Loren Baker sits down with Jerod Morris from The Showrunner to discuss the world of podcasting, self-publishing, and how the game of producing one’s own content has changed over the past decade.
Both Loren and Jerod started down similar paths as personal bloggers and dreamers (one with ambitions for film, the other sports journalism) … and then found themselves taking different paths for career ambitions, only to end up doing exactly what they had originally intended.
They then discuss the SEO benefits of podcasting, and SEO for podcasts, with some actionable tips on building a web presence to accompany audio.
Listen to Search and Social below ...
Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.
Loren Baker: Good afternoon, and welcome to Search & Deploy. This is your host, Loren Baker. Search & Deploy is a podcast on SEO and search marketing, brought to you by Rainmaker.FM and Foundation Digital. With me today, I m going to have a very special guest, Jerod Morris, VP at Rainmaker.FM.
Before I get started with Jerod and get him on, I d like to give a quick intro on why I m inviting Jerod onto the show. About four months ago, Jerod Morris of Copyblogger and Brian Clark of Copyblogger both approached me about doing a podcast, something I had never done before, but had basically been putting off for the past six years. They wanted to know if I d like to do a podcast on SEO for the Rainmaker network.
Of course, since for me, 2015 is my year of personal branding, so to speak, I said, Yeah, why not? Let s go. Let s get started. Next thing I know, I m podcasting. This is my ninth episode right now. I ve learned a little bit, but I have a lot to learn. Luckily, there are people out there like Jerod that are putting together best practices and ways to enhance the overall podcast experience, not only for the listener, but also for the hosts on building their podcast and everything else.
First of all, Jerod, welcome to Search & Deploy. It s great to have you. I d like to thank you for getting me started on this venture.
Jerod Morris: Absolutely. Thank you for having me on the episode. You should know that most podcasts fail after seven episodes. You have already passed that critical juncture that a lot of people, when they start a show, can t get past. A lot of people have that initial enthusiasm that gets them through the first couple of shows, and then it fades off. You ve busted through that, which is a huge checkpoint to move past. Congratulations to you for that.
Loren Baker: Thank you, thank you. I ll have the audio guy put a little round of applause in here right here. I did not know that. It s funny that you bring that up, because I was talking to someone the other day. They started a dog podcast. The idea behind the podcast is they have interviews with dog owners and talk about dogs and things like that. I m like, Wow, how s your podcast going? and she s like, Well, we completed episode one about a month ago, and we ve been busy.
It s funny, because with podcasting, with audio — it s one thing I want to get into during this conversation — is there are obstacles that are a little bit unforeseen. In my case, I m in the process of moving, and I m at Foundation. We re a virtual company. We meet in offices or whatever about once a week or whatnot, but for the most part, most of us work from home. There are obstacles and challenges that come up with trying to put the time in and make sure you have the audio quality to be able to do it.
Because it s not like blogging where you can write half of your blog post, go eat dinner, go eat lunch, get on a phone call, whatever. You really have to set aside the time. I think that one of the challenges that a lot of people face when they’re getting into podcasting is making sure they can not only be passionate about it, but they consistently make the time to pull off the audio and do everything else associated with that.
Jerod Morris: You bring up a great point, because there are tons of obstacles, especially early on, for people who are doing it the first time. That s why so many of those podcasts fail. It s this interesting balancing point, because you don t want to overthink it to the point that you never start. Yet you also don t want to just go out there with something because it may not be sustainable.
And then you may find yourself like your friend: a month later, you ve only got one episode down, which is why you have to make decisions about format. Is it going to be a monologue show or an interview show? Obviously, if it s a monologue show, you can step up and do it any time you want to. If it s interviews, you have to schedule. It adds a layer of complexity.
Make those decisions early on in a way that will give you momentum, because if you get momentum, then you can shift it. With The Showrunner, we ve changed our format twice in 16 episodes. It s important to make those decisions early that you give you that momentum, and then you can adjust as you go from there.
Loren Baker: It is. In my experience, it s important to plan, but not necessarily be a perfectionist. I ve recorded a couple of podcasts where I ve been like, Oh man, the audio quality is bad, or this happened, or I slipped here, or I could hear myself drinking coffee while the other person is speaking, or something like that. But then, when I go and listen to other podcasts, I hear the same thing. Who is — gosh, the name is escaping me — the podcaster that just interviewed the president?
