Some successful podcasters did not grow to become who they are by simply staying cocooned in their own show. For the most part, they had to go out and build a platform for themselves from other shows to get recognized. Proving this to be her case, host of The Prosperity Show, Joan Sotkin, shares her podcasting journey – from her broadcasting background to building her platform, and eventually bringing in people to her own show. She also takes us into the ways she network and build relationships and gives her insights on how podcasting has shifted over the past couple of years. She also touches on some of the best ways to book great guests, increase listeners, produce in a professional way, and encourage people to engage.
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The Prosperity Show: Building A Podcasting Platform With Joan Sotkin
I have got another great interview with a podcaster. I’ve got Joan Sotkin. She’s the host of The Prosperity Show podcast. She has been podcasting for quite some time. She started podcasting in 2005 with her first show. The Prosperity Show has been running and she has well-over 350 episodes. For many years, Joan has been guiding entrepreneurs and practitioners to resolve their longstanding money issues. She’s the Founder of the popular website, ProsperityPlace.com. Prosperity Show podcast is hosted there. She’s the author of the award-winning book, Build Your Money Muscles: Nine Simple Exercises for Improving Your Relationship with Money. Joan is very insightful and she understands the connection between money and emotions, how a family of origin experiences affect a person’s ability to succeed in business and financially. She has a holistic approach to combining brain science, health, nutrition and 40 years of personal and financial growth to help her clients develop healthy relationships with their money and themselves.
I met Joan through The Dames group out of Denver. There is a virtual platform on there so we get together. Joan is out of Santa Fe and I’m out of Orange County, California. The two of us connected right away on our mutual love of podcasting. I decided to invite her to talk to us about some of her experiences because she has a broadcasting background. She had a little bit more comfort zone than most people starting out with podcasting and that might be your experience too. I wanted to bring you different people to learn from and see which approach and which ideas might make your show amazing. Without further ado, I’d love to bring you Joan Sotkin.
Joan, thanks so much for joining me. I’m excited to talk about podcasting with you.
It’s a pleasure to be here.
You’ve been podcasting quite a while. What number of the episode are you at right now?
I’m up to 389. I did 88 of them on my podcast that ran from 2005 to 2007.
You were podcasting way longer than I have and I love that. Have you felt it got easier over the years?
It was never difficult for me. I’ve been in broadcasting for a long time. I was producing one of the original talk radio shows in the early ‘60s in Washington, DC. The show moved to LA. The guy didn’t like to interview the kookies, the UFOs and the psychics. That was fine for me, so he let me do the interviews. In order to do that, I had to lose my Brooklyn accent. I worked in TV, so I’ve been around microphones forever. It was the easiest thing for me. I figured out how to edit audio a long time ago. This was just sitting in front of a microphone and talking, which is perfectly natural for me.
What are some interesting things that happened when you started podcasting? What did you find the difference between broadcasting and podcasting? Did you find anything interesting that you were like, “This is so much easier, this is better?”
I accepted it for what it was. In the beginning, I didn’t do interviews. This was the beginning in 2005. There were not a lot of podcasts. There were a couple of people who were doing coaching. I did a session or two with someone to find out how to promote the thing. The promotion was something I had to learn more than the actual production of the podcast.
I’m glad you say that because many people skip the promotion part. They think, “I’m going to put it out there and that’s good enough.”
I’ve had my website since 1997. I’ve got a following. I’ve been around. If you searched for my name, I’m the only Joan Sotkin in the entire world. If you search for my name, you’ll see endless interviews and articles. I also had a bit of a platform from the very beginning because I’ve been around for a long time.
I’m glad you also said that because the platform is one of the greatest things that podcasting can grow for you if you didn’t start as early as you, if you didn’t have that depth already. It can give it to you quickly because you do many shows, you do interviews. It gives you a quicker way to build a platform.Business online has changed. You have to keep up with the trends and what people are doing in order to promote yourself. Click To Tweet
One of the ways I built my platform was going on other people’s podcasts. I came back from taking two years off from doing a lot of it. I had done over 150 interviews before those two years. I got a lot of my clients from that and people found my podcast because I was going on other people’s podcasts.
It’s such a great way because you already have listeners that are out there looking for new shows.
Now, I’m looking into networks. What networks can I be part of that will up my listenership? You have to start doing stuff like that. I’ve been online since 1995. The online world has changed so dramatically in that time and doing business online has changed. You have to keep up with the trends and what people are doing in order to promote themselves.
