The stakes are high when it comes to doing business in English and people around the world are willing to invest in acquiring better English skills. This is the niche that Lindsay McMahon targets with her show, All Ears English, an ESL podcast that caters to global professionals looking to improve their communication skills for work and life. Lindsay’s podcast is part of a bigger business model that includes courses, programs and an app, all of which have developed out of the podcast itself. All Ears English is a force to be reckoned with. Lindsay has a huge library of almost 2,000 episodes and she’s getting 7-8 million downloads a month. Given how much she loves both ESL and podcasting, she’s showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. Tune in as Tracy Hazzard gets to the bottom of why All Ears English is such a compelling show and why Lindsay has got to be one of the best podcast hosts out there.
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How Developing Your English Skills Can Actually Help Your Business With Lindsay McMahon Of All Ears English Podcast
I have a podcast host that has an unusual title to the podcast but it does capture your attention. I have the Host of All Ears English Podcast, Lindsay McMahon. She not only won me over in how amazing her podcast is but she also won my business as I hired her to work with my company. It’s an interesting and fun model. Lindsay McMahon is the Cohost of All Ears English Podcast. It’s downloaded seven million times per month globally and has been ranked in the best of Apple Podcasts categories in 2018 and 2019 as well as number one in the US education language courses.
Lindsay and her team have been featured in Podcast Magazine, Language Magazine and Forbes. They are killing it with how amazing this show is but this show is such a big support to her core business, which is helping those with English as a Second Language develop their business skills and ability to write better in English, speak better in English and converse in business better in English. Everything about what they’re doing is fantastic. They are working on monetizing and shifting into all of that. I want you to read this episode. Tune in while we talk to Lindsay McMahon from All Ears English Podcast.
Lindsay McMahon is the co-host of All Ears English. The All Ears English Podcast is downloaded 7 million times per month globally and has been ranked in Best of Apple Podcasts categories in 2018 and 2019 and as well as #1 in US Education Language Courses. Lindsay and her team have been featured in Podcast Magazine, Language Magazine, and Forbes.
Lindsay, thanks so much for joining me. I love All Ears English. It is such a great show. You have a huge library and a great download number of 7 to 8 million downloads a month. That’s astounding. Congratulations.
Thank you, Tracy. I’m excited to be here and see if I can give some wisdom to your audience on how to build a strong show.
You’ve been doing this longer than I have. I love that I can talk to a seasoned vet in this industry. The thing that most people don’t realize is how much a seasoned show or a show that has been doing this as long as you have and built up as many episodes. You have 2,000 episodes. That’s amazing. When you get to that stage, it’s extremely hard to unseat you. They have to spend a ton of money and time to unseat you. That took a lot of work and commitment. How did you stay committed?
Number one is that I love podcasting itself. We launched All Ears English as a podcast in 2013. I thought it would be a hobby, “This is not my business.” I had another business at the time. I thought, “This is fun on the weekends with my cohost. We will hang out and make some episodes. It will be great.” All of a sudden, right from the beginning, it did quite well. We built a business around it starting by selling transcripts, which we can talk about and then launching an online course and another one. I love the art of podcasting. That’s the first reason why we are able to publish four episodes a week because I love it. I don’t love funnels, marketing and course-building but I love podcasting.
It shows. You’ve had different cohosts over time. I’ve heard different episodes but you’re still the anchor throughout that. I can hear how much you love it because it comes across. There’s an energy level. I didn’t go back to Episode 1 but from Episode 900 to Episode 1,800, there’s an energy level that is still there and apparent. You’re not sick of talking about your subject, which is what people think is going to happen.
I’ve been in the position of my listeners. I think about my listeners all the time. I’ve been in their position because before starting the podcast, I had my experiences living abroad, learning languages and living in those languages. I lived in Tokyo for a year and a half and learned Japanese. I lived in South America and learned Spanish. Our whole thing is the connection, not perfection. We believe that language should never separate two people from a connection. They speak different languages. That should not be a barrier to human connection. I’ve been to the place where they are. That’s why I’m able to empathize. I feel like I want to help them when I get on the mic.Language should never separate two people from a connection. It’s all about connection, not perfection. Click To Tweet
It comes across because your show is conversational. It’s in the moment. At the same time, there’s a great lesson to it. I sent it to my entire team. I have over 100 employees that are out of the country in the Philippines. I sent to them your lesson on business emails and how to close a business email with a sense of urgency without being rude. I thought that was such an excellent deep dive but it’s a niche and narrow topic. That is exactly the thing that people will find useful. They’re going to take away, get results and then say, “What more do you have?”
