Talk Marketing

How to Start a Podcast with No Audience (with Rock Felder of SquadCast)

In this episode of Talk Marketing Made Easy, Rock Felder, the founder of SquadCast, talks with John McDougall about getting started when you don’t have an audience. He explains the importance of showing up and doing the work, even if you feel like an imposter. Then, he talks about strategies for identifying and building an audience.

John McDougall: This is John McDougall with Talk Marketing Made Easy, and I’m here today with Rockwell Felder, the co-founder of SquadCast. Welcome, Rock.

Rock Felder: Hey. Thanks for having me, John. Excited to be here.

John: Yeah, absolutely. So we’re going to be talking about podcasting tips and tools and how to start a podcast with no audience. And can you remember what it felt like to have no audience? You’ve been doing it a while.

Getting Past Imposter Syndrome When You Don’t Have an Audience

Rock: Yeah. Yeah. In a lot of ways, it feels like it… It wasn’t too long ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. It’s not easy. I’ll tell you that. There’s a lot of imposter syndrome that at least I felt, but I know a lot of other folks feel that way. And you just feel like… I don’t know. I felt like I was on the outside of some party that was going on. I could hear the music. I could look through the window and see that… I could see silhouettes of people having a good time, but I just wasn’t quite in there yet.

John: Yeah.

Rock: And I was like, “What is the secret? How can it be? Where’s the door?” And maybe I’m not on the inside yet, but it does feel like I’m more on the inside. And it just takes a lot of showing up every, day in and day out. I feel like that’s something that I’ve seen folks that I look up to in the business and podcasting realm, that’s what they do. But yeah, it’s tough. But thankfully, there’s a lot of really good people in the podcasting space. And so that’s a good way to find support.

John: Yeah. What are some of your favorite or good examples of people that just have a crazy amount of episodes that are consistent like that?

Rock: Oh, man. There’s so many. So one of the folks that we really look up to is Jordan Harbinger. I would say he’s one of the premier professional podcasters. He is a podcaster, whereas a lot of folks know some of the other more famous people in podcasting, but they have stuff that they generally were famous for outside of podcasting. And Jordan’s done a lot of stuff in his life, but I feel like podcasting is the focus of everything.

And it really shows, getting to know him a little bit on a personal level. He is honing his craft and working hard at this and takes this seriously. And if he has an author on, he’s reading their book and taking notes on it. He doesn’t skip any steps. He truly does-

John: Awesome.

Showing Up and Doing the Work Consistently Is Critical

Rock: Do the work and shows up every day. And so seeing that is one of the premier examples of what you can do in podcasting, through podcasting, is pretty remarkable.

John: Yeah. I have certainly done it myself with the first podcast I started and then shift off and do a different one. You get a different idea. But some of the people that have really crushed it, Neil Patel in the SEO space is someone that just doesn’t let the, “Oh, look, a squirrel,” doesn’t get distracted just somehow episode after episode, showing up week after week and Christmas even. So that, what you’re saying, is showing up is half the battle to build an audience.

Rock: Totally. And it’s not easy to do, right? Come up with content that’s engaging, different, but still satisfies the current audience, but also is interesting enough in finding ways to find new audience members.

But another good example of that is John Lee Dumas used to have a podcast released every day. It was a 30-minute episode.

John: Yeah.

Rock: But I guess the way he would do it was one day a week. He would basically stack up six or seven or eight episode… interviews, rather-

John: Wow.

Rock: Back to back to back. And then it was-

John: That’s how he did it.

Rock: Batched. Yeah.

John: That’s cool.

Rock: Yeah. So that’s pretty efficient, but that’s going to wear you out, I assume.

John: Yeah.

Rock: I don’t think he does it anymore, but that is a great example of someone that showed up every day, did not skip steps, had a strategy in place. I think that’s a big part of it, is having a plan, strategy, and support.

John: Yeah, I like that. I’m in a mastermind group now with NextLevelBusiness about growing my own coaching program and-

Rock: Nice.

