Who wants to be average? Jeremy Ryan Slate is on a mission to help world-class performers amplify their impact. As founder of the Create Your Own Life Podcast which has over 2.5 million downloads, he specializes in using podcasting and new media to build credibility and establish leadership status. He strives for excellence in all aspects and his success in podcasting enabled him and his wife, Brielle Slate, to start Command Your Brand, which supports entrepreneurs to use the power of podcasts to change the world.
Jeremy ranks #1 in the business category and #78 in the Top 100 on iTunes. He has also been recognized by CIO Magazine as one of the top 26 podcasts for entrepreneurs to listen to in 2017 and 2018, and top podcast to listen to by INC Magazine in 2019.
This millennial influencer believes that everybody has a small pond that they’re a big fish in somewhere. He found his small pond and took advantage of it.
Getting 10,000 listens in the first 30 days
Jeremy started his current podcast, Create Your Own Life, after he didn’t find success with his first one. Like many other people who have read the book ‘The 10X Rule,’ he was inspired to think more creatively in figuring out how to attract listeners.
“I sent out like 3000 individual LinkedIn messages,” he revealed. “I sat there copying and pasting for 11 hours or something like that.” He knew that if he wanted to hit a chart first, the number of subscribers and reviews he could get in a 24-hour period is crucial. He also sent out 500 individual Facebook messages, texted all of his contacts on his phone, and created a small email list with instructions on how to subscribe, listen, and review his podcast.
Jeremy had a lot of momentum after only 10 days with the podcast and got 67 reviews. “We hit New and Noteworthy and that was the big traffic bump. And then good content kept it going. So that was how we had that type of attention in our first 30 days,” he said.
Criteria for pitching clients
Command Your Brand, a podcast publicity agency that places thought leaders on popular podcasts, understands what it takes to get your voice heard in this competitive environment.
In pitching clients to a podcast, Jeremy says they always look at the audience first.
“One of the things we really have to handle with clients early on is they care a lot about the number of downloads, streams, whatever it may be.” But those stats are not the most important factor for success. “There’s a top 10 list that every client wants to be on,” he admitted. “Who do you want to talk to? And what does your perfect client look like?” By narrowing down the clients’ niche audience, they’re able to get a sense of how well they’re doing by looking at the downloads and numbers next.
After finding your niche audience, the next most important factor is the client’s ability to tell their story. A large focus for the agency is to teach clients how to best deliver those interviews with valuable content tailored to the listeners.
After that, they look at the social experience and the quality of the guests. “It has to be a great fit for the show because it has to be somebody they want to talk to,” Jeremy said. Ultimately, it has to be the right fit for a client and the prospective podcast.
How brands can benefit from the $1 billion podcast market
The booming revenue of podcast advertising reached a new high in 2021, racing past the $1 billion mark to make it one-of fastest growing channels on digital media. Many people are listening to podcasts, and it’s an opportunity for brands that should not be missed.
As it’s expected to keep growing rapidly in the next few years, Jeremy’s advice for brands is: “Learning how to tell a better story and learning how to connect with the right audience is how you really make an impact in the podcast world.”
The impact you make in the podcast world is not just about what’s played, but also how it gets told. According to him, the story of a company’s foundation, growth, as well as its struggles, is an important element in understanding them. Thus, they must know what stories can resonate with their potential audience.
“What is the story behind how we were founded? What is the story behind how we grow? What is the story behind some of our biggest struggles and our biggest wins?”
It’s also important to have a well-thought out PR plan before you start marketing or selling anything. Podcasting is no different and having an online presence will help build trust with your audience. “You do marry that with some direct response marketing of how you’re going to market to somebody after they’ve heard you on a show,” Jeremy remarked.
Being a big fish in a small pond
It’s hard to break into new markets, but it can be done with some patience and creativity. Jeremy is an expert in helping entrepreneurs appear on podcasts, but how does he position himself in the market? And what are his tips for success?
“You really want to niche down as part of it. But I think the other part is going in the areas where there’s no competition,” he said. “What I mean by that is, everybody has a small pond that they’re a big fish in somewhere.”
For Jeremy, it was his local community and the small town he grew up in. He figured out how to write good press releases and sent it to the local newspapers. Most small publications have online versions too so you can get featured on Google News.
“When you start to build up a lot of stuff like this and store it on a media page on your site, you can start to make it easier to get some of these media pieces to be more well-known within that sphere.”
Find your small pond, and be the big fish.
Listen to my full conversation with Jeremy on the Fascinating Entrepreneurs podcast to get inspired!
