Often, what makes a podcast successful is the way it connects to the audience. While there are a lot of shows out there, only a few really last because of how they create that strong bond with their listeners and even empower them in the process. This episode’s guest speaks to those who are hungry to live a label-free life. Tracy Hazzard sits down with Deanna Radulescu of the Label Free Podcast to talk about how Deanna is empowering her audience, the ‘why’ behind her show, and her definition of success. She also shares the secret to getting guest requests and choosing from them, monetization, growing your value as a host, and engaging your audience. Plus, Deanna then tells us about the female podcast network where she is supporting female podcasters own the platform.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Breaking The Cycle And Empowering Podcast Audience To Establish A Successful Show With Deanna Radulescu Of Label Free Podcast
I’m going to talk about label-free podcasts in this episode. I’m talking about podcasting label-free and I don’t mean this by brand labels. I got designer labels on, although there’s a little background here from our host on that, but I’m talking more about how you label yourself, others and how that looks. I love Deanna Radulescu. She turned podcasting into something that is so good. She has such a good time doing it. You can see she’s diving deep into the value of everything.
Let me tell you a little bit about the background and we’ll start to make sense of why she did this. She has an extensive background in being an entrepreneurial leader. She was the VP of Key Accounts and Business Operations for a $20 million transmission manufacturing facility. In 2016, she was forced to start over. She had a passion for fashion, so she started a fashion brand, which was the Deanna Marie label.
She designed to produce three collections over the course of a few years. She got a Kickstarter campaign and other things. She also rolled out a skincare line, but the life of a brand and a brand label is hard. In 2019 she heard about this thing called podcasting and she read an article best starting a podcast and she thought to herself, “I don’t know, but why not? Let’s do it.” She’s that person who’s overcome so much trauma and abuse. That’s why she dove deep and decided to name her show Label Free.
She works with her best friend, Julie Bryant, which loves and she truly tries to live a life that’s label-free and her show shows it. That’s where she dives in deep with her guests and where she focuses on talking with entrepreneurs about mainly living life on their terms and offering insight and wisdom to the audience. Let’s get a little wisdom and insight on how to live our podcasting life label-free with Deanna Radulescu.
Deanna, thanks for joining me. I’m so excited to have you here and we’re talking label-free podcast. Label-free is not about label products on Amazon. It’s about you being labeled. I’m curious how you’re feeling about the label of podcaster. Does that feel right for you?
That’s great. No one’s ever asked me that question before. In some regards, we are going to have some kind of title that we use in life, but when I refer to being labeled, it’s more of a negative connotation. Whereas podcasting to me, being a podcaster is very positive and what I’m doing as a podcaster, the guests that I’m engaging with and I’m highlighting, is all very positive. I am bringing value to my audience and making sure that I’m enforcing those self-defeating ideas that we have or that the world has for us when we don’t want to live in a labeled environment.
I went to art school. The poor starving artist is a terrible label. Thriving podcast sounds like a good label, but what’s your favorite part about it? What makes you feel so good about being a podcaster?
I would say all of it. From connecting with people all over the world, the support that the community gives each other, connecting with people I’ve already met and new people I’ve just connected with like new guests. Also, continuing to build that community and grow and grow. It’s been a very positive experience. I don’t think I’ve had one negative thing I can say about being a podcaster. Using that as my title has all been very positive, aside from the fact that we are struggling artists in the space up to a point until we can start monetizing and then doing different things to support this passion that we have.
It’s because you know, at the end of the day, no matter what you’re doing and how long you’ve been doing it, you still have to remember your why because that’s what’s the most impactful in this space because people are turning to podcasters for value, resources, inspiration and motivation. If you start straying away from that, I think that you’re going to lose your audience and the success that you’ve built.
What’s your why? Why did you start one?
I don’t know if you listened any of my stories, but I’m a victim of human trafficking. I’ve survived that. I am a victim of sexual and physical abuse. My late husband passed away, so I was a widow. I’ve had a lot of different labels thrown on me. After my husband passed away, I had to start rebuilding my life again and I had always wanted to be a fashion designer. I started pursuing that. I threw a lot of money at it. I was successful in a lot of ways, but monetarily I was not.
