🎙️ Episode #8

Talk the Talk: How Solopreneurs Can Leverage Podcasting for Brand Building and Business Growth

Matt Medeiros - WordPress news podcaster, evangelist, and plugin creator

Show Notes

Matt Medeiros is a well-known figure in the WordPress world and has distinguished himself as a news podcaster, evangelist, and plugin creator. He co-founded his agency Slocum Studio with his father in 2010 and went on to establish himself as a WordPress authority through The Matt Report, a podcast where he interviews consultants, bootstrappers, and business owners. 

Since stepping into WordPress, Matt has filled many roles. He continues to create plugins for Slocum Studios, and was an account executive for Pagely and recently stepped out of his role as Director of Podcaster Success and General Manager at Castos. Matt’s also a regular podcast host on Southcoast.fm, and covers weekly WordPress news on The WP Minute podcast. In February, Matt joined Rocketgenius – the company behind Gravity Forms – as a WordPress Community Evangelist.

In this episode, Matt discusses how other entrepreneurs can leverage his podcasting practices and strategies to drive brand building and create a persona.


Thanks to Matt for joining us and providing such valuable insights into brand building. Join us next week with Devin Walker and Matt Cromwell to chat about the power of partnerships to build successful startups.

plugin.fm is brought to you by Freemius, your all-in-one eCommerce partner for selling software, plugins, themes, and SaaS. If you enjoyed this episode, head over to plugin.fm to check out previous episodes.

Episode Contributors:

Matt Medeiros — Guest

Patrick Rauland — Host

Vova Feldman — Content quality control

Scott Murcott — Content research and preparation

Robert Nolte — Content research and preparation

Zee Hazan — Audio and video quality control

Emiliano Pioli — Audio and video editing

Chapters & Episode Notes

0:00 – Intro

2:33 – Mastering the Art of Podcasting: Finding Your Unique Angle and Nurturing Your Show

8:15 – Optimizing Your Podcast Marketing: Repurposing Content and Leveraging Seasonal Breaks

15:35 – Authenticity and Persona: Striking a Balance in Podcasting

23:36 – Unleashing the Power of Podcasting: Benefits for Entrepreneurs and Businesses

27:48 – Cracking the Code: Finding Your Podcast Angle and Duration

34:09 – The Research Conundrum: Balancing Guest Profiling and Finding the Right Guests

37:47 – Monetization Dilemma: Navigating Promotion, Storytelling, and Sponsorship on Your Podcast

41:49 – Podcast Success Metrics: When to Pivot, Reset, or Keep Going

47:25 – Podcasting Responsibly: Shaping the Narrative and Handling Opinions in the WordPress Ecosystem

53:51 – Outro


Matt: You have to podcast, you have to YouTube, you have the newsletter, you have to blog, you have to socialize. You have to do all this stuff, right? Every day, every minute, every hour. And then you say, ‘Well, that’s impossible.’ And yes, it is. But that’s literally what it takes in order for something to stand out.

Patrick: Hello everyone and welcome to the plugin.fm podcast, brought to you by Freemius. Plugging.fm. We talk to inspiring movers and shakers to get the inside scoop on entrepreneurship and business. We uncover actionable practices and strategies that you can use to succeed in your own business journey. I’m Patrick Rauland, and today I have the pleasure of speaking with WordPress news podcaster, evangelist, and plugin creator, Matt Medeiros.

For those familiar with the WordPress world, Matt needs no introduction. His WordPress journey started when he co-founded his agency, Slocum Studio, with his father in 2010. From there, Matt established himself as an authority on WordPress business when he founded The Matt Report, where he interviews consultants, bootstrappers, and business owners in the space. Since then, he has put on a variety of hats. He continues to create plugins for Slocum Studios. He’s a regular podcast host on Southcoast.fm. He covers weekly WordPress news on the WP Minute Podcast. Let’s, we got, we got a bunch more. He was an account executive for Pagely. He did recently step out of his role as Director of Podcaster Success and General Manager at Castos. And most recently, in February, Matt joined Rocket Genius, the company behind Gravity Forms, as a WordPress Community Evangelist.

And Matt’s story clearly resonates with other product makers because, like many of us, he comes from a solopreneur background. With podcasting as a medium, he established himself as an authority in the space and simultaneously created cred and traction for the businesses and products he’s involved with. So today, we’re going to dive into the various podcasting practices and strategies he’s used to build both his brand and persona. So if you want to get into podcasting, listening to this episode should give you a roadmap to follow. Matt, welcome to the show.

Matt: Patrick, it’s great to be here.

Patrick: Excellent! So, I do have one fun question before we get into the podcasting juiciness. We are recording this on May the 4th, so for Star Wars nerds, they tend to love this day. And for those of you who are watching the video, I have my Boba Fett hoodie on and a WordPress t-shirt, so I am representing both of my fandoms. Matt, sorry, I know you’re a WordPress nerd, are you a Star Wars nerd?

Matt: I like to play with May the 4th and post all kinds of Star Trek memes on Twitter. That’s what I liked. Whenever anyone says, “Live May the fourth be with you,” I say, “Live long and prosper.” And that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s what really riles up people.

Patrick: Love it! So, you like Star Wars but also like teasing the hardcore Star Wars? Got it.

Matt:  Right. Yeah.

Patrick: That’s extra fun for you. Good! I’m happy. Awesome! So, first real question: You know, if you’re a product maker, if you’re a person who wants to promote your business and you’re interested in podcasting, I mean, just, you know, where do you start in that world? It’s a big topic, and they’re, you know, it’s what do you need to know? How much does it cost? What equipment do you need? What format? There are a lot of questions. Where do you start with podcasting? 