Thinking back to when you were starting out, what were some of the funny things that happened, the interesting first guests when you started out having guests on? What are some interesting stories about your adventures in podcasting?
Doing guests, which I didn’t do with the first podcast, now I do two interviews a month. For me, what I love is being able to talk to people who I like and admire, I wouldn’t meet on the street. How else could I meet them? I’ve made some wonderful friends through it and I don’t know that it’s funny. It is fun. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in my life. I’m going to do that podcast once a week no matter what. For many years, I’ve only done replays four times. I’m not into re-purposing the content. I’ve been interviewing people since the early ‘60s and writing show notes. When I was working on TV, I wasn’t interviewing people but it was a network TV show. I wrote the show notes. All of this is second hand to me. I just do it. I have this thing where I love speaking either on a microphone or in front of a group of people. I don’t understand getting scared when you’re talking to people.
I don’t either. You and I are the same that way. My five-year-old daughter says to me, “Mom, how do you do it? I don’t want to talk to anybody. I’m shy.” I said, “Vanessa, you are not shy. I know you. You can talk up a storm. That’s in your head. They’re just people.”
What I say is when I was born and the doctor slapped me, I did five minutes.
Joan, I knew what we were going to have fun when I first met you. We met at The Dames, which is a wonderful group out of Denver. It’s a virtual group because I’m not in Denver obviously. Have you found that sharing your podcast in those types of groups and reaching out to them has grown your show?
My thing is connection. I feel that there are three things we have to do; love yourself, let go and connect. The connect part is the most important. If connection is on the top of your mind, you’re going to reach out normally and you’re going to build the network. I believe in following my intuition. I get the urge to do something. It’s like I’m not in Denver either. I’m in Santa Fe. Through a round-about way, I met the woman who owns The Dames and knew that’s what I should do. Give me a tribe and I’ll show up and see if it’s the right one for me.
Let’s talk a little bit about your show, The Prosperity Show. I love the name. It’s pretty bingeable because it started with a couple of episodes to listen to your show and your style so I could prep for this call. Before I knew it, I had listened to six of them. What I love about your show is the way you approach your lesson episodes, the ones where you’re teaching something. They come from deep personal experience. You’re always sharing something very personal. You don’t say, “This is how you should do it.” You say things like, “I believe this and I’d like you to consider it.” I thought that’s such an interesting approach to the way that you share your show.
I think should is a dirty word. Should, ought and must, if you use those words, go wash your mouth out with soap. I’m the kind of person who’s like, “Don’t tell me what I should do. I’ve been a rebel since kindergarten.” I know if I don’t like it then other people don’t like it. With the solo episodes that I do twice a month, I don’t prepare anything in advance. I usually pick the topic about five minutes before I start talking and I sit in front of the mic and talk.
You can’t tell that because it feels like you have an outline. You know your content so well. You must have told these stories before that it feels so natural the way you flow from anything. It doesn’t feel like you sit back and you go, “What should I say next?” It doesn’t at all.There are three things people have to do - love yourself, let go, and connect. Click To Tweet
I’ve learned not to censor myself. There are times when I finish an episode and I’m feeling a little contracted and I say, “Should I do that over?” The voice inside says, “Absolutely not.” I’ve been looking for my new voice because I’ve been through some more personal development. I did two episodes and they felt too preachy to me. I didn’t use them because I want to be a person like you who goes through stuff. My theory is if it’s true for me, it’s true for at least 100 other people. I don’t think we do anything that’s just that. Each of us has a different combination of thoughts, beliefs and emotions. I know what the emotions are. To me, that’s my strong suit. I’m not afraid of anyone else’s emotions because I’ve done so much work with mine. That’s what I’m dealing with when I talk. I’m getting to that very authentic place. I let myself talk from there and figure I’m never going to run out of things to say because I never have.
I know people ask me that. I was like, “I don’t think I can run out of things to say either.”
I know that as a speaker you tell them what you’re going to tell them. You tell them and then you tell them what you told them. Even if you veer off the topic, as long as you come back to it by the end of the show, you’ve done your job. I have to remember what I’m supposed to be talking about. Whatever I say at the beginning of this show, I have to somehow get back to that.
A few of the episodes that I was listening to, you mentioned coming out of the woo-woo closet. I assume it happened sometime over episodes that I didn’t hear, but how did that feel for you? Sometimes getting so personal or sharing something like that feels intimidating for a lot of people.
