How to Turn Your Podcast Hobby into a Profitable Hustle | Tim Richardson

Today’s Guest Tim Richardson

Top three takeaways:

1. Sponsorship Alignment: The importance of aligning with sponsors who resonate with your podcast's values and content cannot be overstated. It's crucial to stand behind the products or services being promoted to maintain credibility and authenticity.

2. Prioritize Growth and Authority: Building authority and credibility in the podcasting space should be a primary focus. By having meaningful conversations with interesting guests and making genuine connections, you can establish yourself as an expert and grow your podcast's influence.

3. Breaking the Mold: Commercializing a podcast doesn't always require traditional sponsorship. Consider alternative models, such as creating series with a specific theme that can be sponsored by relevant companies. This approach allows for more strategic partnerships and can be a successful way to monetize your podcast.

Links & Resources from today’s show

Welcome to Pod Junction where Business meets podcasting, whether you're on a morning jog, driving to work, whipping up a meal or just taking a moment for yourself. Our weekly bite sized episodes promise fresh insights from successful podcasters who have cracked the code of using podcasts to grow their business. So whether you're a podcasting newbie or seasoned podcaster, grab your notebooks and get ready. Well, hello, welcome to Pod Junction.

My name is Matt Edmundson. Beside me is the debonair, the handsome, the, the, the stunningly amazing uh person which is Sadaf Beynon uh welcome to the show. Great to have you here. And uh we were talking before you. You need to give me a list of, of words that I can use to describe approved, approved adjectives dot com. Were they off the list? Because I was just kind of winging that? That's great. Ok, so welcome to the show.

This is a show all about using podcasting to grow your business and whatever that means, it looks like we can talk about all kinds of different things. Uh And the format of the show is pretty straightforward, pretty simple. We listen to an excerpt of an interview with a, with an expert in their field, someone who is actually podcasting to for their business, using podcasting to grow their business. And then Zada and I will listen to that said interview clip, uh just as you are doing, uh I have my notebook, I have my pens, go grab your notebook, grab your pen, take lots of notes and then we're gonna have a conversation about, uh that afterwards. That's a format. Pretty simple, pretty straightforward. And today's guest is drum roll, please.

Nice expense in the guest is it, is Tim Richardson from your basket is empty. Yeah, Tim, what a legend that guy is. Uh, Tim is. Um, he's a great guy. I met Tim. Uh I was saying in this story wasn't, I met Tim a few years ago when Chloe Thomas who is also gonna come on this show also does e-commerce podcasting.

Uh, so there's a few of us who do e-commerce podcasts and Chloe decided a little while ago that actually she's gonna get everyone together. Uh And so that's where I met Tim was at. This sort of get together down in London and we were on a, on a boat having a meal, which was, I think we were on a boat. Um, and, uh, we, we had this meal, got to know each other and Tim was one of the guys I got to meet and know and we chatted long and hard about podcasting.

He is such an awesome guy. Uh And so, yes, very, very stoked. He is on the show. What's he talking about? He is talking about sponsorship. So he's went. Oh, no, I'll let him talk. Yeah. Yeah. Don't, sorry. Sorry. Ok. So let's get the guest on quick before said, I've told you everything and then we'll be back after this. Here we go. I, I'm, I'm intrigued by this idea that actually when you started it, you weren't looking to commercialize the podcast. But the consequence of doing the podcast has led to some commercialization, uh uh people approaching you to sponsor the podcast and so on and so forth. So how have you, I mean, do you have sponsors for every episode?

I'm curious to see what your uh experience with sponsorship is. So I think first and foremost before we get into it, my job was commercial director. I've been a sales person for a very long time. So I didn't find it that hard to get sponsorship because that's what I do and that's what I teach people now. So, so in terms of getting a sponsorship, it wasn't that difficult because that's what I do in terms of maybe some thoughts about sponsorship. Iii I do believe the way in which I started. It is an interesting and sorry, my washing machine might be going off in the background there. It is at least to close a clean.