Matt: Yeah, so specifically in the WordPress space actually any space really, it really should start with your unique show idea, your unique value prop, just like if you were creating a product a podcast is a product that you’re creating and I’m, you know, when people ask me about, “Oh, we start with microphones, software, like all this stuff,” you don’t need to go crazy. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on stuff that just sits on the shelf and it does nothing right now. Happened to be at my home office, not my studio, recording on a 70-dollar Samson Q2U, which sometimes goes on sale for like 50 bucks. So, it’s not about the hardware, it’s so much more about the story your storytelling, your creative angle on a podcast. Funny enough, there’s a lot of WordPress podcasts, probably including this one, which might not even try to categorize itself as a WordPress podcast, but it’s mainly for the WordPress industry. There’s a lot of us creating WordPress audio content and you know, to find that unique angle is the hardest piece and one that I don’t think you’re going to get out of the gate because I also approached this with like, look, nothing’s ever perfect. I am far from perfect with the stuff that I do and it’s a constant evolution. It’s a constant craft that you’re trying to hone. Podcasting is so you have your idea, you start episode one, and you start with that idea, and by episode 12, it’s probably going to change a little bit, and that’s okay. My advice is again finding that unique angle, but then also, you know, constantly improving yourself and your podcast, which is either baby steps or big long strides. It’s totally up to you, but it is an evolution, and it’s okay, and it should be something that you enjoy. This is like the third point here. Is it something you enjoy and not something that quickly becomes another piece of, you know, stressful work or something you don’t want to do? As soon as it becomes that, it’s really going to have an impact on the quality of content, and podcasting can turn into work really quick. I’m sure we’ll talk about that in a moment. So try to find your new, your unique angle, constantly improve yourself, whatever that means to you, and enjoy it are the three main things that I usually start with when helping folks start a podcast.

Patrick: I love that you reframed the question because that’s all I always think is like, what is, what is why should someone listen to your podcast over all the other bajillions of podcasts out there? And having your unique perspective seems important. So, if you’ve never thought about that before, if you’ve never considered, what is the unique angle, right? Because I, you know, I have a background as a developer and I’m thinking about the code. I’m not thinking about marketing angles and your unique selling proposition and stuff like that. Is this something where you just start and just keep morphing the show? Or is it almost like you should think about this for three months or six months and then launch?

Matt: Yeah, I mean, it really, it’s totally up to you what that goal is, what that time frame is, right? If this is for your business and this is your way of, you know, staking your claim, you know, in the brand ecosystem of all the brands in WordPress, and you’re trying to get your voice out there because that’s what a podcast does really well, is it allows folks to really tune in and listen to you and understand whatever it is, your journey, your product, your brand persona. If your goal, if that’s your goal and you have a limited time to launch and start selling and marketing, well, you do it faster. You’ve got to do it sooner than later. Really depends on how long you want to develop a show. In my previous life working at a podcast hosting company, I was the general manager of a podcast production side of the business, and show development can take years. It’s just no different than a movie or a TV series or something like that. Now, not everyone has the budget or the time to do that, but if you were scripting a show, researching a show like these true crime shows, you know, these things take years and literally the content is there for most, but you have to interview all these people, etc. So, it really depends on what’s going into your show, is how long that’s going to take, you know, take up. I’m right now developing a show for Gravity Forms, and I’ve been working on it since I started. So, I’m a couple of months in, and I’m trying to find our unique voice. Like, you know, how, why do people want to tune into a Gravity Forms podcast? I have to develop the show in a slightly more unique way that still provides value but still provides interest. So there’s no clear-cut answer. That was a long way of getting there’s no clear-cut answer to, like, how fast someone should launch. Really depends on what your goals are, what’s going into the show, but you can start recording and start flexing that muscle because you get better as you go on. I’m 10 years into this. I still hate my voice, and I’m still constantly improving as much as I possibly can.

Patrick: I’ll just echo that. I had another podcast before this one, and I’m a lot better of an interviewer now than I was at the start before the initial podcast. Just knowing the right questions to ask and how to ask them and how to ask follow-up questions is just this skill that you learn as you do it. So, I definitely agree with that point.

So, let me talk about marketing for a second. So, if you’re starting a podcast, and I always think about this, like, if I’m starting a podcast to promote my business or my product, how much time should I spend promoting the thing that’s supposed to be promoting my business? Like, how much time should you spend marketing, and how much time should you spend investing in the podcast, which again is supposed to promote your business?