Jerod Morris: Marc Maron, WTF.
Loren Baker: Marc Maron, right. I m listening to Marc Maron, yeah, WTF. I had not listened to it before. I admit, I am not a casual podcast listener. I have about two or three of them on my playlist now that I ve been hitting at the gym or whatever. But I m listening to Marc Maron. I had not listened to him before. I m listening to him, like, Well, that s the beauty of podcasting. It doesn t have to be perfect. It just has to be you. Right?
Jerod Morris: Right.
Loren Baker: It s you being you. So this guy, this comedian, has the President of United States in his garage, and there s all these sound quality issues going on, and people talking in the background, and stuff like that. I m like, Well, that s really podcasting at the end of the day.
There s so many times — I ve been around long enough in publishing — where I ve seen perfectionism kill a great idea. Because people, they want to be perfect. They want to be perfect, and they don t want to take that jump until everything is perfectly laid out for them, and then it never happens.
Thank you for helping me to take that jump and for putting together the production team that s made it possible to get these out there.
Jerod Morris: No, thank you for setting a good example. We, on The Showrunner — both the podcast and the course — have encountered a lot of people who have that trepidation, that nervousness, about getting started. A lot of times, they ll look at someone like me or like John, people who have had a lot of experience, have several podcasts that have been past hundreds of episodes and think, Oh, well it s easy for you to do it. It s like, Yeah, but there was a time that I was doing episode number one, and it was kind of scary, and I was planning all the stuff for the first time, and didn t have any idea.
It s great seeing someone like you who had this idea to do it, got an opportunity. You’re taking it, and now you’re showing exactly the way a new podcast should go. Which is, you don t have everything figured out right away, but you just keep at it, and it keeps getting better, keeps getting better. You get that feedback from the audience. It s a lot like blogging in that way.
It s such a great point you make about how perfectionism can kill an idea. You got to get it out there in that minimum way, and then just keep making it better.
Loren Baker: Search & Deploy, I would consider us to be an SEO podcast. We ll get into SEO for podcasting or how podcasting and publishing can help with overall SEO a little bit later, but first, I want to back up a little bit and get an idea of how you got into this.
Correct me if I m wrong, but weren t you working on the hosting side of things with Synthesis a couple of years ago? And now you’re the VP of podcasting at Rainmaker.
Jerod Morris: I was.
Loren Baker: How did that happen? When did you get started? Walk me through this transition, because not very many people make that much of a turnaround, or just take a different path as you have.
Jerod Morris: I walked a winding road when I graduated from college and taught for a little bit, had a sales job, had a management job, did a bunch of different things, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Actually, I moved down to Dallas because I was planning on going to law school. I was just going to be down here temporarily to do some work with a family friend. Through that process, actually meeting this lawyer that I was doing some work with for coffee one day, I ran into a guy named Derick Schaefer, who I had never met before. We got to talking.
He had a digital agency here in Dallas basically helping consult small businesses on their online presence, and he needed someone to do some writing for him. I always loved writing, so I started working with him. That eventually turned into a full-time job.
At the time, I didn t know about WordPress. I didn t know about SEO or any of that stuff. I just wasn t very online-oriented yet. Learning about all that and starting some side projects to get my hands dirty on my own got me really excited about online content and what you could do, both from a marketing standpoint for a business and just from a personal expression standpoint.
I m a lifetime sports fan. Originally, I went to college to go into journalism to write about sports, and I had a few detours. The side project I started was called Midwest Sports Fans, which was a sports blog. I just did it on the side. Basically, I just wanted some content that I could practice SEO and social media marketing with. I figured, I love writing about sports. Let s do that.
That site for many different reasons ended up taking off and having a life of its own. We actually ended up making some pretty decent money from it, just from ads and stuff. It was getting so much traffic that we couldn t keep it up with the hosting plans that we had. Fortunately, Derick is a lot smarter at technology stuff than I am and basically developed our own little hosting platform for it.
That was how we ended up coming over to Copyblogger, because when Brian was looking for a hosting platform to complete what would become the Rainmaker Platform, ours was the best for WordPress, and so that s how we came over.
It was nice, because after coming over in support for hosting, they identified that my passion really was more in content creation. That s the joy of working for a great company like Copyblogger that s good at identifying what their people love to do and they re good at, and they put me in a position to be able to do more of that now, both on the blog side and on the podcasting side.
