Blubrry has done that is through tools that offer better audience stats, such as the Retention Graph. This tool provides podcasters with a picture into a subset of their listeners. It keeps track of what happens when some clicks play, until they stop listening.
This has turned out to be a very valuable asset for some podcasters who have been able to detect segments of their show that drove listeners away or ad reads that weren’t really listened to because listeners stopped listening before getting to them.
Hosting: Solo vs. Co-Hosted
Todd has plenty of experience both hosting a podcast solo and co-hosting (he does so with Rob Greenlee in The New Media Show).
On the one hand, he likes that, with co-hosting, co-hosts can feed off of one another and get accountability. On the other hand, Todd enjoys the freedom of not having to rely on anyone as a podcast host who goes solo.
One thing he has noticed when hosting over 1,600 solo episodes is that it isn’t always easy to bring your A-game as a host, when no one is around. That’s why he decided to add a live element so that he could have interactions with other people (his audience) – be those a small or a larger group of listeners.
What to Focus on as a New Podcaster
When it comes to getting started as a podcaster, Todd has some advice that goes against what many podcast coaches teach.
In fact, he doesn’t recommend launching with more than 2-3 episodes because, as a host, you aren’t going to sound as good as you will after having gotten experience with it. It’s ok to have a few episodes in the can but don’t go too much further ahead than that.
Keep being consistent with your episode publishing but try to set a clear goal, be it authority-building, monetization (it’s interesting to know that about 50% of indie podcasters don’t want to monetize because they use the podcast for other reasons than making money), or something else.
What’s Missing in the Podcasting Industry Today
Todd doesn’t have doubts regarding what’s missing in podcasting today. In his opinion, it’s about putting money in the 47% of people that aren’t monetizing their show but would want to.
They may have different reasons for wanting to monetize and the income they would generate with their podcast would help everyone in a different way, but Todd believes that helping and empowering independent podcasters who would like to monetize should be a main area of focus for the industry.
Visualizing Your Audience
Some podcasters are obsessed by their stats. Others take their numbers for granted.
Todd’s advice for hosts is to visualize their audience. Be it 200 or 20,000 listeners, imagine you being in front of all of those people.
Doing this exercise is going to contribute to a mindset shift and it’s going to help you perform better as a podcaster.
Todd’s Podcasting Predictions
Todd believes that we’re going to see more tools, advice and industry content geared toward helping podcasters grow their show.
He doesn’t see the increasing number of shows of the last couple of years being a problem because he feels that there’s always room for another podcast about business, about tech or any other topic you have in mind.
Remember, Todd says, that building an audience isn’t easy. Stay the course, keep putting in effort and be consistent – and avoid using “gimmicks” like shopping podcasters categories (e.g. starting a true crime podcast because true crime shows are hot at the moment) to get to your end-goal faster.
With Podcasting, Everyone Can Have a Voice
Todd is glad to see that the podcasting industry has become a space where women are leading the content creation “race”, and where everyone can have a voice.
You can talk about whether you want and get your message out on your terms.
Todd Cochrane is the CEO of Blubrry Podcasting – a podcast media company that represents 105,000 Audio and Video podcasters in which his company provides advertising opportunities, media distribution/hosting, podcast media statistics, and other services. He is a podcast advertising specialist. Executing podcast advertising deals with a variety of national vendors for the past 13 years. Todd was responsible for bringing GoDaddy into the Podcast Advertising Space as one of the first podcast advertisers in 2005. He founded the Tech Podcast Network in 2004. Todd is a visionary behind many innovations in the new media space and speaks worldwide. His personal tech show Geek News Central has been produced twice weekly since Oct 2004 and is the co-host of the New Media Show. He is also the published author of “Podcasting The do it Yourself Guide” by Wiley Publishing.
Cochrane was inducted into the inaugural class of the Podcast Hall of Fame in 2015. But perhaps his biggest influence on podcasting is Blubrry Podcasting and its parent company RawVoice, which offers a directory of more than 3.75 Million shows, the No. 1 plugin for
WordPress, and much more. A United States Navy Veteran who served 25 years and retired with the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer, Cochrane resides in Quincy, Michigan, having spent the majority of the past 25 years in Honolulu, Hawaii, with his family.
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