Matt: Yeah, I mean, again, I’ll go back to my days as a podcast consultant. It’s as much as you possibly can, right? Every day, every minute, every hour. And then you say, “Well, that’s impossible,” and yes, it is. But that’s literally what it takes in order for something to stand out, whether it’s your product, whether it’s your podcast, whether it’s the blog post that you use to supplement your marketing efforts, right? Which is, hey, a tutorial on your product, an outline for your podcast, a new event you’re going to, a write-up of WordCamp US or something like that. It’s more so about getting a framework in place. This is for me, and, you know, all these things sort of differ with different marketers, but it’s so much more about getting a framework down for your marketing, getting down that playbook that’s going to work well in your business because what you want, as like a technical marketer, you want to just have this baseline of, like, here’s the things that I do. And I’m biased because I love podcasting, but if podcasting is the cornerstone of your content, in other words, week one of the month, your hour-long podcast goes out, and in that hour, it’s an interview, it’s a rundown of new features and happenings with your product, and then maybe it’s some other like fun segment that you do, right? And if that’s the cornerstone of your marketing, that’s week one. Well, week two is pulling a blog post from that podcast episode. Week three is highlighting the person that you interviewed through across social media. Week four is the wrap-up that goes out in your email marketing newsletter. And if you’re, you know, doubling down on media, perhaps you’re doing YouTube, you’re doing video, audio and video with your podcast, right? It’s going to YouTube, and now that’s like a whole other thing. Now you can pull clips out. You can pull clips out of your audio and do like audiograms and stuff like that. But the idea is you just want to set this framework of what’s, like, really comfortable for you that you can measure and then maybe even increase or decrease the volume, the output of that at any given time because you want to measure it, right? You want to be able to say, like, is this working for me? Am I comfortable doing this? Do I have enough time? And if you’re a solo creator, developer, Jesus, do I have enough time to go back and, like, actually work on building this product and, like, doing all the other stuff? I can say with total certainty that if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “I’m never going to start a podcast,” I don’t care what you say, buy this microphone, right? Again, Samson Q2U, plugged into USB. You don’t need a lot. 50 to 70 on sale because you’re going to be on a podcast eventually. Like, you’re going to want to weave that into your marketing, whether you’re going to start your own podcast or not. And there’s nothing worse than the laptop microphone or the Apple AirPods microphones. And you say, “I’m never going to be on a podcast.” Well, maybe you’re going to be on a work Camp talk, a livestream, right? Or some, there are tons of virtual events that happen in the WordPress space. You’re going to do that at some point. You should be doing that at some point. Invest in this microphone 100% because great audio is so much more important than anything else when somebody’s trying to, quite literally, listen to you. I went off on a tangent there, but I hope that answers the question.

Patrick: Oh, good! So the thing that I picked out of that answer is number one, repurposed content, which I’ve heard a lot, and actually, I’ve always tried repurposing content. I helped a previous company try to pull clip audiograms out of their podcast, but it was just time-intensive, and it just didn’t make sense based on their viewership and how the reactions were getting on social media to those audiograms. But now that ChatGPT has come out, I feel like repurposing is going to be a lot easier to do. And as you record the podcast, that’s your sort of master, your biggest piece of content, and then you can take clips and put them on Twitter or LinkedIn or wherever. You can put clips on YouTube. You can send out your weekly newsletter that summarizes some of the main points. I feel like that’s just gotten a lot easier to do. And I feel like now, if you don’t do it, you’re definitely wasting an opportunity. I think a couple of years ago, there’s the argument that maybe you’re spending a little bit too much time repurposing stuff, but now it just seems so easy.

Matt: Yeah, I used to have people come to me, like big corporations, saying like, “Hey, this podcast isn’t working for us. We’re 12 episodes in, it’s not really working well.” Generally, like usually, it’s because they didn’t start with a goal in mind to begin with. There’s some conflicting advice in the podcasting world. It’s not really conflicting. Everything is creative in this space, right? You might not like a podcast, but there’s a whole subset of other people who love that podcast. You might never create an interview show for WordPress, but there’s a ton of people who are and like a ton of people who listen to it. But starting with a goal for the podcast is certainly something that a lot of people miss. And the conflicting advice is, a lot of people say, “Well, look, you’ve got to get on that content hustle, right?” I think the “hustle” side of the business is kind of dying lately. I think people are kind of over the hustle side of the business. But there is a content hustle that happens. You have to podcast, you have to YouTube, you have to newsletter, you have to blog, you have to social, you have to do all this stuff, and you have to just, like, do it as much as possible. While that is true, it’s very difficult to keep up, like I just mentioned with podcasting. That’s why I like it a little bit more than within video in this sense. Well, this is my objective. These are the people I’m going to interview. You could do all of that stuff in month one, and then month two and three, if you’re thinking in quarters, that’s when you’re publishing and that’s when you’re promoting your season, and it allows you to stop, take a break, reset, gather feedback, and then reinvest in a new season, right? A lot of us sort of like binging on Netflix, like, “Give us this, you know, give us all this stuff,” and it’s like, “Oh my God, I gotta wait for a season.” When you’re a podcaster and you start to develop content, you’re like, “Holy cow, I know why they have seasons. I know why these people have to take a break because it’s such an insane amount of work, even for this little audio podcast.” So, it does allow you that flexibility to do whatever you want with your podcast. The good thing is, there’s no rules. The bad thing is, there’s no rules, right? So, you can go about it your own way.

Patrick: Yeah, we’re doing seasons here because we want to get a gauge of how things are going. Maybe we want to tweak the format a little bit for the second season, but it does give you that pause that lets you think, right? And I think in software development, right, it’s like we put out this release, we push the release out, now we’re getting feedback from users, we’re noticing, okay, the next time we put out an update, let’s make sure we check that feature, check that feature twice because of the feedback we got. I think we do that naturally with software, right? We have these big releases, we push them out, and then we make, you know, future plans based on the feedback we get. And definitely do that for your podcast. I agree, I like that.

Okay, so I think one of the things that happens when you create any sort of content, but especially video or audio, is you create a persona, you know? There’s Matt Medeiros, there’s The Matt Report, Matt Medeiros. If I start a podcast and I build a persona, what are the pros and cons of having, you know, this caricature version of yourself?

