The Profitable Podcaster
How Jay Clouse is Taking the Walt Disney Approach with his Podcast
Imagine creating not one, not two, but THREE versions of every podcast episode you produce.
That’s what Jay Clouse does with Creator Science. See, last year he made the decision to make his podcast “YouTube-first,” which means focusing on video production, then mastering it for audio.
If you produce a podcast, you already know that it’s time-consuming. While Christina Nicholson showed us it doesn’t have to take a lot of time for you personally, there’s still a lot that goes into an episode.
And Jay is creating a YouTube version, an audio version, and a separate Spotify video version. This is complicated by the fact that Jay’s revenue model varies depending on the platform.
But this work isn’t for nothing! As we’ll see, he’s making a few long-term bets about the future of podcast content.
👉 IN THIS EPISODE
- Why building a relationship with your listeners is crucial
- How leveraging new technology can make you tell better stories
- Thinking outside the box for monetization models
- Leveraging the network effect to grow your podcast
Read the article here: https://podcastworkflows.com/podcast-video-storytelling/
Paste the transcript text h
Imagine creating not one, not two, but three different versions of every podcast episode you produce. That’s what Jay Clouse does with Creator Science.
See, last year he made the decision to make his podcast YouTube first which means focusing on video production, then mastering it for audio. If you produce a podcast, you already know that it’s time consuming. While Christina Nicholson showed us it doesn’t have to take a lot of time for you personally, there’s still a lot of time that goes into an episode. And Jay is creating a YouTube version, in audio version and a separate Spotify video version.
This is complicated by the fact that Jay’s revenue model varies depending on platform. But this work isn’t for nothing. As we’ll see, he’s making a few long-term bets about the future of podcast content. So be sure to listen for these top takeaways in the episode: Why building a relationship with your listeners is crucial. How leveraging new technology can make you tell better stories, thinking outside the box for monetization models, and leveraging the network effect to grow your podcast.
Welcome to Podcast Workflows where you get daily tips to improve your process, grow your show, and maybe even make some money. Each week, I also do a daily dive into the process of the world’s most successful podcasters and reveal their tools, processes, and systems to help you simplify the production of your own show and reclaim hours in your day. You can improve your own podcast production process by seeing how the pros do it. I’m your host, Joe Casabona. And it’s Wednesday, which means we’re doing a deep dive.
Today, we’re going to talk about Jay Clouse and how he is taking the Walt Disney approach to his podcast. It’s very fitting that the episode about Jay taking the Walt Disney approach comes out this week, because October 16th is the hundredth anniversary of the Walt Disney company. So, congratulations to Disney for making it 100 years. Pretty incredible.
Okay. So what is Creator Science about? Creator Science, formerly Creative Elements focuses on how you can be a professional content creator, and how to be successful. Each week, Creator Science digs into the details of how creators are finding success today, not what worked to 5 or 10 years ago, but specific strategies and tactics that are working today.
That is a fantastic mission statement. It’s clear about whom it helps, how they are helped, and it even gives a timeframe. There are countless folks who talk about how they did it for 7, 10 years ago. But the landscape changes fast. Creator Science helps you keep up.
Jay has also been experimenting with more solo shows, and as noted in the description, you’ll also hear firsthand experiments and actionable advice from the host, Jay Clouse. I want to point out here that he doesn’t put this in the very beginning. He tells you who the show is about first and who it helps. And then he mentioned himself later. So, why is Jay producing more solo shows? Well, he cites two reasons.
One, they’re easier to produce than interviews. And two, he wants to build and leverage better relationships with his listeners. I’m a big fan of the mini-podcast for these exact reasons. When you make a solo episode, aside from worrying about the tech and research side of production, you’re not at the mercy of someone else’s schedule. You can also record two or more solo episodes in the same time and takes you to do one interview all told. But there’s the relationship building side as well. Here’s how Jay puts it.
You realize you’re building a relationship with your audience, but I think you also realized that one, they would like to hear more from just you. And it’s also probably a good business decision that you give them some more, just you.
This is such an excellent point. While you can form that relationship as an interviewer, your listeners are eager to learn more about you, and what you do. That’s important to keep in mind as you create your podcast especially if you’re a business owner.
So your first takeaway. Understand that you’re building a relationship with your listeners, and they likely want to learn more about you.