Yeah, at least my, the, the II I think starting it from a place of non-commercial is an interesting spot uh to begin with because then you're not thinking about money, you're just thinking about the quality of the guests, the type of conversations you're gonna be having and ultimately what the user to listen again. And that has always been my number one focus is I want it to be an entertaining, insightful and thoughtful conversation between two interesting people that I it's a very selfish endeavor. I would want to listen to. That's literally the main objective of, of all the content I put out, but especially the podcast. So if you can then attract sponsors on top of that, I think it's kind of a win win. But II, I would encourage people to think about that first point and I appreciate that is difficult if it's part of again, your business, maybe not a satellite thing and you need it or it is one of your key growth, you know, channels or, or levers now to your question about like generally approaching sponsors and how I've done that. I've, I've experimented. So um I started off with uh weekly episodes and building some sort of kind of like sponsorship or partnership package that kind of like facilitated that. And I personally found that quite taxing like a podcast episode every week is, is quite full on. And I think I found because it was every week I noticed that the quality sort of started to dilute slightly because it was so taxing and I kind of just needed people on the pod.

I couldn't be so strategic about it. So I then totally switched gears and went to another model, which is something I think people should consider if they're looking to commercialize that. And that was out into a series. So I did a six part series. I had a theme that wrapped the series and that was a perfect little package to go to a sponsor and say, look, here's the series, you can have somebody on within that six episodes. I'm happy to talk to your CMO or your founder, they can take one episode. So then there's five for us to talk about uh to, to have guests on the guests can be their customers um or potential customers. And uh you know, it's a nice, neat little package. Um and I found that that worked really, really well. And so II I experimented with that in terms of sponsorship and there was a lot of uh interest in that. And I managed to commercialize all of the, the series that I did. And that was throughout kind of like 2021 and uh 2020. And I, I got to uh do a few different sort of subject, but I'm quite passionate about food. So I did a whole series on direct consumer food. And weirdly, I got approached by like the founder of food 52 who's a massive big deal. And like she was on the pod. And like that was, I was the first time I was nervous on the pod. But so that, that, that was a cool thing.

I did a whole series on agencies, which is slightly ironic now because I'm, I'm pivoting into, on agencies and then I would sort of like, look at things like, um you know, up and coming brands, brands that people may not have heard of. And it's kind of a nice way to expose them. So the, the, the series based concept was good. But upon reflection, what I realized is that uh it impacted the numbers quite badly in the sense that you'd get a lot of listenership. And then when you're not posting anything or producing any uh uh new episodes, the listenership kind of like dwindles. So going into uh 2023 and kind of the back end of last year.

I'm, I'm sort of going halfway house. I'm going, it's a monthly content sort of experience. It's two podcasts, two newsletters every single month. And uh in terms of commercialization, I'm looking uh at sponsorships either on a uh 136 or 12 month kind of package. And to make it commercially interesting for sponsors, the price reduces, the more you take out that's a fair deal. And then there's, if you want to take out the full year, then it's kind of like a, a custom arrangement. So that's my general T LDR on sponsorship and what I've learned. But yeah, it hasn't, hasn't really been a ball ache if I'm totally honest because, uh, I do a lot of this stuff with my work anyway.

So, yeah, just flows into the earth. And so, and if it's one of those interesting things, isn't it? If you've got the network and you've got the context and sponsorship makes sense then, then, you know, have at it. Um, it's interesting, you, you talked about at the start, you're trying to do that for every episode and, and it sort of impacted the quality of your podcast because you then have to focus on your sponsors as well as on your, your, your guest types of things. So, sponsorship, um, the outlook for 2023. Have you found it more tricky, more difficult or is it still pretty, pretty straightforward on my list today? Is to reach out to all of my potential partners for this year? So I, I'll let you know in a week's time.