Matt: So, I come off just like the way that I grew up, right? And I’m very, you know, whatever. I’m a privileged white guy in America in tech. Okay, so with all of that understanding, you know, I grew up, my family ran a car business in our local community, right? And this is where, this is where, you know, the roots of how I do stuff online started. We were a small, family-owned and operated dealership, started as a used car lot back in the ’80s, and then grew into a General Motors franchise, and we got out of the business a couple of years before General Motors went bankrupt in the first financial crisis, right? So, 2003, ’04, ’05, I can’t remember what the day was. And as a family-owned and operated car dealership in a smallish town south of Boston, you played up against one of the biggest car dealerships in the country, which is Herb Chambers, hundreds of car lots. He’s a billionaire, and all of your typical car salesman dislikes came from those types of car dealerships back in the day. And it was always that, you know, the salesperson who’s taking your keys and not letting you leave, telling you one price, and then when you get to the dealership, it’s a whole different price. That whole high-stress, high-pressure car salesman game was happening back then because it was before consumer internet really started to kick off. When we got out of the business, consumer internet, looking up prices, cars.com, like that stuff didn’t exist when we were doing business. So, we were just family-owned and operated. So, we always sort of, I always sort of had been in business with sort of like a chip on your shoulder because you have to survive against these sharks that are, that are, you know, just beating you at every nickel and dime. And you had to sort of say, like, “Hey, we’re family-owned. People who worked here worked here all of their lives.” When my father sold the dealership, there were people that worked at that dealership when my grandfather started the dealership, never had another job in their life, right? 40 plus years people worked for my family and never had another job. So, there was always like a chip on the shoulder against the big organizations. And when I came into the WordPress space, it was that same thing because when I went to some WordCamps, local WordCamps, I was in a local WordCamp with Jake Goldman when he first started 10up. And I saw back then, this is years and years ago, how fast Jake was moving and growing 10up. And I sat back and said, “Well, Jesus, I’m not an engineer like Jake. I don’t know anyone in the WordPress space. How do I do this? How do I do this as a non-developer? Like, I understood WordPress, but how do I build an agency when somebody like that has just way more connections and he can do the work because he’s an engineer?” So, that was the genesis of Matt Report, of starting a podcast, because I needed to break through the space and just start talking to people and finding out and getting these connections. And in fact, you know, befriended Jake, and both of our agencies worked together on some of his early projects because of NDAs. He kept all the credit, but he did hire my agency when I had a small agency and he was still growing his. And that’s how, you know, that was sort of that, like, “Hey, chip on my shoulder, but like, I need to start my own thing. I need to start learning this stuff. I need to start hitting the street and start talking to people,” because it was the only way I knew how to grow the business, especially in WordPress. I saw how valuable relationships were and networking was, and I didn’t want to just knock on the door of, you know, a florist down the street from my office and sell them a thousand-dollar website. I wanted the hundred-thousand-dollar projects when we started the business.

Patrick: Yeah, I get that. What’s interesting about that is, so I think you’re, so the story you just shared about how you grew up, I didn’t know that, but it doesn’t surprise me at all based on some of the content you’ve created. Like, I think you are a reflection of your upbringing. I forget if this is a podcast or a post that you created that was, you know, it’s like, I feel like it was called “Blue Collar WordPress Workers” or something. But I feel like that fits exactly with your upbringing, and that is an aspect of your persona. So, it’s cool to see that there’s a through line there. I guess let me change this question. Is it worth putting on a persona, or should you be yourself on a podcast? Maybe that’s a better way to ask it.

Matt: I mean, I guess it could work. I’ve never really put on a persona, so I can’t speak to it like that. But I’ve always just been myself because it’s going to be your most natural way to create content and have a conversation. It’s funny that you say, not funny but true, that you say it’s a reflection because in the WordPress space, so you’ll see me criticize. So, I love WordPress. I might be jumping ahead, but I love WordPress. I love open source. I love everything that WordPress can afford a blue-collar worker or somebody who wants to change the trajectory of their life. Like, I think if you want to learn development—and now, I guess you could argue because of ChatGPT and AI tools—but I think if you want to get into the tech space, no better platform than WordPress. Because technically, you have to learn it. Like, you have to learn how to use the software. Then, if you want to customize it, you have to learn different stacks of language. You can publish with it, you can become a marketer, you can become a writer, you can be an admin. There’s all these things that it affords, and it’s open source and free, so there are no licenses about it. I think it can really have an impact on communities or cities or towns that are not well off in the tech sector. I think there’s a nice little boost that it could give people. So, I’m very critical of that type of person in our space. So, you’ll see me create content that criticizes Automatic or the community by not having a level playing field. And that goes back to the dealership, because we were General Motors. We were a General Motors corporation franchise, and they did not care about you, okay? Like, this corporation did. That was the mothership. We have the Automatic mothership. Automatic is certainly not as bad as General Motors, but General Motors would just dump hundreds of cars on you, and they’d say, “Go sell these cars, sell them.” You’re like, “How are we going to sell a green Chevy Impala? No one’s buying a Chevy Impala. They’re all buying Honda Accords.” “We don’t care. You own it. You’re paying for it.” Right? It sits on your dealership. You’re paying for it, and you have to sell it. You didn’t pick it, right? So, it’s almost like all of a sudden we wake up one day and we have Gutenberg. Like, we didn’t want this, but maybe not to that extreme. But you get the idea. I’ve always sort of, you know, a little guy persona up against the big boys and how do we make an even playing field.

Patrick: I think it’s tough to criticize without being mean or bullying or whatever, and I think you do it in a really good way. So, I just want to say I think your persona matches your upbringing, which I think is good. And I think you can be authentic in your podcasts and talk about things that matter to you. So, let’s just talk about like, if you want to run a podcast, what are some of the benefits that you can get out of just running a podcast for either a solopreneur, a small and medium businesses? What do you think you can get?

