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The Ins and Outs of Podcasting and Why it’s so Valuable for Entrepreneurs (Episode 132)

Ryan Estes is an American Buddhist entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Kitcaster, a podcast booking agency and co-founder of Wildcast, a SaaS advertising platform for podcasts. Ryan facilitates thousands of extraordinary conversations. 

Kitcaster currently serves 400+ clients and Wildcast is slated for a beta launch in Q3 2022. Ryan is an expert in leveraging podcasts for meaning and profitability.

Prior to Kitcaster, Ryan owned a media and marketing agency for 10 years. For eight of those years, he has hosted the founder’s podcast Talklaunch. Consistently ranked in the iTunes “Top 100” podcasts, he has recorded 300+ interviews with more than a quarter-million downloads.

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What you will learn

  • Ryan lets us in on his previous life as a music artist
  • Discover how Ryan applied Buddhism principles when developing Kitcaster
  • Find out what problem Kitcaster is trying to solve (and how they’re solving it)
  • Ryan shares a story about Kitcaster’s first clients
  • Thinking about podcasting? Discover what you should look for in a podcast host and guest
  • Ryan tells us about his new SaaS advertising platform for podcasters, Wildcast
  • Ryan shares his top 3 tips for entrepreneurs building a business in the digital world

Transcript

Jeff Bullas

00:00:02 - 00:01:27

Hi everyone, welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show. Today I have with me, Ryan Estes. Now, Ryan is an American Buddhist entrepreneur. I found that fascinating right off the bat when I read that and we're gonna talk more about that. He is the co-founder of Kitcaster, a podcast booking agency and he sent guests, a few guests to us already and the co-founder of Wildcast, a SaaS advertising platform for podcasts. Ryan facilitates thousands of extraordinary conversations and we're going to have one of those right here today. Kitcasters currently serves 400+ clients and Wildcast is slated for a beta launch in Quarter 3 2022.

Ryan is an expert leveraging podcast from meaning and profitability. So what we're gonna do today is we're gonna dive a little bit more into how to make your podcast sing and dance and also some of the x factors behind successful podcasters. Ryan's a passionate founder and prior to Kitcaster, he owned a media and marketing agency for 10 years. For eight of those years, he hosted the founder’s podcast Talklaunch. He consistently ranked in iTunes “Top 100” podcasts. He's recorded 300+ interviews, and hasn't done anything basically for 10 years except talk to people. I'm joking. And his interview has had more than a quarter million downloads and he's married with two kiddos in Denver, Colorado.

Welcome to the show, Ryan.

Ryan Estes

00:01:27 - 00:01:30

Jeff, I really appreciate it, I'm so happy to be here. Thank you.

Jeff Bullas

00:01:30 - 00:02:03

Now, if you hear Ryan's voice going, he could be a singer or he could be in a band or in the music industry. Now we're gonna go back a little bit to where Ryan's previous life was. I think it was a previous life a long time ago. So Ryan, tell us that you went and did music industry studies at the University of Denver Colorado. So let's go back to that before we leap into and discover what some of the inspiration in your life along the way and what got you into music studies at the university.

Ryan Estes

00:02:03 - 00:05:20

Yeah, you know, I wanted to be a rock star when I was a kid and I got to live that dream a little bit and minus the star part. So you know I looked at music curriculum and there was an audio engineering program and there was a music business studies program at CU Denver that was back when there was a music industry. And so I had a great time learning the logistics of contract negotiation, things like that with the intention of building my own record label which I did to self release three albums a couple of [inaudible] and performing recording artists. The fruition of my music career was I became the music director for a jazz flavored restaurant called Dazzle here in Denver. That basically I had the pleasure of turning into one of the world's best jazz clubs is rated by DownBeat magazine, this was many, many, many years ago. But it does play into how podcasting came into my life, you know, so I managed a jazz club for years, had a great time doing it. I continued to record and perform and kind of do the starving artist thing until I had two small children and you know, being a, you know, a rock star minus the star part is not necessarily the fulcrum of commerce, if you know what I mean. So I was getting side eyed from my wife and ended up kind of hanging my hat on the music business. So as a result of that, this might have been 2009, maybe 2008, and I took a square job and had this gigantic commute in my car and when I quit music I didn't just stop doing it, like I quit in a tantrum, I threw a fit, I put all my stuff away, I was done, I quit music, I quit listening to music, I was so over it and heartbroken, Jeff, it was terrible. So right about this time, I hear about podcasting. You know, I had an iPhone 2 and basically would download podcasts for my commute to my new job. And one thing I found about this podcast is that it was really hard, you know, quitting my identity in life as a musician, it was really hard having two young children and starting a new job, kind of, you know, maybe picking the shattered dreams off the floor as it were and moving on and what I really found is that podcasting was this thing that kind of held me for a minute and like gave me something to do with my attention, particularly in these car rides. So as a result of that, I was like, I grabbed my band buddies and was like, hey, let's do a podcast. They’re like, what's that? I was like, it's just like band practice minus the music, you know, the fun stuff, just sitting around talking trash to each other. So I started doing that and I never looked back, I started recording podcast from then on out.

Jeff Bullas

00:05:21 - 00:05:26

Cool, So you threw your toys out of the cut? Obviously on the music industry.