Transcript from Podcast
[00:00:00] Jeremy: The way it actually started is, I had a podcast in 2014 which was actually horrible called Rock Your Life. I quit after doing about six months, recircled the wagons and started my current podcast, Create Your Own Life, which then saw 10,000 listens in its first 30 days.
And it really took off like Neil Patel had even mentioned us in a blog post about “Whoa, how’d that guy do that?”
[00:00:20] Natasha: How did you get so many listeners so quickly?
[00:00:23] Jeremy: I had read the 10X Rule, not long before that. And like I said, my previous podcast was just so bad that I’m like, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
It doesn’t work out like it did last time. So I sent out like 3000 individual LinkedIn messages. Like I sat there copying and pasting for 11 hours or something like that. And I got a lot of people to- I knew the main stat was subscribers. Like the number of subscribers you can get in a 24 hour period is what’s going to help you, like, hit a chart.
And at that point in time, New and Noteworthy was still like a big thing. It was a big thing that it was closed for two years. And then now it’s really not a big. And you got eight weeks of feature, if you could end up New and Noteworthy. So I knew subscribers are important. So I sent out 3000 individual LinkedIn messages, I think around 500 Facebook messages, before they took away my ability to send messages to people.
And then I sent out text messages to every single person in my phone. I had a small email list. I sent out to those people. It even got to the point where like we’re out in public with friends, I’m like, “Here, let me grab your phone. Let me show you how to subscribe to my show and review me.”
And it worked though, cause like we got 67 reviews in our first 10 days, we hit New and Noteworthy and that was like the big traffic bump. And then good content kept it going. So that was how we had that type of attention in our first 30 days. And then I had a friend of ours, he’s a podiatrist and he really wanted to start his own podcast.
He’s “Hey, I want to start a podcast. I want to get out there. I want to get attention,” and we did it for him and we got them like some really great guests – incredible, high-level guests in the health and natural health sphere. And the thing that we did as part of his launch was we actually got him on a bunch of other podcasts.
And he goes, “Wow. I really enjoy having a show where,” he goes, “even with you guys doing all the work for me, like setting up the interview notes, doing all this stuff, it’s still a lot of work to sit there and interview somebody.” He’s could you just say, “Do the first half of just booking me on shows,” and we ended up having a co-founder from Israel that we started a company called Get Featured and we started getting people booked on podcasts.
We did an excess of multiple six figures in our first nine. I started butting heads with my co-founder and that was the end of our company. And for another three months-
[00:02:23] Natasha: Oh! I didn’t see that coming, by the way.
[00:02:25] Jeremy: No, I didn’t see that coming at all. And it wasn’t good either. Like, legally, I can’t say too much about it, but it just, it didn’t go well, let’s just leave it at that.
And then I kept all the employees that we had. I also had to service half the clients and I had no revenue. So we didn’t have any money coming in. And I was taking side work, doing all this other stuff to make sure I was paying employees. When I was like, “Hey, let’s hire some salespeople,” because my partner had been the salesperson.
So I was like trying to figure this whole thing out. So we didn’t make any money for two months. And I didn’t miss a single paycheck for my team, which I’m super proud of. And in November of 2017, we launched Command Your Brand. For two months, we were figuring it out. And we finally launched under a new name and in 2017.
So it’s a roundabout way of getting there, but that is how the idea for Command Your Brand happened.
[00:03:11] Natasha: Yeah, that’s a lot. I have a couple of followup questions. One is, when you are pitching your clients to a podcaster, or when you’re sourcing podcasts for your clients, are you looking for subscribers? Are you looking for downloads?
Is it just the right genre, even with a small amount [of subscribers]? What is your criteria?
[00:03:35] Jeremy: So the first thing is always the audience, because if it’s not an audience fit, then like none of the other stuff matters because one of the things we really have to handle with clients early on is they care a lot about number of downloads, streams, whatever it may be. Subscribers, we don’t really know.
None of us really know that data. If somebody could build that app, they’d make a lot of money. Right now we only know, the roundabout of downloads or streams, depending on what you’re using. And the thing you really have to handle with clients and beginning is they think the biggest shows are going to be the ones for them.
There’s a top 10 list of every client wants to be on. It’s Joe Rogan. It’s Lewis Howes. It’s Tim Ferriss. It’s these different shows and that’s great in terms of
Who do you want to impact? Who do you want to talk to? And what does your perfect client look like? And once you get that down and you really niche them down, you find that you can actually get them in front of the right type of audience. Then you worry about: How are we doing in terms of an estimated number of downloads and things like that?
