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Want 5 quick ways to improve as a podcast host or guest?

How One Expert Doubled Their Podcast Downloads And Cut Costs

How One Expert Doubled Their Podcast Downloads And Cut Costs

Table of Contents

How are you doing in podcasting as a guest, host, or both?

Do you ever feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle with your podcast? How about the feeling that you’re never gaining any substantial traction? If you’re not seeing the results you expected from your podcasting efforts, it’s time to make a change! In this episode, Chase Neely explains how you can break your podcast out of stagnation and into a position of thriving. Get ready to learn how to improve and reinvent your podcasting strategy to position for a huge response!

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Read the Blog Post: How One Expert Doubled Their Podcast Downloads And Cut Costs

I am so excited to talk to you today about growing your podcast. First, thanks for the investment you’re making in yourself. Incredibly, you adhere to one of our core values at Leverage Brands: always be learning.

I’m the co-founder of Leverage Brands, and I’ve been working with personal brands over the last five and a half years and really over the last 12 with my co-founder David to make sure that we are helping them reach as many people as possible online and along the way we’ve come up against some tough challenges in the podcast world, especially.

I want to share with you today how we doubled the downloads and cut software costs by 90% by applying this one mindset shift to the podcast group we were working with. And you can apply it in your podcast as well.

So, let’s dive right in. I want to tell you about myself. I’m a dad of two, and I don’t know if you are a parent, but one of the things that I have always noticed is that when my kids do anything. They get frustrated, and I get frustrated for a couple of reasons. One, they do everything super slow. Have you ever worked with toddlers to get them to buckle their seatbelt? Like my toddler, he just started to where he can buckle his seatbelt by himself. But he is the slowest in the whole world at buckling his seatbelt. It’s like it’s waiting for him while I’m at the end of my driveway, many cars passing by in either direction, and I’m just waiting for him to please buckle the seatbelt. I know that I could buckle it faster for him.

The Importance of Continuous Learning: Leveraging Core Values for Podcast Growth

I know that because I have experience buckling seat belts. In the same way as your podcast, I have some experience in fixing podcasts. I have some experience taking something that’s plateaued and helping it grow again. And I hope that with that experience, I can save you the pain of learning how to buckle your seat belt so that you can get back to creating that content because that’s what we do, right? As podcast creators, we create content over and over and over again. But if we’re not careful, what happens is we create content.

But we need to create results. We generate activity but don’t generate results because what worked for us in the past is no longer working for us. But we’re not taking that 30,000-foot view, looking down at the podcast and saying, what’s happening? What’s wrong? That may be why you’re here today. You’re finally ready to take that 30,000-foot view and say, what’s wrong with my podcast? If you are, you’re in the right place because Podcasts will help you. I hope to help you with what we have learned over the past 12 months. OK, let’s get right in.

So I read a lot. I mentioned already that one of our core values is always learning. I read all the time. And one of the things that I read was the founder of CD Baby. I read his book. And you read a book, and something sticks out to you, you’re like, oh my gosh, I have to remember that. And so I wrote it down. I have this piece of paper; I’ve written it down. And here’s what he said. Save years fighting uphill battles against locked doors. Improve or invent until you get a tremendous response. I’m going to read it one more time.

I want this to sink in. Save years fighting uphill battles against locked doors. Improve or invent until you get a tremendous response.

Activity vs. Results: Embracing Innovation to Break Through Plateaus

This is the activity without results that I was talking about before. And I’m from South Carolina. I will give you the Southern everyday version of this quote: If you force it, it doesn’t fit. Yeah, I said, it doesn’t.

You see, we want to create; we want that sense of accomplishment. So we do the activities that we know that we can do. We don’t push ourselves beyond that because it’s easy to do what we have already done in the past. And so that we don’t have to get the results. We don’t get the results we’re looking for because you will stagnate and plateau if you’re not testing, iterating, and improving. That’s what happens. And I’ve run across every aspect of the marketing business that we’ve run. But I specifically run against it with podcasts.

Identifying Stagnation: Recognizing When Your Podcast Hits a Plateau

And so let me tell you another story. I told you that previous story to tell you this one. In December, we were contracted with a company centered around a personal brand. And that personal brand has a podcast. The podcast was doing OK but stagnated at this 90,000 download mark, which is excellent. A lot of us would love to have 90,000 downloads per month. But they stagnated at that work. They were releasing a podcast every week. And they had tried everything that they knew.

The thing that they were trying at the moment that we came on board was to create sticky content that would go viral basically. And so they were bringing in some pop cultural references and other things, memeifying the podcast. And it didn’t work. It didn’t work because it wasn’t true to the brand and wasn’t why people had shown up in the first place. They were experiencing a dip into a plateau. And so we came alongside them and tried to convince them to revisit the podcast strategy.

Because they could have kept doing what they were doing and continued to get those results with a slight decline over time, and the podcast would have been OK. It would have continued to be a content source for them to discuss their thoughts. It would have continued to be a source of content for their audience that their audience enjoyed. But it was not reinventing itself or rethinking to continue growing and reaching new audiences. And that’s why we’re here, right?

Optimizing Software Costs: Streamlining Your Podcasting Expenses

We want to reach new audiences with the podcast. We want the podcast to be the tip of the spear that’s bringing people into our door for our offers for our lead magnets or whatever else we want the podcast to lead the way. And so, we rethought the strategy and thought of a way for the podcast to lead the way. The first thing we did was we looked at the software. They were using software that many of you are familiar with. It’s been around. It’s been a staple of the podcast industry for the past 15 years.