It’s been a long process. What I was talking about were these energy tune-ups that I do. I had started doing them when I had a crystal business in the 1980s. It’s something I’ve been doing.
That doesn’t sound like you were in any woo-woo closet if you were out selling crystals in the ‘80s.
I had the first nationwide crystal business. I had a line of stones called Jones Stones that were in 600 stores. In those days, it was not proper to use the word spiritual in business, but I built this huge business that made a lot of money. I had credentials in business. When everybody else started selling crystals, I didn’t understand the whole competition thing. I also didn’t know how to manage cashflow. I got out of the business. When it came to doing the podcast, I’ve interviewed a lot of people who deal with quantum realities, people like Lynne McTaggart who wrote the book, The Field, a long time ago. I’ve been into metaphysics since the 1960s. That other dimension is very common for me, but it wasn’t popular. No one was talking about it. It’s like with the crystals, when I first started talking about it, everybody thought I was nuts. I have agreed to be nuts so I’ll go first.
When I started coaching heavy-duty business people, I didn’t want to seem weird. It’s like hiding the fact that I’m weird. I started talking to people like Shoshana French who’s in The Dames and she makes her living doing intuitive readings with business people. She was the one who gave me the term, the woo-closet. In 2017, I did a whole bunch of online energy adjustments where I’d have 25 people and I would do the hocus-pocus and everybody felt good afterward. I decided to start doing it again. I’m willing to be Joan Sotkin now, who’s weird but that’s okay, as long as you can laugh at yourself. Who’s ever running the show has a great sense of humor. My brother was a comedy writer so we told a lot of jokes in our house.
You have a basis for that. How has the podcast shifted? You talked about having a great platform already and a deep authority, but how has it shifted? How has it improved things? Has it made it easier for you?
What the podcast has done for me personally is given me a place to express myself. I’m not afraid of who’s listening. I don’t check my stats very often because I’m doing what I have the urge to do. The theme of the Bhagavad Gita is doing what you have to do without regard to the result. I have to talk. It’s like eating for me. If I don’t eat, I’m going to get sick. If I don’t talk, I’m going to get sick. I have to do it. The personal effects for me have been greater than anything else I can measure. I have a friend in England who was teaching how to do online courses and had a podcast. I was on his show and I worked with him about a few years ago. We still talk every two weeks. There’s someone in Nova Scotia and there’s a couple in the United States that I talk to on a regular basis. I live in Santa Fe, which is a pretty small town. There aren’t a whole lot of people who understand what I do.
Certainly, the podcasting, I’ve been doing this a long time. By doing the podcast, I get to meet people who satisfy me. I don’t go at it with the idea of, “I’m going to make some money doing the podcast.” I have other ways of making money and yet I do make money through the podcast because I get coaching clients. People get to know who I am and it’s been wonderful. I measure it by what it’s doing for me. I don’t count the dollars. I think that’s a waste of time. I don’t want to do a lot of commercials on my show. I’ve listened to shows where every ten minutes they do another commercial and that doesn’t interest me. I don’t like to listen to commercials. I don’t even watch as much regular TV anymore because I’d rather do Netflix or something that has no commercials.
I still get frustrated when they have more than 30 seconds in the beginning.When you're a podcaster or you’re an online entrepreneur, you need to connect to people. Click To Tweet
I try to keep it to that. I’d mention one of the events I’m doing or my coaching and I tell people how to get in touch with me. That’s enough.
I don’t think that’s a commercial. When you served as long as you have with as many episodes as you have, you earn the right to be able to say, “I’ve got this if you’re interested.” I find too often that there are many podcasters out there who wait too long to even mention them. People are like, “Where are you? Where can I find you? I want more.” You’re not putting that out there.
In the beginning, I always say that my site is ProsperityPlace.com and I hope you’ll drop by and download stuff. I tell them right away how they can find me. In the end, I tell them where the show notes are. I did an intro where I said, “If you want to talk to me, fill out the form at the website and I’ll talk to anyone.” Most people are afraid to call podcast hosts. They think they’re in some ivory tower or something. I’m just Joan Sotkin, sitting here with my dog.
We’re all sitting on the beach in Puerto Rico unwilling to take calls.
When you’re a podcaster or you’re an online entrepreneur, you need to connect to people. When I walk my dog, I go to places where there are other people. A necessary part of life is to connect to people. Call me, talk to me. I’m fine.