Cause we’re not always going to have it a hundred percent. And that’s the secondary thing we look at. After that we’re looking at what does social presence look like? What does the quality of the guests they’re talking to look like? And things like that. But really audience fit is first because it has to be a great fit for the show because it has to be somebody they want to talk to.
And it has to be the right fit for a client, or they’re just not going to get anything out of it. So audience is always the primary thing we’re looking at.
[00:04:49] Natasha: I am pitched a lot by both podcast groups like yours, also traditional publicists. And I find it interesting. Oh, by the way, I’m not sure you guys have pitched me. So what I’m about to say, doesn’t include you necessarily. The pitches that I’m getting, I’m like, what is this? Like it’s copied and pasted. It’s like different colors. They don’t know who I am. And then they’re like, “Hello, are you going to respond to me?”
I’m like, oh my gosh.
[00:05:18] Jeremy: Do you ever get the one that’s “Hello? Hello, first name.” Have you ever gotten that one before? Would they call you like another name or something like that?
[00:05:27] Natasha: Yeah. Listen, I appreciate, I look at every pitch because I don’t want to miss anybody.
In fact, here’s a fun fact that I like to show share with you, but also it’s a brag. This is your time, but I’m just going to take two seconds of it. I was doing your pre-interview with another podcaster from New Zealand. And he didn’t know that I had a podcast because that’s not where we’re going to talk about.
And he asked and I said, “Hey, I have a podcast.” And he said, “Oh, what’s it called?” And I told him, and he typed something up in his computer and his face was like, “Wow.” I’m like, “Wow, what?” And he was like, “Your podcast is one of the top 1.5% in the world of almost 3 million podcasts.” And I’m like, “How do you know that?”
And why the heck don’t I know that? It was from Listen Notes.
[00:06:16] Jeremy: Oh, Listen Notes. Okay. We use that one and Podchaser a lot too.
[00:06:20] Natasha: I guess I just wasn’t looking, but I was like, I’m so special. So Jeremy, you’re going to go out and be a part of one of the top 1.5% podcasts in the world. I bet yours is up there as well.
[00:06:32] Jeremy: I hope so. We try to help a lot of people and have a lot of great conversations. We can only hope. I haven’t checked Listen Notes in a while, but I hope we’re doing okay. Yeah.
[00:06:42] Natasha: Okay. So how can brands benefit from the $1 billion podcast market?
[00:06:47] Jeremy: I think primarily it’s taking their mind off of advertising because I think too often people have an advertising mindset when they look at a lot of different things.
And in actuality, I think this is something you can really appreciate, giving the world that your company is in is storytelling. Learning how to tell a better story and learning how to connect with the right audience is how you really make an impact in the podcast world.
So I think for a lot of people, it’s a big mind shift because they’re used to TV and they’re used to radio. And they’re used to people talking about their CPM and stuff like that. And a lot of those numbers are propped up anyway. Like I love how radio stations are like, we combine the reach of every radio station we own, and you’re not going to reach these people, but we’re going to charge you for it.
So it’s something people have to really wrap their heads around because they’re not used to the type of long form content that you get in a podcast. It’s really based on storytelling. So for brands to really benefit about it, they have to know, “What is the story behind how we were founded? What is the story behind how we grow? What is the story behind some of our biggest struggles and our biggest wins?”
And those are the ways you have to start thinking. And that’s how you really can take advantage of the podcast world. And you do marry that with some direct response marketing of how you’re going to market to somebody after they’ve heard you on a show, but really it’s the first thing of changing from: It is not about CPM. It’s not about advertising.
It’s really about a large PR play of people getting to know and trust you when you handle that. A lot of what you’re doing works better, because I find too often, people are like, “Okay. so if I’m in front of 10,000 people, I’m gonna have these many clicks. I’m gonna have this many buy from me.” And really what you need to be looking at is: if I’m going to blanket the online space with my story and my voice, those other things I’m doing are actually going to convert better.
So PR comes first, then your marketing and your sales. And that’s where I really see people benefiting the most from the online space of podcasting.
[00:08:36] Natasha: Would you consider podcasting a part of experiential marketing?
[00:08:41] Jeremy: I’m actually not familiar with that word.
[00:08:43] Natasha: Jeremy, I think I asked you that question, but I actually think that the answer is yes. So let’s talk about that. So my company does experiential events and it’s part of a huge marketing plan for our clients, which happened to be Salesforce and Google and those huge companies that have huge budgets.
But a podcast is part of an integrated marketing plan and it is experiential. Now the experience that our listener is getting is the quality and the sound of our authentic voices talking to each other. And that leads me to another thing. I’ve interviewed people that are so good with their hook points and with their message that they start to sound generic.