My general sense, my general sense is, I think it would be, uh, unwise anyone going to look for any kind of like marketing sponsorship from anyone, you know, that's across the board no matter what you're doing and not, uh, realize that things are going to be impacted with the general economic climate. So, yeah, I'm, I'm certainly, um, uh, ok, that I'm gonna have to either negotiate I'm also totally fine that I don't have AAA sponsor at all because ultimately, it is, as you said, it's a, a lead generation tool. It's a authority tool. I, you know, I like having the conversations, the fact that I get to commercialize it um is, is, is kind of like the cherry on top. But I, I would say anyone looking to, to, to, to, to drive sponsorship for any type of content that it will be more challenging. So therefore, maybe some things to consider are work with people that you already know. And I think that's one thing that uh I've certainly been very clear on with any of my partners in terms of, of, of sponsorship is I, I wanna like totally believe in their product or what their service or whatever it is. So I'm not quite interested in like, I'd rather not have a sponsor than hock something I really don't like or it does not match my brand. And I think that's probably something that's useful, you know, in terms of people considering sponsorship or commercializing it.

If you're intrigued and want to dive deeper into this conversation, check out pod junction cohort where you can listen to the complete interview and much more simply visit the pod junction dot com for more information about how to join. Welcome back from that conversation with Tim. I love that conversation.

That whole thing about sponsorship predominantly cos we've never really done the sponsorship thing. Have we on any of our shows? Uh, we do get approached by people who want to sponsor an episode or, um, look at sponsoring the show. Um, but we've never actively gone out and said, hey, would you like to sponsor the Ecommerce podcast, the Push podcast or whatever? Because we've used it predominantly as, um, well, push is predominantly lead a lead generation tool. Um, and the Ecommerce podcast when we start, I think we mentioned before on the show when we started that we haven't really got a clue what we were doing, just having fun, just having a lot of fun. Um And, but we've never tried to actively commercialize it with sponsors.

We've talked about it, but we've never really, never really done anything about it. So, um, I found this conversation with Tim really interesting because my brain started buzzing. It's like, oh, we could do this, we do that. We could do the other. Um But yeah, what did you get? What did you, what was your thoughts on what Tim said?

Um, I think I, I find, um, the whole sponsorship thing a little bit daunting if I'm honest. And, um, I like that, he said that it's, you know, he's, he's got a sales background and so therefore it made it easier for him. So I don't have a sales background. So maybe that's why. Um Yeah. So, yeah, yeah, it's interesting, isn't it?

How do you, how do you approach people, uh, to sponsor the show. A couple of things that Tim said, which I thought were one, he said, talk to people that, you know, um, from your network. Um, two I think, understand the climate. Uh, so as at the time of recording, um, you know, interest rates are high, the economy is in recession, uh, the cost of living crisis, we've got the Russia Ukraine War. I mean, there's a whole bunch of stuff going on. Um And so I think people have pulled back from it and there's been a lot of high profile cases like um oh the Duchess and Duke of Sussex and their podcast deal with Spotify, uh not being renewed yet for a second season. Um Despite Spotify, throwing copious amounts of money into podcasting.

So, um I know that quite a few other people that rely on sponsorship for podcasting have found it hard this year. Um because the, the money has dried up for want of a better expression as everyone's pulled back to conserve cash, which you can understand. Um But one of the things that he said at the start um was a bit like we did with Ecommerce podcast. We never set out to commercialize the podcast. We just wanted to have great conversations with interesting people. Grow our authority connect. Do you know what I mean? And do all those kind of things that you know, is associated with podcast podcasting, um credibility authority, you know, meet interesting people, meaningful connections, et cetera, et cetera.

I never once thought, oh, I wonder if I could get clavier to sponsor the show and pay me copious amounts of money to sit and chat to people. And so what's fascinating with that is, I think that seems certainly for Tim and certainly for us at EP, that seemed to direct quite heavily the way the podcast went when we launched it. Yeah. Do you know what I mean? Like all the things that we didn't do to try and satisfy our show sponsor. Um If that makes sense. Yeah, because, um, I guess if you, if you have a list of sponsors, you suddenly have stakeholders, don't you? And like you say, you have to satisfy them. Um Whereas we had the freedom to be able to, just as you say, have great conversations and be focused on our guest and our audience. Yeah, absolutely. And if I can get a sponsor that is happy with that, then great.