That’s why it’s always better to go specific. That’s one piece of advice I could give to your audiences here. Don’t go broad. Go specific because that way, you can offer more value on that one very specific thing. There’s more white space for commentary, examples and spontaneity, which is what we’re here for. We’re here for entertainment, not just education. It’s also entertainment. You need to do both.
You do that well. I love how you do this. What made you decide that you were going to call it All Ears English? Did you collaborate? Did it come to you? How did you get that started?
It’s the name itself with my original cohost who left after the first year or so. We were in the kitchen. We came up with it spontaneously thinking about fun little idioms and what could work for the name itself. The concept came out of our experiences teaching English abroad and learning languages ourselves but also seeing the gaps in the market and understanding our market, “How do most people teach English as a Second Language?” It’s very stiff. It’s boring. It is academic but we wanted to take a fresh perspective. We knew what the problems were. We figured out a way to solve them through our style that was fresh and different.
I love the style of what you do because one of the episodes that I listened to was when you were talking about Times Square. As I’m skimming through the topics, I have to think of something that was going to resonate with me. I was like, “I know Times Square well,” but it doesn’t get a bad rap. This is the lesson that you were teaching them about what that means and how it’s used in the slang of a bad rap and what that means but you used it by tying in a fantastic story about a trip to New York City and Times Square. That’s brilliantly connective in and of itself.
Thank you. I appreciate that. It’s nice to hear what other people think of the show because we’re so in it in our heads. We’re always creating. We never stop. It is nice to see, especially people who aren’t necessarily the target listener. You’re a native speaker of English. It’s good to see what you see in the show and to know that.
In that conversational way, you’ve achieved the goal that you set out for yourself even though it’s flexed over time. You’ve changed the show quite a bit over time and turned it into more of a business as it has gone. You’ve gotten multiple cohosts. How come you decided to keep the cohost model?
Number one, it goes back to not getting bored. I’m not a big, “Talk into the microphone by myself or talk to a video by myself,” person. I have a lot of friends in my industry. They’re friends. I know everyone in my industry. They love videos. They want to sit in front of the video and talk to their people on YouTube. I get bored. Even on the mic, I would be bored. I need chemistry.
Michelle is my main cohost. Aubrey is on there sometimes. I’ve had others in the past but I need the chemistry between us. Michelle and I have been working together for years. We do have a nice level of chemistry, which is because we respect each other. We add different things to the table. She has a big radio voice. She worked in radio before working with me. I respect what she brings and she respects what I bring. It works. It’s the chemistry. I need that one-on-one chemistry. Beyond that, I know that my audience wants to listen to real English and conversations.
It doesn’t sound like a lecture.
There’s more you can do when there’s someone in front of you.
It’s also interesting that you’ve taken such a deep dive. You’ve got 2,000 episodes. That makes it hard to think about the navigation. How do I go through when I find your show? We talk about binge listeners here. They usually go to the beginning and listen to everything but that’s pretty daunting. I can’t imagine they’re going to go back. They’re probably going to work backward through it, which is an unusual way. Normally, a binge listener comes into a show that has less than 100 to 200 episodes. They will go back to the beginning and listen forward but in your case, they’re probably working their way backward. How do you help them navigate it?
We’re doing a few things now. Over the years, we have launched an app. We have an iOS and an Android app, which takes the podcast and puts it through the app. With that app, they’re able to type in the search bar a number, a topic or a keyword. The app is designed to pull up that episode. That’s one thing they can do. We’re going to begin to launch shows that are composed of the episodes that we have had to take out of the main show because we can no longer put more than 2,000 episodes.