They actually have great information and they have a great message, but then they start sounding robotic and that’s a tough thing, right? It’s a tough thing. And I remember interviewing someone who had her pitch down so great, it was never going to be conversational.
And I just sat back and let her do her thing. I don’t think it served her as well as an authentic conversation. So as far as experiential marketing goes, the experience that our listener is having brings them closer to our brand.
[00:09:59] Jeremy: I could definitely see that. Like I could definitely see that.
I see it first and foremost as a public relations play. Cause it creates that know and trust factor, but like public relations when done well should intertwine with your marketing. It’s the thing that makes marketing work better. And I find a lot of people, they haven’t worried about how many people know them like them and trust them.
And they’re wondering like, ” I’m having this many people click on my Google ad and go to my page and that they’re not converting.” And I think one of the biggest things is, this is nothing about you online, where there’s the wrong things about you online. If your first result is a ripoffreport.com, you are in trouble.
So you have to really be consistently building that know and trust factor online. And I love how you say it’s, how people experience you, right? It’s when you can change how people experience you, they’re going to be much different when they come to your brand and they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.
So I think it really lines up that way.
[00:10:50] Natasha: Yeah. So how do you position yourself? How would you tell me to present, to position myself as the go-to expert in my market?
[00:11:01] Jeremy: So I think it’s honestly, this is something we’ve been hitting on here a few times. And that’s the idea of really getting in front of your niche.
Like I think too often people go too broad with the biggest shows out there. So you really want to niche down as part of it. But I think the other part is going in the areas where there’s no competition. What I mean by that is, everybody has a small pond that they’re a big fish in somewhere.
And it’s something that everybody skips. They’re like, oh, I want to get in. I know you’ve got Inc. 5000, you’ve got some really cool stuff like that that your company’s accomplished. But a lot of people, they want to start there. And you can’t start there. You can’t, you have to find out: where’s the small pond that I’m a big fish in somewhere?
So that’s looking at my local community, what newspapers they have that go around. What are the groups I’m a part of? Does my rotary group have a magazine they put out? So I guess the easiest way to explain this is I grew up in a small town that’s five-eighths of my own size.
Like literally nothing happens there. So if you write a press release and send it to the local newspaper that they send every house in the county, and it goes out on a Thursday they’re pressed to their press days, Tuesday meeting days, they need to have news by or print it by Thursday. When I read a press release “Hey, local flag podcast, who does blah, blah, blah,” they run it.
And because there’s no competition there. And the thing that you can actually do then is a lot of these print versions also have an online version too. So you end up in Google News. So when you start to build up a lot of stuff like this and store it on a media page on your site, you can start to make it easier to get some of these media pieces to be more well-known within that sphere.
So that’s the other part of it is one part of it is getting in front of podcasts that are very niche. The other part of it is finding out what is your small pond that you’re a big fish in and going for it. I went to Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Really cool magazine that goes to every person that’s ever went to the school once a month.
So we’ve run releases and different things in there. And when we’ve run releases I’ve got a lot of television appearances from releases that have run in the newspaper. If somebody, a producer reads it and they’re like, “Oh, wow, I want to interview this guy.”
So you find out what’s newsworthy. You find out how to write a good release and you get an Oakland newspaper and a lot of them have online versions.
[00:13:04] Natasha: Awesome. So it looks like you guys grew by 71% in the down economy. And I’m assuming the down economy that you refer to is our pandemic, which is still happening. And so talk to me about that and how people listening can use those same strategies and principles.
[00:13:24] Jeremy: It’s interesting because if that was actually from 2019 to 2020, this 2020 to 2021. I’m trying to math here in my head is which isn’t exactly great. We’ve doubled in revenue from last year to this year. So that was, it was 67% the previous year. And now we’re almost doubled from last year.
And the biggest thing is really concentrating on number one, getting on the right podcasts, which is really important, but number two marrying direct response marketing with podcasting. So what that means is that, when you’re on a show, a lot of times in the end, you’re talking about different areas.
What you give away should be something that is an application of what you taught, because when you look at learning, learning has two parts. It has the theory of it and the actual doing of it. So we tend to teach people to give away a tool that is something that can apply what you taught.
So for us it’s a piece that helps people to really understand what online PR is like, the things you need to do have it together and how that’s going to help them get on different podcasts and things like that. So when people have a win with that piece, they come back to you and they either tell it as about you or they want to work with you.
And it’s interesting, like when we look at revenue from the first half of this year versus the revenue of the second half of this year. I was writing a book and I was doing all this other stuff. So I’m just going on substantially west podcasts, myself and company revenue in the first half of the year was nowhere near as big as it was, or I’m sorry, in the second half of the year, it was nowhere near as big as it was the first half of the year.
