Michael Stelzner on Building a Blogging Business Through Interviewing Others
In today’s lesson, I want to talk about how to build a business around creating content that is based upon interviewing other people.
To help me do that, I have invited my friend Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner and Social Media Marketing World onto the show because he’s someone who I’ve seen build an amazing business relatively quickly in the social media space. In the early days of that business, he did it simply by interviewing others.
I first met Mike at a blogging and social media conference, in 2009, where he interviewed me and quite a few other speakers at that conference.
In 2009, Mike was brand new to the scene. I’d never met or heard of him. As we discover in the interview that follows, he had little to no experience in social media at that point. However, within a year or so his blog – Social Media Examiner – was one of the go-to blogs on the topic, and today his event ‘Social Media Marketing World’ is one of the go to events on the planet. He’s built an incredibly successful business around Social Media.
Listen to this podcast above in the player or here on iTunes.
In this interview, we take a step back in time to 2009, and I ask Mike about that first conference. I ask him:
- Why he took the approach he did,
- How he got so many influencers and speakers to agree to be interviewed by him as an unknown and the benefits of doing those interviews.
- We then talk about Mike’s tips for preparing to interview influencers
- How to conduct yourself during the interviews
- And what he does after the interview to grow the relationship further
- We talk about some of the new ways of doing interviews today. Mike did most of them in person face to face in the early days but today with podcasting, live video and other technologies there are some amazing opportunities.
- He gives some tips on choosing which medium to use
- How to monetize this type of content
- And shares some tools that can be really useful – particularly if you’re looking to do live video
This interview sparked numerous ideas for me, as we spoke, and I’m confident whether you’re just starting out or are a more experienced blogger that you’ll come away with some great ideas and practical takeaways too!
Further Resources on How to Build a Blogging Business Through Interviewing Others
Darren: Hi there! It’s Darren from ProBlogger here. Welcome to episode 172 of the ProBlogger podcast.
My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com – which is a blog, a podcast, an event, a job board, and a series of eBooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start a blog, to grow that blog and the audience reading that blog, and to create amazing content to change the lives of your readers, and at the same time, to build a sustainable, profitable blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at ProBlogger.com.
In today’s lesson, I wanna talk about how to build a business around creating content on your blog or on your podcast or video channel that is based upon interviewing other people. To help me do this, I’ve invited my friend Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner onto this show today because he’s someone, who I have seen build an amazing business relatively quickly in the social media space. In the early days of that business, he did it simply by interviewing other people. In fact, this is how I first met Mike – at a blogging conference. It was a blogging and social media conference back in 2009, where he interviewed me and quite a few of the other speakers at that conference.
Back in 2009, Mike was brand new to social media. I’d never really heard of him before and certainly not met him before, and as we discovered in his interview, Mike had relatively little social media experience at that conference. However, within a year or so, he’d started his blog Social Media Examiner, and it was one of the go-to blogs on the topic. He was relatively inexperienced on his topic, but he built this blog by interviewing other people and by learning from them. He talks a lot about that in this particular interview.
Today, he has one of the most-read blogs on social media, and he runs Social Media Marketing World, which is one of the go-to events on the planet on the topic of social media. And it all started by interviewing other people.
In this particular interview, it goes for about 50 minutes. I ask Mike a range of questions, but we do step back in time to 2009, and I’ll ask him about that first conference, that first meeting. In fact, that’s my first question, “How did we meet?” from his recollection. We talk a little bit about why he took the approach he did by interviewing other people, how he got so many influencers and speakers at that conference to agree to be interviewed by him, even though none of us really knew who he was. He talks also about some of the benefits of doing those interviews.
Then we talk about the interviews themselves – how to prepare for interviews. So if you want to interview people, whether that be on your blog, on a podcast, or video, or live video – how to prepare for that, how to conduct yourself during the interview, and then what to do after the interview. There’s really practical tips there on the before, during, and after. Then lastly, we talk a little bit about doing interviews today, because back in 2009, Mike actually hired a video person to come with him to a conference. He did all of these interviews face to face. But today with so many new mediums in front of us and at our fingertips, Mike talks a little bit about how to choose which medium to choose, whether you do it on podcasts, live video, or some other technology. He gives us some tips on choosing the medium, but also monetizing this type of content. Then lastly, he shares some great tools, which I found really fascinating on how to conduct these interviews, particularly if you’re wanting to do live video.
This interview has sparked numerous ideas for me, and I am sure in 2017, you are going to see some of the things that Mike talked about me actually using some of these things. I’m confident you will get a lot out of this interview, so without further ado, I wanna hand over to myself to conduct this interview. I did record it a few days ago now. If you want to check out the tools that Mike mentions, you can head over to ProBlogger.com/podcast/172, where you can listen, see a full transcript, and find further reading as well. Check out the interview, and I’ll be back at the end just to wrap things up.
One more thing before the interview starts – I forgot to mention – is that Mike Stelzner does run an amazing conference called Social Media Marketing World, which is one of the few conferences that I go to every year in the US. I actually travel across the world to go to this conference and will be speaking at the conference for the third year this year, doing a track keynote on The Future of Blogging and The Place of Blogging in The Crazy World That We Live In.
If you’d like to head to that conference, I do link to it in today’s shownotes at ProBlogger.com/podcast/172. If you do act fast, you’ll get some amazing discounts. They have some amazing savings going on for that conference at the moment. Check that out over in the shownotes today at ProBlogger.com/podcast/172. Okay, into the interview. Mike, do you remember the first time we ever met?