We’re grouping them into categories. Pretty soon, we will be launching a feed or a separate show for business English. The whole thing will be curated for anyone that wants English for business. We will do the same thing for pronunciation and maybe pop culture. Who knows? Maybe they will be a true crime All Ears English someday.
You will have all these spinoff shows. I love it.
That’s our plan. That’s what we’re planning to do to address that problem because it is a problem. Fewer people over the years have said that they’re going back because they can’t.
It makes it so difficult when you get in such a large space. You’re hitting up against the limit. You’re starting to hit up against the limit that Apple puts on, which is 3,000 episodes. You hit that limit where you have to look at spinoff volumes anyway. You might as well figure this out. It’s time to figure it out.
It’s a fun challenge. I love a good challenge.
This is an interesting thing. I love the idea of the app because of the search. I talk about this all the time, whether it’s on our companion show, Feed Your Brand or here. The search algorithm within the podcast apps, Apple, Spotify, Castbox and all of them is not good enough. You’ve built these keywords into it so it makes it more searchable for your show. That’s a brilliant reason to subscribe to your app. Are you seeing a significant shift over from general listens that are happening on a show and then, all of a sudden, listens that are happening on your app? Are you starting to see high growth there?
In the beginning, it was more of a way to get the app going. We still mention it. It’s still in our intro, “To get the transcripts live right in the app and keywords, go to the app.” In the beginning, it was a way to get automatic authenticity, reviews and credibility right away. I was asked this by someone. They said, “Do you try to move your podcast listeners to your app?” I said no. I’ve changed my mind about this. I respect the listener a little bit more in the sense that if they found me in a podcast listening app like Apple Podcasts, they’re podcast listeners.
You can’t change someone to become an app user at that point. You can do it around the margins but if you’re an app user, you’re an app user. If you’re a podcast listener, you’re a podcast listener. That is fine. We monetize both sides. We monetize the app. We have a subscription program, which contributes to a portion of our revenue. It’s great. We’re launching the other thing we’re working on which is Apple Podcasts subscriptions. We’re going to be adding little quizzes that come after each episode and experiment there. I’ve changed my answer to that over the years.
That’s an interesting model. I’ll be curious for you to come back and report how it’s doing because we haven’t seen too many premium podcasts work. In your system, it might work because if I’m listening to your show as English as a Second Language, I need to know that I’m improving. I’m curious about that. That might be an ideal reason for me to subscribe.
It’s not going to make the podcast premium. All the episodes are still going to be available on the main show as well as these new feeds I’ve been talking about but there will be extra audio inserted in the feed every day, which will say, “Quiz for Episode 285.” It’s optional. They will see it. They don’t have to join and use it but it’s there for them. It’s an extra five minutes after listening, which is respecting our listeners’ time. They don’t have an extra half hour to give every day but they have an extra five minutes.
Normally, I don’t recommend to people that they number their episodes. It’s old school. When you and I both started our shows, a common thing to do was to put the numbers at the beginning but you’re using them within your show and your app. You’re using them as a search and a function. From that standpoint, you have to keep those numbers in.
We need it. By now, we would be a little bit lost. Listeners will send us a question, “I listened to Episode 285 about this. Tell me the other answer to this other question.” We need it with this number of episodes. There would be no way to find the episode.
How do you keep your team organized with all the episode numbers and the cheat sheet on it? Are they using the app themselves?
We have a big document. It’s a simple spreadsheet. We don’t use any of those productivity tools yet. I’ve tried them. Every January, I say, “It’s going to be Trello, this and that.” It’s too hard. There are spreadsheets and Google Sheets. We have one big Google Sheet. It has the date and episode number. Where are the files? Is this on YouTube or not? If it’s on video, it would be on YouTube.
There’s a title. We call it our WIIFM, which is our What’s in It for Me? It’s our little blurb of twenty seconds, which says why you should listen and what you’re going to get. That’s another important thing. It has everything that they need to know. Everyone collaborates on that sheet even the app people or the people that work on the app for me. They collaborate there too.
