On this episode I’m talking to Robert Berger, host of the Dough Roller Money Podcast. Robert is a former lawyer who started his personal finance blog 10 years ago, and has recorded 270 podcast episodes over the last 3 years.
[podcast_motor_player url=”https://episodes.seriouslysimplepodcasting.com/PodcastMotorShow/029-Launching-a-New-Career-through-Podcasting-with-Robert-Berger.mp3″ title=”029: Launching a New Career through Podcasting with Robert Berger”]
Join us as we talk advertising strategies, post-production content, and Robert’s advice for all new podcasters.
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- Generating consistent content
- Robert’s recording and publishing process
- Moving away from Libsyn to other hosting platforms
- Dynamic ad insertion and aligning advertising with your audience
- Integrating content and using post-production services
Craig: Today on the show we have Rob Berger from the Dough Roller Money Podcast. Rob, how you doing today?
Rob: I am doing great, Craig. Thanks for having me on your show.
Craig: No, it’s my pleasure. I’ve said it before, one of my favorite parts of doing The Podcast Motor Show is having different types of podcast and talk about how they’re using podcasting for their brand and for their marketing and connecting with their audience. I think your story probably will be one of the more interesting that we’ve done recently. But for folks who don’t know you and what your show is about, would you mind giving us your Superman genesis story?
Rob: Sure. I started the blog doughroller.net actually, 10 years ago this month, just a sort of a hobby. I was practicing law and I was bored. My wife said, “Get a hobby.” So I started blogging about personal finance and investing and 10 years later, it’s a full-time business. I’ve retired from practice of law last year. I’m 50.
Three years ago, I started a podcast. I didn’t know any sort of business plan or projections, I didn’t really monetize it but I thought it would be fun to do. I guess 3 ½ years ago, I started a podcast obviously related to personal finance and investing. I’ve been producing at least one show a week and sometimes five a week, just depends on my mood for 3 ½ years. That’s my story in 60 seconds.
Craig: So 270 episodes into it now, that’s pretty amazing. We have gone in seasons here with The Podcast Motor Show, we go for dozen or so episodes, take some time off and get our strategy back for the next season or so. My own personal podcast has 90 episodes now but you have three times as many episodes.
Honestly, how do you do it? Around the topic of money and personal finance, there is an infinite number of things to talk about. Can you talk just a little bit about your cadence and your, I’ll say stamina for lack of a better word I guess, but your ability to put out content on such a regular and high frequency basis.
Rob: Sure. In terms of topics, they’re limitless. I have guests on the show like obviously you do and that’s been a lot of fun. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of different people in the personal finance and investing world; authors and folks from companies. That’s been one type of show.
Then there are these important topics whether it’s about how to budget, or how to invest, or credit, or whatever so that’s a good chunk of the shows. The big surprise for me when I started the podcast was the connection that I have with the people that listen to it. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe I wasn’t expecting anything but I’ve literally received thousands of emails. At one point I just thought I’d start a Facebook group and I’m thinking it’d be embarrassing if I mention it and five people join it but there’s like 2,200 people now in this Facebook group.
The comments in that group and the emails I get, those are questions that often form topics for the show. I’ll have shows dedicated just answering questions I’ve received. That’s given me an endless pipeline of topics. Then, it doesn’t take long to produce a podcast, at least the way I produce it. I can literally hit record on the GarageBand and within an hour, maybe two, I have a podcast published.
Craig: Can you talk a little more about your process for recording and editing then?
Rob: I can. Process would probably be given too more credit than it deserves. I record in GarageBand and if I’m doing an interview like this, I’d do it over Skype and just record it in Skype. I literally do zero post-production editing. Occasionally, if there’s an issue with the person I’m interviewing’s sound or level of the sound that’s it.
I used to have but I don’t have any intro music, outro music. I’d literally just hit record and I start talking. When I’m done, I don’t edit out the mistakes. I don’t edit out the uhms and all of that. I just save it and convert it to an mp3, add the tags and I use Libsyn at the moment that may change.