Ryan Estes

00:05:26 - 00:06:52

I did, it was terrible. You know, it culminated in this concert that we did. It was for the wounded warrior fund, which my family is a large marine family, a lot of marines in my family. And so I wanted to do something to give back and we had negotiated an 80/20 split with the door. Well, fast forward, we've sold out the night and it's four in the morning. I'm looking to get paid and they wanted to pay out of 20/80 split and I was like, oh no, no, no. I have an agreement that says 80/20 split and basically they just told me we don't care about the contract, we're paying you 20%. And so, you know, kind of embarrassed, but you know, I tossed a couple tables maybe threw a couple of beers, had to be drugged out of there and that was it. I was like, I'm done, I can't handle a bit, you know, a business that doesn't respect agreements. I was much younger and it was very dramatic, but it was terrible. You know, it was bad. I ended up, you know, funding the wounded warriors out of my own pocket because it was important that they got paid and we had a great wonderful night. It was just, it was very typical of the way I'd always been treated in the music business. That's if I was to teach a course now in music industry studies, I just lead with that story.

Jeff Bullas

00:06:52 - 00:06:55

In other words, just keep playing in your dungeon at home.

Ryan Estes

00:06:55 - 00:07:09

Yeah, exactly. Don't trust anybody. You know, it's just some cautionary horrible tale. No, I think it's probably better now, but clubbing musicians if you're out there and listening, I'm sure you can relate to those stories.

Jeff Bullas

00:07:10 - 00:07:40

So you've had an existential crisis, you've discovered podcasting. And so let's fast forward. So how did Kitcaster start? And one of the principles behind that, because you mentioned before we kicked off, was that you started using some of the principles of Buddhism as part of the inspiration for Kitcaster. Tell us about how Kitcaster started and the principles behind it.

Ryan Estes

00:07:41 - 00:10:49

Absolutely. So I’m the co-founder of Kitcaster and we're a podcast booking agency, which you explain to the top of the show. So really we work with entrepreneurs that want to go on other people's show, just like this one. So this came about basically as a result of my podcasting, I was introduced to a lot of people, which is one of the best things about podcasting is if you're a people person, it's a person magnet, it's great. One of those people was Brandy Whalen, who is our co founder at Kitcaster and it's just an extraordinary person and she and I always had a really easy rapport and just kind of clicked, you know, as colleagues, as friends and we're getting breakfast one morning and she's like Ryan, we should do a project together. And I was like, absolutely, let's do it, what should we do? We're kind of like, let's figure out something in podcasting because that's how we had met. So we kind of put a pilot program together for podcast booking agency and had some real success right out of the gate. So we're like, okay, well, hey, let's wrap a brand around this service and do it the right way. Well around this time too, and this is probably maybe four years ago, I've been doing some pretty intensive studies in Buddhism. I consider myself an American Buddhist, which I know for some folks that are not necessarily religiously disposed, any kind of mention of that is might be a little cringe which I'm respectful for, but also I've allowed myself maybe my own personal cringe to really kind of go into what what it means to be an American Buddhist. and what it means to me. So within my studies, there's a principle in buddhism which is called Right Livelihood, which is, there's a certain kind of do’s and don't, if you will, morality wise of how you would create a business. Some of these are very clear within the Buddhist structure, which is like you can't, you know, you can't buy and sell weapons, you can't buy and sell intoxicants. You know, certain things like that where it's like, oh that's pretty cut and dry. I don't think I'm gonna get into arms dealing anytime soon. But then there's some kind of more squishy areas like what does right livelihood, I mean, you know what does it mean to create a business in an ethically positive way for clients, for your staff, for you know in this case, for the podcasters that we work with. What does it mean to have the right livelihood in a largely digital media? Most of the work we do is on emails and then what is the brand in the business kind of imbibe in, if not a spiritual sense, in a moral ethical sense, you know, like what does it mean to have right livelihood and project that, because we want that kind of essence to attract the kind of clients we'd like to work with. So all those questions early on were really what shape the business and kind of what brought it to where it is now.

Jeff Bullas

00:10:50 - 00:11:45

So yeah, so for me, I almost see buddhism not as a religion, I said it was more a spiritual path journey. That's how I said, I certainly reading one, reading a book on the dow at the moment, in fact by Wayne Dyer. So it's certainly for me it's, I think it's, and I used to be extremely religious, I was brought up in a fundamentalist christian family, you know, very good health and family oriented, so it was healthy but I left that behind but that still have been on a spiritual path ever since, frankly. So it's interesting that you've used that as a guiding light, I suppose for what you're doing with Kitcaster.

So with Kitcaster, did you see that people were having trouble attracting guests? Was there a problem that you were trying to solve?