Mike: The first time that I remember is us sitting in an Italian restaurant, I think, at a table with a bunch of us, and I think that you were sitting across the table from me. My guess is that might have been the first time we met. I don’t know. Does that seem accurate.
Darren: I think it was. I think it was an event that one of your team had organized, and I remember sitting at this table. There was Amy Porterfield. There was Chris Garrett. There was like five or six other people who all…
Mike: Lewis House.
Darren: I was surrounded by people that I knew online, and you were the only person at the table I’d never met before, yet you were hosting this thing. I remember thinking, “How did he do this? How did he get all these influencers – these people who are kinda like rockstars at the conference that I was attending all together in the one place?” I immediately realized that you were someone who was really good at getting on the radar of influencers.
So I wanna talk today about how to get on the radar of influencers, and I think you’ve kinda made your career on those relationships but also interviewing those types of people. That’s kind of where I want to head today. Is that okay?
Mike: Yeah, that sounds awesome.
Darren: Cool. I think that conference might have been Blog World Expo?
Mike: Yeah, it was. It would have been 2009.
Darren: That’s right. One of the other things I remember about that conference is that one of your team had emailed me before the conference and asked if you could interview me on the floor at the conference that year. I remember seeing you do that with numerous other – doing interviews like that with other people as well. That’s kind of my first memory of you. I wonder if we could kind of start there, and if I could ask you, what was the strategy behind those interviews at that conference? Cause that kind of was how you got on the radar of a lot of people.
Mike: To give you a little of backstory, I had only started Social Media Examiner about 10 days earlier than that conference, so I was brand new. I had built a small network of influential people, which included Mari Smith, Jason Falls, Denise Wakeman, and Chris Garrett. I called them my fire starters. They were a small crew of people that I had built relationships almost over a year.
Jason Falls helped me get a speaking gig at that conference. Denise Wakeman introduced me to Mari Smith. I’m sure that all or most of them were sitting around that table at that particular moment.
Amy Porterfield was somebody who surprisingly back then was very unknown in the world of social media. She had just stopped working for Tony Robbins, and I had met her because I did some work for Tony Robbins and she was my “handler.” You know how like CIA agents – they have handlers. She was my handler for Tony Robbins, and there’s a reason you need a handler when you’re working with Tony because he’s quite an interesting character. But nonetheless, I persuaded Amy to come work part-time for me, while she was going off on her own.
One of the things that Amy did for Tony was to help him basically prepare. Whenever he was going anywhere, she would put together these sheets that would allow him to be more prepared when he was sitting down to do interviews. She said that she could do that for me. So I started thinking to myself, “This would be awesome. All these speakers are going to be at Blog World, and I am this new thing. I don’t know anything about social media, so why not hire a camera guy and have Amy help me prep these little cheat cards, which are these little cardboards that had the face of the person, the name of the person, a short bio, and a series of questions that we had collaboratively come up with?”
Amy was the person that probably reached out to you and said, “Mike Stelzner would like to interview you.” That was kinda what led us to the event itself, and you can take the story wherever you wanna go from there.
Darren: I remember getting an email from Amy and Jason Falls about it, maybe because I didn’t respond to the first email, which was something that I have a bad habit of doing. Yeah, I remember, I had heard of Amy at that time and obviously knew Jason, and it really got my attention. Why were you doing the interviews? What was your hope and your goal with doing the interviews at that time?
Mike: Well, there’s a couple of thoughts. First of all, I needed to create content for this brand new blog that I had launched. My thought was that I could generate maybe 10-20 interviews from that conference and basically distribute that content over time, which is exactly what I did. I interviewed you, and I interviewed Scott Monty and Chris Brogan – people who had no clue who I was.
I also hired a camera guy to come with me, so I had a professional rig. I was dressed up in a tie, and everybody else was in t-shirts and jeans. I was walking around with a nice-looking microphone with my brand all around it, so I was kind of basically branding myself, walking around kind of like a fool, not aware of what I was doing. But the idea was to impress these people, who I knew were influencers, to leverage the skill that I have, which is the ability to interview, and to create something that hopefully would impress them enough that they would share it.
Surprisingly enough, even to this day, Scott Monty has one of those interviews up on his website – that I did of him at one of those Blog Worlds back in the day. Chris Brogan told me many years later – we’re now good friends, as you and I are – that “It impressed the heck out of me,” because it was just something no one was doing back then. If anything, there was a few people walking around doing video interviews, but they were very unprofessional.
Darren: I remember seeing you for the first time before you interviewed me, doing someone else. I remember thinking, “Wow, he’s gone to some effort.” I don’t know whether you had a background behind you or whether you were just roaming around, but just by the fact that you had a real camera, not just a flip video or an iPhone-type camera – you’d gone to that extra effort. What impact did it have? Your hope was to create some content, to get on the radar of some of the people you’re interviewing. What impact did it have? Cause obviously you’ve continued to build your business around this type of strategy.
Mike: I was seeing what Gary Vaynerchuk was doing back then with Wine Library TV. I don’t know if you remember, but he would get behind the camera and he would be talking about wine. He would have a guest with him.
I actually reached out to him, and I said, “Hey! Who did that cool intro?” He introduced me to the guy that did the intro, so I had a very professional intro done with a firefly flying through the forest and stuff.