I did my last collection and it was for a big event. I did it against human trafficking to raise awareness. I had over 300 people and a lot of great sponsors. It was a huge success. After that ended, I was like, “That was my third collection. I’m done.” I told myself, “I’m going to do three collections and if I’m not successful, I’m not throwing any more money at it.” I wrapped that up and after that was done, I saw an ad or an email for how to start a podcast for under $100. I started reading this article and I was like, “Hmm,” because I was thinking of what’s the next thing for me. I’m very Type A. I always got to have something going on and I read this article.
I called my cousin. I’m like, “I don’t know who the F I think I am, but I’m going to start podcast.” I then talked to my best friend and I told her. I said, “Over the last couple of years, having to rebuild my life, I realized how many different labels that people put on me, my family and friends, and the labels I put on myself.” It came to a head. I’ve been able to forgive myself and go through counseling for past traumas like physical abuse, sexual abuse and human trafficking.
I’ve gotten over a lot of that, but I carried a lot of that with me along the way and I didn’t realize that until I said, “I’m going to start a podcast. It’s all about living label-free. I’m not going to own any of that stuff. I’m going to drop all that baggage and I’m going to live authentically and in my own truth. I will move forward in a place of positivity, happiness and joy and peace. I don’t want to carry any of that stuff with me.” That’s my why and that’s probably a very long why.No matter what you're doing and how long you've been doing it, you still have to remember your why because that's the most impactful in this space. Click To Tweet
It sounds like you’re starting why was, in a way, a personal journey. Has it changed now that you’re well over 200 episodes? Is it a different why now than it was at the beginning?
No, it is not. I probably have about 50 people that reached out to me a week that want to be a guest on my show. It reinforces that there that our society and a lot of people are so hungry to live that label-free life. I feel so many other people feel and they want to share that. It’s very broad. I have a very broad range of guests, but all at the same level that people have gone through so many different things to get to a place where they are living in a place where they’re happy, full of joy and peace. They want to share that with other people to let other people know that are struggling, “You don’t have to live in the space that you’re in now if you’re not happy.” It hasn’t changed at all. If anything, it’s reinforced it.
That’s fantastic to find that out. That means that every time you podcast, you’re self-affirming your why, which is amazing. You talked about a successful podcast and to me, it requires personal definition. While a successful show or something is a label, it’s a really broad definition. What’s success for you?
There are many different levels to that and it can mean too many different things. For me, success is making sure they have a good balance of all things in my life, whether it’s family, friends, my relationship, my finances and my career. My career right now is the podcast. In the beginning, I wasn’t making any money. I was just going through the motions, loving creating the content and putting it out there.
From when I started to where I am now, it’s evolved. For any podcasters out there, I think that they stick with it because it is a commitment. If you’re going to be a podcaster, you have to nail that. You’re going to be in it and you’re going to put some hard work into it. You also have to continue to be passionate about why you’re doing it.
From where I started to where I am now, that success changed and evolved. I’ve grown. My audience and my brand have grown. My reach has grown in terms of someone reaching out to me. He was like, “I was referred to as being on your show and they had spoken very highly about you.”I then checked around and a lot of people had a lot of great things to say. They hold you to whatever. They said that you have a great reputation.” I’m like, “That’s awesome.” I’m also starting to monetize. I’ve been able to start making money off of this, so there are a lot of different levels of success. I think when you have a healthy balance of all those things in your life, that’s what success looks like for me personally.
Let’s talk about the three things because you can touch on monetization and my audience would be really upset if we didn’t dive into that and get to that point. Let’s start on that. You also mentioned that you get 50 requests a week to be a guest on your show. How do you get great guests? How do you get to that level where they’re throwing themselves at you and then how do you choose when you have so many choices?
I think to have a lot of people wanting to be on your show, you have to make sure that your brand and your message are very clear and that you are speaking to what it is that you want to talk about. Also, you have to saturate every resource out there, whether it’s LinkedIn, Instagram, MatchMaker, PodMatch and all the different other platforms that can be part of. I’m on everything.
I have people reached out to me on LinkedIn all the time. I get emails directly. It’s non-stop, which is great. I’m very grateful and I’m blessed. I love meeting all these people and I love talking to them. For me, that has been a big blessing and a gift all on itself. That’s one. You talked about monetization. What was the third one?