Ryan Estes

00:11:47 - 00:15:41

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think the problem I saw largely was with entrepreneurs. Okay, I'll just put it this way as an entrepreneur myself, I get so excited. I want to tell everybody about what I'm working on and now no one of my friends or family ever wants to hear what I have to say again. I just gave them vicious ear beatings. They're like, dude, what happened to the cookie SMS project? I'm like, oh, it's over. But I got a new thing now, you know, and they're like, please don't tell me about it. So if you're a creator, a creative person, you need feedback. But like you run out of runway pretty quick as far as like friends. Exactly. They were like, dude, I don't want to hear about this man and you're like, no, come on, please. I'm so excited. So that was really, I thought, that like creative people, entrepreneurs, businessmen, business women, they need an audience, they need a little bit of friction so they need something to play with in order to get their ideas, you know, fully validated. And so, you know, I really thought from the beginning like, hey, you know, podcasting is gonna scratch this itch for them, you know, and also there's like a wealth of wonderful podcast that are, you know, that see the equation of like, I'm gonna trade my audience and what I've built for your expertise and there's something beautiful in that because it's just generally a handshake, like, hey thanks so much, you know, I need someone to talk to and you need someone to listen. So let's get into this. And I, you know, from the buddhist perspective also, that felt very balanced and fair, there's some kind of like a, there's a synchronicity that was happening in there in a bit of a spiritual magic.

I'll pick up where you were talking about the buddhism and stuff a little bit too because I think you made an important differentiation and kind of talking to about it as like a spiritual path and not a religious one and it's interesting and I think this is kind of a component of the American Buddhist tradition because you know, I was taught very early on that like buddhism isn't something you believe, it's something you do, it's a practice that you're involved in. So the practice of buddhism is the central component to the American tradition, but in buddhist nations and you know, these countries that have had buddhism as essential pillar in their lives for 2500 years, only about 4 or 5% of those people have any kind of contemplative practice or meditation, you know, they have a 95% of people that are like, you know, lighting incense and praying to Buddha or two different pantheon of different spiritual images where it is much more religious and practice and I don't think there's particularly anything wrong with that at all. I think it's wonderful and there's different things for different folks, but also like, because we live in this information age, all of the monks came off the hills and they told all their secrets to folks like us, you know. So what's interesting is that there does seem to be a differentiation of buddhism as a religion, spiritual practice and also there's a large number of secular Buddhists where they're total atheists and yet they still claim to be buddhist. So, you know, I would never be disrespectful to people that do have the religiosity of it and there's a certain amount of that that resonates with me, but rather it's the actual practice that I think ultimately is what differentiates me from other kind of schisms of buddhism to kind of pull back a little bit.

Jeff Bullas

00:15:42 - 00:16:54

Yeah, it's fascinating. I had a very honest conversation with my father at the age of 27 when I left organized religion behind and what I remember the conversation I had with him and it was quite confronting because at the age of 27, I was still constrained by the way I've been brought up, but some crisis that happened in my life and what was interesting was I sort of felt that there was a much bigger world out there beyond the constraints of the rules and regulations that usually wrap most religions. And I remember the phrase I said to dad, I said the God I've discovered is much bigger than the god I grew up with and that's more a spiritual journey that's open to the world and to, I think, you know, almost what I call a super conscious, which is a word that's been used by Wayne Dyer in the past. But that was what I said to my dad, in that I just thought that the God that I've grown up with was just too small. So anyway, that was my aha moment and conversation where I've moved on.

Ryan Estes

00:16:54 - 00:19:57

Yeah, I had something very similar. You know, I'm also very grateful that I was raised in a christian tradition, largely because those archetypes are echoed through our culture and so many pervasive ways that it gives you a certain understanding of the cultural norms and myths that exist everywhere, particularly in art and literature and music and everything else. So I'm very grateful that for that, but also I found it similarly unacceptable in my world view for some kind of fundamental belief structure, which is also, I think really, what spoke to me about contemplative practices that, you know, if I have to learn some words and I have to learn how when you move your lips a certain way and it vibrates and it gets into my ears, I have to believe that some way seems like a lot of work, you know, it seems like that it's just like I could think about it, but then when I started having direct experience, another important differentiation about american buddhism is if we're honest about it, the origin of American Buddhism is rooted in the psychedelic movement in the 50s and 60s that people were taking acid and like having revelatory, non normative conscious experiences and needing to find some kind of ballast, needing to find some kind of map of the terrain that they had just found. And lo and behold they had a 2500 year old practice where they're like, oh no, we understand exactly what your experience was like, this is direct experience.

So it kind of knocked off the, you know, the alphabet systems of like, you know, divine scriptures. Yeah, where you're like, dude you got, I don't have to read anything if you take LSD at certain dosage, like you're gonna have, you know, a mystical experience. So particularly now one conversation, I'm really interested in having too with the buddhist community is that not only are we seeing a new renaissance in the psychedelic community but we're having the psychedelics mix with market based commerce and it's happening right now in Oregon. It's about to happen here in Denver, Colorado. We're basically not only are they decriminalizing and legalizing, but they're creating industries for people to have mystical experiences on demand in like care centers and retreat centers and they're going to be run by amateurs and you know, so there's kind of a dire need right now. I think for people to at least be open to some of these, like the literature that you're reading, you know, where it has a bit of stabilizing integral structure to what's gonna become like a lot of people blowing their minds on psychedelic drugs to totally take a random tangent there.