The impact was huge. What it did was all of a sudden added validity to Social Media Examiner because people who visited Social Media Examiner saw faces of people that they already knew. When they saw that there were professionally done short 10-minute videos of interviews of these people that they knew and they respected, it kind of added validity to what we were doing as we were starting Social Media Examiner.
It was a really, really, really big deal because I knew that if some of these people that I interviewed would be impressed, maybe they would agree to do an interview again. Maybe, just maybe, someday they would be willing to come speak at these online conferences that I was doing, which was really one of the ultimate objectives that I was trying to achieve because I knew that – I previously was a thought leader in a totally different industry. I know what it’s like to have people constantly knocking at your door and asking for things, so my whole philosophy all along, Darren, was to give and to give and to give and to give and to give – to give so much that my ask was very small compared to what I’d given and knowing that not all the seeds would bear fruit.
These interviews were really my gift, if you will, to these people. All I really needed was a couple of them to develop into longer term relationships, and I knew that could be very strategic to the growth of my business. One of those obviously was you.
Darren: It’s the type of thing that opens the doors in ways that you don’t expect really. I know, the first time I interviewed Seth Godin on the blog, it was just a text-type interview. That opened the door to me interviewing other people. It’s sort of that social proof credibility for both your readers, but also other influencers, so it kinda begins this ripple effect that flows on and on through the years ahead.
Mike: Absolutely, I was trying to create a movement with Social Media Examiner, and part of the way you created movement is to get the major movers and shakers involved in the movement. That was my way of doing it because they were already at the conference. They were already agreeing to speak, which means they were already wanting their message to spread.
The good news is I could figure out what they were talking about and I could hang around after they were done speaking and grab someone like Frank Eliason, who used to work for Comcast – grabbed him on the way out. Then that’s the kind of stuff that I knew that I could do and I hadn’t seen other people doing it, although people had done it for me previously so I just kinda made it a key part of the strategy to grow Social Media Examiner.
Darren: Yeah. One of the things I found really interesting just a moment ago is you said you didn’t really know much about social media at the time.
Mike: I knew nothing.
Darren: You knew nothing, yet you’d started a site on social media. Was part of the strategy to learn from these influencers as well? Did you throw in a question that you wanted to know the answers to?
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, in the beginning, I was asking everybody about Twitter. I was asking the same questions of everyone because everyone was a rookie back then. Nobody knew what the heck they were doing back then. Yeah, that was a key part of it.
The whole premise of growing Social Media Examiner, Darren, was to bring the experts to the audience that I was trying to build at Social Media Examiner. Some chose to write for Social Media Examiner, for example – like Chris Garrett. Others chose to be on camera. By having that knowledge available for free and not selling anything, I was essentially doing something very novel at that time, which was most consultants were not sharing this kind of knowledge for free. Instead they were saying, “Hire me, and then I’ll tell you.” That was radical at that time, and that’s part of the reason Social Media Examiner grew extremely fast.
Darren: I love it because I get emails from people all the time, asking, “I don’t know anyone. I don’t know enough. I don’t feel like I’m an expert enough,” but you’re a great example of someone who – really your blog was – as someone who was naïve and asking those questions that everyone else asks in some ways and that possibly made you even better as a blogger because you knew what people needed or wanted to know.
Darren: Love it. The next question that I get asked all the time is, “I’m new to this. No one knows me. I’ve got no credibility. How do I get in front of these influencers?” You obviously have already alluded to the fact that you built relationships with other people who could help you open those doors. Any other tips that you’d give people starting out?
Mike: I think the key thing is to know what people want and when they want it. What I mean by that is the influencers. Whenever an influencer has a book, like Seth Godin – whenever he has a book, he’s more than willing to consider being on your “show” or being interviewed because at that moment, he wants publicity for his book. If you are following certain influencers, and you know they’re about to launch a product or they’re about to launch a book, it’s an incredible opportunity to reach out to them and offer them the opportunity to get exactly what they want.
Hopefully you have something, and you can leverage a little something that you have and say, “Look, I think that this is something that might benefit you.” That’s the thing most people get wrong – is they say, “I would love you to be on my show” instead of saying, “Hey, I think I can help you promote your book. Let me know if you’re interested.” What a difference that makes, doesn’t it?
Darren: Yeah, for sure. Start with what’s in it for them.
Mike: What’s in it for them.
Darren: Yeah, totally.
Mike: Exactly. Just acknowledge that there are ebbs and flows of when these experts are available and when they’re not available. Generally speaking, when they’re in launch mode, they’re very open, but if it’s after launch mode (it’s completed), they often retreat and need to recover because they’ve just overdone it. Now they gotta work on the rest of their business. Be okay with the fact that a lot of them are just gonna say, “No, thank you. I’m not interested.” Or some of them might want to wait until you build it up a little bit before they give you their time because they’ve got such a limited amount of time.
Another thing you can do is instead of going for the “A-listers,” why not go for the people that are on the rise? I think this is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to get on the radar of influencers, which is to develop relationships with who is going to be the next Darren Rowse, who’s going to be the next Seth Godin. Those are the people that would be much more likely to say yes, because those are the people that desperately want to become something more, and they know that those opportunities come as a result of wide publicity, which often comes through some sort of an interview.