How do you choose those guests? How do you pick who’s going to be on your show or keep up with it because there are so many?
I’m blessed to have my best friend. She’s offered to help me with this. She believes in what we’re doing and its success of it. She became my booking manager. I created a calendar link for her. She set her hours and if they’re interested in being a guest, I send them, “Thank you for reaching out. I’d love to learn more about you. I have all potential guests. An intro call with my booking manager, Julie Greene-Bryant,” and I then give them the link. I say, “I’m looking forward to connecting further.”
She’ll go through her process and she asks some very intense questions. I’ve heard from some guests that it was the best conversation and the worst conversation that they’ve ever had. We’re talking about being a podcast within a podcast because those intro calls are so intense. It’s heart-provoking and thought-provoking that we’re probably going to start recording those calls and offering that as bonus content for people who are tuned in and want to hear that raw stuff because many people cry on her calls.
We’re talking about that right now. She picked some. I let her make that decision because I’m empowering her. She’s my best friend and I trust her. We’re very similar or else we wouldn’t be doing this together. She then sends over, “Congratulations. You’ve been chosen to be guests.” If you want us to start talking about my monetization, I’ve gotten to a place where the demand is so much that I do charge an appearance fee or whatever you want to call it.
I also offer different levels of marketing for them, so to speak. If they want to be on my social media and my newsletter, anything that I do as far as my marketing’s concerned, they can upgrade to that just because it’s time-consuming. You create the content for it. That’s been able to generate income from doing that.
How do you set your fees? How do you decide what’s going to be of value to you?
I’ve paid some appearance fees. When somebody reached out to me and they wanted me to be a guest and they said, “I have an appearance fee.” I thought that the price was fairly reasonable and I’m like, “Okay. I think that it’s a good place to start.” For me, I thought that it was decent and I was comfortable asking that from other people. If they wanted the upgraded marketing part portion of it, then that’s going to be a little bit more because that’s work. Nobody else helps me with that but myself.
You’re putting your time into all of that. You set a value that you feel is good for you and is doable for the audience. It’s reasonable from that perspective for your guests.
Not everybody’s okay with it and that’s fine. I don’t take it personally. I’m reading a lot of the resources out there about the podcasting space and this is something that a lot of people is moving to. I don’t think that being a guest on podcasts is going to be free for everyone for very much longer because it is growing.
There are a lot of advertising dollars that are going into this industry and we are still in the infancy. In the next couple of years, from some of the statistics and some of the live talks and these experts that I listen to, a lot of the advertising is going to be moved from TV to podcasting. A lot of the entertainment value is going to podcasting as well.
It’s a great time to be in this space. I’m the head coach for the Female Podcasters Network. I’m coaching a lot of my clients from that group right now that this is the time to be in it. Make sure you’re setting yourself up for success, continue to be consistent and make sure your brand is dialed in. Always bring value and remember your why. I know sometimes it can get a little overwhelming, but it’s a great time. It’s a great space to be in right now. I believe in what we’re all doing together collectively. I think that what we’re doing is we’re changing the scope of entertainment as a whole because a lot of the focus is coming to us.Success is really making sure you have a healthy balance of all things in life. Click To Tweet
What was the tipping point for you when you said, “I can start charging now.” Were you so many episodes in? Were you a certain number of downloads? What made it feel like this was the right time for you?
I think it was episodes, downloads and the overwhelming amount of people that wanted to be a guest. It was a lot of stuff that I was reading and I felt comfortable saying, “Okay.” I’ll be honest. There are some people who get bigger name guests or people are referred to me that I will not charge that fee to. I will bring them on or if there are some in-person interviews I’ll do that are here local in the Chicagoland area, I won’t charge all of them either. As the host and the founder of my podcast, I’ll use that at my discretion.
If a celebrity is going to get you more authority for your show and more listeners, you’ve got to take advantage of that. That’s marketing for you.
You’ve got to be smart about it. In December of 2021 is when I said, “That’s it. Pretty much everybody, unless I approve it, is going to have to pay a fee.” I release four times a week because I’ve recorded so much. I probably have over 100 episodes in my backlog that I can pull from. If nobody wants to pay me anything for the next six months, I’m fine.