Jeff Bullas

00:19:58 - 00:21:14

And I sort of, you know, wrap that study to over the years, some sort of spiritual study, but not deep study and it's more an interest. And I meditate every day and I just find a way to basically calm the mind. So you can be much more in the now, especially in a noisy world in which you live in the digital world is just so noisy and crowded. You need to find some quiet amongst that noise because inspiration can't be heard. Small voices of inspiration can't be heard if there's so much noise and that's part of it is just, you know, quite pragmatic, but also spiritual. One of the best things I've ever viewed is a six series video recording the eighties with Joseph Campbell called The Power of Myth, it is so good and Joseph Campbell was brought up a very strict catholic, but he left that behind when he discovered that humanity was all connected spiritually through myth and he thought that was much more powerful. So he continued to study that over his entire life. A bit of a Joseph Campbell Fanboy, I love his story.

Ryan Estes

00:21:15 - 00:21:17

Yeah, that's fantastic.

Jeff Bullas

00:21:17 - 00:22:07

Yeah, so he passed away about a year or two after he did that video recording, but anyway, we digress.

So Kitcaster started, you saw a need for people needing guests that I like that too in terms of the podcast is giving an audience, providing an audience for the guest and the term I like to use is the Oprah effect in other words, shine the light on the guest. So I remember that and that's what I try and do is when I sit down for a chat is to do a lot more listening than talking. So Kitcaster starts, it gets traction pretty well straightaway. How did you get your first clients? How did that look?

Ryan Estes

00:22:08 - 00:25:58

So you know from the bio you read, which was so gracious. I had a media marketing company that was largely kind of leveraged in food and beverage and hospitality but I work with a bunch of different people over the years and so first you know when I'm launching a new product I'll kind of stay central to kind of a bull's eye, you know, and go to the people closest to me that I can count on to support me no matter what, you know, so I went to three folks that it's also good friend of mine doing this agency, what do you think? And they're like dude that's a great idea, you should definitely do it, I was like, you know, will you pay for it? Like how much? I said 3500 bucks and they said yeah and I took the money that day so that's how I knew, kind of past the first validation that like 3 of my friends would pay for it, just silencing like I'll do it, let's go. So I was like okay, you know, then the next day I called a couple other folks that were clients but not kind of as friendly, you know these are folks that are interested in new opportunities but they're not just gonna jump on anything. And out of those five calls, I closed two of them, two of those people were like yes to the point where I'm like, will you pay me 3500 bucks right now, and they're like yes, so kind of out of the gate you know we had five clients to run this pilot program so from there, you know, I moved from clients and then I start cold outreach and say like okay I need to speak with people that have no idea who I am, what I am, can I sell this thing and I started validating that way and again had great success, you know, going out there and getting it done so it became then okay can I teach somebody else how to sell this, you know, and then yes we could. So we grew very quickly, you know, we kick off with there was three of us at the time and part time guy in Kitcaster and our official kickoff launch which is September of 2019 and I had kind of eyeballed, you know, okay Kitcaster I'm gonna come over and do this full time in March-ish, you know, because it was still kind of a side thing for both Brandy and I's business so we get to March 2020 and of course pandemic shuts everything down on my agency side. We had basically lost our entire book of business, it was more than 15 clients because they were all restaurants and you know really nice hotels. So we got kicked, you know, kicked to the curb immediately and I kind of looked at my wife, I was like well let's see if this podcasting thing works otherwise I want to go drive delivery trucks for Amazon for a little while and it did, it took off very, very quickly, you know, from March 2020 until now, you know, we now have a have a team of 25 employees of the company and we're still growing, we have three AE’s with quota, so everyone has a number and we're moving really quickly. So it's been a really fun and incredible journey and it's you know, the business success is one thing, but to be able to do it with podcasting of something that I love so much, you know, that has meant so much to me over the years and something that I've kind of been like, oh well podcasting, everybody knows about that. But it turns out that, you know, podcasting grew in popularity 30-40% during the pandemic. So it's kind of provided an opportunity for me to lead and to provide jobs for a bunch of really cool people, but also to put bread on my plate, you know, which has been wonderful.

Jeff Bullas

00:25:58 - 00:26:08

That's great. That's a great success story and it's fantastic. So you've got the guest side you want looking for attention. So on the host side, how do you go about that?

Ryan Estes

00:26:10 - 00:26:14

The host side of, so once we have a client, like how do we find the hosts?

Jeff Bullas

00:26:15 - 00:26:17

Yep. Yes, exactly.

Ryan Estes

00:26:18 - 00:28:08

Cold email, cold emails. So where we spend a lot of time with our agents and we have, you know, I think probably 15, 16, 17 podcast agents who have maybe, let's say 10 clients and what they're doing is they're looking at the attributes and outcomes for the clients audience. So what are the outcomes? A lot of times we're working with startups particularly right now, that are looking for fundraising opportunities whether it's a seed round, maybe it's ABC round, usually a, you know, but they're looking for venture capitalists and angel investors. So the outcome is we want to raise money. So not only are we gonna then approach podcast host that give them an opportunity to tell their story, but also potentially podcasts that have venture capitalists in the audience that gives them opportunity perhaps to close round, maybe it's the podcast host themselves that will help them. So that's just one example. So what we do is we take the time to figure out what are the outcomes that those clients want and then we go find the podcast and then essentially pitch the conversation they'd like to have. So Jeff, if you're a client, we don't necessarily want to talk about your products to podcast host. Rather we'd like to talk about the conversation that you would like to have because then it feels much more reciprocal to what podcasting really is, it's not a 60 minute commercial, it's, you know, a great conversation. So, you know, the people that we hide are essentially like scouts and they're scouring Apple podcast for the best possible podcast opportunities for their clients.