Darren: Those on the rise are more willing to sometimes – they’re looking to grow their reach and their audience and exposure, so they’re kind of in that mode, where there’s something in it for them, even if your reach isn’t massive. One of the challenges I found when you do follow that strategy of finding someone who’s about to launch something is that they tend to be everywhere and saying the same thing everywhere. How do you create content that helps them to achieve their goal of launching their thing, but also is a little bit different to what everyone else is doing?
Mike: Now we’re getting to the secret sauce stuff here, Darren. I think that this is where you can really differentiate yourself by knowing who it is you’re trying to reach or who you already have as an audience that you’re trying to reach. Most experts get asked the same questions over and over again, and when you ask new questions, that’s when it’s exciting.
For example, what I do on my podcast is I typically have a 30-minute pre-conference with the person before I get them on my show. Now you’re not gonna be able to do that if you are going after a super high profile person who doesn’t know who you are because the time is super valuable. But what I often do during that pre-show is I talk through, “Hey, what are you super excited about? What questions are you wishing people would ask you but no one’s asking you?”
Then I think about my audience. In my particular case, they are social media marketers, so I’m going to ask questions specifically about social media marketing. I might get somebody on my show, like Michael Hyatt, who I had on my show, and I’m going to talk about specifically how he used social to promote his book, where on everybody else’s show, he’s talking about the substance of the book, I’m talking about how he used social to promote the book. I’m kinda unveiling a side of the story that no one has heard before. That’s one key thing.
The other thing is – understand that just because someone is showing up on lots of other people’s “shows” doesn’t mean that everybody who listens to your show actually is familiar with that person, because I think a lot of us, who are marketers or who are thought leaders in our various niche, get in this little echo chamber and we assume falsely that just because person x has been on everybody else’s show, that that person has no value for being on my show. I think that maybe true, and it just depends, like if that person can bring something super magical to your show, you gotta remember that the shelf life of an interview can be sometimes years.
You cannot get caught up in the fact that they might be on a promotional blitz. But I have said no to very high-profile people, who have been on a promotional blitz. The reason I did that is because I could tell that they were not going to give me the time that I needed to prepare what I would consider an excellent quality interview, and that’s why I passed.
Darren: Speaking of preparation, any other tips in getting ready for that interview? Do you go in with a set list of questions that you ask or are you flying off the cuff a little bit in the interview?
Mike: When I prepare for asking someone to be on my show, sometimes I just randomly reach out and say, “Hey, how are you doing? I’d love to catch up.” In my particular case, because I have a pretty popular show, most of them are more than willing to do that because they might be thinking I’m going to ask them to be part of something that I’m doing. But if I’m more precise, I might send an email and say, “Hey! I would love to talk to you about the possibility of being on my show. I’ve got some ideas, but I wanna talk it out with you.”
Then what will happen is: we’ll get on the phone and we’ll start spit-firing some ideas. I just had a conversation this morning with someone who’s going to be on my show, and I said to him right out of the gate, “Look. My show is about how-to detailed tactics. I’m really concerned that we’re not going to be able to find something that’s going to work, and we need to acknowledge by the time this pre-interview is done, this might not work out,” and we’re both on the same page. Then we were able to find that one little thing that we decided to focus on. What’s cool is it was a negotiated thing. The output is going to be something that’s excellent because I really care about quality.
Oftentimes I will send my guest – actually, every single time, I’ll send them the questions I plan on asking. Some don’t want it. Some of the very high profile people would prefer not to have it, but I love having it myself when I’m a guest because I want to be prepared. Just like you sent me some ideas ahead of time, so I can be prepared, just cause I know that I know my stuff, but I would love to dig around a little bit and think about it a little bit before I show up on the show. I always send my questions ahead of time.
Before I go live, I tell my guest, “Hey, look. I like to go down rabbit trails. Are you okay, where if you say something that I might wanna dig a little deeper – are you okay with that?” That gives me permission to dig deeper, and then I also say, “By the way, I might take us off the rabbit trail if we’ve gone too far down. Are you okay with that as well?” because I told them, in not so many words, “Let me lead. If you let me lead as the interviewer then we’ll have a great show.”
I also tell some of my guests that are newer to being on shows – I say, “Look, please do not write out your responses. As a matter of fact, trust that you know your stuff well enough that you do not need to look at your notes” because there’s nothing worse than a guest who basically wants to get through their five points and has taken control of your show. You don’t want that at all.
Darren: That’s right. That’s where I actually find sometimes people who are in the midst of a launch – they have their talking points, and it’s really hard to get them past those talking points. These are the five things that I wanna communicate in this interview. One of the things I’ve used a couple of times in that is to let them get their talking points out and then edit that out of the show, and then get into what I wanna talk about.
Mike: This is why I have a pre-discussion. It makes all the difference in the world cause I used to be like you, Darren. I would show up for the first time, and we’d talk for five or ten minutes, doing audio check and then hit record. The problem with that is that neither one of us are totally aligned as far as what we’re gonna talk about.
What I found happening was I would throw zingers that the other person had no idea how to answer, so when I started sending the questions in advance, I would say just before I went live, “Is there anything on there that you’re concerned about?”
They would say, “Yeah, actually. I’m not so keen on this question.”
I’d say, “Okay, we’ll just get rid of it.” Cause I want them to look good. I want them to sound good. I want them to feel relaxed because there’s nothing better than just kinda sitting as a fly on the wall with two really smart people talking about something that’s important.