This is also interesting. You have blogs for all your episodes. Those blogs are not transcript-style blogs as we do at Podetize but they’re summaries. They do a little more of a summary but they’re written in a much more conversational prose style although they’re written in the third person. It doesn’t say, “I went to New York City.” It says that Lindsay went to New York City. It says it like that in the third person but that’s interesting. You spaced them out and made it simpler because a transcript overall unless I’m looking for the exact words and trying to study this, might be overwhelming to your audience. That’s an interesting choice to be making for the way that you style your blogs.
We do both. We used to do every episode on a blog. Now, it’s 2 out of 4. It’s 2 a week or sometimes 3 if I have a guest and I want to make sure I cover the guest as well as the extra 2 ones. It’s 2 to 3 a week. We also do publish and sell our transcripts separately. We keep them somewhat as two separate opportunities for our listeners.
How do transcript sales do?
They do okay. They’re probably 5% to 7% of our revenue. It’s not a huge deal. I’m always looking to the future. I’m always thinking, “How can I stay ahead of the curve and technology?” I know that within the next three years, I’m going to have to shut those down as a product because probably many of the listener apps will provide that at some point.
We know that they’re already transcribing for the search of shows. That’s where they’re headed. I know that so I’ve already built new ideas into the business model. I’m launching new things to compensate for that. It was a larger percentage of our revenue before. It has gone down because we have launched more things or are doing more variety of things. It does okay. It’s a subscription product, which is nice to have.
This is just my gut. Maybe you want to try it on 100 episodes or something and see what happens for you. My gut says that if you took the transcripts from 100 episodes, the keywords matter to you but the sales of them because they’re not as current isn’t going to be as big a deal. They’re older but they’re core keywords for your website if you put them into their blogs following the TheBingeFactor.com model. Go and steal liberally from how we style it. Go ahead and do that. You will find that the website traffic and the organic keyword for you will grow by the thousands quickly.
That might be the best long-term value. I saw a Google for Creators report that says that YouTube has twenty days of search relevancy long-term but a blog is a year plus. I suspect you and I both know that podcasts can be three years plus. If we take that podcast and then make blog relevancy, we have gotten a lot more search and capability happening. Our website is growing in authority because of that.
At the end of the day, that’s probably what’s going to be your next bet because it’s great that the search apps are going to do this and the listening apps are going to have a better search capability but they’re only doing it because their search is so bad. They’re not doing it as a favor to us the podcasters or the listeners. They’re doing it because their search algorithm stinks and they need to improve it. That’s the only way to do it.
I love that. That’s a great idea. That’s something that I’ve thought about in the past. It has been on lists at some point but maybe I should bump it up to the top of the list.
Try twenty episodes from what would be a month’s worth pretty much for you. Do that and then see month-over-month, “Am I seeing traffic growth? Is this organic keyword growth?” Typically, what we see is within 50 episodes or a year’s worth of what would be most people’s content because they’re not producing as much as you, they see thousands of keywords added to their website growth.
That’s a value to you because I didn’t know you existed and I wish I did because I need training for my team. Now that I know you’re there, I’m sending them all to your new business podcast. It’s going to have 100 people listening to it right away. I can guarantee that. I’ll make it mandatory. There are a bunch of things like that if I knew about you. Normally, the only way we do that is to search. We will go out there and say, “I’m looking for a course in business English.” If you showed up everywhere, there’s more value.
That’s a good point. It’s still so much. It’s hard to get found in podcasting but in reality, there are only about 400,000 active shows that we need to worry about in terms of competition. It’s not 4 million that people are saying but on the web, there probably are 50 million websites that address your topic. It’s a different place.
It’s crazy numbers. I do this search and double-check it every so often to make sure it’s up. I do LA wedding planners. If you go to the directory for LA wedding planners, there are something like 20,000 of them. There are a lot of them but there are 23 million Google mentions of LA wedding planners. That’s too much for anybody to sort through. How do you rise to the top? It’s harder.
It’s a good point. I’m going to look into it. The key as a business owner is how we decide we’re going to try this, set up the measurement, set up the SOP, have our team get started and then put it on systems until we come back and see if it did it work. We’re making sure that we’re on top of setting up those systems.
If there’s anything that I can do to help you with the system, let us know. That’s why I said, “Look at the way we do it on The Binge Factor,” because we dialed it in for us and our clients. We know exactly how it should look and what works best with Google. If you follow our model, that SOP is already there for you. I love that you’re talking SOP.