Come talk to me. I would love to be, have a conversation with you. Uh We have had people approach us to sponsor this show.

I remember one chap who just started an agency. Um I, if I could remember his name, I still wouldn't tell you, but I can't remember his name, um, or the agency's name. I just remember him. Do you remember he contacted us and said I'm interested in sponsoring the show and I felt the need to say to him that listen, sponsoring the e-commerce podcast whilst I'm happy to have a conversation because a few people have sponsored the show. Um, whilst I'm happy to have the conversation, I need you to understand this is not going to guarantee you clients.

Um, because I think understanding that podcasting is more top of funnel, it's more about awareness. Um you know, just putting your name out there on the Ecommerce podcast. Yes, we get thousands of people downloaded. Thousands of people aren't going to want to buy a website right now. Um, you may not get any leads from this at all. And so, um, and, and if you're going to do it, just doing one episode is not gonna really help you.

Um, you're going to have to get behind like Tim, I thought it was clever because he did the series or he's now, you know, you sponsor a month or six months or whatever and he's doing those packages. Um, because I think if you're going to do some kind of sponsorship, you have to be in for the long haul to get some kind of brand recognition. Um And so finding companies that will do that, that will sponsor it. Like that is, is, uh, it's not always that straightforward but be aware, you know, and be totally honest with people that want to sponsor the podcast, give them a reality check, you know, this is, um, yes, we have this many listeners, but that doesn't equate to that many people are gonna buy. It's a bit like running a TV advert once it's, it's not going to have the impact. It's the constant, isn't it? The, the repetitive nature of it? And so structuring sponsorships around that I think will be much better for the client, you know, whoever's sponsoring the show and for you because over a period of time they may see the results, but I think in one episode they probably won't. Do. You know what I mean? Um So yeah, so, um, his, his, uh, what do you think is this idea of doing a series that a sponsor could get connected with? I thought that was actually quite clever because he was saying, I think one of them was, um, was it cooking or something?

Yeah, food, food based. So I think if you're doing different series, there's your, um, um, the, the sponsors that you might be going after it just opens up the pool so much more instead of if you're just ecommerce focused, you know, um I think that could get saturated. I don't know, I don't really do. So we don't really do sponsorship. So, but if you, if you're opening up the pool to different topics and obviously you'll get more people in there. I like. Uh Yeah, II, I know, I know other podcasters who have done that well. So for example, on the Ecommerce podcast, I could do like an eight week series on email marketing.

Um, I could approach companies that are involved in email marketing, for example, brands like Clavier Aweber. Um, uh, and some of the other ones that are totally escaping my head right now. Uh, but I could go to the, those email providers and say, listen, we're gonna do this series. Do you want to sponsor that series? And I like what Tim said and if you do, uh, we'd love to have you fill out one of the guest slots. Um, on the show here are some of the other things that I'm thinking of covering, but I'm happy to have a conversation if you want to do this slightly differently. But this comes back again to now you've got a sponsor, you've got a, make it worth their while, um, in terms of the content. So you, you start to, whereas I like it at the moment because I can have whatever conversation I like with whatever person I like.

Um, that's not say I'd be, I'd be averse to that kind of thing. But I think there's, there are complications that come with it that you just need to be aware of. And as long as you're happy with that, then that's fine. Um, but yeah, I like the idea of doing a series, but of course, Tim's quite rightly said, the downside of that is, and this is what we discovered with Ecommerce podcast was we would do a series, um, eventually a series became 10 episodes because it just, that's the way it was.