Darren: I really appreciated your pre-interviews when I’ve done them with you for your show, because it does – what I find is as we’re talking in those pre-interviews, there are patches in that conversation that are dry and aren’t going anywhere. Then you kind of get on to a topic, and it just takes off and that energy that sparks, so you are able to really find the points of energy before you start recording the interview, which is great. Really appreciate it.
Mike: The key thing is to be a little – hold a magnifying glass and be a little inspector of your guest. If you sense that they’re struggling or that this is not a topic that they really wanna go on, then ask them, “Hey, is there something that you’re more passionate about, that you’re interested in talking about?”
Then when they say it, if it has a match with what your audience wants to talk about, then say, “That sounds awesome!” If it doesn’t, then say, “Well, my audience is really interested in this. Is there some sort of middle ground?” Because I’ve completely scrapped topics that we had agreed to talk about on my podcast and come up with better topics as a result of having this kind of open dialogues before we actually hit record.
Darren: That’s great. What about during the interview itself? Do you have any tips on how to conduct yourself during the interview? Any mistakes that you see people making?
Mike: Yeah. First of all, don’t drink carbonated soda like I did today. That’s a mistake. Some of you may have heard it. I’ve had to mute a couple of times here. During the interview, you really wanna be shutting down anything on your computer that could be popping up and distracting you, as either the person asking the questions and as the person on the other side, cause there’s nothing worse than some sort of alert popping up on the screen and all of a sudden taking the mojo out of the conversation. I suggest people put themselves on “Do Not Disturb” on Skype. I ask them to shut down any notifications typically that might interrupt the conversation.
I think you wanna just always be caught in the zen of the flow. You wanna be saying, “Okay, how far in? How much more further do we have to go? I know that I’ve got these other questions that I wanna go to.” You need to be okay with the fact that you may not get to some of the questions. You might need to skip over some of the questions, or you might need to take the conversation in an entirely different direction.
One of the things that I love doing is when I can tell I’m in a hotspot – we’re in the zone, you and me – I’m just gonna keep digging. I’m gonna say, “Forget the outline” because I know those are some of my best interviews, when we’re just unpacking something that is so intriguing and exciting. But those are just a couple of the tips that I can think of at the top of my head.
Darren: What about after the interview? You’ve got this piece of content. Obviously you publish it, but what happens next in terms of that relationship with the influencer? I’ve seen numerous times, you really build that relationship, and the interview’s almost like the opening of that relationship. What happens next?
Mike: Well, typically what happens after the interview is I let the guest know, “Hey, we’re going to be emailing you when this comes out. Thank you so much. Really appreciate everything that you’ve done.”
Often we record a good month before the actual podcast drops. Then what we do is we develop a really detailed show notes from the interview that’s often very impressive to our guests. We promote the heck out of it. We usually take the face of the guest, and we promote a bunch of images with their face on it all over all of our social channels to give them a lot of love.
Pretty much, the day the show comes out, somebody on my team emails and says, “Hey, thank you so much for appearing. The show is out.” We don’t ever ask them to do anything. We never ask them to share it, but we always do include a link that’s Bitly-shortened and a 140-character description of it, just in case they decide they wanna share it. But we never ask for that.
By the way, I should mention that the podcast is actually part of a much larger strategy, and these interviews are part of a much larger strategy of what we do at Social Media Examiner. If you want, I can go down that rabbit trail. Up to you.
Darren: Yeah, sure.
Mike: Anybody who’s ever been to any of our events like Social Media Marketing World might recognize that a lot of the speakers happen to have been guests on my podcast. I use the podcast as an opportunity to test someone to see whether or not they really know their stuff and how well the audience reacts to their content. We are watching things like social shares on the posts that come out, comments on social media, downloads on the actual podcast itself. This is all data that goes into a hopper that allows us to decide whether or not this is a topic that we ought to have someone speak on and have this particular person speak on. I would say that 90% of the guests that have been on my podcast have spoken at one of my events.
The other side of the coin is this gives my audience, which is rather large, an opportunity to first taste test someone like Darren Rowse and determine whether or not Darren Rowse is someone they wanna learn more from. Once they get to know you and all the other people that are on my show, and then they realize, they’re all going to be at Social Media Marketing World. It’s almost like programming or sample of what they’re going to experience if they come to the conference because nobody wants to go to an event where they don’t know anyone. It’s all part of a much larger strategy for us.
Some of those people that are the up-and-comers that are very new – people like Carlos Gil who is an emerging guy in the Snapchat world or Madalyn Sklar on Twitter – these are opportunities for us to test-run them as possible people that could train inside of our Social Media Marketing Society, which is our membership thing that we have at Social Media Examiner. It’s all interconnected, and even some of these people end up becoming correspondents on our live shows. The podcast is kinda like the root on which everything seems to grow, and it all comes out of the interviews.
Darren: Yeah. I love this. Your interview is building and pre-selling your show as well.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely.
Darren: When I see your show’s sales pages, I see all these familiar faces. I’ve heard them talk. I feel like I’ve been in a conversation with them that really helps to grow that product too. It’s very interconnected. You’ve just touched there on live video as well. Back in 2009, you were doing recorded video, but since then, so many different mediums have become available for bloggers including podcasting and live video on Facebook and Skype. How do you decide which is right for you? If you’re just starting out in this space, you want to start to do some interviews. Where would you be starting?