Jeff Bullas

00:28:09 - 00:28:35

So how do you determine which is going to be the best podcast and there's no best, but what's going to be a good one maybe? Or so are you looking for, are you doing data searches as well? Target audience, I suppose. What are some of the elements that you're seeking when you're doing an Apple podcast search for example? Obviously looking at categories?

Ryan Estes

00:28:36 - 00:30:28

Yeah, you bet it's definitely a science and an art because as you well know, there is not a lot of audience data in podcasting. There's basically almost none. A lot of folks are out there trying to figure that out and I hope they do. I hope they get it. So what we do is we have to kind of do it old school, you know, which is read the liner notes, see what guests are on there. We use a couple of different tools. We'll look at what's the chart, the charting, you know, so the top 100 podcast per category is a great place to start but determined, you know, two factors that are the most important, you know, what's the reach. We definitely want a podcast that is reaching a good amount of people, fair amount of people. But the most important thing really is the relevance is like if you can match perfectly the host audience and the guest then you have absolutely magical outcomes for the guest because that's when people connect to that person, product, service, whatever it is and they want to take some next steps. So determining that relevance is kind of the artistry of this, you know, really getting into the client or the guests story and understanding like how they'll be able to deliver on a certain podcasts and then there's gonna be a lot of intangibles, you know, what's the chemistry between the host and the guest, you know, can the guests talk, you know, sometimes that can be a challenge and we have services for that, you know, which is, it can be a little bit nerve wracking going on shows and telling your story and you get caught flat footed and get a tough question, you don't know how to answer. So we do a little bit of what we call story crafting with our clients, which is helping them pull out the anecdotes from their past that will help kind of endear them to audiences and hopefully kind of take the edge off of the nerves a little bit.

Jeff Bullas

00:30:30 - 00:30:41

The data on podcasting is like a black box really and apples may be the main culprit behind that.

Ryan Estes

00:30:41 - 00:30:51

Yeah, they're losing so much market share to its wild to see Spotify just come in and just like almost steamrolling at this point, you know.

Jeff Bullas

00:30:51 - 00:31:06

I haven't had a look at the data on comparison between those two, but one of the reasons we started a YouTube channel for The Jeff Bullas Show as well is that I've got better metrics for the video.

Ryan Estes

00:31:06 - 00:31:10

YouTube is great. Everybody can see everything. It's awesome.

Jeff Bullas

00:31:11 - 00:31:58

And also the other thing too about is what I love about the podcast is recording it is that you create three different types of media. You know, you get a transcript, that's text, you do the audio, which is the podcast itself on iTunes or Spotify and then you've got the video you can put on the YouTube channel. So that was very much part of our strategy was to make sure that we could do three different media and then carve it up into small pieces that we can share in snippet form. So it's really, and I think podcasting has got a long way to go. We're really at the start, and overnight success where, you know, like Rogan, like he started like 14, 15 years ago and his first podcast was horrific.

Ryan Estes

00:31:58 - 00:32:01

Some of his most recent stuff was horrific as well.

Jeff Bullas

00:32:02 - 00:32:10

Yeah, but he's got attention, but I think part of the game is controversial.

Ryan Estes

00:32:10 - 00:32:50

No, I love Rogan. I give Rogan a hard time but he's definitely had his share of controversy. But yeah, I totally agree. I'm very bullish obviously in podcasting and particularly start looking internationally like markets outside the United States, really haven't even started podcasting yet, you know, so it'll be, it's very interesting to see how it proceeds and it really, this kind of, it comes from this fun kind of group Wild West, you know, type atmosphere and I hope it retains a little bit of that wildness.

Jeff Bullas

00:32:50 - 00:32:59

There's nothing like a bit of Wild West at the start of a new industry. Social Media was the wild west when it started back in the early 2000s.

Ryan Estes

00:32:59 - 00:33:01

It was so fun.

Jeff Bullas

00:33:01 - 00:33:16

It was wonderful. I remember catching up with a couple of colleagues, one from Australia the other day, Brian Solis from America and we were right there at the start of the social media revolution and we talked about the good old days.

Ryan Estes

00:33:16 - 00:33:18

Yeah,

Jeff Bullas

00:33:18 - 00:34:01

It was so, and I think, well podcasting around quite a while, so, but it's hitting it straps. I'm in Australia obviously. Well maybe obviously because you can't see the Sydney Harbor Bridge, but the, you know, podcasting here is certainly getting a lot of traction on radio stations that do podcasts as agencies over here as well. And so now the other thing that popped into my mind was okay, you've launched a new SaaS advertising platform for podcasters, which is called Wildcast. Can you tell us about that and how that inspiration started?