For those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s Standard Operating Procedure. It means that you don’t get systems, processes and how to inform a team to get them to do things in a repeatable way. Lindsay knows how to do this. I want to ask you this. What does your team involve? How much involvement do you have in the process? Where does this drop off? How does the system of podcasting work for you, especially when you’re doing 4 to 5 a week?
Are you asking about podcasting in general where I hang out or the entire business?
It’s just podcasting for you but how does that translate into the rest of the team supporting you on the business side?
I’m more involved in the business than I probably should be this many years in. If I go on vacation, the systems will repeat themselves every week but the important things won’t happen necessarily. Things won’t move forward. In terms of podcast creation and publication, the only thing I do on that side is mostly being on the mic, luckily. My cohost, whether it’s Aubrey, Michelle, Jessica or a guest will generally show up with a plan.
If it’s a guest, I have a formula for them. We go through it and they fill in the blank. My cohost comes with the information and the plan. We record together and chunk it up. It’s usually 2 to 3 hours of recording. We get multiple done. That’s a key. We don’t sit down, do fifteen minutes of recording and then come back the next day. There’s no way.
I record titles and WIIFMs and then send them to our editor. He edits. Someone else schedules it. Someone transcribes. Someone else edits those transcriptions and chooses keywords that are going to be tappable in the app, which is a feature. Someone else puts those in Amazon AWS. The app takes care of itself. The only thing I touch on the podcast production level is sometimes ideas. I’ll get good ideas, send them to the team and record them for the most part.
You’re living in that moment of what you love most about podcasting, which is making it more sustainable for you. If you were transcribing and doing all of that, you would be like, “I’m done.”
We have never done that. I would never attempt to do transcribing myself. There’s no way. It sounds painful but I have a great transcriptionist. She loves it so I love her. I would also never attempt to do editing on my own. We have never done our editing except for maybe Episodes 1 and 2. I have a great audio editor. He’s in the Philippines as well. He’s fantastic. He has been with me for eight years. Hopefully, he will be with me for eight more. These are things that we should never try to do on our own.
Let’s talk sponsors. You’ve taken sponsors on the show. How is it working for you? Is it of enough value for you to have sponsors on your show?
We had our first sponsor. It’s funny. We went into sponsorship in the beginning and then came back out. Now, we’re going back in again. In 2014, we took on our first sponsor. Our first sponsor was a language tutoring marketplace that’s still out there. We got it going as a company and helped grow it from the start. It is doing quite well. We worked with them for three years straight. For whatever reason, I decided, “This is our podcast. We’re going to launch our courses and build out our education company.” We did that. That was when online courses were somewhat new.
In 2021 and 2022, the online course world is getting super crowded, to be honest, especially in my space. Post-pandemic, all these brick and mortar schools have gone online. Individual creators have come online and decided that they’re English teachers, which is fine. That’s cool. They’re creating courses. More power to them. This is capitalism. We can do it. It’s great but we have to find our new path again. Where we shine is our numbers or the size of our podcast. When I attended Podcast Movement in 2021, I had more conversations with people. They said, “What are you doing? Why are you not monetizing your show more? Your show is huge.”
7 to 8 million a month is high compared to most.
I knew it was big but I didn’t think about how it compared to the current typical podcasts. I started talking with different sponsors. Since then, we have gone heavily into how can we work with programmatic ads, host-read ads and direct sales ads in relationships I’ve built as well as custom-sponsored interviews, which we will do sometimes too. We’re doing it all. That does open up more scale in the company for sure. I’m sure that this is the direction we should go in for that reason and the fact that we enjoy it but we’re not going to leave the education course model behind either. We’re still going to have it there. It might be 50/50, 40/60 or something like that.
I’m so glad that’s working out for you. I’m about to do three things. We will talk about some other monetization features that you might be thinking about but first, I want to hit on your binge factor because I’m here to psychoanalyze your show and decide why it is so bingeable. Here’s the thing. Binge listeners love to find a show that has a large number of episodes because they know whatever questions they have are going to be answered.