Uh, we would do a series, then we'd have a break for four or five weeks and then we'd start another series and the listenership, the numbers would drop radically. And so you'd spend all the next series trying to rebuild them and then they'd drop again. So, what we found is doing a podcast every week that consistency, which we've talked about before, the numbers continually grow as opposed to do this all the time, right? For sure. And so the downside of the series thing is if you've not, if you've not got back to back series planned, um you, you could create this, this effect of sort of driving numbers and having numbers fall off.

So, yeah, one of the other things, by the way, uh that's just totally come to my mind. Uh I know some other podcasters who will say to sponsors that every penny that you pay in sponsorship, we will put into marketing of the podcast. Um And so it's not like the money's getting lost in a black hole. So, uh we will take that sponsorship money. So let's say they sponsor, I don't know, a couple of grand for a series or something. We're gonna take those that money and we're going to invest that into some kind of say, paid media or promotional activity for the podcast to drive the numbers that kind of sweetens the deal, which is good. Um You can do that obviously, if your income is not necessary on the podcast sponsorship. And I know that a lot of podcasters who, whose income is tightly reliant on uh, sponsorship, um, but that is just another sweet way to which I've, I've come across before and thought was quite clever. But yes. Um, so, yeah, if you are, uh creating a full time income from sponsoring a podcast, God bless you because that's not an easy road to go down. Um It really isn't. And I think, uh you've got to have big audiences to generate the cash.

What it, what you've got to do with a podcast is look beyond the sponsorship. It's a bit like youtube, you know, you've got to look beyond just the money you get from ad generation. Um What other things can you do to create income? Um And sponsorship works for some people, for a lot of others. They find it really quite difficult. So I think when you're doing your podcast, um create multiple streams of income from it, we'll talk more about that in, in upcoming episodes.

I have no doubt. Um But yeah, something to be aware of. And then finally, probably the only other thing to say is your biggest sponsor of the show should probably be yourself. Um And so this is what we do, right?

We sponsor our own shows, which is why I've never been that bothered about going and getting sponsors because this show, the e-commerce podcast is brought to you by e-commerce Cohort. E-commerce Cohort is a monthly mastermind group that you can join from 14 99. It gives you a backstage pass, blah, blah, blah, right. So, um Ecommerce podcast, we promote the Ecommerce Cohort, which is one of our memberships.

This podcast Pod Junction you will have heard said I talk of, you know, that little promo after the interview. If you want to listen to the entire interview, you can listen to the entire interview just by joining the podcast cohort. Um More information we find on our website pod junction dot com. So we in effect are sponsoring this show. Now, just cos I've put the ad there doesn't mean that 1000 people are gonna sign up tomorrow.

I wish it did. I genuinely do, but I don't think I've got, like I say, there has to be that consistency, right? Um So we sponsor our own show. We are a podcast agency. Pod Junction is a brand name.

We are building that we are connecting with people. Uh We are letting people know what our services are. So he takes someone like Tim who comes on the show. He has a podcast. Well, he now knows that we do podcasting services, right? So ideal Tim's not a client yet, by the way. But do you see what I mean?

It's, it's one of those. So there's lots of other things that we do. So we are in effect, I would say our biggest show sponsor. Um And that I think is, is, it's probably a nicer way to go for it. Certainly, for us, I'm not saying it's the only way to go. Let me just clarify. I think there are other, other ways to do it. Um But for us at the moment, that's the strategy that we have taken for Tim, he gets external sponsorship. So it commercializes podcast. And if anybody would like to sponsor the pod junction, please reach out to us because we would love to talk to you or Ecommerce podcasts or push.

Push is another podcast. We self um sponsor that for want of a better expression. Um And so again, podcasting for business is more than just getting sponsors. But if that is your strategy, I think it's a really interesting strategy and hopefully you picked up a few top tips from Tim, but it's not the only strategy to make money because for years I thought it was, but apparently it isn't. Apparently there are other things that you can do which we have talked about in this.