Now, Jay’s podcast is still primarily interviews and his approach is pretty interesting. He manages his process flow in Notion. When someone signs up with Savvycal, they get added as a page that’s visualized in a Kanban board.
What struck me about Jay’s scheduling process is how much information he captures from guests at first. He says, “ I really, really think that if you’re trying to get people who are difficult to access and it’s like a ho like, I hope I can get this person. I would make it as easy and frictionless for them as possible.”
This was eyeopening for me, as experience has taught me to get as much info upfront as possible. But I could be missing an opportunity especially with big guests. Of course, big guests aren’t necessarily the key to good content or good growth. In his course podcasts like the pros, Jay mentioned trying to get a big guest early on because that lends to credibility for your show, a perfect example of social proof. But as someone with a super credible show, Jay has begun to take a different approach. He wants to have guests that it’s easy to have a conversation with. Here’s how he puts it. “Being easy means that I already know their work pretty well, right. So there’s not a ton more research I wanna do other than getting some specifics. Cause I’ve also learned that I don’t want to get too far ahead of my audience in terms of what I know before an interview.”
Jay explained that you want to find a sweet spot for the conversation. You don’t want to know everything because it can feel flat, more like a profile than a conversation. But you don’t want to go in blind because you’re unable to guide the conversation and craft the right story. So, Jay picks people whom he knows or is familiar with, and it’s paying off.
His recent conversation with Chenell Basillio of Growth in Reverse has become his second most popular episode behind Seth Godin, which is his first ever episode. It suits Jay to do this for two reasons: One, he’s super connected to creators and to the bulk of his production time can be spent in post.
Jay spends a lot of time in post. He’s essentially creating three versions of his podcast. Jay has made the conscious choice to make his podcast video first. That means he records with video in mind and edit it as video content. Then, he’ll send the audio out to be mastered by an audio engineer before adding it back to the video. He’ll then upload that video and mastered audio to his host megaphone. He’ll upload a completely separate version of the video to YouTube. You’ll see why in a minute. I asked Jay if the juice is worth the squeeze. Here’s what he had to say.
The juice is not worth the squeeze. Now, The bet is that the juice will be worth the squeeze eventually. And that, for that to be true, I have to be doing it now.
It was very reminiscent of Walt Disney who insisted on using colors as soon as he possibly could. Disney animation studios created the colorful cartoon, flowers and trees all the way back in 1932 when they debuted Technicolor. Why? Because Walter knew that even though the technology was new, it would become standard and he didn’t want the studio going back to reproduce everything in color.
But there was another reason. From [waltdisney.org] emphasis mine. Walt Disney’s pioneering work in color was not however LemurGimmick to attract moviegoers to the latest technical fad. Color provided different opportunities for telling stories unique to the enhanced medium. The expressive range of the technique yielded new potential as Disney could continue to experiment in creating narrative pathos on screen, Unique Storytelling Opportunities.
Jay knows now much like Walt did then that this new process is expensive, time consuming and not mass market ready, but it will be. And his podcast has an advantage. Other podcasts don’t. You can see this in an interview he did with Paddy Galloway. B roll, helpful visuals and interesting transitions are throughout this podcast interview. It’s definitely very engaging. It’s also not visually reliant so you can watch or listen. And with YouTube integrating podcasts into their music app, Jay isn’t just making a podcast that stands out. It’s more convenient to imagine watching that video than going out to run errands, but continuing to listen in the app. It’s seamless. (Oh! and by the way, according to a report published by Cumulus Media, YouTube is now the most utilized podcast listening platform in the US. 29% say it’s the platform they use most, they, being American adults followed by Spotify at 17% and Apple at 16%.)
So how does being video first affect Jay’s overall process? There are a few things that he considers as he’s video first. One is big picture. He goes into each episode with a specific narrow scope. That way he can think of the “packaging for the episode”. That is the title description and thumbnail ahead of time. He also is spending most of his editing time on the first 90 seconds of the video. Jay knows that the hook makes or breaks you on YouTube and in audio for that matter. So he wants to make sure that the intro is perfect for two reasons:
1. It aids retention. Hook the viewer early on, and they’ll stick around.
2. He can reuse that 92nd intro as a teaser trailer on social media. Brilliant.
In other words, Jay is thinking about the story he’s telling before the interview even gets recorded. Another reason he should be familiar with the creator’s work already.
