One of the major problems facing would be podcasters today is the unknown.  If I start a podcast, would anybody listen to it? What would I gain from podcasting? Is it the best investment of my time and effort?

**UPDATE** October 2014

Since posting this case study, Terry has continued to ROCK with podcasting and growing his business. Here’s a quick update on what’s happening:

  • The podcast now generates around 20,000-25,000 downloads per month consistently
  • Terry has launched a membership site on the backend of the podcast that just launched in September 2014 with around 40 early bird members at EcommerceMafia.com. It’s an exclusive membership site for ecommerce entrepreneurs that manufacture, warehouse and ship their own products. It will open to a wider audience in 2015 once the forum is built out with more content.
  • Terry now leverages the podcast to find really interesting people and get “free consulting” that he can leverage into his own e-commerce business that otherwise would not have happened without the show. Examples could be reaching directly out to CEOs of service providers in the e-commerce space, talking to designers that have launched 15+ Kickstarter projects with a 100% success rate, or doing hosted webinars with platforms like BigCommerce. These relationships are harder to quantify but they do give him a BIG leg up in the industry.

** The Original Post **

You have the age-old self argument thinking on one hand, it could be incredible, you’ll get a tidal wave of new listeners in the first month, the show will be featured by iTunes and your voice will be right up there next to Oprah, Adam Carolla, NPR and Dave Ramsey!  Your business and reputation will triple seemingly overnight and you’ll be swimming in fans.

Then you start thinking, well what if nobody listens to my show, I put in a ton of time working on the show, learning to podcast and getting set up with all the equipment just to talk to an empty room? What if the whole thing is a flop and I don’t see any reward from it?

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The reality is almost always somewhere in between. Here’s the story of Terry Lin, the host of the Build My Online Store podcast and a regular guy starting out with no audience, a 50+ hour per week job and the drive to make it work.  This post will show you what’s reasonable to expect starting a podcast from scratch with no initial fanbase, no in-depth expertise and a little elbow grease.

The Humble Beginnings

When Terry started out, the podcast began by considering the ecommerce and online store market, and trying to discover the problems they faced.  His first action? After observing a lack of content directed at solo ecommerce entrepreneurs, he emailed 70 ecommerce store owners asking about the problems they face and landed one Skype interview.  It’s not glamorous by any means, but that Skype interview became his first podcast episode, and it grew from there.

His Process

Because Terry was starting with no audience, no authority and a crushing workload at his normal job, he had to tweak his methods a bit to maximize his time.  His process was to line up and record 10 episodes in 1 week, then edit and schedule them on the weekends.  Every 2 months he records another 10 episodes in a week for the coming two months.  This process has allowed him to maximize his work/life balance and get the most from both.

The Growth

The first thing you’ll notice looking at the numbers below is that his initial numbers and growth wasn’t sexy.  Just like blogging, starting a Youtube channel, or virtually any other community, unless you’ve already got authority and recognition, it may take some time. (There are some methods of really cranking up your listenership and launching with a splash, but we’ll get into that in another post. Join the mailing list to get notified when it comes out.)

The next thing you’ll notice is the growth.  While it’s not a straight line, you’ll see how his listener base jumps up month to month, and just one year later, Terry has a fanbase of over 17,000 people. 17,000.

Here are the numbers for Build My Online Store’s listenership and growth.

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Just think, how would your business benefit from a fanbase of over 17,000 people?

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One Year Later

presentation4In just one year, Terry has built over 17,000 fans just through podcasting, charges $97/hr or more for consulting, gains about 4-7 email subscribers per day and is recognized as an authority in the ecommerce space. He has had the opportunity to get expert answers to his and his audiences’ most burning ecommerce questions, the ability to approach and develop relationships with over 50 successful ecommerce entrepreneurs and he has developed enough authority to give live seminars and charge entrance fees.

 Podcasting and Your Business

Take a minute to think about your online presence.  How would your business thrive with over 17,000 new fans, new people signing up to your email list daily, personal connections to the most successful authorities in your market and a platform for spreading your message?

Do you already have an audience?  Imagine how quickly you could grow if you already have an audience and already have a few connections in your industry!

What’s Holding You Back?

What’s holding you back from starting a podcast?  Leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.