Loren Baker: Now isn t that pretty cool? That s actually awesome, because that s one thing that digital publishing really gives a lot of us the chance to do is to fulfill our dreams. I don t want to sound corny here. I m not going to get out the tissues or anything, but when I first went to college, I wanted to get into filmmaking.
Jerod Morris: You and me both.
Loren Baker: Pulp Fiction, Tarantino, everything else. I had grown up working in a video store. Since I was 12 years old, I was working in a video store. So it was one of those things. It was a natural progression. I wanted to be a filmmaker. That s like 1997, 1996, and I m going to Towson State and getting into the filmmaking program. Believe it or not, that s when you actually made films on film.
So not only did I have to pay for school, but I had to rent the camera, get film equipment, buy film, take the time to make something, and then send it to DC, which there was only like one shop in DC that still did 8 millimeter, and then turn that into an exposed film that you can actually watch. Then by the time you get it, if you don t have your lighting, your aperture, or everything else set up perfectly, it s going to be a failure. I m like, Man, like I m paying my way through college. I don t want to dump all my money on buying this film.
Then I talked to all these other people in the filmmaking department. They weren t necessarily doing too well in the job market, either. Within the same major was PR and advertising. I m like, Hey, let me do PR and advertising, because I can still produce cool stuff and make great content, but hopefully get paid for it in the long run.
Fast forward 15, 16 years. I just thought about this while you were talking about it. On the Foundation side, we just got done doing a bunch of infographics for a client. They re all Star Wars or sci-fi-oriented. I got to work on writing them and putting up the storyboards and the design aspects and getting that out there and putting out other great content, which is based around things that I love, and helping a client do better and market themselves on the web to those groups to help with their overall SEO. I m like, Wow, that s great stuff.
Then, I just realized, I m producing, right now, a show with you, which is also an extension of that in its own right. We haven t lost the dream, man. We haven t gone completely corporate. We re still creating things and making things, and getting to do the stuff that excited us when we were kids and teenagers and in college.
So congrats, virtual fist bump. It s pretty amazing stuff. To hear that that s how you got started in Synthesis was looking for a place to basically host this blog that you had built up to be so popular that you couldn t get a legit hosting account setup that actually helped you profit is pretty amazing too. Because I went through the same things with SEJ really early on. When we got on Digg or the front page of Google News or something like that, it would just take down the host immediately. I d be down for like three days sometimes. Congrats on that.
That s very cool to hear. That s one of the magical things about this. I don t care if there s 10 people listening or 1000 people listening. We get to create something and make something. It s documented. It s out there. Hopefully it s helpful, right?
Jerod Morris: Yeah. Hopefully it inspires someone else to do it. Because I remember when I was first getting online, and then you see all these stories of people who have succeeded and took what they were passionate about. The whole idea of choose yourself or pick yourself, that whole thing, it s like, I don t need to wait for anybody. An example of that is the site I run now, called The Assembly Call. I grew up going to IU basketball games. That was the thing that my dad and I always did together, Indiana basketball games. When you re a kid growing up in Indiana, that s just what you do.
Now, 25 years later, I m doing a postgame show. The last three weeks, I ve interviewed like three of the greatest players in IU history, simply because I started this platform, have kept at it for four or five years, and it s respected to the point now where these guys that I grew up watching, I m talking with them and getting the behind-the-scenes stories of what I was watching as a kid.
It seems so simplistic sometimes when you hear the, Just get started. Choose yourself. You can do this, and then you do it. It s not easy. It s definitely not easy. You ve got to put in the work day after day. But it really is sometimes as simple as, What do I love? Let me get out and create content about it, and be audience-first in my approach, and these things really can happen. This isn t just some secret that s out there that only a select few can have. I think trying to help people bridge that gap from where I was, where it s like, No, no, you can t really do this, to, Holy crap, you really can do this, is something that I get really excited about.
Loren Baker: It s about consistency and bringing it. It s nice to get rewarded for work ethic at the end of the day, too, right? One thing I really love about it, and you ll know this, being an ex-blogger/current blogger, is that I used to blog a lot. I talked about this on a previous episode. I would wake up early in the morning, like 6 a.m., and try to blog about four stories before people were getting into work to make sure that I was one of the first search bloggers breaking these stories as they happened or whatnot.
I did that for about six years — creating SEJ, building up Search Engine Journal, building it up into more than just a personal blog, which is what it started as, and being one of...