By having 2,000 episodes, you won the authority game before they ever even explored another option. That is why All Ears English is so bingeable. It’s because you earned the right to get them to click, subscribe and listen to as many episodes as they can or skip around and get where they’re going. Your challenge is navigating them but for the rest of it, you earned that authority level.
It is incredibly hard for someone to come in and be able to play at that level. They can’t create enough content fast enough to compete with you there. That’s why it’s so amazing that you’ve stuck with this as long as you have because so many don’t. They don’t realize the compounding effect of that authority. Your 7 to 8 million listeners are earned because of this commitment and care you’ve shown to the growth of your listeners.
It’s so true. Thanks for saying that. It’s the same thing if you invest $1 in the stock market when you’re twelve years old. You could do that every day. You would probably be a bajillionaire by the time you’re 85. The quality has to stay high. You have to stay ahead of the curve. We invested in these new Shure mics. We were using the ATR2100. The quality was good enough but I see that there are entire production studios. There are Hollywood production studios for podcasts.
Podcasting has changed since you started in 2013. The competition level has gone up.
You have to keep sticking to your core and making sure that you understand. It’s just you and your audience. You understand why your audience loves you. There are more people like that out there who are going to love it in the same way. Have a minimum or good quality audio. Don’t go crazy around the perfect studio and the perfect this and that. Listeners can’t tell the difference. I don’t think they can.
They cannot. Here’s the thing. Even if you record at that level, the listening apps downgrade the audio to the point at which it wouldn’t be there anyway. It’s not necessary. Does it improve things? Great audio does make great shows but it’s not a necessity unless you’re competing against those other shows at that level.
What I would do is spend time building relationships. In the beginning, in the first 100 episodes, 30 or 35 of them were guest episodes where we invited guests on our show or people who are already established in our market. We got to know them. Many of them are still my friends. I’m always reaching out, getting to know people and going on their shows. They will come to mine. It’s a friendly world. You have to build those relationships. Spend your time doing that, not making your audio perfect. We can hide behind perfect technology and audio.
I gave a lecture and said, “Good mics don’t make a good podcast. It’s not the thing.” I stole it from a Billy Beane Moneyball podcast. I called it Moneyball podcasting but I still like where they say, “Good bats don’t make goods.” It doesn’t matter what mic you have at the end of the day. It still does produce.
They will give you a lot of leeway there.
Let’s talk about three things. You have tons of listeners but you didn’t always. What’s the key to that listener growth? How do you get more listener growth and engagement?
Podcasting is still a word-of-mouth thing. It goes back to human psychology. Why do people make a recommendation? They know it’s going to make them look good because they have discovered something cool, fun and different. It says about them to their friend, “I found a new way to learn English. It’s cool. I’m not doing it the old way. I’m not doing it with textbooks, classrooms and stiff teachers. I’m doing it with these ladies from New York, Colorado and Boston. Check it out.” Word of mouth is the first thing.Podcasting is still a word-of-mouth thing. It goes back to human psychology. Why do people make a recommendation? They know it's going to make them look good because they have discovered something cool, fun, and different. Click To Tweet
Right there as you’re saying that, I can hear someone going, “Such-and-such gets a bad rap.” I was talking about this before. Their friend will go, “What does that mean? Where did you learn that?” They’re having the same struggle with their English as a Second Language. They will be like, “I learned it from this great podcast. Would you like me to share it with you?” You could see that referral happening in action. You’re so right about that. That’s important. We touched on something before that I do want you to reiterate here because we talked about it before the episode. The key to your success and listener growth is your consistency.
This is the part that’s not sexy. It’s probably not what people want to hear but it is the truth. I could talk all day about other strategies, guesting, promo swabs and buying ads on other shows. Maybe another day we will talk about that but consistency is the first thing. First of all, launching with multiple episodes already in your feed is a known thing because it goes back to the same thing you said. When I find a new show, I’m very disappointed or I’m leaving and not subscribing if there are not at least 5 to 10 episodes in the queue because I like it. I want to hear more. I’m not going to subscribe if there’s one episode in the queue. I don’t know how good you are. I don’t know anything about this show.
You don’t know if they will stick around.