Anything else from you miss, I realize I've just talked for quite a while there. Uh Yes, yes, you have. Uh I'm just going to do this. Uh No, I'm looking at my notes and I think you've covered it all, Matt, I think you got it. Sorry. I went on a bit of a monologue.

I do like these topics, these topics of sponsorship. We, what have you learnt? Let me ask you some questions and what have you learnt dealing with people that have, that have reached out to us, wanting to sponsor the show? What have I learned? Um I think maybe one of the things like I could um, identify is that would, I would, we as a business stand behind that, that sponsor would, is that something we would be happy to stand behind?

I think some, you know, sometimes you can maybe get caught up in the appeal of it, but I think if we're not happy to stand behind it, I don't think we should be pushing it. Yeah, that's very true. And that's something that Tim mentioned, wasn't it that whole idea of being aligned with whoever's sponsoring your show? Um I think it is very, very important, very, very important. Uh Which again is why we've turned down some sponsors in the past because it's like, yeah, actually, I don't feel like I can get behind your brand or what you stand for. Um Not that I think I'm a better human being, but I just, I, I think your business and our business just as on that for whatever reason, not aligned. Um And so not being afraid to say no, I think that's important, especially if you don't feel like the sponsor is going to connect with your tribe as well.

So, if you're using podcasting to build an audience, um, like we have a podcast, we're starting a podcast called Rooted, uh, with Vegetal. It's an Ecommerce business. So we're gonna, there's an Ecommerce podcast coming out called Rooted. There is no way on God's Green Earth. I'm getting Swo Dale Butchers to sponsor that podcast because its client base is predominantly vegan and vegetarian. Right? It's just, uh, Susie's leather works.

It's just not, it doesn't make sense uh on any kind of level um for them to sponsor that podcast. Um And so I think you're right. I think that is super important, the values aspect of it, you know, being culturally aligned. Um and it making sense to your listener more than anything um is really, really important. I mean, really, really important. Uh super, super powerful point, not very good. Anything else? No, you sure? I sure. OK, you just want to go now because you need to go collect the kids from school and on that bombshell.

Ladies and gentlemen who have we got coming up next week, we've got Dennis from leadership is changing and you, you can't pronounce his surname. Mat's gonna tell you his full name. We've got to run down. I do know Dennis. Dennis is a legend from, from the land down under and I was on his podcast several years ago. So it's great to get to catch up with. What did you say? He was talking about, I can't read your writing, can I um the benefits of podcasting?

Yeah, from the leadership is changing Dennis Gnosis. Uh I think is his surname. I hope I pronounced that right. Dennis. I'm really sorry if I haven't, please forgive me. Uh But looking forward to that with Dennis coming up, do come and join us. Uh as we learn from Dennis do make sure you like and subscribe to the podcast where you get your podcast from because you know, we've got more conversations coming up and you know what we haven't been doing on this podcast, the whole your awesome thing. That's OK. Do you not want us to do that? And instead it's like this is my show. So we move over.

Obviously, we've not had this conversation before. You'll have no idea what we're talking about. Unless you've listened to my other podcast. I have a specific way. I sign off every podcast that I do where I am the host I have just discovered after doing this hundreds of times from my show's producer that she's not a particular fan of the way that we sign off uh those episodes and does not want it on this show. So if you wanna know what I say and what I do, you should probably check out an episode of the Ecommerce podcast or push to be more uh because uh yes, I'm not allowed to say it.

They've been censored, won't you know on that bombshell, I think it says probably a good time. So thank you so much for joining us. Bye for now. And that brings us to the end of today's episode at Pod Junction where Business Meets podcasting. If you enjoyed the insights from today and wish to hear the full conversation with today's special guest. Don't forget to visit the pod junction dot com where you'll find more information about how you can join today, whether you listen while on the go or in a quiet moment. Thank you for letting us be a part of your day. Remember every episode is a chance to gain insights and to transform your business with podcasting. So keep tuning in, keep learning and until next time happy podcasting.