Ryan Estes

00:34:01 - 00:37:31

Absolutely. And the Wildcast beta is gonna start in probably about six weeks from now. We're sitting in pretty much mid-August if you go to Wildcast now, it's basically a guest matching platform, but we're transitioning and transforming the platform into a podcast advertising platform because of the work that we've done with the agency and really figured out that relevancy is key, we think we're in a unique place to create the world's best podcast advertising platform. And that's largely because podcast advertising now is done from a CPM model, which means that people or advertisers will pay podcast hosts bought per 1000 downloads. So if you had a $10 CPM for every 1000 people that download your show, they'll pay you 10 bucks. Okay. And what you and I know is that audience size can vary dramatically from show to show from month to month. And also the quality of attention in podcasting is worth paying attention to, it's worth paying attention to paying attention. Is that what I just said? It's not gonna work in transcription, but somehow in podcasting it works, which is to say if you've got Rogan on, let's say, and he's got a guest that you're not really interested in. You're probably paying attention with about 50% of your attention. You're just kind of like, it's kind of rolling in the back and he's gonna talk for three hours and it's like you're hanging out with an old buddy whereas if you're looking in listening to a podcast that's solving problems that you're having right now, you're gonna give higher quality attention to that show now. What we found is that podcasts that solve problems, maybe like this podcast where you're speaking and giving very helpful tasks, tips, encouragement to entrepreneurs, people that are working on side hustles, things like that, that people are listening to get something out of this show. So the quality of their attention is more valuable now. The difference is, Rogan Show is the biggest show in the world. It has millions and millions, millions of monthly downloads, it's an entertainment show, you know, I don't know what ads are on this show because I just skip them every single time. Whereas with a podcast that's, no disrespect, Jeff, but you're smaller than Joe Rogan that even though it's a smaller in number size, the quality of the audience is better. So we're creating a platform that can capitalize on the audiences that aren't necessarily an attainment based podcast rather it's business tech, B2B, SaaS type podcast where they can really capitalize on the quality of attention that they're getting from their audience, so that's coming in beta in about six weeks. We're really excited to, you know, be working with the podcast community, which has been so good to us of course, but also like bringing in brands and agencies of people that understand podcast is ubiquitous enough that like we need to get our message out there and not only do we want to get our message out there, but we need to corner our entire category, which is something you can do by targeting B2B and tech podcast.

Jeff Bullas

00:37:32 - 00:39:35

Yeah, we certainly do target and software as a service top companies are certainly more of just startups. I just love part of the conversations I have with founders and startups is I'm just constantly amazed by the creativity that the entrepreneurs brought to the table to solve a problem and I'm going wow, okay, you're solving that, that is a problem. For example, one was a platform that helps people stop spending money on monthly SaaS products because they're no longer using it and it's hidden in the miss and noise of a credit card or a company accounting department and they're identifying quarter on average quarter million dollar savings by getting rid of subscription products that are not using by company.

And I went, wow, so that's really cool. There's another one which is about selling via video, live video on demand for sales people, which gets really great results, and because we're in the middle of one of the biggest revolutions in business and entrepreneurism, entrepreneurship ever. We got the intersection of so many things that's just amplifying and accelerating change. So and then throw a pandemic into the mix and then we accelerate the change to how we work and live, not all good and some bad because it's loneliness as isolation if you're working on your own versus working in an office. But yeah, I just, I think shining a light on some of these entrepreneurs and discovering what they're doing because a lot of these aren't heard of, we live in a global market as well, and that's what's exciting is that you're no longer selling cheese to the village square, right. You're selling it to the world and that's what's really, you know.

Ryan Estes

00:39:36 - 00:41:25

I agree, you know, and oftentimes, what's really exciting about digital entrepreneurs, SaaS engineers is that it brings out what I love about business, which is, it's based in meritocracy, you know, like these are folks that have scrapped and worked hard and they've earned their success because they're doing something that people want, you know, and they're stories that don't get highlighted often, you know, the celebrities that we love are just incredibly talented, like what are you gonna do if you weren't born insanely beautiful. Well, good luck being an actor, good luck being a singer, you know, like yeah, how hard did you have to work at it? I'm just gonna say this, how hard is acting, it's not that hard, you just have to be incredibly beautiful at this point. So those folks get all the attention and all the awards and they get all the pats on the backs and all the Atta boys. Meanwhile the folks that are out here, you know, really working hard on solutions that make people's lives better, are just grinding away. But with podcasting, we get to really like here those folks, you know, we can't see them, which is probably better because if they're beautiful they'd be actors, I'm not saying that they're not beautiful, they probably are, but more of that internal beauty, you know what I'm saying. So we get to hear them and I think that's what's really cool about podcasting to also being kind of a long form medium, which is, you know, folks that are solving problems, particularly complex problems, can't be unraveled with three minutes on a talk show. So the success and growth of podcasting, you know, speaks to people's desire to actually want to hear meaningful conversations, which is really cool.

Jeff Bullas

00:41:25 - 00:42:22

Yeah, and I just love bringing some value to the audience and going, okay, what were your struggles, how to go over them? How do you identify a problem? How did you build it? How do you manage a team? And you know, and I certainly see entrepreneurs as artists, that's for me is that they take an idea and turn it into something real that can be seen, you know, virtually or on reality and I just love that creative spirit that sits underneath every entrepreneur and entrepreneurs are creators and it is fascinating to hear their stories and there's many ways to, for entrepreneurs to do things, you know, they can sell something beautiful or they can solve a problem and so yeah, my hats off to the creators of this world, whether they're artists or whether they're entrepreneurs.