There’s another more subtle change to his process by being video first. He doesn’t take notes during the interview. When you’re on camera, it’s very distracting to be looking down and writing and moving around a lot, and he’s trying to make the best video possible. So he knows that he needs to look, engaged the entire time. This is yet another reason he should know the story he wants to tell ahead of time.
Your takeaway. Think about how you can improve the storytelling in your podcast by leveraging new technologies. As a quick addendum, Jay recently tweeted, recently being after I wrote this script, an article that he feels like he’s more of a YouTuber than a podcaster these days, which is very interesting.
So, if Jay’s not taking notes during the interview, how does he handle the show notes? Well, because he knows the story he’s telling, he has a pretty specific format that he’s perfected. Someone on his team will take the episode and convert these three points: A high-level bio of the guest, social proof to instill confidence in the listener, and the topics they talk about. This is super smart. What they do, why the audience should trust them, and what they’ll talk about.
So with that, let’s move into monetization.
Jay has made a decision not to direct sell sponsors. One of the reasons his process is slightly more complicated is because of how he sells ads, or how he doesn’t. He, instead of direct selling, leverages these methods for sponsorship, the HubSpot network.
Jay joined the HubSpot network earlier this year. So they get at least a couple of spots in each episode. Podglomerate, Jay’s old network, Podglomerate still sells the lion’s share of his ad inventory for him. This allows him to focus on the rest of the podcast. Well, knowing the spots are going to fill up, and brand deals. If he does work out a deal directly with brands, he’ll do the insertion on YouTube only.
For HubSpot and Podglomerate, the ads are inserted dynamically. Something has host megaphone specializes in. This is called Dynamic Ad Insertion or DAI. And you’ve likely heard these types of ads. If you’ve ever thought, “Wow! it’s weird that this massive podcast has an ad for something specific to my area”, it was DAI.
Jay has some control over what gets advertised, but they’re generally targeted. And he doesn’t always do the read himself or even know what they’re going to be ahead of time. And like I said for YouTube, he brokers direct deals.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I just said he doesn’t sell ads himself. Okay. That’s mostly true. But that doesn’t mean opportunities don’t arise anyway. Jay has a popular newsletter where the ads are primarily sold by the Convertkit sponsor network and a strong social media following. And notice the exception there. The brand deals won’t make it into the audio version of the show. Only the YouTube version gets them. That’s why he’s essentially creating three versions of his podcast:
1. A video to upload the megaphone, which puts the video on Spotify with no ads, but presumably video specific ads in the future.
2. A mastered version of the audio, which gets put back into the video. Megaphone we’ll then split those two things apart for the podcast feed. So he uploads a video, and megaphone takes the video, grabs the audio and publishes both of them.
3. A YouTube only version of the video which doesn’t include breaks for DAI, but will include baked in brand deals. This is certainly worth it for Jay. He’s getting enough downloads and has enough ad breaks that he’s generating money from the show that makes the extra effort a no brainer. But it’s all about using that extra effort wisely.
So your third takeaway. Experiment with different methods of monetization. Consider what options are out there and try something you haven’t before.
Now, something Jay has been experimenting a lot with his short form video or short form content. He used to have his editor pull out clips to share on social media. But it doesn’t work out. Here’s what he had to say:
“I have not seen any compelling cases of success and short form video driving podcast downloads. It’s good for those platforms like if you use clips and you post ’em on Instagram and they do well, they can grow your Instagram profile. And maybe by proxy you can get people to do podcasts, but I have not seen any. Any data to show that people have actually turned short form video success into spikes in podcast downloads.”
After realizing this, Jay felt his editor’s time was better spent perfecting those first 90 seconds. So, what is Jay doing to drive growth? First let’s look at something Jay said that really struck me.
“What I don’t think I’ve looked at over time is listener churn. Okay. I think that churn in podcast listening is higher than people realize. So actually even just retaining your size is pretty impressive.”
This is something that sounds profitable wrote about last year while they don’t have a lot of data on it. Right now, it’s something all podcasters should be cognizant of. Kudos to Jay for realizing it’s a problem.