I use Libsyn feed so that I don’t even have to include show notes in my blog, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes, I’ll embed a podcast in a post I might have written three years ago because it’s relevant. If you use SoundCloud, they have very nice player you can embed and I might embed that in five different posts if it’s relevant. That’s it.
It’s pretty bare bones but I don’t have complaints from folks about the quality of the sound. I do have a good microphone. Maybe they’re just being nice, I don’t know but I haven’t received complaints. Actually, in terms of the intro and outro kind of thing which I think it’s fine, those can be great a lot of podcasters use them, but I’ve got a lot of people email me and say, “I’m so glad you don’t do that because I listen to your podcast every week and frankly I get tired of hearing the intro and outro every single week.” It’s pretty bare bones operation but it works.
Craig: There’s a ton to unwrap there. First of all, this is a little selfish but you said potentially moving away from Libsyn. We’ve historically recommended Libsyn to all of our customers at Podcast Motor just because they’re, I make the analogy there, the Amazon web services of the podcasting world.
We are building our own solution to podcast those things that is very tightly integrated into WordPress via a plugin that we acquired in December. It will be similar to the PowerPress and Blubrry analogy of podcasting where you can do all of your production and publishing of your podcast from WordPress and the files or hosted on a third party dedicated media hosting platform. But talk about why you might be moving from Libsyn because I think it’s an interesting thing that I think we might be seeing more of soon.
Rob: I love Libsyn. I’ve used them from the start of the show, had absolutely no complaints. Their calls’ just very reasonable and it works. I would highly recommend Libsyn. However, the reason I might be moving away is because really for the first time I’m going to start taking advertising on the show and I might be using an agency that requires a different hosting service. There are things that you can do with other hosting services like dynamic insertion of ads.
For example you wouldn’t hard coat an ad into the podcast, you would create a separate whatever 30-second spot let’s say and they can dynamically insert it not only your current podcast but they’d go back in time and insert in there all of the podcast you have recorded that still get some downloads. When that advertiser let’s say leaves, you want to change your advertisers, it’s easy to swap them out with someone else. I don’t know if Libsyn can do that but at least the service that I’m going to go with requires a different hosting company. I’ll tell you, it’s about 10 times more expensive.
Craig: You probably can’t show the name of the advertising service you’re going to or the hosting platform that they’re working for?
Rob: Yeah, sure. Wondery is the advertising company. More people are probably familiar with Midroll but it’s the same concept. They use ART19 for hosting.
Craig: Right, okay. I’ve heard of ART19 for sure and I know they’re a dynamic ad extension tool, sounds really interesting. That’s something to be a first foray advertising for your show. Do you have any concerns about the alignment of your advertisers with your message in your audience on a program?
Rob: Yeah, I wouldn’t call it concern but I would say that I have the right to refuse any advertiser and I will exercise that liberally if I think I need too. In my case, the kind of advertisers that Wondery has at the moment that might be relevant to my show are perfectly fine.
The one thing that I preach on my show is the importance of keeping your investing cost low. Not to get in all the detail, I know it’s not a personal finance podcast but keeping the expense ratios of your mutual funds low which usually means index funds. If you’re paying a 1% adviser fee over a lifetime investing will just crush your wealth.
I wouldn’t want to advertise an investment adviser that’s charging a 1 ½% fee. It’ll be just totally contrary to everything I believe. But I don’t really think that’s going to be an issue and if one wanted to advertise I’ll just say no, that’s all. It is important to control of that message if others are thinking about advertising. You don’t want to give up your right to say no ever. You have absolute ability to be telling the advertiser.
Craig: Got you, interesting. I know that’s a big concern people have when they’re just starting out with advertising is, “What is my audience going to think if I start advertising FreshBooks?” That’s like one of the bigger Acuity Scheduling or something that might not align with them and their message and what their audience has come to expect. But the fact that you have some level of control sounds like pretty fun. You’re in control over that, it is pretty neat. That’s great. I’ll be anxious to see how that turns up for you, I think that’s great.
Rob: I’ll be anxious to see too.