Matt: Yeah, so I mean, the number one thing that you’re gonna get is one from a technical perspective. If it’s the most investment you’re doing in content marketing, it’s going to be the thing that sets up that structure that we talked about before. It sets up that playbook. It can be that first stepping stone into getting a good marketing playbook. So hopefully, while it’s a stressful situation, creating a podcast is, hopefully, it de-stresses you on the back end because now you can spend all this intense time on your podcast and then break that out into an easier marketing flow for the rest of your month or season or whatever. The second thing is, it’s definitely going to be networking. It’s going to be connecting with, if you’re doing an interview show, which many of you folks do, it’s going to be networking. It’s going to be meeting these other people. And this can come in the form of your customers, your peers, heck, even your competition sometimes or third degree of competition that you have on the show. You just start general networking and connection, right? So there’s that. And then feedback is going to be, hopefully, one of the things that you get out of this. It’s connecting with the customers, your customers, your potential customers, and having them understand who you are. You’re getting that feedback and, more specifically, getting feedback about your product or service or your brand so that you can reinvest that into your product and into your business. And hopefully, that starts, you know, that nice wheel of, you know, customers, colleagues, you’re hiring people from it. Somebody listens to your podcast in six months, you need a new developer, and they’re like, “I’ve been listening to you for, you know, the last six months. You hire me.” That’s literally how I grew my business. It’s the same exact thing. It was just connecting with other agencies, bigger agencies, WebDev Studios, another one. They would send me projects that they didn’t want, small projects. Back then, they were like, “Hey, you do them,” and perfect. And I think the same thing, it still stands true in 2023. Just, in fact, today I read that again, the U.S. podcast consumption is going back up and to the right again. There’s a lot more podcast consumption again.

Patrick: Yeah, I think for me the biggest thing is probably also the networking, and the thing about networking is it’s so hard to measure, right? It’s, and I think for me, it’s like you’ll meet someone, and then it’ll be like 18 months later, he’ll give you this incredible $50,000 giant WordPress project, you’re like, “Oh my God!” And of course, if you don’t think about it, you’d forget that you originally met him on your podcast or on his podcast or whatever. I do feel like investing in relationships on a net basis always pays off, meaning let’s say I interview 100 people on my show, I might do some sort of deal or business or just have some sort of beneficial relationship with 10 of them, but that beneficial relationship pays for definitely pays for all the time for the other 90, but you might have to wait like a year or two years to start seeing some of those results. I think that’s the only downside of networking is it just takes a while to see the results.

Matt: Yeah, I mean a podcast is just this revolving door of opportunity. When I was a consultant, there was just, or when I was consulting (not a podcast consultant, just consulting) at my last gig, God, there was so… I mean, just like every business had some random opportunity that came their way, whether it was like a big monetary contract they signed or they got a book deal. Random publisher heard them talking and, you know, knocked on their door to sign up to do a book. It just… you’re constantly putting yourself out there. That surface luck area, I think that comes from a book. It’s that surface luck area where you’re just constantly pushing stuff out and something will find you. Literally impossible to measure. So, you know, if your CMO wants you to measure that as a marketing manager, forget about it. It’s not going to happen. But it will happen. You just… you know, where and when is the question.

Patrick: Cool, so you obviously have a knack for creating great content. So we talked earlier about how to find your angle. I guess, you know, the unique selling proposition for your podcast. Any more advice on finding that? And let me change this question a little bit, especially when it comes to like duration. Do you want to start with a little 20-minute one? Do you want to start with an hour one? Do you want to go for one of those mega three-hour podcasts that goes incredibly deep with some sort of expert? Any more advice on finding that angle?

Matt: Yeah, I mean, so it’s going to come down to the time that you have to invest, the time and money that you have to invest in it, both in production and in promotion. It’s going to come down to, generally, like where, where do you creatively feel is going to be the right fit? Like, do you want to do 45-minute interviews or hour-long interviews with people? Because I’ll tell you, a lot of us start that way, and you run out of friends after 12 episodes because you’re like, “Who do I interview next?” Right? And that becomes a whole level, like a whole new level of work that you didn’t realize, like, “Oh, now I have to find people to get to be on my show.” You know, when I sat back and I did, so it all depends on, like, where you want to go creatively and then what the audience is, who your audience is, and what they’re already listening to. So you can kind of reverse engineer that. Like, whatever your product is and looking at your potential customer profile, reverse engineering that, obviously, looking at them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, seeing what podcasts they’re talking about, what podcasts they’re sharing. And try not to do something way out of left field where it’s like they’d never tune into it. You don’t want to do the same thing because why would they listen to it? And when I started the WP Minute, it was because work was getting, like, personal. Work was getting super busy for my career. It was getting super busy for me, and doing the Matt Report all the time was just a lot of work, right? Hour-long interview every week, so there’s a lot of editing, a lot of promotion and stuff. WP Minute is five minutes, and it’s still in the WordPress podcast news sector, which is something that I like to swim in. But it’s intentionally five minutes because I want my audience to be a broader audience. So if you break that down, like, you know, hey, for the people listening to this, your customers would probably never listen to a WordPress podcast for 45 minutes. They don’t care. But the WP Minute, like, the idea is it’s five minutes. So potentially, if you’re somebody who runs a WooCommerce store or, you know, your plugin or product helps people sell stuff, they might care enough to listen to a five-minute show if there’s a big, I don’t know, hack that happens in WordPress or the way that taxes are collected with, say, WooCommerce or something like that. And staying connected in five minutes was my hope, my investment, to say, maybe I can reach a broader WordPress user who would never listen to me go on for 45 minutes about the space, but five minutes weekly, perhaps they click it on their Alexa and it starts up that.

Patrick: I like that. It’s interesting. I generally listen to longer podcasts. I like an hour-long podcast. That seems to be the sweet spot for me. But what’s funny is, I have one or two short podcasts that I basically fill in between all my hour-long ones. So, I love, just as an example, I love The Indicator by Planet Money. It’s like a 10-minute economics podcast, and it comes out daily. But I basically queue up my podcast so it’s an hour-long podcast, 10-minute break, which is, it’s almost like filler or just, it changes your… I’m trying to think of when you’re tasting, like, it resets… 

Matt: Oh yeah, close your palette. 