Okay. Back to how Jay drives growth. He’s not doing a lot of repurposing and we’ve noted that clips don’t really work. Is his show just growing organically? Well, he sent out a tweet back in May to provide some insight.
The tweet says that when he started Creator Science, he classified it in the careers category and it did manage to peak at number eight last year. But after realizing careers doesn’t fit the content as well as entrepreneurship, he started trying to rank there instead. Now, he’s pretty consistently showing up in the Top 100.
There are a couple of takeaways here. The first is what I just said. He changed the show’s category, but the second was something I mentioned earlier. He joined a network. Furthermore, he mentioned those trailers that we talked about earlier. You know, the ones that the HubSpot network gets as part and parcel with him being part of the network.
So what can we glean here from Jay’s process? Well, first let’s get a little clearer on what being part of the HubSpot network means. It means that his show gets cross promoted on other shows in the network,. and he crossed promotes other shows in the network.
So first, you should reevaluate your show’s categories every once in awhile. Make sure the category you’re in fits with your show’s mission. And next, while joining a network isn’t for everyone, you can certainly take advantage of what I’m calling the podcast network effect with friends or other podcasters.
One of the great things the HubSpot network does is require each show to promote one of their other shows in every episode. So you can reach out to hosts of similar podcasts and see if they’d be willing to do the same thing. If you find four to six podcasts, you can do a sort of round robin promotion schedule to help each other gain new listeners.
So your fourth and bonus takeaway is this. Experiment with podcast promo swaps in creating your own “network Of podcasts.” So, how can you use Creator Science to improve your podcast workflow?
There are so many incredible takeaways from Jay’s process. And of course, it all comes down to experimenting. There’s a reason his show is called Creator Science after all.
1. Build the relationship with your audience. Jay recognizes that building your relationship with your audience means giving them more of you. As he said, it’s a smart business decision. Instead of always giving airtime to a guest, try some solo shows. Or if you don’t like talking by yourself, bring on a co-host you have great chemistry with. Jay’s even experimenting with recurring guests with whom he has a good rapport.
2. Improve your storytelling. Both Jay and I attended craft and commerce earlier this year. One of the keynote speakers was Mike Paki own, who talked about the power of good storytelling. He said, his story is how your message lives on. And to prove it, he tells this haunting story about a time he stayed in a hotel and got a late night call.
My dad would always ask me how I could remember every line of every movie I ever watched when I couldn’t remember anything from Math class, earlier that day. Well, there were no stories in Math class. And stories stick where facts don’t. Jay knows it. Mike knows it. Walt Disney knew it. If you want your podcast to catch people’s attention, if you want people to share your podcast, you need to tell good stories. As you approach your next set of episodes, think about the story that you want to tell.
3. Try different ways to monetize. You’ve likely heard that you need multiple income streams. But you should also try different approaches to those income streams. Jay relies on his podcast network has ads network, the ConvertKit sponsorship network and his ability to land brand deals. As you consider monetization, think about the different avenues you can explore. Just like Disney has movies, merch, parks, and other experiences, you can make some small bets on how to best monetize if you want to go the sponsored route. Remember, you may not need to sell the ads yourself. And what you give up in revenue, you’ll save in time. You could also try affiliate links to start or selling your own product. The possibilities are endless. It’s up to you to think outside the box.
4. Create your own network. One of the best things you can do to grow your podcast is podcast swaps. You’re getting your show in front of lookalike audiences and at least some of that audience will check out your show. Jay is part of a podcast network that has each show promote another show. We see this with iHeartRadio, Wondery and countless other networks as well. They know their audience and understand that one show’s audience will likely want to listen to other similar shows.
So, how can you create your own network? You don’t need to be official or have branding or even a name. You just need to find four to six podcasts you’re willing to work with. Create a promotion schedule with them where you’re each promoting the other shows around Robin style. Create some copy for the other hosts to read where you essentially give potential listeners your mission statement and how to listen. Doing this helped double my podcast downloads last year. From 34,000 per month to 70,000 per month. So, if you’re going to pick one takeaway from Jay’s process, make it this one.
If you want to read the full article, you can head over to [podcastworkflows.com] or find the link in the description for this episode. If you want to get in touch, you can find me @jcasabona on X, formerly Twitter, Threads and pretty much every other social network.
But that’s it for this episode. Thanks so much for listening. And I can’t wait to see when you make.
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