Ryan Estes

00:42:22 - 00:43:12

Or their podcasts, you know, Jeff, I mean what you do is absolutely awesome and it's a public service and you know, it's amazing, you know, I think that you represents kind of like if we're going back to buddhist principles, it is right livelihood where, you know, if the idea is to be helpful, the first kind of thing to do is to not make anything worse, you know, it's like do no harm and fortunately like just having conversations and like helping people find their their voice, but also helping audience like find inspiration. It doesn't hurt anything, you know, and on a good day it might be really helpful. So, you know, I know for me and my career I'm so happy to be in podcasting and I couldn't do it without folks like you, so you know, I really appreciate what you do.

Jeff Bullas

00:43:12 - 00:44:05

Well I do it for free, it's really, it's and the reality is that just by shining light on someone else and just listening, the world learns that I learned at the same time and just hear someone sharing their gift. That's what we're trying to do. And this is a long game for me. I started my blog in 2009 and for about 13 years in, we got up to five million views, we got bashed around by Google algorithm changes and now Google algorithm changes are serving us. So it's about creating content that changes the world in a big way or a small way. It really doesn't matter. But yeah add value to solve problems, provide inspiration and occasionally it provides some entertainment.

Ryan Estes

00:44:05 - 00:44:19

Yeah I love it man, you think blogging will come back? I feel like blogging was taken from us like everybody just with you know Web 2.0 they just kind of abandoned it.

Jeff Bullas

00:44:19 - 00:44:34

Blogging sort of reached its peak in 2011-2012. You go back to Google Trends. So I don't think it's necessarily come back. But I think the art of writing for a digital world,

Ryan Estes

00:44:34 - 00:44:40

Substack is obviously having a massive success, you know, so there is a hunger for long form writing.

Jeff Bullas

00:44:40 - 00:46:35

Yeah. Well I think there's also hunger for really really get to the point writing as well. And I noticed that Axios just sold to a traditional publisher for $525 million dollars after starting five years ago and they've got a formula which they have encapsulated in the term Smart Brevity and because when I saw what they've done in just five years, six years I went to something. So I've dived into how they write and communicate whether it's an email, whether it's a news release or or internal, you know, press release or external press release, but an incredibly powerful new way of communicating with words and they've basically created this out of data. So what's really fascinating is that in 2006-2007 the way we communicated started to change, it's called the smartphone.

Then on top of that all, the noise of social media and the world wide web with six billion people on it. How do you cut through with words. So but yeah, I started applying some of the principles but we've done a lot of principles in other words, you know, write simply, bold bullet, catch people's attention, scannable. Yeah, but they take it to a whole new level and I've just recommend to either yourself and to my audiences that check out Smart Brevity by Axios it is very very cool and a great way of written communication. Okay, so in a world where everyone seems to watch videos but a lot of us still read.

Ryan Estes

00:46:36 - 00:47:01

Yeah, well, you know, and just studying rhetoric is like really what I'm interested in now and persuasive language. I mean it's something that was an original part of liberal arts education that's completely been erased probably because advertisers are like we can't let them know the tricks we're using but I'm always interested in it, like how can we communicate the most efficiently and effectively. I'll definitely check it out.

Jeff Bullas

00:47:01 - 00:47:29

Yeah, go to the web page, they've got some about 67 videos you can watch, which actually covers in short snippets, how they do it. You can also do, of course, they can provide training for you. But I've been writing with bullet points and bolding and simple words for a long time. And so, but they take it to a whole new level which is driven by data.

Ryan Estes

00:47:29 - 00:47:30

Cool. I love the recommendation.

Jeff Bullas

00:47:30 - 00:47:59

Yeah. So anyway, let's talk a little bit more on Wildcast. So how does Wildcast work? You're gonna pivot to providing advertising for podcasts, guests and hosts. So how does it work in essence, initially I know it's going to evolve over time. So how's Wildcast work? You mentioned to me before the show that we allow people to do live pre rolls I suppose is the best way to describe it.

Ryan Estes

00:48:00 - 00:50:06

Yeah or what they call host read ads is kind of what we're tackling first. So if, you know, you're working if you’re podcast host, you can sign up on the platform and verify your account and you'll be taken to an ad marketplace that will have basically add read opportunities but you're also going to get matched to brands coming in the front door based on relevance. We're going to absolutely lead the relevancy department because we have more than 50 or 60 criteria where we're matching the outcomes that the brands and agencies want with the attributes of the audience that the podcast wants. So as a brand or agency, you come in, you say these are the outcomes we want, we want new clients, these are the attributes of the ideal audience. It'll be decision makers, their director level, they work at SaaS companies and with the push of a button, they'll be able to see their own Wildcast being created in front of their eyes, which would basically be their own podcast network. So there'll be 25 podcast presented to them. They can say like not this one, not that, when those other two podcasts auto populated, they look at these podcasts like this is great. They say go immediately then those podcasts receive an invitation to the campaign where they can take it or not. But hopefully the attributes do match well enough that they're gonna be really excited that this brand wants to bring them into their Wildcast. So at that point the podcast received the creative and has the pitch, if you will like this podcast, is brought to you by notion, they do the read, they're able to validate the read and the platform and then get paid directly from the platform. So the idea is to make it as easy as possible to facilitate these advertising relationships that are the most relevant as it possibly could be between brand, host and audience.