Let’s talk a little bit about some of the lessons that you could share because you said you took a little bit of a course from someone in the beginning, but you’ve learned a lot over time. You’ve gotten good at certain things. I have these five things that I go over with every podcaster and we start to see a lot of patterns emerging. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them. What have been some of the best ways you found to book great guests?
I lived this very strange life as I said. I figure whatever is supposed to happen is going to happen. I wait to see who shows up. I have all these PR people contacting me and every once in a while, I say yes and every once in a while I meet someone that I want to interview. I don’t stress about it. The other day I didn’t feel like doing a solo episode so I put two interviews together. There are no rules.
It doesn’t have to be a formula.
We make up the rules as we go along. They can be as long or as short as you want. I think a lot of people stress over what they’re doing and I don’t like to do shows too far in advance because what I’m interested in changes. If I do a show in January that’s going to air in March, I could be over that already.
I feel the same way. I’m impatient, especially my solo episodes. The interviews I get because of how I block them. I do a bunch at once. They are going to filter out over time. It’s the way it works. My solo episodes, I’m like, “I’m anxious for that one to get out there,” because I’m ready for people to have that information.
I did an interview. My team is used to the fact that if it airs on Friday, they’ll get the information by Thursday and get it together. I did an interview and it went out that Friday. I wanted to do a follow-up interview and comment on what the interview was about. I find it hard to plan a whole lot of stuff in advance.
You’ve talked about maybe joining some networks and other things. What are other ways that you’ve been thinking about or found to increase listeners?Money goes to people who love and take care of it. Just like people, the thing that money loves best is to be counted. Click To Tweet
In the beginning, I did that whole thing with news and newsworthy on Apple Podcasts. There are some very traditional marketing ways. I send out an email once a month to my list that lists the last four podcasts. I’m finding that does punch up the stats a bit.
They go and listen to them and they’re like, “I missed that.”
All we do is we put the title and the little blurb from the beginning of the show and people follow because not everybody on my mailing list is a podcast listener. I’m finding that reminding them of what I’m doing, and I’ve seen other podcasters do that a lot where they keep saying, “Here’s the latest episode.” I don’t want to do that too often because I don’t like to mail my list more than once a week. I don’t want you talking to me more than that. It’s getting it out there and for me, going on other people’s podcasts has been a very valuable way of increasing my listenership.
What about producing in a professional way? You say you have a team. What’s important to you?
First of all, I don’t want to do it all myself. I can do it all myself. I know how to edit audio, but I don’t want to do that. I have someone in the Philippines who has a degree in audio engineering. I go through the episode myself in order to write the show notes so I can edit out the stuff that I need to or if I have to start and stop. I know how to do basic editing, but she puts the front, back and does the normalizing and all the nice sound levels. She gets it all sounding wonderful. I have that person. I have another person who posts the show notes, the picture and everything and puts it on my site and gets it onto Libsyn or I will be putting it on your platform soon. It’s pretty simple. When I get into podcasting, there weren’t all these extra costs. It was pretty inexpensive. When I started using a booking agent, it was $200 a month for four interviews. Now they’re charging $700, $800 a month for four interviews. That’s ridiculous. Although some busy broadcasters are doing it, I wouldn’t pay that much because it’s ridiculous.
I agree, I have enough people reaching out to me. I’m not worried.You can't be attached to the results of your podcast. Do the podcast because you need to do a podcast, not because you need to make money. Click To Tweet
If there are no guests in a slot, I’ll do two solos. We’re not going to run out of things to say.
You say you have places for people to call you or talk to you, but how do you encourage them to engage with you?
I do a little blurb during the podcast. It’s funny, podcast listeners are not necessarily product buyers or joiners. When I was in the mail-order business, when I was selling crystals through the mail and I was sending out 50,000 catalogs at a time, this was before the internet. The rule was people who are mail-order buyers are not only mail-order buyers by the mailer. The internet is the mail-order business. If I want you to buy something from me, “Sign here, please. Don’t delay.” It’s all mail-order stuff. Not every podcast listener is a mail-order buyer or someone who wants coaching. You can’t be attached to the results of your podcast. Do the podcast because you need to do a podcast, not because you need to make money.
Not because you need that feedback and that engagement.