Schedule Your Time Very Specifically to Stay on Task

John: Oliver Billson, the guy that runs it, he’s been really good to just keep telling us, “Schedule your weeks or your days very specifically.” I do all creative work until 10:00. At least, I try to. I’m not a hundred percent flawless, but til 10:00, I’m not taking client calls. I’m doing creative work, writing or marketing for my business. So, yeah.

Rock: That’s great.

John: That’s taking it to another level. Hey, one day a week, it’s just podcasts, and that’s awesome. That’s-

Rock: Yeah.

John: And every hour of the full day. Yeah. Any other fast ways to build an audience or ads or shortcuts?

Podcasting Can Take Two or Three Years to Show Results

Rock: It’s tough to find shortcuts in podcasting, to be honest. Podcasting, really, at least from my experience growing a business in podcasting, but just interacting with podcasters as well, it tends to be a pretty slow grind. Folks that have huge, thriving shows right now and are making a living off of it, it took them around the two, three year mark where they started to really start to feel like this thing was rolling and becoming its own media kind of enterprise.

John: Yeah.

Identifying and Connecting With Your Audience

Rock: And that’s really what we’ve started to see podcasters are like, is that, whether you’re a huge show or not, you’re a media company. And so operating like one is when we’ve seen folks do the best. And sometimes, it just takes a while to figure out your niche, your messaging, your audience.

And that’s similar for our story at SquadCast. It took a few years for us to get rolling. A lot of it was because we had a lot of learning to do. But one thing that we did do quickly that I would say was a quick way to accelerate that learning was engaging and immersing ourselves around other podcasters, other people in the software world to really help us just get integrated and learning quickly.

But you can’t do that remotely, even though we are a remote recording platform. I think this is one of the things where going to where your audience is, and I guess that can be digitally, too. Facebook groups was another way that we immersed ourselves within the podcast community. But going to events, conferences, just meeting with people in person, using our software program SquadCast to connect with people remotely and have conversations, whether they were recorded or not, just going to where that audience is, that’ll help you learn very quickly and make connections.

But it’s really hard to skip steps. Ads, ads is a great thing, and it helps a lot of people be able to monetize their podcast, make a living off of their podcast, or, yeah, just generate revenue. But it does take time, because generally advertisers want a certain audience size or they want access to an audience that is interesting to them. So maybe your audience size isn’t super big. But if it’s very specific in what they are looking for, then it could be a great fit and something that you should look into.

But usually, it takes some time to develop that type of education and knowledge and expertise within your audience, as a podcaster, and then be able to confidently pitch that to somebody, because they’re going to also want you to prove that stuff, so being able to bring the receipts, bring proof of what you’re pitching them.

But that’s how I would go about it, is focus on learning, focus on educating, and just immerse yourselves around the audience and folks that you want to be connected to, and then you could work it from there.

Market Your Podcast With Paid Ads and Guest Appearances on Other Podcasts

John: And then in terms of paid ads like Overcast or Facebook boosts of your podcast, have you tried some of that stuff or do you just stick to it?

Rock: We just stick to it.

John: Yeah.

Rock: We definitely have tried to use paid ads for our podcast. That hasn’t generated too much successful results for us. However, advertising on a podcast is actually pretty helpful. And another thing that you can do if you can’t advertise is being a guest on somebody’s podcast, getting exposed to their audience. I suppose that’s probably the benefit of why I’m doing this today, even though…

John: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah.

Rock: Really just chatting with you is really what’s in it for me. But that’s generally another common tactic and something that’s been successful, is an audience that maybe you’re not necessarily exposed to, but there’s overlap and benefits to. So those are some other ideas.

John: Those are good ideas. Yeah. I just signed up for PodMatch, because I got an email from them.

Rock: Oh, they’re great.

John: Oh yeah? Cool. Alex, he emailed me after this show, we just started it. So I got an email from him, “Hey, cool. You might want to check out PodMatch.” And I’m like, “Oh, cool. You want to be a guest on my show?” So I sold him back and it’s cool. We’re going to do an interview next month. But he…

Rock: Oh, that’ll be fun.

John: I bought his two books on… Oh, let me grab one. This is one of them, PodMatch Guest Mastery and then Host Mastery.

Rock: Sweet.