Craig: Is this the first time you’ve directly monetized your podcast then?
Rob: Not the first time but as a practical matter, yes. I did a 31-day span in January of 2014 where I did a podcast every day for the month as a way to kick start the year and get people focus on finances. I had a couple of advertisers for that 31-day piece. Then I went and got out on my own, hard-coated the ads right into the podcast because that’s all I could do. But other than that, I’ve gone 3 ½ years other than that one month or so, without advertising.
Craig: Got you. I think this idea of this dynamic ad insertion is really interesting. I think it’s like AdWords for podcasting. Honestly, for me the jury is a little still out on how well it will work out for mass media and mass consumption.
The thing I like about it is it removes that huge barrier that you went through in 2014 where you said, “I have to go out and get all these people. I have to insert them into the podcast episodes. I have to do this and I have to do that and I have to do the other.” Whereas you could sign up for Wondery and use ART19 or Midroll and just say, “Okay here you go.” And maybe have a little less control over exactly who you have for which episode and things like that.
But the ability for everyone to get involved in this, is much more attainable I think versus the very manual way that podcast advertising has been done up until now or up until people are using these platforms more.
Rob: For me, I just couldn’t spend the time trying to get advertisers. It just wouldn’t work so I have to use a service and that’s fine. It makes it convenient for me. Obviously, there’s a web share but they ought to get paid for bringing the advertisers to me so that’s fair.
Craig: This is maybe totally selfish but just generally maybe in terms of a person of what you might expect in terms of advertising if you were doing this by yourself, do you have any feel for what your revenue potential would be using this kind of service versus doing it yourself like ½ or ¾ as much as you could make on your own you think?
Rob: I think I would make less on my own but the reason is because I wouldn’t put in the time and effort to track down the advertisers. Having been in this business for 10 years, I know a lot of folks and a lot of FinTech companies whether it’s folks like BetterMan or Wealthfront, I don’t know if your listeners get into personal finance but I have great contacts at Vanguard, at T. Rowe Price. But to send an email and call them one after another and try to get advertisers, I would probably give up before I could fill my ad space. Then, as soon as I got it filled and they advertised for two or three months and felt I’ve got my money’s worth then we’re going to move on, then I have to go do it all over again.
I can tell you that what I’ve seen is that for a Preroll or Midroll spot of 30-60 seconds, you’re basically looking at a CPM of about $25. The agencies want you to put as many ads on your podcast as you think you can. They might do 1 Preroll and 4 Midrolls, that’s $125 CPM but you’re also hitting your audience with 5 advertisements. I’m not going to go to that extreme. I haven’t figured out exactly where I’m going to draw the line, that may be some trial and error but that’s what I’ve seen. You probably have your finger on the polls of this more than I do but that’s what I’ve seen talking to other podcasters primarily.
Craig: No, that sounds pretty in line with what we hear. I think that the important thing there is for podcasters who are just getting into any sort of advertising on their show is really being conscious of like you said, hitting your audience with so many messages. If you’re going to do it manually, really picking that first advertiser very carefully and have him that be something special for your audience. If you’re going to use something like ART19 or Midroll to maybe be on the cautious side of those controls they give you.
But the thing I like about these dynamic programs is you can change it over time and it will go back to those all episodes. Whereas when you’d have a hell of a time swapping out a 30-second roll 20 episodes ago.
Rob: Yeah, really, it wouldn’t be workable.
Craig: Yeah, just coincidentally asking aside but the thing that I’ve heard from other people just getting into advertising I think sounds to work really well is similar to what you did for your month of podcasting a couple years ago, is selling a book of spots. A month or eight episodes worth or something like that so that everybody can get familiar with each other as a business relationship.
You sell eight weeks’ worth of episodes and you may be give them a discount or something like that over the per price CPM or per episode CPM. I think that that’s a nice way for the advertiser or the company that’s going to be advertising your show to feel comfortable about being an established, recognizable brand on your podcast. And for you to have all of your work be really worth it because you don’t have to go get somebody else next week also.