Say what you have to say because when I used to go to Co-Dependents Anonymous, I learned what you think of me is none of my business. That’s a good rule because I do this group and at the last group, there was a little stuff going on because someone felt she was being ignored. One person thought, “How I handled it was great.” Another person thought, “How I handled it was not great.” You can’t please everybody, so please yourself. When you do a podcast, don’t do it because you’re attached to the results. In the beginning, I looked at my stats almost every day. Now I hardly ever look at my stats because what difference does that make to me? I’m going to keep on doing what I want to do and I will look on occasion to see what the most popular episodes are and who’s getting attention on a regular basis. It gives me an idea, but the number doesn’t matter. In other words, when I say the most listened to podcast has X number of downloads, that’s just a fact. That’s what it is. I live my whole life that way. I don’t see things as good or bad. They are what they are and deal with it.
You talked about monetization. The lesson that I asked for is the best way to monetize it. You mentioned doing it within your core business. What are some of the things that have grown out of people have asked for that you decided to develop because of your podcast?Don't do podcasts for the money. Do it because you have to do it. Click To Tweet
Here are a couple of examples. I did well as a guest on real estate podcasts because I talk about money and I talk about your relationship with money. That gave me the idea that one of the places that I should market my coaching is to people in the financial industry, people who deal with money on a regular basis.
You said something on one of your shows that people who nurture money or love money make more of it.
Money goes to people who love and take care of it just like people. The thing that money loves best is to be counted.
When you said that, I was like, “That’s so odd. That is exactly my experience.”
Many people who want to make money say, “I don’t care about money,” then you’re not going to make any money. What I find is that by not obsessing or thinking a lot about how I’m going to earn money from the podcast, that works best for me because it allows whatever’s going to happen to organically grow rather than my trying to make it grow.
I like that, the best way to monetize is organically and letting that happen. There’s a lot of people out there saying, “I should start a podcast.” Should everyone and what’s your advice for those that are starting?
There are 750,000 people who have decided to do it. I understand the average length of stay of a podcast is ten episodes because you got to be committed to it. It’s not a cool thing to do for a couple of weeks. People are in a hurry these days. I’m old enough, I’m not in a hurry. What am I in a hurry, to get to the end? No, I’m going to slow down. I was thinking of doing a podcast on slow living, which is a whole lot healthier than push, push. You’re going to destroy your adrenal glands so you might as well slow down. You probably shouldn’t if you’re wondering if you should because this is my point of view.
I’ve got to talk or I’m going to get sick. If you don’t have to talk, don’t talk because you’re going to get tired of talking. I’ve been talking all of my life. It’s what I decided a long time ago, that I was going to make my living talking because that’s the thing that I do best. If you’re afraid of talking, if you don’t like doing interviews, do you know how to interview? I’ve been doing interviews since the 1960s. It’s the most natural thing for me to do. Learn how to do interviews. Listen to thousands or hundreds of interviews before you decide to do it because most people are boring. I have a thing about life, it’s don’t be boring. When I was working on Network TV, I was booking guests on. It was The Joey Bishop Show that was opposite Johnny Carson. If you could sing, dance and do impressions, you’ve got better bookings. Don’t be boring and don’t think you’re going to make a lot of money. Don’t do it for the money. Do it because you have to do it.
Joan, thank you so much for joining me. I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I’ve enjoyed your show, The Prosperity Show, don’t miss it. It’s got some brilliant insights into things that I didn’t think were associated with prosperity. You enlightened me and opened my eyes and my ears to some of the ideas.
This is stuff I’ve been living with for a long time and I’m so glad people are finally tuning into it.
Thank you so much, Joan. We appreciate it. We’ll be sure to make sure everyone knows how to reach you. You’ll be able to easily find out how to connect with Joan, how to find ProsperityPlace.com, how to get into her programs, get into her show and start listening.
- The Prosperity Show
- Build Your Money Muscles: Nine Simple Exercises for Improving Your Relationship with Money
- The Dames
- Joan Sotkin
- The Field
- Shoshana French
- Co-Dependents Anonymous
About Joan Sotkin
For over 30 years, Joan Sotkin has been guiding entrepreneurs and practitioners resolve long-standing money issues. She is the founder of the popular website www.ProsperityPlace.com, host of The Prosperity Show Podcast, and author of the award-winning book Build Your Money Muscles: Nine Simple Exercises for Improving Your Relationship with Money.
Joan is known for her insightful understanding of the connection between money and emotions and how family-of-origin experiences affect a person’s ability to succeed in business and financially. Her unique holistic approach combines brain science, health and nutrition, and over 40 years of personal and financial growth that allows her to help clients develop a healthy relationship with their money and themselves.