Mike: Here’s my thoughts on this. We do a weekly live show and a weekly podcast. I am a strong believer that podcasting is still kind of one of the last frontiers that seem to be unimpacted by algorithms. What I mean by that is – people listen to podcasts by subscribing to them via some sort of an app, like iTunes, or some sort of a reader app, kinda like RSS readers are for blogs. As a result, these podcasts get auto-magically downloaded to their mobile device, and it’s just there – ready and waiting for them to listen to.
The podcast is the only medium that you can multitask with – meaning, you can listen while you’re in the car, in the shower, at the gym, walking the dog. You cannot watch live video in any of those circumstances without putting yourself in peril. In addition, it’s a long form medium, so since bloggers understand the value of long-form content – most should understand that value – this is just another long-form content medium, where you can actually spend quite a bit of time.
I have a 45-minute weekly show, and I have literally tens of thousands of people that are listening to that every week. I can tell you that any one of my podcast episodes – my worst podcast episode is probably better than one of my best blog posts ever, as far as the number of people that are consuming it and the amount of time that they’re consuming it or the amount of time that they’re consuming it.
Live video is an entirely different ball of wax. It’s significantly more complicated, as I’m sure you know, Darren. You tried it, right? Haven’t you?
Darren: Yeah. For sure.
Mike: The challenge with that is that you not only are creating content on the fly, but you’re also engaging and interacting with people live on the fly. It requires a special character to be able to do that. That is an extremely hard thing to do. Just even recorded video is difficult, but live video, I would argue, is the most complicated production of content that there is, unless you’re just gonna go complete freeform and just say, “I’m gonna do a live Q&A. I don’t know what I’m gonna talk about,” which for some people is a challenge.
Darren: Yeah, for sure. I guess it really comes down to your personality and skill set on that front and your audience as well and whether they might be most comfortable listening and consuming content. Do you survey your audience about what they’re using?
Mike: Absolutely. Yes, every year we survey at least 5000 people to try to understand what media that we produce that they’re listening to, but also what mediums they’re thinking of using as marketers. Live video’s, for sure, one that lots of people are interested in learning more about. I think the magic excitement about live video is the fact that it’s kind of like the chance to have your own TV show, right? It’s the closest thing to television that you will ever have – the ability to have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people watching you live.
We have about 9000 people that watch us every week on our live show. That’s pretty exciting, but at the same time, we know that they’re not spending a lot of time watching us because this is – not everybody has enough time to sit down and watch an hour-long live video.
Darren: Yeah, for sure. They’ve really gotta give you their full attention and stop doing everything else to really consume it, whereas a podcast is much more personal. The thing I was thinking the other day about podcasting is that you and I are having a one-on-one conversation at the moment, but the fact that there are thousands of other people listening in at the moment. We’re having thousands of hours of conversations right now with people.
Mike: It’s pretty crazy, and the good news about podcasting is it’s like Netflix. People binge-listen, so when they discover your show, they go back and they download tons of back episodes. If you look at your statistics, I’m sure you know this to be true, Darren, right? You can go back, and there’s probably some people this month that went all the way back to the first episode and downloaded all of them.
Darren: They did. I just had a tweet from someone, who is setting up a shop at the moment, so they’re spending hours and hours setting up this shop. She said, “I just listened to 30 episodes of your shows.” She just spent 30 hours with me.
Mike: Would anybody ever do that with blog posts? Never. They never would do that. Would anybody ever watch 30 hours of video. It better be darn good. You better be like seriously entertaining.
Darren: That’s right. It’s no wonder people come up to you at a conference and talk to you in such personal ways, as a result of the podcast. I’m kind of getting the sense that podcasting is the way that you would suggest people really consider.
Mike: It’s still a greenfield opportunity. It is still very, very untapped, meaning there’s a lot less podcasters than there are bloggers and Youtubers, so I think it’s still a great opportunity.
Darren: Great. Most of our listeners are monetizing their blogs in different ways. We’ve got people monetizing with sponsored content. We got people monetizing with affiliate and selling their own products. They may be the three main camps. In terms of interviewing people, how have you monetized that content that you’ve created?
Mike: We’re pretty unique because we do not have advertisers on Social Media Examiner, and we don’t have sponsors on our shows. What makes us different is we are the sponsor of the show. I like to say we’re a product-based media company, meaning our product Social Media Marketing World is the exclusive sponsor of all the content that we produce.
The way that we monetize these interviews is that we mention at the top of the show, “This is brought to you by Social Media Marketing World.” Then strategically at certain points during the various shows, like in the live show between segments, we’ll do a plug – what they call a live read, where we’ll just talk about why you ought to consider coming to Social Media Marketing World. Then also in the podcast, we typically have a segment where I talk for about a minute, and I just, every week, give a different angle as to why someone might wanna consider it.
That’s essentially how we’re monetizing it. We’re essentially using it as a free media channel, instead of having to pay Google or somebody else or Facebook, and that has been very instrumental for us. As a matter of fact, last year – the year before – I asked for a show of hands at Social Media Marketing World, from people that listen to my podcast. Half the audience raised their hand. I said, “Look around, people. If that’s not a return on investment, I don’t know what is.”
