This is a follow up story for The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I’m Kurt Elster, host of The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. Five years ago, I made the decision to niche down and laser focus my web agency on helping Shopify merchants make more with their stores. I hitched my cart to the right horse.
Today, there are over one million Shopify merchants, my show has over one million downloads, and I’ve been lucky to stay busy championing entrepreneurship through my show. Since our last interview, we’ve raised our show’s sponsorship rates a bit and generated new ad inventory by selling placements on “bonus” episodes.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
In the last year, we’ve been able to continue our month over month growth of podcast listenership. That enabled us to increase our ad rates enough to increase podcast revenue to six-figures for the first time ever.
What people perceive as my prolific content marketing is really just a form of note-taking for myself. Anyone can do this!
We finally made the jump to video. That added considerable overhead to our workflow, production, and cost, but has been well worth it.
What’s interesting is that the podcasts don’t do particularly well on YouTube. Where video for podcasts excels though is on social media. We now have trailers and individual segments cut down from the full episode and used on social media to promote the show throughout the week in an engaging fashion.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
When you’re engaging in a personal brand medium like podcasting, you need to just be yourself. No matter what you do, given enough exposure, you will find that the same content will generate someone who loves it and someone who hates it.
The goal is to find the people who love it, and that’s why you need to be yourself. Trying to please everyone is an impossible goal. You have to have the courage to be disliked to scale content marketing.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
I was complacent about raising rates on the show because I was fearful. After raising rates this year and having all sponsors readily agree, I decided to raise rates annually by $50/episode. Maybe that’s conservative, maybe it should be $100. What’s important is that I’m giving myself permission to do it.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
One of the best books I’ve read isn’t necessarily a business book but it has helped me in my business.
Remember Adam Savage from MythBusters? He wrote a book called Every Tool is a Hammer. It’s a fantastic tribute to creativity and making things. As a creative entrepreneur, it fed my soul. (Plus I found his chapter on adhesives to be really practical for fixing things around the house.)
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I believe a few key things have helped grow our business.
- Working & learning in public. Every time I have an “ah-ha” moment in my business, I write about it. I post it to social media, I share it with my newsletter, or I discuss it on my podcast. What people perceive as my prolific content marketing is really just a form of note-taking for myself. Anyone can do this!
- Being an investment, not an expense. We’re B2B. We sell products, apps, and professional services to eCommerce merchants. We have always said that our top priority is providing a positive ROI to our clients with everything we do. That mentality is positioned as an investment, not an expense.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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