Patrick: Thank you. Yeah, it’s something like that where it’s like, “Oh, cool, we’re just gonna have a little 10-minute break, then we’re gonna go back into something else to clear the pallets.” So, there seems to be infinite angles, though, right? There’s an infinite number of ways to try to get someone’s attention and things that people are interested in. You can go really long, really short. You can have guests, no guests. You can have video, no video. I mean, it’s probably just whatever you’re best at and what you like is probably the best place to start. 

Matt: Yeah, and if it’s a vehicle to market and promote your business, like, also keep that in mind. And it is, it’s tough work. There’s a fine line to, like, what people want from a podcast. And you also have to recognize, as biased as I am to podcasts, it’s just one channel, literally, in your marketing stack, right? And it can bleed out into your other channels, which is smart of somebody to do. But when I’m developing the Gravity Forms podcast, you know, the idea is, who the heck wants to, like, there’s so much. And when I started Gravity Forms, I’ve been a Gravity Forms customer for, like, 10 years. And then I joined, I was like, “Oh my God, there’s so much more here than I ever knew in the last decade.” So when I’m developing the show, it’s three segments. The first segment is, “Here’s what’s happening with Gravity Forms,” like new add-ons, new features, bug fixes. I sit down with somebody else on the team, we just chat about what was launched, and it’s like a 10-minute segment. The next segment is an interview from somebody in the Gravity Forms ecosystem, whether it’s a customer, a certified developer, or an agency owner or something like that. The last segment is just “Keeping Up with WordPress,” which is obviously something that I’m good at talking about. It’s like, “Hey, look, there’s like these five or ten minute things happening in the space that’s going to be important to you as a Gravity Forms user.” And that’s so it allows somebody to tune in, get their updates about Gravity Forms, maybe stay for that conversation if it’s some if it’s a conversation that’s really good for them, or if they could skip ahead to that conversation and listen to how TenUp uses Gravity Forms in their stack or whatever. So I’m hoping that building out a show like that is different enough and allows somebody to, you know, stay connected with some variety.

Patrick: Very cool, I can see the angle on that show for sure. I like it. So one thing that’s come up on this podcast, on my previous podcast, is research. I feel like research is the thing that makes my, if I have an interview that goes well, it’s because I did the research and I found something interesting to talk about with a guest. So it’s essential, but it also could be anywhere from 20 minutes of work if they’re really, if they have a really good website and they clearly link everything, or it could be like five hours of work because they’re a little bit of a closed book and they don’t share stuff in the right way. So where do you find the time to profile your guest and also where do you find the right guests? So both researching your guests and finding the guests, how do you manage that because it feels like you could spend an infinite amount of time doing it?

Matt: You’re not going to like this answer. So throughout the last decade of doing this, very rarely have I ever said yes. Well, I’ll say this: I very rarely have I ever said yes to anyone who has reached out to be a guest. Maybe a half dozen over the last 10 years have I said yes, generally because I am a WordPress enthusiast, constantly thinking about WordPress topics, happenings, and stuff like that. I generally have the idea of the show, and because I’ve been doing it for so long, I know enough people to knock on their door, or I’ll go find somebody. Very rarely do I spend time researching who would be the best guest for this. I do it pretty quickly because of the cadence of things. Now, there are places you can go, hire people to do the research for you. You can find guest directories to comb through and find WP speakers. WP Speakers was recently launched by Michelle Frechette, which has a bunch of profiles of potential WordPress guests. I don’t spend a whole heck of a lot of time, which is not the right way of doing it, because I’ll have people just ghost me, never respond, and then I’m searching for it. But then generally, what happens is that idea just tends to flutter out, and then I just don’t pursue whatever that discussion is in my head. Or I’ll put out call-to-actions in the podcast to say, “Hey, look, I’m looking for a guest on this topic. Do you want to join?” General social media stuff, contact form people can fill out, that kind of thing. It’s not the best way of doing things, I will say. However, to kind of flip the question on its head a little bit, I find it’s more important to make sure the guests share your stuff at the end. Because if you do a boatload of time researching, outreach, and of course, development and production of the show, you want to make sure that the guest shares it. And I would spend equal time making sure that they understand, like, “Hey, this is a lot of time we’re spending together. It’s super valuable for both of us. Please put it in your newsletter, your social feeds, share it on your podcast,” that kind of thing. Because that’s the one thing as a veteran podcaster that really gets my goat is when people don’t share it.

Patrick: Agreed, and it’s surprising to me because all, even if they spent at least an hour recording with you, spend five minutes tweeting about it would be my thought. I hear that. So what about a different angle here? Is it worth trying to find sponsors for your podcast and/or advertisers? Do you want to try to make money off your podcast, or is that a trap?