You have got a lot to promote out there.
“That’s fine. God bless you. Please listen to the show. Thank you for your interest,” and we’ll keep it moving.
What episode number did you hit when you decided this? It was late in 2021, so you should have been over 200 by then.
You put your work in, though. You earned the right to start to ask for this. I get a lot of people to come to me who say, “I want to start charging for appearances.” I was like, “Have you done an episode yet?” “No.” “You haven’t earned the right to show that you have a good show, a good audience and that you can promote them. You’re going to provide any value in this yet.” You’ve proven your value.
Yes and that’s what I feel. People get offended by that and I’m like, “I totally respect your position. I wish you all the best of luck and thank you for your interest in Label Free Podcast,” but that’s how I feel. I’ve put my time in and it’s a high-quality production. I’m not putting crap out there. I do the video. I do the text overlays on my video. I have over 5,000 subscribers on YouTube and I’ve earned that.
I’m a YouTube partner. I’m making money on the backend there, so I take it seriously. I operate it like a business because I love doing it. I took advantage of the pandemic. I sat down every day and recorded all day long for months. That’s where I started growing my brand, my value as a host and talking to a lot of people that continued that whole domino effect to happen.
I remember Sheryl Crow, one my favorite music artist, who said, “I was an overnight success that took twenty years.” You’re an overnight success that took 200 episodes. Let’s talk a little bit about your audience. How do you get your listeners to engage? How do you grow your audience?
I utilize social media and I am making sure that I grow my email list. Social media is huge. It’s such a powerful tool. I’ve taken classes. I took about a twelve-week course to learn the ins and outs of it. How to make it successful and bring viewers? Even though the algorithm constantly changes, if you’re constantly doing the same thing, use some hashtags, making sure you’re tagging a lot of different people that are relevant to the posts that you’re posting and always being out there.
I know a lot of people think that you should focus on one platform, but if you’re wanting to grow your audience and you’re wanting to do it at a faster pace, you’re going to have to hit them all. It’s because I have a different audience on YouTube versus audio, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn. There are different audiences on all of those platforms. If you’re serious and once you get a rhythm, it’s not as time-consuming as you think. I use the same content for all the platforms. Maybe my caption is different. My hashtags and who I’m tagging are different.
You customize it for the platform audience.
I also learned that. I invested in learning all that to do content creation because this is the world we live in. It’s not changing. It’s getting more and more powerful.
I was thinking more about how you engage with your audience because I’ve seen the tagging and the hashtagging work because you get a lot of comments. I think part of it is that you have great subjects. You started out with a great show that has a great topic that is highly desired. I want to live a label-free life. I’m feeling burdened by my labels. You can see why people would want to participate in that conversation, but how do you keep that conversation going? Do you spend a lot of time doing that?
With the audience, a lot of people message me directly. They’ll email me or they’ll send me messages on social media. “Thank you for what you’re doing.” In terms of engagement, I think that maybe by them engaging with the content and buying books from my guests or hiring them as a coach because I’ve sold a lot of books. I’ve gotten a lot of clients from my coaching guests. I know that a lot of people have utilized the services that my guests have offered. I don’t necessarily have to engage with them directly. They’re with my guests.
That engagement is what’s happening, the commenting and the other areas.
Also, my sponsors. I’ve been renewed four times over the course of a year with MANSCAPED because my audience is continuously purchasing with my code for MANSCAPED and I’m making more and more money with them, which has been a very fun ride. I love MANSCAPED.Podcasting is changing the scope of entertainment as a whole. Click To Tweet
Let’s talk about that. I thought when I listened to your ads, I was like, “Those are some unusual advertisers.” MANSCAPED picked a woman host. I love it. It’s it makes so much sense to me because I come out of the product world. I come out of the world understanding that women buyer influence is 86% or more of what’s purchased out there. Why wouldn’t you want to advertise? First off, MANSCAPED deserves some credit for thinking outside of its norm. Good for them, but how did you get these great sponsors?
I believe if you’re going to be in something, you have got to constantly do your research and educate yourself on the industry. I get emails all day long from all different types of platforms or organizations that are highlighting different things that are happening in the podcasting space. There was one email that came across and it was MANSCAPED looking for podcasts. I reached out to X, Y and Z and I said, “I’m going to send over an email and send over my stats.” At that time, and I think it’s probably still the same, it was 51% male, 49% women.