Rob: Right. It worked out for me, I just didn’t keep up with it. Which sounds strange, why would you do a podcast for 3 ½ years and basically make no money from it? But I don’t know, I enjoyed doing it and the websites make enough so it’s fine. But again, I’ve gotten to the point now where it makes sense to try to monetize it for something.
Craig: Got you, neat. Stepping back a little bit, how does the podcast fit in with the rest of the content and marketing that you do for Dough Roller?
Rob: That’s a great question and frankly, not very well. The blogs, I own several doughroller.net’s the main one but they’re all in the personal finance investing space and they make money primarily from affiliate income and some display ads.
For a long, time I would simply try to incorporate the show notes of the podcast into the blog and it may not have anything to do within the affiliate income, that’s fine. But hopefully, it’s good content and can help people and that’s how it was integrated and that was the extent of it. I didn’t think that was very effective which is one of the reasons I moved away from generating the feed myself, I now have Libsyn generate the feed so that I can publish shows without show notes if I want to.
But the reason I say that it’s not integrated very well, there’s a couple of things. One is I really as I mentioned, I do this some but I don’t do it enough. For each show, I ought to embed a player in every single article where it’s relevant. Since we’ve been doing these 10 years, between about four different sites I’ve probably got 10,000 articles. I could go back over those 200 and however many episodes and probably embed a lot of the podcast into some relevant articles and it’ll increase my downloads and everything else. I just haven’t done that and I need to. That’s probably something I’ll get some help with. That’s one thing.
The other thing is I contribute to Forbes and that’s been really good but I don’t really have any connection between Forbes and the podcast to speak of. That’s something that I’m trying to change. I put out a free newsletter it goes about 25,000 or 30,000 people every week. It’s going to sound crazy. I don’t link to the podcasts. There’s no reason why I don’t. I just have it and that’s something that I’m changing.
Then lastly, this may be a bit more Craig, than were looking for but I don’t have my own products. I don’t have a book, for example. I’m working on one, what blogger is not? But I’ve been working on it forever. But I think the podcast would be a great way to market that kind of thing. It’s obviously something that I haven’t done yet and I plan to cross that off my to-do list this year as well. I think there’s a lot of value in the podcast, I just haven’t been tapping that value.
Craig: Got you. I think that you’re in the same boat that a lot of people are in where they have all of this content and all sorts of different types of content and sometimes it’s really tough to figure out how they work well together and then the actual nuts and bolts of doing it and being intentional about it and being thoughtful and having a purpose for every piece of content you create.
I’ll say for myself, it’s impossible. Sometimes, our blog, and our podcast, and our emails, and our Facebook group often times, they all have to do with podcasting sure enough. We really cater to businesses and online personalities like yourself just because those are the people who are podcasting most of the time and have some sort of business sense of other podcast.
But tying it all together, I think the people who do it really well and you’re probably not giving yourself enough credit for how you tie your message together across all those different mediums but I think that’s the real secret sauce, it’s that somebody who listens to your podcast and reach your blog and sees you on Forbes and read your emails, they hear the same things and so they’ve built the trust with you over that time.
This is a bizarre question, I guess. This is I hope not leading and you can answer a no if you’d like. Do you feel that if you had a service like Podcast Motor that was doing some of the work for you and creating some of that content that you would be able to focus on the strategy of your content more? If so, do you think that would be helpful?
Rob: That’s a good question. Part of it depends on what the service is. For example, could you improve the quality of the sound? Maybe, I don’t know. You might hear the sound is pretty good but I’m not a professional. Maybe it could, I don’t know how that would impact the bottom line.
I think where a type of service could be helpful is in creating content off of the podcast. What I didn’t say was create a show notes because I have not seen the kind of show notes you guys create. But, a lot of the show notes that I’ve seen historically are short articles with maybe an intro paragraph and bullet points about what was discussed and maybe bullet points with resources mentioned kind of thing.