You’re already starting your consistency game and the breadth of your content well before you launch. You’re launching with several episodes and then setting up a system so that you sit down once every two weeks, not every day. Can you break up your show to make it a little shorter and publish more often? That’s something we did. Initially, we did 2 episodes a week 30 minutes each.
At some point, we had a conversation and said, “Could we break this down and make it shorter? We don’t think people need 30 minutes a day of English. We think they need 12 to 15 minimum.” That’s what we did. We broke it up. We’ve got 4 episodes instead of 2. It’s a huge choice from the beginning. You’re putting that volume of content into Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The algorithm picks up on it.
The algorithm picks up on it. Somebody subscribes and then listens to a ton of episodes. They have all these choices that they can binge on, which boosts their numbers every single time somebody new finds them. That’s the key to the compounding success we were talking about before.
It feeds on itself. I hire my cohost and my team. They work for me. There’s a benefit to that. I’m not at the whim of a cohost who might be a co-owner who was like, “I’m more interested in this.” I’m not at the whim of that. When I hired my team, I said, “We publish four days a week. It’s non-negotiable.” They get that. When they’re about to go on vacation, they know that a month before, they have to tell me. We are already working ahead. My cohost Michelle has been on maternity leave since March 2022. We finished recording for October 2022 episodes in March 2022. We don’t mess around. They know that’s non-negotiable. They love it too so it works.
That’s such great advice. Thank you for that. Let’s talk about your guests because I’m sure over time, it has changed. In your first 100 episodes, you were looking to build relationships in the marketplace and also looking for that authority boost of somebody else who had a bigger name than you in the industry so that you could have an association. What are you looking for? What has changed over time? Do you vet your guests in a special way?
It’s interesting. I’ve had some flops around people that have come on that I thought were more well-known in the mainstream media space and the world or people who have been on Amazon series or little things. I’m like, “They know this person. They have worked with this famous person on TV.” I thought those would blow up and they haven’t. It’s more honestly the other ESL podcasters have done well. My listeners already knew. They know that we’re friends. We know each other. We’re all one happy family of podcast listeners and creators. It’s that kind of thing within ESL. It’s funny what does well and what doesn’t do as well as you think it will.
I lecture on this a lot. Sometimes you get these celebrities. I call it the John Travolta Effect because it has to do with an interview I did with John Travolta. Sometimes you get these celebrities. Their publicists push them so much on you. You think, “This is going to go so well because this publicist wants this so bad. They’re going to do a good job of promoting the episode.” It flops and doesn’t work out for you. It’s because of how their system works and who promotes what. Their job is to get the placements, not to promote them afterward. It’s too segmented in how that happens at a celebrity level but the communities work better. When you have a match community, it works better.
You stay within your own. Even if they don’t promote it, that’s okay. I know they’re busy. People are busy. If you’re making a TV series for Netflix, you don’t have time to promote my podcast. It’s cool. It’s not about that for me. It’s more about the number of hits on the YouTube video. How does that episode do itself? It does about the same or slightly down from one where the normal cohosts are on the show. You have to know your audience and what they want when they go back to All Ears English every day. Are they looking for Lindsay and Michelle? Are they looking for a new famous TV star every other week? They’re looking for their friends whom they know.
It is hard in your particular area. They have gotten used to how you speak and how you do it. If you bring somebody new into that mix, it’s almost harder to listen. They have to work harder at it. That’s not always a good thing.
At the same time, I’m going to have someone on who used to be a Blue Man in Blue Man Group. He was a clown at one point with cool and interesting takes on things. I’m looking for very unique perspectives and interesting things you’ve done in life where you can add a lot of extra value to my listeners.
I love that. That sounds like a lot of fun. We talked about monetization in terms of sponsorship and other things but what are you thinking about? You’ve done a lot of tests. You’ve done the transcription sales and course sales. What out of all of that group of things has worked best for you? Where are you going to go next?
It’s hard to say. I need to do all of these things. I would never steer my business in a direction where we’re 99% reliant on one revenue stream. Who knows? Maybe we’re going into a recession. We know that advertising spending pulls back. That’s the first thing that will pull back in a recession. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I would never say that but the scale is on the media side of things and advertising. As we grow our numbers more, there are more listeners for advertisers to be on the show. That is where the opportunity is for us.