My age range was from 25 to 50 or 55. I’m like, “This is great statistics. This is perfect for them.” I sent it over and our first phase was they sent me a free product and I had to do a mid-roll ad. I was like, “Perfect.” For any sponsor I work with, I do more than a mid-roll ad on the audio side. I also do a visual commercial for them that I can repurpose for all my video recordings and social media.
I do that for every sponsor. Everyone I’ve had, there is a video commercial for them. I was like, “This is great.” It was very successful. They got a great return on ROI and it’s been going great since then. They’ve been so great to work with. I feel like they’re very innovative and they support their host. I’ll continue to work with them as long as they want to work with me. It’s been fun and they’ve got great products. I know that I love my fiancé and all their products.
The thing is, when you can start to personally recommend them, it makes a better integration with your show and with your audience and it sounds genuine, which is what it did. It sounded absolutely genuine when you did your mid-roll ad. I love that you’re doing advertisements in a way that feels like sponsorship.
You’ve taken it from that sort of influencer perspective that you’ve learned probably more on the social media side of things and integrated it in that way. In your early show, because you are on the Anchor platform, they run this random ad at the beginning of your show and you’re like, “It’s your first show and you’re running an ad for a platform that you haven’t even experienced yet.” It didn’t sound genuine back then. Now, it sounds genuine.
I didn’t even think about that, but you’re right. That’s a good point. I think in the beginning, you’re going to try to do anything that you can to make it a little bit of whatever to validate what you’re doing. In hindsight, would I have done that? Probably not. I probably would keep it myself and kept plugging along until I got to where I am. I got to where I was when I got them as a sponsor.
I love that you’re out there advising. Tell me a little bit about the Female Podcast Network.
It’s support for all female podcasters. Jamie and Tim Holloway own the platform. I found it online or somewhere and I joined them. It was free to join. It’s probably almost up to 2,000 members at this point, all females, and they’re looking for someone to represent the brand. They’re asking for people to submit their stories, their pictures, and a little bit about their podcasts. I submitted my story, what I’ve done, my podcast my success and they chose me. Part of doing that was that they were looking for someone to coach. I’m a certified life coach, personal trainer and dietician. I know the coaching. I know how to coach people and I loved working with them.
I’ve been able to completely own that part of it. Essentially, I’m a partner to them and I’ve been given free rein to grow it, reach out to the ladies and offer my coaching services. It’s been great helping other women to refine what they’re doing. If you’re a podcaster, you’re a public figure. If you’re going to be a public figure, you have to embrace that and part of embracing that is being present on social media and owning that title of being a public figure.
It’s been great to watch my clients evolve and grow working with them, giving them the reassurance that they need and being their cheerleader in the background. It’s a great platform. Who needs another platform to manage? There are a lot of women on there that support each other. We do Mondays and Fridays posting your show. Everybody goes to rate your show and it’s supporting each other. It’s been a great thing to be a part of and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow it. Also, encourage, support and uplift women.
I love that you’re participating in that. We work with a couple of other organizations that support podcasters in various diverse areas, women especially, because I own the only woman-owned podcast hosting company. It seems like it would be a logical support system here. The Mediacasters are one of them. I haven’t heard of them before, so we’ll have to get in touch.
We should talk after this then.
You were talking about doing some video and I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for some YouTube tips. It’s because you’ve made it work with 5,000 followers over there. You mentioned putting captions and text on your posts. You’re working hard on the editing side of those posts. What are some tips for making YouTube successful?
I don’t edit my stuff. I have a producer that I’ve been working with many years ago when I had my fashion business. He and I have grown things. I’ve evolved over the years. He’s like my little brother, so to speak, but I do give him direction. What I tell people is look who your most famous person that you follow or you’re attracted to or you’re inspired by. What are some of the big YouTube channels doing? Look at how they’re presenting their content. There are basic things that you shouldn’t do in any type of posting or content creation. There should always be a call to action.