I think you should never underestimate the impact of selling your own product with whatever show that you produce, but the one strong caveat is that in the particular case of podcast, it’s a very passive medium, meaning people are typically on the move or on to go while they’re consuming your podcast. They don’t have the ability like they would if they’re sitting at their laptop or at their desktop to click on a screen, so you really have to be a little aggressive or consistent at the end or at the beginning of the show, giving that call to action and giving some sort of incentive for someone to act because they generally have to pull over to the side of the road to actually participate in whatever action you want them to take.
It’s a really good branding opportunity. It’s a really good programming opportunity to kind of bang into the brain over and over again of your audience, the thing that you sell, but it is not as easy to get them to act.
Darren: That’s right, and we’ve found the same thing that it’s a bit of a slow burn. They subscribe, and it’s sometimes after 10 or so episodes that they take that action to subscribe to your newsletter or whatever it might be. For us, our strategy has really been about trying to get people to make a second reconnection with you so they subscribed on iTunes – that’s great, but I want them to be on our email list or to be on our Facebook group or on our Facebook page because that’s where they are much more likely to click and take action on the direction that we have.
Mike: Amy Porterfield does an excellent job. I interviewed her on how she did this on my podcast. She puts together really detailed offers for every one of her podcast episodes that are distinctly unique to the podcast episode. Then she tells people where to go to get the extra bonus for the episode that’s free, but you have to put your email address to do that. That’s, she said, the number one way she grows her email list is by putting all the work into creating a special bonus that goes further than the actual podcast episode itself. It’s a lot of work for her to do it, but for her, it’s been really instrumental to growing 100,000-plus email list.
Darren: Yeah, I’ve seen her do that. She interviewed me and asked me at that time, “Could I take a couple of your blog posts and put them into a PDF?” That was her bonus – was some repurposed content that I wrote, so very smart. Very smart indeed. I guess, some of what you’ve said there in terms of doing live reads in your shows could be adapted to if you are working with a brand or doing an affiliate promotion as well; you could be doing those live reads in the show.
Mike: Absolutely. I will tell you I’ve learned because I’ve been doing this for more than 4 years, and I’m very well entrenched with what works in the podcasting world – that a live read, where the host reads or talks about something outperforms the professionally recorded commercial every time. So when you have these commercials with the high-impact sound and stuff, people’s brains are programmed to just ignore those until they’re done. But if you just keep talking, people pay attention because they listen because they love the host. That’s what’s known as the live read, and those are significantly more effective than just playing a commercial that is provided or making a commercial with your voice in it that is obviously, distinctly different sounding than the rest of the show.
Darren: One of the other questions I’ve kinda been wondering about is – are you repurposing the content? Are you repurposing the interview in any different ways once you’ve got it?
Mike: It’s a great question, and honestly, that’s something we probably could do more with. The main thing we do is we do create a very detailed blog post out of it, and that goes into our standard editorial as just a blog post. In that regard, we have taken what most people do, which is just do the podcast and create a super detailed blog post out of it that could stand alone without the podcast, as an article. That’s the only repurposing that we do. We probably could do so much more, but I just know that we don’t.
Darren: There’s so much you can do. With that blog post, are you transcribing or are you rewriting the main points? What does that blog post look like?
Mike: We actually have someone on our team that listens to the entire interview and tries to make a blog post that – because my interviews are very how-to, so the blog posts essentially will go through the steps that I interviewed the expert on. We’ll find screenshots to supplement it whenever possible, and we’ll create an actual blog post out of it. Sometimes we’ll tease in there that there are some stuff that you’ll wanna listen to the interview to discover more about this, this, or this so that there is a little bit of “This isn’t everything, but this is enough to get you going.”
It’s funny because a lot of people say, “Great article,” and they don’t even realize it was a podcast interview, even though at the beginning and the end of the article is a clear play button. We found that some of those articles get picked up by Google and have a huge life of their own independent of the podcast.
Darren: Yeah. The reality is some people prefer to read than listen, and so you’re really catering for both learning styles. That’s a tension I know many podcasters face – is that people don’t want to listen because they’re just not auditory type of people.
Darren: Last question for you is around some tools that you might use for live video. I know you do live videos, where there’s more than one person on the screen at a time. Can you advise on how to do that?
Mike: Back in the olden day, there was this technology called Blab, which a lot of people probably heard about. They’ve gone out of business. We now love this new technology called Huzza.io. This allows us to have up to 6 video guests on the screen at once, and it allows us to do full screen screen-sharing. We do this every Friday on our live show called the Morning Social Media Marketing Talk Show, which is probably more like middle of the night in Australia. But it is a great tool.
What I love the most about it is it has one-click broadcast to Facebook function. This is really cool. With a click of a button, we can simulcast that to Facebook Live. That can push to a group or to a page or to a personal profile. We go simulcast on Facebook Live, and then we also go simulcast on Periscope. We use special technology called Wirecast to do that, which is by the guys that makes ScreenFlow for the Mac. I don’t know if you’ve heard of ScreenFlow.
Mike: But they made this thing called Wirecast, which allows you to basically take your screen and simulcast it to anything that has an open API. Periscope has something called Periscope Producer. We have our show simultaneously on Huzza, Facebook Live, and Periscope all at the same time. It’s awesome!
What we do when the whole show is done is we embed the show in our Saturday weekend review because every Saturday, we summarize all the news of the week. Then we take our live show commentary and embed it right there, so if people want to, while they’re reading all the news of the week, they can actually watch our hour-long commentary on what we think are the news items. People love it.