And the big difference was I didn’t go on a lot of podcasts. And it’s interesting because I think people tend to look at it as, okay, they’re going to come in for that opt-in. Sure they may, and you always want to have that offer there, but they come in and a lot of different places.
Cause it’s a huge outreach action that you’re doing. And once you stop doing it, you see the change. So it really is a way to get out there and get seen and heard and make sure that you’re bringing people into your ecosystem so that they trust you.
[00:15:13] Natasha: What is your number one, top number one, “I really want to be on this podcast” wish?
[00:15:20] Jeremy: Oh gosh. I don’t know. Cause I’ve never really looked at it like that.
[00:15:23] Natasha: A guest that you would love to interview?
[00:15:26] Jeremy: Dave Grohl.
[00:15:27] Natasha: Okay.
[00:15:28] Jeremy: I didn’t know to think about that. I have talked to his publicist. Her name’s Michelle. I can’t even tell you how many times over the last four years-
[00:15:37] Natasha: We’ll tag him and make sure that he hears.
[00:15:40] Jeremy: Dave, I’m a huge Foo Fighters fan and Nirvana before that. So Dave Grohl is just somebody that I’m a huge fan of. I’ve loved everything he’s done. So for me, Dave Grohl is my number one guest. For number one show like I don’t know, probably like Hardcore History, honestly, because like the things I listened to have nothing to do with the type of what I do for a living and the type of shows I wasn’t doing are not the same.
I listen to a lot of suspense and thriller and stuff type podcasts, whereas like a lot of what we’re doing isn’t really related to that, if that makes sense.
[00:16:07] Natasha: What is your biggest challenge in scaling and growing this company? I mean scaling by 71% and then doubling that’s painful. I don’t care who you are, how smart you are, what a great entrepreneur you are, what is something you’re working on to overcome right now?
[00:16:23] Jeremy: And this is probably, hopefully something you’ll agree with me with, because I know you’ve brought a large company, a lot larger than ours. But processes as you scale break. And I think that’s been the biggest issue is we build really great processes, then we get to the next level of growth and we’re like, “Oh, that process doesn’t work anymore.”
So it’s continuing to keep client experience good, keep sales process right. The way we’re working with shows correct. And as you scale and get bigger and help and service more people, like those processes break.
So the hardest thing is figuring out where the breaking point is, honestly. And then fixing that and continuing on from there. It’s interesting because the first thing you notice isn’t always where it broke. It always broke earlier. You just didn’t notice it until got-
[00:17:05] Natasha: It’s the result. It’s the effect of the cause.
[00:17:08] Jeremy: Yeah. So it’s like the thing that broke you, you didn’t see, and then you look at you’re like, “Ooh, okay. We’ve been doing that for three weeks. That’s a real big problem. Okay. What the scale, we can’t do that anymore. It looks like we need to hire somebody to do that.”
So that’s been the biggest thing is like processes. You end up breaking into mini processes, breaking into having to bring on more people to run them. So that’s been, the biggest thing is managing to keep up with process and when they break as you scale, at least for us.
[00:17:32] Natasha: Okay. So next year is 2022.
You’ve either been thinking about it or have you already made your master plan? How much do you want to grow? And what is the number one strategy you’re going to focus on to hit that metric? And then we’ll catch you up at the end of next year and measure?
[00:17:51] Jeremy: Oh, I hope I do well there. I don’t know. I don’t want to be judged next year.
We’re really hoping to double, we did. We did really well this year, but we didn’t hit the projections I had made for us. We’re really hoping to double what we did this year next year. And we did very well this year, but it just, it wasn’t the projection I set for the company.
So that’s the really big thing. What we’re actually trying to do to solve that is really to handle our marketing to sales process. Because what I’m finding is we can do a much better job with enlightening prospects, and taking them on more of a customer journey before they come to the sales team.
And what I’m finding now is people just aren’t enlightened enough to have a sales conversation when they initially have it. So I think if we can build a better process there, it’s really going to help with scaling and growth and things like that. But to me, that’s been the biggest pain point that I see.
[00:18:44] Natasha: If you’re going to double in revenue next year, which I know you will, what do you think that’s going to do to your headcount?
[00:18:50] Jeremy: Seeing where we’re at now I’d see that more like being two and a half times, what we are now reason being is we’re handling a lot of capacity for being doubled. We probably could have hired a couple more people towards the end of the year to help us with that.
So I would say probably about two and a half for where we are now to actually support everything in the level it should be.