In my case, let’s say I’m responding to three personal finance or investing questions from listeners, it’s an hour show and I give each question 20 minutes time and give as thorough of reply as I can. That has the potential to turn into three articles. I might publish one on Forbes. I might publish one on doughroller.net. I might publish one on one of my other sites or whatever. Having someone take the audio and create those three pieces for me that required very little editing on my part, that would be hugely valuable.
In fact, I could see going back to old podcasts and doing that. At one point, I’d set that up internally with some of the people that worked with me and we moved away from. I just didn’t think it was effective but I think with the right systems in place and the right people to do it, that kind of thing could be very helpful. I don’t know if that’s exactly the kind of stuff you do, my podcast maybe not the norm in some respects. That could be helpful to me. I know you guys do transcriptions. I have a person that transcribes. Right now, the only thing I transcribe are interviews.
Craig: That makes sense.
Rob: But I don’t know, you tell me how could your services help me?
Craig: I think that the dirty secret maybe of podcasting and it sounds like you know this. There is a certain line above which the quality of your audio doesn’t matter very much. It is right now you and I, we have good volume levels and it’s not a really noisy environment, my kids are in the background a little bit but it’s not crazy. This is fine and no one’s going to turn your podcast off because of this. If you’re below that then spending some time on your audio setup probably would get you to that bar that you have to be above. Then a little bit of post-production to clean things up really helps.
I think above that there is an incremental benefit to your podcast if you get into the MPR style of show where it’s really interesting and dynamic. But the fact is I listen to some podcasts that are poorly edited and put together because the content is so good. That’s the key I think, is if you can record decently and have really good content, then your podcast will be successful.
Having a great sounding podcast isn’t going to overcome bad content. The place we can hang our hat is we do the hard work of the audio editing, the show note writing and the transcription so you can focus on making better content because that’s what really what’s going to drive your podcast.
The thing you touched on I think is really powerful and the place that I think people fall short is repurposing their content. Transcription is a form of repurposing content. Something that more of our customers doing now is doing video recordings of their podcast so that they publish it to something like YouTube, or Facebook Live, and on their blog, and it’s a podcast, and there were transcriptions, then you have like six or seven different places that you’re putting that 30 minutes of effort. I think if you can start doing that really well and you have systems or a service like Podcast Motor do some or all of that for you then your input is amplified greatly in the end result.
I think your point of about show notes is very fair that the cookie cutter, “Hey today, Greg and Rob we’re going to talk about XYZ.” It is maybe not super helpful. I do think there’s something to be said for just the sheer amount of content that podcasting creates in terms of if you have show notes with each episode, it’s another blog post on your site and it’s another way for to be able to find you.
If you do SEO well you could really get that long tail keyword bank rolling for you. But I think repurposing content is the real secret and if you can do things like video and transcription, then the digital footprint that your podcast makes, starts getting really big.
Rob: Yeah, two comments there. I recently had an assistant upload virtually all of my podcasts to YouTube. There’s no video, it’s just a little splash screen with the name of each episode, that’s it. We did this over the last two months and before then I’d virtually had absolutely no use for YouTube at all in terms of my blog.
I’m looking at the stats now we got 500 subscribers or almost and about 45,000 views. That was all for paying someone a couple of hundred bucks. That doesn’t really translate into a lot of money at the moment, at least not in terms of YouTube ads. I’m not the most popular person on YouTube and I’m sure I never will be but 45,000 views is nothing to sneeze at and that’s all in a couple of months.
If I could add video, maybe just record myself even doing the podcast. This is where you could put a lot of effort into, a lot of what I do on the show talking about finance, I’m often looking at my computer screen whether it’s a spreadsheet or something about the stock market or whatever. If I wanted to get fancy I could use screen capture software and then incorporate that into YouTube video that I think will be very helpful. I think, I’m really just scratching the surface, but with relatively little effort it’s I think had a decent result in terms of getting the information out there to folks.
The second thing I’ll mention, I think if there was one thing I would do differently if I were starting over is I would decide on a format for the show and I would stick to it. My shows, there’s all kinds of formats. I interview people sometimes I don’t, I answer three or four questions, or I’ll answer one, or I’ll answer none, or I’ll have one topic, I’m all over the place.