I’ve been thinking about making a podcast out of it, but I just haven’t gone there yet because we show so many things. I don’t know whether or not I want to – I don’t know if it will be the same if you weren’t watching what was happening on the screen, while we’re showing everybody.
Darren: Is Huzza a paid tool?
Mike: Yes. It starts at $15 a month. We have the $49-a-month, which allows us to get 150 people a month per show live – on the show.
Darren: Does that include everyone on Facebook, or that’s extra?
Mike: Facebook doesn’t cost any extra. It’s no additional cost to simulcast to Facebook.
Darren: Great. Excellent. We’re gonna be checking that one out. I can see possibilities with that – particular within groups. I think Groups is an area that we’ve been experimenting a lot with lately.
Mike: Yeah, if have a membership organization and you’ve got them in a group, you could simulcast right into that group. What’s cool is because it shares the screen, you could technically do a presentation directly into a Facebook group with this software.
Darren: Essentially doing webinars.
Darren: Yeah, and that’s a much more affordable solution than many of the webinar solutions around.
Mike: Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This is the same technology that Kickstarter uses. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Kickstarter announced recently something called Kickstarter Live. This underlying tech developed by these guys that did Huzza is the same one that Kickstarter uses and Patreon.
By the way, it also has Patreon integration into it, which might be really intriguing for a lot of people that have Patreon accounts. So you can actually encourage people to tip you using Patreon every time you go live or just one-off kind of stuff. You can also sell products directly using this technology. I don’t know exactly how that part works, but I do know that they’ve got full Patreon integration, which might be interesting for a lot of podcasters and bloggers that are using Patreon.
Darren: For sure. Wow! Thanks so much, Mike. You may have just given me the answer to a question I personally have there in that last one. I’d love to get you to share where our readers can find you, anything that you’ve got coming up that you want our readers to know about.
Mike: Yeah. Readers and listeners, a couple things – Social Media Marketing World – check it out. Darren, you’ll be speaking there, as far as I recall. I’m almost certain.
Darren: Yes. Definitely.
Mike: You’ll be one of more than 120 experts. We’ve got something brand new this year called the Creator Series, and we’ve got 40 sessions dedicated for creators – 10 of them for bloggers, 10 for podcasters, 10 for live video producers, and 10 for vloggers/Youtubers, who are creating shows on Youtube. It really is an incredible opportunity to come to this conference.
Beyond that, we focus heavily on everything you could ever wanna know about social media marketing, so check it out. Then also, if you listen to podcasts, my podcast is called Social Media Marketing, and I would love you to only add me if you are looking to add, not replace.
Darren: Excellent. Dates for Social Media Marketing World are the 22nd?
Mike: Yeah. March 22-24, 2017. We’ve got some pretty smokin deals going on in 2016, if you happen to be listening to this then.
Darren: Excellent. That’s in San Diego, and it’s a conference I’ve been to. This will be my third one, I think. For me, the content is amazing, but the people are just fantastic. It’s the place I go to meet up and coming people in this space and to hear some of those cutting edge things. I love your opening presentation every year, where you share the results of a survey that you do and the findings you do in social media. It’s really well worth…
Mike: Plus, we have an aircraft carrier. Who has parties on an aircraft carrier, right?
Darren: It is a great night, so if you are able to get to San Diego, get along to that, and I’d love to catch up with you there as well. Anywhere else that they can find you? You’ve got a Facebook page as well?
Mike: If you just go to SocialMediaExaminer.com, you will find everything. We’ve got all of our shows listed there. You can find all of our social links at the bottom of SocialMediaExaminer.com. You’ll find tons of free content. If you wanna just dig in on anything related to social media marketing, we have it all.
Darren: Excellent. We will link to all of that in today’s show notes as well. Thanks so much, Mike, for hanging out for the last almost hour with me. I look forward to chatting soon.
Mike: Thank you, Darren.
Darren: I hope you enjoyed that interview with Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner and Social Media Marketing World. As we did mention in the podcast, Social Media Marketing World is an amazing event. It’s one of two events that I’m traveling to in the US next year. It is happening on the 22nd to the 24th of March in San Diego, and if you act quick, you will get some special discounts, which are currently on offer. Just check out the shownotes at ProBlogger.com/podcast/172, and I’ll link to where you can get those special discounts at the moment.
Now, I’m an affiliate, but I’m also traveling around the world to be at this conference so I strongly believe it. It will be my third year, and this year I’m talking on the topic of the future of blogging and the role of a blog in today’s world, in this cluttered, noisy space that we live in, where there are so many other options that we can take in terms of building blogs and creating content.
Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed today’s interview, and if you know a blogger or marketer who might benefit from this show, I would highly appreciate it – really would – if you would share it with them, whether you share the shownotes at ProBlogger.com/podcast/172 or whether you tell them to search on iTunes for ProBlogger.
My goal is to help bloggers to create amazing blogs, which will make the world a better place and to build sustainable businesses around those blogs, and you sharing the news of this podcast and spreading the word about what I’m up to here will certainly help me to achieve those goals. Really would appreciate it if you would share it with anyone who you think might benefit from it.
Look forward to chatting with you in the coming week at episode 173, which will come out – I think it’s Christmas eve. Not sure what we’re doing in that one yet, but I look forward to chatting with you then and traveling into 2017 with you. Hope you’re doing well. Chat with you in a week’s time.
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