“We want to reach new audiences with the podcast. We want the podcast to be the tip of the spear that’s bringing people into our door for our offers for our lead magnets or whatever else we want the podcast to lead the way.” – Chase Neely

They were using that and paying extensively for it. They had a massive backlog of content. And so they were paying an unnecessary server price because the downloads they were getting from these server-side episodes weren’t nearly enough to justify the cost. So we first said, Hey, what if we rethought your software? I wish it were my idea, but it was the guy running the podcast. He had this idea when we came in, and we said, no, don’t just have the idea implemented.

Crafting a Testing Framework: Developing a Strategy for Podcast Growth

Let’s see what happens because our mindset is constantly testing and iterating. And so he did. He tested it. And what we saw was no significant drop-off in downloads. We saw the ability to add dynamic ads into the episode. We saw the ability to reduce the cost of the software by 90%. All of that was enough to say we made the right decision.

We worked with another author who has a great podcast, and he told us to make the decision and make it right. And so that’s what we did. We decided; then we looked to see if it would be the decision we needed to stick with. And it was. And so we made it right. We moved forward and no longer have to ask whether or not we should change the software. We just did. Just test it. Try it. That could be the open door that you’re looking for. That could be the enormous response that you’re looking for. And so that was enough to cut the podcast software expense by 90%. But we continued because we started digging into the data we were getting.

And we said, OK, you’re stagnating. How long are people watching your episodes? And we saw that people were making about halfway through the episode. And we said, OK, you’re making it about halfway through the episode, but you continue creating episodes twice as long as the engagement. Why? I said, well, really, for us, when we’re going into a recorded podcast episode, that’s about how long we get from the podcast episode so that we can generate the content so that we can fully flesh out our thoughts so that we can continue to move forward with content that’s helping us think through the things that we want to share with our audience and think through it thoroughly. That’s fine.

“. . . it would help if you continued to innovate, improve, and invent until you get a tremendous response.” – Chase Neely

The podcast serves you, and that’s ultimately an OK thing to do. I don’t want to skirt that at all. That’s completely fine to do. But it would help if you continued to innovate, improve, and invent until you get a tremendous response. And that’s what we had stopped doing. We generated the activity and expect the same activity to generate different results. So we looked at the time and again, we said, OK, they’re engaging with half the episode. What if we just cut the episode in half? Yeah, but that time is what it takes to thoroughly think through the idea we’re going through on the podcast. OK, that’s fine. What if we cut the episode in half and release it in parts one and two? And we did that every week. You’re recording the podcast every week?

Doubling Downloads: Case Study on Effective Podcast Growth Strategies

What if we cut it in half and release two episodes a week? And what happens when we release two episodes a week instead of one? You can probably guess. I hear you guessing right now. Through the screen and the recording, I hear you guessing downloads increased. Not only did they increase, they doubled in that first week. We doubled our downloads in the first week by simply looking at the data and making a different choice with the same activity so that we could improve or invent until we got a tremendous response. Doubling the downloads is a huge response. And that’s now what they do moving forward, and it’s a new best baseline to test from. And that’s the thing that I want to encourage you with.

“We doubled our downloads in the first week by simply looking at the data and making a different choice with the same activity so that we could improve or invent until we got a tremendous response. Doubling the downloads is a huge response.” – Chase Neely

OK, another book that we love to read, and you notice that we’re bringing many books into this because we love reading and learning. One of the books that we love is Atomic Habits. And we love it not because of a huge idea but because of a fundamental idea that James Clear does a great job explaining.

And that’s if you make incremental improvements each day, week, and month, you will have a compounding effect on the results you’re generating. Look at your podcast from a 30,000-foot view.

Understanding Audience Engagement: Leveraging Data to Enhance Your Podcast

Look at the data. Listen to the audience. What are they asking for? What are they telling you about their actions? List tests you will run over 30, 60, and 90 days. Give each test time, but improve and invent until you respond. The response may be as simple as cutting the episode in half and getting twice the downloads. That might work for you.

“Look at the data. Listen to the audience. What are they asking for? What are they telling you about their actions?” – Chase Neely

It might not. You have to look at the data. You can test it, but you will continue to test and iterate until you get that considerable response you’re looking for. It might not be your first best idea that gets that response. That’s OK. That doesn’t mean a test is not worthwhile. It means that you found a way not to do it. Think of medicine in a light bulb—thousands of ways you tried to make the light bulb impaled.

Listen, you’re going to fail. And that’s OK. Each failure is a step toward success. You fail when you give up, not when you fail initially. You fail when you stop trying to test and move forward. So test, iterate, test, iterate, iterate, and do these things repeatedly until you get that tremendous response that we’re looking for because I want to leave you where we started, OK? Save years fighting uphill battles against locked doors. That’s activity without results. Only waste years fighting uphill battles against locked doors or invent once you get a tremendous response. You can reduce your software costs and increase downloads. The only thing standing in your way of doing that is your ability to improve and invent. And that’s what I want you to do today.

“Listen, you’re going to fail. And that’s OK. Each failure is a step toward success. You fail when you give up, not when you fail initially. You fail when you stop trying to test and move forward.” – Chase Neely

Make that list of tests. That’s the action step from today’s call. Make a list of steps. Improve, improve, improve, measure, and then improve again. And if you do that systematically, over time, you will continue to see a compounding effect on the growth of your podcast. You can do it. Thank you for having me as part of PodTalks.

I look forward to seeing how you apply that advice and how your podcast continues to grow. We’ll talk soon.


About Chase Neely

Chase Neely is the Co-Founder and President of Leverage Brands. By trade and training, Chase is an intellectual property attorney who helps grammy award winning songwriters, producers, New York Times bestselling authors, and other creative professionals at the intersection between their business and their art. Leverage is the third company Chase founded. He started his own law firm in 2012. Then, in 2016, Chase founded Kirkwood Business Management, Inc., a tax strategy and preparation firm for creative professionals, which he sold in 2019.


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