John: So he did two separate books for each area. But yeah, you should be a good host. I haven’t read these yet, but I’m going to read them before I interview him, because I want to get better at my own skills. But PodMatch sounds fun. I’m willing to give maybe even just once a week, get on someone else’s show, and just build it up that way-

Rock: Right.

John: Just get some free stuff.

Rock: Yeah. That’s a great resource and really good people behind that.

John: Cool.

Rock: Alex and his team, couldn’t say more good things about them.

John: Yeah. Very cool.

Rock: So that’s exciting that you’re working with them.

John: Yeah.

Rock: Excited to know that you have a podcast with them. I’ll be tuning in.

Is YouTube the Future of Podcasting?

John: Yeah. Good, good. And what about YouTube? Now, there are some stats that say it’s bigger than Apple Podcasts. What do you think? If we have the video version of this, right, no offense to me, but I’m not Joe Rogan.

If I put this whole episode on YouTube with the video, is it engaging enough without editing to be the place to put your podcast, or do you do an audio version? What are your tactical things and future of YouTube for podcasting kind of thing?

Rock: Well, it’s a huge question that everybody in the industry is trying to figure out right now.

John: Yeah.

Rock: There’s definitely a lot of data that supports trying to have some type of presence on YouTube, the SEO benefits and just also the distribution benefits. There’s a huge audience of folks that are searching on YouTube all the time. And so if you can get their attention, that’s a great place, because they might not be looking for your stuff on the podcast apps that way. So it’s a great way to get exposed.

And also, there’s just people that are more visual learners. They don’t necessarily want to consume content only through audio. And so the data and a lot of the conversation that has happened within the podcasting and content creation industry feels pretty strong to us that it’s worth exploring.

The big thing with video is that the production for it, it’s more expensive, it’s more time. There’s just a lot more to it, frankly. And there’s just so much more that I think a lot of people aren’t necessarily considering at first. So they just think, “Oh, well, we’ll just add this. I can edit audio. How much more difficult can it be?” It’s a lot more difficult, it turns out.

So I think that’s where folks are trying to figure out strategically how does it fit in, because what we’ve seen folks do, and this is why we offer video recording at SquadCast, we’ve always offered video to help with the conversation so that we could see each other and just have that body language that we felt provided a better experience for folks that are recording the conversation on SquadCast, but also for the listeners, that it would just have more chemistry.

But then this conversation started to emerge of podcasters having a presence on YouTube and creating video content, and what are the benefits of that? And so we started to get video recording as a requested feature. And so we’ve added that in SquadCast in early 2021 and are seeing so many folks adopt that. And what they typically do is either, like you said, they post the whole episode just on YouTube. And if folks are watching it, great. It’s just another thing. Or they are making clips of it.

John: Yeah.

Using Podcast Segments to Market Your Podcast

Rock: And this is what I think a lot of folks that are at the top of the podcasting game. They all pretty much have their main channel, which is the full podcast form, and then they have clips, which are shorter segments, maybe five minutes, maybe 10 minutes, but not an hour long. And those are really promotional tools.

They do great on YouTube and maybe get you interested in clicking on either other clips or the full length episode. Also, they do great on social media, which is the second most common way that shows are discovered now. Word of mouth is still number one in podcasting, but social media is essentially just a more word of mouth at scale almost. And so that’s the number two way.

And a lot of usage of that is through either Audiograms, through Great Tools. Descript does it. Headliners, another option that does great job at that. But also using those video clips is even more engaging and is more successful.

So those are all the reasons that we see folks embracing and incorporating video content into their production workflow. But I will say it is a heavier lift. And if you’re having trouble figuring things out on the audio side, don’t overwhelm yourself with video yet. I think it’s like if you got a well-oiled machine as far as your audio show goes and looking to take it to the next level, video might be a good option then. That’s how I would think about it.

John: Yeah, that makes sense. We’re an agency. So fortunately, I have my right-hand man John, who’s audio and video editor, as well as an SEO, but-

Rock: Great.

John: Then we hired a guy overseas that’s really creative and a good guy. So he’s taking all of our episodes and making at least two YouTube shorts out of every podcast episode from the video. I’m thinking I might try five to seven minute chunks as well, semi-long form, but not the whole thing.

Rock: Yeah. Yeah.