It’s so interesting because it’s flipped for 90% of the podcasters that I talk to because they don’t have your numbers. When you don’t have their numbers, they think that it’s going to be that advertising media model. It will never work out for them because they don’t have those numbers, to begin with. There are so few of you with these numbers. There are more advertisers than there is inventory. That’s what they call it in the media industry. There’s not enough inventory for all the advertisers that want to advertise. You’re at that sweet spot where others are so far behind. That model isn’t going to work for them. They need to do all those other things you’ve tried first until they build that up.
That’s viable. In certain markets, a high-end coaching program works. In our market, there is a slice of our listener base that would go for a high-end coaching program but not the majority. The majority don’t necessarily want to spend $300 on an online course or not $1,500 for a one-on-one. It’s not what we do in our market. It makes more sense for us but for a lot of your listeners, if they have a business coaching program, that could work.
You are looking at segmenting your show because you’ve got to figure out this new navigation system as you get too close to the Apple limit. You’re looking at that and going to be doing some more business English-style courses and programs. You’re going to do more episodes and series on that. Is there a reason? Do you see that segment of your marketplace growing?
For sure. We built the course in business English in July 2020. It did well. I’m still not sure if it did so well because everyone was at home and doing business online because of the pandemic but it’s a solid course where we interviewed native-speaking professionals from the US or around the world who could offer their thoughts on business. It’s not just us saying what to do in business.
We’re going to go deeper into this space. We define our audience as global professionals looking to improve their communication skills for work and life. It’s global professionals either moving to the US or the UK from Japan, Singapore or wherever or doing business with, let’s say, the New York Office. If you live in Tokyo, you have to get on that conference call with your boss or your coworkers in English once a week. It’s stressful. That’s the person we want to help.
I honestly think it’s only growing because so many of us have remote teams. That means that we have hired in such a diverse way. I don’t think you’re going to find a decline in that. We’re realizing an absolute necessity to make sure that our communication levels come up to what we expect as a corporation as a whole. We don’t always have internal training anymore.
The stakes are high when it comes to doing business in English. People are willing to invest. We want to feel good in our careers. We want to feel like we are achieving our dreams. English cannot be the barrier to that.The stakes are high when it comes to doing business in English. People are willing to invest. We want to feel good in our careers. We want to feel like we are achieving our dreams. English cannot be the barrier to that. Click To Tweet
We hope we all get to that conversational level. I appreciate what you are bringing into this world with All Ears English Podcast. This was a winner way back when and now you have championed this whole segment in the podcasting market. Congratulations, Lindsay.
Thank you so much, Tracy. It has been a pleasure chatting with you. I hope that your audience feels motivated after. There is a way to make this work. I love it.
I love it when we talk to podcasters who are building their business, growing it and turning it into a business, which is the path that we heard here from Lindsay about how courses, programs and all kinds of things have developed out of the podcast itself and how it supports this community that she has built who has been taking her courses and who have been a part of all of this program but it’s not just that. She also is a model for so many things that she’s doing right.
She has multiple cohosts. She’s paying them. They’re a part of her business and a part of the core of what’s happening. It’s a part of their job, which is to help to make the podcast more professional, consistent and constant. It’s doing all of those wonderful things. She’s making money from the show and a tremendous amount of flowthrough from the effect of what’s happening from creating it to monetizing it and developing this business as she goes along.
I’m so glad we could hear that but she’s got challenges like all of you. She’s got some bigger challenges when she got over 1,800 episodes. She’s talking through some of those things, “What am I going to do next? How am I going to arrange that?” These are things that all of you might be struggling with at some point in your journey of podcast business building. I’m so glad we could bring her on and have these conversations.
I’m happy to report that not only did I hire Lindsay’s company to provide some support for our customer service team but it has been tremendously successful for them. If you are working at all with any VA or virtual assistant or any other assistants or customer service teams in other parts of the world, I encourage you to reach out to Lindsay and start to work on your communication skills with your team as well. Thanks, everyone, for reading. I’ll be back next time with another great podcast host.
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