Part of that was by design because I didn’t want to lock myself into one format but it’s something that when I move to advertising, I’m going to have to change and frankly, I should change it. I would highly recommend for folks thinking about this or even haven’t started a podcast, come up with a format that you think works for the show and then stick with it. I wish I would have done that from the start.
Craig: Interesting. What makes you think that if you’ve gotten feedback from your listeners or you intuitively know that some of your episodes just doesn’t resonate as much with them or what is it about the desire to have more structure around your format?
Rob: I think it’s more intuitive. I haven’t gotten complaints. By the way, if you ask folks, “Do you want a short podcast 15 minutes let’s say or you want a long one, an hour?” It’s about a 50/50. I found that your people are begging to surveying their audience and I guess there’s maybe a place for but by and large on any issue, you’re going to get answers from both perspectives.
I think it’s more intuitive but I think people get comfortable when they know what to expect. When I look at the really popular podcast run by just regular folks not in PR, but the ones that I see that do well, they have a consistent format and frankly sometimes, I don’t like the format personally or I think their style is goofy in a way although who knows they probably listen to me and think I’m goofy. But you come to expect this format that they’ve got even a format to interviewing. I think that’s effective. Some people might disagree with me. I don’t have data to back it up so take it with a grain of salt but that’s my instinct is that I’d rather have a format that I followed each week.
Craig: There’s a time that I think that consistency from an audience’s perspective is huge, it’s the format and you, or you and your co-host, or you and a guest in the same day, in the same time every week, in a same type of structure and message because so people know what to expect. They come and listen to the Dough Roller Podcast and they know they’re going to get XYZ and you can have a little variety but I think there’s definitely something to this.
Rob: Consistency, you mentioned that, that’s the right word. Frequency of podcast, length, content, not the day of the cookie cutter week in and week out but consistency, that’s the word.
Craig: Rob, we’d like to leave with something that could really benefit a new podcaster. Thinking back 270 episodes ago, aside from the format, what knowledge and insights could you share with someone who’s just getting into podcasting that they could really take and run with?
Rob: When I started this, I already had a platform, I had a blog that was getting a lot of traffic. I had an advantage that a lot of podcasters just starting out might not have. I got away from this but the one thing that I would recommend for a couple of reasons is doing interviews. I know that’s pretty common for podcast although not all podcasters do them and you might not do them every single episode. But I did a lot of interviews starting out and then moved away from it for probably a year and I’m only now getting back to it.
The reason it’s important, first of all, I think it’s just fun to get to meet new people and get their perspectives. I think it can make for a more interesting show. But the real key to it is it’ll help you get your brand out there because as you interview people and then they share that interview with their audience, their crowd, you use them to help market your podcast. I think that is very valuable particularly for folks that might not already have a platform and they’re starting a podcast from scratch. That would be my recommendation if you can and if it’s all possible, incorporate interviews into your show.
Craig: Got you. I think that’s great advice. We certainly do that here and that’s just a big part of our show is connecting with other podcasters like yourself and hearing some other great stuff like we’ve heard today. But selfishly for me, it’s a great chance for me to meet other people and stay up to date with the best and the latest that people are relating the field. I think connecting with people in your area through interviews checks a lot of the boxes that you need for a successful venture of any type: podcast, personal brand, coaching, business, product, whatever it is. Awesome!
Rob, I love it thank you very much for coming on the show today. For folks who want to connect with you, can you share where they can find out more about you and your podcast?
Rob: Yeah. Just go to doughroller.net and you’ll see a link to the podcast in the navigation. If they’re interested in personal finance and investing and I would recommend they join the Facebook group. You can just go to doughroller.net/facebookgroup. There are 2,200 people in there now helping each other trying to figure out money, investing, and everything. It’s a remarkable group of people that just exceeded my expectations by a mile. Those would be the two that I’d recommend.
Craig: Awesome. Rob Berger, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I really appreciate it.
Rob: Thanks Greg, it was a lot of fun.