Text overlays, announcing for podcasters. We have a guest or if you don’t, if you’re a solo podcaster, you can make sure that you have your name, your website and social media handles. If you have a sponsor, make sure you’ve got your sponsor’s name up there in the corner and put that discount code there, so you’re driving people. I’m sorry to say this and don’t take this the wrong way, but we live such a fast-paced lifestyle. People are stupid.
My answer is people don’t read. People aren’t listening, reading and watching. You need to push hard to get it out there.
Constantly flashing things on their face, they are eventually going to get subliminally. They’re like, “Label Free 20 or MANSCAPED.” You’ve got to tell people what to do and it has to be constantly in their face. Repetition, if you’re on video, make sure that your name and the name of your show are up there. Make sure that your brand is out there for people to see. Even if they’re not paying attention, there is sublimity. Their subconscious is taking that in.
The next time they hear your name, they’re like, “Wait a second. I heard about that. I heard about Tracy.” They’re going to remember that. It’s going to be in the back of their head. I shouldn’t say people are stupid. People are just not paying attention. I know I’m guilty of it too. I’ve responded to certain posts on social media where I got some backlash and I was like, “Whoa.” Now, I’m making sure that I’m very mindful of things that I look at and I’m reading and I’m not just responding quickly from the hip.
Thank you for those tips. I appreciate it. I want to end up back where we started. You started the Label Free Podcast as a shift in life, as in a new why for you. You said it’s still working and your why is still the same. Are you finding a new path? What have you found? What has it given you personally that you didn’t expect?You don't know what's going to happen. Just continue doing what you're doing and believe in it. Click To Tweet
I’m producing and launching a new show for one of my social media clients, which I had never thought was even possible, but I love it so much. It doesn’t make sense and I’m like, “Okay, great.” I’m going to say this quick. If you’re out there looking to monetize, sometimes the monetization is not going to look like what you expect it to look like. Be open to other opportunities and maybe you’ll find a fit for your talents and your gifts.
Also, another way that is going to bring you that income that you’re, that you’re looking for. That’s why I tell my clients constantly I’m always like, “You don’t know what’s going to happen. Continue doing what you’re doing and believe in what you’re doing.” That is something that’s come about that is starting to open new doors. I’m very appreciative and I love this industry. I love the people that I’ve connected with. It’s been so real, if that makes sense.
That’s what I love about it too.
Everybody wants to help each other and I’m here for it. “I’m here for it. Let’s go.”
The last word of advice for anyone out there who’s thinking about starting a podcast but hasn’t yet.
I’d say be aware of your time commitments. If you want to do a podcast, I highly recommend it. If your time is limited, it might not be something that you can commit yourself to right now, but it’s worth it if you’re willing to put the time in because only 6% of podcasts make it. The other 94% are dead out there. Make sure that you’re very passionate about it. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it and don’t lose your passion behind why you want to do it.
It’s such great advice. Deanna, thank you so much for coming to the show. I appreciate it. It is a bingeable show. We’ll make sure that they get connected with you and that they can reach out to you.
Listening to Deanna inspired me to think about all the different ways in which you can get to a place where your show is sponsored. It might be a different model. I think she’s got some really interesting sponsors going on. MANSCAPED is an unusual sponsor. Thinking about how she’s built the show so that she could get it here is quite the feat because it doesn’t have quite that sort of logical progression, but it’s so perfect as to how podcasting works.
It meanders and gets its way to this place at which, it’s got all this stuff going on for it and it’s working for her. Label Free Podcast is a great title, a great model for a show talking about a specific mindset, lifestyle aspiration that you would be, um, a place that you would be personally, which is it drives listeners to.
When you can drive listeners to something because you’re giving them that model, you’re giving them a place they want to hang out and they want to be, then it logically translates into being able to monetize that in some way, shape or form. I think that’s what Deanna has built here. Make sure you listen to Label Free Podcast. Check it out, see what she’s built here and connect to Deanna directly. Maybe she should be on your show.
I think things through. When you’ve got a great podcaster who’s doing something like this, you should be inviting them to your show. That’s what you should be using my show to do. Find another great guest for you. Thanks, everyone for tuning in. I will be back with another Binge Factor podcaster who’s changing things, making things different in the podcasting world, looking for those ways to alternatively monetize and ways in which you can improve your show as well.
- Deanna Radulescu
- Label Free Podcast
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