Jeff Bullas

00:50:07 - 00:50:30

So tell me if I'm wrong right here. So what you're trying to do is you're trying to remove the friction for podcast to monetize and for guests to actually be on podcasts enabled by technology. So in other words about scale or removing friction for both the podcast host and the podcast guest who wants to advertise, is that correct?

Ryan Estes

00:50:30 - 00:50:48

Absolutely. We're trying to get podcast host paid and we're also trying to get perfect advertising opportunities to the audiences that are most likely to convert, which are, you know, they show kind of ownership and buying intent already by listening to the podcast.

Jeff Bullas

00:50:49 - 00:50:51

And so you're doubling down on podcasting.

Ryan Estes

00:50:52 - 00:51:12

I know it's a podcasting world for me, you know, I do have another little side thing I'm doing with my son, he's 13 years old and he came up with a business idea. I was like, okay, let's go, do this e-commerce thing cause I'm kinda, I'm up to my eyeballs in podcasting.

Jeff Bullas

00:51:13 - 00:51:47

So just to wrap it up, Ryan, it's been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show, what are some tips for entrepreneurs or people who want to start a side hustle. you mentioned before the show, you sort of said that you've got your timing wrong a few times and haven't we all in terms of launching a new business or an idea that didn't quite work out. What some of the, just a couple of tips that you'd like to leave with our audience in terms of as an entrepreneur in a digital world, what would you like to offer in terms of a couple of top tips?

Ryan Estes

00:51:47 - 00:54:29

You bet. So a couple of things, particularly for new entrepreneurs or people that are balancing side hustle and kind of getting ready to make a change. There's a very strict criteria, I have to put them on myself because I like to chase shiny things. And the fact of the matter is I got two teenagers and I don't have a lot of time. So the chase is gonna have to be boiled down pretty quick, so I need an initial validation in order to know if it should, I should prioritize it in my workflow. So there's three things for me.

One is it of service? We kind of talked about the right livelihood, it's very important to me that I'm of service to people. Is it fun? This is the second. I know that personally, if I'm not enjoying doing it, I'm just gonna avoid doing it, that's it. So if it's fun for me to do it, I'm [inaudible] and then the third does it make money? Which is very important because I would be tying flies in my garage, getting ready for fly fishing season all day long, so I have to make sure that with my time, I'm allotting an appropriate amount of time to making money and if it doesn't make money, I have to cut it. And when I say cut it, I mean just like knock it down a couple of rungs on my prioritization. So if you could, those three things work well for me, but I think for folks, if they have a way that they can quickly prioritize ideas, that'd be a great place to start. The second thing is where to put those priorities. I like to use a trailer board where moving from left to right, I have what I'm working on right now, on the hard left is gonna be the projects that are getting my time now, my fly tying business that in my garage, I'm not saying that's a bad idea, it just might be way to the right because I cannot it at this moment, but having a place for ideas and not judging those ideas, but prioritizing them, it's really important because you might wake up and you're like, I have this new idea for XYZ. It's a new kind of shampoo bottle and you don't wanna, first, you can't tell your spouse that because I think you're crazy which isn't good for the creative process, but what I found is like nurturing that, which is to put it somewhere and not prioritize it until the time is right for that idea. So I think that would be a good place to start. Maybe some advice that I wish I would have had early on, which is learning like how do I quickly qualify an idea and then how and where do I prioritize that idea to give it time in life?

Jeff Bullas

00:54:30 - 00:54:46

Yeah, I love it. So that three tips are when they come up with an idea and validate it and give it some priority. Number two, do you enjoy it? And number three does it make money? And I think that's pretty simple, but I'd say that works.

Ryan Estes

00:54:47 - 00:54:56

It's helpful as time slips away, it's like, man, I better be careful not to waste it.

Jeff Bullas

00:54:57 - 00:55:31

Exactly. Well we're all getting older and we've only got one life to live, so be very careful how you live. In fact, it takes some time to design a life that works. And sometimes that's not a straight road that is for sure. So, there's gonna be bumps on the way, but Ryan, thank you very much for sharing your stories. That's what we try to find you here and sharing your insights and learnings and experience. It's been absolutely awesome. Thank you very much and look forward to hearing more about Wildcast and seeing how the vial was on top of Kitcaster. So thank you very much.

Ryan Estes

00:55:32 - 00:55:42

Thank you, Jeff. It was great to talk to you a little bit and I love this conversation. We went all over the place. I'm glad we made it back. But thanks a lot, Jeff. Thank you for everything you do.

Jeff Bullas

00:55:42 - 00:55:45

Welcome. It's nothing like a good fireside chat.

Ryan Estes

00:55:46 - 00:55:48

Indeed.

Jeff Bullas

00:55:48 - 00:55:50

All that's missing is the beer and wine.

Ryan Estes

00:55:50 - 00:55:53

Oh, not so much.

Jeff Bullas

00:55:54 - 00:55:58

Well, I've got it but gin comes later.

Ryan Estes

00:55:59 - 00:56:01

That's right. Okay.

Jeff Bullas

00:56:01 - 00:56:04

Thank you. You betcha.