Matt: I could go on for a long time about this question. This is something that’s pretty near and dear to my heart. Well, look, I mean, I think if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Hey, I’m a product person. I just want to sell and promote my product,” that’s cool. You know, you have to zoom out and look at what a podcast, like again, you have to go back to your goal. You have to go back to that goal. What’s the goal with this? If you say the goal is to promote my product, there’s only a few ways that output of that show is going to sound like. It’s going to be either you talking about your shit, your product a lot within the threads of the story, or it’s going to be hard breaks, call to actions, or ad spots for the sake of this question, of you promoting your product. And that’s fine. You just have to look at it. Is that the best format for my show? Is that the best approach to my show? Or is it, you know, if you looked at, is it Whole Foods? I know it’s REI, rei.com, outdoor company, big outdoor sports, sporting company, whatever. They have a whole bunch of podcasts. Whole Foods has a whole bunch of podcasts, and it’s not about, like, the beans and the rice that you’re gonna go buy at the store. Some of it is but REI does a podcast called Camp Monsters, which is like campfire stories, a whole, you know, whole range of topics, but it’s just storytelling. It’s just content to get you interested. It just happens to be delivered by REI, and it’s in that sort of third degree of separation where it’s talking about outdoor stuff, cool spooky stories, and yeah, you’re probably a person who’s gonna be out in the mountains thinking about that stuff, which is a great brand connection back to REI. So you can develop shows like that, and if you’re developing shows like that, yeah, I mean, sponsorship is smart because, you know, you’re paying for the production, because those shows are going to be a lot heavier to produce. If, again, back into my consulting days, the price per CPM, price per thousand listens for a podcast is average. It’s like between 24 and 26 dollars, right? So most podcasts don’t reach a thousand downloads per month or per episode, I should say. So if you were to just go to Buzzsprout and Podcorn, like all these, like, ad networks, like a lot of podcast hosting companies now have ad networks, so you can just plop right onto your show, those get even less dollars in return because it’s all automated, right? You know, you might be doing a podcast about your plugin, and all of a sudden, like, Doritos is advertising, I’m showing you, like, this does, it’s not even relevant, right? But it doesn’t matter because it’s all automated, and you get, like, four dollars, you know, per CPM, you end up making, like, two bucks on your show, you know, versus what I’ve done for, again, for a while now is direct sales and knocking on somebody’s door and saying, “Would you like to sponsor my work?” And getting exponentially higher CPMs, right? But also exponentially higher amount of work and stress to do it.

Patrick: I guess that going back to today’s topic, that is one sponsor for this 10 episodes, which is 20 episodes, 15, whatever it is, and then if they really enjoyed it, then it’s easy to sell them on the next season. But if you can, if you can work with seasons, that’s probably the right way to work with direct sales with your contacts, as opposed to it’s just always ongoing. A podcast seems harder to sell, I imagine. Who knows?

Yeah, okay. So we’ve talked about sponsors and the contents, your angles. Let me start with, I was listening to someone on a different podcast talk about TikTok, and they had this advice for if you’re starting TikTok, you know, you gotta do these great videos every day for 30 days, and if you don’t have this much engagement, delete your account, start a new account with a new angle. And I thought that it kind of blew my mind that he was so certain on, you have to have really engaging content, and if you can’t do it after a month, delete it, start again. So here’s my question for you with a podcast, when do you decide to pull the chord? When you decide it’s just not going somewhere, there isn’t traction, and you should just either A, try a different podcast, or B, maybe try a different medium.

Matt: My 50,000-foot view question is, not all humans are made for this, for the algorithms, for the social media, for the clicks, for the click count. I’m not made for it. A decade in, literally every day, Patrick, I just want to delete my podcast and just walk away into the sunset. Like, I don’t even want to do it anymore, right? But then it’s always that extra little boost of confidence that happens. Somebody likes something, somebody comments, somebody shares, somebody gives you a pat on the back or whatever. So, it keeps me going. You know, I try not to get, especially in the WordPress space, there’s only so many people that actually care about WordPress stuff, and I constantly have to remind myself. There’s 44,000 people in wordpress.org Slack, there’s 2,000-ish in post status Slack, there’s, at maximum, at the big WordCamps, I don’t know, what do you say? 1,200 to 2,000? So, the way I look at it when I zoom out and look at the Earth, I say my audience for, like, inside baseball WordPress stuff is like six to eight thousand people who actually care about this stuff. Now, paint the picture of, like, WordPress tutorials, how do I do something with WordPress? Well, that number is exponentially higher, right? But that’s not the content that I create. So, you try to get a sense of, like, what, again, what’s the goal of this podcast? Is it for my customers? How many customers do I have? And then, do I care about my numbers? Like, if it’s reaching 70% of my customers but I only have 100 customers, do I feel good about that? Yes or no? I would say yes if it’s me and this podcast’s goal is to reach my customers. If you’re trying to compete with pop culture and Joe Rogan and all this other stuff, well, yeah, you hit the reset button if something’s not working, unless you just love it. Right? Unless you just love it, and if you just love it, then just, obviously, I would just keep doing it. You know, numbers will always be disappointing in the beginning, especially with podcast audio because it’s a big commitment, it takes a lot of promotion. So, all that stuff, like, if you’re putting in that true effort and you’re still not happy, yeah, you know, I can’t give you a number of when to reset. Like the whole TikTok thing, like, I can totally see myself reading that advice and being like, this is why I don’t do TikTok because it’s just so depressing as a creator. That’s why I don’t do short-form video stuff like Reels and TikTok and YouTube shorts because I hate the fact that you just spend that energy and it’s gone. Yeah, that’s why I love podcasting, it’s why I love YouTube, like standard-length videos because it stays there, people can find it and archive it. You know, and that’s the other thing that sort of also answers this question is a lot of people create audio and podcasts that aren’t evergreen. So, it’s not, you know, and I know that term gets thrown around a lot, especially in SEO, but you start creating audio that isn’t that you can’t listen to in two or three years’ time. A lot of people are creating content because it’s easier to talk about them now. I’m guilty, I do a five-minute podcast every week about the news, WordPress news, but that’s a news podcast. I know people aren’t going to listen to it two years later. But if you did a true crime show or a history show, it doesn’t matter when people listen to that. Yeah, so if you’re creating an evergreen piece of content, especially if it’s seasonal or in a season, you know, all of a sudden something can happen two years from now that is relevant to that show, that season that you created. Talk about, let’s say, AI or something. And something big happens with AI a year from now. Well, guess what? There’s a chance that your season, you can market that, say, “Hey, you know what? Season one was all about AI.” And if the format of the show isn’t like this in the now context, then you have a better chance of extending that, yeah, in the future. So, I don’t have a hard rule for, like, when to end it unless it’s just like, you hate it and no one’s listening. That’s when you end it. 