Differentiating Different Types of Videos on Your YouTube Channel

John: And then I’m not sure about the whole thing. At the moment, I’m thinking I’m not going to put the whole video out there, unless there was a separate place. I haven’t discovered that yet, if it’s not in the main channel. So people aren’t like, “Whoa.” They start to watch your YouTube channel. It’s like, “Oh, this thing is… it’s a 30-minute unedited video,” that they’re used to stuff flying around and cool stuff.

Rock: Yep.

John: I don’t know if I want to interrupt the main channel with unedited, the long form podcast. So have you heard if that’s sorted out yet? Shorts now has a place. You can go to a separate shorts area, although I just created a separate shorts channel, because I don’t want the shorts to interrupt the main flow of the-

Rock: Right.

John: Three to seven-minute or 15-minute videos that I’m making.

Rock: So that’s how I’ve seen most folks do it, is what you’re doing, essentially split it up.

John: Yeah.

Rock: But I guess you could also do playlists. That’s another way to separate or identify differences in content.

John: Yep.

Rock: But it’s a great question. Just on a personal level, I’ll tell you, most of my content consumption, audio and video, is done on YouTube now.

John: Yeah.

Rock: I’m a big fan of YouTube Premium, no ads and being able to turn the screen off, but still listen to it.

John: Yeah.

Rock: And I listen to shows. I watch shows, full length, clips. I don’t know why I watch just talking heads, because that’s the thing, are people like…

But podcasts, you listen to it. I want to do dishes and I want to do this. And it’s like, “Yeah, I do that too listening to YouTube, but I also sometimes, for whatever reason, want to watch them talk. I don’t know why.”

John: Yeah.

Rock: But it is something I do. And I hear a lot more people are doing that than what I think a lot of people that are pure podcasters. I don’t think that’s intuitive to them. And it wasn’t to me either. It’s just something that started to happen for me, and it’s happened the last couple years.

John: This is just evolving is what it is.

Rock: Right. It’s very much evolving.

John: YouTube just having to deal with TikTok and Instagram and make their version, the adult version of shorts.

Rock: Yep.

Tips for Making Your First Podcast

John: If you were going to start a podcast today, how would you do it differently?

Rock: Yeah. I’m very fortunate because not only do we have access to this amazing software product SquadCast to record our shows remotely. I also have a team. I think that’s something that not everybody first starting off has access to. I think that’s huge.

But, yeah. So if I was to start off with just me, I would have the same microphone. I use the ATR 2100. There’s an updated one, but essentially just a dynamic microphone that’s around a hundred bucks, but usually a little bit less, some wired headphones as well.

That doesn’t have to be too fancy, but wired-in is preferable. And something is better than nothing, quite frankly. Same with the microphone. And then, yeah, I would record it on SquadCast. I would edit it in Descript. I would host it on one of the major well-known platforms like a Captivator transistor.

I would try to keep it very simple, something that I can consistently keep up with, so probably maybe biweekly at first, and then elevate it to weekly, and then try to find a team to help me scale things up and take off some of those jobs, because that’s one of the tough things that we really empathize with the independent creator is that there’s a lot of jobs to be done, a lot of hats to wear.

And it can be very lonely at first when you’re first starting off, especially when you’re trying to build this audience and you’re speaking into this microphone and you don’t get to see or hear how it’s impacting people or know if anybody’s listening. And so it can be a little lonely at first. And so finding a community is another thing that I would do, is find a community of creators to be around, find an audience that’s similar to the audience that I’m looking for. All those steps, I would be replicating. And it’s very similar to what we did with SquadCast, to be quite honest.

Can Podcast Transcripts Help With SEO?

John: Yeah. And what about SEO with transcripts and things like that? Have you heard stories of people that use SquadCast seeing big gains in their website because of all the content?

Rock: Yep. Yeah. Well, we’re excited to offer transcripts on SquadCast. I don’t have an exact date, but it is-

John: Oh yeah? Cool.

Rock: Something that’s scheduled for this year.

John: Nice.

Rock: And it’s really because there’s so much innovation going on in the transcription space where the quality of the transcription services are continuing to increase and the costs are continuing to decrease. So it’s really getting more accessible and approachable than ever. So we should be able to offer something this year. And yeah, that’s what we see.