Patrick: I do really like your point about if you have a hundred customers and 70 of them are listening to your podcast, that’s probably a super successful podcast in terms of, yeah, if you’re getting 70% of your customers to listen to your podcast on whatever, and it keeps them engaged, and you know, it keeps them subscribing every year to whatever your product does, you can have a very successful podcast with 70 listeners if they’re the right 70 listeners. So, I appreciate that.

So, related to this, I think something cool about podcasting is, I think it is possible to shape the narrative around the WordPress ecosystem. Like, your reaction to Gutenberg might affect a bunch of other WordPressers because they listen to your podcast, and then that affects their comments on Gutenberg and their blog posts and what they talk about with their clients. So, number one, do you agree with that? You may disagree with that. And number two, is there a responsible way to podcast about WordPress so you’re not sending out bad juju?

Matt: I mean, for me, bad juju is either – this is weird to say – it would have to be like literal misinformation, like you’re incorrectly stating something that isn’t true. If you’re leading with an opinion, so I mean, again, there are probably people out there that always take a negative stance. You know, generally, it’s opinions that are maybe pointed at, let’s say, Mullenweg and his decisions, and it’s only about his decisions, and that’s it. You know, and that’s a very common thread that you’ll see on Twitter or whatever, and he has plenty of money, why can’t he just, like, do something else? And then, like, where are you, like, where does this money have to do with any of this stuff? Like, we’re referencing something that doesn’t even matter in the sense. While I’ve been strongly opinionated with my opinions, I’ve always left it up, you know, for debate. And, you know, I recently talked about pricing and flash sales from another big plugin company that does a lot of acquisitions, and I’m friends with people that work there. I’m friends with people on the internet, and I put up people in the WordPress Twitter sphere, and I still put out my opinions, and I had some people agree with me, I had a lot of people disagree with me because it wasn’t popular, and, you know, a lot of people want to see the pitchforks and torches come out, and I say, “We’re just wasting our breath doing this stuff until there’s a literal legal thing that has to, like, a law has to be put in place for this to really change. So until then, I don’t know what we’re all doing here, you know, let’s move on to something else.” And there was a lot of kickback for that, but I’ve always been okay with that personally. It’s not for everyone. I was listening to another YouTuber, and I think this is where it can get, uh, the muddy waters, is when people are just referencing things for the sake of, like, say, affiliates, right? You know, it’s not the right product, right? Or, you know, it doesn’t do something. And that’s a biggie in the WordPress space, especially in YouTube land. In YouTube land, you have a lot of people who are just, it’s just about appeasing the algorithm, the SEO, and it generates affiliate links. I guess in blogs, too, because obviously that’s where it all started. And to me, that’s more disingenuous than, or at least that’s the biggest pattern that I’ve seen of stuff you have to be careful of when you cover WordPress than it is about somebody who has a strong opinion about something on a podcast.

I mean, unless you’re being violent, right, and you know, stuff like that, but obviously, you, I would disregard that kind of content. But yeah, I saw somebody the other day who had a pretty sizable YouTube following. They were breaking down some things about the WordPress space. I don’t want to give it all away, but they were using some interesting words where it was like they were saying Gutenberg was a retaliation to you know, the Wixes and the Squarespaces of the world. And I don’t think it was a retaliation to those products. I think it was a natural evolution of how people want to use software on the web so it was interesting. Like, when you have that size audience, like, 300,000-plus people subscribed to you, you have to be careful of how you choose your words and how you frame it. I guess I’ve always framed it as, “This is my opinion. Let’s all discuss this thing.

Patrick: Yeah, I think I agree with you. I think there definitely does come to be a size where your words matter a lot, like when you have a massive audience of some sort. But I’m guessing that 99% of people out there are not going to get to that point of having that ginormous audience, and they have to frame things in the right way. So, I think I agree.

Matt: Yeah, the biggest, and just one other point about WordPress media in general, is like, again, the largest portion of WordPress media consumption is going to come from the WordPress development side. It’s not from my angle, which is white male English-speaking business side of WordPress. Like, that’s the angle I come from, which is one of the smallest niches in WordPress. Because most people in WordPress really care about the education side. You’ll classify that as a tutorial video walkthrough, a blog post, discussing something, or generally the development side of like, “Let’s all discuss PHP 8.0 versus 8.1.” And that just gets a ton more traffic because most people in WordPress just care about how to develop or how to build with WordPress.

Patrick: Got it. So, last question here: What does the future hold for Matt Medeiros? Any future plans you want to share?

Matt: We got The Breakdown podcast at Gravity Forms, hopefully coming soon, soft launch, and then a hard launch, probably in June. That’s the biggest thing that I’m working on at Gravity Forms. I’ll be at WordCamp US, fingers crossed because tickets sold out lightning fast. Gravity Forms already has some, so yeah, I’m good, I’m good there. Other than that, no, I’m just doing the same thing, doing the Five Minute Podcast every Wednesday at the wpminute.com.

Patrick: Love it! Thank you, Matt, for being on the show. I really appreciate having you here. 

Matt: Thanks, Patrick.

Patrick: On the plugin.fm podcast, we sit down with exceptional entrepreneurs just like Matt here and business owners who share their unique stories, as well as actual tips and strategies. If you enjoyed this episode, head over to plugin.fm to check out our previous episodes. plugin.fm is brought to you by Freemius, your all-in-one ecommerce partner for selling software, plugins, themes, and software as a service. If you’re struggling to grow your plugin revenue, send a note over to [email protected] to get free advice from their monetization experts. My name is Patrick Rauland, and that is all for today’s show. Bye-bye. Thank you.

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