Now, I’m no SEO expert by any means, especially talking to you, but transcripts are a huge way to realize those benefits in addition to show notes. Show notes is another step in the podcast production process that I think it’s easy to overlook, but it’s also something that’s very important. And those benefits can have SEO and back linking benefits. So, yeah. But unfortunately, they’re easy steps to skip. But I think it’s becoming more of a requirement and expectation as the industry continues to professionalize and mature.

Consistency Is Key for Success

John: Yeah. So number one, big takeaways from this chat is to be consistent. It’s really what I tell people. If you’re not consistent, you’re invisible. And I picked that up from Neil Patel talking about that with SEO. It’s like-

Rock: That’s great.

John: All the knowledge in the world about SEO doesn’t mean anything if you’re not really just doing it every week. So, yeah. Be consistent. Keep the tools fairly simple, keep the video on, make clips out of it, make the transcripts and just keep doing it. What about the future? The last question, what is the future of podcasting, you think?

Thoughts on the Future of Podcasting

Rock: It’s an interesting time in podcasting, and I’ll tell you, because we had this crazy rise in popularity and growth in 2020 and 2021. And it seems like that’s kind of cooled off. But the thing is we’re still growing. And that’s the thing about podcasting, is it’s not the crazy, out of nowhere growth that you see in other technology spaces like crypto, or we’re going through one with AI right now, which I think is really exciting and interesting. And podcasting probably will have a role in that.

But with podcasting specifically, it’s consistent, relatively small growth, but it’s always growing. And so I think that will continue. But we do have a lot of growing to do. As an industry, it’s still relatively small and still relatively immature when you compare it to a lot of other creative mediums. And I’m talking about dollar size, but then also just stuff like having roles and nomenclature clearly identified and all agreed upon. It’s still very early days for podcasting compared to film or something like that.

So I’m optimistic that we’ve got a lot of growing to do, and I think that makes things really exciting. And we’re just here for it.

John: Yeah. Not to keep going back to Neil Patel, but I do love his content. I did a webinar. A couple of days ago, he did one with his team from Neil Patel Digital. And they were talking about where marketers are spending their money in 2023, and they surveyed 8,000 clients, I think. They’re pretty big.

Rock: Yeah.

Podcasting Can Help Generate Web Content

John: Or at least 8,000 people, marketers where they’re going to spend their money. And just one of the little tips within that, SEO is big, is still… Of course, that’s their focus, so they’re going to talk about that. But they had pretty compelling numbers of that being a hot place to spend. And he threw some numbers out there. I forget. It was like 10 million podcasts. But on YouTube, there’s X amount of channels. So it’s wide open, is the way he phrased it.

Rock: Yep.

John: Get out there and go do it, because you can create an audience easier than some other places.

Rock: And connect in a really intimate and engaging, unique way.

John: Yeah. And a transcript, the way we phrase it, is a 12-minute podcast interview is like 1500 or so words. That’s a sweet spot for a good amount of SEO text for a blog post that might take you four hours to write. Who knows?

Rock: It’s a good point. Helps you repurpose a little bit better.

John: Yeah.

Rock: Yeah. Absolutely.

John: Cool. Well, really good talking today. Fun to get to know you, and I really appreciate the tips.

Rock: Well, thank you. I had a blast.

Check Out to Learn More About Podcasting

John: Yeah. And so What other places do you want to send people to for your stuff?

Rock: SquadCast FM is the best place to learn more about remote recording, our cloud recording studio, but also just how to be a better podcaster, better content creator. We got a ton of resources, downloadables, all accessible at

And then if you’re looking to follow us on any of the socials or check out our YouTube channel, everything is SquadCast FM.

John: Fantastic. Yeah, it’s really good stuff. I’ve listened and a big fan. So everyone, check it out and make sure to try SquadCast. It’s just too easy and too awesome. So thanks again, Rock.

Rock: Thank you, John.

John: All right. Good. So this has been John with Rock of SquadCast with Talk Marketing Made Easy. Like us, rate, review, subscribe, all that good stuff, and see you next time.

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